Monday, August 31, 2009

Whitey’s Ice Cream – Coralville, IA

Sometimes when I drive home from Illinois back to Minneapolis, I call up my best friend Coach and see if he wants to meet me at the mall for some Whitey’s Ice Cream. He and his girlfriend, Toach (whom I need to come up with another name for or he’ll yell at me – I just haven’t done it yet), would meet EyeHeartPizza and I at the mall for a quick snack and then we’d bail.

I like to walk through the mall to get a feel for the "scenery" in the Iowa City area, so I park at the far end of the mall and walk through the whole thing to the end that houses Whitey's. It also has the added bonus effect of angering EyeHeartPizza since she hates malls and is already in a bad mood from the early start (and pounding head) she got. Sucked to be her.

I ordered a banana split with strawberries (to make it pink) and EyeHeartPizza even paid for it! If I would have known that, I would have gotten a large. Bummer. Whitey’s truly is the best ice cream ever. Whether it’s in shake form, or scoop, or even their desserty things, it’s amazing. Sadly, the ice cream isn’t going to be the focus of this review.

We usually grab a seat next to the ice rink and watch people falling down, or painful first dates, or hockey scrimmage or something. The last time we met at the mall, we got to see this older man who was high on life and having the time of his life. We talked about him for weeks, so we were hoping he’d be there again this time.

Guess what?

HE WAS THERE!!!!!!!!! This guy has the biggest cornball smile on his face ever. He skates all over the rink, doing spins and with his hands in the air and skating backwards and prancing around on the ice. It is the best ice cream snack entertainment ever. The guy will skate past where we’re sitting and make sure we’re watching him and smiling approvingly of his tricks. We were all convinced he was putting the moves on Coach. I mean, why wouldn’t he? This time, he actually had a girl with him – which really surprised us, if you know what I mean. He would skate backwards in front of her pulling her along, or just in front of her coaxing her forward. And every once in a while, she’d get a little off balance and they’d get tangled up and drop to the ice really hard. Then he would push her aside to watch him and he’d skate around and do some tricks. At one point, she whipped out her cell phone and was filming him, certainly at his request. One of the best parts was him skating to "The Final Countdown" by Europe. That's classy skating, I don't care who you are.

I’m not sure what the names of these moves are, but I don’t really remember seeing them in a lot of competitions. Oh wait, I don’t actually watch figure skating on television. That might also be why I’ve never seen these moves. I got as many shots of this guy as I could. I hope they work on here. You won’t be disappointed.

Since the review really wasn’t about ice cream, I won’t give it a Top 5. It’s really the old guy ice skating that I want you to see.

Hardee’s Fried Bologna Biscuit

Back when I was a kid, my second-oldest sister from Michigan, PalmMapper, used to fry up bologna and throw it on some bread for my little brother and I. We used to love it. I’m not sure why, actually. She could make lots of other awesome stuff (like TacoBake, and mixed drinks...wait, what?), but when she needed to shut us up quickly, fried bologna was a speedy mouth-stuffer.

My mother told me about these new sammiches Hardee’s had and I knew I had to at least try the thing. I hadn’t seen any commercials up in the Twin Cities for them, which isn’t surprising since I don’t watch television.

On the way to Peoria Sunday morning, EyeHeartPizza and I picked up a couple for the road. Honestly, it wasn’t that great. It either needed to be more bologna-y or less. As it was, it was more of an aftertaste than anything. Maybe the biscuit and egg were just too flavorful, but I doubt that’s the case. The cheese was the fake processed cheese you’ll get at all fast food places, and everything else has that processed texture to it. Some people like the biscuits at Hardee’s, but I could take them or leave them. I prefer a Croissamich or a McMuffin anyday. The fried bologna biscuit tasted fine, in that it wasn’t gross, but I really thought it would be better. Maybe I had just envisioned it being as amazing as I remembered it as a kid. Or maybe my sister sprinkled crack on them when I was a kid to get us hooked.

Yes, I forwent all safety precautions by taking this photo. I’m driving with no hands with a biscuit on my lap and taking a photo. One fire-y crash coming right up!

It was fine, but I’m glad I got the tater rounds. You can’t go wrong with those things. Too much a non-issue to do a Top 5. Maybe I’m getting lazy in my old age.

Quad Cities Visit (part 2) – August 29th

After we finished up eating, we headed off in search of the Fruit Pie Festival, being hosted by my friend Cthulu at one of his friends’ houses in rural Geneseo, IL. If you didn’t already know, Geneseo is a rural town, so for there to be rural parts of it means it’s EXTRA rural. Every August 31st is International Fruit Pie Day and Cthulu has taken days off of work in past years to deliver Hostess fruit pies to all of his friends at their work places. The guy is insane, but I love him to death. So he holds this Fruit Pie Festival every year around the August 31st date and invites people to bring food and watch movies. It truly is just as odd as it sounds like it might be.

We hit up a local liquor store for some refreshments and hit the road. I bought a bottle of Malbec for HotGirlsMom, since we had been discussing wine earlier that evening. Malbec is one of Gerd and I’s favorite reds and I’m trying to get more people hooked on this stuff. It’s great.

I had gotten directions to the Fruit Pie Festival from Cthulu earlier that day, but they consisted mainly of “turn right at the first major gravel cross road after you pass the curves you’ll see after the Lavender Crest Vineyard.” We drove around for a considerable length of time, backtracking all along the gravel roads and basically getting lost in an area of Illinois without any cell phone reception. Wonderful. We gave up and headed back to the Quad Cities.

Some friends of mine, from a band I used to play in, are moving to Chicago, so they threw their own going away party. I’ve partied with these guys before and I pretty much knew what to expect. I warned EyeHeartPizza and HotGirlsBrother about things they might see and that they might not know anyone there. We also had a signal to leave, involving scratching your left forearm. We grabbed some drinks from the back of the car and rolled in. It was awesome to see these guys again. They didn’t think I’d show up, but I love to shock them. I high fived a bunch of people and made the rounds. EyeHeartPizza started scratching her arm furiously and talking about scabies, and HotGirlsBrother totally ignored her and offered her a beer. Hilarious. Things got weird when these metal guys started crap talking each other about how good they were at chess and D&D. I’m not joking. We snuck out of this party after about 15 minutes. Best cameo appearance ever. (Smallz and I are mastering the art of leaving - it appears to be a lost art in the Twin Cities...) I will say I was very bummed that Jarrod had shaved off his sweet porn mustache before I got to see it.

We headed back to HotGirlsBrother’s parents house to hang out and have some drinks around the fire pit. I would love to go into detail as to everything that went on this evening, but I honestly won’t be able to fit it all into one post. I’m sure there’s a character limit I would exceed. Plus there were a lot of “you just had to be there” moments. I’ll try my best, tough.

We got there and started talking about how much the bottle of wine I bought for HotGirlsMom was. It started about $300 and by the end of the night, the bottle of wine had cost me in the range of $2,400. We poured some glasses of wine for people, mixed some girly drinks, and headed out to the firepit. HotGirlsDad’s friends were out there drinking and laughing it up and we got introduced and talked about the most hilarious stuff. At one point, HotGirlsMom said something that just happened to be a song lyric from way back. Immediately, both HotGirlsDad and TandyKane broke into the same song using the fire-poking stick as a microphone. Hilarious. Then we were talking about the stars, and pointing out constellations and planets and HotGirlsDad bent over and shouted, “I can see Uranus!” We were all a little slap happy, so it was the funniest thing ever.

HotGirlsDad mentioned he'd like to grow his hair out long, and "let his freak flag fly" like Chao is doing. He would call himself "The Silver Fox" - again with the laughter. This all happened after numerous references to my (hidden - even to me) homosexuality. What can I say? I like the girly drinks.

TandyKane and his wife left and HotGirlsMom went back inside since it was a tad chilly outside. HotGirlsDad was calling EyeHeartPizza “mamby pamby” because she drinks coors light and that almost started a fight. Things got seriously crazy then, as the drinks continued. There were so many hilariously wrong conversations that I can’t go into them all. We kept getting shushed from inside the house because we were laughing so hard at various points. For some reason, we started talking about how some old guys are majorly creepy. And HotGirlsDad said his daughter (HotGirl herself) hoped he never became one of those “creepy boner dads.” EyeHeartPizza, HotGirlsBrother, and I all fell on the grass laughing. It took us like 10 minutes to regain composure. It was out of control. So from here forward, HotGirlsDad will now be known as CreepyBonerDad.

