A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)!

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Ketteract
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A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 5:46 PM
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While I was in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa over the holidays, I made it a point to suck down as many local eats as possible. I thought I would share with you some notable edibles from around that area.  Some are specific to the QC, while others are statewide or Midwestern.  

Harris Pizza #4 (Quad-Cities) 
By far, the crown jewel of my trip. To the extent that "Quad-Cities style pizza" exists, it has a malty crust, a salty spicy sauce, and a finely-ground fennel sausage that's generously applied under a thick layer of cheese. The taste of the sausage dominates, and my, what a taste. 




Casey's General Store (general Midwest) 
You can do better for regular pizza, but there is one thing they do wonderfully: breakfast pizza. I've also had this at Hy-Vee and the University of Iowa, way back before they converted the Burge Hall cafeteria into a food court, and it seems to be an unknown concept in Connecticut. I've seen other interpretations, such as using fried eggs instead of scrambled, but to me breakfast pizza means white sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, cheese, and maybe additional sausage, bacon bits, and onion.
 

Maid-Rite (general Midwest but mostly Iowa) 
Boy was this underwhelming. I couldn't remember having had one of these before, actually, and there seems to have been good reason. When unformed ground beef is supposed to be the star of your sandwich, it had better taste incredible, and this did not. The traditional mustard and pickles offered no assistance, and the fries were frozen, lackluster sticks of sadness. I ate at the location on Division Street in Davenport; some of the others might be better, but that one I can strongly recommend avoiding.
 

Whitey's Ice Cream (Quad-Cities and Iowa City)
 Their reputation among locals is pretty much untouchable, and deservedly so. From their German Chocolate Cake flavor to their turtle sundaes to their Chipper sandwiches, they are the best goddamned ice cream in the region and possibly the galaxy.  The location on Locust Street in Davenport is, to me, the definitive one.



Honorable mention #1: Hungry Hobo for excellent subs.  They use a wonderfully tangy Italian dressing.



Honorable mention #2: Rudy's Tacos for Americanized Mexican.  These were chicken soft tacos.



And here were some things I picked up that are either difficult or impossible to find in New England:


Places I did not manage to hit included Happy Joe's for taco pizza (I went on my last two trips), Jim's Rib Haven, Fat Boy's Pizza, Grinders and Spaghetti House, Gumby's for Pokey Stix, Panchero's, Iowa Machine Shed, the West Street Deli and Flying Burrito in Ames, and Falbo Bros. and Molly's Cupcakes in Iowa City. But that's what next time is for!
<message edited by Ketteract on Tue, 01/7/14 5:47 PM>

Michael Hoffman
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 5:59 PM
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You can't find Durkee famous Sauce in Connecticut? Until a few years ago I used to bring back five or six bottles of it on every trip home to Connecticut. because it wasn't available here in central Ohio. Oh, and that pie from Harris Pizza looks good.
<message edited by Michael Hoffman on Tue, 01/7/14 6:00 PM>

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 6:06 PM
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Michael Hoffman


You can't find Durkee famous Sauce in Connecticut? Until a few years ago I used to bring back five or six bottles of it on every trip home to Connecticut. because it wasn't available here in central Ohio. Oh, and that pie from Harris Pizza looks good.

I can, but with difficulty.  My Stop 'n' Shop, Wal-Mart, Stew Leonard's, Costco, Shop-Rite, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods did not have it.  Only the Price Chopper on the Berlin Turnpike did, and then they only had a couple of jars in stock.  A tenuous situation.  In contrast, the Hy-Vee a few blocks away from my parents' house in Davenport had oodles of it.
 
Harris was so incredibly good. It was hard to tear myself away from my usual Happy Joe's, but I'm glad I did. I can't say enough good things about their sausage.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 6:07 PM
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Ketteract -
Love the thick layer of cheese on my pizza also...that one looks so good!  Thanks for sharing! 

wanderingjew
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 6:24 PM
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Can't believe you visited the Quad Cities without a stop here
Probably one of my favorite stops on my Heartlanding Through the Breadbaskst trip back in 2010. And after eating there I found out that this place has a legendary reputation in the Quad Cities...
 

