Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Club – East Bethel, MN

I wish I had known about this course when I moved up to Minnesota initially. I would have been playing it all the time. This 27-hole disc golf heaven is a full-time disc golf “resort”, for lack of a better term. It’s a pay to play course, which I don’t mind, especially when they’re as well-maintained as this course is. You pay at the club house, which has a disc golf pro shop, snacks, sodas, energy drinks, and beers.

It’s $5 for an all-day pass and it’s totally worth it. The tees are all cement and plenty big.

The fairways are very well manicured and defined on every hole.
And the greens are mostly rock lined and mulched.
It’s what every course aspires to be.

The course also has some pretty slick amenities. There are benches, garbage cans, and recycling containers next to every tee. There are also brooms next to every tee so you can sweep them off (there’s a lot of trees overhead dropping leaves and branches in the fall). Some of the brooms have broken handles, which is a PERFECT re-use for a broom. Golfers don’t care if there’s no handle at all. It’s a fantastic idea. The clubhouse signage indicates the tees are cleared off every day in the winter snow, so you won’t even have to shovel. Amazing! Near the water hazards, which there are plenty, there are rakes, poles, and branches perfect for fishing discs out of the water. Another fantastic idea. The trees near the tee and in the fairways are also wrapped with thick plastic mesh to protect the trees from the damage of being hit with discs. This ensures they’ll be there a really long time.

There’s not a lot of elevation change on this course (unlike most of the other Minneapolis courses), but what it lacks in elevation, it makes up for in finesse.

There’s a LOT of wooded holes, some with wide fairways, and some with really narrow fairways – straight and 450’ – that’s what I like to see.

There are some well placed bail outs for short arms and there are also some trouble spots you don’t want to be in. There are also really well-placed water hazards RIGHT where you want to drive. You really have to decide if you’re going to go for it or lay up short.

Thinking man’s course is what this is.

I was really surprised how close some of the fairways are to each other, yet, I never once felt unsafe. There’s enough of a tree barrier that you really don’t seem to be in danger on most shots. It’s very well designed. There’s a good mix of lefty shots, righty shots, and straight shots. Some long, some short, some middle. There’s a really short hole where I threw a putter off the tee – I mean I stood there and threw 50 feet to the corner of the dogleg to make my next shot. Then there’s a couple cannon shots where you just grip and rip.

The course seems to be set up for tournaments as well. The club house has a HUGE deck with tables and a ledge for your drinks where you can watch the players finish on the final hole throwing straight at you. The final hole also has a water hazard (that I threw into), so you can mock your fellow golfers when they chuck it in the drink. Do yourself a favor and go check this course out. It’s north of the Twin Cities, which I know scares some of the out of towners, but suck it up. You won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN

Some of the kickball people get together on Wednesday nights, even though kickball season is over. Tonight’s get-together was at the Triple Rock Social Club, due to the fact that every Wednesday night is free bacon night!!! All you can eat bacon, brought to your table upon request starting at 9pm. What else do you need? The answer is nothing.

I walked down the street to the Triple Rock since I was 3 blocks away at class. I found my people who had already filled up a booth. I grabbed a bar stool and a menu and set to deciding. The menu actually has tons of things on it. Tons of vegetarian and vegan options, which I know people really like. I didn’t realize they had as much food as they do. I ordered a girly drink, which I of course got mocked for, and asked the waitress whether I wanted a “Big Ass Meat Sandwich” (yes, that’s what it’s called) (it’s a bacon sandwich with a slice of ham and covered in cheese) or the Poutine. She told me the Poutine is pretty good. I also love saying the word Poutine over and over in public. It makes me giggle.

They brought the first basket of bacon. I’m guessing there are like 10-12 slices of bacon in each basket. I reached for my camera to take a photo of it, and this is what I got.

The scavenging bastards ate the entire thing in under 10 seconds. Which is why we had to get like 5 more baskets. I will tell you I ate FAR more bacon than I should have. HotGirlsBrother is right, the earlier bacon is crispier and more done. The subsequent bacon is, however, exactly how I like it. Throw it in the grease, turn it over and serve it. I like it hot, fatty, and floppy (like my ladies – Wait. What?) It was awesome.

The poutine came out and no one had ever heard of it, oddly (except for LowVee, which isn’t odd at all, actually). I assumed people were familiar with it, especially this close to Canada. It’s a Canadian staple, from what I understand. I even said, “What, you guys haven’t heard aboot this stuff?” just to make it official. It’s simply French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. Sounds gross, but everyone at the table who tried it loved it. Why? Because it’s delicious.

The fries were crispy and the cheese curds were all melty. It was awesome.
Just do yourself a favor and go to the Triple Rock on Wednesday nights. Get there early to secure a table. Sure you’ll need a roll of paper towels to wipe the grease off your person when you leave, but it’s totally worth it. Just don’t go on bacon night anytime before you’re getting your cholesterol or triglycerides checked or anything…

Top 5 things about the Triple Rock Social Club
1. Unlimited bacon (this should be every one of the top 5 things)
2. Poutine was great
3. They make girly drinks without too much mocking from staff
4. Seriously diverse menu with vegetarian and vegan options as well as carnivorous delights
5. There was a random with a “BOBO” patch on his jacket. I took a photo of it for Coach, since he’s trying to bring the phrase back into the English vernacular.

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved poutine, and would have reminded me of when we were in Portland with Chicken Little puking his guts out next to me eating poutine. Those were the days…
2. I totally missed out on the first round of bacon because of the vultures
3. I eat bacon until it’s gone (as a general rule), and they just keep bringing more – this is a bad combo for my guts
4. I was on a tall barstool while towering over everyone at the booth – I commented “this is what TheDoctor feels like all the time”
5. I need to go back and order about 15 other things on the menu, including for a Saturday or Sunday brunch.


