Saturday, April 30, 2011

Red Oak Park Disc Golf Course – Burnsville, MN

Once a week, some of the guys and I get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday and head out to play disc golf. Whomever decided that 7:30 or 8:00 am on a Saturday was a good idea has taken a few blows to the head to have that make sense. We’re all really evenly matched (which is to say we all suck), so it stays fun. No one walks away with it every week, thankfully. The winner of the week gets to pick the course for the next week. The fact that the Twin Cities has more than 20 courses helps keep the variety in our game.

I believe I won the previous week, so I suggested Red Oak Park. I hadn’t played there before and wanted to check it out. I heard it was a longer course, and sounded like it might be my kind of course. BobaFred picked me up and we headed to Burnsville – no one else could make it.

I forgot to mention that despite the fact it was in the 60s days earlier, we woke up to find two inches of snow on the ground. In April. Nice.

There is a bizarre course map sign at the beginning of the course that I took a picture of. It lists drawings of all the holes, but it isn’t like you’re going to remember them once you step away from the sign. That is, unless you take a photo of it, like I did. Now you’ve got a mobile course map in your pocket. Cha-ching! The course is really a 9-hole course with a couple sets of tees to stretch it to a 20-hole course. From what BobaFred tells me, the course was completely redesigned in 2010 and now took most of the longer holes and cut them into two holes. This shortens things up quite a bit, but having played it, it doesn’t mean it’s an easy course. It’s now a finesse course – my nemesis. There’s lots of little narrow tunnel shots and short left-to-right shots that I don’t have (BobaFred is a lefty, so he’s loving it).

By the time we got to the end of the round, the temperature was already high enough it was melting the snow we had.

I found many many trees on this course, but surprisingly, I found myself really liking this course. I think it would be a little more difficult with leaves on the trees, and I heard it’s pretty buggy when the summer sun hits some of the ponds and overflow pools there. There’s a little bit of topography/elevation change that makes things interesting and not every hole is drivable. There are a couple 400+ft holes out there.

I liked this course and will likely suggest we play it again when I end up winning. …which I DID this week. Hahahahaha, suckers.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Porky’s BBQ – St. Paul, MN

When a staple of the community closes its doors, you should try to pay it one last visit before it’s gone forever (especially when that legendary restaurant is being torn down to make way for Episcopalian condos). Porky’s has been in St. Paul a million years (that might be a slight exaggeration…). It was known as THE place to hang out if you had a classic or souped up car that you like to talk about while the hood is up and you’re taking up valuable parking spots outside an amazing restaurant. People drag raced outside of it (though few got arrested) and people would do amazing burnouts and drop all kinds of rubber right in front of it as a shout out to the place. It was seriously old school. And it was closing.

D.Rough and Rita were having a Sunday Funday, so they went and stood in line for me while I was taking care of some homework. I rolled up on them standing in a huge line waiting to even get inside the place for one last taste of Porky’s delicious fare. There was a bizarre line because the new light rail is going in on University Avenue in St. Paul, and there is construction messing up all kinds of places. So people were lining up IN the construction zone waiting.
When I finally got to D.Rough and Rita, they were standing in line drinking Hamm’s in coozies and living up the day. That’s why D.Rough and Rita rule.

One St. Paul legend waiting in line for this St. Paul legend was Fancy Ray – the Best Lookin’ man in show business - look for the guy in the blue suit coat, blue alligator shoes, giant gold star necklace, and permed hair that makes me hungry for french silk pie. The guy is a class act and always dressed like he’s headed to church. And he’s got the kind of energy you get when you mainline 5hour-energy as soon as you wake up. He took a couple of photos with people, including D.Rough and I. He’s hilariously legendary. Like a fancy cartoon.

When you get inside of the place, there was a large sign with a very limited menu. This was intended to get people in there and out of there as quickly as possible. And it worked. We ordered a bunch of food and got out of there in about 2 minutes (after waiting over an hour in line, which we totally expected).

I got an order of chicken wings, and a double cheeseburger, since the BBQ pulled pork sammiches were already gone. I also got a strawberry shake and some onion rings. That’s how I roll.

We grabbed our food and headed out to the picnic tables they had set up in the parking lot. The whole time, all these classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles were coming in and out of the parking lot. The owners would pop open the hood, hang out and talk to each other for a few minutes, and then drive off, after laying down a 500 yard strip of rubber and a choking cloud of smoke.

