Exploring Culture Down The Road

Working in television has given me the opportunity to live in cities and states I most likely would never have considered moving to: Rhinelander (WI), Lubbock (TX), Youngstown and Mansfield (OH), Salisbury (MD), and, even, Moline (IL).

I’m very happy that I was given the opportunity to move to Moline in November 2005. Miss ABBA didn’t care where we lived because as a beautiful golden, she made friends wherever she went. Our lives changed for the better almost four years ago when Ray and Gretel came into our lives.

The point of this blog is not to tell you that I’ll be moving away to another television city that I wouldn’t have normally moved to. šŸ™‚ It’s to share a couple of experiences with you and some pictures of our current road trip. Saturday morning, Ray spoke at a sustainability conference in Kansas City, Missouri, talking about how great Moline is. He was invited to speak at this conference l

But, before Kansas City, we drove to Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday for a meeting Ray had with some mall developers there. That night, we met his Aunt Irene and his sister, Ann, for dinner at a Russian-American restaurant, Irina’s, in Urbandale.

Aunt Irene suggested the place and it was fantastic. I had a peach vodka cosmo and the others had Russian beer. We ordered stuffed mushrooms and stuffed jalapeno peppers for appetizers because they were half price for happy hour!

But, look at these fantastic entrees. I chose a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich and it was huge. The others ordered some more upscale, fun, Russian entrees.

IMG_1588 IMG_1584

I loved the presentation of the huge portion of tasty garlic mashed potatoes. After the meal, dessert was not offered, but Ray took part in a Russian tradition.


Those are shots of Russian vodka, rye bread, and dill pickles. You take a deep sniff of the rye bread, breathe out before you drink the vodka shot, and then you eat the dill pickle. (Who needs tequila, salt, and lime? That seems so “spring break” and MTV, right?)

As our waitress explained the process to Ray and he was ready to try a new tradition. He says it worked because that was the smoothest shot he ever took. It didn’t burn and you could taste the rye bread even though it was only sniffed and not eaten before the shot.

The owner of Irina’s Dmitri Iakovlev (who owns the bar with his wife, Irina Khartchenko) told Metromix Des Moines, in 2010, that “In Russia, people don’t take shots to just get drunk like they do in the States. Drinking vodka is a social event, and Russians drink, eat, drink, and eat some more.”

We had a great time at dinner with Irene and Ann: the food was excellent, the drinks were refreshing, and the 1980s music playing was fantastic. But, I have no desire to move to Des Moines now.

However, Kansas City would be a different story. I absolutely love the downtown area. It seems hip, young, and happening.

Once we got settled into the hotel, we went walking around and found the beautiful Crown Center Mall. It seems that Kansas City has the second most fountains in the world behind Rome.

IMG_1631After shopping in the mall, we ended up only buying English Toffee, a freshly baked chocolate cherry cookie, fresh popcorn, and a bag of old fashioned popcorn mixture with regular buttered, cinnamon, cheese, and caramel. Yum!

That was pretty much our lunch, but we stopped at “The Cashew” and split a chicken quesadilla. It was okay, but the real winner was the happy hour peach sangria. You could have it by the glass…or by the pitcher…


Okay, for full disclosure and honesty, I didn’t drink mine out of the pitcher. I had a glass, too! šŸ™‚

For dinner, many hours later, Ray chose real Kansas City bar-be-que at Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ. He had a plate with BBQ beef brisket and pork with a cheesy corn pudding and fries, and I chose a sandwich with BBQ pork and BBQ turkey. While both were great, I think I liked the pork side of the sandwich a little better.

And, the fries and cole slaw were very tasty, too. However, the real treat was yet to come. For dessert, we had the absolute best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. It was heated and the icing was just dripping off the cake. Incredible!

As we walked back to our hotel to work off some of the calories, we were treated to a fantastic light show on the side of our hotel, the Marriott.

That was Friday in Kansas City.

On Saturday, my restaurant pick was Swagat Fine Indian Cuisine. In Indian culture, swagat means “respectfully Welcome”.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you Anthony. You should be getting a kickback from both Irina’s and Downtown Kansas City because you certainly made me want to go where I would not have even thought of going before. šŸ™‚


    • Posted by Linda Shelton on February 10, 2013 at 8:41 am

      wow looks like you had a great time… i smiled through the whole blog lol my cheeks hurt now lol… it is good to see people happy and going places thank you for sharing I am glad things are good for you Anthony


      • Linda,

        I try to make the most of all of my travels and everything that I choose to do. People don’t have to go to the most exquisite locations or spend a lot of money. Just have fun. šŸ™‚


    • Mary,

      If you go there, you will definitely enjoy it. šŸ™‚



  2. Posted by Dawne on February 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

    My daughter moved to Lenexa several years ago and is now in KC proper. LOVE that area!!
    Have a safe trip!!


  3. I think we have seen nearly all the KC fountains at one time or another. They used to advertise that they had MORE fountains than Rome! Hope you get to visit again-especially at Christmas to see the Country Club Plaza lights.


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