Monday, October 19, 2009

M.Edium’s Birthday Party and Halloween Carnival – Minneapolis, MN

Normal parents buy their 5-year-old son a handful of toys and maybe some new pants or something for their birthdays, right? Not M. and Trash Giant. They hold a freaking Halloween carnival for 30 or so kids. I got roped into running one of the “game stations” they were setting up and EyeHeartPizza also got tricked into helping. She was going to be a zombie (without blood so it didn’t scare the kids too much), but when Bitter backed out at the last minute, EyeHeartPizza got to be a witch. I’ll explain some of this in a bit.

Trash talked many of her friends and family into manning various activity stations throughout the Halloween complex. I call it this since they conned their neighbors on both sides of the house into helping out with this. The neighbors on the left removed vehicles in order to position the coloring station, the fish ducks out of a pond station and small track where two kids could drive a large electric car around a track. Yes, seriously. On the right side of the house, the neighbors were storing items from the Giants’ garage that had to be removed for the activities and also had food and beverages for everyone. Two crock pots full of chili, some pulled pork, a veggie tray, various snacks, and coolers full of beer.

At the Giant household proper, there was a scary food station (where kids would stick their hands into a bowl of spaghetti noodles and they would tell them it was brains or olives were eyeballs, etc), a HUGE buffet filled with food and desserts, a jungle gym decorated with scary colors, a game station (broom ball contests and scavenger hunts), a pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin station, and they had turned their garage into a mini haunted house. Yes, out of control. All this in addition to turning the entire front of the house and yard into a graveyard complete with bones and gravestones and fog machine. Very impressive amount of work.

All of the volunteers were assigned costumes by M. Edium, except for me. I was the only one that got to choose their costume. But I’ll get to that. Trash’s brother was told he would be Darth Vader and would be in the haunted house. M. Giant’s friend ZenViking was an awesome Dracula, EyeHeartPizza was a witch, Trash’s hot mom friend was a cat, and the list goes on and on.

Most of the parents showed up with their kids, however, there were a few parents that just rolled up to the driveway, pushed their kids out, and drove off. Nice parenting skills, people. I don’t think we lost any kids to wolves, so I think we did ok.

The highlight of the party for the kids, I think, was the haunted house. The kids were sent in three or four at a time with a tiny lantern and Darth Vader would jump out. They’d turn a corner and Dracula would jump out (only made one kid cry). Then they’d turn the corner and EyeHeartPizza was stirring a cauldron of candy for them to get snacks from. It was hilarious hearing the kids scream and hearing a witch’s cackle periodically.

I was outside manning the pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin game. I’ll set the stage for you – I was dressed as what could best be described as a ghey pirate. Meaning I borrowed one of Gerd’s costumes she had in the basement – she used to work at a Halloween shop years ago and had some costumes in reserve. So I grabbed the “slutty pirate” costume (yes for girls), and with no regard for the “M” that was imprinted on the tag of the outfit, I put it on. Yes, I stuffed my fat ass into a tiny slutty pirate costume. I opted to forego the mini skirt and went with tattered shorts instead. I think it was a wise move. So I’ve got a hilarious puffy shirt with gold trim a gold belt, a red ribbon tied in my hair, an eye patch, a pirate hat, a hook hand, and black foam things that made my shoes look like boots.

The whole time I’m wearing this costume, I get to ask questions like, “hey little girl, want some candy?” or “Hey little boy, want to play a game?” and then I would blindfold them and spin them around until they were dizzy. Creepy? Yes. Wanna know what’s even more creepy? When EyeHeartPizza came out of the haunted house at the end of the night, she asked me, “Hey dumbass, was your fly down the whole night?” Why, yes, it was apparently. I can’t wait to hear the comments from parents Trash will certainly get. It was 100% unintentional, but at the same time, was the highlight of Trash’s night.

All in all, it was an awesome night and I think all the kids had a blast. Some of them said they never wanted to leave. And a couple parents thanked the Giant’s sarcastically for ruining every birthday party their kids would ever have. Hahaha. It was a huge success and despite complete exhaustion, it was a major success.

Top 5 things about M. Edium’s Birthday Part and Halloween Carnival
1. Haunted House ruled
2. Unlimited food - I drank like 11 juice boxes
3. EyeHeartPizza’s awesome costume and rash-inducing makeup (and witch’s cackle)
4. ZenViking made a kid cry in the haunted house
5. I got M. Edium his favorite present of the night – a clone trooper blaster. Thanks for buying it and putting my name on it, EyeHeartPizza (you rule vicariously through me)

Bottom 5 thing
1. I would have given anything to see Gerd in her homemade pencil costume that was in her Halloween bin. I’m going to buy some things and see if I can wear it for a Halloween party coming up in two weeks!
2. M. Edium was too scared to go inside his own haunted garage
3. Creepy pedophile ghey pirate with his zipper down
4. Parents who dropped off their kids without finding the homeowners first
5. Once the kids got comfortable with the electric car, they took it off roading, straight through the tape barriers and hay bales. Not quite Dukes of Hazzard, but close…

Oakwood Park Disc Golf Course – Cottage Grove, MN

Since I got laid off this morning, I thought I’d take advantage of my opportunity to enjoy the Minnesota weather, since it’s supposed to be nasty the next few days. I hopped online to see which Twin Cities courses I hadn’t played and decided on Oakwood Park. Yes, it’s a drive, but what did I have to do today? Nuthin.
It’s a pretty easy course to find, using the directions on the PDGA website. This time of day, there were only a few groups out on the course. I found the first tee and headed out.

