Friday, April 30, 2010

Nickelberry's Pizza & Dewmocracy

Many native Eldridge-ians are surprised by the sudden change of name of Paul Revere Pizza. It is now Nickelberry's Pizza. Instead of the handsome horse rider, we now are welcomed to the restaurant by a giant Gerber baby wanna-be. What does a baby have to do with pizza? And I'm just gonna say it, no sense beating around the bush... Nickelberry's sounds a little too similar to Dingleberries, which does not excite my palate in the least.

To see if the pizza had changed at all, I gave Nickelberry's a call and ordered a medium pepperoni, our usual Paul Revere order. I was able to add a side of breadsticks for a nickel (ahh it all makes sense now). Well the old pizza patriot box has been replaced by the generic map of Italy or, as they call it, 'Italia.'

The bread sticks are coming! The bread sticks are coming! They arrived as usual, wrapped like an oversized baked potato.

I opened the pizza box and, lo and behold, it looked and smelled the same as Revere's pepperoni.

The bread sticks also looked the same, slightly browned and positioned around a reservoir of buttery garlic sauce.

The final test: Taste. Yep, Nickelberry's Pizza tastes exactly the same as P.R.'s. So what's the deal? I couldn't dig up any info, but it looks like Paul Revere is still a legit pizza chain, so the local owner must have parted ways with the franchise.

You have to have pop (some call it soda, they are backwards and weird) to wash down the grease and allow for maximum pizza burpage. Purpose: to combat the heart burn and allow you to once again enjoy the pepperoni goodness you just consumed.

I found the three new Mountain Dew flavors at Target, so I bought them for a side by side comparison. In the least surprising move ever, Richie drank all three.

The first flavor is White Out- a grapefruit and lemon lime soda. He describes it as 'Squirty.'

Not bad.

The second flavor is Typhoon. It blew him away.

Actually, it just blew and ended up half full in the garbage atop my massive collection of kettle corn bags and skinny cow wrappers. He said it was too fruity. I took a sip and agreed. It tastes like a very sweet fruit punch with overwhelming pineapple flavor.

The third flavor is Distortion, which is essentially Mountain Dew with an extra kick of lime. Hee-yah

Our connoisseur swishes the green liquid to allow for maximum taste bud action.

It vaguely reminded him of the limey green rivers served at our favorite ice cream parlor, Lagomarcino's. But really, it's just Dew with more fake lime flavor.

Congratulations White-Out! A 12-pack of you is now stowed in our refrigerator to be consumed over the next...oh 5 hrs or so during non-stop Modern Warfare matches. You can vote for your favorite flavor HERE.

Pizza and pop- a classic American pairing, much like Jim and Pam, they are meant to be together.

If you liked Paul Revere's simple and greasy pizza, go ahead and try dingle..i mean Nickelberry's Pizza. Tell them the giant baby sent you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hamburg Inn 2

A recent excursion to Iowa City brought us to the most well known restaurant in the IC, if not the state. Hamburg Inn #2 on Linn Street first opened in 1948 as the second in a chain of restaurants owned by the Panther family. It is the only one still open, yet retains the #2 in its moniker.

Hamburg Inn is partly famous for its food, but mostly famous for its diners. Politicians flock here to meet their constituents and support a family owned business. However, being a small college town, there's no shortage of locally owned joints. Why does Hamburg stand out among them? The FOOD.

The diners are a mix of college age bros and hipsters, wealthy senior citizens, and jaded corgi owners like this guy.

The place is ridiculously small. The first time we were in there last summer, I wanted to scream and run away from all the noise and people. Unfortunately, we ran to Lou Henri's which was a nightmare in its own right. I actually expected the Hamburg to have some crazy corners around which more booths were hidden, but nope. It was just one room. We sat at a counter with stools in the middle of the room.

It was around 4:30 when we visited, and I would highly recommend going around this time or even earlier for dinner/late lunch. We didn't have to wait at all, and it was relatively quiet.

