My first star.
Her name is Pioneer Woman.
Her real name is Ree Drummond.
She has a cooking show on The Food Network that I watch every week, written several cookbooks, and writes picture books that my students just love!
She started with a personal blog to keep her family and friends updated with their life, but a lot more people than just family loved to read her posts. I can easily stay on her blog for hours reading about recipes, hotels she stayed at, the lodge makeover, and her dog, Charlie.
One day I was reading her blog and she had posted the cities that she would be visiting to have book signings. I looked just for fun because, quite frankly, I just didn’t believe she would come to Arkansas. I scrolled down for awhile and there is was. Rogers, Arkansas. My state. My lovely lovely state.
I immediately screamed with excitement and ran to tell Rustin. “GUESS WHO IS COMING TO ARKANSAS!!!”
“Pioneer Woman," said Rustin. (Promise. First Guess!)
“YYEEEESSSS!!!” I screamed back.
I later asked how in the world he guessed that it was Pioneer Woman. He knows me.
So, the weekend finally came for us to travel up to Rogers to meet Pioneer Woman. My aunt and uncle live up there, so we were going to visit them along with Crystal Bridges. A little weekend trip.
We arrived at Walmart an hour before signing started, so we could get a good spot in line. We walked in. Everything looked calm. We found the signing table. Spotted the line, and started to find the end. This was going to be a breeze. We were going to be in and out in no time. We later found the end in-between the men's shirts and PJ bottoms miles behind the signing table.
Okay, not miles, but a line weaving in and out of departments that was longer than a football field.
I was so close to Pioneer Woman yet so far. Luckily we were right behind some women from Arkansas Women Bloggers, so our four and a half hour wait was enjoyable. The Park Wife, creator of AWB, gave me some blogging advice, and I received several restaurant recommendations from her and the other women.
I was so star struck when I finally got to meet Pioneer Woman.
If you know me personally, you can tell how big my smile is compared to normal.
If you even kind of know me, take my advice. Buy her cookbooks. You, along with your dinner guests, will love every recipe. Rustin will try anything if he knows it is one of her books.
I also got to meet her husband, Lad. He is on just about every show and, of course, on her blog.
I thought it was so sweet that her husband came along too.
My husband is just as sweet. He waited in line with me without complaints. That’s true love right there.
After the book signing, we visited with my aunt and uncle who I do not get to see too much. We were several hours late, because I thought the signing was going to be an hour or two. I was wrong. Very wrong. I underestimated Pioneer Woman’s following.
They fed us a late lunch and we talked for a few hours. They are the kindest people, and I just love them!
When it was time to head to the hotel, we entered in the hotel address in our GPS and headed off. I love staying in hotels. Especially Holiday Inn Expresses. They have THE best biscuit and gravy! So, you can imagine my disappointment when I booked a Holiday Inn and Suites by accident. Don’t get me wrong. The rooms were nice, but there was no free breakfast. No biscuit and gravy. I will never make that booking mistake again!
Sunday was dedicated to going to Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. My Aunt Betty had been talking about this place, and we finally had the time to go!
But first, we had to have lunch. One of the women that we met in line for Pioneer Woman had suggested Tusk & Trotter in the Bentonville Square. It was right by Crystal Bridges, and they were open for Sunday lunch.
Right when you walked into the restaurant it had a warm welcoming vibe. The dark concrete floors, wood planked ceilings, and dim lighting made the atmosphere relaxing and laid back. We were seated in the bar area at a high top table and immediately was greeted by our server, Al, who was also the bartender. He provided great service and an even better Bloody Mary.
They had a variety of different infused Bloody Mary drinks, but I stuck to the traditional tomato. It wasn’t too spicy and had a wonderful olive flavor. I have a big love for olives. As you know, I love salty foods, and you can’t get saltier than an olive. Especially the green ones.
Now that I was officially craving olives, I chose the Mediterranean Pizza for lunch.
I hardly ever get pizzas at restaurants, but this one sounded great. When Al put it in front of me, man was I glad about my choice.
The thin pizza crust was hand tossed and crispy. Every bite you took you could hear a crunch. This crust lets the toppings’ flavors do all the work. It was not heavy at all, so you did not leaving feeling guilty if you ate the whole thing.
I would’ve eaten the whole thing if Rustin hadn’t stolen a quarter of it while I was taking notes. He does that a lot.
The marinated olives and pepperoni were scattered around, so every bite had one or the other. My salty fix was definitely achieved. The wilted arugula on top gave it an earthiness to it and the cheese and olive oil added moisture to it since there was no red sauce on this pizza. To top it off there was feta cheese. I can eat that stuff raw. Olives and feta cheese....I should’ve been born in Greece. I should’ve been born in a lot of places. Mexico, Italy, Japan....luckily America has all the cuisines.
Well, now that I’m officially craving that pizza again, you have to go try this place out. Rustin got the TNT Burger and loved it as well. The chef there has won numerous awards and worked with some of the most distinguished chefs. Check out his bio on their website.
Tusk & Trotter is in the Bentonville Square, which is a nice place to visit in itself. They still have the traditional square, just like Mountain View. We went through the Walmart 5 and Dime Museum there and learned quite a bit about the Waltons before we went to Crystal Bridges.
This museum is beautiful. It is recognized on a national level, and Alice Walton (Sam Walton’s daughter) has put her heart and soul in this place. The art on display is timeless and takes you back in history.
Kindred Spirits. Alice Walton reportedly paid $35 million for just this painting.
This trip was very short but filled with amazing memories. Northwest Arkansas is such a beautiful place to visit. The people here are welcoming and nice. I look forward to coming back and trying all the places that people have recommended.