This course is really fun to play. There’s lots of elevation to navigate (as well as some wind on some of the open holes), and it’s about half and half open and wooded. You play the first 5 out in the open and then head into the woods for the next 9 or 10 holes, then finish up out in the open again. The course is in great shape and there’s pretty obvious trails between the baskets and the next tee, so it’s pretty difficult to get lost. All of the holes have very explicit fairways so you know what the traditional line is, but there are also some places where you can see windows that require a bit more risk (but more reward as well).

I played pretty well here, which is surprising for the amount of times I’ve played this year. I’m very impressed with this course and even though it gets overshadowed by some of the courses the big tournaments are played on, this course has some four- and five hundred foot holes on it and some tight wooded shots for finesse. And I do love to see a big finishing hole. The 18th hole at Oakwood is 510 ft, so you really gun it down the fairway. I of course put it at the base of a pine tree – it’s a patented move, kind of a signature of my game.

Just go play this course. It’s really not as far away as it sounds.

Sauce Spirits & Soundbar – Minneapolis, MN

After EyeOpeners at the VFW (our regular liquid brunch spot on Sundays), someone suggested we head over to Sauce to see what kind of brunch offerings they had. It was halftime of the Vikings game, so we had to go someplace with televisions so we didn’t miss anything (so I was told). When we walked past we saw a group of our friend sitting there enjoying brunch as well, so we piled in and grabbed a table near them (but more importantly near the television).

There is a table tent kind of drink menu with all kinds of girly drinks and specials on it. but the hilarious part is all the drinks named after Beastie Boys songs. Hilarious. And some of the drinks looked delicious. And then there’s a drink with something vodka, something new, something freaky and something blue – I should have gotten it, but I didn’t. Next time, though.

The breakfast menu isn’t huge, but it’s got some winners on it and there’s enough to make sure you’ll find something on it. And the best part is the breakfasts come with a free Bloody Mary or Mimosa. I knew I’d be getting breakfast so I asked for a Mimosa right away and would figure out the food part later. While I was waiting, I went over and harassed our other friends since I hadn’t seen them in a while. One of them was eating a breakfast pizza that looked delicious. Really really delicious. That was all I needed to make my decision.

When our waitress came back I ordered the breakfast pizza. It already comes with eggs and pesto sauce, but you get to pick three additional ingredients from a big list of meats, veggies, and cheese. I went with bacon (dur), sausage, and goat cheese (the most evil of the cheese family). I was anxiously awaiting this meal, based on what I had seen at the other table.

The drinks came out and mine looked super classy. That’s how I roll with my Mimosas

The drink was fine, but I was hoping it would be in a pint glass like everyone else who ordered Bloody Marys. But thankfully, I didn’t complain about mine like the Bloody Mary drinkers did. Apparently, the Bloodys were too celery tasting – across the board – everyone complained about it. But thankfully, my friends dumped enough tabasco sauce in their drinks to make them palatable again.

My pizza came out and looked fantastic. Really. I’m not lying.

After the first bite, I knew I had ordered the right thing. The crust is not a traditional crust, it’s that kind of wafer thin crust that works well with breakfast foods. There was plenty of bacon and sausage on here as well. You’d think the pesto sauce wouldn’t go well with bacon, but you’d be wrong. It was awesome. I was worried there wasn’t enough goat cheese on the thing for my taste, but honestly, it ended up being the perfect amount. Enough to taste it, but not enough to overpower the whole thing. HotGirlsBrother tried a piece and was really impressed as well, so it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just because I had a bunch of drinks at the VFW before coming to eat.

I’m glad mine was good, because some of the other people complained about their meals. Apparently, if you order stuff with Chorizo, they bring out six quarter-sized slices of cooked chorizo on a plate in a sextagonal arrangement. People were pretty bummed about this, though they said the chorizo itself was good. I think it was just expectation vs reality that incited the anger. Other than that, I think people were mostly good with their food flavors.

Based on the breakfast pizza, I think this place is great for brunch. But some people were really put off by the chorizo incident (which I’m not sure why since they all said the flavor was good, just not the portioning). I’ll go here again, fo sho.

Top 5 things about Sauce
1. Breakfast Pizza
2. Free drinks with breakfast
3. We had an awesome waitress
4. Beastie Boy girly drinks
5. It’s vegetarian-friendly

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have loved this place for brunch (especially with our friends), but she would NOT have been happy about watching Brett Favre play for the Vikings
2. Everyone complained about the chorizo
3. The mimosa would have been better if it were in a pint glass
4. There was a d-bag in there that asked everyone for a smoke and then got all pissy when none of us had one
5. Everyone complained about the Bloody Marys and the too-much-celery


Nalapak – Columbia Heights, MN

One of the most awesome people from my work is leaving the company, so we decided to get together for a going away lunch at his favorite place – Nalapak. I was on board, for sure. They told me it was in Columbia Heights, which didn’t mean a thing to me. I was riding with someone else, so it didn’t matter. They probably told me that since it’s halfway to Canada and we would not make it back inside an hour. Ha ha ha. Not even close.

Would anyone notice 20 people in my immediate vicinity being gone for a couple of hours? Nah…

Even EnyaFace! decided to show up this time. She’s worked with about half of the people that came along, so her making an appearance was an added bonus to the lunch!

They warned me ahead of time about it being a purely vegetarian restaurant, which I honestly don’t have a problem with, but I thanked them for warning me. But it’s nice to know people think of me when they’re worried about my eating preferences – the same as I worry about my co-workers when I pick a fun place for lunch. I totally take vegetarians into account when I invite groups of people!