Here's where Ronnie ate in 92! Luckily they didn't 'Tear down this booth!'
Obamer and Clinton ate there too, but I didn't see their booths. During elections, Hamburg actually holds a coffee bean caucus in which diners vote for the candidate of their choice by dropping a coffee bean in a jar. (Excuse their misuse of the word caucus.) Iowa City is obviously a pretty liberal town with their co-ops and DIY stores, so of course Obama won the last one. It's like living in a giant happy bubble of hipsters, starving authors, and football fanatics... and even a few hipster football fans working on their first novel.

I digress
To start things off, I ordered a maple shake. Hamburg is actually known for their shakes in which they shove a whole piece of pie or red velvet cake into a cup with ice cream. I wanted to try maple because I had never before even heard of a maple shake.

It was like sucking a pancake through a straw. I loved it.

Back to the breakfasts! It's served all day, which is always a good sign. Unless you're at Sonic. Here is Richard's Hawkeye Hog omelet. A two egg omelet rolled up with sausage, hashbrowns, and American cheese, smothered in sausage gravy. He is a true Iowan at last! Also note the french toast you can choose as a side dish. Hurrah!

I went for a classier dish, the Eggs Florentine- poached eggs and spinach on an English muffin with hollandaise. It was supposed to come with pico de gallo too, but they were out. I must've looked like a total bee-yotch because when the waiter told me, he apologized profusely and flinched like I was going to throw hollandaise in his eyes.

After we ate and paid, the nervous waiter once again came running over and stammered about, asking me why I didn't like the milkshake. I replied that I did like it a lot, I just couldn't finish it all. I mean, who wants to eat that much dairy before an hour car ride home? He offered me a to-go cup, but I refused and I think it devastated him. Seriously, I think his day was ruined, maybe even his week. I imagine he is so downtrodden that he asks other servers to make his shakes for him.

The food was delicious, but I left a little hungry. The atmosphere wasn't quite as homey as I hoped, but it's still a cool place to go for a bite of better than average diner food and superb milkshakes. Also of note, the 'burg offers many vegetarian dishes including veggie 'bacon' and 'sausage'.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ganson's Neighborhood Bakery and Cafe

Open for just over a year, Ganson's in Rock Island has become quite the busy little place. Ganson's is located on 38th street, right next to Saukie Golf Course in a little farmhouse that has been beautifully renovated into the cafe. The name comes from combining the last names of the two owners, Thompson and Ganzer. Both were nurses, one was known as a good cook and the other has a home based bakery, so they combined forces to create the ultimate food cafe. My words, not theirs.

The place was hoppin when we got there. Getting there is a whole other story because of some Avenue vs. Street confusion. It's somewhat embarrassing to get lost in this day and age. Luckily Richie's phone GPS saved the day.

We walked into the small lobby and it was pretty crammed with people. Some were waiting for a table, some paying, and some just perusing the baked goods. The diners in the other rooms seemed to be taking their sweet time, completely oblivious to the grumbling emanating from the old people in the lobby.

We really didn't have to wait very long, maybe 10 minutes before a small table opened up. The interior is still very much a farmhouse, with small rooms and wood floors. I felt like we were attending a tea party in someone's fancy schmancy house and I was under-dressed. Then again, the server and I had on the same Nike shoes

The lunch menu includes a lot of very fresh and fancy sounding sandwiches. I went with a cheddar, ham, and apple panini with mango chutney spread. I chose cranberry sauce for my side, not sure why. Richie chose the spicy beef and avocado with yellow peppers, swiss, and chipotle mayo and a side of coleslaw.

It took awhile for the meals to come out and then CRASH BANG BOOM. Our server dropped half of Richie's sandwich and his coleslaw on the floor.

I didn't wait for it to be replaced, just dug into my delicious panini. The mango chutney spread was really great with the ham and apples. But I like anything sweet...except cranberry sauce. Not a fan.

