"If You Bake It, He Will Come"

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buffetbuster
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"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 2:21 PM
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On a last minute decision, I took the two days off before the 4th of July, turning the holiday into five days off.  Looking for a cheap flight somewhere, I got lucky and found something reasonable into Des Moines.
 
Friday June 29, 2012
 
On the connection flight from Chicago O'Hare to Des Moines, I sat next to a young guy from Fort Dodge, Iowa.  He seemed to be really interested in my plans while in the Hawkeye State, as he couldn't believe anyone would come to Iowa on vacation.  This was a common theme throughout the trip.  Oh, Iowans love their home state and are proud to be from here.  They are just shocked that any outsiders think Iowa is a great place, too.
 
My plane was landing in Des Moines around 9:30PM.  Unfortunately, just about every restaurant I was interested in was already closed or closing at 10:00.  By the time I got my luggage, rented the car and headed into town, it was already 10:15.  I had asked the young guy on the plane for a downtown recommendation for late night dining and he told me to visit Fong's Pizza.  He let me know it is best known as late night drunk food, but his description of their crab rangoon pizza intrigued me.
 
It took two trips around the block, but I was lucky that a parking spot open on 4th Street right in front of the place.  It was kind of shocking to see so many people milling around in the downtown area, but this was obviously the district where young people go to party on weekend nights.  Right next door is an alleyway, with several college aged men peeing.  I walked into Fong's

and the first thing I noticed was that I was the oldest person here by at least two decades.  On a tv monitor,

they showed which slices were available.  I should have known better, but I did ask the bartender if they had crab rangoon.  He just gave me a sour look and pointed at the tv screen.  Ok, gotcha.  I ordered one of the Bacon and Corn on Spicy and one of the Onion and Cilantro on Garlic Black Bean.  Each wide slice was put on a paper plate and handed to me, along with a bottle of water.
 
While waiting for my change, one young guy squirmed between me and the bar, where there wasn't much room.  He did this to talk to his buddy.  As his well intoxicated buddy started to get off of his bar stool, he slid into his friend, causing both of them to tumble into me.  I saw this coming and had one arm out to push them away, while hanging onto the slices of pizza with the other hand.  Foolishly, I reacted with anger and swore at them, as I have absolutely no patience with stupid, drunk behavior.  Luckily for me, these guys paid no attention, got up and just walked away.
 
The overwhelming taste of the Bacon and Corn on Spicy

was butter.  The kernels of corn were extremely buttery and that is a good thing.  There was a fair amount of bacon on the thin crusted pizza, but no spicy taste at all.  I enjoyed it for what it was.  The Onion and Cilantro on Garlic Black Bean

was less successful.  It seems the entire slice was burnt and too hard to eat, so it got thrown away after only a few bites.
 
Fong's Pizza
223 4th Street
Des Moines, IA
515-323-3333
 
Right across the street from Fong's Pizza is a place reviewed on Roadfood called Java Joe's Coffeehouse.  Grabbing something sweet to take back to the hotel room seemed like a good idea.  And they had plenty of muffins, cookies and other assorted pastries to choose from. 

But, some peanut butter scotchies

sitting on the counter caught my eye.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it at the hotel to find out that it was basically a rice crispies treat, with peanut butter icing on it.  Not bad, but we must have a different idea of what a scotchie is.
 
Java Joe's Coffeehouse
214 4th Street
Des Moines, IA
515-288-5282
 
Much more to come.....           
<message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 07/9/12 2:34 PM>

kevincad
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 2:27 PM
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buffetbuster


On a last minute decision, I took the two days off before the 4th of July, turning the holiday into five days off.  Looking for a cheap flight somewhere, I got lucky and found something reasonable into Des Moines.

Friday June 29, 2012

On the connection flight from Chicago O'Hare to Des Moines, I sat next to a young guy from Fort Dodge, Iowa.  He seemed to be really interested in my plans while in the Hawkeye State, as he couldn't believe anyone would come to Iowa on vacation.  This was a common theme throughout the trip.  Oh, Iowans love their home state and are proud to be from here.  They are just shocked that any outsiders think Iowa is a great place, too.

My plane was landing in Des Moines around 9:30PM.  Unfortunately, just about every restaurant I was interested in was already closed or closing at 10:00.  By the time I got my luggage, rented the car and headed into town, it was already 10:15.  I had asked the young guy on the plane for a downtown recommendation for late night dining and he told me to visit Fong's Pizza.  He let me know it is best known as late night drunk food, but his description of their crab rangoon pizza intrigued me.

It took two trips around the block, but I was lucky that a parking spot opened up on 4th Street right in front of the place.  It was kind of shocking to see so many people milling around in the downtown area, but this was obviously the district where young people go to party on weekend nights.  Right next door is an alleyway, with several college aged men peeing.  I walked into Fong's

and the first thing I noticed was that I was the oldest person here by at least two decades.  On a tv monitor,

they showed which slices were available.  I should have known better, but I did ask the bartender if they had crab rangoon.  He just gave me a sour look and pointed at the tv screen.  Ok, gotcha.  I ordered one of the Bacon and Corn on Spicy and one of the Onion and Cilantro on Garlic Black Bean.  Each wide slice was put on a paper plate and handed to me, along with a bottle of water.

While waiting for my change, one young guy squirmed between me and the bar, where there wasn't much room.  He did this to talk to his buddy.  As his well intoxicated buddy started to get off of his bar stool, he slid into his friend, causing both of them to tumble into me.  I saw this coming and had one arm out to push them away, while hanging onto the slices of pizza with the other hand.  Foolishly, I reacted with anger and swore at them, as I have absolutely no patience with stupid, drunk behavior.  Luckily for me, these guys paid no attention, got up and just walked away.

