Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket

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wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/24/10 6:51 PM
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Sunday August 29
 
I didn't realize that my breakfast stop was just 2 miles from my hotel.  Unfortunately the "muggys" were coming back and it was supposed to be a warm humid day.
 
Of course no one can head to Des Moines without stopping here
 

 
The Iowa  Machine Shed
in Urbandale
 
fully taking advantage of the corn
 

 
and
 

 
pork theme...
 
and of course the farm theme is very blatant when you enter the restaurant with farm tools as the main source of decor
 

 
There was no doubt in my mind what I was having for breakfast

 
 
a dinner plate sized cinnamon roll. This cinnamon roll was as good as it was big probably one of the best I've ever had and it comes with a tub of butter no less!   It went well with the bad weak coffee that they served, of course I couldn't finish it all and had to take it back with me to my hotel..
 
Afterwards I did go to Zanzibar- a nice little trendy coffee house on Ingersoll Avenue for a real cup of joe. And they served a surprisingly good cup too- It's  also walking distance from the Sterns Reviewed Jesse's Embers but I didn't go there.
 
After breakfast, I decided to head about 1/2 hour south of Des Moines to Winterset Iowa to  visit this legend..

 
"The Duke"
 
He grew up in Winterset Iowa and even has a street named after him..
 

 
The house he was born in was converted into a museum.
 

 
Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the house
but apparently there appears to be plans to built an actual museum dedicated to John Wayne
 

 
I will say one thing, however lives next door to the house- must be a very dedicated fan of the man
 

 
Afterwards I headed back to Des Moines and stopped at
 

 
Historic Valley Junction actually located in  downtown West Des Moines
 

 
Valley Junction comprises several antique, gift and craft  shops and eateries. Although it's been a while, the last time I was there back back in 1998 over memorial day weekend and there was an art fair going on, and it was quite vibrant. I got there just before noon time this time around on a Sunday and unfortunately not all the shops were open and unfortunately not many people walking around. I'm not certain if it was because of the economy or because it was a Sunday.
 
After walking around and checking out the shops that were open, I eventually made my way about a half hour north for lunch at
 

 
Starbucks Fast Food

in Nevada IA.  I found out about the place through Ayersian's route 66 blog (I found out about Crouse Cafe the same way as well)
 
There was a decent lunch crowd when I arrived
 

 
 
Of course I ordered their specialty. The Loosemeats
 

 
The last time I had a loosemeats was at Maid Rite in Des Moines 12 years ago, and obviously I've been in no hurry to have one ever since. This time around all I can say is "better" better than my last experience but still not "good enough" .... Basically it's hacked up ground beef. There was a discernible flavor in the ground meat that tasted like "bread and butter pickle juice" and the sandwich came loaded with onions, pickle , ketchup and mustard.  But it really didn't do anything for me. I'll take one Iowa chop at market price over 5 free loosemeats anyday. At least it was a couple of steps above the one I had at Maid Rite over a decade ago.... I thought about getting the onion rings too but the girl behind the counter told me they're frozen and not homemade so I didn't get any..
 
After lunch I headed over to Ames to check out Iowa State University. There are no photos, because frankly I didn't find anything worthy to take a photo of. Ames does have a really cool downtown area  so I did take a stroll and ended up going to a local brew pub for a $2 beer- looks like  sunday afternoon  was happy hour!
 
I returned to Des Moines and decided to check out downtown, specifically their entertainment district called "the Court Avenue district" which encompasses a few blocks of bars and restaurants. Like I said earlier it was a warm muggy day and I needed a refresher so I stopped at
 

 
Java Joe's 
 
for an iced coffee and also for
 

 
 
This  nasty looking, shriveled up, stale and dry Dutch Letter- and yes it tasted as gross as it looks. Yes this is the second disappointment (and thankfully the last) of the trip..
I will say that the iced coffee wasn't bad. Unfortunately due to the deformed  Dutch Letter,  Java Joe's may be on the rotten tomatos list at the end of the year, however Java Joe's did rectify themselves later on in the trip.  

Hopefully dinner will turn out better...
and it did...to an extent....I've been wanting to check this place out for quite some time....Located in suburban Grimes...
The place has a really cool name..
 

 
The Corn Patch
 

 
The place has been around for almost 30 years, the decor is kind cozy
 

 
 
and they're apparently really famous for their
 

 
Potato soup which comes with every meal and  apparently has been described like "crack" all over the internet.  I don't get it- it wasn't bad but not the addicting elexir that everyone seems to make it out to be . It was creamy and full of big chunks of potatoes and probably was exceptional for potato soup but honestly I've never been a fan of potato soup and apparently this potato soup did not make me a convert.
 
Dinner also comes with a warm fresh loaf of bread
 

 
and some wilted lettuce
 

 
I was under the impression with a name like "the Corn Patch" that a huge heartland salad bar would there waiting for me...not exactly...
Ok so far, somewhat of a letdown- however the saving grace was the main course
 

 
Another fine juicy and tender  one lb Iowa chop served with a side of au jus
 
and a mess of
 

 
crispy hashbrowns...
 
You would think this meal would conclude with a climax--- pie anyone???? not here - cheese cake and ice cream only-  I didn't get any...

I'm not sure what to make of The Corn Patch-no salad bar- no pie-
great potato soup that I couldn't care less about, but the Iowa Chop
and Hash Browns were solid!
 
I went back to my hotel and finished the rest of my cinnamon roll from breakfast...
 
I'll continue with the report beginning next week..
 
 
 
 


<message edited by wanderingjew on Wed, 10/6/10 8:31 AM>

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 09/26/10 8:37 AM
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Davydd


The Suzie Q Cafe owner is Troy Levenhagen. He is a professional magician when he is not running his cafe. The cafe itself is a prefabricated structure built by Valentine Manufacturing out of Wichita, KS back in the 40s. There are few left. Here is the history.

Valentine Diner History


Davydd
 
That makes sense, because he was doing card tricks when I was there too.

tcrouzer
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 09/26/10 9:48 AM
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WJ, I'm really enjoying this trip report from an area of the country I have yet to visit. Thanks for your great descriptions and photos!

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 09/26/10 2:41 PM
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Oh, I'm having palpitations just looking at that cinnamon roll (like, bad palpitations, not like my heart racing from excitement).  How much of that monster did you finish eventually?
 
My reaction to loosemeats was pretty much like yours--I had one, it was fine, I'm not in a fat hurry to have another.  I'm sure people who grew up with them are very fond of them.  Why on earth did you buy a dutch letter in that condition?  That is just sad.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 7:59 AM
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Nancy
I did finish the cinnamon roll that evening I polished off about 2/3 of it at breakfast and since I was pie deprived that evening, the cinnamon roll was the next best thing.
 
All the dutch letters in the display case at Java Joe's looked miserable, there were only a few left anyway, I was eventually able to rectify the dutch letter situation, and Java Joe's rectified themselves later on in the trip.
 

Inthewater
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 9:18 AM
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Wow...I feel bad even seeing that letter and knowing you got it in my town.
 
