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Normally I would not throw out ideas I wasn't very sure of. In the past I have recommended places I have not been, but only on the advice of trusted friends.
But because there seems to be little advice about so much of Iowa, I'm going to post a link to an article in the Sunday paper titled "100 things to eat in Iowa before you die". The article is bylined to only one person. I'm sure it is not the result of extensive research. The link I provide will take you to feedback on the article, although it can link you to the actual article.
Some post seem to be by people that should be on Chowhound, if they only knew about us. They have actually peaked my interest in several towns.
The large amount of post about "chicken Lips" in Burlington make me question the honesty, but hey, who knows.
Anyway, for what it's worth(I hope it works).
http://blogs.dmregister.com/?p=1959&a...

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  1. This is an amazing resource, thank you for posting this!

    You're right, there seem to be a lot of people who ought to be posting on Chowhound that sent in their replies.

    What, exactly, is "broasted" chicken? I've seen it all over Iowa and Southern Minnesota...and it's mentioned several times in the story you've linked.

    I'm still trying to understand what chicken lips are, but this is an awfully elaborate website for a hoax. Here's a photo.

    http://www.foodguru.com/lips/index.php

    I'm a bit worried about the Peanut Butter Cheeseburger, T Bocks Sports Bar in Decorah. Sounds very Elvis to me!

    Someone mentions "ham balls" as an Iowa tradition. For real? Wonder what that's all about.

    The papusas sound interesting: "P.S. if you come through Denison on a Saturday, stop at the papusa stand at the Iglesia Cristiana, Fuente de Vida (on Hwy 30 “Hay papusas”) and pick-up several meat or cheese papusas. The cabbage-based ensalada and mild chili sauce make these Central American stuffed tortillas a delicious meal that the locals wait in line for."

    As does the "original champagne cake": "How could you not have champagne cake from The Bake Shoppe on your list? This is not one of the copies. It’s the original champagne cake made by the owner’s father since the 1950’s...it’s been famous in Des Moines for decades...and it’s delicious"

    And I wonder what this is: "Cream Horn, Stan’s Bakery, Keokuk"

    Things that intrigued me from the story itself:
    Cedar Rapids seems like a good place to stop as it claims #21 and #22 on the list: 21. Kolaches, Sykora Bakery 22. Cabbage Rolls (ground beef with rice wrapped in a cabbage leaf with a tangy tomato sauce) with potato or bread dumplings, Zindricks Czech Restaurant

    And Blue Cheese, Maytag Dairy Farm, Newton is for real, isn't it? http://www.maytagdairyfarms.com/aspx/...

    Hmmmm...wonder what "Onion Peels, Tastee In and Out, Sioux City" are all about. Fried onion peels perhaps?

    ~TDQ

    3 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Hi TDQ - I can comment on a couple of your questions.

      1) Maytag Blue Cheese is most definitely for real. I grew up in Newton and my grandfather made a special trip out to the dairy farm whenever they would visit. Nothing like flying with several wheels of blue cheese! But it is good stuff!

      2) The "onion peels" at the Tastee In and Out in Sioux City are basically fried onion "chips" . A little thicker than an onion ring slice, but in the shape of a chip. They come with some yummy french onion type dip and are served in lieu of french fries or onion rings. I spent a VERY long year in Sioux City, but I did like those onion peels. :)

      3) The kolaches at teh Sykora bakery in CR are the real deal. (my other grandparents are Czech and my grandma gave them her stamp of approval. I liked hers better, but these are a very good rendition. I prefer the poppy seed ones.

      iowagirl

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Broasting chicken means deep-fat-frying it in a pressure cooker. While it's technically a trademark, some people don't bother buying the equipment from the company.

        A cream horn is a sweet pastry shaped like one of those pop-out-of-a-box crescent roll, but homemade, filled with pastry cream or whipped cream. They're REALLY good.

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          FYI: The items on this list aren't rated. The numbers are irrelevant. All of the items are organized alphabetically by city.

        2. Amazing resource remains to be seen. Chowhounds will decide.
          Broasted Chicken is a trademarked cooking method from a company I believe is in Michigan. You have to have a Broaster from them, use the spices they provide, and you can't allow the chicken to sit for more than an hour. Keeps the fast food aspect out of it. If you see it on a menu, try it.
          Ham balls. Lived here going on 50 years, don't know ham balls.
          Champagne cake was a product of Barbara's bake shop in Des Moines, my memory starting in the late 60's. I'm not a cake fan, but the story involves sales of the store, sales of the recipe, lawsuits, all the fun stuff that food can provide without calories. The post probably directs you to the original. Oh, and it is supposed to be great.
          The chicken lips? Again, not sure about all the hype. Not saying it's a hoax. Could you determine from the website what chicken lips really are? I will research this.
          That brings us to Maytag Blue. To me, there is no substitute.
          I could eat it like an apple.