We decided CreepyBonerDad needed a theme song, so HotGirlsBrother and I came up with this (what we thought was) hilarious break-down chugs&picksqueals theme songs to a drum beat played on your knees. If that wasn’t hilarious enough, CreepyBonerDad started rapping over the top of it. He would bend over so he had no neck at all and sing into his fire-poking stick like a grizzled old creepy-voiced troll. He busted out a few rhymes and had us laughing. At various points after that, CreepyBonerDad would shout randomly, “…2, 3, 4!” during a non-related conversation and all of us would break into the new theme song without question. It ran like clockwork.

Then he ended one with, and I seriously quote this, “I’m hiding in your closet. I’m sniffing your brassieres.” The scene where we were rolling in the grass was exponentially multiplied and we howled with laughter. Even CreepyBonerDad almost fell into the firepit from laughing so hard. I know it’s not going to be nearly as funny in writing, but my face and sides still hurt today from laughing.

We ended the night waaaay later than we had intended. But seriously, it was the most laughing I’ve done in a really long time. Every time I hang out with HotGirlsBrother’s family, I hear things I never thought I would and it makes me look forward to the net time I can hang out with them. Next time, HotGirlsMom gets a $47,000 bottle of wine!

Top 5 moments from Saturday night’s hilarity
1. CreepyBonerDad was ON tonight
2. Seeing my old bandmates
3. The CreepyBonerDad theme song
4. Having a 45-minute conversation with HotGirlsMom about our various trips to France. I need to go back now!
5. This was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a really long time

Bottom 5 things
1. Couldn’t find the Fruit Pie Festival
2. Getting lost in Geneseo’s extra-red-neck area without phone reception
3. My face and sides still hurt from laughing
4. Staying up late does not encourage being up early the following morning
5. I got ZERO photos from this event, mostly because most of it took place outside in the pitch blackness

Pasteur – Moline, IL

We dropped by HotGirlsBrother’s parents house to pick him up for dinner and we ended up picking up his folks for dinner as well. Certainly no problem at all, since they both rule. We had planned to go to Pasteur for Vietnamese food, because our friend Smallz is a MAJOR fan of this place. Since he ended up not coming to the Quad Cities this weekend, we decided it would be in his best interest if we ate their anyway and took photos of ourselves having a great time eating great food. We love you, Smallz.

Pasteur is run by a hilariously loud Asian man. He yells across the restaurant at customers and at his staff (not like angry yelling, just dishing out orders and jokes and such), and he remembers you if you’ve ever eaten there before. He’s got an insane memory. Weird. He's also got a bunch of crazy wild white hairs growing out of the side of his neck that you can't look away from. Seriously.

We got seated, loudly, and ordered some appetizers. A couple of pot stickers and some fresh spring rolls. These came out and were delicious. EyeHeartPizza had some of the pot stickers, but I stuck with the spring rolls. They’re my favorite. Really delicately wrapped cucumber, mint, and shrimp. HotGirlsBrother referred to them as the Cuban version of spring rolls, since they were rolled so tightly – it’s true. But they are delicious.

The waitress helped me decide between a couple of dishes, but I ended up with the Malaysian Noodles with chicken. This dish was one of the best ones I’ve had there. Fantastic rice noodles (linguine-style) with chicken and vegetables and I used the hoissin sauce to dip stuff into. Fabulous flavor and texture. I would definitely get this again. None of us ended up ordering Smallz' favorite dish – we didn’t want to spite him that much. We do like the guy, after all.

One of the most hilarious conversations we had was about HotGirlsBrother's facial hair. We've all decided he needs to grow just a neck beard, shaving only his jawline and up. It will wrap around his head like a furry turtleneck. He can grow it down into his shirt like an ascot made of whiskers, or what we now refer to as "the Whis-cot". Ingenious!!!

I totally forgot to take photos this time. I was soooo excited to eat here, I just powered straight through everything. That's how good this place is. Sorry about that.

The service did take a really long time, even for simple things like water. I guess I knew that because I remember telling people that before, but I also tend to forget when the food is that good. Seriously, this place has fantastic food and a hilarious character of a host. He kept giving EyeHeartPizza a difficult time since she said she had never been there. He suggested that she pay if everyone isn’t completely happy with their meals (actually, he said this a couple of times), and then he told her, if she didn’t like it, she could go across the street and eat at the Maid-Rite. Hilarious.

Top 5 things about Pasteur
1. Malaysian Noodles
2. Hanging out with HotGirlsMom and HotGirlsDad is always a blast
3. Eating at a restaurant to spite someone (jokingly, of course) makes the meal even tastier
4. The fact that people mispronounce the name seriously angers HotGirlsBrother. I love it
5. The owner/host is the reason some people come back. The amazing food is the reason the rest of the people come back

Bottom 5 things
1. Speed of service
2. I do wish Smallz would have gotten to eat there with us, since the whole thing was his idea in the first place
3. The parking at this place is pretty small, but it only seats a handful, so it’s probably customer-appropriate, unless you arrive in multiple cars like we did
4. Now I’m hungry for the Maid-Rite
5. Spring rolls weren’t the best I’ve ever had

Doggy Styles – Silvis, IL

We knew we were going to be eating dinner before going to the Fruit Pie Festival, so we needed to grab something light. Well, maybe not light, but something small enough that we wouldn’t get full. We had just done some shopping for Kickball Prom – which I will be describing after the actual prom event on Wednesday – and had to have a snack before going out with HotGirlsBrother that evening. EyeHeartPizza mentioned hot dogs and the lightbulb went off. Doggy Styles in Silvis, IL. We headed across town to this place. It’s one of my favorite lunch places from when I worked at the John Deere Headquarters.

As we drove into downtown Silvis (it’s a VERY small town), there were people sitting in lawn chairs drinking beers and food carts were set up. Apparently, there’s some sort of nighttime parade through downtown, and people were staking their claim along the parade route with lawn chairs and already pounding beers at like 11am. High five, Silvis.

Once inside Doggy Styles, we noticed signs saying “special menu.” I guess this means when they have festivals, they don’t offer the full menu. This also apparently means I can’t get the giant slop pile that I usually get here – the ChowHound. Even though I didn’t get the ChowHound, I’ll tell you what it is so you can drool over it. Throw a slice or two of texas toast in one of those plastic red baskets with waxed paper, then cover that with fries, chili, and hot dogs. It’s amazing. For you Quac-Citians, it’s basically the hot dog version of a Magic Mountain.

As I said, we were eating light, so I only got a chili cheese dog. It was good, but looks so tame compared to the ChowHound. Oh well. The chili is a little thin for my taste, but it actually tastes good, so I won’t complain. The dogs are always good there. I would also prefer shredded cheese over pump cheese, but in this case, the whole thing works. It’s a decent dog, especially for a light lunch.

And having Dew on the menu helps as well.

Top 5 things about Doggy Styles
1. Chili cheese dog
2. No waiting at all
3. They have a dog called the Homewrecker. It’s got all kinds of gastrointestinal napalm on it. The name alone brings a smile to my face
4. Watching people pounding beers for a parade that is 8 hours away
5. They have Dew

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd liked to eat here, despite having GERD. It didn’t treat her well, but she did enjoy the place
2. This really made me miss my John Deere coworkers. We ALWAYS had a blast eating here. This time there was no trivia, like when we used to go there
3. No ChowHound on the menu today
4. Most of the chairs and tables were outside in the sun for the festival that evening
5. The novelty of saying “Doggy Styles” around my parents is wearing off

Country Style Ice Cream – Moline, IL

Since the volleyball game was over by 10, we all needed breakfast. Someone jokingly mentioned ice cream, and then it got VERY serious. Since EyeHeartPizza has had Whitey’s Ice Cream already, I had to take her to try Country Style Ice Cream. Yes, it was 10am, but time is not an issue when it comes to ice cream. AmandaHugginkiss followed my mother (driving myself and EyeHeartPizza)(like we were 10) over to Country Style. Wurd.

