I took another huge vacation last week. It was my first vacation in two years, unless you count Memorial Day. Retired baker Art Duren of Maddock rode along to visit his daughter, Jan in Omaha. It was a good time to head south. The thermometer in the van said it was -26 at Maddock when Art got in the van at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13. The 11-hour trip to Omaha was uneventful. If I remember right, the temperature was about zero when we arrived at Waterloo, the suburb where my brother Jim and his wife Sue live. He remarked that we were arriving during the coldest weather they've experienced all winter.
I think it was -3 the next morning and -6 the following morning. Everywhere I went people were complaining about the cold weather. Something went haywire with my windshield washer so I stopped at a
Firestone store to get it fixed. They fiddled with it for about half an hour and then the manager came out to tell me the washer was merely frozen. He said it was unusual to freeze up because the liquid in the washer usually is good to about -20. When I told him the temperature was -26 when I left home the
morning before, he got a shocked expression on his face and looked at me as though I was crazy to live in such a place. "I can't imagine anything like that," he said. A clerk at Barnes & Noble complained about the cold. I told her about the -26 degree temperature at home. "Brrr," she shivered. The cheapest gas was $2.11 at Salix, SD, on the south edge of Sioux Falls.
It was $2.39, $2.29 and $2.26 at our other stops. Sue whipped up a supper of pork tenderloin, wild rice and salad. She should open a restaurant. It was really good! I get up early and everyone else sleeps in. The next morning I stopped at a Baker's grocery store for breakfast in the restaurant there. I stood at
the counter for about five minutes waiting to pay for a newspaper. The waitress stood at the cook's station nearly all the time waiting for orders to be given to her to deliver. When she finally took my money, I seated myself and had to wait another five minutes or so for her to come to my table to take my order. I had two orders of biscuits and gravy at $1.99 each, if I remember right. It wasn't bad, but nothing to write home about. Then when it came time to pay, I had to wait again. The waitress simply wasn't that busy.
There was no tip with that breakfast. I just wanted a light lunch, so I stopped at the Hollywood Diner a
block north of the junction of 156th and Maple. It's a really unique place.
It's a stainless steel diner just like they used to have back in the 1950's. The decor was great. I really liked the place. I ordered a hot dog and skipped the French fries. Price was $3.11. It was absolutely the worst hot dog I've ever tasted! You know how when you bite into a hot dog the fat globules
explode in your mouth giving a pleasant texture and taste? This hot dog had none of that. There was no taste but overpowering saltiness. Feedah! Feedah!
I'm going to give this place another chance and have a hamburger on my next visit. But stay away from the hot dogs. They're terrible. Two of Jim's grandsons think the Kobe Steakhouse at 120 Regency Parkway is the best place in town to eat. They really like the show the chefs put on as we're seated around the grill. I do, too. The food is excellent and the show is usually great. Most of us had steak and shrimp with fried rice at $22.25 per plate. Ya, it's expensive, but we were on vacation. I had to save up for
two years to go there, and it's worth it! You can find out about this place at http://www.kobesteakhouse.us.
Thursday morning I had breakfast at the Hy-Vee at 156th and Maple. I had the country sampler at $5.29. With coffee it's $6.41. This consists of two biscuits with gravy, two eggs, two slices of bacon and two link
sausages. It was pretty good. The gravy tasted as though it was made with Campbells' cream of mushroom soup. I wasn't too keen on that. After breakfast I looked around in the grocery store and found they had an antipasto selection of olives, marinated artichokes, peppers, mushrooms, etc. They offered 12 different types of olives, including green olives stuffed with blue cheese. I've never seen that before. Once again I just wanted a light lunch because supper was going to be a gluttonous affair. So Jim and I went to an old favorite, McKenna's at 7425 Pacific St. This is the home of "Booze, blues and barbecues." I ordered the smoked sausage which is really hot. But it wasn't nearly as hot as it was on other visits. They've toned it down quite a bit and I don't think the change was for the better. With a glass of Guinness Irish beer, my bill came to $11.44. Uff-dah.
Supper was at Lazlo's Brewery & Grill at 2425 192nd Ave. I had a shrimp brochette, which was large grilled shrimp on a bed of wild rice at $13.95.
It was good, but Hollys and Jim hit the jackpot with something called Rainbow Chicken at $9.95. It was swimming in an extremely hot sauce and the little piece Hollys gave me tasted really good. That's what I'll have next time. Since this was a brewery and they offered several different types of beer, I had a glass of vanilla porter, a dark beer that had a hint of vanilla. It was good enough, all right, but not as good as Guinness.
You can find out about this place at www.lazlosbreweryandgrill.com.
Friday morning I went to Harrah's Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa across the Missouri River from Omaha. I had the "County Benedict" breakfast at $6.99. Coffee was an additional $1.49 and tax was .59, for a grand total of $9.07. But it was a breakfast fit for a glutton. It was a large buttermilk biscuit topped with two sausage patties.
That was topped with a hunk of scrambled eggs (it must have been half a dozen eggs) topped with a delicious gravy. On the side were some golden brown hash browns. It looked to me like the hash browns were deep fried, but they weren't greasy at all. They were crunchy and delicious. This was a major breakfast, I tell you. Momma taught me to clean my plate, but I couldn't finish all the scrambled eggs. There was no noon lunch. I was stuffed to the gills. Supper was at the Huhot Mongolian Grill at 17660 Wright St., about half a block south of West Center Road. This is a chain and I see there's one
at Fargo. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a major grill. It's a round piece of steel about 8 feet in diameter with a 1 foot hole in the center where the leavings go when the grill is cleaned. Customers take bowls and choose the food they want. There's a wide variety to place in your bowls: beef, pork, chicken, sausage, shrimp, tuna, imitation crab, and many different noodles and vegetables. Then sauces ranging from mild to extra hot are ladled over the bowls by the customers, so you can choose your own
degree of spiciness. At this place there were three chefs who emptied the bowls on the grill and cooked the meat, seafood, noodles and vegetables. They maybe had a dozen meals on the grill at once. In a few minutes they handed the plate to the customer. Rice was delivered to the tables. The meal was about $12. Jim grabbed the check, so I'm just estimating. You can find out about this place at .
The town of Elkhorn, near where Jim and Sue live, is being annexed by Omaha. There's a lot of opposition to this in the Elkhorn area and it was mentioned at the table at the Huhot Mongolian Grill that Elkhorn may take Omaha to the state supreme court over the issue. Jim's grandson, six-year-old Tyson Cook, piped up, "Can I go to the supreme court, too?" The trip home Saturday was not as uneventful as the trip down. It had snowed and visibility the night before on the Interstate between Onawa, Iowa and was poor. We saw approximately 35 cars in the ditch, along with two semis. One of the semis was tipped on its side as well as one of the cars. But we didn't have any trouble. Well, back to reality. No more exotic foods until next February.