The overwhelming taste of the Bacon and Corn on Spicy

was butter.  The kernels of corn were extremely buttery and that is a good thing.  There was a fair amount of bacon on the thin crusted pizza, but no spicy taste at all.  I enjoyed it for what it was.  The Onion and Cilantro on Garlic Black Bean

was less successful.  It seems the entire slice was burnt and too hard to eat, so it got thrown away after only a few bites.

Fong's Pizza
223 4th Street
Des Moines, IA
515-323-3333

Right across the street from Fong's Pizza is a place reviewed on Roadfood called Java Joe's Coffeehouse.  Grabbing something sweet to take back to the hotel room seemed like a good idea.  And they had plenty of muffins, cookies and other assorted pastries to choose from.  But, some peanut butter scotchies

sitting on the counter caught my eye.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it at the hotel to find out that it was basically a rice crispies treat, with peanut butter icing on it.  Not bad, but we must have a different idea of what a scotchie is.

Java Joe's Coffeehouse
214 4th Street
Des Moines, IA
515-288-5282

Much more to come.....           

 
Looking forward to hearing more, because I've got a project going in Ankeny, just north of Des Moines and I'll be flying in. I hear Des Moines is small and easily navigated. Did you find that to be true?

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 2:32 PM
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Kevincad-
It is extremely easy to get around as long as you have a car.  People are extremely nice, hardly any traffic, really good food, Des Moines is a great place to visit!

mar52
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 2:36 PM
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Fong's Pizza!  The name alone would get me to try it.  (Kind of like when I tried Casa de Teriyaki)
 
I love the look of the thin pizza although I'd pass on the black bean for well known reasons.
 
Looking forward to more!
 
 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 2:44 PM
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mar52-
When he first mentioned Fong's Pizza to me, I thought it had to be a joke or maybe I didn't hear the name correctly. Let's face it, nothing about the name Fong says good pizza.  Too bad they didn't have the crab rangoon that night.

love2bake
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 3:13 PM
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You have way too much fun, BB!  I love this Fong's Pizza and would definitely have ordered the corn and bacon version, too. Looking forward to seeing what other baked items you tried (I'm sure there's some pie in there)!!

TJ Jackson
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 3:16 PM
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....he was lookin for a place called Lee Ho Fooks
....for to get a big dish of beef chai-oh-mein

kevincad
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 4:04 PM
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buffetbuster


Kevincad-
It is extremely easy to get around as long as you have a car.  People are extremely nice, hardly any traffic, really good food, Des Moines is a great place to visit!

 
Can't wait to visit some of your stops!

ScreamingChicken
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 4:10 PM
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Hopefully Trzhotel will chime in, as he's a resident (native?) of Des Moines.

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 5:35 PM
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Kevincad-
Hopefully, you won't be too disappointed.  I don't spend that much time in Des Moines and it isn't until the end of the trip.

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 10:26 PM
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I originally assumed everyone would get the reference in the title, but not everyone likes baseball movies.  So, just in case.....

ayersian
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/9/12 11:31 PM
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BB, you know how much I love Iowa, so it is with the greatest enthusiasm that I look forward to this report!  And may I ask: is this the first time you've EVER started a trip report with cheap pizza?    Chris

Foodbme
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 4:38 AM
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ayersian

BB, you know how much I love Iowa, so it is with the greatest enthusiasm that I look forward to this report!  And may I ask: is this the first time you've EVER started a trip report with cheap pizza?    Chris

Somehow I got the impression that this was an "Any port in a storm" situation.
I wouldn't think that Des Moines is a mecca for Pizza!
Too bad the Iowa State Fair is not in session. You could volunteer to be a Judge in the Pie Baking Competition!! 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 7:24 AM
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Chris-
Yeah, a less than ideal way to start off a trip to Iowa, especially considering I am not a big pizza lover, either.  Wait until WanderingJew sees I get pizza a second time on this trip!

wanderingjew
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 8:04 AM
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buffetbuster


Chris-
Yeah, a less than ideal way to start off a trip to Iowa, especially considering I am not a big pizza lover, either.  Wait until WanderingJew sees I get pizza a second time on this trip!


Ordering pizza twice in Iowa just hasn't happenned before
Not sure if I'll either melt or self implode-

carlton pierre
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 8:15 AM
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Iowa really is a great place.  My in-laws used to live in Omaha NE and we would take meandering little trips across Iowa on blue highways and found it to be a midwestern gem.

Birdhunter
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 8:28 AM
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buffetbuster,
I'm sure your trip to Iowa is to get your fill of Iowa's Pork Tenderloin's Sandwich's.
But there is a must see rock just a short drive West of DesMonies, called the Freedrom Rock.  www.thefreedromrock.com
I just came thru there a couple of weeks ago. The young man paints something different every Memorial Day. A must see if your a Vetern or not.

Birdhunter
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 8:34 AM
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buffetbuster,
Here a Iowa site for porktendloins. 
des-loines blogspot.com
 
George from Wisconsin
<message edited by Birdhunter on Tue, 07/10/12 8:36 AM>

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 8:38 AM
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Saturday June 30, 2012
 
Because this trip was kind of a last minute thing, there was very little time for the usual advance planning.  No set idea, just making it up as I went.  There was some consideration to starting off this morning with a trip to Ames to visit Grove Cafe and Iowa State University, but instead went straight to Marshalltown. 
 
