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Photo TR: Jason's Roadfood Adventures


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Last installment of the honeymoon series. Enjoy!

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We really didn’t have any special restaurants lined up the next day, but we found one in our travels, anyway: the Maine Diner in Wells, ME.

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Surprise! It’s been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

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Not only did they have Guy’s stencil inside, but you could buy a T-shirt touting his “seal of approval” in the gift shop.

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We had to wait awhile for a seat, but our meal was well worth it.

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The clam chowder was good. The corn muffin was great!

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But really, it all came down to the lobster pot pie. That’s it in the upper left-hand corner: the meat of a whole Maine lobster encrusted with a canopy of crumbled Ritz crackers and soaked in about a gallon of drawn butter. Had it not been for the full lobster the night before, this would have been the best meal of the trip, hands down. And on this trip, that’s really saying something!

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I was so stuffed after eating my lunch (and part of Kelly’s) that I had absolutely no room for dessert. But since it was included, I sampled the wild blueberry pie. And I do mean “sampled.” If memory serves, I didn’t make it past the first two bites.

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They knew I was coming!

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The Maine Diner was really the gift that kept on giving. While waiting to be seated, I grabbed a “freebie” newspaper outside the restaurant that included an article about Connor Bottling Works, the oldest independent soda bottling company in the United States (or something like that). The article said the company offered factory tours, and we were intrigued. We weren’t sure how far away it was, but I surmised that since it was in a paper at the diner, it likely wouldn’t be too far. We plugged it into the GPS, and I was right; it was located in Newfields, NH, only about 20 miles past our next destination: York’s Wild Kingdom.

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This is the entrance. The building was built when the plant opened during the Civil War. An adjacent natural spring provides water for the sodas bottled inside.

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Look at that 1930s bottling equipment! The guy inside (he was either an owner or a manager, and he reminded me for all the world of Rick Harrison from “Pawn Stars”) was shocked when we walked in. I got the impression that they don’t get many visitors, even though one other person stopped by while we were there. He said they had never offered “factory tours” to his knowledge, especially since the entire factory was pretty much the machine seen here. But he was more than happy to show us around and seemed thrilled that we were interested.

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These are the crates they used to use; now they’ve “upgraded” to cardboard. They were bottling root beer when we showed up. The guy asked us how we heard about the place, and we told him about the article. He wasn’t aware of it, so I ran back out to the car and grabbed it for him. I told him he could keep it, and he was so happy that he grabbed two root beers off the line and offered them to us on the spot. They didn’t even have labels on them yet!

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The root beer run finished while we were chatting. Here is the next batch of bottles, awaiting the next flavor. They offer 22 different varieties.

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Here are the “case” boxes they use today. Kelly and I ended up buying one. They’re willing to mix and match any combination of flavors. Kelly got a six-pack each of cream soda and maple cream soda. I got a six-pack of golden ginger ale for my dad and a six-pack mix for myself.

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Our favorite out of all of them were the maple creams. It’s just like drinking a liquid pancake!

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I presume this is the favorite of Dave Hester from “Storage Wars.” (You have to watch the show to get the joke.) Though the whole Connor Bottling Works experience lasted maybe 20 minutes, it was a highlight of the trip. And to think we found it completely by accident thanks to an amazing restaurant we also found completely by accident.

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For dinner, we stopped by the Dunston School Restaurant back in Scarborough. As the name implies, it’s an old elementary school repurposed into a buffet restaurant.

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This sign used to announce school events. Now it announces the lobster special.

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These students once learned where we’re about to eat.

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BUF-FAY!

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The first of many courses!

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By the time we got to dessert, they were literally shutting down the restaurant for the evening. The hostess stopped by our table to give us a “last call,” then they opened the buffet up to the employees to take whatever they wanted.

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Meals during the rest of the trip were a combination of forgettable hotel and theme park food, and favorite places already reviewed in this thread. The latter included the Glenwood Drive-In in Hamden, CT. I got one last hot lobster roll (still as good as the last time we were there), while Kelly tried a chicken sandwich and fried zucchini sticks. Obviously, we stopped down the street afterward at Neil’s Donuts and Bake Shop in Wallingford, CT, afterward for ricotta squares.