The food was the kind of food you hate to see go. The burger was really juicy and flavorful without being greasy. The chicken wings were greasy like they’re supposed to be, but very crispy and make you want to eat about 50 of them. The onion rings were perfectly crispy and greasy. And the shake was top notch - actual ice cream and strawberries. Seriously, this food was really really good.

We saw the news crew interview Fancy Ray about the closing of Porky’s. We saw an old mean take a header directly into a puddle and spill his food he had just bought at Porky’s (all that was left in the oil-slicked puddle was one floating onion ring when he walked away – super sad). And we saw a Ford Taurus try to pull into the parking lot and get laughed out by all the muscle cars in the lot.

Rita had to pour some out for her homies gone and soon-to-be-gone. It’s a sad day when a place like this closes, but I’m glad we took the day to stand in line and get one last taste of this place. Thanks for all your years of service, Porky’s.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Neighborhood Cafe - St. Paul, MN

I’ve walked by this place a couple of times and swore I’d try it one of these days. I generally walk past it at about 1 in the morning after a roller derby party at O’Gara’s, so I knew they were open late. This was ANOTHER one of those afterparty nights, so we decided to stop in and check it out.

There were 12 of us, so we scattered ourselves throughout one of the dining rooms they have there. I noticed immediately that there is an old sit-down-style arcade game the restaurant uses as a table. However it is fully functional. Here, Skully and Rita show us that they’re as old school as I am.
There’s a lot of different games on here, but it for sure had Galaga on it. So I wowed people (mostly wowing myself, actually) by setting the new high score with one quarter. I haven’t played that game in maybe 15 years and I just handed its ass to it. Go me.

We waited a long time to get water. Like a really long time. In fact, D.Rough went and got us some waters because they never arrived. Also, one of our people ordered a chocolate milk when she sat down, and it showed up 45 minutes later, after the fourth time we asked for it. Not joking.

We grabbed a look at the menu and found a couple of things that looked appealing. I had to make a tough decision, but I forewent the Cajun Breakfast to get the McMerriam Muffin – an overhard egg, andouille sausage, and cheese on an English muffin and served with hashbrowns. We waited a really long time for our food to show up, which may be part of their plan to get people to sober up before they have to drive home. But it really seemed like a long time. Over a half hour.

The food simply wasn’t that good. The sausage, which I usually like a lot, was pretty bland and not seasoned at all. The eggs were greasy and I didn’t even want to finish them, and the hashbrowns looked like they were crispy, but I think they sat around a long time, so they were actually pretty floppy. Overall, this food wasn’t great at all. And if you’re in a hurry, maybe you should go someplace else.

I’m not a big fan of this place, frankly.

Top 5 things about The Neighborhood Café
1. Sit down arcade game, which includes Galaga
2. It is open late
3. I’ve heard the Cajun Breakfast is good, but no one could verify that
4. It’s a great place to sober up, since you’ll be waiting
5. I rule at Galaga, even after 15 years, apparently

Bottom 5 things
1. Really long wait times
2. Flavorless sausage
3. Floppy hashbrowns with crispy illusion
4. Greasy eggs
5. The place fills up with a lot of drunk d-bags (like our particular group) after midnight

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aji Japanese Restaurant - Hopkins, MN

A group of librarians and I sometimes go out for happy hour from time to time. One of our bunch found a new sushi restaurant in Hopkins and raved about it. We all said we’d show up if she set up the dinner, so we did.
Aji is on the first floor of what looks like apartments or condos, but nicely built ones. The place is pretty classy inside and modern. In fact, the hostess table has sparkly material with various colored lights showing through it.

I was told I needed to get the sake flight to try out what they have to offer. I’m not a huge sake fan, but if someone recommends I try something with alcohol in it, I generally don’t shy away. I ordered it up. It has three different Sake’s included, all for $10. Yaegaki Nigori (bottom of the ladder), Wakazuru Top Choice (middle of the ladder), and Running Spring (top shelf classy sake). And they were drastically different and very accurate with their assessment of quality. I liked the expensive one the most (stupid expensive sake palette – hahahaha).