We harassed an old family friend, Brian, who has worked at Country Style for like 200 years. He may even own the place at this point, I don't know. He was opening the store and even snuck in our orders a little early, since he’s a great guy. It’s sad that some people shut down bars at 2 or 3 am – it’s even more sad that we actually stand around and wait for an ice cream shop to open during breakfast hours.

The ice cream at Country Style is soft serve, but not a typical soft serve. It’s very difficult to explain. It doesn’t actually seem like soft serve. It’s really heavy duty and thick, and they’ll mix three billion flavors in any combination you want. It’s been around for a long time, right next to Whitey’s Ice Cream and neither appears to be damaging each other’s market share on that corner. In fact, you will see people drive into the parking lot, and one spouse will go to Whitey’s and the other spouse will go to Country Style. It’s a beautiful thing.

As some of you know, I only eat pink ice cream, so I got a strawberry pineapple shake which was awesome.

Some people are Whitey’s people and some people are Country Style people. I probably lean towards Whitey’s, but I still really like Country Style. EyeHeartPizza is apparently a Whitey’s person. Whatever.

It’s difficult to come up with a top and bottom 5 for a short review like this. But I'll give it a shot.

Top 5 things about Country Style Ice Cream
1. Seriously, ice cream for breakfast
2. There was fruit in my ice cream, which makes it healthy
3. Got to see Brian, whom is a long-time friend of our family
4. Oddly, there was no one in front of us in line
5. Did I mention ice cream for breakfast?

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved Country Style, and the last time I went to Country Style was with her. It’s really rough on me sometimes that everything I do, especially back home, reminds me of her
2. We DID have to wait outside while the place was still opening (yes, I realize that was OUR fault, but still…)
3. While standing and waiting, my mother pointed out Hardee’s now serves fried bologna biscuits for breakfast and we didn’t end up getting one
4. There’s soooo many flavors you can add, yet I always end up getting the same thing. Next time, fo sho!
5. EyeHeartPizza decided she was a Whitey’s person

Quad Cities Visit (part 1) – August 29, 2009

I took a trip to the Quad Cities this past weekend for a number of reasons. I’ll just throw a couple of them out there for you. My sister, NotMomsFavorite, has been going through a rough patch and I needed to see her and hang with her a bit to make sure she was doing alright. Secondly, her daughter/my niece, Frog was playing volleyball this weekend for her college team. Thirdly, there was a Fruit Pie Festival happening. Fourthly, some guys I used to play in a band with are moving to Chicago and were throwing a ridiculous going away party for themselves. Fifthly, EyeHeartPizza needed to move some crap up to my house in Minneapolis since she’s going to be staying with me for couple of months until she gets a job, some friends, and a roommate to move in with. Until then, she’s got the guest bedroom and about 24/25ths of the bathroom taken up with girly things.

I won’t go into too many of the details of the driving itself, but I’ll tell you how the whole trip started. EyeHeartPizza waited until we were exactly two blocks from my house to throw up in my car. She cracked wise about something (like she does), and then took a swig of her water bottle. Then she started laughing at how hilarious she THOUGHT she was and started coughing, choking, and gagging. Then stuff from the inside of her person ended up on my dashboard, door, and floor. Yes, much of the grossness ended up on her hands and pants, but seriously, there was viscous goo on my car. It doesn’t stop there!!! About an hour later, she relived the experience by cracking wise (not that she had stopped since the previous incident), swigging water and then flushing her sinuses and guts AGAIN. I now have a LARGE stack of napkins and sanitary wipes in my glove compartment.

For the first part of this adventure, I went to Blackhawk College for some volleyball action. My niece plays a mean game of volleyball. She’s been playing for years and I always used to go to the games when I was in Illinois. Yes, it was creepy to leer at high school volleyball players. Now was my chance to justify leering at college girl volleyball players, right? I went with my mother to check out the game. I met DeliveryBoy’s wife AmandaHugginkiss there, since she was in town from San Antonio (where I’ll be visiting next weekend!), and ended up paying her admission price. Luckily, I’m the rich uncle… hahahah. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my niece actually play at all, since she was keeping stats from the sidelines – but she was the best stats girl I’ve ever seen!!! No mistakes from where I was sitting! Apparently, she played great in subsequent games that we didn’t stick around for – bummer. And so you know, my unwritten rule is I don’t take my camera out and take inappropriate photos of girls in volleyball shorts unless my niece is on the court. That way it’s much less creepy. Hahaha. So I got no photos from the game. Sorry, ChickenLittle.

I’ll have to continue my posts more individually now, so I can keep them straight and not turn this into one 30 page post about inane things I did this weekend. That means no top 5 (obviously, hanging with my family would be at the top and having someone hurf in my car would be on the bottom 5 list).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lions Tap – Eden Prairie, MN

DawgMan has been talking about Lions Tap since I started working out here in Eden Prairie. We keep meaning to go, but always seem to find something else to do. So when I got the call from FireRetarded to go out to lunch, I thought of Lions Tap first! He swung by and picked me up, but DawgMan was nowhere to be found, so I had to go without him.

It’s weird how they seat people. There’s a greeter, and depending on which areas of the place are busy, she will tell you to go stand someplace and they will seat you. Not her, though – she just directs traffic. We walked to the end of the bar and someone told us to grab one of the tables near the fire place. Thankfully, if there was an “incident”, FireRetarded would be first on the scene with his fireman training.

The menu is pretty simple: burgers and double burgers. They do have a California burger with all kinds of healthy crap on it, but they also have a Bacon Cheeseburger. Which one do you think I got?


And yes, that’s FireRetarded guarding our burgers from any would-be bacon thieves.

The burger had circular bacon, which clearly is some cosmic sign from the heavens that bacon is the perfect infinite nutritional life force. This is a more efficient bacon delivery mechanism than strip bacon due to its equal coverage. Well played, Lions Tap.

The meat itself was really juicy and flavorful, and the cheese was pretty tasty, not rubbery like some places. It was a great burger. Not “Top 5” great, but still a quality burger that I will definitely eat again. The fries were pretty mediocre, even for someone like me, who is not a fry guy. If they would have had tots or onion rings, I’d have probably gotten those. But they don’t. Added bonus: they have Dew! That’s what I’m talking about. (Though, I’m very upset with myself for NOT ordering draft root beer, which is one of my favorite things in the world. Next time!)

I had a great lunch with FireRetarded. We have the most random conversations but they’re always tons of fun. We talked about roller derby, 7-pound burritos, how (some) women are crazy, state fair, golf, school, bacon, waterparks, jobs, nephews, road trips, bed racing, Halloween, neurotoxic mechanisms of methylmercury on cellular and behavioral changes, and other things regular people talk about.

Top 5 things about Lions Tap
1. I love hanging out with FireRetarded
2. The burger was really good
3. Circular Bacon
4. The service was pretty good, though I was warned it might not always be, especially at lunch
5. They have DEW!!!

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved a good juicy burger and we talked about going here. Sadly, she missed out on a great burger (and draft root beer)
2. Fries were pretty boring
3. Wish they had tots or onion rings
4. Weird seating operation with hostess and seating people
5. The staff wear tie die shirts. Uggghhh

Bacon Balm – Minnesota State Fair, MN

When I got to work today, THIS was sitting on my desk.

I didn’t know who put it there, but I knew I needed to give that person a hug. When I found out it was my coworker NotHisRealName, I forwent the hug, due to workplace weirdness, not because he's not awesome. Actually, NotHisRealName knows I love bacon in many different forms, and when he was at the Minnesota State Fair yesterday, someone shoved a tube of lip balm in his hands and he thought of ME! I’m assuming because of the flavor of lip balm, not the size of the container.

I whipped the cap off this technological oddity and liberally applied it to my lips, which were slightly chapped and needed relief. The initial taste does have some hints of bacon, but most of what I smell and taste is maple. The tube does say it’s maple bacon, and the maple definitely is the overpowering force in this thing. I feel like I’ve been eating pancakes with syrup for the past few hours.