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The next day, as a prelude to our final park of the trip, Six Flags Great Adventure, we revisited the Circus Drive-In in Wall, NJ.

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We dined in the restaurant itself this time instead of in our car.

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Kelly got a BLT, which she enjoyed. Neither of us did our patriotic duty by having a burger for America :(

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I tried a cheese steak on garlic bread, which wasn’t all that great. I didn’t think the onion rings were as good this time around, either, but the coleslaw was still amazing! And that was it for our honeymoon. Up next: the thrilling conclusion of 2011!

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  • 1 month later...

After seeing some of the food from the TPR Klassy Kruise, I saw the need to balance out the board with some photos of good food. And good news: I found some 2011 photos I had forgotten about, so the thrilling conclusion will be a two-parter! Enjoy!

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For the first time ever, I handed the reins of my annual Memorial Day charity bicycle ride over to a new chairperson. He did a phenomenal job, and we set a new record for the event! Afterward, we made our annual trek to The Pizza Shoppe in my hometown of Crisfield, MD, to celebrate. When I was in high school, The Pizza Shoppe opened in a building that—surprise—had formerly been a pizza restaurant. A few years ago, it moved several blocks into the building that housed the garage I used to take my car to when I was in high school (and that jalopy was in the shop A LOT).

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Our new chairman offered to buy pizza for us all. I suggested the party pizza! He suggested a couple 18-inchers instead.

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We sat at the restaurant’s only two tables: a picnic table in the parking lot and the lone table from the inside, which the owner moved outside when we needed more room. She also brought the beach umbrella out of storage just for us!

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We started off with a few appetizers, including pepperoni and marinara sauce. So simple, yet so effective!

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The cheeseburger breadsticks are a personal favorite of mine. It’s basically pizza dough, cheese and ground beef, heated and served with marinara sauce. The base is crisp on the outside, doughy on the inside and super greasy all over. It’s amazing!

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Speaking of amazing, these are The Pizza Shoppe’s “twisty” breadsticks, smothered in butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese. They’re the stuff of legend!

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Here’s one of those 18-inchers.

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The pizza is pretty good, as well, though I’d just as soon have a few extra of each type of breadstick and call it a day. I can get pizza anywhere; the breadsticks are special. If anyone on here ever makes it down to Crisfield, I highly, highly recommend them

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About a year ago, we received a flyer in the mail for Po’ Boys in Milton, DE, and kept saying we needed to go there. Of course we never did. Then earlier this summer, I saw a rave review about the place on the official Roadfood website. Kelly took me there for my birthday. It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to (both then and several times since), ironically located in a three-store strip mall smack-dab between a Dollar General and a Mexican grocery store.

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This alligator seems to be their unofficial mascot. The walls are covered with crawfish traps, Mardi Gras beads, folk art paintings and other things evoking the New Orleans vibe.

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can’t remember if this is crawfish bisque or the house specialty Tasso ham and potato soup. Both are to die for—but I would kill for the Tasso and potato

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My lunch: a crawfish po’ boy (really good), coleslaw (lackluster) and Po’ Boys’ specially seasoned fries (amazing).

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Kelly opted for a blackened chicken po’ boy, which was not only delicious (I got to try some—birthday privilege), but also so big that she had to take half of it home. She too loved the fries—and she’s by no mean as big a fry fan as I am.

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I tried the buttermilk pie for dessert, and since Kelly told them it was my birthday, they put a candle in it! It wasn’t bad, but I’ve since discovered the holy grail of Po’ Boys’ desserts, the Mississippi mud pie. Think chocolate pudding, cream cheese and whipped cream, all atop a rich, thick praline crust. I would be happy with just the crust!

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Po’ Boys’ bathroom art ain’t too shabby, either!

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I can take weeks off work only certain times of the year, mostly in the summer. Since my birthday occurs in the middle of July, I usually make an effort to try to get that week off. During said week last year, I took a day trip to Ocean City, MD (which is really only 30-40 minutes from my apartment, depending on traffic). I was very pleased to learn that Polock Johnny’s had returned to the boardwalk! The restaurant closed (due to a fire, I think) a few years ago, and though one of the off-boardwalk restaurants served the namesake sausage in the interim, it wasn’t the same.

