Thursday, August 16, 2012


1020 Howard Street
Open Tues - Sat, lunch from 11:30am and dinner from 4pm
$1.99 Margs on Tues and Thurs, Happy Hour 4-6 Fri and Sat
Trini's on Urbanspoon

Enchilada de Jocoque (single lunch serving, $6.50):
Chicken in a sour cream sauce with monterey jack cheese,
and a side of "refritos" and rice.

Whether or not you choose to like Trini's shouldn't depend on its mainstream location, or the claim by fans that it's "pretty authentic." I would bus to the end of the Earth (West O) for Trini's, if I happened to be in the mood for supremely honk-ified Mexican-ish cuisine. There's nothing unique about this place, except maybe for the fact that it shares a wall with one of the most expensive restaurants in town. Despite this -- can I just sound like an upper middle class homemaker for a moment? -- the bathrooms, located a hallway and some stairs outside of the restaurant, were atrocious. On the other hand, if you're wandering around the Old Market and want to do something illegal, this is the bathroom for you.

One blackened tilapia fish taco in a deep-fried "puffy" taco shell ($6.95):
In case you're wondering, yes, I felt puffy afterwards.

The Spread

There was something nostalgic about the food in that this is the Mexican I ate as a child. I couldn't quite tell if the chips were made in-house, or whether the mild cilantro salsa was doctored up from out of a jar, but who cares. On the fish taco, the "house chipotle sauce" seeped into the "puffy" taco shell nicely, but didn't offer much of a chipotle flavor. Luckily, the "specially prepared greens" kept things light (kidding). I was impressed by the simple black beans and white rice, which they managed to turn into a rich, buttery treat. Ditto for the Enchilada de Jocoque and the accompanying refried beans. I imagined Julia Child's ghost in the kitchen, whispering, "If you're afraid of butter, use creeeeeeeeeam."

Trini's is great for indulging on standard Midwestmex, especially if you're looking for a nice, secluded restroom where TP isn't necessary.

Soft shell beef taco ($3.35):
Get your Taco Bell without all the late night drive thru hullabaloo.
(I'm looking at you, 38th and Dodge.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Iowa State Fair 2012

August 9th - 19th, 7a.m. - 1a.m.
Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines

Cindy's Place, one of the many food stands,
offers "complete meals" of french fries and nachos to famished fair goers. 

Talk about a sensory overload. There's nothing quite like chowing on a lamb kebob while walking through a sheep barn, tasting the gamey deliciousness while smelling the poo and watching the wool being shorn.

Unlike a lot of outdoor summer events, the food here isn't just an afterthought meant to feed the crowds, should they rustle up a hunger while watching some crappy band or some fat dude swing a bat. The food at the Iowa State Fair is the main attraction. Granted, if I was the proud owner of the biggest boar in the state, I might beg to differ. But strolling past the stalls of mostly sedated livestock, all this city slicker could think was, "Where's the deep-fried butter?"

In the end, we went with this hunk of fried mac & cheese in lieu of the butter stick.
A bunch of pussies, the lot of us, I know.
Breading could have used a little more, err, seasoning.

Here you have the highlight, German Chocolate Funnel Cake,
complete with coconut cream goo, crushed pecans, and deep-fried chocolate batter.
Warm and fuzzy feeling that followed was undoubtedly the sensation of insulin production. 

This cheesesteak, ahem, Philly, was legit:
Fashioned from the mound of sizzling, chopped meat on the flat top grill,
topped with greasy onions and peppers and coated in a generous layer of Cheez-wiz. Real deal. 

Lamb brat, lamb breakfast sausage on a stick, and lamb kebob,
for sale right outside of the sheep barn.

Shorn sheep are very fashionable.

Strange, I don't remember seeing anything with horse meat on a stick?

It was only a matter of time before we hit the Iowa Craft Beer Tent.
Here's a delicious Slingshot Dunkel from Coralville's Backpocket Brewing Company. 

Beef and bean taco in a homemade crunchy corn tortilla,
just like someone's grandma used to make. 

If you've never had this, you probably don't have to.

Apple cider donettes, hot off the doughnut press.

I don't really like apples, but this one was damn good.

Doesn't look like much, but this if you examine closely you'll see Iowa's Blue Ribbon corn,
guarded by several rows of barricades. 

The Butter Cow:
A cow sculpted out of butter.
Making mouths water since 1911.

A cornbrat -- It was at this point my burps started smelling really weird.

Dude, stop hitting on the Pork Queen and get back to grilling your loins.
Her majesty is totally out of your league.

This life-sized, 850-pounder gives a whole new meaning to the term "Chocolate Moose."

"Iowa's Best Pizza" contenders rolling into the judging site. Umm. Yeah.

We came armed with plastic forks in our back pockets, a humble brigade of curious calorie hoarders. At first I thought we left victorious, but on the way home, I got methane poisoning from all the cow farts. Or maybe it was Veep candidate Paul Ryan's stupid checkered shirt and retarded remarks that nauseated me. It definitely had nothing to do with the amalgam of foodstuffs in my tummy.

If you can, do as 100,000 others do (daily) and hit up the Fair before it closes up this Sunday the 19th. As they say, it's "fairlicious."

But of course.