I was half worried it would be a lipstick tube filled with congealed bacon fat (I STILL would have tried it), but thankfully, it does actually appear to be lip balm. It’s also SPF 15, so I have an excuse to wear it out in public. the tube does not indicate if it is vegan/vegetarian-friendly, sorry. Thanks again, NotHisRealName!

I’ll be sitting at my desk for the next few hours licking my chops like Yukon Cornelius.

Who wants to kiss me?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tom’s Home Cookin’ – Denver, CO

I’m going to try to shorten this so I don’t ramble on and on about this place.

As background, EyeHeartPizza recommended this place to me since she’s just moved from Denver. It was one of her favorite places. Now normally, I don’t believe a word EyeHeartPizza says, but she seemed excited about it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. She said to get there before noon or you’ll be standing in line. SO I actually arrived before noon. I feel bad that I had to call my aunt PictureLady on the way here to tell her I couldn’t pick her up for lunch, since I had to rush downtown, but she wasn’t offended. When she reads how good this place is, she’s going to be mad…

There’s two different menu boards to check out. Apparently the dry erase board gets changed every day depending on what Tom decides to serve, but it’s always southern comfort food (it’s on the sign outside and everything). This is Tom’s claim to fame. I’m usually suspicious of these kind of places because soul food is tough to replicate. But I had to try it since I was there, right? There’s a hilarious section of the menu board that says “Hang up your cell phone and order!” Very subtle. Haha. And remember, Tom’s only takes cash, no cards at all.

I stepped up to the counter and the guys behind the counter were super friendly. Asked how I was doing and then the one guy told me “that’s a good looking monkey”, pointing to my shirt.

I answered, “if I had a dollar everytime someone told me that…” The guy blushed and started cracking up. When we both recovered, I asked him if the sausage and chicken gumbo was better than the country fried steak. He said to go with the gumbo, but they’re both good. So I ordered up the sausage and chicken gumbo with mac and cheese for one side and baby lima beans for my second side. It comes with a drink and choice of bread (I went with the jalepeno corn bread) and comes to a grand total of 9-something. Seriously cheap lunch.

The crazy thing is, from the moment I stepped foot inside to the moment I sat down to eat, it was a total of 30 seconds. All the food is ready. He makes one batch of everything so when it’s gone, it’s gone. So everything is super fresh (if you get there in time for lunch).

They didn’t have Dew, but they had the next best thing – Strawberry Fanta. I LOVE Strawberry Fanta, it’s the next best thing to a melty snowcone. Well played, Tom. I thought there were boatloads of coffee pots on the counter, but it was actually three canisters of Tom’s homemade sweet tea, one canister of iced tea, and one canister of homemade lemonade, which I now regret skipping. Dang. Apparently, the sweet tea is the best stuff ever made, but I don’t drink tea, so I didn’t try it.

I got back and started eating. I can’t explain to you what I felt while eating this, other than saying this might actually be better than Grandma’s cooking and she was from Alabama. She knew her southern food. Apparently Tom and Grandma went to cooking school together. The mac and cheese was all velveeta and lardy like grandma made. The lima beans weren’t gritty or mushy. Awesome. And the gumbo had lots of sausage and chicken, but also corn, peppers, okra, onions, and tomatoes and served over rice. The cornbread was perfectly moist and sweet and had bits of jalapeno and corn niblets in it. Amazing.

There was a really diverse mix of customers in here as well – business people, painters, dirty hippies, mullets, black, white, Hispanic, cops, milfs, nurses, war vets – seriously. The line of people was really steady – people in and out the door, even though the place has about 10 tables inside and maybe 5 or 6 outside.

There was a super-efficient bus boy talking to customers and asking if they need to-go bags or not. He immediately cleaned up tables when customers left, without being pushy at all. Just really helpful. This place gets loads of points for customer service.

As much as it pains me to concede a win to EyeHeartPizza, she did well in recommending this place. If anything she didn’t sell it enough for me to be more excited about it when I drove there. Now, I’ll be really excited the next time I come out to Denver, which now might be sooner rather than later.

I told my cousin X-Copper and her husband Houston about this place and they had never heard of it. Now you have, and Houston, I can see your building from the seating area. I took a photo just to prove it.

Yes, he works in the “cash register” building downtown. I’m guessing they’ll be going here soon. And then probably coming back regularly!!!

Tom’s Home Cookin’ is at:
800 E. 26th Avenue
Denver, CO 80205

Top 5 things about Tom’s Home Cookin’
1. Sausage and Chicken Gumbo
2. Mac and Cheese
3. Strawberry Fanta
4. Lima Beans (how many people seriously put lima beans on a top 5 list anywhere?)
5. Amazing speed and customer service

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved her some soul food. She should have been eating this food with me
2. It’s going to cost me hundreds of dollars to come back here for lunch next time
3. I want to try everything on the menu now and can’t eat any more for the next week
4. I’m a dumbass for not trying the homemade lemonade or tea
5. I hate admitting EyeHeartPizza is right

Best Detour Ever – Tiny Town, CO

For those that don’t know about my weird taste in movies, I’m a collector of terrible B-movies. There’s a movie I showed at the last Bad Movie Night I hosted called Terror of Tiny Town – it’s the world’s only all-midget western. Yes, I’m dead serious. So, when I was driving back from Conifer’s disc golf course, I saw a random road sign that said Tiny Town. I immediately swerved off the road onto the exit and headed through miles of backroads in the direction of Tiny Town.

I had no idea what to expect in Tiny Town, but when I got about 25 minutes into the detour, I began to get discouraged and thought about turning back. In fact, the next time I saw a sign for a major road, I took it. When I got to the intersection of the main road, I saw another sign for tiny town back the way I came. In typical male flip-flop decision making, I U-turned and headed back in the direction of Tiny Town. I’m glad I did.

I drove around a couple more windy bends and out popped Tiny Town! I had no idea what it was STILL, but I saw a train ride and kids everywhere.

I pulled into the parking lot and headed towards the ticket booth. It was only five bucks, so I shelled it out and strolled in. It’s a miniature village for kids to walk through. Seriously, that’s all it is!!! But it’s hilarious. I’m assuming it was built many many years ago but there are a couple of newer buildings like the Harley Davidson shop.

I made quick work of Tiny Town, but took a few photos.

The Tiny Town Public Library for my librarian friends.

And me inside one of the tiny houses.

I’m just going to throw this out there. Where there’s kids, there’s hot moms. And yes, I’m creepy enough to take photos of them.

Not EVERYTHING is tiny in Tiny Town…

I’m sure my wonderful friends have already come up with a number of comments about my man-stature and how I should be the mayor of Tiny Town already. The name of this store should crack them up even more.

This was a hilarious fun and ridiculous detour, but I’m glad I did it. I thought about terrorizing kids, so I could be the Terror of Tiny Town.

Top 5 things about Tiny Town
1. Best road-side oddity I’ve been to
2. I’m still chuckling about the “Little Log Store”
3. Hot moms
4. I got to a see a tiny-tantrum from one little girl who’s father was trying to push her into a tiny windmill
5. Now I know what TheDoctor feels like all the time

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved to go to stupid road-side tourist traps with oversize (or undersized) randomness. She would have loved this, especially because of the Terror of Tiny Town connection
2. There’s an easy exit from 285 and a long and wind-y exit from 285. Apparently, I chose the winding one
3. There’s really nothing to actually DO there, but kids seemed WAAY excited to be there
4. I should have bought a train ticket. My own fault
5. There really is no connection with the movie nor were there any dwarves. Bummer

Beaver Ranch Disc Golf Course – Conifer, CO

A couple of randoms I played a round of golf with on Saturday suggested I play Conifer while I was out here. I wasn’t impressed with the Johnny Roberts course, so I was looking for something a tad more adventurous. I hooked up the GPS and headed out into the mountains.

Which is funny because the GPS hates mountains.

I ended up using the directions posted on the PDGA course directory. Thankfully, the PDGA does this because I never would have found the place.

I pulled into the parking lot and read the last part of the directions on the PDGA directions which says you’ll have to walk a half mile to the first hole after you leave your car in the parking lot. Surely that couldn’t be right! Sadly, it was very accurate.