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I’ve tasted a lot of Polish sausages, cheese fries and fresh lemonade, and these are among the best (the Polish sausage is far and away THE best).

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A couple weeks later, I met my parents at Zia’s Italian Grill in Salisbury, MD.

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penne pasta with creamy pesto sauce is always my go-to dish here. In fact, it’s one of the few things on the menu that I like—but I like it A LOT!

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My parents and sister all got chicken Parmesan. They liked it.

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While visiting Philadelphia for a comic book show and quick visit to Clementon Park in August, Kelly and I sought out the Memphis Taproom following a recommendation from the TPR forums. I was all set for one of their famous toasted coconut sandwiches… when we found out they were serving brunch at noon and would not make a toasted coconut sandwich until 3 p.m. We left very quickly thereafter.

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We were both hungry, so we were on the lookout for a decent place to eat. We spotted Nifty Fifty’s in Clementon, NJ, just down the street from the park.

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We found out it’s a small regional chain… but what a chain!

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From the numerous sodas on the menu, Kelly chose cream soda, and I tried almond. Unfortunately, the almond syrup was almost out, so I ended up with a glass full of red carbonated water and switched to a ginger ale instead.

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I couldn’t resist trying the smothered Texas Tommy fries as my meal. It’s basically a heaping plate of French fries covered with bacon, Cheez Whiz, shredded mozzarella and diced hot dogs.

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Kelly tried the double Texas Tommy, which was the special of the day: two hot dogs wrapped in bacon, covered with Cheez Whiz and nestled in a toasted sub roll.

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We also split an order of spicy onion rings, which didn’t really have a lot of spice, but tasted good with the side of onion blossom sauce, anyway.

 

Coming soon: the 2011 finale--part two!

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks to a sick day today, during which I spent 11 hours knocked out on Nyquil, I have time to post the remainder of the 2011 season finale. Enjoy!

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The day before our wedding in June, we were searching for a place to take Kelly’s maid of honor and her daughter for dinner and came across some reduced-price printable gift certificates on Restaurant.com for the Blue Water Grill, right down the street from our apartment. It’s a bit upscale for our budget, but the gift certificate made it affordable. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the pictures from that visit... which actually wasn’t that unfortunate after all because it gave us an excuse to buy another reduced-price gift certificate and go back a couple months later!

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The restaurant is housed in an old dime store, and the pressed tin ceilings and partially exposed brick give it a lot of charm.

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The seating area isn’t huge, so reservations are suggested, especially on the weekend.

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I’m not usually a big fan of restaurant fish, but the gorgonzola-smothered fried grouper here is simply delicious! I paired mine with garlic mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, also both good.

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Kelly got chicken in an Alfredo cream sauce—also really good—with macaroni and mashed sweet potatoes.

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I have no idea what Lauryn got for dinner… but she followed it up with ice cream, and as far as she’s concerned, that’s the part that counts!

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It is with bittersweet memories that I post these photos from Mi Pueblito Grill, back in Crisfield. This is one of the four best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever patronized (the others being La Placita and Cactus Café, already reviewed in this thread, and Mi Tierra in San Antonio, which is reviewed in my TR from that trip in 2009). Before I moved in with my now-wife, my parents and I ate here every Christmas Eve, and I made a point of visiting the restaurant at least once or twice more each year when I was in town. Sadly, it closed shortly before the end of 2011, not because business was bad, but because the owner moved, supposedly to Africa.

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A couple years ago, the restaurant moved from an abandoned drug store on Main Street to an abandoned video store on Main Street. The old drug store had more character, but I guess the rent was cheaper at the old video store. The interior certainly was nicer and more modern.

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My absolute favorite thing here was the queso fundito. It’s basically just a giant bowl of melted cheese!

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Jeanette, whom you may remember from the Ristorante Antipasti review earlier in this thread, demonstrates the elasticity of the cheese. She and I visited in early September during a guided historical tour I led of the area.