It’s a pretty considerable buffet at Nalapak. Lots of stuff I hadn’t seen before, and the best part was I was with Indian people who actually told me what things were. That was awesome. They told me “get this to dip into that”, “don’t get this until later, it’s for dessert”, “this is spicy, be careful”, “no one eats that, don’t get that”. I loaded up my plate and headed back.

I’m not positive as to everything I got, but I grabbed a menu when we left and I’m trying to match things up. I didn’t do very well this time:

  • Sambhar – awesome spicy soup with potatoes and squash in a tomato broth
  • Basmati – plain Indian rice
  • Avial – vegetables in coconut & yogurt sauce with spices
  • Bisi Bele Bath – South Indian rice dish with lentils and vegetables
  • Onion Paratha – oniony bread like naan
  • Mysore Special Payasam – desert with vermicelli noodles cut small with milk and honey – super sweet desert

Seriously this food was awesome. I really liked the donut shaped things, especially after one of my coworkers told me to cut up the donut and dip it into the Sambhar. Wow, that was awesome. There was Dosai on the table – crepe things with potato, rice, and lentils, similar to the ones I’ve had at other places. They were really good, and maybe the equivalent of chips on the table at a Mexican restaurant.

I went back for a second plate, but I forgot to take a photo of that one. I was too excited and jumped right into the eating part. And then someone else at the table questioned my eating manhood and I was forced to go back for a third plate. I seriously thought I was going to burst at the table, like in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life.” The dessert (the Payasam) was good, but I’m not a dessert person in any country, so this one didn’t convert me. It was creamy and sweet and was very good, but I don’t think I’ll get a craving for it at any point.

Yes, it’s a trek to Columbia Heights (unless you live there, and then it’s a very short drive), but you should still try this place. I only made a few comments about the dishes being better with some chicken or lamb thrown in, but I won’t relay them here. Vegetarian or not, this place is really good.

Top 5 things about Nalapak
1. The donut shaped things with Sambhar
2. Bisi Bele Bath
3. Avial
4. Hanging out with 20 coworkers AND EnyaFace!
5. Dosai

Bottom 5 things
1. Anytime I combine super fun people and really good food, it makes me miss Gerd. She would have talked about this place a lot (even though it was vegetarian)
2. It’s really not drivable for lunch (for me)
3. I REALLY wish I could remember the names of everything I ate.
4. The buffet had a weird flow to it. It’s two-sided, but you don’t have access to everything unless you go back through the line
5. That’s the fullest I’ve been in a long time; I should have stopped a plate and a half earlier (I guess that’s probably MY fault though, huh?)


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Biryani – Minneapolis (Edina), MN

I originally thought I was going to Chapati, an Indian place recommended to me by a few people. Apparently, this place took its place, so EyeHeartPizza and I thought we’d give it a shot since we were already sitting in the parking lot. There was a large canvas sign over the old Chapati sign, it’s THAT new – I think it opened in September 2009. We walked in and only one other table was occupied. But we saw a buffet and thought we’d at least find out if it was good. A super friendly host sat us at a table (they don’t have any booths) and we headed off to grab food.

The buffet had a lot of dishes on it, some I had never heard of. They all looked delicious. I loaded up my plate and headed back to gorge myself.

I’ve always been a huge fan of India Palace in Eden Prairie, but Biryani has them beat. It was amazing. I can’t even explain what all I got, since I have a terrible memory for Indian food names. Here’s what I can remember:
  • Vegetable Pakora – veggies dipped in chick pea batter and deep fried – these were awesome (deep fried=awesome)
  • Goat Curry with Bones – Honestly, this ended up being a LOT of work and not worth it – it was the only thing I got that I wouldn’t rate really highly
  • Chicken Vindaloo – hot and sour chicken with potatoes – great flavor and plenty of spice – wurd
  • Chicken Korma – chicken with garlic and onion sauce and cashews – fantastic
  • Alu Matar – peas and potatoes in curry sauce – probably the best thing I had
  • Basmati Rice – plain white rice cooked with some seasonings
  • Naan – traditional Indian white bread – it was soft and good
  • Paratha (I think) – chapati bread baked with butter – this is now my new favorite bread at Indian places. I’ll probably be talking about this simple bread for weeks now.

I wolfed that down with great success, minus the goat bones, which got left in a pile on my plate. These ended up being way high-labor food and I don’t do high-labor food.

I had to go back for more. I got more of the same, but I also tried the Lemon rice, which was weird, but ok I guess. I’d rather just have the plain, since there are enough other flavors going on in Indian food, I don’t want to miss out. I tried the Chicken Dansak which was really good – chicken in an onion and lentil sauce. Baigan Bharta – eggplant with tomatoes, onions, and peas – weird to me, but I ended up really liking it a lot. I also tried Gulab Jamun, which is basically an Indian donut – deep fried “milk confection” in a sweet syrup. It was REALLY weird, but not terrible. Maybe it would just take some getting used to with the syrup part – give it a shot.

I know they had other things on the buffet, but I was bursting. The food here was soooo good I wanted to keep eating, but couldn’t. The wait staff were all super helpful, even the water boy with the bad dragon tattoo on his wrist that looked like a lick-n-stick tattoo.

By the time we finished our meal, the place was packed. I think this place will do well, judging on how many people showed up for lunch. It’s good food, so you’d expect people to come in droves to it. I know I’ll be back there and I’ll be bringing the work crowd with me. Well played, Biryani.