That meant breakfast would now be at Cecil's Cafe,


best known for having a dapperly dressed chicken on the roof.  If you have read enough Roadfood books (and other Jane & Michael Stern books), you know that having an anthropomorphic animal on the roof is almost a guaranteed sign of a good Roadfood restaurant.  And Cecil's Cafe doesn't let us down.
 
Even though the outside of the building looks small, the dining room was nice sized.  They have tables and booths, but there was no doubt that sitting at the counter was the place to be. 

Behind me was an impressive collection of fish

mounted on the wall.  The menu is two sided laminated with breakfast on one side and lunch on the other.  My favorite thing on the menu was that a bottomless cup of coffee is $1.25, but you can fill your thermos before you leave for $2.25. 

First time I have seen that on a menu, though it is probably fairly standard for a place like this.
 
The meal started with that much loved pastry here in Iowa, the cinnamon roll. 

This was fairly large, but nothing like the monsters I have seen in the Pacific Northwest.  Served warm, plus soft and gooey, this was the perfect way to start the day.  Though tempted by the Gordie's everything omelet, I instead ordered the Farmers omelet, which included sausage, cheese and hash browns. 

The omelet was very light, the hash browns, nice and crispy.  The only complaint (and it is a minor one) is that I would have preferred a different cheese than American.
 
They do have pie,

but I asked and the waitress told me it is not made here.  So, I passed, knowing there would be better opportunities for pie later.  While waiting for my food, I started perusing the Des Moines Register newspaper that was left on the counter.  The feature article was about how downtown Des Moines was having difficulties with late night drinking. 

Apparently, there are 29 places that have liquor licenses in a very small area and they are now going to be much more judicious about who gets one in the future.  What really caught my eye was a mention in the article

where an NFL lineman was assaulted earlier in the month.  By the way, I should mention that I felt perfectly safe while in downtown Des Moines, even at night.  They are just experiencing some problems that any city, especially a college town, goes through.
 
Cecil's Cafe
13 Iowa Avenue E.
Marshalltown, Iowa
641-753-9796
 
While driving that morning, I noticed my phone wasn't taking a charge from the cord in the car.  Since I use my phone as a GPS, this would be a huge problem.  I searched for a Verizon store nearby and there was one in a shopping center directly across the street.  The young man checked out the cord and found a big slice in it, so I bought a new one.  When he found out I was from out of state, he asked what I was doing in Iowa.  Once I told him, his reply was, "Why would you come to Iowa on vacation?"
 
Much more to come.....      
<message edited by buffetbuster on Tue, 07/10/12 8:44 AM>

Sundancer7
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 10:00 AM
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Great report and great pics.  Thanks.  Anthropomorbic???
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

ChiTownDiner
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/10/12 2:34 PM
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Let me understand this...u went to Iowa, had below grade pizza and then turned down pie at the next emal?! 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/12/12 8:54 AM
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Bad news CTD.  There is more refusing of pie coming up.  Hopefully, the pie eating later on in the trip will renew your faith.

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/12/12 10:01 AM
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Saturday June 30, 2012 cont.
 
Before I headed to an lunch destination in Marshalltown, a pilgramage to a once great Roadfood mecca was necessary.  Marshalltown was the home of Stone's Restaurant, which used to be a staple in previous Roadfood books.  Opened in 1887 and best known for their mile high lemon chiffon pie, this was a wonderful place.  Unfortunately, it fell on hard times and closed a few years back.
 
While driving across the bridge, the sign is still very visible. 

By the way, I took this photo while driving, which isn't advisable.  Nobody has moved into the space yet and the building looks the same. 

Even the cute little metalwork sign on the railing is still here. 

In case you can't read it, it says, "Under the Viaduct, Down by the Vinegar Works."   Anyone else ever make it to Stone's Restaurant?
 
While driving through town, I came across this beautiful building,

most likely the local county courthouse.
 
The most famous restaurant in town is Taylor's Maid Rite,

which dates back to 1928 and has been in the same family.  This place is immaculately clean and I liked it as soon as I walked in the door.  There is a large center area,

surrounded by counter seats.  On the back wall is a series of large maps,

with "Go 'round the world, but come back again" written above it.
 
The menu

is very small, with maid rites (a.k.a. loosemeat) being the only sandwiches available.  The very outgoing, friendly waitress asked what I wanted on my maid rite.  So I asked her how the locals ate it, which was pickles and mustard.  The next question was with or with out cheese.  Nah, cheese on one of these doesn't sound right.  I watched as Travis took a couple of spoonfulls of meat from the steam cabinet and put it on the bun. 

The sandwich

was delivered to me in under 30 seconds.  It comes wrapped in wax paper, which you use to catch all the  meat that falls out of the sandwich while eating it. 

I scooped the leftover meat up with my fingers.  To drink, an excellent, thick raspberry shake.

 
I had visited a few Maid Rite restaurants before and came away less than impressed.  The meat here is moister and was clearly superior.  Now, they don't season it all and I wouldn't want to eat this all the time, but it was still quite good. 
 
When my sandwich first arrived, the waitress set a bottle of ketchup nearby.  She then toldme the story that a few years ago, they had a vote, asking customers whether they should make ketchup available or not.  The nos actually won, but so many people voted yes, they decided to set it out anyway.  I was quite happy with just the pickle and the mustard.
 
This place also had a pie list

and after Rumaki's recent trip report where she found really good homemade pie at a Maid Rite, I was hoping for the best.  Alas, this wasn't homemade pie, either.  I passed.
 
Taylor's Maid Rite
106 S. 3rd Avenue
Marshalltown, IA
641-753-9684
 
I got back on the road and continued east towards Cedar Rapids.
 
