It happened! A friend and not a parent bought a plane ticket to come see us in Iowa! And not just any visitor, but one from New York! That’s a big city, eh? Billy’s buddy Branden has been instructed to sing our Midwestern praises upon his return to the Big Apple and we, naturally, are sitting pretty with thoughts of the dozens of friends who will surely follow in his plane steps. “How will we fit them all in the house?!” Such are the thoughts that have pitched a tent in my mind. “We should probably get a blow up mattress now. Before the flood.”
Branden arrived just in time for the Saturday football game against Michigan, and we wasted no time shuffling him to the Vine downtown. Unfortunately, it was an away game, so tales of our block’s madcap six AM tailgates remain largely unwitnessed. But I think this sports bar gave a nice snapshot of Hawkeye mania.
We arrived a couple hours before kick off for lunch, wanting to snag prime seats before the place filled up. And fill up it did! We ate. OH HOW WE ATE. Two plates of nachos (bean nachos, mind you); a round of cheese fries; what I am now calling four “flights” of buffalo and/or barbecue wings in an effort to make it sound less abominably gluttonous; and many pitchers of beer. I am slightly consoled by the fact that we did not order burgers, as originally planned — especially since we grilled brats and potatoes back at the house several hours later.
Anyway, the Vine was a fantastic game-watching hang. Lots of fans and TV’s, both on very high volume. It’s not quite in-the-flesh tailgating on Melrose, but a close second! Later that night, we showed Branden some of the unmissable Iowa City nightlife. It began with a [plastic] boot of beer and ended with Mexican fast food. I’ll let you fill in the rest.
The following day, a beautiful day, we took Branden to the charming town of Amana (which you of course remember from last year) for kitschy antique and Christmas stores, a fruit winery, and a brewery tour. I can’t get over how perfect the weather was. A sunny seventy: I think it may be our last nice day. We reveled.
That night: bacon-wrapped dates, grilled zucchini and aioli, baked tomato goat cheese, and patatas bravas at Devotay. Then key lime pie. And yesterday, we had some fresh croissants, a round of burgers at Short’s Burger, and for dinner Bobby Flay’s incredible, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with Grilled Tomato Salsa & Buttermilk Dressing. I’ll tell you all about that quesadilla one day, and how it’s totally worth the hour plus prep, but for now I think I’ll roll to the store and pick up a bag of celery for dinner.
I think (hope!) Branden had a hoot of a time here in Iowa, BUT KNOW FOR SURE that he’s coming away with experiential knowledge of how we survive twenty below winters. Visitors, ahoy! Your guest room awaits.