Friday, September 25, 2009

Nebraska: A Epicurean Epilogue

When my mind isn't consumed by chasing tail (of the avian variety), my stomach is probably consumed with, well, consuming.  If you don't believe me, just look at the "tag cloud" off to the right to see what I write most about.

That certainly applied to last week's hunting trip to the Nebraska Sandhills.  I love to cook great food, and it always seems to taste better after a hard day afield.  The key is prep -- most of what I make can be prepared ahead of time and quickly grilled or boiled into a tasty and filling meal.  Here was our evening meal menu:

WEDNESDAY:  Sharptail Grouse and Roasted Garlic Sausage, Jalapeno Poppers, Twice Baked Potatoes
THURSDAY:  Grilled Axis T-Bones, Fresh Basil Pesto Angel Hair Pasta, Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes
FRIDAY:  Applewood Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs with Potato and Macaroni Salad

And eating local cuisine is part of the whole experience for me, too.  On the way to Halsey, I anticipated stopping in Mason City -- just west of Grand Island -- for a perfectly prepared charburger at the Crow Bar, chased down with a cold draft beer.  It wasn't to be.  The Crow Bar was apparently a victim of the economy, shut up tighter than Dick's hatband with a big FOR SALE sign propped in the window.  Sad... it was a sometimes-haunt of mine when I was home from school during the steamy summers of the late 80s.  Once again, more proof that you never can go back home.

Thankfully, just a few clicks down the road in Broken Bow, we hit paydirt:  Runza.  For those who know Runza, the name signifies Nebraska-grown goodness -- ground beef, onions, and cabbage gently nestled within a pillowy roll of goodness.  For those who don't know Runza, the name typically conjures the effects of E. coli O157 -- not something that encourages epicurean exploration.  Anyhow, if you get to Nebraska, seek one out.  They even sell them inside Memorial Stadium.

On the way back to Kansas City, I timed us to arrive in Grand Island over the noon hour for a trip to the legendary Coney Island Lunch Room.  In business since 1933, this is one of those places that refuses to change.  And good thing.  It's run by Gus Katrouzos, who took over the business from his father, and Gus will no doubt pass it on to his son George.  Both men were happily working on this Husker Saturday, and both remembered me from years ago.  Like Gus and George, the "decor" and waitresses are the same that I remember way back when, too. 

And then there's the food.  The menu is limited, but who cares?  All I've ever had are the amazing Coney dogs (2 on 1), fresh hand-cut fries, and a malt made from a classic Sunbeam milkshake machine.  (In fact, it's about the only time I subject my lactose-intolerant stomach to such a treat.)

"The Coney" also holds a great deal of sentimental value to me as well.  Eighteen years ago, Mrs. Scampwalker and I got engaged there.  I came in ahead of time and talked Gus into helping me pop the question.  When we came in later that day, Gus served the engagment ring nestled amid a heaping plateful of french fries.  She said yes -- but I suspect maybe the Coney dog might have sealed the deal.

No comments:

Post a Comment