I walked out into the hills along the trail and eventually made it to the first tee. I could tell this course was going to be a winner. It was a fairly short hole, but it was at a 60 degree angle straight up. I threw my first shot straight into the woods on the right. Excellent start to the day. When I found my disc in the woods (and on the side of the hill), it was covered in sap, and no w it was all over my hands. Hahaha. Perfect.

Please don’t get the wrong impression. As I said in my review of Johnny Roberts that I played on Saturday, I haven’t played much this year, so I’m bound to be a little sporadic. But that isn’t the course’s fault. I won’t go through this course hole by hole for you, as much as I want to (and I DID take pictures on every hole), but the long and short of it is, I love this course.

This course is not terribly long at all. Every hole out here is driveable as long as you are accurate. That being said, this course isn’t easy. There’s tons of elevation changes (oddly, most of them are uphill – haha), and lots of narrow fairways. Not ridiculously tight fairways, but still visually intimidating. If you would have tried to describe this course to me before I played it, I might not have been excited to play it. But now, after I’ve seen it, I loved it. Perfect level of difficulty for new players and experienced players alike.

There were lots of fun touches on this course. For example, some of the holes with steep slopes behind the baskets, the players have erected small tree-trunk walls to stop errant discs from rolling a thousand feet. You’ll still roll 100 feet, but not much further than that.

Also, there’s a small picnic area with actual outside furniture at the top of the mountain and an outhouse right next to it. I saw ZERO trash on this course which is rare for a public course. Not even cigarette butts. The grass is either stomped down or cut every you might throw a disc. The walks between holes are very well defined so you don’t get lost at all. Whoever maintains this course needs a pat on the back and raise. It’s in GREAT condition.

I’m going to disc-geek-out here for a second: There’s the usual “discs don’t turn over at high altitudes” thing that I completely forgot about. Not sure what elevation that starts at, but apparently, this course is high enough that you can’t get even the most understable discs to turn over. I was throwing leopards and an occasional stratus and they weren’t turning over even if I crushed them. Just a warning.

And of course, there’s the altitude issue on your lungs when you’re climbing hills like this. Seriously. I had to stop and catch my breath waaaaay too often here. But it’s worth it. Especially when you see some of the views.

Be careful pulling into or out of the parking lot at this park. There is a huge speed bump that you can’t see (because it’s the same red gravel as the road), and I brutalized my rental car on the way in and the way out – because I forgot about it on the way out. Wow. Just play this course if you come to Denver. You’ll like it, even though it’s not a championship/grueling course. It was simply FUN to play.

Top 5 things about Beaver Ranch Disc Golf Course
1. Incredible course design overall
2. Fences to stop rollaways, but not errant shots
3. I love playing in pine trees
4. Perfect weather – 70’s and no wind and just a little sun
5. Picnic area with restrooms

Bottom 5 things
1. It’s 45 mins from downtown Denver, so I’m guessing this place doesn’t get as much play as it deserves
2. Lots of elevation means your calves and thighs burn after playing
3. High altitude affects the stability of your discs
4. High altitude affects your lungs
5. Half-mile hike was long, but worth it

Jim n Nick’s Bar-B-Que – Aurora, CO

My cousin, X-Copper, asked me if I liked BBQ, so I had to tell her about the 2009 Twin City Rib Quest (which in not so many words means “yes, I do enjoy an occasional bbq rib”). So, we decided we’d give it a shot tonight, depending on how I was doing after the Grande Breakfast Burrito I had eaten that morning. When the time came, I was proud to step up to the plate and head 8 blocks to Nick and Eddie’s with my aunt PhotoLady and my cousin’s husband, Houston.

They had told me about these cheesy biscuits this place brought out to your table. The rest of the food they said was delicious, so I had high hopes for the ribs I was about to order. The rib quest would not be a comparison to the twin city one, but I like to gauge where the Twin Cities ribs are in the grand scheme of things.

I scoured the menu even though I knew I was going to be getting ribs. But if some of the sides jumped out at me, then I would need to know what I was going to end up with. They had a choice between spare ribs and baby back ribs, so I went with the baby back ribs (based on the fact that I looked at the table behind us and saw someone gorging themselves on a full slab), with Mac and cheese and also BBQ baked beans. Also, this place had coke products, so I went with lemonade. I’m glad I did – the lemonade was delicious and sweet, not tart at all.

The cheesy muffins came out (the lady forgot our honey butter) and they were really quite tasty. I like them even better than the cheesy biscuits people rave about a Red Lobster. I could eat a couple dozen of these babies watching a movie by myself sometime. Oh yeah, if someone else made them for me – I’m lazy.

The dinners came out for us a short while later. Quickly actually. The ribs looked delicious – they were dry rubbed, not covered in sauce. I know some people feel this is blasphemy, but I think dry rubs have their place in the ribs world.

I won’t complain about the pickle slices on top, since I am a grown up and can remove them without causing a scene (cough…Coach…cough). I cut a couple apart and jumped into the first rib. Actually, these ribs didn’t taste all that great and weren’t very tender at all (sometimes dry ribs are like that). When the rib tastes like ham on a bone, I tend to think they are either undercooked or poor quality ribs. I added some of the original sauce to them (in a squeeze bottle on the table) and this helped a lot. The sauce had a great flavor and just a little bit of zing to it. I tried the habanero sauce next just to see how hot it was and it honestly wasn’t that spicy. It also had a weird aftertaste to it, so I went back to the original sauce. It helped a lot.

The Mac and Cheese was decent. Not great, but better than cafeteria mac and cheese at the very least. The BBQ baked beans were actually pretty good. Not even close to the best I’ve had, but still pretty darn good. Before we headed out, the waitress offered a piece of pecan or chocolate pie. For some reason, it sounded right, so I got a piece of chocolate pie to go. She brought it out in a togo bag for me and we headed home. I’ll be honest, the pie didn’t seem home made at all and was kind of gummy instead of fluffy chocolate cake. It really wasn’t good.

If this were in the rib challenge in the Twin Cities, it would rank pretty close to the bottom if not AT the bottom. But out of all the rib places I’ve been to, it wasn’t even close to the worst. It’s decent, but the dry rub, in combination with the ham-taste, made for a pretty sub-par experience.

Top 5 things about Jim n Nick’s Bar-B-Que
1. Cheesy muffins
2. Lemonade
3. Baked beans
4. Original BBQ sauce
5. The fact that I was able to eat while still housing 3+ pounds of breakfast burrito in my gut

Bottom 5 things
1. Ribs were either poor quality or undercooked and tasted like ham on a bone
2. Habanero BBQ sauce was not very spicy nor very tasty
3. Mac and cheese could have been way better
4. No Dew
5. Super bummed about the chocolate pie, especially since I’m not usually a desert guy

Jack N Grill – Denver, CO

I’ve been dreaming about this place since I heard about it a year or two ago. Then I heard the television show Man vs. Food did a piece on this place, so it just confirmed the fact I had to go there. Part of the reason I flew out to Denver was for Roller Derby. The other part was Jack n Grill. (Yes, of course part of it was to see my family out in Denver as well.)

I’ll give my quick disclaimer. I had not eaten anything since lunch the previous day, which was unintentional, but probably a good way to approach this thing. However, consuming copious amounts of Cap’n n Cokes the previous night on an empty stomach didn’t help me in the slightest this morning. I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, but I was feeling good enough to eat PART of a tasty burrito.

I drove downtown and found this place pretty easily. I drove past a billion churches and another billion Mexican food mom and pop restaurants, which made me really hungry. There’s some weird parking going on, but I found the HUGE parking lot just for Jack n Grill out behind the building. It was almost full. When I walked past the patio, I checked out a couple of plates on people’s tables and everything looked delicious. I grabbed a table for myself inside the place and grabbed a menu. I ordered a Dew, which totally made my morning complete. The waiter asked if I needed chips and salsa, which I DID, but decided to forgo, since I didn’t need to fill my guts with anything else but burrito.