Normally, I’m not a fan of buffet-style sushi. However, this is a little different. First off, this place has sushi chefs continually making sushi rolls. A LOT of turnover of food, so I’m guessing nothing on the sushi buffet is more than 8-10 minutes old. Secondly, there are serious sushi rolls on here. You may see a California Roll on here occasionally, but there are really higher end rolls on here, as well. Finally, there are some really amazing salads on the buffet, if you need a starter or something to break up your sushi into smaller sections. Seaweed salads, some slaw type things, Udon noodle salads, crab salad, some lettuce salad with ginger, a cucumber salad, and probably a handful of other ones I can’t remember. This place has a lot of options.

The first plate, I tried to sample a little bit of everything.

The second plate, I forgot to take a picture of because I was so excited to eat it.

The third plate I focused mainly on the sushi I really liked and needed more of.

I’ll give you two reasons you need to go to Aji. The sushi all tastes really fresh. None of the rolls I had tasted floppy or old or had sub-standard ingredients in them. They all tasted bright and flavorful. I’m not sure exactly which rolls I was eating, since they’re put out too quick to actually put up name tags or anything. However, I took a couple that even looked scary to me and those ended up being the best ones I ate.

The second reason to go here is it is cheap. All you can eat sushi buffet will cost you around $17. If you go to Ichiban, I think you’ll pay close to $50 for all the sushi you can eat (that’s word on the street, so I can’t verify). But the food is very reasonably priced. Yes, it’s a higher quality food, so you’ll pay more than you would at Taco Bell, but it is totally worth it.

Word of warning from the server – the California Rolls are not like normal California Rolls – there IS fish in them. This changed one of our people’s orders, so I thought I’d let you know.

I’m looking forward to going back here again. I really enjoyed the food, and of course hanging with librarians is always way more fun than you’d imagine it to be. Those people can drink!!!

If I could name any of the rolls, I would give this place a top 5 and bottom 5, but I can’t. So just consider this a “highly recommended” review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giant Bread Easter Bunny – Maplewood, MN

D.Rough comes from a long line of amazing cooks. Her mother, in particular (I still haven’t come up with a nickname for her that won’t get me blacklisted from further cooking treats) makes some of the most delicious food ever. I also now realize where D.Rough gets her ability to just “whip things up” out of thin air.

For Easter, D.Rough’s mom always makes an Easter Bunny out of bread and then cuts a hole in his stomach for dip. Then she puts all kinds of veggies around the bunny for people to dip into his creamy guts. Then when you’re done with the veggies, you tear the bunny limb from limb and dip the bread into the veggie dip. It’s all good fun. (And now I’m trying to come up with various themes and animal shapes to make into horrific dipping innards themes for other holidays and bad movie nights – stay tuned…)

Here’s what the Easter Bunny Bread Thing usually looks like.
This year, D.Rough’s mom forgot how much dough to use in her normal Bunny. So she guessed. Whenever D.Rough’s mom guesses, something goes wrong with the laws of physics and things get out of control. And for the record… D.Rough’s mom NEVER errs on the short side of quantity. She has been known to accidentally make a 22-pound lasagna. … Correct that: a 22-pound delicious lasagna.

We think D.Rough’s mom gave it about 50% more dough than it usually takes. This year’s Bread Easter Bunny came out of the oven a Giant Bread Easter Bunny. It exceeded the capacity of the veggie tray. By a LONG shot. It was glorious in all its huge-itude!

There were such comments as:
  • Is that an Easter Bear?
  • Your bunny has elephantitus.
  • It’s the Staypuft Easter Bunny!
  • I want to take a nap on it.
  • The veggies won’t even fit on the tray now!
  • Has anyone seen the Hoth scene from Empire Strikes Back?
  • Does that bunny have a yeast infection?
  • Well, at least we didn’t need a lot of shaved coconut for the fake grass, since it fills the entire tray.

She had forgotten to bake the craisins into the bread for the eyes and the almonds for teeth. So she grabbed some mysterious ingredients (which I later found out were actually common household kitchen items) and She-bang! She “whipped up” some frosting to glue them to the Bread Kodiak. I had no idea frosting didn’t come from birthday elves or from a Betty Crocker bucket, let alone seeing it “whipped up” right before my eyes. It blew my mind.

Since none of the veggies would fit on the tray, D.Rough’s mom decided to “whip up” some fake grass. She had some shaved coconut (which we found out later had seriously cut into D.Rough’s dad’s macaroon treats he has been hoping for for a few weeks now), and some food coloring. Alla-Ka-Bam! And she’s shaking a ziplock bag full of green shaved coconut onto the tray around the bear. How does she do that?! She’s a wizard – don’t let her fool you. She can fabricate anything out of thin air.

