Final day of Omaha Trip Report…Take II
This is the city. Omaha, Nebraska. We were working day watch out of the “Burgers and BBQ” division. My partner (no, not that kind of partner) is wanderingjew. My name’s The Travelin’ Man. I carry a fork.
I don't know what my latest fascination is with the campy[url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0zgIzqgxFU']Dragnet[/url] of the late sixties??
Wednesday, June 18 - Omaha, NE
As I had done previously, I opted for a few extra sleep minutes as opposed to going to the coffeehouse. Upon checking out of the hotel, we started towards lunch, which would be at a burger on the outskirts of town (actually, it is in Bellevue, which is the next town over) called Stella’s. This was the one time (I think) that we deviated from the pre-planned course on the entire trip. We found an ad for Stella’s in one of the newspapers that were given away near Rosenblatt – and it looked good, so we went for it. Sometimes, allowing a little flexibility to the plan allows for happy discoveries.
It’s not real easy to find Stella’s. The restaurant is set back from the main road, and is undergoing a bit of a face-lift, leaving them with no clear signage. Fortunately, sometimes, the nose knows.
You’ve gotta like a place where the only visible permanent sign is on a back door, with a ‘NOT AN ENTRANCE” sign above. Add in the ambiance of one of the Mohawk-clad cooks smoking a cigarette, and how could you go wrong?
One of my rules of thumb: If a place only does a handful of menu items, they probably do those few things really well.
I desperately wanted to order the fried shrimp just to tweak Dale, but opted for the bacon cheeseburger instead. Note the aforementioned Mohawk-sporting dude.
This was one fine burger. My only real complaints were the lack of availability of cheddar, which is my go-to cheese for a cheeseburger, and the penchant for the cooks to aim for the darker side of medium. Still, even with a lack of visible pink in the middle, this was a really good, juicy, flavorful burger.
Facing what could only be described as some pretty stiff competition, these may have been the best French fries of the entire trip. Note the golden color; they were also well-seasoned before they brought to the table. These fries actually tasted like potato – a less and less common occurrence, as many shopkeepers shift to pre-packaged, frozen fries.
In baseball parlance, Stella’s was nothing short of a home run. Since we couldn’t possibly have a meal without dessert, we made our way to Omaha’s Old Market area for their famed locally-produced, small-batch purveyors of ice cream, Ted and Wally’s.
Pay close attention to all of the “Best of Omaha” awards that this place displays in their windows. Another good tip for travelers seeking out their own haunts – if a place wins a local “Best of…” award, it is probably a good sign that the locals frequent this establishment, as tourists generally do not vote in these polls, often conducted by the local newspaper.
When they say “hand-made,” they mean it. I was going to ask what flavor he was working on, but in addition to the ice cream, he was also busy working on some of the local talent who had stopped by, and I didn’t want to be the guy who blocked.
I would figure that I would have to come to this place an awful lot before I made it to try their chocolate or vanilla offerings. There is just too much other good stuff. Mr Plan Ahead had already made up his mind that he was going to have the cinnamon graham cracker and placed his order. I figured I would get a few samples before making my decision, and I am pretty glad that I did.
This is the two-scoop waffle cone with butterscotch Oreo on the bottom and French toast – yes, French Freakin’ Toast – on top. I sampled them both and really did wonder if they made better one-bite samples than full scoops. I am glad that my trepidation was unwarranted…..because these were both smooth, creamy and flavorful. There is no other way to describe that French toast ice cream than to say that it tasted like the ice cream form of French toast. I was stunned it was so good. I would rate this ice cream as being better than my beloved Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory by a nose – and at about half the cost….view of the Brooklyn Bridge not included.
I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite things about the College World Series is the way the entire city of Omaha embraces “their” event. These cookies were found at a convenience store/gas station just on the outskirts of the Old Market area called [url='http://www.cubbys.com/about.asp']Cubby’s[/url]. This has to be the coolest convenience store I’ve ever seen. In addition to C-store staples like sodas, beer and chips, they had full display cases of hot foods to go, and a small grocery market. The prices were more in line with a grocery store than a convenience store, too. My point about the cookies (and the CWS, in general) is that this is not a place that particularly caters to tourists – there didn’t seem to be a ton of hotels in the general vicinity. The people who live in this area use this market – and they are selling these CWS-themed cookies. I think that’s cool.