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 6:29 PM
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wanderingjew


Can't believe you visited the Quad Cities without a stop here
Probably one of my favorite stops on my Heartlanding Through the Breadbaskst trip back in 2010. And after eating there I found out that this place has a legendary reputation in the Quad Cities...


Was only there Tuesday through Sunday, minus 1.5 days for homecooked family meals, minus another 0.5 days for a stomach bug that took me out of commission - couldn't do everything! :)

mr chips
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 8:43 PM
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Great report. Thanks 4 sharing it with us.

leethebard
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Tue, 01/7/14 8:48 PM
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ugh...that Casey's pizza looked like a Dominos pie

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 7:35 AM
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leethebard


ugh...that Casey's pizza looked like a Dominos pie

Looks can be deceiving! :) Casey's isn't in Harris's or Happy Joe's league, but it's far better than Domino's, or any of the national chains for that matter, appearances notwithstanding.  And I would recommend their breakfast pizza over their regular pizza.

love2bake
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 7:55 AM
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I love Davenport and have stayed there three times when I took I-80 across the country.  Whitey's is wonderful!  I particularly love their black raspberry shake.  
 
While I haven't experienced the "frozen, lackluster sticks of sadness" at Maid-Rite, that's a hilarious description of bad fries!
 
Thank you for sharing this report!
<message edited by love2bake on Wed, 01/8/14 9:12 AM>

buffetbuster
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 7:56 AM
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Very nice report and thank you for sharing.  The photos from Harris Pizza look terrific.  The only Quad Cities style pizza I have tried was Frank's Pizzeria in Silvis, IL and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

WarToad
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 8:02 AM
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Heya Ketteract!  Another Iowa boy here! (Or at least my first 30 years)
 
I have a special place in my heart for Casey's pizza and breakfast pizza.  Not that it stands up to the big leagues, but because in my boyhood of the 1970s it was pretty much the only pizza option in small rural prairie towns.  It was a rare special ocasion to drive an hour to Cedar Rapids and go to Happy Joes. (And with an hour drive, there were near fist fights over going for pizza or Chinese.)
 
My last trip back looked a lot like your last photo.  Boetje's mustard (6 jars) and Sterzing's potato chips!

ScreamingChicken
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 9:38 AM
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I wasn't able to try QC-style pizza on my last trip to Iowa so it's definitely on the list of possibilities for this year.  Hopefully I'll be able to hit both Harris and Frank's, depending on my route and schedule.  I really don't like using I-80 because US-151 is a much more direct path home.
 
The big question: which side of the river has better pizza?

rumaki
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 11:08 AM
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I think there must be a lot of variation in quality from Maid-Rite to Maid-Rite.
 
The one in Cedar Falls, Iowa was outstanding when we last visited there.
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Pieowa-Roadtrip-m700883.aspx
 
Several of my Central- and Southern-Illinois relatives rave about Casey's pizza.  I, too, find it counterintuitive, but I guess in some locations, it is the best thing going.
 
 

WarToad
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 2:42 PM
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rumaki

Several of my Central- and Southern-Illinois relatives rave about Casey's pizza.  I, too, find it counterintuitive, but I guess in some locations, it is the best thing going.

I just think, especially when you jump back 30 years, it was the only pizza thing going for many many small mid-western towns. (I don't think east coasters can really wrap their heads around the lack of pizza places in rural midwest decades ago) It's what teenagehood memories are based on.  I don't think for a second Casey's pizza is "great" pizza.  It's simply nostalgia.

buffetbuster
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Wed, 01/8/14 2:46 PM
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rumaki


I think there must be a lot of variation in quality from Maid-Rite to Maid-Rite.
Whole heartedly agree.  I had a great experience at the Marshalltown Maid-Rite, but have had dreadful meals in a few others.


ann peeples
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 01/9/14 12:34 PM
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BB-we are getting a Maid Rite here. Reason to visit?
 

TnTinCT
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 01/9/14 4:19 PM
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Great report, thanks for sharing. Two questions - what is Famous Sauce? Totally new to me! Second - the pizza... you are in CT now so definitely some great pizza, is there anything that compares? It's definitely not a thin crust, and it doesn't look greasy enough to be similar to the "greek" pizza here. Trying to wrap my taste buds around a local reference.

Davydd
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 01/9/14 9:25 PM
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I like that Harris pizza slicing technique. I might give that a try on my next home made pizza. It just looks cool.
 