The nice thing about a bread bunny the size of a Chevy is that no one goes hungry. It also helps that the bread actually turned out delicious, light, and fluffy. I commented that I wished I had some brats, so I could tear the bunny’s arms and legs off and use them as buns. Maybe we would have needed Kielbasa instead of brats, now that I think about it.

All in all, I’d say this Bunny was a complete success. A GIGANTIC success, in fact. No one went home from Easter hungry.

I’m now going to refer to this annual tradition as the Super Colossal Yeaster Bunny.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wally’s Roast Beef – Bloomington, MN

It’s been a while since I’d been to Wally’s Roast Beef, so I thought I’d review it again. It also completely changed locations on me and is now on the first floor of an office building near Penn and American Way – just a heads up in case the old address still appears on Google Maps or something, like it did for me. The parking lot is much more generous now, and there appears to be a little more seating inside. It’s also a little bit brighter inside. (Sadly, it is no longer an “air-conditioned kitchenette” like it used to say on the sign at the old place. Don’t worry, it is still air-conditioned, it just isn’t a main selling point in the 21st century, I guess.)

The menu is still the same. Blue Plate Special – roast beef and mashed potatoes covered in gravy. Red Plate Special – meat loaf sandwich with mashed potatoes covered in gravy. Green Plate Special – Turkey slices and mashed potatoes covered in gravy. Sense a theme here? I decided to go with a Red Plate Special and a strawberry shake. Wally himself helped me out and even complimented my tie/shirt combo – clearly Wally has taste.

The food comes out super fast here. I love that. It is actually on a red plate, as well. The meatloaf sandwich is really quite good. The meat is flavorful and not dry and even has a splash of ketchup on the top for some added flavor. Very nice. About halfway through this meal, I realized I had just edged one step closer to becoming my father – this is the kind of stuff he eats and raves about… sigh…

The meal comes with mashed potatoes with the skins mashed in with them – “bugs in a snowstorm style” – and a small cup of corn, which was promptly dumped over the mashed potatoes and swirled in like I’m five.

The strawberry shake was absolutely delicious. I can’t get enough strawberry shakes, it seems. I probably should chill out on them, but I just can’t. hahahaha.

Just like the first time I reviewed Wally’s, the place is really awesome for a diner-style restaurant. Just because it’s a little fancied up in a nice office building doesn’t mean they changed the recipe or the friendly service. I’ll be back Wally. And thanks for the compliment on my clothes! Made my day.

New location:
8120 Penn Ave S.
Bloomington, MN 55431

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baldy’s BBQ (Take 2) – Minneapolis, MN

I totally caved (my will power is sub-Kelvin when it comes to BBQ) and went back to Baldy’s BBQ before class. I know I was JUST there, but I couldn't help it. I got the Sloppy Chick this time. It is pork, brisket and chicken tossed in BBQ sauce and on a Kaiser bun. This thing is sloppy, alright. Sloppy and delicious. (I used some of the spicy BBQ sauce as well as the sauce they put on there - perfecto! I had it with the corn bake, which is still stellar. Next time I go back, I’m going with the parmesan fries!!! I seriously like this place a LOT.

You can see my Accounting text book in the background. I tried to play it off like I was actually studying… nope. Didn’t happen.

… and yes, I was asleep in class with a half hour. hahahahahahahahaha

Friday, April 22, 2011

Popeyes Loaded Chicken Wrap – Minneapolis, MN

My boss told me I needed to go to Popeyes for lunch and try the Loaded Chicken Wrap. I generally get the spicy strips and some red beans and rice, and from what she told me, this was a combination of both things. M.Giant and I met there for lunch, since he’s also a fan of Popeyes.

She was right. It’s a couple of spicy chicken strips (you can get mild if you’re a nancy) covered with red beans and rice and then wrapped in a cheddar tortilla. I ordered one up in combo format, which means I get a side – I went with Mac and Cheese. Then I got an order of their new onion rings on the side, and a blue and red Fanta Icee to wash it all down with.

I cracked open the mac and cheese first. Not the best I’ve had there. Seemed like the noodles had cooked too long and were mostly disintegrated into mush. Oh well, there was cheese involved, so I still liked it. I moved onto the wrap. I was immediately disappointed with the size of the wrap. It was smaller than a soft taco at taco bell. Like really small. However, once I got over that fact, it was delicious .Not too mushy, not too dry. I couldn’t taste much in the way of cheddar on the tortilla, but that may have been because of the spicy chicken. Maybe mild would have let more cheddar flavor through. Either way, it was actually quite delicious.

