Topeka, KS

Albany John and I had to go to Topeka one weekend to attend our grandmother’s funeral. It was over Memorial Day weekend, and Mama Amherst’s mom. She was a very spunky lady, and my last living grandmother. She will most certainly be missed.

We left on a Friday night. I was too nervous to eat most of the day, but Albany John got a turkey and avocado sandwich at Albany “International” Airport.

We had a stopover… somewhere. Cleveland, OH’s airport at a place called O’Bryckies (name is 100% incorrectly spelled, but I don’t care about SEO stuff, so who cares, right?).

I got a lump crab salad for about $12. Good first meal of the day/night. LOTS of lump crab. Really good price for what was in the salad. No iceberg lettuce (actual greens), and plenty of lump crab meat).
Albany John got a blacked white fish sandwich with kettle chips. This was a bit under $9. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality and pricing of airport food. I’d probs stop at this place IRL, and not just cause I was forced to at an airport.
We got in about on time, and waited for my bro-in-law CVS and almost offical sis-in-law Maka to come in from NYC on their flight. So we picked up our rental car and found a Sonic. Smart phone technology, I love you.
Got some kind of a chicken strip sandwich. I was half delirious with hunger, so I just kind of went with it. Albs John and I split it. Also got a giant diet cherry limeade.

As you can see, we picked a volkswagen for our rental car. We got the cheapest one/compact car. They usually have way more space than I need any way, so I usually go with compact. It was way more space than 4 people needed. But overall, I wasn’t a big fan of my first Volkswagen experience. Weak power, lots of play in the wheel on the highway, fussy breaking system (either nothing or sharp break). I liked the leather interior, and all passengers said they had plenty of room and were comfy, but the driving basics were… not to my preference. Although I’m hoping a standard shift car would handle a bit better than an automatic.

The La Guardia flight was delayed forever, so I kind of wished I’d ordered some more food at Sonic when I had the chance. Ah, hindsight. Eventually though, they got in, and Maka bought me some McDonald’s on the highway. I’ve never been happier to see a McDonald’s than I was at 3 am on a Saturday after flying all night and driving an hour. Probably a terrible decision, but it got me to our hotel without falling asleep at the wheel.

The services were the next day. Many people brought lots of pictures, which were great to see. I would like to not post any more on that out of respect to my family and the situation.

After the services and burial, we went to lunch at an Italian place. I think it was called Paesan’s or Paesano’s. They had free salad and breadsticks with meals. A little heavy on the dressing, but some very welcome greenery. The breadsticks were my fave part of lunch.

Aside from these calamari strips. Really thick and tender and tasty. These would make a good entree.

I thought the prices were kind of high. Most prices in the midwest were comprable to those in NY. Crazy – I thought things would be cheaper. This dish of mine was supposed to be a low-cal (<400 cals), but was around $15. Kind of high for what was received. Small chicken breast, 10 very small "grilled" shrimp on a skewer, and some broccoli + mushrooms + artichokes.

It would have been low cal if not for the 2+ tablespoons of butter/oil unnecessarily doused over my plate. Albany John got a risotto he was just okay with.

We went back to our hotels to recoup and rest for a bit. Maka, CVS, and Alb John opted for naps, I opted for walking around our area. Upon further reading, evidently the downtown area of Topeka isn’t one that a person should walk solo, but I didn’t run into any trouble. It was just an afternoon, after all.

We drove an hour out to our Uncle & Aunt’s farm. They pick apples and save a lot of what they grow. Very cool relish plate. They have an apple farm, and their slogan is “Picked by PhD’s”. Cute, no?

See those bottles in the background? They’re full of cider. Mulled and un-mulled. SOOOO GOOD.

This is the 35+ year old horse. It was very lively. I wouldn’t have pegged it at being over 30. Or even over 20. First time I got to pet a horse off a leash!

Uncle made a ton of brisket two ways. I may have picked at it before official dinner time. So good.
Dinner, with grandma’s pickles, I think? And super vinegar-y potato salad. MMmm! You may also notice the dog scraps (aka albany jane scraps, aka crispy fat cap) portion at the top. Mmmm.
After dinner we got a tour of the farm. Here is Maka with one of the free range puppies.

