Category: road food (page 1 of 5)

Chasing Maud Hart Lovelace In Mankato, Minnesota

Wanderlust is real. It’s the constant longing to take a road trip. The moment you get back from one, you’re itching for the next. The desire constantly nags and all-consumes. If you can relate, you probably have wanderlust too.

This weekend, I took a miniature road trip to Mankato, Minnesota located about 1.5 hours southwest of the Twin Cities. This was not just a road trip, this was a literary quest.

Continue reading

Returning to Fargo: The Best Place To Stop For A Snack Off I-94

Disclaimer: Logan spoiler. 

Oh, Logan. North Dakota was supposed to have a starring role. The whole film builds towards this majestic moment where all of the little mutants make a grand pilgrimage to North Dakota.

I’ve gone as North as Grand Forks and I’ve driven across the state from Fargo to Medora. The burnt orange, rolling prairie grass and rugged terrain of Theodore Roosevelt National Park left me awestruck. I’m sure the prairie grass is scratchy and thick with critters, when you drive by and see it gently rolling in the wind, you’ll want to pull your car over and take a nap in it.

North Dakota is actually really beautiful. I could see the characters in Logan reaching the fictional destination of Eden in my mind as prairie grass danced in the wind.

Continue reading

Huskies Roam Free & Reds Run Dry At Danenberger Family Vineyards

I think I found the ultimate trifecta at a little vineyard located about 15-minutes outside of Springfield, Illinois: Wine, Siberian husky dogs, and wood-fired pizza.

With time to only visit one vineyard in the Springfield area, I asked the CVB for help. “Danenberger seems to be quite popular, right now” they responded. I can see why.

The Siberian husky dogs of Danenberger roam free; Danenberger refers to them as their welcoming party. One “Elite” Yelper’s review solidified my visit. He described how four, big dogs wandered around and sat by people eating pizza, hopeful for a bite, of course.

My first reaction was AWESOME.

Continue reading

The Carhops Still Sprint At Swensons Drive In

I’ve been waiting 20 years for a Galley Boy.

This past weekend, I made a pilgramige to the Swensons Drive-In located in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

I come from a family full of Buckeyes. In The Ohio State style, they’re incredibaly enthusiastic about being Buckeyes. My parents grew up in the Akron-Cuyahoga Falls area, but my grandparents hail from Minneapolis. When Firestone Tire recruited my Grandpa Roger to be an engineer, he and his wife moved to Ohio where they raised three kids and ate a lot of Swensons.

No visit to my grandparents house was complete without at least one meal from Swensons. On Swensons night. we eagerly around my grandparents’ dinner table to wait for whoever was assigned to pick up our family’s take-out order. Soon ehough, the big paper bags would arrive and then the greasy wax paper flew. We passed around everyone’s Galley Boy cheeseburgers and pouches of fried zucchini sticks, mushrooms, and onion rings. This time it was my turn to drive.

Swensons Drive-In is truly a drive-in and the carhops still run.

swensons wtermark outside

The moment you pull into a parking spot, a carhop will sprint to your car to greet you and take your order before sprinting back inside.

*After I had received my food and paid my bill, I parked in the back of the lot where least two other carhops sprinted to over to take my order. I reassured them that I was OK, but was really impressed at their committment to provide fast service. 

Although your carhop will ask if your order is “for here or to-go”, there is no dining room. “For here” simply means eating your meal from a tray the carhop attaches to your window. I saw a lot of people enjoying their meal in their cars.

The woman in the car next to me said hello. We compared stories and I learned she was also on a similar food quest. It had been years since she returned to her hometown and she, too, was back for a burger. Her face filled with emotion. I gave her a knowing smile and we both turned away before we were two strangers crying over burgers.

Swenson Meal Watermarked

On this day it was my birthday and it really felt like my birthday unwrapping my meal. Swensons’ onion rings are still coated in crispy, rough crumbs and Galley Boys are still garnished with a big, green olives.  I’ve never encountered a double cheeseburger decked out with this specific combination of sauces; one tastes like BBQ sauce and the other like tartar. The meat also has an ever so slightly-sweet flavor.

In 1997 my Grandpa died. A taxi cab picked us up from the airport and I remember my folks talking about Swensons with our driver. He had tried to replicate the burgers at home and theorized that Swensons adds brown sugar to their ground beef. For some reason, I never forgot this.

There’s ice cream, too.

Swensons Shake awatermarked

The malts and shakes are extra thick. . . or maybe it’s the tiny, little straws. I am mystified by the straw.

My grandparents and mother have passed on from this life to whatever comes next, and Swensons lives on. Their car hops still sprint and the Galley Boys are still adorned with green olives. While I can’t enjoy a burger with them, I can still enjoy their favorite burger just the way they alway did and that still counts for something.

In fact, it counts for a lot.

IMG_8409

If you find yourself in the Akron area, spend a moment in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s heart-achingly beautiful. You’ll never think of Ohio in the same way.

My First St. Louis & St. Charles, Missouri Adventures

The thought running through my head is that I’m leaving my homeland of Minnesotafell.