The onion rings were better coated than the previous incarnation of rings, but the flavor wasn’t a spicy. I liked that they were more battery and the onions were mostly hidden, since previously, it was like there were tiny bits of batter clinging to a giant ring of onion. These have better coverage, they just needed more seasoning. Maybe I’ll bust out the Cajun sparkle next time.

Overall, the flavor of the wrap was sort of balanced by it’s size. I’d either order two next time, or just go with the strip combo and get my own red beans and rice. I’ll probably order the onion rings again at some point, and I know I like their mac and cheese usually. I’m glad I tried it. And I’m glad my boss put the idea into my head.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cheesy Double Decker Taco – Taco Bell – St. Paul, MN

It was really late and I had been to a birthday bash as well as a hilarious horror movie (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – see it if you can), and I knew I needed something in my guts besides the liquor in my gut that I had processed enough of to be good to drive. Taco Bell always comes to mind first, so I swung through the drive thru.

They had a new taco I had heard about – the Cheesy Double Decker Taco – and I needed to check it out. I ordered one (and three other things because I knew I was going to stay up late playing Big Buck Hunter on the Wii since D.Rough was out of town) and headed back home to gorge myself.

Here’s my new preferred way to eat Taco Bell food: with a flask of Sailor Jerry. Unfortunately, my work might frown upon lunch outings with Jerry. What is this, Communist China?!?!?

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had had a couple of Double Decker Tacos in my time and always liked them. How was this going to be different? It has beans and cheese sauce on a soft flour tortilla, which is then wrapped around a crunchy taco.

I’m pretty sure this is just a regular Double Decker Taco with some cheese sauce thrown in for good measure. I’m also pretty sure this is delicious. I’m not going to complain about the fact that it really isn’t a new menu item when you take a regular menu item and add 30 calories worth of pump cheese to it (I looked at the nutritional info online – just because it makes me laugh) – that’s not a lot of pump cheese, by the way.

Again, I’ll say the Cheesy Double Decker Taco is delicious, but I’m pretty sure I’ve ordered these at Taco Bell before when I’ve ordered a regular Double Decker Taco and had them add nacho cheese to it. Yes, yes, I’m sure I have. Couldn’t they have added bacon to the Double Decker Taco? Call it a Triple Decker?

I sound like I’m complaining, but I’m about 97% sure I’m going to order many of these menu items. And I’ll probably have to NOT drink Sailor Jerry with my meal, but it will still be delicious.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baldy’s BBQ – Minneapolis, MN

The first event in Rib Quest 2011 started out with a surprising bang! HotGirlsBrother and Low-Vee thought we should start the event right away since there are a lot of new players in the game this year in the Twin Cities. We picked Baldy’s BBQ at Riverside and Cedar to be the first BBQ place we tried. It is a relatively new restaurant, having started in this location the end of 2010 (there is also a Lakeville location). This place used to be a pretty bad Chinese/Vietnamese buffet place, so I’m glad it is now host to some incredible BBQ.

The menu is pretty straight forward. All the things you’d expect. Ribs, chicken, pulled pork/chicken/brisket, fun and fattening sides, and a variety of iced teas (and Coke-branded soft drinks). We try to compare the ribs at all of the places in the Twin Cities, so we knew we were ordering ribs, but they had this awesome combination that we couldn’t pass up. In fact, it is called “The Right Combination”. You get a half slab of ribs, your choice of pulled pork/chicken/brisket or sausage, and two sides. This is what all three of us decided on - all of us with different sides. I got the sausage and something called cheesy corn bake and BBQ baked beans. After I ordered mine, our fabulous waitress Nora told me I ordered the “right right combination”. Hooray!!! I got an Orange Fanta as well – partly because I got addicted to it (again) while in Italy last week, but partially because they didn’t have Strawberry pop, like I was hoping.

Is it me, or are the forks here sort of … uh… mini? Maybe I just have a giant hand. We couldn’t tell.

Baldy’s has chosen the path of dry-rub ribs, instead of the saucy and sloppy ribs. Some people have a preference (Low-Vee likes the dry rub – twss), but I don’t care either way. Despite the dry rub, Baldy’s has four different sauces to choose from: Original, Sweet (a little thicker sauce), Spicy (much thinner, with some vinegar and bite), and Gold (spicy honey mustard). We sampled all of them, but ultimately decided we’d be having them all, since they were all winners.