I didn’t get any non-face pics of the apple sorting area, but it was really cool. Conveyor belt, and organizers, etc. Very cool.

Afterward, Uncle Topeka gave a little walk-through of the trees. I think these are galas? Here are what the first apples of the season look like in Topeka, KS.
Here are some of the apple trees.
We had a bit of revelry in celebration of the life of a wonderful woman. It went well into the night.
Peach and cherry cobblers for dessert with Blue Bell ice cream. Both fruits picked and preserved on the farm. So AMAZING!

The next morning we were set to depart, so I used the internets to find Hanover Pancake House.
Made rezzies for our group, and they had a table waiting for us. Not too busy, though. Some tables available.

Service was politely southern.

Chicken fried steak breakfast for about $10. Super crispy hash browns, nicely peppery and creamy (but not too creamy) gravy, and yummy CFS. The 2 eggs were unnecessary. I ordered them over easy, but they came out over medium/hard. Plus toast.

CVS got hash benedict.
Maka got her usual broccoli and cheese omelete. The prep/presentation left a little to be desired. Some in the middle, but some also haphazardly tossed on top.
Albany John’s flat iron steak. So sad. A waste of meat. They didn’t ask what doneness the steak should be, and it came out… past well. Not shoe leather, but… why would you cook a flat iron anything past medium? I think it was billed as a 10 oz steak, but cooked down so much it was like a hockey puck and about 4-6 oz.

I don’t think our waitress picked up on his dissatisfaction, or just didn’t want to. When she asked how it was, Albany John said “Um… Not so great…” and she quickly responded “Oh yea, I’m a strip steak girl myself.” Maybe a “Oh, honey, what’s not so great about it?” would have been a better response, but we got the impression that it was what it was.

Albany John thinks this contributed to some stomach distress later.
We dropped Maka and CVS off at the airport (they left a bit earlier than us). Albany John decided to pass out in the back seat for a while to coma himself while I chauffeured him around.
Supermarket tourism! Hy-Vee grocery store.
This does not accurately capture how sterile and… brightly white the Hy-Vee was. I needed sunglasses inside, haha.
Crap, sorry. Forgot to turn this. But it was butter pecan and other cool tasting ice cream sticks!
Albany John’s stomach was still a bit ooky, so we picked up some fruit salad. It was worth the price. Strawberries, kiwis, and pineapples, all perfectly ripe and sweet.
We nibbled on some while sitting on one of their display rockers. Now I want a rocker.

We waited around a bit and eventually made our way to the airport.

$10 (with tip) Blue Moon. I was like “I’ll take a large beer,” and the bartender picked up a freaking liter mug and was like “The largest, hun?” heh. I was like “Oh… maybe something smaller. So I can get on the plane.”

Nice ending. The airport was easy to get on to. Our flights were delayed a bit, but we got home eventually. I grabbed a few slices of delicious NY pizza to sustain me in the wee morning hours.

Looking at things positively, it was nice to get together with family I haven’t seen in a while.

  1. I saw the words “cherry limeade” & I smiled & now I want one. It sounds so cool & summery…I was trying to main line sangria last night because it always encapsulates summer

  2. Nice to know I am not the only one that likes to roam unexplored markets.

  3. What is Obrycki's doing outside of Baltimore?!?!

    Hahaha, still cool they've expanded out to the Midwest. Kind of like how there's a Primanti's down in Florida.

  4. Public mental note: If I ever somehow manage to find a perfectly ripe and sweet strawberry in the capital region, I'm calling you immediately so you can have one.

  5. Anonymous said:

    just a couple notes. Brakes, not breaks. also I wasn't ok really with the risotto…. it was kind of like rice swollen to orzo size in an alfredo sauce with portobello thrown in. Flavors didnt mix, so I kind of picked at it. Also it turned out the pickles weren't from our gma, but from another lady with the same name and similar vintage.

    I also would not play hockey with that meat. so sad.

    The avocado sandwich was pretty good. the chicken in it was marinated kind of like spiedies.

    on a side note, cvs has the best ever nickname from this blog.

    I love going to new places with you.

    Albany John.

  6. I'm sorry for your loss. And I'm glad the trip had some highlights in food and family visits. I want cider (mulled and unmulled).

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