Saturday, June 25, 2011

Iowa – Day 2

This morning started off a little rough with rain in the forecast. We headed off as a group for breakfast at Baby Boomers Café. This cute little café hit the big time when they became known for Obama’s family and staffs favorite cookies.

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The inside is nicely done with easy layout.

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Since we where here for breakfast we each ordered and all of our mouths started dropping when we saw the food come out. The portions are huge!

I ordered the Eggs Benedict w/ hash browns $8.00. The hash browns need a little hot sauce, but overall I enjoyed the dish.

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D ordered 2 sausage pancakes $5 that where the size of a large plate.

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Right as we where about to leave we got to taste the famous cookies! They have a cake like consistency, but still very tasty.

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With the rain a steady drizzle we headed out to enjoy the Downtown Farmers Market. I wished it hadn’t been raining, but I have to tell you even though it rained we still really enjoyed getting to see this area. The market is open 8am-noon every Saturday. I really wished we had something like this near our house. You can find anything you want here from crafts to coffee to wine to vegetables, the list goes on and on.

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We bought 2 types of coffee since I couldn’t bring back any fresh produce. If I’m in town again I’ll be stopping back by for sure!

Since the rain was messing up our schedule we didn’t get to explore the Des Moines Art Festival as planned so we headed back to the hotel to warm up and get ready to head out to the Iowa Corn Indy 250.

The sights and sounds of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 where really mind blowing. I’ve never been to race let alone had the VIP backstage treatment like this. My media pass allowed us to visit the garage area, the track and the media room.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Iowa – Day 1

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Our flight arrived late a little after 5pm and I was excited about being back in Iowa. I had missed all my new blogging friends as well as the farmers and and everyone I had met.

Our hotel reservations where at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott. (Photo from Marriott site)


Overall we enjoyed our stay here. The rooms where nice and spacious, but my only complaint was the walls are really thin. There was a wedding at the hotel and both nights we where woken up around 2:30am by slamming doors and loud drunk people. A quick phone call to the front desk resulted in security knocking on doors within 5 minutes and silence after that.

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After a quick freshen up we headed to meet everyone down at the lobby and head to dinner.

They had arranged dinner at Dos Rios. I was so excited to be around other bloggers again so I wouldn’t be the only person at the table photographing my food!

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We where in a private room and had a buffet style food, so I can’t speak much for the menu except for the pulled roasted chicken and pulled pork are really good. We also had the meatballs which are not pictured, but they where good as well.

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The restaurant makes their own flavored chips and fresh guacamole. We also had three salsas – traditional tomato salsa, sweet verde and pico de gallo. Everything is really yummy!

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For dessert we tried the DULCE DE LECHE CHEESECAKE (Sweet caramel cheesecake in a graham cracker crust, topped with whipped cream). I really loved this rich dessert!

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I did have a margarita which I didn’t get a picture of, and several other people had tried some of their cocktails. We all agreed that they make them strong here.

After catching up with everyone and eating a fabulous meal we headed back to our hotel and hit the sack with great excitement of the day ahead of us.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Capital Grille

Houston has several upscale places to chose when it comes to steak. We had never been to The Capital Grille, but I had always heard good things about it. The parking lot is small and they offer complimentary valet parking. If you like to park your own car I recommend making an early reservation.

The inside of the restaurant is really mescaline with dark wood panel walls, animal mounts and rich colors. It’s very tastefully done.

Our waiter Seth was fantastic, we enjoyed his company and enjoyed talking with him and appreciated the attention to detail he offered.

The website menu does not have pricing, but I will tell you it’s a little pricey. We started out with the Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers $13 (Calamari sautéed in garlic butter until golden crisp. Then tossed with a house blend of peppers for a nice, fiery finish.) They where delicious. The hot peppers saved the dish which I don’t recommend this dish if you don’t like spice. I would have liked to have a dipping sauce with the calamari in addition to the peppers.


We also split a cup of Lobster Bisque $11 (Lumps of the sweetest lobster are sautéed just to your liking and added to
a luscious bisque. Dry Sack Sherry is drizzled over the delightful affair.) A little on the high end for the amount you get, but one of the better flavorings bisque that I’ve had so I recommend trying it.


As for the main course I ordered the Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 12 year Aged Balsamic $43 (The classic cut of a Delmonico steak seasoned and broiled to create delicate porcini mushroom crust with a light drizzling of premium 12-year aged balsamic.) Instead of the T-bone I had them use a filet mignon instead. I absolutely loved this dish. The steak is cooked a little rarer then I would have liked a medium rare so you might order it medium instead. I’ve learned nicer steak places like this under cook it more then places that don’t know how to cook a steak. The balsamic just sings in your mouth and finishes off the dish perfectly.


D ordered one of the special menu items. Seared 8 ounce Tenderloin with 8 ounce Butter Poached Lobster $66 (Our seared tenderloin served with fresh lobster, cooked slowly in butter to bring out its flavor and tenderness.) Although the flavors where good, we both agreed that the price was a little too high so I wouldn’t order this again. 


