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What’s Bob Eating… » A Piece of Pie
What's Bob Eating?

Archive for the ‘A Piece of Pie’ Category

Where is Bob and What the Hell is He Doing Now?

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Can You Hide in Your Own Home?

Can You Hide in Your Own Home?

The title is not meant to be rhetorical. These are just a couple of the questions I have been asking myself recently.

Physically, I am residing in eastern North Carolina. Mentally I am living in the world of the books and music that I’m currently enjoying. Emotionally I am drawing closer to my immediate family and spiritually I am trying very hard to listen to the still, small voice inside of me.

Now as to what in the hell I have been doing besides not writing very often on this blog, let me give an explanation of myself.

First of all, what has Bob been eating? I have been dining way too much at fast food places and they are never that good. Some places have better fries then others and some do their burgers better but all in all they are a waste of time and money because they are seldom fast or cheap. At least not like back in my youth when they were first starting to appear nationwide. My life has been hectic and way too many times I have just made quick and easy choices.

Fortunately I have been eating other things and in other places besides these dens of inequity. I have already written about Ralphs and since I live close by now, I have had the pleasure of dining there several times. I also intend to visit and undoubtedly write about several of the other barbeque places that abound in this section of the beautiful state of North Carolina. Word has reached me recently that there are a multitude of barbeques and styles in South Carolina as well. All in good time, all in good time. Other places of local interest where my wife and I have had very good dining experiences include David’s Restaurant and the Second Street Lunch. All located in beautiful downtown Roanoke Rapids, NC. Check them out when you visit this fair city.

We are still getting the house we are living in set up so my cooking has been limited but I manage to fry some bacon and eggs on occasion and my normal breakfast of peanut butter, banana and soy milk has been maintained. This is probably as good a time as any to talk about just what this house is like. We live about a mile down a private road in a newly constructed house that backs up to a small pond and wilderness. The place is very peaceful and the quiet is deafening. Our back yard is filled with squirrels, rabbits and song birds. In the first two weeks of living here we have observed two turtles digging holes and burying their eggs, a flock of wild turkeys, several hawks and a large groups of my favorite birds (vultures) as well as a happy group of six baby skunks. I have only recently learned to carry a camera with me wherever I go.

Escape of the Hawk

Escape of the Hawk

It was several days of living here before I heard my first car and have only seen a couple of them drive by since then. The quiet is very nice but it is also a great place for serious music appreciation. No matter what volume I choose, it seems to be impossible to disturb any neighbors. Yesterday I listened to about two and a half hours of Wagner at a volume level that allowed me to truly appreciate his genius. We listen to a wide variety of styles and often fall asleep at night with some Miles Davis or John Coltrane playing. With no one to bother and only ourselves to please, life is good.

Another great feature of the silence that surrounds us is that it provides an atmosphere extremely conducive to reading and it seems like weeks since I have been able to sit down by myself and do just that for an hour or so. I’ve been filling in some of the blanks of my Shakespeare education and rereading a few of my favorite classics. It’s has been more than thirty years since I read The Scarlet Letter and I am enjoying it even more than the first time. Perhaps because I am older I am able to appreciate more of Hawthorne’s humor. Some of his passages, especially in the introduction, had me laughing out loud. Quite an image I guess, a funny old bearded man sitting in a chair in a quiet empty house all by himself laughing out loud. As I mentioned previously, life is good.

Our move from the west coast was hard. We had fun on the trip and enjoyed staying with our daughter while we got a place of our own here in Carolina, but it was stressful as well. Change is never easy and the best relationships are strained when the quarters are close. We were lucky to have family that has watched over us and helped us out. That is what family is supposed to do and we are grateful. We want to be there for any of them if they need us.

For the present we are enjoying the quiet of our new home. There have been and will be many kinks to work out and life is always made up of some percentage of struggle, but we know we are blessed or watched over or just plain lucky. Call it whatever you want, it’s all the same to me. I hope to do a lot more writing at this new location and some of it will probably end up here. Thanks for looking in from time to time and keep up the good fight. Life is Good.

P.S. Just a couple final thoughts. I know that not everyone likes to have their words or thoughts placed on public view. Many people are reluctant to leave comments as they don’t care to have the world see them. If you feel like leaving a comment but do not want it published, just say so. I will respect your requests. Of if you would like to drop me a line independently of this site, just send your emails to rkwhaley@gmail.com. I will be placing the address on my home page in the near future.

Sweet Potato Pie and Coffee

Sweet Potato Pie and Coffee

One more thing. Check out the sweet potato pie my wife bought at the local hospital and brought home for me the other day. Yum yum. Yes, it was tasty and yeah, it is gone.