Much more to come..... 

wanderingjew
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/12/12 10:47 AM
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Refusing pie....Twice???????
 
Pizza....in Iowa?????
That....Does....IT.......!!!!
 


buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/12/12 1:32 PM
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Saturday June 30, 2012 cont.
 
Once in Cedar Rapids, I quickly found a neighborhood just across the river from downtown, known as Czech Village. 

I recognized the saying Vitame Vas (We Welcome You) from meals at Bohemian Cafe in Omaha.  There is a large Czech population in Cedar Rapids, dating back to the 1850's.  They have all kinds of shops here from souvenirs and knick knacks to restaurants and bars.  Here is a look down the street. 

Near the river, there is a tall clock tower

that looks like it could be from the old country.
 
The reason for coming here was to visit Sykora Bakery,


in business since 1903.  So many things in the glass case looked good,

it was impossible to decide where to start.  I asked for suggestions from the two ladies behind the counter. 
 
I started off with a Zelnik,

which was a type of cabbage roll.  This was fairly big in size and is certainly a close relative of runzas, bierocks and pasties.  The dough was very soft and the interior

was filled with cabbage and caraway.  Delicious!
 
Next up was a mushroom tort. 

This was smaller, but much denser than the zelnik.  The inside

held mushrooms in a light cream sauce.
 
Cookie time!  Not wanting to overdo it, I asked for just four.  These

are two different kinds of kolacky cookies.  The larger ones that look like bowties are soft and taste like pie crusts.  The flavors you see are apricot and cherry.  The smaller cookies are denser and taste of shortbread.  The two flavors shown are apricot and raspberry.  I loved them both!  Before leaving, the young girl boxed up 2 dozen assorted to take with me.  These didn't even last 24 hours. 
 
There is no way I could come here and not try the kolaches.  And they must have had at least 10 diiferent types, including fig, which I don't think I have seen before.  Interestingly, all the kolaches were of the fruit variety, none with sausage like you see in Texas.  Here is my quartet,

including cherry, poppyseed, lemon and pineapple.  One of the things I like most about kolaches is that it isn't just the fruit flavoring that is sweet, the soft bread has a slight sweet taste to it, too.  And I thought these matched up with anything I have had in Texas.  They were that good!
 
There were quite a few other items in the case or elsewhere on shelves

that looked interesting, but the place was getting busy and a long line was forming.  So, those will have to wait for the next visit.  Here is some photos of the original Sykora family that started the place. 

And they also have a gift/book store downstairs,

but I didn't have the time to investigate.
 
Sykora Bakery sits only a block away from the Cedar River and there is a history of it flooding and damaging the place.  Here

are some photos on the wall from a big flood in 1929.  There was also a great flood in 2008 that devestated Sykora Bakery, Czech Village, Cedar Rapids and quite a bit of Iowa and beyond.  The original ovens from when the bakery opened were destroyed and needed replaced.  Instead of throwing them out, the exterior door is now mounted against the wall,

which is cool to see.  The flood line inside the building was up to the bottom of the painting.  Can you imagine?  Thank goodness they rebuilt, all credit to them.  
 
If you are driving anywhere near Cedar Rapids, Sykora Bakery place comes highly recommended!
 
Sykora Bakery
73 16th Avenue SW
Cedar Rapids, IA
319-364-5271
 
Since this was my first ever time to Cedar Rapids, I took a few minutes to drive through the downtown.  Looks like a nice place.  There were also many buildings that had markings where the flood line was.

 
I got back in the car, leaving Cedar Rapids continuing east.
 
Much more to come..... 
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 07/12/12 5:49 PM>

love2bake
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/12/12 4:58 PM
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Hahaha--donuts or toast 77 cents?  Gee... lemme think about that one a minute.  :)))
 
I dunno, BB--did you look at any of the pies before deciding not to try them?  Non-homemade pies can sometimes be very good...
 
buffetbuster


Saturday June 30, 2012 cont.

Before I headed to an lunch destination in Marshalltown, a pilgramage to a once great Roadfood mecca was necessary.  Marshalltown was the home of Stone's Restaurant, which used to be a staple in previous Roadfood books.  Opened in 1887 and best known for their mile high lemon chiffon pie, this was a wonderful place.  Unfortunately, it fell on hard times and a few years back.

While driving across the bridge, the sign is still very visible. 

By the way, I took this photo while driving, which isn't advisable.  Nobody has moved into the space yet and the building looks the same. 

Even the cute little metalwork sign on the railing is still here. 

In case you can't read it, it says, "Under the Viaduct, Down by the Vinegar Works."   Anyone else ever make it to Stone's Restaurant?

While driving through town, I came across this beautiful building,

most likely the local county courthouse.

The most famous restaurant in town is ,

which dates back to 1928 and has been in the same family.  This place is immaculately clean and I liked it as soon as I walked in the door.  There is a large center area,

surrounded by counter seats.  On the back wall is a series of large maps,

with "Go 'round the world, but come back again" written above it.

The menu

is very small, with maid rites (a.k.a. loosemeat) being the only sandwiches available.  The very outgoing, friendly waitress asked what I wanted on my maid rite.  So I asked her how the locals ate it, which was pickles and mustard.  The next question was with or with out cheese.  Nah, cheese on one of these doesn't sound right.  I watched as Travis took a couple of spoonfulls of meat from the steam cabinet and put it on the bun. 

The sandwich

was delivered to me in under 30 seconds.  It comes wrapped in wax paper, which you use to catch all the  meat that falls out of the sandwich while eating it. 

I scooped the leftover meat up with my fingers.  To drink, an excellent, thick raspberry shake.