I have heard a lot of praise for Casey General Store pizza from a lot of places. I travel a lot. I'll have to give them a try. When you are in the boondocks it very well could be the best around.

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 9:53 AM
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TnTinCT


Two questions - what is Famous Sauce? Totally new to me! Second - the pizza... you are in CT now so definitely some great pizza, is there anything that compares? It's definitely not a thin crust, and it doesn't look greasy enough to be similar to the "greek" pizza here. Trying to wrap my taste buds around a local reference.

1. Durkee's Famous Sauce is, supposedly, one of America's oldest native condiments and Lincoln served it in his White House or some such, but what matters is that it's a ridiculously addicting mustard/mayo hybrid with a sweet creamy tang. I've used it in sandwiches, burgers, poultry, deviled eggs, potato salad, and fresh spinach in a pinch when I ran out of proper dressing. It's awesome and it can be damn hard to find. There's a place in Brooklyn that offers sandwiches containing it, and stocks it for sale:
 
http://nonabrooklyn.com/whats-good-today-the-turkey-durkee-at-court-street-grocers/#.UtAISdJDu4Q
 
2. Having eaten my share of CT pizza since moving here, I can say there isn't really a point of reference for QC-style pizza.  It's just a totally different beast.  Your only option is to go to the QC and try some. :)

pineyhill
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 1:25 PM
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Wow, we used to have a Happy Joe's Pizza in Onalaska WI.  This pizza was very mediocre at best, they had a taco pizza that was OK.....

Sundancer7
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 1:50 PM
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I started two business's there a few years ago and I spent several months there.  My manager was very Irish and he took me consistently downtown Davenport to a Irish bar where I spent way too much time enjoying black and tan.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

kevincad
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 2:40 PM
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You can't find cheese curd in New England? I'm from western NY state originally, and we had cheese curd there!

EdSails
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 2:54 PM
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I wish I could find cheese curds here in SoCal. I have never seen them. I suppose next time my son comes down from Winnipeg I'll have to have him bring some and make me poutine.

ann peeples
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 3:37 PM
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Oh, Ed-we have the best cheese curds in Wisconsin. Squeaky( as they should be) and we know of a wonderful dairy farm that sells them right out of their farm. Here in Wisconsin, we don't do poutine....however we enjoy our fresh cheese! Come visit. I am trying to get our friends here for a tour about an hour from Milwaukee. Jrpfeff would love it!

ScreamingChicken
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 3:42 PM
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EdSails


I wish I could find cheese curds here in SoCal. I have never seen them.
That seems odd given that California has more dairy cows than any other state.  Is the dairy industry concentrated more to the north?
 
Of course, since this thread is about the Quad Cities we should be discussing corn curds...

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 4:19 PM
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kevincad


You can't find cheese curd in New England? I'm from western NY state originally, and we had cheese curd there!

None of the stores around me have them, and none of my coworkers from around CT and MA had ever heard of them. :)

wanderingjew
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 4:29 PM
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Ketteract


kevincad


You can't find cheese curd in New England? I'm from western NY state originally, and we had cheese curd there!

None of the stores around me have them, and none of my coworkers from around CT and MA had ever heard of them. :)

 
You just have to know where to look. Cheese curds a aplenty in New England.

ann peeples
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 4:33 PM
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But are the real cheese curds? There are imposters, you know...........

wanderingjew
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 01/10/14 5:08 PM
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ann peeples


But are the real cheese curds? There are imposters, you know...........

 
Oh, I can assure you they are the real deal- I'd know an imposter if I saw one......

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 02/7/14 5:40 AM
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wanderingjew


Ketteract


kevincad


You can't find cheese curd in New England? I'm from western NY state originally, and we had cheese curd there!

None of the stores around me have them, and none of my coworkers from around CT and MA had ever heard of them. :)


You just have to know where to look. Cheese curds a aplenty in New England.

Small update: I was in Boston yesterday for work and asked a few folks about cheese curds.  Same response as from my CT/MA coworkers in my Hartford office - none of them had a clue!  
 
It's strange to me because people around here know about poutine (well, more people than in KC, that's for sure), but they didn't recognize the cheese in that as cheese curds. And when I describe how I know them from the Midwest - in a plastic bag, squeaky against your teeth when they're fresh - I get blank looks.
 