Everything on the menu looked really tasty and there were stories and things to read and family photos of Jack’s family. I knew what I wanted, but I figured I’d check again, just to be on the safe side. One Grande Breakfast Burrito, thank you!

I looked around the place and saw a ton of memorabilia on the walls. It took me longer than it should have to realize the theme of the memorabilia is the name “Jack.” Photos of famous people named jack and other things were actual items bolted to the wall. So you’d have a jack in the box next to a photo of Jackie Chan next to a car jack next to Jackie Robinson, next to Wolfman Jack and Jack Daniels and Jack Vettriano. Pretty hilarious decorations and a great idea. There are also tons of awards hanging on the wall, which after eating here, I realized are well-deserved.

The waitress brought this thing out and a couple people around me spun around to watch it come out.

I think it’s a pretty regular menu item, so the staff didn’t make a big fuss about it. But the thing is ginormous. It’s a huge tortilla filled with potatoes, pork, chicken, green peppers, eggs, onions, and covered in cheese. You have the choice of red or green salsa on it, so I got both. I dug into this thing.

It was one of the best burritos I’ve ever eaten, especially the breakfast style. The green salsa was really spicy and tasted great with the potatoes and cheese. The red salsa was much more mild and sweet and tasted great with the pork and peppers. The pork was some of the best I’ve had, even mixed into everything. I think I expected them to sacrifice quality for the sake of size, but that was not the case at all. This thing would have been awesome even if it were not a pillow filled with meat and potatoes.

There were a lot of highlights at this place, so I’ll just list some of the best ones:
• A TON of guys that eat here have magically precisely sculpted beards. Muy impressivo!
• I now understand what TheDoctor says when he uses the phrases “meat sweats”
• Lots of people will gawk at your plate and wish you well and others will say gross and judge you when you order this burrito
• Lots of people in Denver are fans of heavy drinking at 9:30 am
• Jack n Grill also serves GIANT margaritas. Maybe there’s an Andre the Giant family nearby
• The staff is amazingly friendly. A couple of them stopped by to chat with me and other customers, including Jack himself, and it wasn’t fakey at all. They were genuinely happy you were eating their food and hanging out with them. Best customer service I’ve seen in a long time.
• There is an inordinate number of really beautiful people that eat here. This is the best looking crowd of people I’ve seen in one place (besides Iowa City). This might also have been because I was unshowered and still smelled of rum and stella from the previous night.
So you’re all dying to know if I finished the thing…

I did not, sadly. But I DID however eat half of it. I ate off both ends to makes sure I had both sauces. There was no clear winner as to which sauce was better, since they were both awesome. At the point where my ears shut off and I got dizzy and actually thought I was going to pass out, I stopped. Have you ever been at the point where you just KNOW something bad is going to happen if you take one more step or bite? I had to throw in the towel or people would have been very upset with me.

I feel pretty vindicated that I didn’t take home two to-go boxes like a saw a couple of tough guys doing shortly after I walked in. I didn’t want to be like those pansies. The waiter was impressed that I finished half and told me a lot of people eat a corner and give up. He might have just been being nice though. I will say the to-go container I brought home was the heaviest left-over container I’ve ever brought home. It was like it was filled with lead (and sadly the other half of that lead was now in my guts.

Across the parking lot from Jack n Grill is a place that has three happy hours for the serious drinkers. Since 2009 is the year of happy hour, I should have gone, but I couldn’t have fit another bite inside my person at that point. Maybe next time I’ll hit the 10am happy hour!

Write this date down because you’ll never hear me say this again: “That may have been too many taters.”

Top 5 things about Jack n Grill
1. 7 pound breakfast burrito
2. Red and green salsa – equally awesome
3. Incredibly friendly staff
4. All of the customers are both amazed and supportive of idiots like me
5. They have Dew (They also have giant margaritas!)

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved it when I ate ridiculous things and she missed a winner. Mostly she loved it because she could tell me how stupid I was for doing that to my body and how my doctor will love my next triglyceride count!
2. I make a pathetic competitive eater
3. Discovering what “meat sweats” is
4. I read online that the burrito was 5 lbs, but apparently that’s an old menu and too many people were able to eat the 5 pounder. It actually IS 7 pounds.
5. I really want to try a whole bunch of things on the menu, but clearly, there’s no room in the inn

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Denver Roller Dolls vs. Rat City Rollers – Denver, CO

One of the reasons I went out to Denver in the first place was to go to the roller derby bout between Rat City Rollers (Seattle's traveling team) and the Denver Roller Dolls. My friend Slutnik skates for Rat City and she was going to drive down to Denver with Chicken Little and meet me for the bout. They ended up not making the drive down from Seattle, but I still wanted to show my support for Rat City, so I threw on my Rat City shirt and prepared to yell real loud!

My cousin’s husband Houston wanted to check it out, so we hopped in the car and drove to the Denver Coliseum. We parked around back with the rest of the riff raff and scored our tickets at the booth. We grabbed a tasty beverage once inside and found some seats. There were plenty available, since the crowd was pretty sparse, compared to what I’ve seen at other bouts.

I had explained most of the rules (as I know them) to Houston before the bout, so he picked up the game pretty quick. So quick, in fact, that he started crap talking Rat City to me and cheering on his hometown Denver Roller Dolls. It was pretty funny. There were some bad calls by the refs, but it was a pretty close match. Denver was stomping Seattle for most of the match, but Seattle looked like they were getting their act together. I'm still amazed at the length of time the refs took to haggle over points and penalties between every jam. Like 5-10 minutes in spots. Ridiculous and killed the flow and energy of the bout. That's just me though.

During the half time intermission, they had a local recreational bicycle club take the rink and play Circle of Death. Imagine 50 bikes of varying styles and sizes all going around the track, but not in the same direction. People were flipping over handlebars and crashing head-on and losing control the entire time. There were a couple of really sweet bikes out there that were taking some abuse. But everyone looked like they were having fun, in a really odd way.

The second half fired up and the Rat City girls caught up and even took the lead at one point. Then, through a lot of bizarre penalties, Denver took the lead back and ended up winning by a pretty large margin.

I popped down onto the track to talk to the announcer from Seattle who was friends with Chicken Little. He asked if I was going to the afterparty and I said I wasn’t sure. Hadn’t really planned on it, but now that he mentioned it, it sounded like fun.

Houston made the proper phone calls and we headed over to Benders and had no idea what to expect. The crowd was pretty thin, but then again, we drove straight over and beat most of the crowd. We did a quick tour of the place to figure out what was what. There was a sign for a tiki bar out back, but it ended up being closed or just a tiki-front, so we went back inside. We grabbed a table (one of like 4), so we’d have a good view of the action. And I’m soooo glad we did. We grabbed a couple drinks and watched people trickle in.

We watched the DJ have serious issues with setting up his lighting rig (which I thought might have been a tad late setting it up), and eventually giving up. He had on a top hat and white stripey pants. I’m not judging, but seriously, I’m totally judging. To his credit, however, he kept the music lively and mixed it up quite a bit. Mad Hatter, the DJ, is good at his craft. We also saw a guy loading in bicycle trainers. I’ve never seen that before in a bar, so I had no idea what to expect. He connected them to a laptop and pulled up a program where people could race each other. Seriously, really drunk people on stationary bikes. Weirdest bar sport I think I’ve seen.

I talked to a couple of the Rat City skaters and fans and name dropped Slutnik and Chicken Little. I was wearing my Throttle Rockets shirt from Rat City, so they knew I was alright to fraternize with. I even talked to one of the refs from Denver. He was wearing a utili-kilt, so I had my suspicions, but he ended up being a really great guy with lots of respect for the Minneapolis Roller Girls. He told me all kinds of hilarious stories about the Minneapolis girls as well.

While Houston and I sat and became progressively more creepy, we watched the guy sitting next to us intently. Why did we watch him? Because he had a bug crawling on his shirt. It was too dark to tell if it was a roach, but I’m going to go with roach. Then Houston and I both began to itch and brush imaginary bugs off our own clothes. Creep show.