I had visited a few Maid Rite restaurants before and came away less than impressed.  The meat here is moister and was clearly superior.  Now, they don't season it all and I wouldn't want to eat this all the time, but it was still quite good. 

When my sandwich first arrived, the waitress set a bottle of ketchup nearby.  She then toldme the story that a few years ago, they had a vote, asking customers whether they should make ketchup available or not.  The nos actually won, but so many people voted yes, they decided to set it out anyway.  I was quite happy with just the pickle and the mustard.

This place also had a pie list

and after Rumaki's recent where she found really good homemade pie at a Maid Rite, I was hoping for the best.  Alas, this wasn't homemade pie, either.  I passed.

Taylor's Maid Rite
106 S. 3rd Avenue
Marshalltown, IA
641-753-9684

I got back on the road and continued east towards Cedar Rapids.

Much more to come..... 



pnwchef
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/12/12 5:33 PM
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BB, I am half Slovak, the Czech bakery looks great, I haven't seen some of thoes foods in years. Thanks, as always for a great report......Bill

mr chips
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 2:03 AM
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BB, a wonderful report. The food in Iowa looks to be first rate.Looking forward to more.
 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 9:11 AM
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Saturday June 30, 2012 cont.
 
Field of Dreams is one of my favorite movies and visiting the site where it was filmed is something I have wanted to do for years.  Located outside of the small town of Dyersville,

it is privately owned.  They don't charge admission, but they do take donations and also have a gift shop/snack bar which funds the place.
 
Just driving up to the farm filled me with anticipation and to see it down at the end of the driveway,

as in the final shot of the movie, was enough to give me chills.  There were people playing on the field,

as they encourage you to bring your own equipment.  Mostly, it was parents pitching to their kids, although there must have been at least a dozen guys standing around, warming up, ready to take the field.  Looks like we may have the next Joe Mauer here.

 
Since I didn't bring a glove, I wasn't able to play.  It was also blistering hot, approaching 100 degrees.  So, I was content to walk around, snapping photos and enjoy the setting.  Many people were posing in front of the farmhouse.  And, of course, I had to walk into the outfield corn,

to see if anything magical would happen.  Obviously, coming here and playing catch isn't just a male fantasy. 

I did spend a good 20 minutes watching the action of the field from the small bleachers. 

And no, I did not choke on a hot dog and fall off the back.  Eventually, I had enough of the heat and had too much to do, so I ended up being here for about an hour.  This was the highlight of the trip.
 
Next stop was at Paul's Tavern in Dubuque.  

This place is famous for their hamburgers and their taxidermy collection.  Paul's is very dark,

with impressive stuffed animals in glass cases along both side walls.  Having a special place near the front is a polar bear.  How would you like to eat with this over your head?

I went in and sat myself in a comfortable old booth in the back.
 
The menu is very small, only offering burgers and a few sandwiches.  There was one man working at the bar and I walked over and gave him my order.  Besides filling the drinks, he would also be making my burger.  And the way they make burgers here is unique.  This contraption

is known as a broilator, made by Norge.  They use fresh ground beef and they put the patties on the small flat top grill.  When you pull on the bar, it closes the door and positions the burger to be cooked by the flames.  The result is one beautiful, juicy burger. 

Mine here is a cheeseburger, with pickle and onion.  Love that the buns were nicely toasted, too.
 
Once the crowd thinned out, I walked over to the bar and chatted with the bartender, who it turns out was owner Tom Koch.  A really nice guy, he answered all my questions about the place and especially the broilator.  Even though I am not a bar person (I drank root beer), this was a really cool, comfortable place.  I will be back!
 
Paul's Tavern
176 Locust Street
Dubuque, IA
563-556-9944
 
Before leaving town, there was one tourist destination I needed to check out.
 
Much more to come.....     
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 07/13/12 9:46 AM>

CheeseWit
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 9:34 AM
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Just visiting the Field of Dreams and having a cheeseburger at Paul's is a fantastic trip. Loving this report!

hatteras04
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 9:37 AM
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OK I think you have me convinced that I need to go to Iowa (for reasons that I cannot even fathom).

kevincad
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 9:40 AM
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BB, Dyersville is also home to the National Farm Toy Museum!

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 9:54 AM
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hatteras04


OK I think you have me convinced that I need to go to Iowa (for reasons that I cannot even fathom).
That's funny!  No doubt you would be surprised by the attractions and food and would have a great time!
 
kevincad-
I was aware of the toy museum, but just had too much to do on this day.  Have you been there before?
 
Thank you to everyone for all the kind comments! 

<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 07/13/12 9:56 AM>

ann peeples
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 1:10 PM
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The Mayor would love the Czech Village as he has been researching his roots; We are actually, BB, getting a Maid Rite in the Milwaukee area!!!!!!Really?......
 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 1:56 PM
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Ann, I was definitely thinking of Al while there.  He would love the Sykora Bakery!

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Fri, 07/13/12 2:59 PM
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Saturday June 30, 2012 cont.
 
While doing research for the trip, I was happy to read that Dubuque has a fenicular railway in town.  Coming from Pittsburgh, where I have been riding the inclines all my life, I am a fan of this mode of transportation.  Known as the Fenelon Place Elevator,

it was built by a private citizen, banker J.K. Graves to get to work everyday.
 
If you come to it from the bottom like I did, once you and everyone else is settled in, just pull on the cord

and that lets them know at the top you are ready.  Once you hear a buzzer, that means it is about two start.  Round trip, $2.00. Not bad.  I like this photo

of the employee at the top watching us arrive.  As you can see, the rails are very close together,but when they both approach the middle, the one on the right swings out to give them room to pass by each other. 

