Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Pubs + Burgers + Comfort Food (page 3 of 9)

Coffee Cup Cafe

After a five hour morning ride, I eased into the town of Sully, Iowa with an appetite for a late breakfast or early lunch, depending on the mood of the cook. Massive steel grain bins marked the end of the street, and I circled the grassy town square before parking. With a population scarcely over 900 people, pulling up to the curb with Texas plates drew a couple of raised brows from the two old timers settled into a bench out front. Donned in faded denim overalls, they chatted back and forth about the weather, one of them cradling a tiny white West Highland Terrier, oddly out of place in this otherwise quintessential Midwestern archetype.

“Are you fellas the valet”? I chided, approaching the door.

“Sure. Toss me your keys.” One of them shot back with a grin.

Returning the sarcasm, I double clicked my alarm dramatically and proceeded on into the tiny café. Originally built in 1917, the Coffe Cup Café has been a staple in Sully for nearly a century. The location as it stands now was built in 1970 after a handful of different fires and owners throughout the years, but the attention to home made classics remains.

On the recommendation of the waitress, I ordered up their staple hot beef sandwich. It arrived a few moments later, a tower of tender, slow cooked beef piled between two extra thick slices of white bread. The whole creation smothered in savory brown gravy, this was a fork only event (no knife needed).

Between the Texas plates and curious picture taking, the owner made a special trip out of the kitchen to say hello and chat for a few minutes. Despite normally eschewing dessert, during our short conversation she did a remarkable job of selling me on a slice of their home made pies. Made daily, completely from scratch, the Coffee Cup has garnered national recognition for some of their pies. With strawberries in season, and a fresh batch acquired from a few miles away, I opted for the strawberry pie. Remarkably fresh and simple, the flaky crust gave way effortlessly and the pie soon disappeared.

Unfortunately for you, they don’t mail order their pies (and yes I asked). So if you want a slice for yourself, you’ll have to make the trip to Sully on your own. And it might be worth it for the pie alone…

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Cessy’s- California Burrito parte dos…

The only thing better than one trip for a California burrito, is a second trip for another. Though I certainly rave about the fare at Santana’s, some of my other San Diego friends insist that there are other options out there. My sister took the liberty of doing some deep market immersion research, and Cessy’s emerged to the top of the yocal recommendations. With limited first hand knowledge and no website to speak of, I cast a discerning older brother eye on Rebecca’s recommendation, but for the sake of a burrito I put any protest aside and sauntered in.

Located a stones throw from the beach in Carlsbad, Cessy’s features the typical lineup of Mexican favorites in a no frills dive décor. After only a token glance at the menu, I ordered up my usual tortilla cylinder and waited impatiently for my number to be called before scurrying anxiously back to the table with my chipmunk like prize. The burrito at Cessy’s obviously features the same lineup of familiar ingredients, but with the key addition of guacamole. Not bad for five bucks. True to form the burrito was meaty, starchy, filling and delicious, and the guacamole added a nice extra touch. Cessy’s certainly delivered on my fix, and any initial reservations I had were quickly wiped away after the first bite. Well done sis!

In the end, like you have heard ad nauseam on this blog, the beauty of the California burrito lies in its simplicity. Elegant, five dollar simplicity. It’s nearly impossible to screw up a combination of steak, French fries and cheese, and you don’t have to be Anthony Bourdain to figure out why the simplest things are often the best.

Special thanks to Rebecca for finding Cessy’s and enduring yet another round of my San Diego burrito obsession.

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Santana’s – A true California Burrito

I’ve been looking forward to this burrito for a year.

If you followed the blog last year, you may recall that I was crestfallen at the confusion that exists in the Golden State over the term “California Burrito”. Evidently, a true California Burrito eludes the entire city of Los Angeles, evidenced by puzzled looks from my L.A. friends and furrowed brows of restaurant waiters. Instead, what I got was a sauce slathered, fork and knife, gut bomb which, although tasty, was hardly what I was looking for.

http://www.pigskinpursuit.com/2010/02/el-tarasco-and-hunt-for-elusive.html

A trip to San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl and Christmas festivities came with one non negotiable certainty: a trip to Santana’s Mexican Grill for a true California Burrito. Lest you question the driving clarity of my purpose, no sooner had I thrown my bags into my sisters’ station wagon than I quickly barked out orders to head straight to Santana’s from the airport. It was to be my first stop off the plane, and I had shunned breakfast that morning in preparation.

