Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Arkansas State Fair! 2011 (Update 2012)

                     I've been to many different festivals around the states, but the Arkansas State Fair was the first state fair I've been too. My first time going to it was some five or six years ago, with me attending almost every year after that. They have it around the same time each year; this time it was from October 14 -23.

                         The fairgrounds are used for various events throughout the year, like gun shows, flea markets, and other small events.The biggest event that all the crowds attend though, is the yearly fair.The fair has the same rides and stalls installed every year, but it has enough things that it would take more than one day to look at everything. Remember those state fairs in the movies with the corndogs, the games, and rides? They hit it right on the money. The fair does look like those old time fairs, but with modern music in it, and slightly modern attractions.
                Since all fairs do this a bit differently from each other, let me tell you how the pricing works. An entrance fee is paid up front, with a standard price for seniors, kids, and adults. The fee will be discounted on certain days when they have some event going on, so if you plan to go in the future, check up daily while the fair is in town. Then comes the inside fee. The games,food, and some events usually accept cash. The rides work in two ways; you can get coupons, which require a smaller usage per ride,(like two coupons per ride), or the tickets which you get from various ticket booths from the fair. A word of advice, the rides are expensive this year, and the pricing fluctuates yearly, so have extra cash on you if you want to try the rides. ( This year, it was about 5 or 6 tickets per ride, with 10 or 11 tickets costing approximately $20.)

                   Now if you're a health food lover, you might have to do a lot of digging around in the food booths. The fair has food, and very good food, but not really healthy. The traditional funnel cakes and corn dogs are in the fair, as well as Virgin Pina coladas and other drinks in their own special booths. However, the most popular food, (that I hear numerous people talking about), is the fried food. I can't speak for other state fairs, but the one in Arkansas have people experimenting with fried everything! You have fried Oreo, fried butter, fried ice cream,(don't ask), fried pie,(which I tried), fried watermelon, fried vegetables, and, well, you get the idea. For long time fair- goers this might come as no surprise, but I figure a new comer would appreciate the info. :p

                  So do I recommend the fair? Even if it's your only time, I whole heartedly say yes. I think, even once, it's worth the experience.Though, for future reference, it would be advisable not to be dead last, like what me and some friends did this year... you're not going to find much in terms of discounts or cheap admission. (Here is a local news channel showing all the discounted days this year. It will probably be very similar for the next fair. They also explain how to purchase coupons.  Today THV)

           Part of the entrance. Since these were taken at night, there is going to be a glare,sorry!
                                                               Entrance booth.
                                          As you're going in... we took a side entrance.
                                I went to that booth and got myself a little fried something...
                           Presenting, Fried Key Lime Pie! It was good but a bit messy,haha.
                  I wish I knew how to fix the glare; but it's a cell photo so it's complicated. ><
                             We usually played games, and I have a few prizes from previous years,
                                                         but didn't really bother this time.
                    The photo is of a funhouse; I think it was taken from the Pirate Ship.
               ( The fair has the ride with an Egyptian theme, so it's called Pharoah's Fury. :p)
                     Hm... I'm too scared to try the taller fair rides cause they don't look safe to me.
           In parks like Six Flags or other bigger amusement parks, I do like to go on
                     rollercoasters and those rides though! XD  This was also on the Pirate Ship.
                                             We went on this ride; it wasn't really scary. :p
                                               "Pahraoh's Fury." Taken as we got off.

     We also went on bumper cars, the swings, and the Zero Gravity ride that takes you sideways and you're not holding on to anything. XD By the way the carousel and swings have Old Victorian paintings and decor to them; so they might be older than the rest of the rides. I can't confirm it as fact though, but they are more decorated!
     This year's fair is over, but if you want something to do for next October, book a day if you're in town!