Our next stop was the Henry Doorly Zoo, which is located right next to Rosenblatt Stadium. Since it was still about five hours before the game, we scored the best parking spot in proximity to the stadium that we would ever get! In short, this zoo is fabulous. It is a worthy stop in its own right, and the [url='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Doorly_Zoo']Wiki[/url], it is Nebraska’s number one paid attraction. We had a somewhat limited amount of time, given that we had a scheduled eating stop before the game, so we strategically hit some of the zoo highlights. Our first stop was the Lied Jungle, which – in case you wanted to know - is the world’s largest indoor rainforest.
OK…I am not going to bore you with an endless parade of zoo pictures. All of the ones that I have edited so far are posted on my [url='http://www.flickr.com/photos/81181002@N00/sets/72157605897566054/']flickr page[/url] (and I have a few more coming that haven’t been edited yet). However, if you will allow the indulgence of just a few, I will try to hit just the highlights.
This is kind of cool. It seems that ESPN annually films one of the teams on their “down time.” Apparently, this year, they choose to film the LSU baseball team at the zoo while we were there. This really is one of the cool things about the College World Series. The teams aren’t sequestered for the big game – they are out and about, mingling with fans and locals. You just don’t have this kind of access to the participants for the Final Four for basketball or the national championship game for NCAA football.
Random fish that I liked….think he tastes like chicken.
Maybe my favorite picture that I took the whole trip – Loggerhead sea turtle
After we went to the aquarium, we went to the Desert Dome, which you can see from the baseball stadium over the right field fence. This is the world’s largest indoor desert. Unfortunately, by now, my camera battery was dying – yes, I committed the cardinal sin of picture-snappers. Since this was my third visit to the zoo, I wasn’t all that disappointed, but wanderingjew probably got short-changed a little bit on getting to see the big cats, the gorilla exhibit, and some of the other outdoor stuff.
As time was getting late anyway, we went back to the hotel to pick up my battery charger and then made off to dinner at The Bohemian Café. Despite my best efforts to get a charge into the camera, it appears as though I drained it pretty well – so, all the pictures from “The Bo” will be Dale’s shots.
This was my second trip to the Bohemian, and it remains my only true experience with traditional Czech food. I guess I am still on the fence as to whether or not I like it enough to seek it out.
When I returned home, I looked back through my notes to see what I ordered and what I thought of the place the last time. I noted that I was told to order the traditional roast duckling, but instead chose the jaeger schnitzel – which is a dish of veal cutlets covered in a wine and mushroom sauce. I guess I must have liked it the last time, because that was what I chose to order again.
The meal comes plated with sweet and sauer cabbage and Czech dumplings. I could have had kraut in place of the cabbage and a choice of potato instead of the dumplings. These are not your mama’s “chicken ‘n dumplings” dumplings. These are heavyweights – lead balloons, if you will. They make a nice compliment to the veal, but this was easily one of the “heaviest” meals I’d had the entire trip. The meal was also preceded by a cup of liver dumpling soup….
For you Jews, this dumpling was what would have come out of the soup pot if Grandma used twice the matzo meal to make the matzo balls. I am pretty sure that I have used an item of less density when swinging away at the driving range. Personally, I thought that the soup was overly salty – and, again, a very heavy accompaniment to an already lead-weighted meal. I tried to get a salad instead, but was mocked by Dale for even suggesting a salad in a Czech restaurant. Fortunately, I was able to bring my core temperature down with this…
A nice, frosty ceramic mug of Pilsner Urquell, an excellent Czech-brewed beer.
All in all, a fine final meal in Omaha. We plowed back down towards the Stadium for the final night of baseball and scored reserved seats from a couple who had purchased a set of four, but were only able to use two. $15, instead of the $10 for the general admission, and we didn’t have to spend our time getting bumped out of our seats in the fourth inning. In addition, we got some quality bonding time to spend with the locals, who were interested in our trip and what we were doing – and even offered some suggestions as to new places to hit on the way to Denver. Dale quickly put an end to that talk by firmly explaining that our schedule was already planned months in advance, and we would have no room for deviation. [#61514;]
Miami battled a tough Stanford team in an elimination game. Seems to me that all of the Nebraska fans/Miami haters went home happy, as Stanford held on to beat the ‘Canes.
This gets to serve as my final image of the 2008 College World Series. I am going to do everything in my power to make it back next year again!
106 Galvin Rd S
Bellevue, NE 68005-2119
Ted and Wally’s Ice Cream
12th and Market
Omaha, NE 68102
[url='http://www.omahazoo.com/']Henry Doorly Zoo[/url]
3701 S 10th St
Omaha, NE 68107
1406 South 13th Street
Omaha, NE 68108
<message edited by The Travelin Man on Tue, 06/23/09 9:44 AM>