Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fourth-best thing about RAGBRAI

I recently realized it's been almost a month since RAGBRAI ... making my failure to blog about the event all the more shameful. All those posts about preparation, and I couldn't be bothered to share a few safe-for-work details?

Finally I sorted my memories into a few easy-to-digest chunks — it's Restaurant Week; food is on my brain 24/7 right now — and decided against trying to pass the delay off as being timed to coincide with the one-month anniversary.

So here's the first installment of my four favorite "themes" of RAGBRAI: food.

Yes, RAGBRAI has a well-deserved reputation for being full of delicious food. You shouldn't read any disappointment into my putting it at the bottom of my list of favorite things — it's just that there was so much nonedible fun that food got bumped down.

We began Wednesday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where I had my second breakfast of a Dutch letter ... on a stick, of course.
Coors Light was not a culinary highlight by any means, but this photo is symbolic of the mass quantities of beer I drank. Actually, before this bar stop, the group had split a bottle of local wine ... but I was too busy being thrilled about drinking local wine midday in the sunshine to take a photo. 
These pork chops were out of this world. When one friend offered to split a pork chop as a snack only a few hours after lunch, I jumped right on that. 
"Dunked corn" in Oskaloosa — like cornbread on steroids. YUM. Definitely a once-a-year treat.
My second breakfast on Saturday came at an all-you-can-eat pancake shack in Birmingham. The best part of this was watching one woman manning the griddle that held at least two dozen pancakes. She also would fling the pancake onto your plate from across the shed, if you asked. (I did not.) 
We lingered in Keosauqua on Saturday, to the tune of a couple of hours. Since the First Street Grille landed on the state's top 10 burger list, we decided to sample. At left is the breakfast burger; at right is the Reuben.
A few highlights that weren't pictured:

* Massive amounts of barbecue. I ate more of that than I did pastries.

* The glass of lemonade I had after 10ish miles of hills in the early-afternoon sun. It was the single-most refreshing beverage I had during the entire trip.

* The stop in Bussey, where I split a wood-fire-oven pizza for a midafternoon snack (yep), followed a few miles later by the most massive amount of homemade ice cream I'd ever had (thanks, Beekman's!). My two favorite foods within half an hour? Best vacation ever.

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