          1. Unless something has changed DRASTICALLY since the last time I ate out in Burlington (the land of my in-laws), chicken lips are fried chicken tenders. Seriously.

            1. AHA! Mushroom, were the chicken lips (aka fried chicken tenders) delicious? Or are they overrated, in your opinion?

              Bob, does Maytag offer any tours or tastings or anything like that at their dairy farm in Newton? It wasn't immediately obvious to me when I looked at the link.

              RE: broasted chicken. Fascinating! http://www.broaster.com/about.htm I will have to try it.

              ~TDQ

              2 Replies
              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                The fact that I can't recall a thing about them makes me suspect they were probably your run-of-the-mill chicken fingers. Believe me - if they were out of this world - we'd be going out to get them all the time. (My mother-in-law, bless her heart, is not the best cook in the world!)

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I did not know the answer to your question, but I wanted to, so I called them. Wander in anytime during the week from 8 - 4 and they will show you a 10 minute video about the cheese making process. Then a walk through the packaging area and others, but not the cheese making areas.
                  More importantly, they give samples, and I know from the booth at the farmers market they also have a very good swiss and a white cheddar.

                2. Onion Peels at the Tastee In and Out in Sioux City are really more like onion chips. Rather than making onion rings, they bread and fry onion layers, if that makes sense. Higher breading to onion ratio, very crispy, and you don't have that annoying thing where you pull the onion out of the breading.

                  1. Oh,lord, I grew up on Ham Balls. Not my favorite things, but anyway. I am glad to see the Redwood's onion rings made the list--they are the best! THey missed the tenderloins in Hamlin at Darrel's, though.

                    1. The blue cheese at the dairy in Cresco -- recently named one of America's 100 best cheeses by Saveur -- shouldn't be missed.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jwagnerdsm

                        Right you are. It's called Golden Ridge Cheese, and their "Schwartz und Weiss" and "Harmony" blues are out of this world.

                        Check'em out at www.GoldenRidgeCheese.com

                        1. re: Devotay

                          Has golden ridge cheese in Cresco closed? I have had many blue cheeses and they had my favorite. The Schwartz und Weiss was a superior product. I understand it got second in the world in blue cheese in 2005. Does anyone have any information? Thanks

                          1. re: Chuck Dehner

                            Yep, sad to say, they're done. Never heard why - management one must suppose, since their product was superior to any other.

                            They will be missed.

                      2. We have hamballs at every church potluck I attend it seems (by the way do they still have potlucks in other parts of the country or is that an Iowa thing). They are your typical hamloaf (similar to a meatloaf in consistency), made in into slightly smaller than a baseball sized meatballs, put in a baking pan and baked. I believe twice at the potlucks there have been one chunk of pineapple in the middle of the hamball (to give it flavor?), which was a bit of a suprise the first time I ate it.

                        I try to enjoy them whenever I can because my mom despises ham loaf and has never in my lifetime made it (she won't make biscuits and gravy either, no matter how much I beg her). I hope this clears up the definition of a hamball and if anyone has a different definition let me know.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mjhein

                          Potlucks are alive and well in Minnesota! Thanks for clearing up the ham ball mystery.

                          Pineapple, eh? Well, you put Canadian bacon and pineapple on pizza, so, I guess there's a precedent for this sort of thing.

                          I wonder if anyone has any feedback on this list Bobfrmia posted since it's been a couple of months now. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: mjhein

                            Ham balls are amazing. Also a part of my childhood. The key to a perfect hamball is graham crackers. My hamballs are pure ground ham, but some recipes call for ground pork. The sauce is also essential and must be very sweet- brown sugar, tomato sauce, little vinegar- i guess like a very sweet, very mild barbecue sauce. All in all fabulous iowa food.

                          2. The hamballs elude me. This must be a potluck staple. How about the classic Dubuque favorite, the turkey and dressing sandwich, a.k.a. the "T & D?" I cannot admit to actually liking this, even as a guilty pleasure, but I know of their cult status at weddings and church basements in the Tri-State area. Probably big at Breitbach's, Iowa's oldest restaurant to the north. Well, back to my tater tot casserole...ks

                            1. I used to live near Burlington, IA and had chicken lips several times. They are a unbreaded chicken tender in a buffalo wing sauce. I am not a chicken or meat fan in general, but the chicken lips are amazing.

                              I love the spring rolls with mint and shrimp (not fried) at A Dong in Des Moines.

                              Rarebit form the Younkers Tea Room (RIP) in Downtown Des Moines.

                              I never had a ham ball and lived in Iowa over 30 years. Maybe a rural gourmet item?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: LisaS

                                You can read about chicken lips at http://www.essentialiowa.com/lips.html