Top 5 things about Biryani
1. Alu Matar – peas and potatoes in sauce
2. Paratha – buttery Indian bread
3. Chicken Vindaloo – spicy chicken
4. Vegetable Pakora – deep fried chick pea battered veggies
5. Baigan Bharta – eggplant with other stuff

Bottom 5 things
1. I wish Gerd would have gotten to eat here. We never got to eat Indian food together
2. Goat Curry with Bones was more work than was worth it
3. EyeHeartPizza only spilled once and I thought for sure it would be 7 or 8 times
4. EyeHeartPizza complained there was no Indian musak playing in the place
5. I’m still weirded out by the syrup-y donuts

7078 Amundson Ave
Minneapolis, MN

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cam Ranh Bay – Eden Prairie, MN

EyeHeartPizza is moving back to Denver, so she’s making sure she gets some quality Chao-time this week. Trash and I planned to take her out for Vietnamese food and invited DeltaForceCommander and FireRetarded along as well. Trash bailed on us due to a lengthy conference call at work, so we went without her.

The inside of Cam Ranh Bay looks fine, with just the right amount of dirt on the drop ceiling to make you feel at home. It’s not dirty by any stretch, but it’s well worn. We got seated right away and scoured the menu. The lunch section looked like where the deals were at. It comes with soup and an appetizer for $7.99. There’s about 25 lunch dishes available and 4 or 5 apps, so you’ve got some choices.

I ordered the Ginger Pork and upchgarged to get a fresh spring roll (it’s my kryptonite). DeltaForceCommander got beef lo mein and without vegetables (I’m beginning to think she and Coach are related) and cellophane noodle soup. FireRetarded and EyeHeartPizza both got sesame chicken and cream cheese wontons (and FireRetarded got an egg roll as well).

The appetizers and hot & sour soup came out in less than 5 minutes. Then the meals came out a minute later. I hadn’t even taken a photo of my apps before my entrée came out. Weird but amazingly fast.

The wontons were enormous and very tasty. The fried outside was a little doughy, but I honestly don’t mind that – some people are picky about it, but I like them that way. VERY good wontons. FireRetarded said his egg roll was the best he’d ever had. High praise indeed! I wish I would have gotten that. The cellophane noodle soup didn’t pass DeltaForceCommander’s scrutinizing palate, mainly due to the amount of vegetables she hadn’t expected – but FireRetarded loved it during his third course. The fresh spring rolls were fine, but not stellar. Loosely wrapped and maybe not as fresh tasting as I’ve had before. They were good though – no complaints honestly.

The food itself was an overall disappointment. Everyone complained about the lack of flavor in their dishes. It was like the food came out super fast but missed the flavor sprinkle area of the kitchen. The ginger pork was very bland and the rice actually had more flavor. I tried some of EyeHeartPizza’s sesame chicken sauce and it was oddly devoid of flavor. DeltaForceCommander’s dish was the one least likely to have flavor, due to its lack of vegetables, but it ended up being one of the more flavorful dishes. It just seemed a bit lacking.

To wrap it all up, the appetizers are worth going here for – they’re really good. However, if you plan to continue your dining experience, you might consider going someplace else for your entrée. I’m not blacklisting the place, but I’ll find another place to go before I head back here.

Top 5 things about Cam Ranh Bay
1. Cream Cheese Wontons
2. Egg Roll (I’m going based on two people’s opinions – I can’t vouch myself)
3. Cellophane Noodle Soup
4. Super fast with the food
5. Menu has lots of items on it to choose from including a lot of vegetarian items (vegetarians don’t mind if there’s no flavor – they’re used to it – burn)

Bottom 5 things
1. I always wish Gerd was along with when I have librarian lunches. She loved DeltaForceCommander and FireRetarded
2. Super lack of flavor in the entrees
3. The server never seemed to know which table had which food. He would bring a tray out and hope someone asked for their food off it
4. It’s EyeHeartPizza and I’s last friend lunch together… sigh… cry… drink… cry… drink… punch
5. EyeHeartPizza and I got the exact same fortune. DeltaForceCommander and FireRetarded got the exact same fortune. Time to stir the box of fortune cookies people.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Black Jack Taco – Taco Bell

Whenever the geniuses at Taco Bell develop a new item, I can’t wait to try it. I didn’t even know they HAD a new item out since I don’t watch that much TV, but when I drove past and saw the window decals, I knew I had to stop.

Apparently, this taco shell is dyed black and is a regular taco but with pepperjack cheese sauce inside. Honestly, it’s nothing special, but I really liked the cheese sauce in it. It still has regular cheese in it as well, but the pepperjack sauce is pretty darn tasty.

It’s not going to make you buy stock in Taco Bell or make you switch to the new TB-only Diet, but I’ll get it again, for sure.

No top 5, sorry.

Moe’s Diner – Osseo, WI

I’ve driven past signs for this diner a number of times on my way home from Gerd’s family’s house. I’ve always wanted to stop, but I’ve either just eaten or was in a hurry to arrive home that I’ve never made it. Some time back, M.Giant went there and wrote about it, so I decided the next time I was passing through, I would stop and check it out. It’s like halfway between Wisconsin Dells and the border of Minnesota. The sign says it’s (Almost) World Famous, which always cracked me up.

I walked in and was happy to see it’s truly like an old dining car. It’s designed to look like it, in fact, with a domed ceiling and much longer than wide. Oddly, there’s a banquet/party room off the back with some additional seating for overflow, which is nice. And of course, counter seating on round stools like a real diner is required to have. It’s also very bright and clean and has oldies music playing on the speakers.

The super friendly waitress came over to bring me a menu and get my drink order, and I went with a strawberry shake. I also ordered a “Four on the Floor Sampler” for two reasons: 1) it’s a basket full of fried appetizers, 2) because I’ve got friends in a band called “Four on the Floor” – in which all four musicians play a bass drum on stage. The sampler had onion rings, cheese curds, chicken strips, and cheesy taters (seriously that’s what they were called). Everything on the menu appears to be named after a famous oldies singer or an old-timey song, so it’s got some fun kitsch going on.

