Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wednesday, September 9

Today a few colleagues and I visited a flood-damaged bridge site in Dunn County, (western) North Dakota. This county is sparsely populated (even by North Dakota standards) and breathtakingly beautiful – with rolling prairie hills and a hint of “badlands” geomorphology and geology. This is truly “Big Sky” country – not taking anything away from my former homeland – the real land of “Big Sky” : Montana.

Aside from the rugged beauty we bore witness to throughout the six-hour or so sojourn, the reason I am making a blog entry this day is to pen a few words on two incidental parts of our working day. First, we visited the Assumption Abby in the small town of Richardton, Stark County. The complex is architecturally very beautiful and interesting.
St. Mary’s Church (Third Avenue) is the centerpiece of a pretty large Benedictine Monastic complex built by Swiss Priests in the early years of the nineteenth century. The site is well worth a visit and there is a marvelous view of the northern prairie hills and the Knife River Valley right behind the church. The associated cemetery (a few hundred meters to the southwest) is filled with many intricate early twentieth-century iron markers (see my Flickr photo blog for many more photographs).

Our environmental and structural trio then repaired to the city of Dickinson (Stark County) for lunch at the suggestion of a colleague, Good-Ole Boy, and long-term citizen of the Peace Garden State (my pal Lou). We dead-headed to Jacks Restaurant (1406 West Villard Street) to try some of the fabled borscht and broasted chicken. Needless to say, and in concurrence with various reviews (including a purported spot on a nationally syndicated television program and an article in a famous gourmet food rag), the soup was stupendous! I have eaten many a bowl of this peasant stew whilst vagabonding through Mother Russia, Eastern Europa, the Baltics, and Scandanavia. In fact, I have kept a log on the most interesting varieties of this delicacy that I have had intimate knowledge of. Jack’s borscht was on par with the best Russian (and Polish, Finn, Czech, and Lithuanian) beetroot soups (both hot and cold and meat and vegetarian) I have tasted. Jack’s creation seemed to be in a chicken stock base, had lovely bits of smoked ham, along with shredded cabbage, diced beets and potatoes, celery root, onion and all the rest of the standard ingredients.  All I can say is mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm-good.  The “broasted” chicken was also super-delicious. I have munched on many a piece of this sort of delicacy and again, Jack’s "pressure-fried" fowl rivals the best I have eaten in the heartland of this method of cookin’ good – Iowa.  

I managed to have an audience with Jack whilst paying our bill - we talked about borscht and his plans of making a whole lot more! Jack was very proud of his handiwork – and so am I - good on you Jacko! This was a special lunch interlude in the high plains work-a-day world of mine and one that I will remember most fondly!

For additional photos see my Flickr blog:

Ciao and God Bless America and the Dakotas,  Chinese-Buffalo (at large)

Ciao and adios amigos,

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