Reflections on the great Razorback road trip

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So, Justin Acri, Pat Brradley and I survived our Razorback road trip to Iowa and are now firmly implanted in our every day routines. After arriving home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I’ve had some time to reflect on one of the more epic trips I’ve taken.

Iowans love vanity license plates
I hadn’t pondered much on this in the 24 years I lived in the state. After eyeing our 1,000th different vanity tag, Pat made the observation, and Justin I agreed that a lot of Iowans have personalized plates. Of course, Pat’s favorite was Justin’s father Frank’s plates that read ‘F ACRI.’ If you don’t know why that’s funny, drop me a line.

Thick-or thin-crust pizza, I’m in
On Wednesday night, Justin, Pat and I and Justin’s college-aged brother and roommate struggled to take down two large pizzas at Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co. in Ames. Nestled in downtown Ames, it is a tradition. The pizza comes on thick crust and is piled high with cheese and toppings. The cheese and toppings kept me from eating more than three, and I should have stopped at two.
Contrast that with Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines that features … Read more >

Lots of smoked meat and a nostalgic gyro

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After a big cheeseburger and loaded pizza on Wednesday, I  didn’t even think about food until around 6 p.m. Thursday.

As I mentioned in this space, we planned a trip to the iconic Ames smoked meat joint, Hickory Park. We arrived about two hours before the Iowa State versus Arkansas game, and the lobby was packed.

However, Hickory Park is equipped for large crowds with a huge dining area and an army of staff. We only waited on a table for about 15 minutes. In about another 20 minutes, I had a plate of smoked half-chicken and four ribs.

While Arkansas has Iowa beat withimage a variety of sauces, Iowa smoked meat is pretty darn good. The chicken was meaty, smoky and flavorful. The ribs were prefect, too. It was way too much meat, but since I don’t know when I will return, I ate most of  the ribs and chicken with some beans and sweet potato fries for good measure.

I wouldn’t have needed anything else to eat, but Justin Acri went for a taste of nostalgia, and I joined him after we hung out in campus town after the game. As an ISU student, Acri was a regular … Read more >

Hogs, Cyclones could be the best nonconference matchup this season

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Two Top 20 teams from power conferences that boast high-octane offenses, standout coaches and NBA-caliber players is a recipe for an outstanding nonconfernece clash.

That’s what could happen tonight when Arkansas plays Iowa State at 8 p.m. on ESPN 2 in a Big 12/SEC Challenge game.

If both teams are playing their best, this is a game that could be talked about nationally for awhile, particularly as both teams make their case to the NCAA Tournament selection committee in March.

Arkansas has become one of the suprise teams so far starting 6-0 for the first time since 1997. It appears coach Mike Anderson, with a team full of his recruited players, has been able to fully implement his system, that has made some Hogs fans harken back to the old days when Nolan Richardson’s teams were turning turnovers into easy buckets.

Most teams can’t run with Arkansas. Iowa State is one that can. Under former Cyclone star Fred Hoiberg, the Cyclones have pushed the ball and shhot as many three-point shots as possible. Something will have to give tonight, most likely the scoreboard which could flip to triple digits. Iowa State is hard to pressure with sophomore point guard Monte … Read more >

Eating well in Iowa

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As mentioned in this space, we have planned our trip to Iowa since May. During that time we have made hotel arrangements made plans to see family and friends and scheduled some of our favorite places to eat.

Just two days into the trip, and we have aleady eaten like kings.

Tuesday

After a long drive, we pulled into Des Moines hungry. We made our way to a neighborhood favorite called Skip’s. A small, cozy restaurant that seemed to speicalize in steaks by looking at the menu.

At the urging of my friend and road companion, Justin Acri, I opted for the steak de Burgo. After some research I discovered the dish is a beef tenderloin topped with butter, Italian herbs and garlic.

Turns out, the steak is a Des Moines favorite and was introduced by a Des Moines restaraunt owner who discovred the topping while serving in the military in New Orleans in the 1940s.

image imageIt ended up being a great choice. Tender, corn-fed beef wtih the savory toppings. The baked potato side wasn’t great, but the beef made up for it,

 

Wednesday

What a food day. The past two years I have made an effort to eat … Read more >

Anticipated Hogs road trip to Iowa has been memorable

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The text messages came before I even heard the news. It was May, and it was just announced that Iowa State was playing Arkansas in basketball.

One friend asked me who I would be rooting for. Then as I read the official press release of the announcment of the game that is a part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, I received a text from my friend and fellow native Iowan, Justin Acri.

“Arkansas at Iowa State, we are going.”

By June we aleready had a hotel booked. If you have listened to Acri’s show, The Zone heard on 103.7 The Buzz with co-host Pat Bradley, you have heard the trip mentioned often. And for good reason.

Acri and I grew up die-hard Iowa State fans, and most of the time that wasn’t easy. We both grew up near the campus and had family who attaended ISU. I started going to games when I was three. My dad, an ISU alum, was extremely proud of his alma mater, and every time we visited the campus he showed me an old dorm, an old class building or another landmark. I loved every minute of it, and he had hooked me. I was … Read more >