Oslo’s Secret

It’s quite possible that the good people of Oslo, Minnesota won’t appreciate me letting thousands hundreds of people in on their well kept secret, but here goes.

If you like good pizza, and you happen to be in the Oslo area, I suggest a trip to Johnny Bravoz in the heart of the city.  Homemade pizza at its best.  It is some of the best I’ve had in long while.

True story:  Six men from the Grand Cities took a trip to Oslo last night to check out the pizza that has quickly grown a cult following.  I was part of that group.  We had heard whispers of good pizza in Oslo, but we were skeptical.

We are now believers.  I won’t go into details because I’m getting kinda hungry just typing this, but suffice it to say that it was fresh and hot and plentiful.

Ps…we ordered three large pizzas.  We didn’t finish them.  A large pizza at Johnny Bravoz is roughly the size of a tire from a cement truck.

Pps…we noticed the sign on the door, “No whiners or cry babies.”  We agreed not to test that rule.

Dickey’s Worth the Wait

Dickey’s BBQ opened in Grand Forks on June 21st.  Within minutes, there was a line out the door that spilled into the parking lot.  And it’s been that way pretty much since.

I was able to show remarkable restraint and waited exactly 24 hours before I made my first visit.  When Red Sox Daughter and Blonde Daughter and I took our place in line at 11:05 on Friday, we were the 15th, 16th, and 17th people in line.  But the wait was fairly short and well worth it.  We’d waited many years for smoked BBQ to come to town so fifteen more minutes wasn’t going to bother us too much.

There was an abundance of workers and everything seemed to move like clockwork inside the festive location which originally housed a Hardees, followed by one of my personal favorites, Mi Mexico.  The inside has undergone a rather large makeover to give it a southern feel.

I had the sliced brisket and ribs.  I expected them to be good.  They turned out to be even better than I had hoped.  As I write this, I’m about an 8 on the hunger scale, so I’m not going to go into too much more detail for fear that I will pass out.  But suffice it to say that I will be back.  In fact, I might move Dickey’s into the power rotation and slink in there once a week.

Owner Josh Becker and his staff are off to an incredible start.  Some of you might think that I’m on the payroll at Dickey’s, the way I go on and on about the joint.  I’m not, but I wish I was.

UPDATE:  While driving past Dickey’s yesterday the smell of BBQ wafted into my vehicle.  An immediate meat coma ensued and I nearly crashed.  I consider that the ultimate ploy in marketing.

CJ and the Dogma Dog Bakery

CJ Gets a Package in the Mail.

The full power of the Internets was evident the other day.  I received a nice e-mail from the good people at Dogma Dog Bakery in Arlington, Virginia last week.  If you recall, during a trip to Washington, D.C. last month, we made a stop at hamburger joint.  While at Elevation Burger, I took a picture because I was excited to see that the store next door was called Dogma Dog Bakery.  I didn’t go in because I was worried I’d start buying everything in there.  Because CJ likes food.  He’s funny that way.

Elevation Burger (L), Dogma Dog Bakery (R)

Fast forward to last week.  The good people of Dogma Dog Bakery saw my blog and the accompanying photo.  Concerned that CJ was missing out on some well-deserved snacks, they asked for my address and told me to be on the lookout for a package.  Just a couple days later it was in my mailbox.  Inside the box was a bag stuffed with various dog treats.

Full disclosure:  The dog treats actually look like real cookies.  I haven’t eaten any, but the thought has crossed my mind.  Repeatedly.  They look that good.  And judging by CJ’s response to them, they have to be good.  I can always tell how much he likes a certain treat by how far he takes it away from me before he eats it.  The better the treat the further he goes.  Let’s just say if he had the ability, CJ would take these treats to Fargo before he devoured them.  He somehow has the idea that I might want to have some.  Wink.

His favorites are the ones that look like gingerbread men.  He’s about halfway through his ultimate doggy bag.

To the incredible people of Dogma Dog Bakery, thank you.  To take the time to read The Tales, write, and then send a box of dog treats to North Dakota tells me what kind of dog and blog loving people you really are.