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I always used to delight in Mi Pueblito’s Cancun shrimp—bacon-wrapped shrimp covered in raspberry-jalapeno sauce and served over rice. Then a couple years ago, my dentist recommended the skirt steak, seen here with a pair of… burritos? Chimichangas? Soft tacos? One of those Mexican food things that have 27 different names, even though they’re all essentially the same. I’ve never gotten another main course there since… and *sniff* I never will again.

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Between October and November, I spent most of my free weekends working on my latest book, due out this June. But I did take one Saturday off to go to the Philly Non-Sports Card Show in Allentown, PA. While there, I took some advice from a website dedicated to retro restaurants and attractions and paid a visit to Zandy’s.

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The sign over the entrance pretty much says it all.

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It’s like Barbie opened a cheese steak joint!

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I’ve got a friend in Zandy’s!

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The restaurant’s claim to fame is its cheese steak with tomato sauce—and it’s fantastic! Note the pierogi on the side for that authentic Pennsylvania touch.

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Afterward, I visited Wert’s Café, also in Allentown, at the recommendation of another website. Kelly, Lauryn and I had tried to visit a couple years earlier and learned that, unfortunately, it’s closed on Sundays. This time, not only was the restaurant open, but there was a brief wait for a table.

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The go-to dish here is their burgers, which are stuffed with a center of mushrooms and cheese and then grilled. Just about everyone had one, and they smelled heavenly! But there was no way I could have finished one after my big Zandy’s steak. Instead, I was here for one of Wert’s famous desserts—namely, the coconut cream pie. And, as expected, it was amazing!

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Down the street... God still loves me!

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Our last roadfood adventure of the year came during our annual Thanksgiving vacation. As I mentioned in my 2011 holiday adventures thread, we unexpected spent most of the vacation in the hospital with Kelly’s grandmother during what turned out to be her final days. I thought a visit to the Pennsylvania Dutch Market near the hospital would help take her mind off things, and so did she… until we got there and she recognized the restaurant/store as one her grandmother used to take her to when she was a kid. Oops.

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We got there in plenty of time for breakfast. Lauryn’s chocolate chip pancakes were bigger than her head… and most of her upper torso!

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Kelly gave her ham and cheese omelet, apple toast and home fries two thumbs up! Not pictured are the fresh strawberry preserves that made the toast even better! We bought some to bring back to my parents, but didn’t realize they need to be refrigerated, and… bad things happened before we had a chance to hand them off.

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Of course, the last roadfood thread shot of 2011 has to include scrapple! Kelly and I shared the perfectly-fried rectangle at the top of this image. The French toast was pretty good (I had hoped to make it peach, but they were out of peach bread that day), but the cheesy home fries were the star of this show! I’m fairly certain the topping was Cheez Whiz… and that’s just fine by me!

 

That's all for 2011. Stay tuned for 2012!

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MMMMMmmmmm Scrapple, I love scrapple!!!

 

Great report. I seem to end up in Crisfield with an hour or more to kill waiting for a ferry to Tangier, so I had seen that Mexican place a few times - but never eaten there. My next trip I am going to find that Pizza place for those twisty breadsticks for sure!

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^Definitely check it out. Its at the corner of Richardson Avenue (AKA Maryland Avenue, AKA Crisfield Highway, AKA the dual highway) and Potomac Street, across from Shore Stop and behind PNC Bank. It's really easy to miss unless you're looking for it.

 

While waiting for the boat to Tangier, I assume you've already checked out Gordon's Confectionery near Ninth and Main? If not, add that to your list, as well. Fried hot dogs, scrapple sandwiches and hand-mixed Cherry Cokes over crushed ice. Hands down the best soft drink I've ever had, and I've been drinking them since I was a kid. The coffee usually gets high marks, as well, though I'm not a coffee drinker, so I wouldn't know. Supposedly they made it with rainwater for 50+ years until the health department put a stop to it.

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^I really like scrapple, but it's an acquired taste, and it's much better if you don't know what's in it.

 

If you do want to know what's in it... think of a pig. OK, now remove the parts that make up the ham, bacon, pork chops, ribs and sausage. Now take away anything that is used to make pressed lunch meat (bologna, souse loaf, etc.) or glue. Now grind up everything that's left, add a healthy dose of cornmeal, boil it in water and let it "gel" for a couple days. Then slice it and fry it, and you've got scrapple.