So, I currently live in Iowa, but typically identify myself as being born and raised in Minnesota. When I throw in the fact that I was actually born in South Korea, it adds another complication to the whole “Where are you from?” question. I’ll have arrived in St. Louis, MO via South Korea via Minnesota via Fargo, ND via North Iowa to be exact.

“Is St. Louis even still in the Midwest?” I asked Jake. As we entered the city, we saw signs welcoming us to the gateway to the Midwest, so technically, we still are. A four-hour drive has always taken us to Upper Midwestern destinations such as Eau Claire, WI, Grand Forks, ND or Des Moines, IA. Now, a four-hour drive will take us to cities like Memphis, Louisville, and Indianapolis. It feels exciting and strange.

My bones are only used to living in states where winter lasts six months and looks like this.

Snow Car

The drive from Mason City to St. Louis is 6.5 hours. Once you pass Cedar Falls, the drive isn’t very scenic, though there are some hills and rock ledges lining the freeway as you get closer to St. Louis. I was surprised at how few cities we could see from the highway, except for of Palmyra and Hannibal.

We stayed in St. Charles at the Frenchtown Inn that just came under new ownership. The bed and breakfast was located within a relatively easy commute to Jake’s work and I could easily walk to coffee shops and restaurants since Jake took the car. Christine, a retired critical care nurse, and Larry, a retired firefighter bought the inn from the previous owner and worked hard to update it by repainting the interior and adding furnishings. When we arrived, they had only been open for a few weeks but were busy each night. They mentioned visitors had even made reservations before they had officially opened.

IMG_6521

We stayed in the Fleur-de-Lis room. Chris and Larry had this stained glass window specially made for the room.

IMG_6528

Our room included a queen sized bed, large closet, couch, and private bathroom. Business travelers might want to inquire about accommodations with a desk. We were too busy driving around the city house hunting after work to miss an office set-up.

Bed and breakfasts are truly my favorite way to travel.

bread pudding

One morning Christine served bread pudding with sautéed fruit and caramel sauce + sausage patties.

When I travel solo, I feel safer and cozier at a bed and breakfast setting that seems more like staying in a home as opposed to a large hotel. Plus, I meet the coolest people at B & B’s. Who would have imagined I’d meet Frank Lloyd Wright and Abraham Lincoln history enthusiasts? For an introvert, the thought of dining with strangers at a set time for breakfast can feel intimidating. Believe I get this, but it’s worth it because I’ve had most incredible conversations with strangers at B & B’s.

Larry and Christine were gracious hosts and I felt very much at home at the Frenchtown Inn. The first morning, I remarked to Jake that they must already think we’re crazy. We had scrambled to drive to St. Louis after work and forgot an embarrassing number of items. Larry caught me sneaking out of the house at 5:30 a.m. in search of a drug store to purchase toothpaste and a razor. He kindly provided both.

I loved sitting on the big porch listening to the wind chimes. One afternoon, Christine prepared plates of warm cheese crisps.

cheese puffs

The bed and breakfast is located in the quiet Frenchtown neighborhood. I enjoyed the ten-minute walk from the inn to the historic St. Charles area.

IMG_6512

The walks were peaceful. I passed by several bridal boutiques and homes that reminded me of New Orleans. Having lived in Fargo and North Iowa for the past four years, I forget how flat our landscape is. “There are hills here!” I kept exclaiming to myself.

IMG_6535

 

IMG_6533

I spent several afternoons at Picasso’s Coffee House.

IMG_6518

When I heard Sufjan Stevens, I knew I found the right place to chill.

IMG_6517

Ok!

I walked the uneven brick cobblestone sidewalk along the main street and curiously popped into many of the shops. I found thrift shops, a Polish pottery shop, Italian bakery, and a specialty soap boutique.

IMG_6540

This British shop sold a wide variety of pantry items and chilled British sodas.

IMG_6568

I admired this interesting statue and unusual sign about babies.

PicMonkey Collage

Other St. Louis adventures included getting stuck in a Cardinals traffic jam downtown, viewing homes in different neighborhoods, curiously drinking a beer in New Town while people went for evening strolls and whizzed by on golf carts (I even saw a man doing yoga on a platform in the middle of a small lake) and eating our first Jumbo Jacks.

jumbo jack

Jake’s coworkers suggested we visited Sugarfire Smoke House. The man carving the meat hid an extra rib under others so he’s basically my new best friend. I also loved their self-serve pickle, jalapeno and sliced bread station. The ribs were tender and lean. I had a grand time sampling all of their seasoning blends and squirt bottles of sauces.

sugar fire

There’s so much to explore and to eat in St. Louis. I’ll miss my friends in North Iowa, but have the feeling that STL and I will get along just fine. Bring on the Provel!

Coming Up Next: Jake and I just signed a lease on a home we visited during this trip. We’re busy coordinating the details of our move and listing our house for sale. The big summer auction school session begins today. You can catch a glimpse into what my next nine days will look in this post: 10 Things I Learned In Auction College

Older posts

© 2017 Jeni Eats

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Facebook
YouTube
Pinterest
INSTAGRAM