The Real Deal

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

You guys have probably been wondering where I’ve been. At least I hope you have. I feel guilty and a bit off my axis because it’s been so long since I’ve written. You see, our nephew got married on October 26th in Lakeville, Minnesota.  I’ve never been there and of course, the wunderkind hasn’t either, and she’d never flown before.

Minnesota note

Seriously, is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Still hasn’t mastered the spelling of her middle name yet though!

Neil hasn’t been back since 1994. As a Southerner, born and bred, here’s what I thought I knew about Minnesota:

  • Everyone, I mean, everyone is of Viking descent.
  • All 10,000 lakes are freezing cold.
  • With the exception of July and August, it’s numbingly cold and snowing all the time.
  • They have a killer restaurant scene, if you believe Guy Fieri or Adam Richman.

Turns out I was right about one of these assumptions –  the restaurants. Think about it a minute. If you watch Diners, Drive-ins and DivesMan -vs- Food, etc., you may have noticed the disproportionate number of MN restaurants featured on these shows. Why, I often wondered?

One restaurant that caught my eye a long time ago was about two joints in the Twin Cities area that have a long time feud about who invented the “Juicy Lucy.” You may remember this post after I saw the Juicy Lucy on TV. I told Neil back then, “One day, when we go up there, we’re finding this place and having a Juicy Lucy.”

The place that  I’d decided looked and sounded the best is called the 5-8 Club. So, when we booked our flight for the wedding, I promptly went to the 5-8’s website for their address because, as I said, “WE ARE GOING TO GET THIS HAMBURGER.” Since I now have crazy coupon lady syndrome, I noticed a little place on the site that said “Join our email club.” This, of course, made me say to myself, “Hmmm, I bet if I do that I’m going to get something.” Well, sure enough, I instantly received an email coupon for a FREE Juicy Lucy. We’re officially in business.

We arrived on Wednesday and I mentioned this Juicy Lucy obsession to my brother-in-law. His response? “Let’s go tonight!” And it was so.

Friends, this was a hamburger. I split one with the little one because they are 1/2 lb.  Just as expected and promised, I cut it in half to see golden, oozey cheese burst forth. The meat was well seasoned and cooked just right. A nice crust that comes from a nice, hot flat top. The closest I have been able to come to this is with a good ol’ fashioned cast iron skillet.

Juicy Lucy whole

Did somebody say Ooey Gooey Good Golly?

Did somebody say Ooey Gooey Good Golly?

What made the whole experience even better was looking around and recognizing where we were from the TV shows. Oh yeah…we also had real, Minnesotan cheese curds. Not familiar with these? More on that later.

Authentic Minnesota Cheese Curds!

Authentic Minnesota Cheese Curds!

Our trip was fantastic on many levels. My nephew’s wedding was beautiful, the parties were rockin’ and the food, drinks and dancing kept us all busy well into the night(s)! Jackie and her wedding party were all gorgeous and her style was evident in all the details.

Neil's old house

Neil’s old house

Como Park, St. Paul MN

Como Park, St. Paul MN

We also got to see Neil’s old childhood home, visited the ski slope where he (and Lindsey Vonn!)  trained, went to the first zoo established in the state of Minnesota (Como Park), saw St. Paul, saw Minneapolis, and got to visit the 5-8 Club for the original Juicy Lucy. I’d say this was one successful voyage!

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