From the top, you can see that it is a steep grade. 

As a bonus, you get a great view of the city

and the Mississippi River from a landing.  CarolinaBob would have loved this!  One other nice feature was they had postcards from other feniculars from around the world,

including from Pittsburgh and Johnstown, PA.  I had no idea there were so many of these out there.
 
Time for dinner.  One of the restaurants I most wanted to visit on this trip was Breitbach's in Balltown, Iowa.  This is actually the oldest restaurant in Iowa and dates back to 1852. 

In the Jane & Michael Stern book Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A., they point out that this is almost definitely the only restaurant in the country that has had both Jesse James and Brooke Shields dine here.  Most likely not together.  
 
Unfortunately, the original building was destroyed by fire in 2007.  They rebuilt it and believe it or not, it burned to the ground again only 10 months later.  It was rebuilt once again, so this is now their third building.  The restaurant now has a very new feeling to it,

which means it has very little atmosphere.  I wish I had been able to visit here before the terrible fires.
 
Since I parked in the back, I came in through the back door.  Unfortunately, there was no sign saying where the hostess station was, so I wandered from room to room for a few minutes until finally flagging down a waitress to ask her where it was.  She told me, you are standing in the right place (again no sign) and she sat me in the largest dining room near the buffet.  They were offering the buffet this night, but after taking a look at the entrees, I decided to pass.  Looking over the menu,

a lot looked good, but I decided to channel wanderingjew and went with the Iowa Chops.  The waitress said the salad bar comes with dinner and to help myself.  I did make up a small dinner salad, but completely ignored the other items, such as coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, cottage cheese and other items.  Honestly, I didn't pay much attention.  After a conversation with WJ and thinking back to how many times I have read about the Sterns pointing out how special the Iowa salad bars can be, I realized my mistake.  Sorry, but this is the best photo I got.

 
The Iowa Chops arrived and there were two smaller pork chops,

along with mashed potatoes and avegetable medley.  Wrapped in bacon, these center cut chops

were certainly better than anything I could get back home, but I expected them to be juicier and more flavorful.  Still, a perfectly fine entree.  There was no way I was going to pass up on pie again and settled on the red raspberry. 

Lots of sweet fruit, with a soft sugary crust, this was the best thing I had here at Breitbach's.
 
Breitbach's
563 Balltown Road
Sherrill, IA
563-552-2220
 
A very short distance down the street from the restaurant is a bend in the road and an overlook.  You can see lovely, green Iowa farm land, the Mississippi River and on over to Illinois. 

This would be the start of some gorgeous scenery.
 
Much more to come.....         
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 07/13/12 3:07 PM>

ann peeples
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sat, 07/14/12 12:38 PM
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Beautiful.........
 

will_work_4_bbq
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sat, 07/14/12 7:44 PM
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What a great trip!  Now I want to go to Iowa too!  Great food and great sights to see.

mr chips
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sat, 07/14/12 8:23 PM
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Damn, those chops look good.

mikeam
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sat, 07/14/12 9:22 PM
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As alway's great report and pictures. Thanks.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sun, 07/15/12 9:49 AM
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Poppyseed is my favorite of the flavors and I as well have never heard of fig!  the raspberry pie looked great.  On our visit to Maid Rite, we found the loose meats very dry that day!
 

kevincad
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sun, 07/15/12 10:34 AM
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buffetbuster


hatteras04


OK I think you have me convinced that I need to go to Iowa (for reasons that I cannot even fathom).
That's funny!  No doubt you would be surprised by the attractions and food and would have a great time!

kevincad-
I was aware of the toy museum, but just had too much to do on this day.  Have you been there before?

Thank you to everyone for all the kind comments! 

BB, no I've not been to the museum, but my brother told me about it, he has been. He was quite amazed at the collection!

wanderingjew
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Sun, 07/15/12 8:28 PM
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Buffetbuster
 
Glad to you finally made it to Breitbach's.
A couple of things. (from my photos from my visit last year)
 
You probably should have gone with the hash browns instead of the mashed potatoes
 
 
 
The salad bar was definitely the highlight of the meal
They even had braunschweiger
 

 

 
oh and your raspberry pie looked much better than my cherry pie...it was the least interesting part of the meal.
 


TnTinCT
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/16/12 3:12 PM
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A few years back we did a road trip between Kansas City and Des Moines - it was a great trip! Wonderful scenery through miles and miles of cornfields and open skies, and some really great roadfood also - plus both the Iowa and Missouri state fairs in one week. We heard the same thing "you went WHERE on vacation??" but it was a great roadtrip! Enjoying as always your photos and stories.

Louis
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Mon, 07/16/12 8:58 PM
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I am enjoying this trip report.  When I saw the Fenlon Place Elevator, I immediately thought of the time a few years back when Carolina Bob took us on the incline at Chattanooga, TN.
 
And the picture of those "Maid-Rite" hamburgers, demonstrates, as only a picture can, why I've good-naturedly named them "crumble burgers."  They're sort of a fun mess.



<message edited by Louis on Mon, 07/16/12 9:02 PM>

love2bake
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Tue, 07/17/12 6:08 PM
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Iowa has some of the most beautiful countryside in America.  I so love it, and am looking forward to hearing/seeing more from this trip!
 
As I read through the menu at Breitbach's I can practically smell this place. 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Wed, 07/18/12 2:07 PM
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Sorry about the delay.  Been a bad week.
 
Saturday June 30, 2012 (cont.)
 