Houston and I basically sat there for a couple of hours watching the entertainment. The girls from Denver Roller Dolls have the most amazing outfits ever, and also have the ladies to fill said outfits. It was quite hilarious. I bought a couple of drinks for random people who apparently are my new best friends now. I’m sure my own concept of creep/suave ratio was out of whack after the first 5 Capn n cokes I drank, then the subsequent long island iced tea and the other 4 Capn n cokes didn’t help things. I apparently creeped out a girl whom I thought was from Denver, but actually is from Seattle and knows Slutnik, so I’m sure I’m going to hear about that. Smokin hot. And not to name names, but Quigley and Begeman from Denver Roller Dolls absolutely made my night with their dancing… oh, and did I mention the outfits? I somehow decided that the reason Seattle lost to Denver was because there was less air resistance on their outfits. If Rat City would wear smaller tighter clothes like Denver, it would have been an even match.

Then random guy named Trip bought me a beer (a Stella, in fact) because he stole my seat at the table. I don’t know if you’re a regular reader of this blog or not, but I really can’t stand the taste of beer. I’ll drink anything else, especially girly drinks, but not beer. So when my new friend trip bought me a beer, I pounded it like any normal red-blooded American would have. Well, that’s my beer for the decade. For me to have been intoxicated enough to drink a whole beer, there must have been serious judgment red flags going off all over the place. I did politely turn down one of the Irish Carbombs he bought for Houston and I, however. Thankfully, one of the Denver Roller Dolls stepped up and drained it much faster than my friend Trip and his other friend. I immediately initiated the high five to the Roller Doll – also a SURE sign I’ve had way too much to drink.

I apparently sent a liquor-addled message or seven to Chicken Little, Slutnik, and to myself which may come back to haunt me, but that’s what roller derby after parties are all about, right? I name dropped Slutnik a couple more times to the Rat City Coach named Mo (handsome black man – Slutnik cracked up when I called him that), X-Kahn, the Rat City Merch Girl, and a bunch of other Rat City skaters who apparently all look the same to me when my eyes are floating around in my head like Columbo. They were all super nice and I’m pretty sure I didn’t say too many stupid things to them. Hell, who knows though.

I’m really glad Houston was my designated driver. He appeared to have a good time watching me be a complete moron, and he was still speaking to me the following morning, so I think I’m all good. No, I didn’t get any digits nor make any moves. That’s not my style. My style is more about making sure people around me are having a good time. I’m putting the “tater” back in “facilitator.”

If you ever have the opportunity to go to a roller derby bout, do it. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a roller derby after party, be willing to sacrifice your first-born because you will have the time of your life. Guaranteed.

Special shoutout to the blonde and curvy official in the penalty box for Denver. She gave me a new appreciation for girls wearing tiny pink underwear on the outside of their black tights. Modern Technology: progress is a wonderful thing…

Top 5 things about Roller Derby in Denver
1. Denver Roller Dolls After Party!!!!!
2. Denver Roller Dolls uniform – not kidding (can I put “outfits” for all of the top 5 things?)
3. 95% of derby people (skaters, scorers, refs, fans, merch people) are the nicest friendliest people in the world
4. Houston screaming for Denver at his first bout and elbowing me to make sure I knew he was cheering (as if I couldn’t hear him) – really, it was super hilarious crap-talking and got him major kudos, not that he needed any more
5. The Circle of Death bicycle crash-‘em-up

Bottom 5 things
1. Roller Derby was Gerd and I’s sport. I may not ever watch a bout again without missing her horribly.
2. The bout was low-energy, low-crowd, and really hot
3. My wallet is a lot thinner than it was yesterday
4. Chicken Little and I were going to be each other’s “differently-challenged” wingman this weekend – that’s the new PC term for retarded and I’m classy like that
5. I’m still convinced the thin Denver air made me all spinny, not the 10+ drinks I had… hahahahaha

Beau Jo’s – Idaho Springs, CO

Before I left for Denver, DawgMan made sure to tell me the greatest pizza in the world is at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs. Yes, they have locations in Denver, but the one to go to is the Idaho Springs one (even though it’s an hour outside of the city). When I got into Denver to my cousin X-Copper’s house, they asked me what I had planned for this trip. I ran through the list of food places I intended to eat at and Beau Jo’s was thoroughly seconded. Apparently, my cousin’s husband, Houston, is a big fan of their pizza, so I had a good feeling about it.

Even though it’s outside of Denver, it’s a fantastic drive through the beginning of the mountains and the town is set in mining town. It’s got a really cute quaint downtown reminiscent of Galena, IL (for those who are familiar with that town). Lots of cool shops and lots of really awesome looking restaurants and drinking establishments. You can see Beau Jo’s from the interstate, so it’s pretty easy to get to.

We showed up an off-time, but still ended up having to wait like 10 minutes for a table. Not a problem at all, since there was plenty of “scenery.” All kinds of hilarious people walked through and past this place – soccer moms, “boulder couples”, bubbas, and wiggers with fanny packs.

Here's me holding my cousin's boy, BottomlessPit. This little guy rules.

We sat by the back window with a great view of a waterfall and an old waterwheel, oh yeah and a table full of stunning red headed ladies.

On the way to our table we passed a couple of bathtubs filled with ice – this is the salad bar. They actually had quite a few things on it, unlike the bathtub salad buffet at Sneaky Pete’s in LeClaire, IA.

The menu is a little different than a lot of pizza places I’ve been to. It had some standard ingredients and specialty pizzas, but then it had a bunch of nutritional information and gluten free this and vegetarian that. Guess these Denver people are health conscious or something. Just for that reason, my cousin’s husband and I talked my Aunt PhotoLady into getting a 3-pound all-meat Motherlode Pizza with thick wheat crust.

I knew this place was going to be a winner when the waitress said they had Pepsi products. Go Colorado! Houston and I ordered our obligatory Dews and waited for our delicious sounding pizza. I had looked around at a couple of tables on the way to our table and was pretty impressed with the size of the pizza. It looked substantial. When ours came out, I was even more impressed. Seriously.

This pizza had pepperoni, salami, meatballs, Italian sausage, ham, and mozzarella. The only thing it didn’t have was bacon. But I think the other meats made up for it. It had a huge thick wheat crust, which looked amazing and I’m not even a crust guy. I can’t explain how awesome this pizza is. It honestly wasn’t even meat overload, which is hard to do with an all meat pizza. The pizza was greasy on the bottom, but not in the gross kind of way, in the tasty kind of way. It’s when then TOP is greasy, that a pizza is bad. A greasy crust means it is moist and flavorful. Seriously, this is in the top 5 pizzas of all time, without question.

One of the best things about Beau Jo’s is they have honey on the table. It’s meant to dip your crust into when you are finished with the good parts of the pizza. I’m not a crust guy, generally, so I was suspicious at first. One taste, and I was hooked. This is the best idea ever. And with the wheat crust, it was one of the best combinations ever. Brilliant!

An added bonus was that the waitress brought over a pitcher of Dew for Houston and I to top off our mason jar glasses (probably saved her about 10 trips back to the kitchen for our refills. We got to watch X-Copper and Houston’s son BottomlessPit devour handfuls of ham, cheese, mandarin oranges, and peas while we ate, and he was lovin it. Apparently, this was his first trip to Idaho Springs. I’m guessing he’s a fan, and he didn’t even have any pizza!

Again, DawgMan knocked it out of the park on this recommendation. He’s got a knack for this food recommendation thing. He should hire himself out for food recommendations. The bottom line is I will look for any opportunity to come back to Beau Jo’s in the future. It’s that good. Truly.

Top 5 things about Beau Jo’s
1. Motherlode with thick wheat crust
2. I have an awesome family
3. Pitcher of Dew
4. Honey for crust dippin
5. Any table full of hot red heads is going on the top 5 list

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd really would have loved this pizza, since she was a huge fan and I wish she had met my Colorado relatives. I really miss ridiculous food and roller derby road trips with her
2. It will cost me $300+ to eat Beau Jo’s again. Sadly, it’s worth it
3. It was a haul to get there, even with the 30 minutes of sitting in construction traffic
4. I don’t have 13 stomachs to try each of the pizzas I wanted to try. Can someone please invent that?
5. Apparently, there is some sort of challenge that I was unable to partake in. Eat a giant pizza and get it for free and a photo. I don’t want to jinx my 7 pound breakfast burrito challenge tomorrow!