The Capital Grille does half portions on all of their sides except for the Lobster Mac n Cheese so be sure to ask about that if you want to try out several of them. We ordered the Lobster Mac n Cheese $15 (Baked Campanelle pasta and fresh Lobster meat, tossed in a Mascarpone, Havarti and Grana Padano cream sauce, topped with Panko bread crumbs and grated white cheddar.) and a half order of Au Gratin Potatoes $6 (Hearty slices of potato are layered with cream and a wonderful combination of cheeses. Topped with fried onions and potatoes, this is just the kind of food you want to take comfort in.) The lobster mac n cheese could have been a hair better. The noodles where a little more firm then I would have liked and we had 2 pieces of lobster in ours. The au gratin potatoes had slices of onion as well as the crispy onion on top which made it taste like you bit into an onion. It totally over powdered the dish and really made you not want to eat it because you can’t taste your steak after trying a bite.


We where overly stuffed from our meal, but Seth wouldn’t let us leave without a champagne toast and Classic Crème Brulee (Tap through a crisp caramelized sugar crust to the creamiest of custards below to see why this remains a perennial favorite.) This was not added to our bill so it was a nice surprise of him to bring us dessert. I’m a little picky when it comes to crème brulee and I have to say that this one delivers! As full as I was I could have licked the dish.


Would I come back? Probably not unless someone really wanted to go there. The restaurant is defiantly nice, but the high prices are a turn off for me. Look online for sites like or others who offer discounted gift cards to get a small % off your meal.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Steak ‘n Shake


We recently got some coupons in the mail for the local Steak ‘n Shake restaurant and decided to give them a try. We really where not sure what to expect when we walked in. I though it was going to be an order at the counter type of place, but instead they seat you. They went for the 50’s theme feeling inside and it’s simple and clean.


I wanted to get the most of our our coupons and told the waitress to just split our bill so we could use 2 coupons, she was really nice and said they don’t limit coupons and we could use as many as we wanted at the same time. I was now kicking myself for not bringing them all with us, but oh well it’s good to know. They have several specials such as free kids meals if you spend $8, all you can eat pancakes for $3.99, 1/2 price happy hour weekdays 2-4pm on all shakes and drinks, etc. Be sure to check their site to make the most out of  your trip there. I appreciated the variety of items on their menu and overall the prices seemed pretty cheap.

We had a coupon for buy 1 get 1 free Specialty Milk Shakes regularly $3.49. I chose Butter Pecan and D picked Mint Cookies and Cream. They where huge and delicious. I liked that the chunks didn’t clog the straw and the shakes where cold, but very smooth and creamy.


We also had  a buy 1 get 1 free Royal Steakburger regular price is $4.19 (Comes with lettuce, cheese, mayo, tomato, 2 patties of meat, bacon and a fried egg) I thought the burger was ok, but not fantastic. The price is cheap, but I think I’ll try one of their other burgers next time.


For the sides we shared a small Chili Cheese Fries $2.79, not worth it at all. We had a coupon for Onion Rings regularly $2.29 for 99 cents. These where better and I would get them again.


Overall, I would go back when I get coupons. The shakes are fantastic and I would pay full price for them with as much as you get. Be sure to sign up for their eclub newsletter for additional coupons as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fleming’s Steakhouse

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As part of my birthday we decided to go out to dinner at Fleming’s Steakhouse. I honestly love the charm of this place when you walk in. I felt a little funny taking pictures in a nice steak place, so I’m sorry if the pictures looked rushed.

While looking over the menu they brought out a loaf of bread and 2 types of butters a feta one that I loved and a sun dried tomato one which D loved.

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We started our meal with HALF AND HALF $8.95 (double-cut shoestring fries and our signature onion rings) since none of the appetizers really grabbed us. We had mixed feelings on this. The onion rings where really good the shoestring fries where greasy and unappetizing.

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I ordered the PORCINI RUBBED FILET MIGNON $38.95 (center cut, grilled high country asparagus spears, gorgonzola cream sauce). OH WOW! This just melts in your mouth. I questioned the porcini rub, but after tasting it, I understood. I would order this again in a heart beat.

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D ordered the Chef’s Selection Entrée $42.95 (crab cake, filet and stuffed shrimp). All of items where really tasty, but not worth the price, I think next time we would just stick to one of the regular steaks.

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We ordered 2 sides to share. FLEMING’S POTATOES $8.50 (our house specialty with cream, jalapeños and cheddar cheese), CHIPOTLE CHEDDAR MACARONI & CHEESE $8.50 (smoked cheddar and leeks). Both items where melt in your mouth good and I would recommend both to anyone.

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After our meal we where so full we passed on dessert, but our waiter Cody was so nice he put in a little box for my birthday for us to enjoy later. Oh wow where these truffles yummy! I thought it was a great touch as well as a birthday card from the restaurant.

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Overall, I can’t wait to go back. The steak just melts in your mouth and service is fantastic. I loved every part of the experience!