The food came out pretty quickly, since there were only three other tables occupied in the place. The fried stuff looked both over-fried and under-fried. There were onion rings that were yellow, almost to the point of recently battered and also onion rings that were really dark brown (I almost didn’t know what they were until I cracked one open like a lobster claw). The chicken strips were a little overcooked and tough, and I’m not sure what the cheesy taters were suppose to be. They were like little hash brown bites but with next to zero cheese inside. The cheese curds were awesome though. That’s about 25% good... hmm…

The cook forgot one of my chicken strips apparently, so the waitress berated him (nicely) and made him cook me another one. She brought it out on its own plate half way through my meal. It wasn’t a big deal, I assure you, but it was nice that she went out of her way to make sure I got the proper number of strips.

The meal came with dipping sauces – BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce, and some white sauce that I couldn’t tell if it was seasoned ranch or seasoned mayo. Weird. I used all the BBQ sauce, but not much of the other two. I ended up leaving a couple cheesy taters on the grease covered waxed paper, but I forced down all of the fried cheese curds. I’m a firm believer of Gerd’s personal mantra, “No Cheese Left Behind.”

But the strawberry shake was fantastic. Part in a sundae glass and part in a metal mixing cup. Tasted like real ice cream and my straw kept getting stopped up with real strawberries, which is fine by me. Really, this shake might have changed my mind about this place.

Overall, the experience at Moe’s Diner didn’t thrill me. I’m glad I stopped and ate there, but I’ll probably skip it like I have a dozen times nit eh past year or two.

Top 5 things about Moe’s Diner
1. Strawberry shake
2. Super friendly staff
3. Lots of stuff I should have ordered on the menu besides the sampler
4. Deep Fried Cheese Curds
5. There’s a giant chicken and a giant cow in the parking lot

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have forced me to stop here and then complained about it, I can see the argument in my head right now. Somehow it would be my fault, even though she made me stop there. hahaha
2. Over- and under-cooked onion rings
3. Chicken strips were tough
4. Not sure on the white-ish dipping sauce
5. I was way full and grease covered when I drove out of the parking lot

Long Weekend With An Occasional Smile - Illinois

I had a rough weekend. A lot of my friends and family got various phone calls with me unable to speak through tears. This “missing Gerd thing” isn't getting any easier. Truly, it sucks.

I won’t go into too many details, but despite being a basketcase most of the weekend, I got to see some of my favorite people and some of Gerd and I’s favorite people. I got to go to lunch with Gerd’s mother and brother, which is always fun (fun isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean) and painful at the same time. But they’re family and I know they miss Gerd as much as I do.

The other thing I get to do when I’m visiting Gerd’s family is play with Zoey the Wonderdawg, Gerd and I’s dog. This past stretch was the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing her and it was really eating me up inside. As much as I mocked cute little fu-fu dogs, I love Zoey a ton. She’s a huge part of Gerd and I’s life and I miss her a lot. She was super happy to see me and we did a lot of lounging, which was nice. I think this was the biggest smile all weekend.

I'm sure some of the blog readers are sick of me always saying how much I miss Gerd, but it's true, and I'll continue to write such things. So if it bothers you that bad, don't read the top 5.

Tantra: Asian Fusion – Davenport, IA

Belcher rounded up a handful of people to go to dinner before we went to SuperGreat and OrrmanRyan’s wedding reception. She had seen this Tantra place over in Davenport and thought we should try it out. I was told to be there at 5:30, which I should have known, given who was coming, that that would mean after 6. Didn’t matter, I knew it was going to end up being a long night of revelry, so I got there at the appointed time and prepared to do some pre-drinking. I also sent a text or two reminding people we said 5:30 and some certain people hadn’t left the house quite yet… nice…

The place is really quite nice inside. I was here was it was two different restaurants and none of them looked this nice. Very impressive.

The hostess picked out a table for 6 in the back of the restaurant and I looked at the drink menu, which was really impressive for this town. 15 different Asian beers and lots of “beginner” wines priced reasonably – Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Reisling, Moscato d’Asti, Zin, Pinot Grigio, Merlot. The waitress came back and asked me if I needed anything. I scored a Lychee Martini, complete with two lychees on the umbrella and everything!

The waitress came back a couple of times to keep me company. She was hilarious. We crap-talked the late people and discussed the benefits of an open bar and taking advantage of drinking at a restaurant before the open bar event. No one knew if the reception would be an open bar and I wasn’t willing to take a chance – I had packed three flasks with me for the event. And it didn’t hurt she was … uh… easy on the eyes… and fun to gab with while sitting by myself.

JoMomma and Mr. Burns showed up just before 6 and he announced where people would be sitting (he’s 4). The waitress said she was going to sit down and play with his action figures he brought and he said, “No. Belcher will be sitting in that seat.” Burn. Belcher showed up about 6 and then Trey-Lo and CareBear showed up after 6. Right on time for them, believe me.

The menu had a ton of good things on it. Some distinctly Thai dishes, but some fried rice and other unique things as well. Lots to choose from, including some good appetizers. I ordered fresh summer rolls, Trey-Lo ordered Thai Jerky, and JoMomma ordered fried spring rolls for Mr. Burns’ dinner.

The dishes came out and looked wonderful. The fresh summer rolls were really good (though there was an issue with one of them, which didn’t get eaten – no worries though). The hoisin sauce was fantastic and peanutty. The jerky was actually really tasty. It had this spicy dipping sauce that added some kick to it. And Mr. Burns ate a couple of fried spring rolls and got full.

And I needed another drink, so I went with a Mango Martini. Since Mr. Burns was bored, we played with the toys he brought. This picture pretty much sums it up. Martini and Star Wars guys – winning combination.

