Minneapolis 2023 – Food Journal

A few weekends ago, my family and I went down to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a little bit of a get-away. There was actually a very specific reason why we went there, but I’ll get more into that in a later blog post (I indend to publish several relating to this trip!). What I want to talk about today is the depths of gluttony that I (re)discovered during this journey.

I often joke about how poor my diet is, and I like to think that my exaggeration is usually fairly obvious. That said, I knew that this trip would be one long junk-food-fest and did my best to eat little and well for the few days leading up to it. My family, though I love them dearly, are absolutely enablers when it comes to eating terribly, and I am a boy of very little willpower. Let the record state that I have no-one but myself to blame!

So, yeah, I don’t own a scale, but I could tell by the way that my shirts didn’t fit quite right when I got home, that I definitely over-indulged during my trip. Here’s the summary of all the terrible meal choices I made!

Day 1

Things started off on the right(?) foot, with a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Starbucks. Black coffee from McDonald’s (because it’s just as good at half the price) came later. Protein, protein! If you’ve never eaten a breakfast sandwich at Starbucks, it’s pretty darn good. I give all credit to the roll they put it on, which is leagues better than the average fast food joint’s English muffin or whatever.

Lunch went straight downhill, as we stopped at the Pizza Ranch in Fargo because I heard that they’d added an arcade since the last time I was there. If you’ve never been, Pizza Ranch is a buffet restaurant. With pizza. So… yup. I gobbled up at least six slices of regular pizza and another six of dessert pizza. It’s not my fault! I can’t be controlled when blueberry pizza is an option! Then I ate a plate of mashed potatoes and green beans, because throwing vegetables on top of junk food makes it better, right?

Dinner took place at the Green Mill, which is the restaurant attached to the hotel we were staying in. I ate a spicy cheeseburger here, which, as I’m starting to get used to, was not spicy in the least. Neither the sauce nor the jalapenos provided even the slightest kick. But otherwise, it was actually a pretty good burg. I also sprung for the yam fires, and I honestly don’t know how those compare to regular fries in terms of how terrible they are to put in your body. I would assume there’s not much of a difference, though. I shared one bite of the cheesecake that my mom ordered for dessert and had a beer (Blue Moon) with my meal.

We capped the night off with a couple whiskey and Cokes, which was good fun, but all-around bad for my bod.

Day 2

I woke early the next morning with the express intent of using the hotel’s exercise room to, you know, get some exercise. It’s become a daily thing for me, and I had no intention of letting up just because I was on vacation. Alas, the exercise room was still locked and I wasn’t too interested in fetching staff to unlock it for me, so I gave up and hit the continental breakfast instead. And Breakfast I did! A waffle with strawberries on top, an apple, a cup of yogurt, and a cup of coffee. Not a shabby way to start the day.

…That is, until second breakfast. I went back about an hour later when my brother woke up, and had another cup of coffee, two small danishes, and another apple. Still not bad.

It took a while for the group to settle on a place for lunch (everyone was being indecisive), but we eventually stopped in at Buffalo Wild Wings. My mom ordered nachos with chili cheese for the table, and I partook. Heartily. My meal was brisket tacos and fries. The fries were fries, but I swear that the tacos could very well have been the best tacos that I’ve ever eaten. In addition to the brisket, they were filled with onions, avocado, and pico de gallo. Maybe a little cheese? I don’t remember. They were just so good!

Dinner didn’t really happen, for reasons. More on said reasons in another post. But I did have a couple beers. Tallboys, too. I don’t remember the brand, but it was an IPA, which is definitely my go-to in most cases. (Google results say it was “Fresh Squeezed” by Deschutes Brewery.)

Late-night snacking got pretty heavy, starting with a trip to McDonald’s. I went with my signature two McDoubles, and very valiantly resisted the limited-time Grimace’s Birthday milkshake. However, we also got some rather large cookies from a place called Crumbl, and I ate one that was designed to resemble a waffle. It was a plain cookie with a criss-cross pattern on the top, a huge daub of icing sugar, and literal syrup to pour on it. It was a magnificent cookie, and the syrup make it a magnificently sticky mess. Also, more whiskey and Coke was consumed, natch.

Day 3

Days 1 and 2 weren’t all that bad, all things considered. Yes, many junk foods were had, but not in especially copious quantities. Day 3 was where things really hit the fan. It started with breakfast (as days tend to), which was much like the previous days, except with the addition of hashbrowns, and substituting syrup for strawberries on my waffle. At least I only ate the one breakfast this time.

Then we went to IHOP for lunch. I ordered the poblano omelette, as I usually do when I go to IHOP. I’m usually more the kind of person who likes to try different menu items every time I go to a restaurant, but that poblano omelette is irresistible to me. Beef, red peppers and onions, cheese, avocado, and Serrano peppers all comingle in what is easily my favourite meal on the IHOP menu. At a hearty 1,100 calories, it’s more than enough to get you by. But then I added pancakes on the side. New York Cheesecake pancakes. And they give you three. And they’re huge. That was a mistake, and I spent the next three hours sleeping it all off.

My parents absolutely insisted we go to the Cheesecake Factory at some point, and dinner on Day 3 was the only available option left, as we were heading home the next morning. This turned out to be a terrible idea because everyone was still stuffed from lunch, but it was written into the vacation contract. Admittedly, I did not enjoy my meal as much as I could have since I wasn’t really hungry, but the Truffle-honey Chicken that I ordered was really excellent. It was a couple reasonably sized pieces of fried chicken glazed with truffle-honey, joined by a hearty scoop of mashed potatoes and six asparagus spears. Honestly, my favourite part about it was that the way it was plated kind of resembled a coconut crab. If you squint.

I ordered a piece of Oreo cheesecake to go and, much later on in the evening, was still only able to put half of it in me. More liquor and soft drinks were consumed to celebrate our final night away. My belly was as full as it’s been in a good long while, and I could already feel the mounting regret.

Day 4

Breakfast on Day 4 was a long series of mistakes. First, I woke up late and technically got to continental breakfast after it had closed, but fortunately there was still a family lingering in the dining hall, so I was able to quickly snag a waffle, yogurt, and a cup of coffee. Then I followed that up by eating the slice of cookie pizza I’d bought from the Mall of America the previous day. Then I followed that up by eating the rest of my cheesecake.

I am not a good decision-maker.

I had a McDonald’s coffee and a Whopper for lunch on the drive home. It was all that -and perhaps more than- I could bear at that point. I was in such a food coma that I don’t remember eating anything for dinner that night. I can’t find any pictures or receipts to prove otherwise, so we’ll have to assume that I just went without.

And so ended my whirlwind trip of basically just sitting in a car and eating for four days. Sure, other things happened between meals, but somehow it was the food that became the (secondary) focus of the trip. I also brought home a giant bag of gummies worth $50 ‘Murica Bucks, and an even bigger bag of cheesy poofs that I purchased solely because the brand is “Pirate’s Booty” and I will buy pretty much whatever as long as it’s marketed with pirates. The best thing I can say for myself is that neither of those bags were opened until a couple days after the trip.

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