 

It's not easy to find outside the Mid-Atlantic, so good luck!

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  • 2 months later...

After a few months’ hiatus, the Roadfood thread returns! But this time, the reason for the delay is more than just my usual busy-ness. In late January, I started a major diet and, save for a few weekend trips, vacations and special occasions, I really haven’t gone to many Roadfood-style places. In fact, with the exception of my weekly bar trivia night and a few work-related events, I really haven’t dined out much at all this year.

 

The good news is, a couple months ago, Kelly decided to make it a “family diet,” and in the past couple months, she and Lauryn have lost weight, as well. Then a few of our friends joined in… so we have kind of a “Biggest Loser” thing going on.

 

That said, I do have some fun places to report on… and they’re 100 percent scrapple-free! Enjoy!

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I’m not sure how this place has escaped the Roadfood thread thus far, but Thrasher’s French Fries is an Ocean City, MD, tradition dating back to the 1920s. This was the “crowd” when I stopped by during a visit to the boardwalk the first week of January to take a photo to enter into one of Big Mike’s contests. In the summer, the line can stretch for what seems like a mile. However, there is a dirty little secret: Besides the main location pictured here, there are other Thrasher’s locations further down the boardwalk that almost never have lines… and the fries there are just as good, no matter what anyone tells you.

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This is a “small” (sizes go all the way up to a popcorn-style bucket) with sea salt and vinegar, the way God intended Thrasher’s fries to be eaten! The only items served besides fries are Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, poured into cups from two-liter bottles. And don’t even think about asking for ketchup. It’s not available at Thrasher’s, and the Boog’s Barbecue restaurant next door (owned by and named for Baltimore Orioles Hall-of-Famer John “Boog” Powell) has signs sternly warning patrons that its ketchup is not to be used on Thrasher’s fries… or else.

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In early March, Lauryn started talking about how much she wanted to visit New York. I have no idea what prompted this sudden urge to see the Big Apple, but I suspect it was because the main characters from “iCarly” or “Big Time Rush” or “Victorious” or some other interchangeable show probably went there. Kelly and I started talking about a visit… then the next day at work, a friend of mine who runs bus trips told me she still had tickets available for her next trip to New York a few weeks later if I knew anyone who was interested. It was kismet! Kelly wanted to spend the day taking Lauryn shopping in the Times Square area, and I reluctantly agreed… provided I got to choose the restaurants. First up: John’s Pizzeria.

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I came thisclose to changing my mind once I realized that Shake Shack was right across the street (and the grill smell coming from there was amazing), but since I had been denied a chance to visit John’s once before during a group holiday trip when the wait proved to be too long, I had incentive to see what I had missed out on. Next time I’ll visit Shake Shack to see what I missed out on this time!

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How many pizza joints have you been to with a ceiling like this? This particular branch of John’s (with several locations throughout the city) was built inside a defunct church!

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The view from our table. Not too shabby!

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Stained glass windows on the other side.

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But forget about the view… this is where the magic happens! On Scott’s Pizza Tour last year, I learned that the best pizzas come from coal-fired ovens like this.

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Lauryn had a bad experience with pizza last year (she will forever associate tomato sauce with the flu), so she doesn’t particularly care for it anymore. However, she is a garlic bread fiend. Personally, I thought John’s’ variety was a little bland, but she enjoyed it, which is what counts.

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Ladies and gentlemen, this pepperoni-sausage-garlic-cheese, coal-fired, thin-crust pizza from John’s is quite probably the best pizza I have eaten thus far in my life. Kelly said the same thing… and we’ve eaten a lot of pizza! Maybe it’s because it was the first “junk” food I’d had in more than two months at that point. Maybe it really was that good. I don’t know. But to this day, I still have dreams about that wonderful pie.

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Originally, I wanted to go to the Carnegie Deli for dinner. However, in researching the trip, Kelly decided it was too far to walk. Plus, she really hates crowded, chaotic places, and neither of us was sure how well Lauryn would do in that type of atmosphere after getting up at 4 a.m. and spending the day walking several miles through New York. I wasn’t sure how long our wait would be, and I read a lot of mixed reviews online. Ultimately, we decided it would be best to skip it this time and try something else. When I read about Junior’s, it sounded like the perfect substitution.