Richie also enjoyed his sandwich, but he got a stomachache soon after and did not finish it. Odd.
Not to worry, as I soon found out, it was the stomach flu. He spent the next three days sick and then I spent the subsequent three days sick. OOF


Now that we know it was the flu and not the food, I'm sure we will be back to try their breakfast and hopefully eat on the deck outside. Breakfast is served all day on the weekends. This is not a greasy place, so I would recommend it to sandwich connoisseurs and healthy eaters. They had very pretty looking desserts and pastries as well. Ganson's has a great cozy old-fashioned atmosphere, but they also have a terrific website that is updated with daily specials. You can even forgo the wait and order ahead online. How 21st century of them.
Check it out here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Boston Mass part 2

On the only morning that it didn't rain in sheets, we walked up to Beacon Hill for breakfast and stopped in a cafe called The Paramount. The guidebook I found in our hotel room claims it has been a Boston favorite for breakfasts since 1937.

Walking in, I was surprised at how tiny it is. It's very narrow and a half dozen or so small tables were crammed against the left side of the wall. They have specific instructions on going to the counter and ordering, paying, and then finding a seat. The rules explain that this helps keep people moving in and out and minimizes wait. Though the restaurant was full when we walked in, by the time we had ordered and were ready to sit, a table had opened up.

We both ordered spinach, feta, and tomato omelets. They were 8.50 and came with toast and potatoes. Just a couple minutes later the food was ready and were eating.

This definitely beat the Rice Krispy treat I had for breakfast the day before. The ingredients were fresh and the food was prepared in open view of patrons, so I know he didn't sneeze in it.

After visiting Paul Revere's sad little house, we were in need of a sugar rush and luckily we were in Little Italy. We passed by a few pastry shops but I was drawn to this one because of the funky marquee.

Modern Pastry was opened over 70 yrs ago by Italian immigrants. They claim that the recipes are originals passed down from 'the old country.'
I drooled over the pastry case, while my mom picked up some pasta for my sister.

My mom got a slice of carrot cake, while I got a whoopie pie. Here's the cute little box they came in.

I took that baby back to the hotel room and had my way with it. The next picture includes content of pleasurable nature. Look away if you are easily offended.

Best whoopie pie ever. then again, I've only had grocery store versions and Wicked Whoopies
Much like Lindsay Lohan's nostrils, my lips were covered with a sinful layer of white powder. My mom quickly scarfed the carrot cake before I could poke a finger in it. Bummer.

If we ever return to Boston, I'm definitely stopping by Modern again to try a cannoli, just so I can exclaim, Holy cannoli!

Boston Mass

I happened to be in Boston the week of the worst raining and flooding the region has seen in like 100 yrs. I was also "blessed" with the stomach flu. Luckily I was still able to suck it up and eat at a few historical 'greasy joints.' I'll just highlight a couple.

Jacob Wirth Company on Stuart Street is a German restaurant that was established by Jacob, a Prussian immigrant, in Boston during the reconstruction era. I imagined they suffered a bit during prohibition... and World War 2... with the whole Hitler thing...and a logo that looks like him...

As you can imagine, the building smelled like an old museum or barn, or your grandmother's house, but the interior was clean and the mahogany interior was restored and well maintained.

The menu had many traditional German foods, so of course we thought we would try some... sort of. Though they offered wiener-schnitzel and sauerbraten, we both ordered Americanized German food. I opted for the grilled chicken Reuben with sweet potato fries and my mom ordered a bratwurst with onion rings.

I wasn't a fan of their sauerkraut, but the sweet potato fries were pretty awesome

Bratwurst and rings

The food was alright, but I think the main attraction at Jacob Wirth's must be their beer. Check out their beer board...

This guy was attempting to draw an Easter bunny

We also walked the Freedom Trail to the oldest restaurant in the U.S., a National Historic Landmark- The Union Oyster House.

The building is over 250 yrs old but the restaurant was established in 1826 as Atwood and Bacon Oyster house. The Kennedy family frequented the restaurant and a booth upstairs is dedicated in memory to JFK, who liked to dine there. And probably fornicate in the restroom.

The actual Oyster bar-

Of course we were given oyster crackers to snack on...

Not being a fan of seafood, I knew I would probably be eating some mediocre chicken plate.

It was good and bland which happened to be just what my stomach needed.

Neither of us had the cajones to try oysters, but my mom did get a lobster salad roll. Turns out she doesn't like lobster. eh, who knew?

Being in such an old building with a lot of history was fun, but once again, the food was just okay. Probably would fare better for seafood lovers instead of landlubbers.