It was at this point a decision had to be made.  There were several stops in northeast Iowa I wanted to make, but did I want to include the Stockholm Pie Company in Wisconsin as part of my trip?  As much I love their pies, it would greatly increase the amount of miles on the this trip.  While thinking about what to do, I heard a voice, which sounded unmistakably like ChiTownDiner's, saying "Go the Distance!"  How could I say no to the voice?
 
So, I continued on north along the Mississippi River and was treated to some beautiful views. 



The hotel for the night was all the way in Winona, Minnesota, so I couldn't stop very often to take photos, but it made the scenery made the drive much better.  Once reaching Marquette, Iowa, I crossed over the river into the city of Prairie de Chien, Wisconsin.  Here would be my last food stop of the day.
 
Pete's Hamburgers is so small, that I went right past it the first time while driving up Blackhawk Avenue.  Realizing I wasn't looking for a building, but something smaller like a stand, I spotted Pete's

the next time through.  What a great looking little burger joint!  Pete's dates back to 1909 and the menu consists of burgers, chips and drinks to wash it down with.  That's it!  The menu

even has most every possible order combination figured out ahead of time for you.  When I ordered two hamburgers (they do not offer cheese here), they asked if I wanted onions.  Of course, the answer was yes.
 
I have to tell you up front that the method of cooking that goes on here turned me off at first.  They have a griddle here several inches deep and the beef, along with the onions are cooked in this. 


My first impression was that this is really unappetizing and that the burgers are going to be serious grease bombs.  Then it struck me that this isn't grease, but water and the burgers are boiled.  Still not an ideal way to make a burger IMHO, but I was willing to keep an open mind.  They wrapped up my burgers, put them in a plastic sack

and I headed to my car.
 
Just as I was finishing up taking some photos, my girlfriend called.  We hadn't talked all day and had some catching up to do.  Since I had a long drive ahead (the GPS said I was not getting to my hotel until 10:30PM), I left Prairie du Chien without having tried the burgers.  BTW, I should point out that Pete's is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and in warm weather months only. 
 
Pete's Hamburgers
118 W.Blackhawk Avenue
Prairie du Chien, WI 
 
Now on the east side of the Mississippi, I would get the view of the sun setting on the other side of the river.  There was some truly spectacular scenery, but since I was talking with Mariton as I was driving, I decided against pulling over to take a photo.  Finally, we got to area where the sun was just about to set and it gave off such a stunning orange/purple glow across the water, I couldn't take it anymore and told her I would need to call her back.  Just as I parked, grabbed my camera, ran across the street and put the camera on the proper settings, a train decided to roll by.  And the tracks were between the river and I and completely blocked the view.  It was so ridiculous, all I could do was laugh.  Here is a view

with the train.  By the time the train was completely by, the sun had now set.  While this is still a pretty view,

you should have seen it a few moments before.  In Roadfood lexicon, I was just Travelin Manned by a train!
 
Once arriving at the hotel in Winona, I was tired after a long day.  My mood was not helped by the fact that the hotel did not have an elevator, so I had to drag two suitcases up a set of stairs and the fact that there was no internet the entire stay here.  I tried hard not to take it out on the front desk clerk, who was a real nice young guy from Rogers, Arkansas.
 
Once in the room, it was finally time to eat the hamburgers from Pete's

Although no longer warm (through no fault of theirs, of course), this was a surprisingly flavorful burger.  The beef was loosely packed and very moist.  If it was this good hours later, imagine how good it would have been before?
 
Much more to come.....     
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 07/18/12 2:18 PM>

easydoesit
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Wed, 07/18/12 2:55 PM
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Buffetbuster, you're breaking my heart!  Why didn't the world know you were coming here?  I would have loved to meet you and discuss local things!
 
My home in La Crosse WI is 64 miles from Pete's hamburgers, and we make that trip regularly each year.  We get it to go!  We take a glassware container that will hold four burgers (and the all-important onions) and a large seperate baggie for the buns.  That eliminates the sogginess that I am sure you experienced when you finally did eat the burger. 
 
That, of course, is for later, and beyond what we eat at the scene.
 
Locals Pete's tip -- ask for both the cooked and raw onions in combo.  They are happy to oblige.  In fact, these Pete's people are great Wisconsin folks, who are happy to see you all the time.  I am always impressed with how they stay so cheerful in that hot, greasy place  they work in.
 
But there's more we can show you!  Unfortunately not on a level with your legendary travels, but there are some local gems I know you would like.  Wish I could have taken you to our localLa Crosse Maid-Rite, same building since 1958, filled with local railroad pictures, and especially filled with local North La Crosse regular customers.
 
On the way north from Prairie du Chien you passed the Great River Roadhouse in De Soto, well known for their pizza, good and huge!  Filled with families all the time.
 
And now you're in Winona, my home town. If only I knew.

The Travelin Man
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Wed, 07/18/12 6:20 PM
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buffetbuster

In Roadfood lexicon, I was just Travelin Manned by a train!

Is this foreshadowing?
 

ChiTownDiner
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 7:08 AM
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Almost looks like a spreadsheet on the front sheet...

trzhotel
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 11:04 AM
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Did you see Warren Wood at the counter in Sykora's? They have closed and reopened since the last flood and again in 2011.

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 1:03 PM
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Not only am I way behind on posting the report, but on replying to comments, too.
 
trzhotel-
There were two people at the counter of Sykora Bakery during my visit and they were both women.  I love how this place just keeps on persevering despite all the floods.  It is a great little place!
 
CTD-
Yes, my version of your (in)famous spreadsheets!
 