Posted in A Piece of Pie, General, What's Bob Listening To?, What's Bob Reading? | 2 Comments »

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 »

Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

The Big Cross

The Big Cross

We have arrived in Oklahoma and are spending the night in a funky little motel that looks as though it may have been a high school or something at one time or another. There is a big open courtyard in the middle that the inner loop of rooms looks out on and part of that is composed of an indoor pool. Children are running around with basketballs and the air is pierced from time to time with squeals of delight. Or maybe it’s pain. I don’t know but I hope they stop before I decide to retire for the evening.

We got on the road a little late today. The time change caught up with old Bob and we decided to just push forward as best we could. We had no set goal and we didn’t even bother to call ahead and book a motel room. We have become so “devil may care” in our old age. As we pulled out of Texas I slipped some Lyle Lovett on to guide us in our Texas departure.

The day was sunny and warm but we did have some concerns about rain. The Weather Channel had said the previous evening that there was a possibility of some moisture moving into the area we planned to travel through. Moisture from the gulf conjured images of Katrina. Fortunately we saw no moisture. However, we did get to experience some of that famous wind that they sang about in the Broadway musical named after the state.

We passed through Amarillo after about a half an hour and I smiled as I spotted the Big Texan Steak House. It was just a little over three years ago that I passed this way in the opposite direction with my daughter on our way to Oregon. We were fortunate enough to spend the night in cow town and enjoy a wonderful meal at said steak house. That story has been repeated often and if you have not heard it you will have to wait until you see me face to face. A good story can always use a bit of a push here and there to improve it, if you know what I mean, but this one is just way too easy and needs no exaggeration at all in order to entertain. I will only say that my daughter did not shrink from the challenge. Ask her about it or catch me at the right time and I will be glad to share.

The view from the gift shop

The view from the gift shop

Located just thirty miles east of Amarillo in the small town of Groom, TX is one of the largest, if not the largest, cross in North America. It can be seen from miles around when traveling west on I-40, as my daughter and I discovered three years ago, but when driving east it doesn’t become visible until you are much closer.

We stopped sometime shortly after noon as I wanted my wife to see this interesting place. One other reason we stopped was because when I was here earlier the gift shop was closed.

The cross itself, which is enormous, is surrounded by statues representing the twelve Stations of the Cross of Christ. Located off to the side of the cross is a walk way that leads to a hill with other statures depicting the Crucifixion. No matter what your religious beliefs are, you would do well to stop and have a gander if you are in the neighborhood. I will say this; the gift shop did not offer any ball caps or t-shirts (which represents about 40% of my wardrobe). The items seemed somewhat upscale and looked as though they would fit into the décor of a well to do rich spinster aunt. Not that I have any such relative.

After our brief visit we got back on I-40 and continued our eastward journey. The wife put her feet up (her foot is doing very well, thank you) and dozed while I let Mr. Lovett continue to croon me out of Texas.

The Cherokee Trading Post and Restaurant

The Cherokee Trading Post and Restaurant

A couple of hundred miles later, just east of Clinton, OK , we stopped at the Cherokee Trading Post and Restaurant to dine. I am certainly glad we did. The seating was very comfortable and the menu said breakfast all day. A wide variety of foods were offered including buffalo burgers and steaks and an interesting item advertised on the table top called Calf Fries. The sign advertised all you could eat with salad bar and more for 12.99. I checked with the waitress and was correct in my assumption as to what Calf Fries were.

Calf Fries

Calf Fries

I had a hearty breakfast on my mind when I stopped but I wasn’t sure what the little woman wanted. To my surprise she passed on the Calf Fries and ordered a barbecue sandwich. I never cease to be surprised at the choices she makes. After 27 years there are still some surprises in this relationship.

A delicious Coconut Meringue Pie

A delicious Coconut Meringue Pie

Our meals were great and when I learned that they made their own pies I had to try some. We split a coconut meringue pie that was just about perfect. The meringue could not have been better. The coconut on top was toasted to perfection and the pudding tasted as though they had really made it from scratch. Even the crust was very flaky, although I did think the sides were just a little thick. With coffee it was all a man could ask for and I was glad my wife agreed to share it with me because it was huge.

Buffalo Head on the Wall

Buffalo Head on the Wall

All in all this was as close to a perfect day as a person could ask for. We are relaxing in our clean room and with a good night’s sleep hope to be back on the road and on into Arkansas in the morning. We are tired of traveling but our spirits are high and as long as we can move safely and have fun what more can we ask for.

Posted in A Piece of Pie, Cruising With Bob | 3 Comments »

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