On Valley Junction - Sunday is dead there, not a great day for much of the town, honestly.  Too bad you were at Java Joe's and didn't stop by The Royal Mile, or even CABCO (which is probably where I was with my wife on a Sunday...  :(  ) for a much better food / drink experience.  For Dutch letters, head about 45 minutes east to Pella, and hit the Vander Ploog Bakery.
 
Zanzibar's is a great little place, glad to hear you enjoyed it.
 
Loving the trip report, keep it comin'.
 
 

susanll
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 9:36 AM
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The Vander Poog Bakery in Pella is fabulous!  We drive up there from Memphis to visit the bakery and the lovely town of Pella.

Inthewater
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 10:42 AM
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My bad, it's Vander Ploeg Bakery.
 
Hey, just saw on their website that they USPS Dutch letters.
 
:D

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 10:42 AM
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I do love Pella.   And now I can't help but think up possible scripts for a 'The More You Know' style public service announcement about the perils of Pie Deprivation.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 7:17 PM
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Nancy,
 
I could certainly volunteer to be poster boy for the pie deprivaton public service announcement but I would have to bestow the honor of "spokesmodel" to Buffetbuster
 
Innthewater
 
I've been to Court  Avenue Brewing on my previous visits to Des Moines back in 1998, 2000 and 2003 and enjoyed it but since I had a pint or two at the brewpub in Ames, I was "good to go" this time around..
 
BTW- read the upcoming trip segment which I hope to complete some time this evening- you definitely read my mind!

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 8:48 PM
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Monday August 30
 
Today was another very ambitious Roadfood day..

Like I did exactly one week ago with Julekaka Bread,  I was going to have bread for breakfast. This time a big hunka
 

 
 
Dutch Apple Bread from
 

 
Jaarsma Bakery in Pella Iowa. I tore into half a loaf of this rugged beauty- it tasted like a big ol' apple fritter...I didn't stop there...
 
I couldn't turn my back on this...
 

 
Now that's a dutch letter! It tasted like a soft almond horn but in this case, there's an interesting almond paste filling.  Since I only had half, the "S" ended up looking more like a "C" when I was done. It was good but the Dutch Apple cake won me over...
 
Unfortunately Jaarsma Bakery doesn't have any seating so I had to eat both in my car. I wrapped up what was left and saved it for breakfast the next day..
 
Afterwards I walked around Pella's quaint downtown passing
 

 
 
a windmill
 
and
 
 

 
tulips...
 
Apparently I don't have to leave Iowa to pretend I'm in Holland..
 
I did stop at one of the meat markets and oogled at some  Pella Bologna and some fine looking Iowa Chops but didn't purchase any...
 
I was then on my way to my next stop....
 

 
 
The Coffee Cup Cafe in Sully Iowa.... (I said it was going to be an ambitious day)

 
Where locals come to shoot the breeze...
 
 
Since I already had a dutch letter it was now time for some ....
 

Dutch Lettuce- an amazing concoction of lettuce- sweet creamy mustard dressing- bacon- and chopped egg that went oh so well together....Salads are supposed to be healthy? right?
 
of course I had to stay for some
 

 
chocolate cream pie..
 
And to think I haven't even had lunch yet...
 
Well that changed when I made it to

 
TC's Point After- in Dewitt Iowa- about 25 miles north of Davenport in the eastern part of the state...
 

A Tavern with some of the best interior decor of the trip...
 

 
 

 

 

 

 
TC's Point After is famous for their breaded pork tenderloin which took 2nd place in the
Iowa Pork Producer's Assocation contest...

 
Now, not only was their homemade creamy coleslaw a winner, but.....

 
The Breaded Pork Tenderloin took 1st prize in my book...this was the best tenderloin of the trip crunchy on the outside and a pronounced oinky flavor on the inside- and the fresh cut fries deserve acclaim as well....Another perfect meal!
 

 
I met the owner- Chuck Cox who told me that they hope to nab 1st place this year...
 
Davydd, if you're reading this - TC's Point After is a winner!
 
After lunch I checked into my hotel  in Davenport. and then made it over to
 

 
The John Deere Store- just over the Mississippi in Moline Illinois
 

 
Comprising a museum as well, it looks like I died and went to farm tractor heaven..
 

 
Although it was overcast- it was still a warm muggy day, therefore time for an ice cream break at the original
 

 
Whitey's Ice Cream in Moline IL
 

 
although there is a huge variety of flavors to choose from I went with
 

 
a double scoop of black cherry and banana in a waffle cone- It was good but not outstanding-  the best ice cream of the trip has yet to come!
 
My last touristy stop of the day was
 

 
The Mississippi River Visitors Center...in Rock Island IL- besides some cool exhibits, it offers some amazing views of the river. And perfect timing- I arrived just in time to watch this tug boat pushing this barge
 

 
 
Dinner time was arriving....I had done some research and had considered a German Restaurant called The Bier Stube, but what I was really looking for was a restaurant with some German Influences. Stopping in the Amana Colonies would have been ideal- I remember when the Stern's used to write about some of those restaurants in the Amana Colonies in the pre website books. Ideally stopping there on the way to the Quad Cities- for lunch would have worked- but I really wanted to check out TC's Point After- and going there for dinner instead of lunch may have delayed my evening plans...
After seeing great reviews on this long time fixture...
 

 
Riefe's Family Restaurant in Davenport-
 
Riefe's has been around since the 1940's and apparently has expanded over the decades
Even their multi room dining areas have different "feels" to them...
 

 

 
 

 
 
Although I couldn't find a menu on line- the food they served was described as "German Influenced". Shucks if I made it there on a Saturday I could have experienced "pork shank day" smothered in sauerkraut..
 
It doesn't matter because I hit a home run with my meal anyway...
 
Dinner always starts out with bishops bread and a yeast roll
 

 
Bishop's Bread is a German style bread and tastes very similar to a lighter version of coffee cake..
 
I moved on to a thick hearty cup of homemade bean and ham soup
 

 
 
and for the main course
 

 
A smoked chop with hash browns and green beans.
This particular chop had a muscular smokey edge which brought out the fine porcine qualities of the meat...Even the green beans were supurb- offering small morsels of porky goodness in each bite- the hash browns were so- so, lacking the crispy freshness of its predecessors...however since this was the only negative, I have no complaints
 
And to top it all off
 

 
a fine slice of banana cream pie...with chunks of banana in each mouthful..
 
Riefe's Family Restaurant offered a sold meal- no wonder why its been around over 60 years!
 
From Riefe's it wasn't that far of a drive to
 

 
Modern Woodmen Park- home of the Quad City River Bandits- single A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals- this actually my first affiliated minor league ballpark of the trip. It was also my favorite minor league park of the trip...
 

 

 
 

 

 
offering great views of the bridge and the Mississippi River from the third base side
 

 
with lip service to
 

 
John Deere
 
The River Bandits hosted The Cedar Rapids Kernels that evening
 

\\
 
I don't remember the score but The River Bandit's beat out the Kernels by a hair..
 
Of course it just wouldn't be a quad cities ballgame without
 

 
a between inning John Deere Tractor Race
 
And I'll leave you with a nightime view of the bridge
 

 

<message edited by wanderingjew on Mon, 09/27/10 9:03 PM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 9:12 PM
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Dale honey, those are cannas, not tulips.  You'd have had to be visiting in April to get the tulips.
 
