Thursday August 26
I'm now a week into my trip- with another week and a half to go!
Today I was going to take a day trip- a 400 mile round trip day trip to Bismarck
Why not? I've been to Fargo before, saw just about everything I needed to see, however I've never been to Bismarck other than passing by on I94. Besides the speed limit is 75mph, it's a straight level ride the whole way through and there's no traffic...
After a half decent cup of coffee and a Bran Muffin at Atomic Coffee
in downtown Fargo I was on my way...
After a drive lasting just under 3 hours I arrived at Fried's Family Restaurant
in Mandan, about 10 minutes west of Bismarck.
Besides North Dakota's Native American and Scandinavian culture there is also a large "Germans from Russia" culture. These were Germans who moved to Russia for their religious practices and eventually emigrated to the US and settled in this part of the country. Many of the restaurants incorporate this culture into their cuisine. Fried's
is one of them..
I started out my meal with a big bowl of thick and creamy Knoephla Soup
If wild rice soup can be considered the state soup of Minnesota then knoephla soup is most likely the state soup of North Dakota. Basically it's a thick and creamy potato and chicken soup loaded with small dumplings... I've never had it before and I understand that Fried's has some of the best...and it was nothing short of outstanding.
I also tried Fleischkuekle.
Another German from Russia specialty. Flaky fried pastry dough with filled with ground meat spiced with what seems to be onion powder.
This is what the interior looks like. All I can say is that it went well with ketchup
For dessert I had another solid Sour Cream Raisin Pie.
The restaurant also had a nice gift shop...
When I left Fried's, I couldn't help noticing this..
oh if I only I had a few extra days to spend in Bismarck!
After lunch, I made my way to the State Capital
Located on the Capital Grounds is a famous statue
I believe it's called "The Pioneers"
Next door to the capital building is
The North Dakota Heritage Center. A very cool history and natural history museum.
Of course any museum in the Dakotas just wouldn't be a museum without a family of Bison.
Don't quote me, but if I recall I believe this is supposed to be a depiction of Teddy Roosevelt who spent some time living in North Dakota back in the 1880's
I'm not sure who this is supposed to be.
nor these friendly looking folks..
I thoug this was really cool The German from Russia pioneers would use these Iron Markers in place of headstones when they buried their dead.
I spent a good part of the mid afternoon at the Museum and then took a stroll around very tiny downtown Bismarck....I'm convinced that Bismarck would be in the running with Casper Wyoming for most boring downtowns for the second largest cities in their respective states. (Both Fargo and Cheyenne have much more character)
I then returned to Mandan to check out
Fort Lincoln State Park
Located on the Lewis and Clark trail
The state park includes a Museum which celebrates the original inhabitants of the area, The Mandan Indians.
Remnants of a Mandan Village were also discovered on the site as well
and Native American Earth homes were reconstructed on the site to recreate the village
A tourguide took us on a tour inside these earth homes..
Even though it was very warm (in the low 90's with very low humidity) outside, it was surprisingly cool inside these earth homes. Apparently they were built to brave the elements as I was told they can withstand extreme temperatures..
The state park is also the location of Fort Lincoln.
THis is where General Custer and his troops set out for the Battle of Little Bighorn..
Considering the hilly vistas and unusually warm temperatures and low humidity..
even though I was still "heartlanding through the breadbasket
" there was almost a "rocky mountain high and big sky feel
" to this area- hell I was halfway through the state to Montana anyway... so I guess it made some sense..
My last stop at the State park was
a re-creation of General Custer's home located at the Fort. And of course the dork of a tour guide reminded us that the year is 1875...
The house itself was constructed 20 years ago, apparently exactly to the original specs
Here are some interior shots
This is where the general ate
This is where the general slept
and I guess this is where the general played pool
After the tour I went back to Bismarck for my dinner stop at The Little Cottage Cafe
This was written up in the first two Roadfood books respectively in 1978 and 1980
I can see why it hasn't been included since...
Ok I know it's been 30 years since the Stern's last reviewed it. In their review they mentioned specials including stuffed pork chops- ok, I knew it would be a shot in the dark
but in the back of my mind I was hoping they would be on the menu. I looked at the specials - BBQ Ribs....ummm...no I don't think so....and hmmm....Pot Roast....that's a
possibility-no luck- they're out....shucks I missed the lunch specialty of cabbage rolls too
(another German from Russia Specialty) and ribs and kraut- another northland specialty. several of the on line reviews noted they
have knoephla soup- it would have been great to order some and compare the soup
to the version I enjoyed at Fried's
, no such luck, vegetable soup today - I don't think so...
Ok what do I do....I'm regretting it now- but I got another order of....
Fleischkuekle.....I should have learned my lesson from lunch......perhaps I thought this version might be better??? I was so frustrated it seemed that lunch's version was better (or it could have been my imagination) maybe outside of some imaginary nuances it tasted exactly the same...
For dessert I ordered the local specialty
Kuchen- basically a custard dessert filled with prune. If this is an accurate representation of kuchen then I doubt I would order it again- it was very "blah" ****NOTE TO CAJUN KING- THIS IS NOT PIE- IT'S "KUCHEN" THEREFORE IT SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED AS PART OF THE PIE COUNT*******
Until now I can truly say I did not have an ordinary meal....This was my first REAL
ordinary meal of the trip...and thankfully the last! (but the nasty snacks have yet still to come)
After dinner I took the long drive back to fargo... I was back in Fargo a little after 9pm...
Before returning to my hotel, curiousity got the best of me. Theres a college bar called the Bison Turf
, that I always wanted to check out- one recent review I caught indicated they have "the best" beer cheese soup in Fargo- better than the now defunct Grainery?
better than TNT's Dine
r??? Impossible..... I arrived at the bar and I was twice the age of everyone there- I never thought the day would come when I could say that....I ordered a bowl of the beer cheese soup----what a waste- it was watery and dasted like soapy dishwater- come to think of it- that's probably what it actually was....The only saving grace was that they had Summit on tap....fortunately I did not take any photos....
After that it was back to my hotel....I was exhausted and needed sleep... More tomorrow.
<message edited by wanderingjew on Tue, 09/21/10 8:30 PM>