(Her) We take to the open road and bring the niece along with us for a road trip to Missouri under the guise that we are going to teach her about the Civil War. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the war, and one of our destinations was a reenactment so it was legit. Vacations are tough for us food-wise. We usually eat a quick breakfast at a gas station or fast food joint, then plow through the day’s events only to realize that we are exceedingly hungry and dealing with low blood sugars at supper time. When this happens, we tend to bicker about where to eat, settle for anything we can find, rely on the GPS, eat at chain restaurants, and generally make bad decisions because of it. With an extra passenger along, we weren’t focused on quality so much as we were more focused on value. In my defense, I did check over the two major cities a few times on the internet to see if there was someplace we shouldn’t leave the city without visiting and I really didn’t get the sense that we’d be missing anything. That is to say, critics didn’t seem to agree on anything and nothing really stood out. I knew that there should be some barbeque involved in Kansas City and I deduced that St. Louis had a weird style pizza that should be tried, but other than that I didn’t really have my foodie hat on for this vacation.
So, while you are in Kansas City, I highly suggest you visit Chip’s Chocolate Factory and take the “tour”. For $5 bucks you will watch chocolate cool into fudge, but it’s what happens WHILE you are waiting that is so worth it. While you are waiting for that fudge to be fudge, the fudge maker will entertain you by flinging his chocolate puddle into the air thereby adding air to the chocolate and making fluffy fudge without the use of butter or marshmallow fluff. While he’s doing this, he’ll also give you a little informative lecture, and make an entire cookie sheet of yummy chocolate goodies for you to eat while you are waiting. He made so many that we ate a few there and took a few home. After all is said and done, you get a goodie bag with a chunk of fudge, a sticker, and a chocolate covered pretzel. Like I said, well worth the 5 bucks. Oh, and by the way, they are located in a cute boutique mall.
Next mention would have to be Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel is like a boyfriend who hits you but you keep going back to the relationship. The first thing I warned the niece about when we pulled in was “do not fall for all the crap in the lobby, that’s how they get you” and then what happens while you are waiting for food? You find yourself in the lobby oohing and ahhing over wax bottles and Zotz, stuff you haven’t seen in years and stuff that looks like it came straight from the Harriet Carter catalog. I’ve only been to a Cracker Barrel twice in my life and apparently I blocked the visits from my memory, but I can safely say I’ll never be back. The food has so much potential and is so disappointing. They try to woo you with the promise of comfort foods such as pot roast and mac and cheese and all you end up with is a hundred little bowls of poorly done side items and a small hunk of pot roast that tastes like it came from a TV dinner. The highlight of the meal was the Juicy Fruit gum and the Coconut Key Lime patties that were purchased in the shop.
Another staple of the road trip is the Waffle House. We don’t have any in Wisconsin so I like to visit them when we travel. They are one of those restaurants that borders on shady, but always entertains. Their coffee is amazing and where else can you get hashbrowns scattered, smothered, chunked, covered, capped, or “all the way”? For those not in the know, all the way is hashbrowns topped with onions, cheese, ham, tomatoes, jalapenos, mushrooms, chili, and country style gravy and yes, it is much more fantastic than it sounds. During my first visit, I went all the way, but this time I restrained myself as I wasn’t really that hungry. If you haven’t been, the Waffle House is an open diner concept without walls between the diner and the kitchen so that you can watch your greasy chef in action. I think it’s really fun to watch the waitresses and cooks hustle and yell out orders and pay homage to old-fashioned diner speak. Just writing about it, makes me regret not going “all the way”.
Imos Pizza is the toast of the town in St Louie however I thought it was junk pizza. I knew going in that there was no Mozz on the pie but I wasn’t prepared for the taste that left me wanting pizza, actual pizza, even a $2 Orvs frozen. The sauce was non existent and was billed as sweet. No way Jose, you LIE! The crust was cracker thin with little taste and the cheese hybrid of provolone and cheddar made me feel like I was eating microwaved shredded on a saltine. This pizza sucked and for the price I paid I feel really really dirty. It’s a good thing I scored a $5 Cardinals ticket or my memories of Arch City would be forever tainted. I had a much better pizza in Kansas City at a place called d’Bronx. It was in the middle of fancy schmancy mall and I partook of the pie while my wife and the Rain shopped. I bought one slice that was so good that I immediately purchased a second. A big shout out to Terrell who cooked it up. It’s a local chain and it’s the true pizza of Missouri. It was big ol’ flat slice with a good salty cheese, a tomatoey sauce and spicy pepperoni. Good stuff I says.
We also ate at a Jack in the Box which wasn’t as good as I remember from my drug and alcohol fueled days when I lived in Vegas. I remembered it as cheap nirvana and now my new memory is that it’s cheap fast food. It’s nothing special and nothing further needs to be written on the matter.
The beacon of light awaits………….From the age of 8 to the age of 18, Olga’s restaurant was a favorite haunt of mine. It was located in the Machesney Park mall near Rockford Illinois. I was deeply saddened when one day it was closed. I feared I would never eat a 3 cheese Olga ever again. Imagine my surprise as I found out another existed in Alton Illinois 19 years later. It became a destination or should I say featured attraction on our vacation. I went piggish and ordered two Olgas. a Featured Mediterranean and the triple cheesey Olga of old. The cheese Olga was like I remembered. It is perhaps the one greatest food item I’ve ever had. The cheese is creamy and the pita bread is sweet. The Olga sauce was fantastic and is a twist on the standard gyro sauce. I gotta stop writing about this now because I love it so and miss it so and the 10 hour car ride for another is too much. Too much …Too much. The Mediterranean Olga was pretty good too.
(Her again) I tried to get a picture of darling hubby jumping in front of the Olga’s sign but apparently his vertical jump is about 3/4 of an inch. NBA all-star he is not. I had really high hopes for Olga’s after 6 months of hype. I was excited to order zucchini fries and was disappointed to get little shreds of battered greasy veggies.
Oh yeah, and I liked the pizza and so did the kid in the backseat.