The food came out fairly quickly, so no complaints on the speed. Low-Vee’s came out first and we told her not to wait for us. She touched the rib with her fork, and the meat fell off in a chunk and the bone detached itself. These were AMAZINGLY tender ribs. It was excruciating waiting for ours to arrive. HotGirlsBrother’s food came out next, and Low-Vee stole one of his fantastic-looking fries. She was floored by the flavor and I was floored by the crunch – I heard it loud and clear. Immediately, while my food was being put on the table, Low-Vee ordered a side of fries for her and I to split. They were that good. Then Nora brought us each a giant brick of corn bread – Oh. Yeah.

I’ll start with the sides. The cheesy corn bake was like nothing I’ve ever had. It was almost a corn chowder. It was a creamy mix of whole kernel corn, but there was all kinds of bacon in it. Brilliant! I powered straight through this before I even got to the beans. The BBQ beans were also fantastic. They had meat and peppers mixed in with everything. So while every bite wasn’t the same as the previous bite, all bites were top-notch.

The sausage wasn’t what I expected, but then again, I’m not sure what I expected. I thought maybe a link or a breakfast patty or something. It wasn’t. It was a large patty cut into halves. So it was like a large burger-sized slab of sizzling meat. One bite and I was cutting it up for the other two to try. It was like the best pizza sausage I can recall. I would love to order a bunch of this and bring it home to put on a pizza. Lots of Italian seasoning and fennel, but not so much that it was licorice-y or bitter or anything. Just perfect. The cornbread was a great complement to everything on the plate so far – not the sugary sweet cornbread you get some places, just very dense and corn-flavored. Excellent.

The fries showed up pretty quickly after Low-Vee ordered them and I’m soooo glad we did. They’re either double fried fries or battered fries (hard to tell), but then they put parmesan and herbs on the top. These are really amazing fries, especially for a rib place.

The ribs had cooled enough for me to eat them and it was time. I tried to cut out a bone from the meat so I could gnaw on it, but apparently, this isn't how you eat these ribs. I touched the meat with the fork and the bone basically fell out of it. The meat didn’t stick to the bone at all. We commented on the perfectly clean pile of bone we left on the extra plate Nora brought for us. We didn’t wrestle with the meat at all. I can’t rave enough about this meat. There was nothing left on my plate when I was finished (except for left over sauce, which I tried to sop up with my cornbread).

I tried each of the sauces and finally decided they should be ranked in this order of awesomeness. Spicy, Original, Sweet, and Gold. I’m not a mustard fan at all, so that’s why I put Gold at the end, but Low-Vee and HotGirlsBrother both said it was fantastic. You’ll have to take their word for it. I ended up using the Spicy for the ribs and the Sweet and Original for the fries. (It was hilarious watching HotGirlsBrother give up on eating the fries one at a time and eventually just grabbing fistfuls of fries and dunking them into the Spicy sauce - I'm NOT joking. And, I think if I go back and get a pulled pork sandwich, I’ll use the Sweet sauce on it.

Word from the other eaters: The pulled pork was delicious, but not ground breaking. They both loved it, but it certainly wasn’t the star of the show. HotGirlsBrother also said the coleslaw was the best he had ever had. I even took a bite and it was pretty good stuff.

At one point, HotGirlsBrother asked himself (out loud) if he should box the left overs up or if he should just power through it all and hate himself. We all voted for hating himself, especially since Low-Vee offered to let him bring home her leftovers. He ate until he couldn’t eat anymore. He got up to go to the restroom and Low-Vee turned to me and asked if I thought he was making himself throw up so he could eat even more. I assured her he wasn’t, but if he was, I’d be VERY impressed and probably give him a sober high-five for determination. It would have been worth it. Hell, *I* considered doing it.

Also, keep in mind that Baldy’s is right next door to a dirty hippie vegetarian/vegan restaurant. I’ll bet Baldy’s has a few converts each day. It is hard to resist those delicious smells.

(Low-Vee wanted me to point out that Baldy’s has a cup of moist towlettes on the table – this is an important factor in Low-Vee’s ranking system and she was glad to take full advantage of it after the meal.)