I ordered the Singapore Street Noodles, and the waitress told me those were great for breakfast. I commented to the table in an obviously loud whisper that the waitress just invited back to her place for the evening and would make me breakfast in the morning. She blushed and started cracking up. I am pretty hilarious. Belcher ordered some bird’s nest deal, CareBear ordered the pad thai, JoMomma ordered some spicy pepper dish with chicken, and Trey-Lo ordered the green curry. Everyone’s food looked really good, impressive even!

My food was really good. Lots of noodles and some cabbage, tomatoes, and carrots. Really quite good. The bird’s nest thing was a noodle-based dish with some hard boiled quail eggs. Few people were adventurous enough to eat them, so I ended up with them. They weren’t bad, just odd, but the food itself was good and came in a sopapilla-type bread bowl. The spicy pepper dish was good, but not amazing. I ended up finishing CareBear’s pad thai, so I know that was good. I usually order it spicy, so this was a little on the mild side for me, but still really good. But Trey-Lo had the winning dish – the green curry was one of the best I’ve ever had. She thought there were too many green peppers in it, but I thought it was perfect, especially with the coconut milk and egg plant in there. Tons of flavor.

While we were eating, a frat boy in an Iowa State coat (but shorts and flip flops) (it was freezing outside) sat down with his hot Asian girlfriend. The guy was a tool. He blew out the candle on the table and laughed like a doosh – she yelled at him. He stole the umbrella out of her drink and laughed like a doosh – she yelled at him. He talked loudly on his cell phone with his elbow up in the air, insulted his girlfriend, and laughed like a doosh – she yelled at him. It was infuriating.

The waitress eventually brought out a lava cake for me, to make up for the slight problem with the summer roll. I told her she didn’t have to do that, but she insisted. It wasn’t even a huge deal, but she was making sure I wasn’t offended or thought less of the place – which I didn’t. The food was fantastic. I then asked her if this was to seal the deal on me coming home with her, and she blushed again…. BUT she didn’t say “no”… I’ll take that as a sign (one that I didn’t follow up on, as usual). I’m not much of a cake eater, but I didn’t mention that. I shared the love since she brought out 6 spoons as well. I’m pretty sure everyone got a bite, including me, so we were all REALLY full when we left the place.

Go to this place. I don’t want it to close like the other places that have been here. It is great food, and a great drink list, and super fun staff.

Top 5 things about Tantra
1. Green Curry – without a doubt
2. Singapore Street Noodles
3. Super fun waitress who took my abuse
4. Great wine/drink list
5. I have the greatest most fun friends in the world

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved Asian food of any kind and would have been super happy going here and hanging out with our friends
2. Mr. Burns and I kept getting shushed for having too much fun – geeeesh, mom…
3. Mango Martini wasn’t the greatest martini in the world – I should have gotten the Mai Thai that CareBear got
4. Iowa State D-bag
5. I need to give the Fresh Summer Rolls another try where I get to actually eat all of them

Longview Park Disc Golf Course – Rock Island, IL

The main reason I wanted to write this review is because I got to play with my old dog Asmodeus, Inciter of Lechery (full name). We call him Moe, for brevity. He’s one of the coolest dogs ever and is still a retarded moose, which is why I love him. It’s been too long since I’d seen him, and it was exactly what I needed this weekend. Thanks for bringing my old pal back out to play, Belcher. It means a lot.

I grew up playing this disc golf course, so I’m a tad biased. It also means I won’t go into as much detail because a lot of it I take for granted. It’s a pretty challenging course due to the elevation and wind, but you’ll have a great view of the Mississippi River Valley and get to play in some awesome mature oak trees (the hundred footers, not the pansy shrubs that Texans call oak trees).

Despite the below freezing temperature and blowing snow (yeah, in October), we played. Belcher had serious gloves and hat action, and I had a sweatshirt and those hand warmer thingies - I'm really glad I brought them). The grass was wet from the snow so the added combination of wet and cold would have killed my game (dang, I should have used that as an excuse for my performance, huh?).

This course has some of the most insane elevation of any disc golf course I’ve played. Your legs will burn after this course. Yes, some of it is down hill, but somehow the majority of it is uphill. There’s been a lot of “work” on this course, and much of it not good. There’s a new blacktopped parking lot down the middle of hole #6, along with three giant trees missing. Hole 7 is missing all of its trees. Hole 17 is missing both of its massive trees and is wide open. And hole 18, one of the hardest holes in disc golf, is now missing one of its massive trees, but it doesn’t make the hole any easier.

This course used to be a 12-hole course and was pretty spread out. Now that it’s 18 holes, it seems a little cramped in spots (but only if you have many groups playing at the same time), but the redesign added some fun holes. There are some flow issues, especially if you remember the easy flow of the original 12, but it’s still a challenging course.

My legs burned after I finished the 18th hole uphill hike, but all in all, this is one of the best rounds I’ve had in a while. I haven’t played with Belcher in years, so I’m guessing she thinks I play like this all the time (I don’t). So I’m glad to have had an audience. She can still putt like a machine though, so despite her thinking she played poorly, we still probably ended up pretty even. She IS a professional disc golfer, after all (yes, seriously).

No top 5 – just play this course. I think it’s very under-rated, and pansy disc golfer complain about their legs hurting, which is why it might have a bad rap (and maybe the sketchy neighborhood as well – haha)

Ganson’s Neighborhood Bakery and Café – Rock Island, IL

I had originally intended to go to Ross’ for breakfast this day, since it’s one of my favorites, but when Belcher and I decided to do breakfast, I knew it was out of the question. She normally didn’t have any interest in devouring a Morning Mountain or a Volcano, so I knew it would be someplace more tame – maybe next time. She told me to meet her at Ganson’s, a little shop next to the golf course I had played a million times.