More DC Stuff

The Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals.

We took in a nice NHL game on Sunday afternoon.  We had some pretty good seats to see the Minnesota Wild tangle with the Washington Capitals.  The Capitals have a talented team.  The Wild do not.  I was very surprised by the fan support shown to the Capitals.  Almost every single person in attendance wore a red Caps jersey and of those 75% were of the Alex Ovechkin #8 variety.  The Capitals home is the Verizon Center, which is also home to the NBA’s Washington Bullets Wizzards and the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team.  If you’re into people watching, stand outside the Verizon Center for fifteen minutes.  I think I can safely say that “I’ve seen it all” now.


Hill Country BBQ Market

Full disclosure:  I do not have the vocabulary to do the Hill Country BBQ Market justice.  Suffice it to say that it was the best smoked meats I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  Anywhere.  We stumbled upon this place while searching for a place to watch the UND and Western Michigan hockey game on Saturday afternoon.  Turns out that the game was blocked out across the country except for Minnesota and North Dakota.  Anyway, our discovery of this Meat Mecca made up for it.  As I write this, I have tears in my eyes thinking about the moistest brisket in the world.  And beef ribs that were every bit as good.  Five grown men ate without saying a word…unless you count grunting and moaning as talking.  Hill Country BBQ is located in the heart of D.C. about three blocks from the hockey arena.  I will never make another trip to Washington without going there.



Elevation Burger, left; Dogma Dog Bakery, right.

It took us 24 hours to eat again, and when we did we went to a place called “Elevation Burger” in Arlington, Virginia.  Even though the place was plastered with signs saying “Organic This” and “Organic That,” it ended up being awesome.  It was located next door to “Dogma Dog Bakery.”  And no, I didn’t get anything for CJ.  I only brought a carry on, and I already had it stuffed full of brisket and ribs.


Jefferson Memorial

After the amount of food we ate, it was a good thing we walked 37 miles.  I include this photo of the Jefferson Memorial because it’s my personal favorite.

I took a bunch of other photos but I’m unable to post them due to the meat coma I’m slipping into.

If you do go to Washington D.C., it’s best if you have a really good friend that you went to high school with and has lived out there for 20 years.  It also helps if he has the patience of Job.  And a nice place to stay in Arlington with good coffee.  If you have all that, then I suggest you go.  And do it with friends.

Thanks, Kevin.

DC Randomness

Washington Monument

I won’t bore everyone with all the details of our just completed trip to Washington D.C., but rather, I will hit a few of the high points.  The above photo I took just before we landed at Reagan National Airport.  It seemed like we were very close to the Washington Monument.


The White House

Sunday morning we went down to the White House so that we could take the obligatory photo at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Keen observers will notice that I reached through the fence to take this picture.  On this particular morning it was relatively quiet at the President’s house.  That is to say there were probably about 200 people milling around doing various strange things.  I dare say we were the most “normal” people there.  The White House is a magnet for people wanting to make a statement.  Our statement was, “Let’s hurry up and get out of here.”


Ben's Chili Bowl

For those of you worried that we spent all of our time sightseeing and looking at historical documents and playing board games, we did manage to squeeze in a few meals.  One of the best was a late night stop at this popular D.C. joint, “Ben’s Chili Bowl,” as seen on The Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food.”  The place was packed and the line spilled out the door, but it moved quite briskly.  I had a Chili Half Smoke, which translates to a ginormous chili cheese dog.  These things are not for the weak of heart…or stomach.  I’d love for Marilyn to stop there some night around midnight.  It was really good, especially if you’re into chili and cheese and sausages with spicy mustard late at night.  The place was absolute chaos inside and out.  When we were exiting, we watched as police “subdued” a man on the sidewalk.  And somehow it seemed quite normal.

I will write some more about our D.C. trip tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Trace Adkins

I saw and heard something on Saturday night that I don’t think I’ve ever been witness to before:  a concert that actually started at the time printed on the ticket.  Thank you, Trace Adkins, for doing the unthinkable.  The country star performed at the always acoustically awesome Chester Fritz at 8:00. 