TTM-
Funny how I wasn't actually Travelin Manned on this trip until the day you were due into town!
 
easydoesit-
That's too bad it didn't work out for us to meet, but like I said in the report, the decision to head to that area wasn't made until just a few hours earlier.  I would love to come back to the LaCrosse area someday to have you show me around.  And thanks for the tip on the onions at Pete's.  Next time I will know what to do! 
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 07/19/12 1:04 PM>

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 2:19 PM
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Sunday July 1, 2012
 
Waking up in Winona, there was no doubt where my first destination had to be.  Bloedow Bakery is a wonderful small town shop that is unfortunately, closed on Sundays.  But, I had to drive by to see if there was some chance they were open.  No they were not.  Still, at least I could take a photo of their giant mural

on the outside wall.
 
The drive north took me to Wabasha and back over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin.  First up was the Stockholm Pie Company in the tiny town of Stockholm.  I visited this place two years ago, declaring it the best pie shop I have ever visited and even wrote an official Roadfood review.  Just the night before, once the decision was made to make the drive allthe way up to Stockholm, I called and asked if they could please reserve a slice of the sour cream raisin pie.  SCR pie is my favorite flavor of pie and on the previous visit, they were all out, as a previous customer had come in and bought the entire pie.  Certainly didn't want to go through that trauma again!
 
The store itself is very small and shares the building with several other businesses.  I love that outside window, 

although it is much more than just a little slice of happiness for me!  They also have a small menu

on the outside of the building, mostly telling customers what was available for breakfast.  They have definitely expanded the menu.  Owner Janet Garretson was sitting at a table enjoying her breakfast and I struck up a conversation with her while looking over the day's pie list. 

And what a list!  Knowing the quality of pies they have here, I desperately wanted to try a bite of everything, but that wasn't going to happen.
 
I took my two slices to the table against the far window for better lighting and dug in.  The double lemon,

which cousin Johnny ordered on the previous visit was just as sublime as I remembered.  The middle layer is a lemon chess pie, while the top layer is a light lemon custard with small bits of cut up lemon in it.  This is for lemon lovers only!  Both Johnny and I think it is on the short list of best pies we have ever had.  Interestingly, it did appear to be darker in color than I recall.  It also didn't have cousin Johnny's fork marks in it before I could take a photo, like last time! 
 
The sour cream raisin

was a slight disappointment at first, because it had a whipped topping instead of meringue, which I prefer.  Biting into it, there was something off.  There was hardly any of the sour flavor.  What makes the sour cream raisin pie memorable is the fine balance between the sweet and the sour.  Although the pie itself was not overly sweet, it was for a SCR pie.  As I continued to eat the slice, it hit me that I should appreciate it for what it was instead of what it isn't.  This was a real homemade whipped topping, light and very fresh.  The consistency of the filling, which often can be too gummy was perfect.  Flaky, buttery crust, this was still an excellent slice of pie.  It just needed more of the sour cream flavor to make it something magical.
 
After eating those two, I went back to order some slices to go.  Knowing that they could be sitting in the hot sun for hours, maybe days, it was decided to go with fruit pies.  A slice of triple berry and a slice of apple crumb were boxed up.  More on those later.  While chatting with Janet, I learned of some changes here.  She pointed out they had expanded the interior, so that there is now much more seating. 

Before, they just had the table in front (where I sat) and the ledge.  They also no longer offer the apple pie baked in a bag.  She laughingly told me about a couple that caught on fire.  And much to my disappointment, they no longer ship pies.  On several occasions, I had pies shipped back home or to friends and heard nothing but positive reviews.  But, business had picked up and they no longer had time.  Now, I will have to come to Stockholm, WI to get my pie fix!
 
Before leaving Janet told me, I needed to try the savory pies or the beautiful cinnamon rolls

on the next visit.  That is indeed true, but I needed to save some appetite as my breakfast destination was practically across the street.
 
Stockholm Pie Company
N2030 Spring Street
Stockholm, WI
715-442-5505
 
Much more to come.....   
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 07/19/12 2:42 PM>

lleechef
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 2:34 PM
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Buffetbuster,
I can honestly say that when the word "pie" is uttered I imediately think of you.  Thanks for such a great report.  Looking forward to more to come..... 

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 2:40 PM
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lleechef-
Being associated with pie can only be a good thing!  Thanks for the kind words about the report.

Foodbme
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 2:52 PM
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Inscription for your Tombstone-------
"Never met a Pie he wouldn't try!"
 

easydoesit
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 2:54 PM
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Buffetbuster said:  "As I continued to eat the slice,...
 
...it hit me that I should appreciate it for what it was instead of what it isn't...."
 
There is a good philosophy for many things in life.

buffetbuster
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 3:26 PM
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easydoesit-
I remember you starting a thread on Bloedow's once, so obviously you are a fan.  What do you think they make best?  I would love to hear from a local.  My favorites so far have been the peanut butter roll the Sterns mentioned in the review and the maple long johns.

Sundancer7
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 3:30 PM
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BB:  I have driven the river road from Davenport to Minneapolis many times.  I agree that it is a spectacular drive with impressive scenery the entire route.  Your choices were outstanding.  Like you, I would have liked to have known how the steamed burger was when it came off the grill.  Also like you, I would have found the burger grill unappetizing and I probably would have passed right then and there.  I am glad you stuck it out.
 
Aventis had three facilities in Iowa and three in Minneapolis that I was responsible for.  The drive was always a special part of the work.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

ChiTownDiner
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Re:"If You Bake It, He Will Come" - Thu, 07/19/12 3:58 PM
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bb - what were the savory choices?  This past week, I had a savory pie of loose pork sausage, potatoes, apples and sage in a grainy dijon mustard sauce.  It was spectacular! 

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