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How can you have a Brooklyn-themed restaurant without featuring Ebbets Field?

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“Forget Ebbets Field… where’s the food?”

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Our meal began with complimentary sour pickles, beets and coleslaw.

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I had read good things about the matzo ball soup, so Kelly and I each got a bowl. They were huge! I really wish we had just got one to split; it was a meal unto itself.

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I got the half corned beef, half pastrami sandwich. It looks good here… but in actuality, it was pretty dry. I’ve had better.

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Kelly went for the pastrami burger with fries and onion r.ings, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Lauryn got the same thing, only without the pastrami and r.ings.

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The onion r.ings were the size of doughnuts! That’s not an exaggeration.

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Full as we were, we weren’t about to leave without sampling a slice of Junior’s’ famous cheesecake. They’re even sold on QVC, according to my mother. We got a piece to split three ways.

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Om nom nom!

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At the Toys “R” Us in Times Square, I picked up some bacon-flavored jellybeans and cheese-flavored fried worms. The worms tasted like… nothing, really. The jellybeans, on the other hand, were absolutely horrible! Kelly got mad at me after she ate one on the way home. I still have most of them left… though I did palm some off to the kids who attended Lauryn’s birthday party last month (they got mad at me, too).

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In April, my friend from whom we bought the New York tickets called and let me know she had a few empty seats left on her bus trip to the 100th anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., that she was willing to give away, lest they be wasted. Lauryn was spending her spring break with her father in Kentucky, and Kelly wasn’t really interested, so I went solo. After the massive parade, I made my way to the Sakura Matsuri street festival. I was looking forward to sampling authentic Japanese cuisine…

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…like Big Macs!

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Um… let’s go with whatever this guy is making instead.

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The lines for the Japanese food vendors were insane and not even remotely organized. You would stand in one line for 20 minutes only to find out it wasn’t a line at all, but a dead end. In the end, it was more of a “next person who shouts their order is the next person who gets waited on” deal.

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This pork bun was OK. Not really worth waiting 45 minutes for, but… OK.

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I had better luck at the pre-packaged, grab-and-go booths. I’m not really sure what these things were, but they were incredible! Far and away the best food I had at the festival.

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Unfortunately, I pushed my luck too far. As a fan of “Lost,” I certainly wasn’t going to pass up on the opportunity to try an actual fish biscuit! It was filled with bean paste, and didn’t have much taste. I’m not sure what those things next to it were called, but they were kind of like a dense marshmallow-flavored dough coated in chunky Karo syrup, if that even makes sense. By the time I finished all three skewers, I felt pretty sick.

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That was the last “cheat” day until Memorial Day weekend, when I made a special trip to Bethlehem, PA, to see Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica perform during “Luau at Levitt” at the Levitt Pavilion at the SteelStacks arts and entertainment complex.

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This was the snack bar inside. Apparently the Just Born candy company, maker of Peeps and Mike and Ikes, is a big sponsor.

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These were the benches!

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I opted for the outdoor catering, which was a bit more luau-themed!

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Roast pig sandwich with mango chutney (pineapple salsa also available), taro chips (listed as “homemade,” though they obviously weren’t) and a mai tai… now that’s living!

 

That’s all for this installment. Stay tuned for more!

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In early June, I completed a nine-day, 10-state driving vacation that took me to amusement parks, roadside attractions and restaurants in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. During that time, I managed to gain no fewer than 14 pounds! Here’s why.

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Not counting a Hardee’s breakfast sandwich that morning (all diet bets were off for this trip), my first stop of the vacation was Cumberland, MD, for… Coney Island hot dogs?

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Oh noes!

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Fortunately, Curtis’ was the place I had intended to go to all along. I didn’t even know that other Coney Island place existed until I ended up parking in front of its now-empty shell.

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“When Johnny was marching off to war… we were making Coney Island sauce!” Check out the menu.

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I had actually been to Curtis’ a few years earlier. Beneath the piece of cardboard listing Cherry Coke is a portion of the sign that reads “Cherry Smash,” a Virginia-based soft drink that was quite good. I was sad to see they had taken it off the menu. Apparently the change took place shortly after my last visit; the waitress said Curtis’ was the only restaurant in the area that was still stocking it, and the company stopped sending delivery drivers all that way for a single order.

