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Gas, Füd, Lodging
Judge Vardigan

Summer 2002
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Minnesota

Uptown Diner
2821 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN
Map This Restaurant

Guess who's back?At the Uptown my dining companion was former guest judge David Kesseau, whose cottage near St. Cloud was where I laid my road-weary head for two nights (thanks Mr. and Mrs. Kesler and sister Sarah!). He had the nachos, and enjoyed them. I sucked down coffee and looked at box scores until my cheddar cheese skillet came. This was like a Denny's skillet in assembly, but tasted much better and didn't send me sprinting to the bathroom. Kesseau had dropped the beret and mustache for a more northern (some would call it Finnish) or Midwestern beard. Others would say he stopped Pre in the '72 Olympics in Munich. That's too obscure but oh well. Located, fittingly, in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis, this diner is full of booths and a fine destination any time of day.

 

NOTES FROM THE CAR

The difference between a hotel and a rental car is you're stuck with the car for a while. You can trash it but you have to pick your methods. For example, you can't just neglect the back seat entirely, as I did for a few days. Bananas smell up a car pretty quickly. I'd left a couple back there without caring, under some newspapers. Took a good day for that smell to leave. The good news is that it effectively masked the intrepid throw-up smell.


Dairy Queen
(Brazier)
All around the Midwest

DQ beckons...When I was younger I carefully glued together a little model Dairy Queen and placed it in the middle of my model train set track. Slightly barn-like in design, the white building with the red roof was the centerpiece of the town. It's how I still picture Dairy Queens today, although these classic designs are giving way to bigger restaurant style DQ's or to Queens combined with gas stations or fast food joints.

One thing that puzzles me is this "Brazier" you see tacked on some of the Dairy Queen signs. What does it mean? Surely it is not a misspelling of "brassiere." Yet Webster's dictionary offers two definitions, the first of which – "one that works in brass" – seems as unlikely as a woman's undergarment. The second, though, may hold the key: "a pan for holding burning coals." Still a little weird. But it must refer to the restauranty Dairy Queen franchises that serve grilled hamburgers and other non-soft serve food. What do you think? If someone knows for sure, please let me know, so I can sleep again.

The DQ I visited with Dee Stephen the Sailor and Mya Williams the Fisherperson was a brazier, but it was all soft serve for us. I had my usual, a vanilla cone with a chocolate dip. I forget what they got, but you can't go wrong with any of it. The kids working there ranged in age from 9 to 14. We remarked that this seems true of all Dairy Queens. This seems fine for ice cream – what can go wrong? But I'm not sure I want a nine-year-old making a hamburger for me. Also, the kid on Blizzard duty might have been a Hobbit. Either that or Oregon guard Luke Ridnour. Obscure again.

Something you might not know about Dairy Queen, but which makes it even cooler, is that it owns Orange Julius, another favorite from my past, and very hard to find nowadays.

 

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