I realize that country music is an acquired taste.  But I won’t apologize, and Adkins is one of my favorites.  And, shoot, I reckon that it didn’t much matter to me that I was missing the Fighting Sioux hockey game.  I was getting text updates from Jimmy From Accounting and several other friends.  And I mean “real” friends.  Not the kind from Facebook that you don’t know very well and post pictures of animals and positive slogans.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

Dickey’s BBQ Coming to Grand Forks

I know this has nothing to do with Olive Garden or Marilyn Hagerty, but it is good news nonetheless.  Actually, it’s very exciting news for me and people of my ilk that like meat.  My new best friend, Josh Becker, told me in an e-mail this morning that he’s opening a Dickey’s Barbecue on the corner of Demers and South Washington in the former Mi Mexico location.  He hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-May.  I will attempt to wait patiently.  Dickey’s is a growing chain of very good BBQ, and a location opened last year in Fargo.  Let the countdown begin.  Good luck, Josh!

By the way, the brisket is insanely good.


Elton John

Ralph Engelstad Arena announced today that singer Elton John will make his first appearance in Grand Forks on March 24th.  If memory serves me correct, he’s played the Fargodome twice, and I was at each of  those concerts.  The second of which was his huge tour with fellow piano man Billy Joel.  Both shows were incredible.

My affinity for Elton John is due in large part to growing up in a household where his records were played non-stop by Bro#3.  Additionally, quizzes were given concerning album titles, song titles, lyrics, Bernie Taupin and anything else relating to John.  The result of which is I know more about Reginald Kenneth Dwight than the average person.

And that’s a good thing in my book.  Thanks Bro#3.

My favorite Elton John song is “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”  Here he is singing it at Madison Square Garden in 2000:

Reviewed: The Descendants

I finally went to a movie the other night.  It had been a while.  I think I had seen such a bad stretch of movies that I had lost all faith in humanity and Hollywood, which are basically the same thing.  Anyway, I picked the new George Clooney film “The Descendants” as my slump buster.

And I’m glad I did.

If you’re looking for a movie where things blow up, cars crash, or people shoot each other, then skip “The Descendants.”

If you’re looking for a smart, witty, insightful, thought-provoking, sometimes sad, sometimes funny movie, then do yourself a favor and check out “The Descendants.”

Set in Hawaii, Clooney plays an un-Clooney-like character attempting to lead his family through a difficult situation.  The plot has as many twists and turns as the Road to Hana on Maui, which apparently has something like 690 turns.  Anyway, this dialogue driven film could very well earn Clooney an Oscar.  Every once in a while you can watch a famous actor on the big screen and forget that you’re watching the actor.  This is one of those rare movies.  He’s that good.

This movie also includes some very good child actors.  I don’t know their names but I’m sure we all will in about a year.

The Descendants:  4 out of 5 stars.

Carmike 10.  No pop.  No popcorn.  It was a late movie.  I just didn’t feel like it.

Pop Map

If you live in the Midwest and have every traveled to either of the coasts or to the South you’ve most likely run into a situation where your attempt to order “pop” is met with a blank stare.  Well, I think we have some answers for why that happens.  Here at the main office of The Tales in the 701 we’ve been busy putting together a map detailing Pop vs. Soda vs. Coke.  Well, actually my friend whose job it is to read every square inch of the Internet sent this to me.  All I really did was copy and paste the website address and add a few humorous observations.   Anyway, I will be visiting both the East coast and left coast in the next two months and I will most definitely inquire about “pop” just for the sheer joy of it.  My favorite carbonated water moment was when I was at Squealer’s BBQ in Indiana and a waitress asked me what kind of Coke I wanted.  I was a younger man and less worldly so I thought for a moment and then responded weakly with, “New Coke?”  Since that day I knew something was afoot in the pop world.  This confirms it.  Click the link to take a detailed look.