(Incidentally, I'd think that having to "know where to look" disqualifies something from being "aplenty" - the whole point of "aplenty" is that you don't have to look at all for it! But I digress.)
<message edited by Ketteract on Fri, 02/7/14 5:41 AM>

wanderingjew
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 02/7/14 7:24 AM
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Ketteract


wanderingjew


Ketteract


kevincad


You can't find cheese curd in New England? I'm from western NY state originally, and we had cheese curd there!

None of the stores around me have them, and none of my coworkers from around CT and MA had ever heard of them. :)


You just have to know where to look. Cheese curds a aplenty in New England.

Small update: I was in Boston yesterday for work and asked a few folks about cheese curds.  Same response as from my CT/MA coworkers in my Hartford office - none of them had a clue!  

It's strange to me because people around here know about poutine (well, more people than in KC, that's for sure), but they didn't recognize the cheese in that as cheese curds. And when I describe how I know them from the Midwest - in a plastic bag, squeaky against your teeth when they're fresh - I get blank looks.

(Incidentally, I'd think that having to "know where to look" disqualifies something from being "aplenty" - the whole point of "aplenty" is that you don't have to look at all for it! But I digress.)


That would be like asking someone from Long Island if they know what "Beef on Weck" is- "well, they're from New York (of course they should know what it is?" or perhaps asking someone from Kansas City if they know what Toasted Ravioli is...."Huh? what's that?" "Well, aren't you from Missouri?" 
I guess the next place you would have asked someone about Cheese Curds would probably have been Stamford or Greenwich CT,  and they would have been more clueless than those from Boston . Well that is New England? (Not at all) or maybe Coastal Maine?
Cheese Curds are aplenty in Inland Northern New England ...Go just about anywhere in Vermont or New Hampshire (north of Concord) and just about everyone will know what Cheese Curds are and tell you where you can find them...

ken8038
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 02/7/14 9:26 AM
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Great report, thanks! Not sure how I missed this thread until now as it started a month ago. I loved the "group shot" of the local foods you picked up. I started doing that a couple of years ago, i.e. taking pictures of the local foods I picked up on a trip. It's a great way to look back.
 
I've had Boetje's  mustard and Sterzings chips from Mail Order, good stuff.
 
One interesting thing I noticed on the sausage pizza pic is that the cheese is ON TOP of the sausage. Seems to me just about every sausage pizza I've ever had has the sausage on top of the cheese. I wonder if cheese on top is a local variation or if I just never noticed it before.
 
As far as cheese curds, there's a couple of Amish Markets here in NJ that carry them, and they seem pretty good, but I'm not an expert, so I may not know what I'm missing.
 
Thanks again.

ScreamingChicken
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 02/7/14 9:33 AM
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Ken, I've seen it both ways here in the Midwest.  I don't know if this is the definitive reason, but because the sausage on Ketteract's pizza is finely ground I suspect the cheese might insulate it against overcooking/burning while still allowing it to cook thoroughly.

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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Fri, 02/7/14 9:40 AM
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EdSails


I wish I could find cheese curds here in SoCal. I have never seen them. I suppose next time my son comes down from Winnipeg I'll have to have him bring some and make me poutine.
Hey Ed...I've got a cheese curd connection....PM your address and I'll ship you some. Pretty fair variety...white cheddar, yellow cheddar, cajun and dill. I see you are in MV...I lived in Laguna back in the 70's.


Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Sat, 02/8/14 7:02 AM
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wanderingjew


Ketteract


wanderingjew


Ketteract


kevincad


You can't find cheese curd in New England? I'm from western NY state originally, and we had cheese curd there!

None of the stores around me have them, and none of my coworkers from around CT and MA had ever heard of them. :)


You just have to know where to look. Cheese curds a aplenty in New England.

Small update: I was in Boston yesterday for work and asked a few folks about cheese curds.  Same response as from my CT/MA coworkers in my Hartford office - none of them had a clue!  

It's strange to me because people around here know about poutine (well, more people than in KC, that's for sure), but they didn't recognize the cheese in that as cheese curds. And when I describe how I know them from the Midwest - in a plastic bag, squeaky against your teeth when they're fresh - I get blank looks.