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My regular order at Curtis’: two with sauce, hold the onions. They were as fantastic as I remembered. I also got to see the cook (but alas, failed to get a picture) line a quantity of them up his arm and dress them in bulk. Fun stuff!

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Several hours and several antique stores later, I pulled into Huntington, WV, where my first stop was the Frostop Drive-Inn.

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Check out the giant root beer mug on the roof! It rotates. Much like A&W, Frostop was once a drive-in hot dog and root beer chain that later bottled its brew for sales in stores. Today, only a few individual restaurants remain.

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It looks just like the one on the roof!

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The hot dog was great! The chili actually tasted just like its counterpart at one of my favorite hot dog joints, Ann’s Dari-Creme in Glen Burnie, MD, which I’ve written about elsewhere on TPR, if not in this thread. The slaw (a traditional hot dog topping in West Virginia) could have been a little better, but it was still good. And the carhop was very friendly, welcoming me when she found out it was not only my first time at a Frostop, but in Huntington, as well.

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Let’s talk about this root beer for a moment. It was quite probably the best root beer I’ve ever had! Very sweet, with a strong hint of vanilla, served in a chilled mug. What’s not to like?

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Next up on the hot dog trail was Stewart’s Hot Dogs.

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There are several branches of this very local chain in Huntington, but this little orange stand is the original. In fact, it’s so small, I accidentally drove by it during my first pass. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not related to the Stewart’s bottled sodas or the Stewart’s Original drive-ins of New Jersey.

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As good as Frostop? Let’s find out.

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OK, the root beer was really good, if not quite as good as Frostop (and not served in a frosted mug, obviously). The dogs were… not great. I really liked the coleslaw, but the chili just kind of tasted like “glop,” and the dogs were nothing special. The onion rings were 99 percent grease, and I ended up leaving most of them behind. Honestly, I probably would have gone with the one-dog, one-root beer order here as I did at Frostop had I not had a coupon for the extra dog and onion rings.

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My last stop before checking into the hotel after a long day: Jolly Pirate Donuts…

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And gyros!

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Retro packaging!

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The doughnuts here were pretty good overall. The glazed wasn’t half bad…

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…while the apple fritter was great! I saved mine for breakfast the next morning.

 

Up next: Hillbilly Hot Dogs! You won't want to miss this one.

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Ah, just noticed you brought back this thread. I would have thought the Stewart's were related due to the similar color scheme. Unfortunately, I'm a hot dog snob and rarely try them outside of New York.

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^^Throughout my travels, I’ve noticed that just about every root beer place uses an orange-and-black or orange-and-brown color scheme (there are some more examples coming up in the thread). I have no idea how those became the official colors for root beer, but it seems to be nearly as universal as striped poles for barber shops.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Normally I don’t take the time to do extensive TRs of single restaurants in this thread, but Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV, merits an exception. Enjoy!

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This sign came up so fast, I actually had to turn around and drive back, even though I was actively looking for it. It’s literally nothing… nothing… nothing… landmark hot dog stand… nothing… nothing… wait a minute!

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Of course, Guy already beat me here. According to signs inside, he rated it one of the top 10 places he’s ever visited on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” I actually caught a rerun of his segment on the place a couple weeks after I dined there.

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With décor like this, it would be easy to guess this place was all about atmosphere rather than food.

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Fortunately, that guess would be wrong! Though the atmosphere is good. Here’s the line inside (I got there 15 minutes before opening, and the line was already out the door). You place your order, then they ring a bell and call your name when it’s ready for pickup at the counter. Whenever someone tips, the entire staff sings a song praising the owner and his wife with the tagline, “We got the weenies!” It’s infectious and pretty hilarious at the same time. The waitresses do a great job hamming up the “hillbilly” aspect (“Y’all come and git it!”). There’s also a big announcement whenever someone orders a “Homewrecker” — a 15-pound hot dog with the works!

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Outside seating takes place beneath a weather-worn boat.

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Indoor seating is in one of two buses repurposed for dining. I chose the bus.