Monday, October 17, 2011

New York Sweets - Brooklyn Soda

          Today will be a short post, on soda. A soda brand that is seen in alot of delis and pizza shops in New York, is called " Olde Brooklyn."  The soda is styled with a sketch of the Brooklyn Bridge, with names of popular places around Brooklyn to accompany the bottle ad. The soda is designed like vintage soda bottles, not only with the design, but the fact that these bottles are made from glass. The only flavors I tried so far are Cherry,Orange, Cream, and Raspberry, but I do like the way it tastes; at least to me, it does not come out as highly carbonated as more commercialized sodas, and so you can get more flavor in the bottle. C:

           The soda seems to have been acquired by a company called White Rock Beverages in 2003, but I can't seem to find information on the sodas before that,though I do know they existed earlier.White Rock, however, seems to have quite a history before acquiring the soda. Established in 1871, they were one of the first soft drink companies in the United States. Their products were featured in King Edward's VII coronation, and were the first to use a Kris Kringle/Santa Claus ad for soda. As far as soda companies go, it seems they did well buisness wise, but didn't reach the popularity status of Coke or Pepsi. (Which is a shame,since in my opinion, the Olde Brooklyn Soda can compete pretty well with the more popular sodas!)

                               "Red Hook Raspberry" The bridge is a sketch of the Brooklyn Bridge.

             So, how can you try this soda? Outside of New York, I've seen the soda being sold in local supermarkets, and pizzerias, so your best bet is there. White Rock also has a section of their website were you can type what state you live in, to see what places sell their products, which might reduce alot of search time. :p

       All information listed in this post can be found in various sections of the White Rock website!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Buffalo Grill

                  Buffalo Grill is a burger place, that I've visited a few times before with some friends. They currently have two locations in Little Rock. It seems there are two other similar sounding places, Buffalo Grille, in Texas, and a French restaurant, Buffalo Grill, whose locations are only in Europe. However, the French one is a completely different company, and the similar Texas name was established in 1984, not 1981, with the Texas chain having a different menu. (I thought I should specify, since I didn't realize there was similar sounding places until I googled it, haha.)

           The one I will be talking about is the Bowman location. It's one of those restaurants that have a small appearance at front, but looks much bigger once you go inside. The place is decorated like you're in the old west; everything is made from polished wood, and hanging around is taxidermy of birds, and buffalo heads. The menu has different dips, potatoes, and nachos for appetisers, with the main menu being the burgers or sandwiches. Drinks are coke products. They also have a smaller salad menu, and platter menu with hamburger steak or chicken breast and the like, and a small dessert menu.Even if you don't like burgers, they have enough in the menu for non-burger lovers as well.
         The food that I ordered was very good, but was quick to cool down.  I ordered a cheeseburger without mustard, and a small cheese dip and lemonade. If you go there on warm days, the place has a blasted air conditioner, so try to eat as fast as you can, if you don't like cold food. The burgers taste very well, as does the cheese dip, and you are given more chips with any burger/sandwich you order too. (It's plain ridge chips, but I'm not sure if they make it or just order the chips.)
       If you like to visit a place with a country air, but doesn't look too old, go and give Buffalo Grill a look!

                                            The entrance looks a bit like a funhouse lol.
                                                           The entrance.
                                                     Some of the animal heads. :P
                                                   They're proud of their coke.
                                     Some of the decor has bricks, but it's mostly wood.
                                    There is alot of windows, so it doesn't get very dim.
                                                Small cheese dips with nachos.
                                               Cheeseburger, with chips and pickle.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Damgoode Pies

             This is my first time going to Damgoode Pies; it was always one of those places I passed by, but never actually went in. Damgoode Pies is a pizza joint, with three locations in Little Rock, and one in Fayetteville.

            The location I went to was in Cantrell, and I'm going to say it now, was one of the most quirkiest places I ever went to. The photos taken don't do it much justice, but I'll try to explain the decor. The outside is wooden, and looks like a psuedo- old country shop. Inside, though, is a different story. When you walk in, to your left, is an open kitchen, so you can see the chefs making the pizzas and food. This place is designed as a small hallway, and when you walk to the end and go right, you'll see the truly weird of the weird. Once you make that right, on your left is a small bar, that is decorated with chalk walls, which has thousands of written phrases and designs, that is semi-normal looking. As you walk to the dine-in area, they split it into two different sections. One is behind the bar, and they have a circular ceiling that has a painted sky on it, giving you the illusion that you're outside. If you look at the wall, painted on it is a bearded man laughing, and a fat man wearing a tutu.

                 Now if you go to the more normal looking sit in area, each wall is decorated in a different color,( mostly yellow and red), with black wall decals.Around this area of the room, they decorated the walls with portraits of modern photos of old country cottages and the like.