Julie went to college in Pella and played league softball in Quad Cities after graduation--you covered a lot of ground that day.  The Riefe's dinner does look outstanding.

blizzardstormus
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/27/10 9:19 PM
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What a great trip report! It's amazing what culinary gems I have missed in my own state!
 
Maidrites, loosemeats, whatever they're called: I totally agree that most Maidrite franchises are nothing spectacular. EVerything is produced at a central warehouse and shipped out. In addition, the meat used nowadays is much leaner and not as flavorful as in the past.
   I wish I had known that you were headed to Winterset the day after we got together. You might have enjoyed the loosemeat sandwich at Frostee's better. It's located near the John Wayne museum.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/28/10 8:11 AM
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Nancy
So in a couple of years when I ditch traveling around the US altogether and start making my way around Europe, hopefully I'll get to see what a real Tulip looks like (those cannas looked like tulips to me) but what do I know I've never seen one in "real life" before..
 
Mark,
 
I'll be leaving Iowa on the next segment of the trip (which I should complete tonight)  but do eventually make my way back on the way back to the Twin Cities, but that won't be until the last segment which will probably conclude some time next week.

Inthewater
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/28/10 9:20 AM
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Yep, there is a huge festival in Pella in the spring called "Tulip Time"  http://www.pellatuliptime.com/
 
It is a really beautiful time to visit.  The things are everywhere.
I used to go to Davenport to watch the locks back when I was a little kid with my family.  It was a cheap vacation.  We would drive there to visit the original Machine Shed (before it became a medium sized chain) and tool around the quad cities in the Family Truckster.  http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2007/06/06/you-think-you-hate-it-now-the-disappearing-family-truckster/ We seriously had a wagon that looked just about like that, just fewer head lights.  :D
 
Anyhow, loving the stops you are making.  I may have to try to hit TC's Point After sometime, that looks like a great time.  Not really my area of the state, but may be worth making a trip sometime.
 
Can't wait to see what's left.

ScreamingChicken
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/28/10 10:32 AM
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I'm glad you stopped at TC's, WJ.  I had hoped to do so back in April but plans changed that day and I wondered what I missed...now I know.  And I'm disappointed all over again!
 
Brad

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/28/10 8:49 PM
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Tuesday August 31

I had a busy travel day ahead-  By visiting the Quad Cities, I actually "back tracked" on my trip and the reason was because I wanted to see a minor league game in Iowa, having previously visited Sec Taylor Stadium in Des Moines back in 2003 and considering they were on the road during this trip- The Quad Cities was the most logical choice.
 
Today I was up at the Crack of dawn- Gulping down the the rest of my Dutch Apple Bread and Dutch Letter from the morning before for breakfast I was on my way...
 
Heading east it began to rain- for the first time in 11 days! After stopping briefly in Des Moines for some good java at Zanzibar, it began to pour buckets on and off for the rest of the drive....
 
Eventually the sun did come out again- and it made perfect sense -because every day is sunny at
 

 
LC's Bar-B-Q
 
In Kansas City- although it was about 95 degrees with probably 95% humidity. I got there just at the tail end of lunch hour
 

 
On my last visit 2 years ago, I proclaimed LCs my favorite BBQ joint in Kansas City
and judging by these awards
 

 
I'm not the only one that thinks so..
 
Although I took a look at the menu board
 

 
I already knew what I wanted..
 

 
Some  incredibly amazing perfectly smoked burnt ends
 
and
 

 
a side of perfectly fried fresh cut fries..
 
Just like 2 years ago, this meal was nothing short of perfect...
 
I noticed an older African American gentleman sitting down and "reviewing the books"
at one of the tables, as it turns out he is the owner- I told him this was my second visit and LC's was so good the first time I had to come back a second time all the way from Rhode Island to have some more Q.. We engaged in some small talk and he had one of his employees open up the smoker so I could get this photo..
 

 
 
After lunch I headed of to check into my hotel. Funny thing is I was under the impression that I was going to be staying in the Country Club Plaza section of Kansas City. This where I stayed on my last two visits in 2003 and 2008, I put my gps on and went into auto pilot and realized it was taking me past Country Club Plaza, before I realized my hotel, the holiday inn express is not in Country Club Plaza, but right in the heart of Westport- even better! a short walk to a great brewpub, and one of my favorite coffee houses in the country, The Broadway Cafe and Roasterie.. After checking into my hotel, I took a walk aroud Westport in the sweltering and muggy heat- first stopping at The Broadway Cafe for the best iced coffee of the trip, afterwards I stopped at McCoy's Public House for a local brew- I honestly don't remember what I had, but since it was so freakin hot and humid it was probably a wheat beer... afterwards I went back to my hotel for a nap (only kidding no naps for me)but I did return to my hotel
 
Now remember I previously mentioned that the Iowa Machine Shed was only 2 miles from my hotel in Des Moines? Well, my Roadfood stop for the evening was right next door to my hotel.
 

 
The Westport Flea Market Bar and Grill
famous for having some of the best burgers in Kansas City
It's here that  I met Roadfooder- Zataar and her husband...Bill- ( I hope I got that right Karen!) I've been looking forward to meeting Zataar for quite some time. We were supposed to meet during my last visit 2 years ago but that didn't work out due to a clashing work schedule....
 
I arrived first..
 

 
and was admiring all the accolades and awards
 

 
Zataar and Bill arrived about 5 minutes later... Even though this is a bar/tavern setting, you actually go up to the counter to order your meal...
Both Zataar and I got a burger...
 

 
Bill got the giant pork tender
 

 
You then have the option to add your choice of condiments  at the condiment bar
hence my finished product!
 

 
Karen pointed out that the seasoning on this burger was virtually non-existent- I concurred, but this is beef country! and although it wasn't the best burger I ever had it was still a solid burger in my book...I knocked down the meal with a couple of Boulevards- Kansas City's premier beer.
 
Zataar, Bill and I had a great conversation about all the different Roadfood restaurants we've visited, their daughter who lives in Seattle (which is where I spent 3 years of my life as well) and their upcoming trip to London... I enjoyed meeting the both of them and will have the opportunity to break bread with Zataar again later on in the trip.
 
After dinner, since there was still the ongoing threat of thunderstorms and because I was tired, I walked the 50 feet or so back to my hotel and called it a night..
 
More tomorrow.

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/28/10 10:05 PM
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That view into the smoker is really appreciated.  I always wondered how they looked inside.
 
As for that car...