I met Belcher there right as it began to snow. Yes, I said SNOW. It was very pretty in fact and made the cute little house-like coffee shop even cuter and more Rockwell-esque. It’s got a pretty big patio attached the building, so there’s lots of outside seating, but they’ve got quite a few 2- and 4-persno tables packed on the inside. Hardwood floors and individual rooms like it’s simply someone’s house you’re eating in.

The waitress behind the counter recognized Belcher, since apparently she goes in there multiple times per week – hilarious. She warned us that they weren’t serving breakfast any more (not after 10am on Saturday, but they DO serve breakfast late on Sundays), but she changed her mind and went back to the kitchen to plead with the chef – he caved and said he’d make us breakfast. Wurd.

We grabbed a seat on the enclosed porch and got caught up on life and such. We’ve both had some crap to deal with and we communicate well, so we hashed out the world’s problems while we waited. I ordered the Breakfast Pita Pockets and a milk (whole milk, since EyeHeartPizza only drinks skim at our house, which isn’t even worth drinking). Belcher got a cinnamon roll – you don’t even know the depths of her addiction… The waitress asked if she wanted frosting, and Belcher interrupted her with an “OHHHH YEAAAAHHHHH I want frosting. LOTS of frosting.”

The food came out pretty quickly and mine looked pretty good. Eggs, sage sausage, thick cut applewood smoked bacon, shredded cheddar and some green onions packed into a pita. I managed to eat all of it without making an incredible mess, as I’m prone to do with pita-cuisine. Everything was really tasty. Nothing special or over the top, but quite good. Belcher ate the middle portion of her cinnamon roll (the part with the most frosting), and I even scored a bite of it. She was right, it would have been better heated up a tad, but it was still delicious. They’ve got a lot of pastries to choose from at Ganson’s, so I don’t think you’re going to end up hungry if you go here.

I’d highly recommend this place if you want to grab a book and relax with a cup of coffee and a pastry. It’s a truly local place with super awesome staff that work there. The waitress that Belcher knew (Allie or Ellie) was hilarious and told us she was cute enough to be on the Ganson’s website giving a thumbs up, but they hadn’t taken her up on the offer to be on there just yet. Classic.

Top 5 things about Ganson’s
1. Breakfast Pita Pockets
2. Cinnamon roll with a super thick layer of frosting
3. Super fun staff (some of whom allowed us to have breakfast after breakfast hours)
4. Whole Milk, seriously
5. It’s been a long time since Belcher and I got to hang out and talk

Bottom 5 things
1. I REALY wanted a Morning Mountain from Ross’
2. Cinnamon roll could have been warmed for more better tasty (I miss you Merrill Howard Kalin)
3. Would have been cool to sit outside, but the snow prevented that
4. The heater turned on and it smelled a little burn-y for a bit, but it went away
5. There’s lots of “fancy” breakfast things on the menu (thankfully, it’s VERY affordable)


Poor Boys Pizza – Rock Island, IL

I got into the Quad Cities pretty late, so my options were limited for food. I had arranged to meet my friend Huffy for drinks (which is never a problem around midnight or so, even in the Quad Cities), but when I picked her up, we had to figure out where I could get some food. Poor Boys is kind of a bar with a pizza place attached to it and I’ve always liked their pizza (though I haven’t had it since I lived down the street from it years ago). Poor Boys it is!

We got inside and grabbed a booth. It was crowded, but not packed, so we actually had our choice of two tables. We checked out the menu and it appeared they served pizza until midnight (might have been one, but the subsequent jack and cokes blurred my memory a bit). We ordered a medium meat lovers pizza and a couple of drinks.

The place is a little loud with all kinds of TVs and people watching sports and yelling (even at the highlight shows) at the screens. But we managed to get all caught up over a couple drinks while waiting. We waited a really long time (but were distracted with the aforementioned conversation and drinks). The waitress looked over at our pizza-less table and apologized and ran back to the kitchen to check on our food. It came out shortly after that. And it wasn’t a painfully long time to wait – but if we were sitting there quietly, it might have seemed like a long time. (sorry about the photo – it’s dark inside)

Poor Boys pizza is a bit like Harris Pizza (what some consider the best of the Quad City “Harris Style” pizza places). Long skinny pieces with thin crust and tons of toppings. Probably even more since we got the meat lovers – which was every kind of meat they had in back. The pizza is delicious. The crust is pretty thin (not cardboard thin or anything), but is still enough that you get the flavor without feeling like you’re eating a slice of toast under some mozzarella. The meat was fantastic and nothing needed to be picked off nor appeared weird.

We grabbed a couple more drinks after we finished this thing off and sat around talking until 2am. The place got much quieter then and it was easier to discuss the random topics we pulled out of our hind ends. Seriously, this pizza is good, especially if it’s the only thing open at midnight. Heck, I’d eat here, even if it wasn’t midnight, although it IS rather close to Harris Pizza…

Top 5 things about Poor Boys Pizza
1. Really layer on the toppings
2. Open late
3. Can get drinks while eating pizza and watching various sports
4. Not just pizza, but subs and pastas
5. Waitress made sure we were alright and kept the drinks coming

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved late night pizza (and drinks), but I don’t think we ever went to Poor Boys together. She would have liked it, I’m sure of it
2. It took a wee bit longer than it should have to get our food
3. It’s still not quite Harris Pizza… I’m just sayin’…
4. Parking lot is always full
5. It can get kind of loud in there

Poor Boys Pizza
4121 18th Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201
(309) 786-2400

Monday, October 12, 2009