If this gives you any indication of how glorious this meal was, Low-Vee finished dinner and proclaimed she would gladly have Baldy’s babies. I think we have a MAJOR contender for the 2011 Rib Quest title.

Top 5 things about Baldy’s BBQ
1. Delicious dry-rub ribs
2. Cheesy Corn Bake
3. Fries
4. BBQ Baked Beans
5. You can get bacon added to anything you order for just a dollar – cha-ching!!!

Bottom 5 things
1. No strawberry pop
2. Only 4 designated parking spots in back or you’ll have to pay to park
3. Out of lemonade, so no Arnold Palmers
4. I have MBA classes across the street twice a week – this sounds like it would be in the top 5, but when I gain 200 pounds, you’ll understand why it is in the bottom 5
5. We didn’t actually order $1.00 bacon with anything… THIS time…

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rib Quest 2011!!! – Twin Cities, MN

Last year, HotGirlsBrother, Low-Vee, and I tried to eat as much BBQ as possible to determine which places in the area serve the best ribs. We got to quite a few, but not all of the ones we wanted to last year. So this year, in 2011, we’re going to try it again. There are some new places to try, as well as some old familiars we’re looking to hitting up again.

This year, we’re going to set it up a little bit different. We’re going to figure out the best in the West (Minneapolis side) and the best in the East (St. Paul side). Here’s what’s on the slate for 2011, as well as how we’re seeding these restaurants at the beginning. So if you’d like to follow along and place your bets, you’re certainly welcome to.

BBQ East
1. Lee’s & Dee’s
2. Big Daddy’s Old Fashioned BBQ
3. Rooster’s
4. Hickory Hut
5. Pastor Hamilton’s BBQ
6. Bayport BBQ
7. Mr. BBQ
8. Dickey’s BBQ Pit
9. C.G. Hooks Eatery
10. Ikea

BBQ West
1. Baldy’s BBQ
2. Ted Cook’s 19th Hole Barbeque
3. Cap’s Grille
4. Scott Ja Mama’s
5. C&G’s Smoking BBQ
6. Rudolph’s
7. Q Fanatic BBQ & Grill
8. Mr. Pig Stuff
9. Baker’s Ribs
10. Market BBQ

We need someone to confirm if the BBQ Carwash is still open. They've been closed the past four times I've gone there. Maybe they'll reopen in the summer.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chad's Grand Slam Birthday - Coon Rapids, MN

This year, for my birthday, D.Rough asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate. Her and I had such a good time at Grand Slam when we went there for our random date night, so I thought we should go there and invite a ton of people on a random weeknight. Our thinking was it wouldn’t be overrun with kids and it would mostly be our people hanging out acting like children. We tried to do this the week of my birthday, but ended up postponing the event due to a blizzard – sadface. Our make-up date had considerably fewer people interested, but we still made it happen. And we still had a blast.
We took full advantage of the package deals Grand Slam has. For 12 bucks, you get tokens for games, unlimited bumper cars, laser tag, and mini golf, and you get a token for the batting cages.

We started out by watching MisterMister whiff a bunch of baseballs in the batting cage. I took a special sort of enjoyment from this, since he’s such an avid baseball fan. He talked up getting into the 60mph batting cage and then we watched him connect with exactly 4 pitches out of about 30. I don’t know ANYTHING about baseball statistics, but I’m assuming that’s not what sports people refer to as “batting a thousand”.

Trudy took a stab at her own set of pitches and was able to crank most of the balls straight to the back wall. She’s some sort of sports phenom or something.
Since I saw MisterMister’s performance in the 60mph cage, I felt my confidence rise – it may also have been the flask of birthday Jack in my back pocket. I thought out loud, “Hell, *I* could do better than four hits, even in the fastest cage they have.” So I stepped into the 70mph cage (might have been 75mph, but I don’t want to brag, I just don’t remember), and started whiffing my own set of pitches. And then, I finally connected. And then again. I was on a roll and D.Rough caught it on video. I’d say it wasn’t too bad, considering I’m scared of the ball and absolutely loathe baseball. But hey, I did alright in there. My dignity was intact.

We then tried our hand at some skee-ball in the game room. D.Rough is a veteran skee-baller, and racked up some serious tickets. Trudy, as I said before is a sports phenom – skee-ball IS a sport, right?