MilwFoodlovers
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/28/10 10:28 PM
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WJ, my wife and I travel to the Quad Cities every year for the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival and this area has quite a few good Roadfood dining choices. You hit a minor league home run when you chose Riefe's over the Bier Stube. Set in a quaint area with a number of interesting places to visit, the Bier Stube was memorable in that it was the worst German food  we'd ever had; anywhere. NOTHING was tasty! It's a very neat looking Germanic place to have one of a very large variety of excellent beers, probably one of the best selections we've come across outside of Milwaukee but the food was horrid. You were a very lucky man. A block or two away is a candy store named Lagomarcino's that is like a step back in time but with tasty chocolates and soda treats. If you ever return, Ross's in Bettandorf has something they call "mountains" and they are somewhat similar to mid-Illinois's horseshoes. The Blue Cat Pub in Rock Island has a salad with duck cracklin's that suits me to a T. Buddy Roadhouse and I (and Mrs. MFL) all really enjoy Jim's Rib Haven, also in Rock Island. A history buff should find lots to enjoy at the museum in the Arsenal. And it's hard not to tear up when looking at the gravestones of the Blue and Gray boys buried at the Arsenal. We love that ball park too; what a view.

mr chips
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/29/10 10:38 AM
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Glad you got to meet Zataar as she is one of my favorite posters ever. The food looks outstanding

Inthewater
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/29/10 11:49 AM
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Ahh, I stayed in that Holiday Inn Express this summer with my wife.  I also walked across the parking lot (after going to McCoy's, The Foundry, Kelly's, Buzzard Beach, Dave's Stage Coach Inn, ...and a few others I can't remember) and had a burger at the Flea Market.  I also wowed the crowd for karaoke with my sweet vocal talents.  There may have been a few pints (read as 5) of beer involved in that.  :)  The burger mobile is awesome.
 
We love Westport.  Looks like you were there about 2 weeks after us (judging by the date on the burger receipt.  :D

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/29/10 6:13 PM
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MFL
I read some of the reviews for the Bier Stube  on yelp and urbanspoon. They were very mixed and it seems folks from the Chicago area had a  real disdain for it- I decided to stay away- I think the only negative review I read about Riefe's was from a parent whose kid supposendly worked there and was for whatever reason fired.
 
I heard about Ross' it captured my attention, but since I already hads breakfast leftovers from the day before I couldn't make it there.
 
Innthewater and Mar
 
To me the burger mobile looks like a genetic experiement that went askew!

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/29/10 8:13 PM
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Wednesday September 1

Waking up to rain wasn’t the worst thing in the world. The weather forecast indicated that that it would clear up by noon but still a chance for thunderstorm into the late afternoon/early evening.

I had a couple of cups of outstanding coffee at Broadway Café and Roasterie sided by an oat bran bar. From there it was off to the old stockyards district, passing The Stern’s reviewed Golden Ox- which I enjoyed back in 2000 during my first visit to Kansas City.

My plan was to spend the morning at The American Royal Visitors Center and Museum, the place where rodeos, horse shows and livestock auctions reign supreme.
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

It was so authentic I could actually smell the manure (I really did- the place wreaked of manure)
 


 
 
I enjoyed the museum and really got a kick out of this two headed horse- the horse actually had a name but I forgot what it was.

All of this livestock was making me hungry...

So I headed southbound to Snead’s Bar-B-Q in Belton , just south of Kansas City.
 


The cars in the parking lot and the smell of smoke coming from the smoker were good signs.
 

 
 
 
I enjoyed the rustic interior
 

 

But will the food deliver?
 
 


With smoke tinged brownies and ribs


Tangy beans enshrined in shreds of bbq meat
 


and golden brown fries

it certainly did!

Sneads is now my second favorite bbq joint in Kansas City, however I still have a place in my heart for LC’s at #1

I will say that the portions at Sneads are certainly “Chi Town Diner Sized”

After my gut busting lunch which I couldn’t completely finish I returned to Westport to a place that I discovered the day before- unfortunately they were closed Mondays and Tuesdays but they were open today
 

 

Murrays Ice Cream
 


 
With accolades and awards for best ice cream the place looked promising.
After checking the web to see if my intuition was right, the recommendations were to go with the chocolate fromage,
 

 


however I completely ignored the recommendations and went with my intuition



I went with a double scoop of the deep dark rich chocolately Chocolate Zone and the rich maple - bacon infused Hog Heaven. I hit the jackpot- the best Ice Cream I’ve had all year.


 

Murray’s will get a spot on the 2010 top 10  list at the end of the year.

After my ice cream break I headed to Independence Missouri- home of Harry Truman.
 


 
 
Apparently everyone there is
 



Wild About Harry.

I took a tour of Harry Truman’s home, although photos were not allowed in the house, I was nothing short of amazed at how frugally this man lived -as this is where he and Bess lived before and after his Presidency. I actually remember as a little kid being home during winter vacation, I was probably watching cartoons or something and I remember whatever I was watching was interrupted with news about his death...


 
After touring the house I took a tour of the
 


 
Jackson County Marshall’s House and Jail Museum.
 
 

 

 

 
 
Another very informative museum, I understand that Frank James, Jesse James brother surrendered and was jailed here and was treated as some what of a celebrity
 

 
I believe this was his jail cell..
 


After the museum I headed south again to Martin City, unincorporated cattle country of Kansas City to
 

 
 
Jess and Jim’s
As you enter you can peruse the various cuts of meat you can expect on the menu behind glass doors


A steakhouse with a classic feel...
 

 
Each meal begins with a complementary bowl of chilled picked  beets

 

 
And of course at any classic steakhouse-  I had to begin with a gin martini


Starting out with a simple salad with house dressing , and garlic toast
 

 
 

 
 
I moved on to a tremendous loaded twice baked potato and
 
 


An amazing 16 oz strip of KC “Moo”
 

 
in other words I hit another home run

Speaking of Home Runs...

I deliberately had an early dinner so I can enjoy my second visit to Kauffman Stadium home of the Kansas City Royals. It has been 7 years since my last visit and my first since the renovations..
 

 

 

 

 
 

 
(I know we're in the heartland but the scoreboard is actually referring to the farm teams)
 
 

The Royals hosted the western division leaders, The Texas Rangers, unfortunately the mediocre royals just couldn’t keep up the Rangers and they lost- I don’t remember the score..
 
 

 


 

 
I love what they did with the place, specifically the seating in the outfield surrounded by the waterfall
 
 

 
 

 

 
 
Luckily the rain/thunderstorms held off during the muggy but windy evening.
Afterwards it was back to my hotel for the evening...
 
I'll probably get one more segment in before the end of the week
<message edited by wanderingjew on Wed, 09/29/10 8:20 PM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 10:07 AM
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Oh, that steak dinner will haunt me--looks wonderful!

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 10:49 AM
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wanderingjew


Wednesday September 1


 


Dale, your ice cream choices look wonderful.  But the Bee's Knees sundae looks interesting to me -- I have never seen anything like that.  It looks like a great combination of flavors.
 
Thanks for another great report.

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 10:52 AM
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Honestly, I don't know how you good folk do it. I am six foot, 245lbs and I would have been done after the beets (I love beets), bread and that massive loaded potato. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 11:06 AM
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What a great report! Your pictures are just beautiful. I feel like I was there too!

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 11:28 AM
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wanderingjew

Wednesday September 1

After my ice cream break I headed to Independence Missouri- home of Harry Truman.
Apparently everyone there is




Wild About Harry.

 
Nothing to report about Gregory G's BBQ?  Although after that lunch I certainly can't fault you for not checking out more barbecue!
 
wanderingjew

Another very informative museum, I understand that Frank James, Jesse James brother surrendered and was jailed here and was treated as some what of a celebrity

I believe this was his jail cell..




