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What’s Bob Eating… » 2009 » April
What's Bob Eating?

Archive for April, 2009

Good Eats in North Carolina

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Prissy Polly's Restaurant in Kernersville, NC

Prissy Polly's Restaurant in Kernersville, NC

Barbeque is a word of many meanings. In some places it is considered a verb and in others a noun. For the sake of simplicity I will be referring to it here in the latter sense.

Barbecue can be made of pork or beef and I suppose just about anything else in the way of meat. I don’t really know if there is such a thing as barbecue made from fish, but I would not be all that surprised if someone told me there was.

I have enjoyed barbeque that was made from beef but after living twenty years in North Carolina I tend to think of it as pig. Some may call it pork but I think we should be honest about what we are eating here.

Recently the pig itself has been suffering from a bit of negative publicity. I am referring to the most recent swine flu outbreak. I pray that this outbreak will be contained and that no more lives will be lost. But I do love to eat the pig.

Having just returned to North Carolina after a leave of almost four years I was glad to find myself rolling along I-40 and headed in the direction of Kernersville, NC as the lunch hour was approaching. Kernersville is the small town between Greensboro and Winston-Salem that has my favorite barbecue in the world and with that in mind I call the lunch hour any time they are open and I am nearby.

There is a major divide in terms of barbecue in North Carolina that is just as distinct and almost as fought over as the Civil War was some 150 years ago. On the eastern side of the state they slow cook their pig and serve it with a vinegar sauce that has hot pepper flakes in it and some brown sugar. In the western side of the state they use a more traditional tomato based sauce. This is the sauce that most resembles what is sold in supermarkets like KC Masterpiece or any one of a number of name brand commercially produced sauces. Most people prefer one over the other and it has been known to divide families. The dividing line in the state between these competing sauces is generally regarded as Lexington, NC and the western sauce is sometimes referred to as Lexington barbecue. Most restaurants sell one or the other and that is one of the reasons I really like Prissy Polly’s in Kernersville. They serve them both. The live together side by side in the same building and they act as a guide to the whole human race. There is no reason we can’t all coexist as well as these two different, yet equal, sauces do at this fine dining establishment.

The Large Barbecue Plate

The Large Barbecue Plate

Today I got a chance to eat at Prissy Polly’s for the first time in over four years and what a treat it was. I ordered the large barbecue plate with the eastern sauce. My wife chose a western style barbecue sandwich. We too are different but equal.

I love that stuff but that is far from the only reason to stop and dine at Prissy Polly’s.

You would think that beans are a side dish that would be hard to ruin and yet I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten in a lunch room or diner and been disappointed by my bean experience. They are usually just so bland and simple. It is a shame because they are not all that difficult to make really well. I know this because I have made beans many times and feel very confident in my recipe. Prissy Polly does them right.

The other great dish they do that goes so well with the barbecue is their collard greens. Once again, they are not all that difficult to make but somehow they are often made very bland and tasteless. Prissy Polly does them right.

I will miss the west coast and I hope I return again but I am going to enjoy myself living in the land of my favorite barbecue. I am back in NC. The pork industry should consider itself forewarned.

We finished our trek yesterday and are now staying with my daughter and her fiancée in Raleigh, NC. It is great to have a break from motel rooms and road food. It is fantastic to see our children and other relatives who are living in the Old North State. We were on the road for nine days and traveled a total of 3684 miles. I totaled our expenses at $1590.23. The quote to ship the car was over $1700.00 and we would have had to buy airline tickets to move ourselves. The trade off in time was more than worth it in our eyes because we will have the memories for the rest of our lives. To those of you who have followed the trip, thanks. To those friends we left behind, we look forward to the time when we see you all again.

Posted in Cruising With Bob, General, The Wandering Barbecue Hound | 1 Comment »

A Meat and Three

Monday, April 27th, 2009

The Rose Garden Restaurant

The Rose Garden Restaurant

I’ve already made it clear that outside of their blatant lack of good pie, we love the Cracker Barrel. I am going to try to not talk about them anymore because they are not really what I like to look for when I am searching out great food in new places.