                 The food menu consists of pizzas, appetizers like stuffed mushrooms or breadsticks, sandwiches, pasta, salads, and desserts that change every so often, (mostly cheesecakes.) We ordered a half alfredo cheese, half regular pizza, in the largest size available. (I think it was 16 inches.) We had it with the regular crust but they also have thin and stuffed crusts too. (The stuffed takes 20 minutes to make, if you wanted to try that.)  They had regular coke products; I just ordered a sweet tea. The service was laid back; we had one waitress, who mostly stayed out of the way,except for serving the dishes, and giving refills.

                         The food was very good! I've been to many pizza places, and I can vouch that this place makes excellent pizza. They have no problem splitting condiments or sauces in the pie, and will make it exactly as you like. If you're dining, a word of advice though; this is not fast food. We had to wait almost half an hour for the food to get done, so please keep that in mind if you want to visit.
                                                  The dine in area with wall decals.
                                      The blue dine-in area. The ceiling has a painted sky.
         A better view of the..uhm... artwork. One photo is some rocker guy yelling, and the other is a fat man wearing nothing but a tutu. The photo is not very sharp, but you should be able to see it. XD
                                   The pizza. I got full after two slices, but if I had a better
                                   appetite I think I would have eaten the whole thing! XD

                                                      The front entrance to the place.

If you want to try a pizzeria with an artsy and strange atmosphere, go to Damgoode Pies!
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Luby's Cafeteria

               So today I'm going to talk about my second experience in a Cafeteria,( that's outside of a school :p), called Luby's Cafeteria. This was my first time at Luby's, but I went to a Cafeteria before this one, which I unfortunately forgot to take photos of. (It was called Franke's Cafeteria, if you're interested.)

                  Luby's Cafeteria is currently in three states only, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. The one I will be talking about is located at West Markham, the only one in Arkansas. For those who never went to a Cafeteria style restaurant, I'll explain how it works.  They have the food arranged in a line, with different servers in each section. You get a tray and some plates in the beginning, and you stay in line as you get what you want. The payment is done a bit differently in each cafeteria, but it seems Luby's charge by the amount, with each item having a different price. Once you're done paying, you get to sit wherever you want. It went about 11$ for three people, so it was about 30$ for the group I went with. For drinks,you get a glass and put the drink yourself.

                The food had some good and so-so items, in my opinion. I got some mashed potatoes, roast beef with grilled onions, macaroni and cheese, and some green jello for dessert. The mash potatoes have no flavor or salt in it, and it didn't come with any gravy either. That's one item I don't recommend. The roast beef on the other hand, although a tad salty, wasn't too bad, and tasted quite good with the onions, so I recommend trying that at least. The macaroni had flavor to it, and wasn't very bland, so it fills you up. The jello tasted like apple flavored jello, and wasn't bad either. The have regular fountain drinks, and sweet/unsweet tea, so I just got a regular soda.

                                                                  The entrance.
                                         The food line- it reminds me of a conveyor belt. :p
                                     My plate. The onions tasted really good with the meat.
          Overall, I think Luby's is a good place to go if you want a quick bite, but it might be preferable to go with only one or two people since the price is by how many items you purchase. It's not 5-star restaurant food, but it's not fast food either.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Larry's Pizza

                Me and my brother decided to go to Larry's Pizza for the first time a few weeks back.   Larry's is a pizza chain only in Arkansas state,(currently), and started in 1992 in Little Rock. The one we visited was in Cantrell Road, and as it was our first time, I'm not sure if they have the same policy in all the restaurants or not.
                The place was very spacious, and unique. The restaurant looked like a studio room with studio lights and beams all over the ceiling, and the restaurant did not look like a traditional pizza parlor either. The whole eat-in menu is one payment,(per person), for the buffet, and you can eat as much as you want with what they have available outside. In the corner they have a mini-arcade with some games and prizes, but we didn't really bother with it that day.