Reminds me of my college dorm room...
 
Brad

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 12:28 PM
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Excellent!  I'm so glad that you've moved on to trying 2 flavors of ice cream on the same cone.  Just trying one would leave me wondering all day.
 
That maple bacon sounds so interesting.  Such a great combination of flavors.  And the rich chocolate!  Swoooooon

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 2:29 PM
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Personally I think i'd rather see Chi Town Diner do bacon- pecan pie jello shots!
 
Challange accepted!!!

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/30/10 2:35 PM
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I had a bacon brownie last week in New Orleans--pretty much exactly as it sounds, a simple chocolate brownie with walnuts and chopped up bacon inside.  Really good, although it does suffer a bit from gumminess.  I would think that's maybe less of a problem with the ice cream--was the bacon crispy or gummy or some of both, Dale?

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 10/1/10 8:00 AM
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Mar
It always depends on if I have enough room for two scoops, or if there's an ice cream flavor I'm really in the mood for and that's all that's on my mind- then that's the one I get.
 
Ivyhouse
All of their sundaes looked really good, but whenever I walk into an ice cream shop for the first time, I always get the ice cream "naked"
 
Wintem
I can assure you I couldn't eat everything on my plate. I had maybe 3 beets, one slice of bread, a third of the potato, I did finish the salad and of course I had to finish the steak because "it was the only right thing to do"
 
Nancy
I would have to say bacon had a  more "chewy" texture than crunchy, or gummy but the flavor certainly added a new dimension to the ice cream that I've never expierenced.
 
I'm going to try to do one more segment of the trip report  tonight, then there are 4 more segments to go, all of which should go sometime next week

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 10/1/10 10:22 PM
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Thursday September 2
 
Waking up to another morning of rain, I stopped first at Broadway Cafe and Roasterie  for some more amazing joe.
 
 I would be spending most of the morning traveling
But not without breakfast at Kansas City's Legendary Niecie's Restaurant

 
 
 
Recently, Niecie's found new digs, since this was my first visit to Niecie's, I never had the opportunity to visit their original location. Although the new place seems nice I wonder if the old place had more character..
 

 
Zataar joined me for breakfast here. It was good to see her again.  I arrived first and Zataar arrived shortly afterwards.
I decided to go with the biscuits and gravy. These biscuits weren't anything like I've ever had before. They had a deep rich flavor and a moist crumbly texture instead of getting lost in the gravy, the biscuits seem to merge with the gravy in harmonious balance.
 

 
 
Zataar had the pork chops and grits and I understand it was every bit as good as it looks
 

 
 
 

Of course I couldn't leave Niecie's without their legendary and "infamous" chocolate cake " to go"
 

 
Afterwards I was on my way. Shortly after entering Kansas the rain stopped and the sun came out.  After a few hours of driving I made it to my lunch stop.
 

 
 
 
The Bread Basket in Newton KS- a mennonite- german infuenced small town cafe
 

 
 

A long lost friend I haven't seen in seven years and one that I was looking forward to getting back to.  I discussed this place with Michael Stern last year at the Buffalo Bus Tour and told him he must get there if he finds himself in the Wichita area again. This left an imprint in my mind and I was wondering if it was still good...
 
I had to ensure that I got here early. They run out of the item I was looking forward to by mid day which I  found out on my first visit in 2000 eat there and- unfortunately I would have to wait 3 years later to experience the reason that they run out of
Bierocks.
 
Service is cafeteria style.You have the option to get salad or soup or in my case both with your sandwich or bierock.
 

 
 
 
Besides the classic heartland salad bar

 
the array of soups is overwhelming too, so you can get either a large bowl or 3 small bowls...
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
If the choice of soups can leave one indecisive, the choices of pie would make Buffetbuster explode.
 

 

 
 

 
I felt so overwhelmed I even forgot to get some bread!  Although   I'd be willing to bet the selection of homemade bread tastes just as good as it looks.

 
 
My salad choices included potato salad, warm sauerkraut, pea salad and a ambrosia.

 
 
 
My soup choices included chicken borscht
 

 
 green bean and ham
 

 
 
 and chicken noodle.
 

 
Of course not one, but two bierocks
 

 

 
and for dessert- toll house pie... just like moist chocolate chip cookies but in pie form
 

 
Not only did this live up to my expecations of a 7 year old memory- it exceeded it - 10 fold......
 
I usually don't figure out my complete top 10 lists until the end of the year- but
Breadbasket- you hit the number one spot on the "old standby's" list!
 
After lunch I hit the Kauffman Museum in North Newton KS, a mennonite museum celebrating the local history and culture. What I found interesting is that the mennonites in Central Kansas also moved from Germany to Russia before settling in Kansas, similar to those pioneers in North Dakota.
 
 

 

 

 

 
 

 
 

 

 

 
 

There is a restored home, barn and windmill in the back of the museum, what surprised me is the  guide inside the museum, just gave me the key to the barn an house  and said "here"  I guess I must have an honest face.
 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
Before heading to my hotel, The Hyatt  in Downtown Wichita, I had to revisit this
monument..

 
The keeper of the plains. 
 
Just on the periphery of downtown Wichita.
 

 
 It seems they did some work on this since I was last here 10 years ago. I don't recall the native american artifacts and artwork attached to the wall surrounding the statue, there was also piped in native american music from a large speaker that wasn't there 10 years ago.
 

 

 
 

 
 
They now also offer an evening light show which I now regret not going to.
 
When I arrived at the hotel it seems the brief but tremendous gusts of wind that I though was going to blow me away to the land of Oz  really dried out the air and after 4 days of muggy weather I was going to enjoy another long stretch of low humidity... I did enjoy a the local brew- tallgrass ale on tap at the hotel bar.
 
My final meal stop for the day was the Nu Way Cafe in Wichita-
 

only a couple of miles from my hotel- but I opted to drive. I believe this is the original location.
 
 

 

 
 
As you know I'm not a soda fan in any way what so ever ( I always refer to soda as "liquid diabetes") although they told me they make their own root beer- ok - only just this once- It was good

 
Although Doc's Steak House reviewed by the Sterns  is the originator of garlic salad,  The Nu Way has their own version and
 

according to the sign - it's home made fresh daily
 

I decided to try it- and it was creamy-garlicky and intense- glad I didn't have any dates that night.
 
 
 
There are many regional items that I'm glad I gave more than one chance for example the breaded pork tenderloin The bierock (or runza) - they seemed to get better each time I tried them, of course the first couple of places may not have been that great-  Unfortunately I wish I could say that about the loosemeats sandwich
 

 
I tried The Nu Way's version and my mind is "maid rite" up. I just don't get it! At least I kept an open mind and gave it several chances..
 
After returning to my hotel, I walked over to Old Town on the way- this neat little park captured my attention.
 

I enjoyed a couple of local brews at the River City Brewing company-  my final stop was an iced coffee at the Vagabond Cafe before returning to my hotel where I enjoyed the moist rich chocoloate cake from Niecie's which I had picked up earlier in the day.
 
