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Quirky places to eat on your next trip, like that prison in Massachusetts

Quirky places to eat on your next trip, like that prison in Massachusetts
Hibiscus shrimp is an entree you can expect to find during Petal to Plate celebrations in Carlsbad in April. (Visit Carlsbad)

Food inspires travel. About 22 million Americans were expected to take a culinary vacation in 2017, according to an AAA survey. Three-quarters of those surveyed said food and dining were an important part of their experiences when they were on the road. Here are four surprising places where food can become an adventure on your next journey.

Elko, Nev.

Poetry, music and Basque food will be featured at the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev.
Poetry, music and Basque food will be featured at the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev. (Jessica Brandi Lifland / For the Western Folklife Center)

When Basques landed in the West during California’s Gold Rush, they brought a quest to prosper and a new cuisine. Shepherds and cattle ranch hands of the 19th century morphed into ranch owners and restaurateurs in modern times.

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The 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko will feature cooking classes with Basque chefs (sold out, but you can sample dishes at local restaurants), and talks and films about Basque life in the 19th century and the present (Feb. 1-3).

The gathering also will bring a Navajo chef to discuss Native American culinary culture and share recipes (Feb. 2).

Three-day pass to the Jan. 29 to Feb. 3 fest costs $80; some events require additional tickets.

Carlsbad, Calif.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif., will be open March 1-May 13.
The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif., will be open March 1-May 13. (Visit Carlsbad)

The famed Flower Fields of Carlsbad, Calif., usually draw visitors for the color burst created by giant ranunculus blooms. Now local chefs and cocktail makers bring more to the table with Petal to Plate events.

Expect to find hints of violet, lavender, hibiscus, passion flower, rose and other florals in dishes and cocktails at local restaurants from April 5-15.

Also, you can dine in the Flower Fields on April 6 and 13 during a wine tasting and food pairing to the accompaniment of live musical acts. $50 per person. The Flower Fields will be open March 1-May 13.

Dubois, Wyo.

The dining room at the ski-in Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa.
The dining room at the ski-in Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa. (Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa)

Imagine skiing five miles into a remote national forest in northwestern Wyoming to find a piping hot gourmet lunch. Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa is a rustic spot with wagon-wheel light fixtures, a crackling fire and midday meals open to guests and visitors alike in winter.

You can start with Asiago nachos with artichoke hearts and roasted duck ($15), move on to elk sloppy joes ($18) and finish off the meal with Deep Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ($11) or apple pie with ice cream and caramel ($9).

The lodge is near the town of Dubois, Wyo., but is accessible only by snowmobile or skis/snowshoes. Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through March 15.

Concord, Mass.

After you’ve toured the Revolutionary War sites in Concord, Mass., you may want to take a break for lunch at this prison restaurant open to the public.

The Northeastern Correctional Center in town offers three-course fixed-menu meals at the Fife & Drum made by prisoners who are honing their cooking skills. The price is $3.21 for a three-course meal of soup, entree and dessert. Menu items may include “cranberry-and-apple-stuffed chicken breasts; sautéed zucchini; and a heaping mound of rice,” according to a Boston Globe article.

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Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. You’ll need an ID to get in. Go early if you want a seat; there are just a dozen tables in a sparse setting.

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