When you get a burger at McDonald’s you can be sure that it will always be as good as the last one you ate no matter where that was. They are consistently the same. Never any worse and of course, never any better. No surprises. The Cracker Barrel is even more so. We know the food will be of a certain level and that it will be consistent. In fact, Cracker Barrel carries it to an even higher level of consistency because the stores are all laid out exactly alike. I am sure that I could enter any Cracker Barrel blindfolded and find my way to a table to sit with no help.

But when you are trying to find new exciting meals, you have to move off of the beaten path and take a chance.  In order to move forward in almost any endeavor you have to take a chance and taking a chance means that occasionally you fail. Or in the case of new food finds occasionally you get some bad stuff. That’s life.

I made a new friend today on the road and that alone is something to be happy about.

Mr. J.T. Askew

Mr. J.T. Askew

We pulled into the very small town of Silver Point, Tennessee today to fill up the van and see if we could find some lunch. As I was filling the tank I saw an older gentleman park his car and head into the convenience store. What caught my eye was the license plate on the front of his vehicle that said “The Mayor”. He came back out of the building after I was finished at the pumps to I approached him and said, “Sir, excuse me sir”.

When he looked up at me I asked him if he was the mayor. He laughed and said yes. He said it was a small town and that people jokingly referred to him as the mayor.

“They gave me this license plate because they call me that”.

He then proceeded to tell me about being in the navy during World War II and how he moved quickly up through the ranks because of some special schooling he had. I told him where I had come from and where I was going and pointed to my wife in the car to show him we were traveling together. We talked a little longer and then I told him why I had stopped him.

I said that I figured since he was the mayor that he would probably be able to tell me if the restaurant right next to the gas station served good food.

He smiled and said the he ate there.

That was good enough for me.

When we entered the Rose Garden Restaurant we found a fairly small room with a lot of tables and just a few people eating. Behind the counter however, we saw that there were three women sitting at a separate table eating. It was lunch time for the employees as well as us. One of the lades told us to seat ourselves and then she grabbed some menus and came over and after pointing out the specials on the chalk board, withdrew to fill our unsweetened ice tea orders.

The nice lades of the Rose Garden Restaurant

The nice lades of the Rose Garden Restaurant

In the south, and some other areas of the country I’m sure, there is a dinner or lunch that is offered for sale in many small diners or in some cases trailers, small houses or open fields called “A meat and three”.

A meat and three is a meal that comes with a meat dish and your choice of three vegetables. Sometimes you can choose a meat from a list like roast beef, fried chicken or fish. And the list of vegetables you choose from may be anywhere from three or four up to ten or more.

The specials at the Rose Garden included a choice of roast beef with gravy or a boneless chicken breast and three vegetables from a list that included fried okra, pinto beans, mashed potatoes, corn, baked apple or slaw.

A Meat and Three

A Meat and Three

I had the roast beef with the okra, pinto beans and mashed potatoes and my wife decided to order from the menu and got a BLT with some chips.

While we were waiting for our order the place started to really fill up. Most of the folks seemed local and some of them having obviously been there before ordered dessert first which the ladies put aside for them. I guess they knew that you needed to reserve your pie or cake if you wanted to make sure to get some.

Any dining experience is composed of many parts. The food is important, but there is much more to your experience good or bad, then just the food.

These ladies were about as nice as people serving you can be. They wore smiles and they thank you’d and please’d you as well as anyone could. They were right nice, as they say in the south. More or better attention could not have been paid to us. I guess you can see where I’m going with this.

I do not do professional reviews of restaurants. I just write down my personal opinions for whatever they are worth and that may well be nothing.

My meat and three was not really anything to write home about, and yet, here I am doing just that.

Did I mention just how nice those ladies were?

The roast beef with gravy was actually some sort of rather poor roast beef sandwich type meat and the gravy came from a can or I don’t know anything at all about food. The okra was reheated in a microwave and dry and hard. The mashed potatoes were instant and the corn muffin that came with it all was reheated and hard. However, the pinto beans were pretty darn good. I should also mention that my wife liked her sandwich.