The final segments.....next week.....
 
 
 
 
 
<message edited by wanderingjew on Sat, 10/2/10 10:46 AM>

billyboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 10/1/10 11:33 PM
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Dale, the hits just keep on comin'!  Great work as always!  Love the clever use of "maid rite"!

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 10/1/10 11:42 PM
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Excellent!  They keep getting better.  Can you describe the bierock and garlic salad?
 
I've been looking (for years) for a recipe for a salad I enjoyed at a now long gone Albanian restaurant.  The best I can describe it is very creamy cottage cheese and garlic. Yours doesn't look like cottage cheese, but was there any in it?

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sat, 10/2/10 10:57 AM
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Billyboy
Thanks!
 
Mar
Bierocks are just like "runza's" cabbage/beef and onions inside bread dough.  Although I've only had bierocks at the breadbasket and the now defunct bierock kitchen in Wichita, I believe both used sauerkraut versus "just cabbage" which I believe Runza Restaurant chain in Nebraska uses as well as the very dissappointing "cabbage pocket" I had at Homemade Heaven Sandwich Shop Ogallala .
 
Garlic salad is basically just very creamy coleslaw loaded with garlic....I read somewhere that Doc's Steakhouse uses shredded lettuce versus cabbage, I'm not sure what the Nu Way uses.

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sat, 10/2/10 2:20 PM
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Excellent report as always, Dale. Movie buffs may note that the Quad city baseball park was the stadium where the movie "Sugar"was filmed. That film about about a Dominican baseball prospect was one of the best i've ever seen about baseball.
    You and TTM both seem to like the redesign of kauffman stadium but i prefer the waterfall as it made the park unique. But I will need to visit the park to make a final judgement.
   Your Kansas City food stops look great. jess and jim's has been a place i have always wanted to visit and it looks great in your photos. as always, i'm looking forward to reading more about your travels.

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sat, 10/2/10 3:49 PM
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I didn't know that chipsie--we liked 'Sugar' very much.  The same folks made a great movie called 'Half Nelson' and they have a new movie coming out soon.
 
If the offerings at the Breadbasket tasted half as good as they look I can see where you'd bump it to the front of the line.  And maybe bring the Niecie's chocolate cake along.  :)

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sat, 10/2/10 7:35 PM
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Thanks for the explanation.  Bierocks are now on my wanted list.

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sat, 10/2/10 8:45 PM
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Mrs MFL has made something she said her mother called Grautbrücks. They are the same as your runza/bierocks. She learned that at least some of her German ancestors came from Russia so it all fits. Great report.

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 10/3/10 7:17 PM
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Friday September 3
 
More than 2 weeks on the road now- we're getting into the last leg of the trip report...
I returned to a coffee house I last visited 10 years ago in Wichita called Riverside Perk. It was in my old "Let's Go USA Book" which I used to rely on heavily for traveling in my post college days.  Unfortunately on this visit the coffee was not what i remembered. It was weak and disappointing (my 2nd disappointing coffee house of the trip) I stopped at one cup. This warranted a return to the Vagabond Cafe whose coffee fared much better...

I left Wichita with hopes of saying "goodbye" to dorothy, the tinman, scarecrow and cowardly lion unfortunately..

 
only the Tin Man showed up to greet me.
Seriously, Clifton Square is a victorian building converted into a shopping mall. When I was there last time, the entire cast, well actually Dorothy, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion in addition to the Tin Man were there to greet me, I have them on my 35 mm photo. I guess they're off eating Bierocks somewhere (Well the cowardly lion did have an "old style" Brooklyn accent so perhaps he's eating a knish instead)...

I was on the road again this morning heading South East...
 
I arrived in Tulsa OK just in time for lunch at
 

 
Ike's Chili House
 
Arriving at the height of lunch hour Ike's is a busy greasy spoon serving up some good ol' stick to your ribs chili
 

 
It's been 20 years since I last visited Tulsa. That does not include my stop over 14 years ago during an ice storm when I was moving from Seattle to Pittsburgh, although I decided to have the same thing that I enjoyed back then at a dive across from my motel that I guess I'll never know the name of
 

 
Frito Pie.  I kind of took a liking to this dish- The dish actually came with a small tub of chopped onions and jalapeno that you add at will. I'll have to admit this probably would have looked alot prettier had I taken the photo prior to adding the jalapenos. I and probably would have had no regrets if I had the opportunity to enjoy another half a serving or so but one serving was probably enough. When I left Ike's I was happy.
 
From Tulsa it was a short 20 minute ride to Claremont, Home of Will Rogers and his Museum
 

 

 
 

 
Part Choctaw Indian, Will Rogers  stated that he never met a man he didn't like, well I wasn't born yet, so the jury is still out there..
 
The museum was interesting

 
Quite a bit of memorabilia and Mr. Roger's personal items
 

 
This is supposed to be a replica of his study
 

 
And his tomb is also located on the museum grounds as well
 

 
One thing I found interesting is that there was a screening room which showed his movies. I never knew he acted in movies, I just thought he was a "humorist and folklorist" I guess you learn something new everyday..
 
After visiting Will Rogers it was time to visit JM Davis and his museum also in Claremont
 

 
JM Davis was a local hotel owner who collected guns  and kept them at his hotel... Although I really couldn't care less about guns (even from an historical perspective) I do have to note that this museum includes the oldest known gun in existence-
 
 

 
It was invented in China back in the 1300's and its my understanding that the first person to test out this gun at the time is our own Michael Hoffman
 
Besides guns, the museum also had other interesting collections and historical tidbits including
 

 
This nice beer stein collection which is more my speed
 

 
Even though I ignored most of the gun collection, overall the JM Davis Museum was pretty interesting.
 
It seems my overall impression with Tulsa is that it was starting to get lost in the translation, instead of Heartlanding through the Breadbasket I felt more like I was Wandering Around the South- it seems Tulsa had more in common with Arkansas than it does with the western and central part of the state which has more heartland characteristics.
 
I returned to Tulsa and checked into my downtown hotel, The Crowne Plaza....
I then drove to my dinner stop..
 

 
Elmer's BBQ
 
Located in the funky neighborhood of Brookside.
Prior to starting this trip, I had consulted with Howie Baratz who wryly told me that BBQ was competitively mediocre in Tulsa. I checked yelp and urbanspoon and it seemed that Elmer's seemed to stand out a little from the rest of the competition at the time although even that seemed to change on almost a daily basis.
 
Elmer's offers a really neat atmosphere..
 

 
 

 

 
The wall is also filled with celebrities who have eaten here...
 
Elmer's is Famous for it's "Badwich" (named after Tony Bad?). An interesting configuration of chopped beef, rib, bbq bologna and either smoked sausage or hot links.
Two mistakes with my ordering you have the option to order it as a sandwich - or "a'la carte" which  comes with texas toast.
 

 
I ordered it a' la carte.
You also have the option for smoked sausage or hot links, the waitress recommended hot links and of course I ordered smoked sausage and missed "the kick" the hot links would have given it, reading yelp reviews after the fact was really a kick in the pants.. I chose bbq beans and corn as my side.
 