(Incidentally, I'd think that having to "know where to look" disqualifies something from being "aplenty" - the whole point of "aplenty" is that you don't have to look at all for it! But I digress.)


That would be like asking someone from Long Island if they know what "Beef on Weck" is- "well, they're from New York (of course they should know what it is?" or perhaps asking someone from Kansas City if they know what Toasted Ravioli is...."Huh? what's that?" "Well, aren't you from Missouri?" 
I guess the next place you would have asked someone about Cheese Curds would probably have been Stamford or Greenwich CT,  and they would have been more clueless than those from Boston . Well that is New England? (Not at all) or maybe Coastal Maine?
Cheese Curds are aplenty in Inland Northern New England ...Go just about anywhere in Vermont or New Hampshire (north of Concord) and just about everyone will know what Cheese Curds are and tell you where you can find them...

Well, now that a specific part of New England has been identified, I can tune my expectations accordingly.  :)  Adjusting my sense of scale after moving here from the Midwest has proven to be a challenge - so many tight pockets of diversity over a much smaller area of land!  (Also, it's amusing to hear some folks here referring to a "long drive" as like 1-2 hours when I'm used to much longer.)

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Sat, 02/8/14 7:40 AM
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ken8038

One interesting thing I noticed on the sausage pizza pic is that the cheese is ON TOP of the sausage. Seems to me just about every sausage pizza I've ever had has the sausage on top of the cheese. I wonder if cheese on top is a local variation or if I just never noticed it before.

Glad you enjoyed my little report!  Cheese on top is requisite for Harris and other places that offer that specific style (strip-cut, fine sausage, malty crust, etc.), but other Midwestern pizza mainstays like Happy Joe's and Casey's all keep the toppings above.  

love2bake
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Sat, 02/8/14 9:07 AM
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EdSails


I wish I could find cheese curds here in SoCal. I have never seen them. I suppose next time my son comes down from Winnipeg I'll have to have him bring some and make me poutine.

I've seen them up here at Trader Joe's--don't know about SoCal, though, or how good they are.

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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 02/13/14 9:39 AM
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I wish I could find cheese curds here in SoCal. I have never seen them. I suppose next time my son comes down from Winnipeg I'll have to have him bring some and make me poutine.

I've seen them up here at Trader Joe's--don't know about SoCal, though, or how good they are.

Freshness is a factor, isn't it? I'd bought what were sold as cheese curds from Trader Joe's and the Dekalb (GA) Farmer's Market that were basically free-form chunks of mild cheddar, not at all what I remember from a childhood trip through Wisconsin.
If there's a place near the Quad Cities to find the real thing, well, that's near where my brother and his wife live. I am overdue for a visit...

ScreamingChicken
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 02/13/14 10:47 AM
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Vince Macek


Freshness is a factor, isn't it? I'd bought what were sold as cheese curds from Trader Joe's and the Dekalb (GA) Farmer's Market that were basically free-form chunks of mild cheddar, not at all what I remember from a childhood trip through Wisconsin.
Absolutely...the fresher the better!

Ketteract
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 02/13/14 1:47 PM
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Vince Macek


If there's a place near the Quad Cities to find the real thing, well, that's near where my brother and his wife live. I am overdue for a visit...

Anyone "near the Quad-Cities" automatically has easy access to the real thing!  Hy-Vee is the default grocery store in that region and carries the Shullsburg brand of curds (plus regular cheeses).  

Pancho
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 02/13/14 2:09 PM
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Ketteract


Vince Macek


If there's a place near the Quad Cities to find the real thing, well, that's near where my brother and his wife live. I am overdue for a visit...

Anyone "near the Quad-Cities" automatically has easy access to the real thing!  Hy-Vee is the default grocery store in that region and carries the Shullsburg brand of curds (plus regular cheeses).  
As Screaming Chicken agrees, the fresher the better. The optimum way to get fresh ones is to buy where they are made. I go to a factory/store in LaValle, WI. They ship their fresh curds within one day or less from the time they are produced. Chances are that any you see in grocery stores are not that fresh. They do online shopping.
https://www.carrvalleyche...ges.view&page_id=9

myterry2
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Re:A food tour of the Quad-Cities (IA/IL border)! - Thu, 02/13/14 9:30 PM
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Nice report with quality pictures...Thanx.