Understand this, I ate it all. It was not the worst lunch I ever had by many miles. It just was not homemade and it was just not anything special at all.

When I see a display case with pie in it I smile. I think I have made it clear in earlier posts just how I feel about pie.

The Pie Cabinet

The Pie Cabinet

They had several kinds for sale and after narrowing it down to either cherry or pecan I asked the nice lady if she would just pick one for me. I like to do that in a restaurant. Usually the people who work in the restaurant are pretty knowledgeable about what is really good and what is not so good. She brought me the pecan and my wife had the pound cake.

I would like to state here that the pie saved the day and the whole lunch was redeemed but I see no reason to lie. The pie had a crust that tasted like cardboard and I am sure that it had not been made by anyone who was much different from Mrs. Smith. Oh well. The ladies were real nice.

We greatly enjoyed the meal. The atmosphere was great and the folks in the place were a joy to be around. The meal was not terrible. It was just not homemade and there was absolutely nothing spectacular about it. I am glad we went there. We had a great time and a lot of fun. You have to stick your neck out once in a while and go for something different. You need to sample the unknown. You will never find that in a McDonalds or a Cracker Barrel. Take a chance and look for the spectacular.

P.S. We rolled across Tennessee today listening to good old Hank Williams.

Posted in A Piece of Pie, Cruising With Bob | No Comments »

We Are Back in the South

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

A Big Ol' Southern Breakfast

A Big Ol' Southern Breakfast

Let’s make this simple.

We left Oklahoma.

We crossed Arkansas.

We reached Memphis and then went on a little further.

Now we are in a hotel room and I am having a hard time drawing together the strength to write a post about today. So let’s break it down and make it simple.

There was a light rain falling when we loaded the car in Oklahoma today. We were lucky to drive out of it after about an hour or so and have had very nice, but windy, weather all day. We stopped for lunch at another Cracker Barrel and my wife saw an interesting electronic tablet they were using to organize their seating and serving. She was quite excited as they claimed they were the only Cracker Barrel using this particular device. You should probably check out her post as she will undoubtedly be talking about it. http://www.managemypractice.com/road-trip/

For lunch I had a big old southern breakfast of country ham (you know, really salty and thin sliced), scrambled eggs, a hash brown cheese casserole, grits, fried apples (great with the ham), biscuits and cream gravy. I gotta tell you it was pretty darn good and filling. I did not order pie as they really do not serve a good one.

After lunch we hit the road and ended up here in Tennessee. Short and simple.

We did have a great night’s sleep last night in that rather unusual place we stayed. The kid with the basketball did stop playing with it outside our door and the screams of delight subsided. We slept so well that we actually slept past the time I had originally planned on arising. That’s ok. We needed the rest and I know it made the day go better.

The high point of the day for me was the music we chose to guide us out of Oklahoma.

As the light mist continued to fall we pulled up some good old Mahalia Jackson and what a beautiful sound filled the van. Whenever someone tries to tell you that the devil has all of the best music just smile and point out Mahalia to them. Yes indeed she did it right. When I hear her singing I hear, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Gladys Knight. I know they all owe her a great deal. Sweet, sweet sounds.

Along the road today I started to really notice the road kill that litters our highways. I saw a lot of it today and it made me think of all of the dead critters I have seen in my lifetime along the road of life I call my biography. I recall skunks, and possums. I have seen a bear cub and a several horses and cows as well as innumerable deer. In just the last week I have seen a rattlesnake, an owl, a hawk, a dog, a crow and a raccoon. One time long ago I saw a fox. The casualties are endless. So many creatures destroyed by the passing American automobile.

Progress claims many lives but we should not let that stop its forward motion. As if we could.

Roll on and watch your step. Move carefully forward and try to shed no blood. But do continue to move forward. Thanks for all the comments and thanks for taking the time to read this garbage.

Posted in Cruising With Bob, General, What's Bob Listening To? | 3 Comments »

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