This wasn't bad bbq, it was actually pretty good, and I enjoyed both the slightly sweet and spicy bbq sauces. However after spending two days in Kansas City at LC's and Snead's it certainly wasn't in their category.
 
After heading back to my hotel I took the short walk to
 

 
Oneok Field- new ballpark for the Tulsa Drillers- double A farm team for the Colorado Rockies.
 
When I got there- I went to purchase my ticket- and was told the game was sold out- standing room only- it figures! This is what happens to me when I don't get my tickets in advance! Well I guess I could hope that some season ticket holders won't show up at the game and I can nab a seat...
 
I walked around the ballpark prior to the game, I thought it was interesting that what should have been the front of the ballpark was actually facing a gated parking lot
 

 
Inside, the new ballpark has all the bells and whistles
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
As well as a view of the Tulsa skyline
 

 
Like most minor league baseball teams, the drillers have a colorful mascot. In this case it looks like a steer
 

 
As well as an interesting between inning race
 

 
In this case a bunch of funny looking ethnic characters and a hotdog.
 
The Driller's hosted the Springfield Cardinals that evening - I don't remember the score but Tulsa won
 

 

 
After the game I walked back to my hotel and called it a night
 
more tomorrow....
<message edited by wanderingjew on Sun, 10/3/10 7:42 PM>

billyboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 10/3/10 7:42 PM
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Leave it to me to find the one spelling error!  The picture of the Oldest Firearm in the J.M. Davis collection.  The caption says, It is fired my touching a burning match...  Sorry, it just jumped out at the proofreader in me.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 10/3/10 7:44 PM
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billyboy


Leave it to me to find the one spelling error!  The picture of the Oldest Firearm in the J.M. Davis collection.  The caption says, It is fired my touching a burning match...  Sorry, it just jumped out at the proofreader in me.


Billyboy

If that's the case, you probably get a real kick out of reading those grammatically incorrect Chinese take out menus too!

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 10/4/10 8:40 PM
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Saturday September 4

After a restless sleep due to party goers across the hall from me who stayed up late after the John Mayer concert, I temporarily recovered at the Cherry Street Coffee House located in the funky Cherry Street neighborhood. The rich Java I enjoyed there ties for first place with the Broadway Café and Roasterie in Kansas City. Since I was only drinking coffee there, I checked out of my hotel afterwards and took a 45 minute detour south to Muskogee to meet a legendary Roadfooder for breakfast.
 
 
 
Here at the Shawnee Restaurant is where I would meet Tiki.
 

 
 
Having never met Tiki before I was looking forward to it. He was supposed to attend my first President’s Day Glee Club Event in Austin back in Austin but couldn’t make it due to unforseen circumstances.     

We both got there at the same time and met each other in the parking lot
 

 
A couple of pick up trucks and a guy in a cowboy hat in the parking lot is always a good sign.

I was looking forward to a big hearty breakfast and Tiki assured me I’d be getting one. Imagine my surprise when these “big as your head” biscuits arrived along with the creamy gravy.
 

 
 
I was wondering how I was going to finish that long with my “oinky” pork steaks.
 

 
Tiki told me The Shawnee serves some mean country ham too and that’s what he got.
 

 
Tiki told me that the sign over the restaurant was not always there so until recently it was known just as “the restaurant”.

Tiki was a great conversationalist. Halfway through breakfast Tiki’s friend arrived ( I forgot his name) and took photos of the both of us. I had a blast
 



After breakfast I headed two hours west to Oklahoma City. I checked into my dumpy Quality Inn (the dumpiest hotel of the trip) and took a short nap due to my lack of sleep the evening before. After waking up, I drove 30 minutes west to El Reno for a Little Tex -Mex at Serapios for a late lunch
 

 
After doing research I found out that the place has been a fixture in the area for several
decades with the same owners family.
 

 
The meal starts out with fresh complimentary Tortilla Chips which comes with homemade salsa and queso.
 

 
 

Although it’s not their forte, I ordered the Steak Fajitas- the Lunch Version, considering the portion size, I could only imagine what their dinner version looks like.
 

 
 

 
 

 
I enjoyed these which were served with their home made tortillas. My only gripe is the
steak/pepper/onion combination at the bottom of the serving dish was a little dry and overdone, other than that, although it wasn’t the best Fajitas I had (I give that nod to El Gallo in Austin TX) they were good.

After lunch I returned to Oklahoma City, stopping in the Stockyards District.
 

 
 
Passing the Stern’s reviewed Cattleman’s Café.
 

 
Unfortunately I wouldn’t get to try the place, however I did walk in hoping that they would have a bar perhaps some local beer on tap- no such luck.. Walking through the stockyards and peering into the western wear and saddle shops,
 

 
I realized that OK City is just one big cow-town. 
 

 
 

 

 
 
I then headed back towards Bricktown. The revitalized warehouse district now housing shops, restaurants and bars
 
 

 
 
as well as The Bricktown Ballpark home of the triple A Oklahoma City Redhawks.
 

 
I went to a ballgame there back in 2003. I was supposed to go see a game on this trip as well, however when I went to check the schedule the day before they had recently changed the time of the game to 11AM. I called to ask why and they told me it was because of the OU Foot ball game. I’m thinking what’s so important about college football that they would change the time of the game, to 11AM no less. Either way it I wanted to have breakfast with my buddy Tiki rather than go to an 11AM ball game.   I did get some cool photos of the Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench statues.
 

 

 
 
As dinner time was approaching I was a little dissapointed. My initial plans were to
go to Ann’s Chicken Fry- a long time fixture on historic Route 66, famous for their Chicken Fried Steak. I called the day before to see how late they’re open to (due to expecting to have a late lunch) and was told they would be closed Saturday due to labor day weekend- What a bummer- THIS was the place I was really looking forward to the most in Oklahoma City. I did have a back up plan though thanks to some advice from some Chowhounders when I was first doing my research for the trip.  Even though it was closed, I did make a stop at Ann’s Chicken Fry to get these photos of the outside of the restaurant. I did think if the outside looked this cool, I can only imagine what the inside looked like.
 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
I ended up at Rooster’s Café, about 15 miles NE of my hotel in rural Jones. Walking in and checking out the decor and the patrons- it was everything I had hoped for.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 
Of course I was planning to order their chicken fried steak. Chowhounders warned me that the even the small chicken fried steak is large enough for a big appetite- and what did I do? I ordered the large- and I got exactly what I asked for. Just look at ths monstrous behemoth, and yes that is a full sized dinner plate. It was every bit as good as it was large. I’d even put it in the same category as Hoover’s in Austin TX.
 

 
Even the pinto beans and fried okra that I ordered as sides were good. Unfortunately no matter how good it was I could barely get into a third of my meal and tapped out-
 

 
The whole meal ran me about 10 bucks.
obviously no matter how tempting that blackberry cobbler might have been, dessert was out of the question.
 
 

 
 
I returned to my hotel a very stuffed to the gills man, and called it a night- I would have a big, big travel day tomorrow.

More to come tomorrow.




leethebard
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 10/4/10 10:27 PM
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Oh my God, that chicken fried steak would feed a small family!!!