Santana’s is a cheap Mexican staple in San Diego, and they have about 13 locations smattered throughout the less gentrified parts of town. They have recently rebranded themselves FreshMXNFood, perhaps in an attempt to strengthen their appeal among more health conscious consumers, but they aren’t fooling me and I’ll still refer to them as Santana’s for the body of this post.

I was originally turned on to Santana’s by my good friend and San Diego native Larry, who despite his love for the California burrito manages to stay in typical trim Southern California shape. Having lived in San Diego for the better part of 25 years, Larry has eaten his way through more than a fair share of these delights, and accordingly, his opinion draws a lot of water in my book. When I first visited San Diego a couple of years ago, I was immediately hooked on these greasy monsters, and they became a staple of my San Diego diet at all hours of the day. Like all great hand foods, these burritos reach their flavor zenith at about 3AM. I can even attest to the remarkable flight characteristics of a Santana’s Burrito (but you’ll have to email me for that story).

After giddily ordering up my burrito from the menu, I raided the salsa bar during an agonizing two minute wait. Fortunately for readers, my resolve for picture taking slightly overwhelmed my rumbling stomach and I had a few fleeting moments to snap a couple of photos before digging in like a rabid hyena. The final product is hefty enough to give your rolled up Sunday newspaper a run for its money, and it doesn’t take a food critic to point out the enduring combination of steak, cheese and potatoes wrapped into a tortilla. Every bite is a gooey, meaty delight offset with the crispy saltiness of fresh cooked french fries. Add in a few generous dollops of the various salsas for some heat, and my one pound California Burrito was quickly devoured.

http://www.freshmxnfood.com/

http://www.freshmxnfood.com/FRESHMENUMXN.pdf

Thanks to my sister Becca for bringing me here straight off the plane, and I was certainly a proud older brother when she crushed her own Cali Burrito in record time…

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Jeni’s Ice Cream – Something for the sweet tooth…

As if the mountainous Big Thurman Burger at Thurman’s wasn’t enough of my daily intake of saturated fat, I saved room for a little ice cream nightcap. Now I grant you that standing out in 28 degree temperatures all afternoon doesn’t exactly inspire an appetite for ice cream, but I was told that Jeni’s was place not to be missed. Nervously checking my watch, I had just enough time to fit in a few scoops and race to the hotel before the Irish took the field against USC.

While a relative newcomer to the ice cream game, Jeni’s has garnered quite the fanfare since opening their doors in 2002 and has already staked out seven locations across the greater Columbus area. Made exclusively from locally sourced cream from the Snowville Creamery in nearby Pomeroy, Jeni’s features dozens of interesting and eclectic artisan flavors. They have everything ranging from traditional favorites like Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean, to off the wall seasonal flavors like Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows, and Olive Oil with Sea Salted Pepitas. Luckily, they are no stranger to gawking patrons peering through the enticing glass cases, and I sampled my way through about two dozen of their finest. Some personal favorites were the Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Bourbon Buttered Pecan, and of course the ubiquitous “Buckeye State” (a blend of peanut butter and dark chocolate ice cream).


After extensive tastings, and some deliberation with the friendly counter staff, I settled on one of their signature sundaes aptly called “The Buckeye State”. For the body of the bowl I chose a scoop of the Buckeye State ice cream paired with a scoop of the Brown Butter Almond Brittle. The sundae was topped off with hot fudge, Spanish peanuts and a dollop of home made whipped cream. Consistent with Jeni’s unwavering dedication to their craft, the whipped cream is actual whipped cream. I broke a sweat merely observing the counter girl tenaciously hand whisking a stainless steel bowl full of fresh cream. It’s small details like this that separate the homemade fare at Jenny’s from the rest of the pack.

The sundae proved to be the indulgently decadent affair that the description alluded to. There is richness to the ice cream at Jeni’s that you won’t find in your typical grocery store freezer, and a palpable intensity to their flavors that left me licking the bowl at the end. My sweet tooth satisfied for the night, I retreated to the hotel to watch the Irish and contemplated ordering up a few of Jeni’s pints in the mail for delivery back in Dallas…

 

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