Luscious and Garrison brought their son LittleKiller – thanks to my prodding – and he ended up having a blast. He has some issues with the massive arm strength it takes to heave those massive 2 ounce skee-balls hard enough to score points, but he’ll get it eventually. It may take years of training, but we’ll see him taking younger kids’ money as a skee-ball shark soon enough.

LittleKiller also loves him some air hockey.

...And driving games...

We got to see Garrison pretending to be a 12 year old Asian girl, which frankly was one of the best parts of my night.

EJens ended up buying some sort of family pack of tokens and here we see him and MisterMister counting out tokens like some sort of creepy coin dealer on the air hockey table. I sure hope he has time to spend all those. It’s getting close to closing time here at Grand Slam…

A quick ride in the tank makes everyone happy.

Then a much longer ride in the bumper cars, where I got to see LittleKiller’s head smash Luscious in the nose when she backed into the wall too quickly. Concussion aside, LittleKiller had a blast while his parents and a bunch of other morons drove padded cars into each other like 10–year-olds.

We played a quick game of laser tag. It was 3 on 2, so it wasn’t exactly the most fair thing ever, but our one extra person had never played laser tag before. It was tons of fun and the 3-person team (US) won all the marbles. We decided we wanted to play one more round, so I walked over to the computer monitor. Saw what button to push for new game and pressed yes. Then when asked if ready, I pushed Y to start, and we were off. About 3 minutes later, random dbag kid with a chip on his shoulder turned the lights on and stopped the game to yell at us for restarting the game. “Only *I* can restart the game. Not you guys!” Ok, asshat. I’m sorry you’re under the assumption that pushing two buttons gives you some sort of real power, but you’re 19 and yelling at grown people who simply don’t care and would rather be drinking (some of us are already). None of us are intimidated and are hungry for cake. Bye bye.

We took a break for some cake. D.Rough is swifly becoming the master baker of cakes and she asked me what kind of cake I’d like for my birthday. I immediately said “Goat Head”. She was surprised at how fast I said it (as was I), and thought I was trying to sneak something sexual or weird into the cake idea, but I wasn’t. At the time she asked me, I was simply thinking about goat heads, for some reason. She agreed to do it and came up with an absolutely amazing cake for me. I could probably write an entire review of this cake, but I’ll try to keep it simple.

She made the head out of a red velvet cake covered in fondant, and she made the body out of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that looked like fur – she has the best recipe for carrot cake, ask anyone there. And she made the horns out of fondant-wrapped rice crispy treat cones. She made me pose with the cake, just like her mother used to do to her when she was a kid. I realize now, this is her family’s subtle way of getting well-earned credit in photographic form for posterity, under the guise of taking a photo of the birthday boy/girl (that just HAPPENS to have the cake they slaved over for hours in it).

It was an amazing cake and everyone loved it. Especially LittleKiller. They especially liked the part where she made enough for 50 people and everyone got to take home the left overs.

Then it was time for some mini golf. I love mini golf, and it’s clear that most of our friends do, as well. It’s difficult not to. We had a blast.

It was getting near closing time and EJens still had half a million tickets from skee-ball and other kids games. We decided to ho head-to-head on this hilarious kids game where you punch a button to knock these things over that are going around on a wheel. Apparently, I’m the master at this game because I won every time. We played maybe 20 times and I kept racking up the tickets.

MisterMister really wanted to win this super ball game where you try to drop a ball into a hole in a rotating wheel, but never actually got the jackpot on it. It was fun with all of us cheering him on and watching 1-3 tickets pop out at a time. Hahahahaha.

I also needed to play some air hockey, so Johnny and I battled it out. It was a very close game, but I pulled ahead by 2 points. We both are quite gifted at hitting it into our own goal, it seems…

EJens tried his hand at an electronic jump rope game. Watch the light spin around and then try to jump when it gets by your feet. Funny, but not hilarious. Maybe if he were completely loaded, it would have been funnier. Yes, I’m sure of it, in fact. Next time.

Because I have awesome friends, they all decided to pool their tickets and get me something nice. We did have like four hundred tickets or something insane like that.

I ended up with a pair of fuzzy dice, a rubber fly, a robber ducky with an eye patch, pop rocks, and a pig that poops when you squeeze his middle. I have awesome friends.

We left Grand Slam and headed down the road to Mermaids for some drinks and food. Mermaids has two-for-ones after 9pm and we took full advantage of it.

Despite the weather, it was a great birthday party. And an adventure we’ll repeat. We love Grand Slam.