Johnny Roberts Memorial Disc Golf Course – Arvada, CO

I heard this is one of the grandfather courses in Denver and I that I should play it. I woke up early at my cousin X-Copper’s brand new house (as of two weeks ago – literally), got a quick tour of the house and headed out to Arvada. Since they’re family, I won’t review their new house, but suffice it to say it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. I had the GPS, so it took me right to the course. It wasn’t all that busy, so I hopped on the first hole with a group of two randoms.

Keep in mind I haven’t played disc golf in about 3 months and this would only be about the 3rd time this year. So it makes perfect sense I hit the first tree off the tee on my first drive – seriously like 15 feet to the right of the tee. Hilarious start.

This course is short. Really short. Like putter short. It also has a lot of dangerously close fairways. It is designed around a medium-sized creek that winds through the park on most holes. So the shots are really challenging for being so short. If you go long, or left, or right on any of the holes, you might be wet. I somehow managed to not throw a single disc in the water. Go me. There are no elevation changes at all on this course, and there’s all kinds of bikers and walkers that traverse al through the park. It’s a pretty dangerous place to play, walk, or ride.

We had one kid that kept asking to play through our group. We’d let him drive and he would chuck it straight into the water. While he was fishing it out, we’d finish the hole. The next tee he would catch up to us and ask if he could play through. He would then chuck it into the water and go fish it out. This happened five times before we convinced this d-bag that we were bad luck for him and he should let us continue unhindered by his torn track pants and greasy hair. This was probably a bad move in hindsight because it meant he would then wait until we got up to our drives and then throw into the middle of our group. Moron.

I would not recommend this course to many people, even beginners. It’s pretty dangerous and has enough water to discourage a new player, even if you can drive to all of the baskets. Sorry, Arvada. I’m not impressed. The guys I was playing with were awesome guys though, and made a recommendation for me to play “Conifer” if I get a chance. I’ll see if I can get ambitious enough to make that trek in the next couple of days. We’ll see.

Top 5 things about Johnny Roberts Memorial Disc Golf Course
1. Super quick round of disc golf
2. No lost discs (nor even any water shots)
3. Not busy
4. Super fun guys I played the round with – Dave and someone else
5. I felt like a crusher when I would throw past the basket

Bottom 5 things
1. Very dangerous course
2. D-bag we referred to as “waterboy”
3. I actually needed two discs for this course
4. My first drive was quite unimpressive to the rest of my group
5. I drove a long way to play this pretty weak course

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Denver Trip Announcement

I'm headed to Denver this weekend for roller derby, feasting, and hanging with Chicken Little and Slutnik. You'll get all kinds of wacky reviews. So far, I've got four things on the list to review:
  • Whatever hotel the roller girls are staying in
  • Jack N Grill - home of the SEVEN pound burrito
  • Roller Derby - duh
  • Tom's Home Cookin' - at the request of EyeHeartPizza

If you have any specific requests, let me know your suggestions. And keep in mind, I can only eat for 4 people, not 8. I'm working on that, though.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Front Café – Minneapolis, MN

My new blog friend RubyVita told me I needed to go check out the Front in Northeast, and based on her description and the menu online, I thought it sounded like a winner. I had other friends going to the Bulldog for dinner (which is basically next door), but I’m rude enough to have dinner by myself and snub them, since it was someplace I hadn’t been before.

I met Smallz, HotGirlsBrother, ArkBoy, and some other folks at Mac’s Industrial Sportsbar earlier in the evening for some drinks. We talked about movies and how I hate the taste of beer and 30 Rock and other completely non-related topics. HotGirlsBrother tried to get me to go see Blue Ox play at the Triple Rock, but I had already planned to go to the Front to have dinner and then hang with some friends.

I knew it was a latin café of some sort, but I really had no idea what to expect. While walking to the place, I saw a leather daddy pulling a leather harness-clad tranny on a leash down the sidewalk. Apparently, there’s a bondage club next door called Ground Zero. I’ll be headed there eventually - don’t worry. The Front wasn’t that crowded, and I found a small table facing a group of 12 ladies on a girls night out. Creepy? Yes. The waitress came over and asked what I needed. I simply told her a Jack and Coke and a menu. Then I double checked to see how late they served food – 10:30. So I figured I’d better order everything all at once.

There were lots of things on the menu that I wanted to try. RubyVita wrote about this chicken sandwich she got that was good, but I wasn’t in the mood for something sandwich-y. I decided on the Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken). But I knew that wouldn’t be enough, so I got an appetizer that looked good. The plantain stuffed with feta and other stuff. I hung out and watched some of these girl dancing to the DJ spinning the tunes. And some of these girls were straight killin’ in on the dancefloor. Seriously, like it was for a competition or something. Hilarious.

My appetizer came out and looked pretty good, but I’ll be honest, apparently, I always forget there’s a difference between polenta and plantains. I always think I’m getting fried corn meal and I end up with a banana (that sounded dirty).

But it was a really good dish. The feta was a little “off” though. Normally I like feta, but this one was a bit tangier than usual. Almost to the point of bile. I know it sounds gross, and it was borderline, but it still ended up being really good with the shredded cabbage slaw on top. I certainly didn’t leave any on my plate or anything though. Decent, but more weird than good.

The Arroz con Pollo was another story though.

This was top notch. It was served with an awesome black bean and corn salsa and some chips as well as a bowl of pureed black beans. The rice was basically steeped in chicken stock, so it was very moist and flavorful, and the chicken sauce that was all over the top was really tasty. I couldn’t tell if the lima beans were in the sauce or the rice, but either way, it was amazing (I’m a lima bean fan, so if you’re not, then you might not like this dish). Some celery, red pepper, onion and other veggie bits made this one of the better rice dishes I’ve had.

I sat and watched the people running in the torrential downpour outside. I saw more and more d-bags in vests and sweater vests and fedoras and popped collars coming in, so I started to get a little worried, being that I was wearing a black t-shirt and clown-plaid shorts. I don't blend in well on the best of days, so I just watched the parade of not-the-same-as-me people stroll in (that's as tactful I as I can be, sorry). I ended up watching more of Dodgeball on the tv screens than I care to admit.

Afterwards, some of my friends showed up for a “Pants Off Dance Off” gathering. This isn’t as risqué as it sounds, since no one’s pants actually came off (I was hoping). But once I mentioned the earlier-in-the-night tranny to EJens, he hopped in his car and drove from St. Paul to come check it out. We hung out and had a handful of drinks and watched even more people dancing super hard like it was a competition. LOTS of arm-waving and squating down. Then every once in a while, they DJ would throw in some Cuban music and the non-painfully-white people would salsa dance – pretty amazing actually. There were a couple of bondage people the infiltrated the Latin club, so we saw some people dressed in a LOT of leather and eyeliner and mohawks. I was hoping beyond hope that the bondage couple would come downstairs and break it down salsa-style, but it didn’t happen. Again, I’m going to hang out at the bondage club at least once this year, just to check it out. It’s not my thing, but I do love a good show.

All in all, A great night at the Front. I will be back to eat again and who knows, maybe even to hang at the dance club, even though I’m not a dancer. Of the dance clubs I’ve ever been to, this was the least obnoxious and was also the most fun straight club I’ve probably been to (yes, I actually wrote that).

Top 5 things about The Front
1. Arroz con Pollo
2. Pretty cool dance club, even for a non dancer
3. Next door to a bondage club so there’s some awesome cross-over
4. All of ImposterJess’ friends were fun to hang out with
5. I’ve never been a fan of sailor suits until I saw the bartender here

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved to try different foods from around the world. This would have been up her alley, especially since she liked to dance. Bummer she missed it
2. Feta in the plantain was a tad tangy
3. Plantains are not related to polenta – Totally my fault on that one
4. The waitress told me she had started my tab under “The Lone Ranger” because I was flying solo. Hilarious slap in the face. Good thing I don’t offend easily
5. There were a handful of whore-y girls dressed in those stupid sack dresses that make them look pregnant and slouchy. I’m not even the fashion police and I can tell you that was a bad choice