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 10/4/10 10:58 PM
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Dale, you take AMAZING vacations.  If I ever get the chance to travel the way that you do I'm going to ask you to map it out for me.
 
WOW, just WOW.

mr chips
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 1:10 AM
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Dale, Oklahoma football is a religion and a minor league baseball game pales in comparison to Sooner football. That chicken fried steak looks wonderful. Surprised there was no onion burger in El Reno and no visit to the praying hands in Tulsa.
<message edited by mr chips on Tue, 10/5/10 1:14 AM>

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 8:11 AM
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Mr Chips
 
I did the praying hands on my first visit to Tulsa back in 1990. I also did the Gilcrease Museum and the Philbrook museum as well back then.
 
Onion burgers?? Stay tuned.....

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 9:17 AM
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Oh now I'm gonna have 'Okie from Muskogee' in my head all day.  /waves at Tiki!

ScreamingChicken
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 9:47 AM
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Nancypalooza


Oh now I'm gonna have 'Okie from Muskogee' in my head all day.  /waves at Tiki!


I'm stuck with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"...
 
WJ, did you happen to ask what cut of beef was used for the chicken fried steak at Roosters?  The gravy looks plenty hearty, too.
 
Brad

billyboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 10:04 AM
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"Billyboy

If that's the case, you probably get a real kick out of reading those grammatically incorrect Chinese take out menus too!"
 
WJ, you have no idea!  It's like "A Beautiful Mind" when the letters all light up and jump out at Russell Crowe.  I can't shut it off! 
 
And that CFS?!  Wow, does that thing double as a bed?  I keep thinking Bugs Bunny is going to come out and sing "I Dream of (Chicken Fried Steak) with the Light Brown Crust!
<message edited by billyboy on Tue, 10/5/10 10:12 AM>

Wintem01
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 10:29 AM
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That chicken fried steak is a thing of beauty. Glad to hear it was good as well as just huge. So did you box the leftovers and eat it for the next, say, week? Tell me you didn't leave two thirds of that behind.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 12:38 PM
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Mr Chips

I forgot to mention that I never had an appreciation for college football, I barely have an appreciation for pro football- My reasoning at the time I found out that the game was rescheduled to 11am  was that the Patriots could play in Foxboro the same day and time as a the Red Sox play in Boston and it would still ensure a sell out game for the Red Sox.
 
Brad
I'm one of those guys that doesn't get into the technicalities of the food I eat- you know- grass fed vs corn fed,  oak smoked vs cherrywood smoked....I just know looks good....tastes good...yum!
 
Wintem

Bad news- I got a to go box and threw everything out when I got back to my hotel. I was done for the evening and had to save my appetite the next day for dinner- besides I was on the road for most of the next day and there was no way my leftovers could keep .

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 6:34 PM
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Sunday September 5
 
Coffee in Oklahoma City on a Sunday morning must be the equivalent of liquid gold. It seems that many choose to close on Sundays and those that choose to open don't do so until 9AM.
 
The Red Cup has gotten many favorable reviews so I went. There was a line of people waiting to get in when I got there at 9AM sharp- Only small and medium (16 oz) cups are offered and they offer a surprisingly solid medium roast- however no refill prices- for each refill you have to pay full price and not only that but the line never let up- the whole time I was there- I observed constant foot traffic entering the coffee house- anyway I stopped after two medium cups although I easily could have had a third.

I had a big travel day ahead I would be traveling all afternoon and also well into the evening since I had to make my way back to the Twin Cities for a 5:30pm flight the next day . However a return to El Reno for an early 11 AM lunch was in order at
 

 
Robert's Grill
 
The only onion burger joint open in El Reno on a Sunday. I called the day before to make sure they were open since it was Labor Day weekend as I didn't want to back track all the way there for nothing..
 
Of course I knew to order the onion burger. I was observing the cook behind the counter cook the hell out of that burger hence the finished product
 

 
A good tasting burger - the fried onion infuses the burger, however I found the consistency dry and overdone. I prefer a nice juicy burger and frankly this onion burger wasn't.  I'm not sure if this is the exception or the norm. If its the norm, then  unfortunately onion burgers aren't on my favorite list.
 
I hit the road before noon, as I said I had a long long driving day ahead of me.
Leaving Oklahoma, entering Kansas and finally entering back into Missouri, dinner time was approaching.
 
Now some of you up till now may have thought  "I can't believe he was in Kansas City and didn't stop at..............................."
 
 

 
 
Well you're all wrong! Of course I had to save the best for last
 

 
I was expecting to be greeted by lots of people waiting to be seated and as you can see
the place was packed
 

 
 

 
I was told there would be 90 minute wait for a table, however I could find immediate seating at the bar- it was a no brainer- I'll eat at the bar since I still have to get back on the road. I got to the bar and there were no seats- there was a space to stand at the bar-
This is Strouds- they could hang me upside down over the roof and serve my food there for all I care- of course I'll eat standing up at the bar.
 
There was an older couple sitting next to me that I had a conversation with. I told them I came all the way from Rhode Island for some fried chicken and if I had to eat standing up so be it- the couple asked me if Rhode Island was under water because of recent news that Hurricane Earl had passed through the area, however I wasn't sure but figured if I returned to my condo entered my living room and found two Portuguese fisherman in a life raft, well that answers my question.
 
Anyway, my salad with blue cheese dressing arrived.
 

 
and by the time I was done, the older couple had left and gave me their seat. Thankfully I can now enjoy the rest of my dinner "in style"
 
Those  addicting warm cinnamon rolls arrived
 

 
You can never have just one!
 

 
And finaly the rest of my dinner- green beans, cottage fries and gravy and some of the best succulent fried chicken I've ever had
 

 
I don't think I said it loud enough "SOME OF THE BEST SUCCULENT FRIED CHICKEN I EVER HAD!!!"
 
So to answer Wintem's previous question- this is why I couldn't save the chicken fried steak from the day before.
 
After dinner I was back on the road and arrived at my final destination for the evening at around 9:30pm- the Days Inn in West Des Moines IA.
 
The final segment tomorrow.

zataar
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 10:22 PM
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Wonderful trip report! Bill and I really enjoyed our Flea Market get together with you. Glad you didn't have to travel far to get there!

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 10/5/10 10:22 PM
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That is some awesome looking fried chicken for sure!

MiamiDon
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 10/6/10 8:07 AM
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Wow, that chicken looks great.  What are the white strips covering the Stroud's salad?  A second cheese?
 

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 10/6/10 8:38 AM
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Zataar
 
I'm assuming your back from your trip from across the pond.  I hope you and Bill had a great time and perhaps see a trip report from you.
 
Miami Don

Yes, that's grated cheese- I couldn't tell you what kind though.

zataar
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 10/6/10 11:00 AM
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WJ, we returned late Monday night. It was a great trip. We had some wonderful British food (it's true!) and especially wonderful traditional food in Cornwall. I'm planning a report soon, if I can figure out how to post photos, I'll do that, too.

CajunKing
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 10/6/10 3:50 PM
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Ok, I'm back and caught up
 
15 pie, 1 Kuchen, 1 awesome looking cake


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