               Now for the downside. When we went that day, it was around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Which after talking to the waitress/cashier girl, was apparently a bad time to be at the restaurant. The pizzeria had an open buffet around 11 to 2 PM and around 5- 9 PM. So essentially, when you go in at the time we did,you're going to be stuck with the leftovers of the buffet food, until they can get the new batches out for the second open buffet. Now I'm not implying their food was cold and stale, because it wasn't. But you can usually taste a fresh pizza compared to a warm pizza that's been out for about 20 minutes. But on the plus side, because it's leftovers, you get a discount off your payment. :p

            Something I noticed was that they had alot of dessert pizzas; even their own chocolate pizza! (Though it tasted a tad too salty for my liking; I liked the one from Max Brenner better.)
When we went it was quite deserted, which I'm assuming is because the official buffet was over.
The waitress gives your drink at the counter but you can get refills after you sat down.

              The buffet also had a salad bar, but I was more interested in the pizza to look at it.XD
How did the pizza taste? It was warm, but not too bad. The buffet has open ovens, so even if the food has been out for a while, it won't go stale. I couldn't eat much that day, but I had some slices with chicken meat, and alfredo slices as well, which I both think is worth a try. (But for dessert, unless you're a fan of salty chocolate; I don't recommend it.)

                                               You can see the studio lights in this photo.
                                  The photo is a bit blurry, but that small room is the arcade.

The chocolate pizza and alfredo cheese pizza. I later ate some meat slices when my brother gave me his. :p

        Something I thought was pretty unique was the tables. Those letterings are advertisements from local buisnesses that ask the pizzeria to put them on the tables. XD

                 Maybe on another day I'll update the page with a better review. For now, though, take my advice and don't go there around 3 or 4 PM! (In the Cantrell one at least...)

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas- Cheeburger Cheeburger (Closed)

              So, who likes burgers? Or, rather, burgers that isn't produced in fastfood chains? If you want to try quality burgers, then you're looking at a great place to get one.   
            Cheeburger Cheeburger was one of those places occasionally advertised on television locally, but the slightly old looking commercial and quick photos of the place gave a misguided idea of how the place looked. Before I actually went to it, I assumed it was a type of burger buffet where you stand in line, choose the condiments, and they give it to you. (Kinda like Five Guys.) Well I was close, but the place is a restaurant; you are expected to sit down and order the burger how you like,  and eat in.

                  The place looks like just like a 50's diner with some modern flair to it; the music is old Do-wop music as well as other music from the 50's,60's and 70's. The place has scattered posters of vintage celebrities, and the whole design is inspired by the old malt shops of the 1950's. One amusing thing you might notice is the hanging tie dye t-shirts hanging off the ceiling, which you can purchase to show your love and support for the store. Overall it's a fun and quirky place. XD
(They have a notice in some parts of the store stating if you wear one of their shirts the next time you come in, you'll get a free drink.)
                    I've been to Cheeburger, Cheeburger about four times now, and each time I went I was never disappointed with the food . (They have different waiters each day; some seem more active than others, with my last one or two visits having a laid back waiter.) You have to sit on a bench until one of the waiters come to seat you, and then you get to choose how to make your cheeseburger with any of the topinngs. Along with the burgers, they offer fries or onion rings as sides, and they also offer wraps. The second nicest thing to the burgers would have to be the drink menu. They have different flavored iced tea/hot teas and lemonade, regular fountain drinks, shakes, malts, and new soda flavors, where you recieve a bottle mixer to shake and "make" your own soda! XD If my visiting there numerous times hasn't told you yet, I think it's a pretty darn good place!

                            (These photos were taken on different days at the same location.)

                                            Tea and other drinks are served in jam jars.XD
                                             The first sign you will see as you step in.

                                      Their malt menu is on the wall, and a few other places.
                                       This was from my last visit; it's a Key Lime Pie Malt.

                         Also from my last visit; I got ranch, American cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. 
                                            This is their "classic" so they do offer bigger burgers.
                           The Make-Your-Own-Soda! XD I think it was peach or mango; I forget. ;p

                                                                 The entrance.
                         I went there recently and had to recommend the Vanilla Egg-Cream Soda!
                                                It reminded me a bit of Egg Nog. XD
                                                                The ceiling. XD
   Overall, if you're a fan of burgers, try this place out, if not, you might want to try elsewhere.:p


Monday, October 3, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Buffalo Wild Wings

               Buffalo Wild Wings is a chain Bar and Grill joint,that has a decent amount of locations around the states. The prices are around the same as other food chains that aren't advertised as fast food, (such as Olive Garden or IHOP), so you will generally find items anywhere between $9 to $20 something dollars. I've been to two locations, one at Hot Springs and the other one in Little Rock, near Cantrell Road, and it seems each one is designed in a similar manner.(The photos and review are for the Little Rock one only.)
                The first thing I noticed when stepping into the restaurant, was the TV sets. Some had television games, some had sports, and one or two had the news. Everywhere you turned, there was a TV set! (This was true for both branches, so I think it's a company policy or something. ;p) They played, along with the television, some bluegrass/folk music on the radio that day.The place is generally family friendly for the day time, but I did see a glass room with a bar that had a notice on the door for,"18 and older." There were some people in it during the day, when I went, but I have a good hunch it get's packed in the evening hours.

                   So, at this time you're probably having an idea that they sell steak and ribs or something along those lines,right? Well kinda, but not quite. The slightly misleading name doesn't help much, but the place is mostly known for it's comfort food, a.k.a chicken wings. Chicken wings, burgers, as well as salads and some sandwiches. (Sorry steak lovers, they don't seem to have it on the menu!) But mostly the chicken wings. They have a bunch of sauce and seasoning flavors to add to your wings, from mildly spicy, to burning hot. To get you an idea of some flavors, they have sauces like " Sweet BBQ" "Parmesan Garlic," to more spicier ones like "Wild" or "Blazin."
                   The service was good and the waitress offered suggestions after hearing me and my brother were on a budget. They have a rather decent selection for (non alcoholic) drinks, which is a nice change from typical fountain drinks. The food is comfort food, but really well made comfort food, and afterwards you really don't feel that guilty eating it, even if you should. (Waiting 20 minutes for food has its payoffs... ;p) If bright lights don't bother you, or alot of noise,(which they keep low, by the way), go find a Buffalo Wild Wings near your town!

                   All the front entrances of every branch are decorated in White, Black, and Yellow.
                                                       Some of the TV sets.
                                                 Coca-Cola ad next to our seats.
                                                        Better view of the area.
                                     Mango lemonade; they do offer free refills for these! C:
                                                      Mini Corndogs with cheese.
I ordered the Parmesan Garlic Wings; my brother ordered Hot Wings. We had ranch on the side.

Have you been to a Buffalo Wild Wings?

                 Going off-topic for a moment, I'm probably not going to do articles for films or books until I have a break from school. The main reason I'm sticking to articles of places I'm visiting,(for now), is because they're the quickest and the shortest. For book reviews and similar media, I like to review every chapter, so you can see how that can be more time consuming. :p

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

North Little Rock, Arkansas - The Old Mill

                So how many of you visit any historical places? One day, a few months back, me, my friend, and my brother were bored, so we took a road trip to the see the Old Mill. For those who were wondering why an old mill is so popular, it actually became a prop that was used for the film, "Gone With the Wind." The Mill has a small park built around it, and is in the Lakewood area, around where McCain Mall is at. The park's name is officially called T.R Pugh Memorial Park.

             The Mill has a bit of a history; the developer of North Little Rock, in the early 1930's, wanted an old looking mill to decorate the neighborhood. A German immigrant, called Frank Carmean, did the basics of the Mill, and found a SenĂ²r Dionico Rodriguez, in searching for new styles for the architecture. Since they were instructed to make the Mill old looking and rustic, Rodriguez had to make all the bridges and the area in and out of the Mill appear natural and worn down. He had a special technique that made regular concrete look like wood, iron,and stone! But unfortunately, no one ever discovered his secret for doing so; it was said he would mix his ingredients in his car trunk, and if someone came near, he'd slam it shut.

                 Today the Mill and the park around it is open everyday, and is a place that can be used for picnics, photos, or weddings. Go check it out if you're in that part of town!

Going inside.

The second story.

The fake wood stairs.XD

Taken from a bridge.

Also taken from a bridge.

One of the paths around the Mill.

A closeup of some of the flowers.

Overall, it's a pleasant and quiet little place, and it's a great area to relax in!
These are the sources I got some of the historical info from:
                                                                      Arkansas State Website