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Did I mention that graffiti is encouraged? TPR represent!

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There are roughly several bajillion hot dogs to choose from, and I don’t remember what mine was called, but it had grilled onions, chili, bacon, cheese and some other stuff on it. I also opted for an order of garlic ranch fries… because really, who wouldn’t opt for an order of garlic ranch fries? I did decline extra bacon on them, however. You know… the diet.

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A cross-section of the hot dog to prove there really is a hot dog in there… and it was phenomenal! If I’m ever in this area again, I’m definitely stopping by.

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Disney-approved!

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This is what is called “roadfood foreshadowing.” But we have awhile before we get that far. Up next: one more holdover from West Virginia, then it’s on to Louisville, KY, for more landmark restaurants and dessert-a-palooza!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Onward to Louisville, KY, in this installment. Enjoy!

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Back in Huntington, WV, on my way to Camden Park, I decided to stop by Tudor’s Biscuit World, a West Virginia franchise I’ve seen many times, but never tried. Short story: The employees were rude, and the service sucked.

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And the food? I opted for a fried apple biscuit as dessert following Hillbilly Hot Dogs, and it was… edible. That’s about all that can be said for it. I likely will not be going back to Biscuit World.

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A stop at a gas station just over the Kentucky state line unearthed this curious ginger ale brand. It was pretty good.

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After an eventful afternoon, I found myself at Lynn’s Paradise Café in Louisville, KY.

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This place is famous among roadfooders, and its signature seems to be this eternally pouring teapot, though it’s no more or less eclectic than anything else outside the restaurant…

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… or inside!

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Note the mismatched kitchen tables and chairs scattered throughout the main dining area. That’s called “theming.” Each table had a basket of trivia and “would you rather” cards on it for entertainment purposes, which I appreciated since I accidentally left my book in the car.

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Each year, the restaurant holds an “ugliest lamp” contest, and the winners are placed on the tables, as well.

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This was the one I ended up seated next to.

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Sadly, I didn’t think the food lived up to the hype. It was good… but not great. I started with fried green tomatoes.

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For the main course, I had a Kentucky Reuben quesadilla, which is corned beef and fried cabbage grilled between two quesadillas and served with Jack Daniel’s thousand island dressing. Which would make this more of a “Tennessee” Reuben, I would think, since that’s where Jack Daniel’s is based. But that’s just me, I guess. What the sandwich lacked in flavor it made up for in size — I ended up leaving about half of it, along with a couple of the fried tomatoes behind.

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But the main reason I came here was for the baked macaroni and cheese. I had heard wondrous things about this and was hoping for something along the lines of what my grandmother used to make. It looked good… but unfortunately, it tasted like nothing more than plain boiled noodles. It was probably the blandest thing I sampled the entire trip.

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Back outside, I stopped to admire the flip-flop-phone…

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…and this little guy.

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Afterward, I made my way down the street a ways to the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen (HICPK), one of several in Louisville.

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So many choices!

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They also make wedding cakes.

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I actually knew what I wanted before I even set foot in the door, thanks to online recommendations. This particular slice of chess pie was the absolute best dessert of the trip! For those who don’t know what chess pie is, it’s basically a baked sticky/custardy concoction of butter, sugar and eggs in a pie shell. But as simple as it sounds, there are a lot of ways to screw it up. This one was as close to perfection as it gets.

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This one and the one on the left below took a tumble in the car and got a little mashed up on the way to the hotel. This is HICPK’s signature caramel-iced Dutch apple pie. Nothing could compare to that chess pie, so it was a slight disappointment, but still really good. I had it for breakfast the next morning. The shaker sugar pie on the left below was basically caramelized brown sugar between two crusts! It was so sweet, it took me three nights to finish it off.

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I also bought the caramel upside-down cupcake on the right to try. Caramel cake was a specialty of my grandmother (not the macaroni-and-cheese grandmother; the other one), and I wanted to see how it compared. Grandmom’s was better, but this one wasn’t bad. It was so big and I had so many other stops along the way that I actually saved most of it for the night after I got home.

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OK, I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, you already had four desserts today. You’re honestly going to stop for more?” You’re darned right I am! Graeter’s came highly recommended by a friend of mine from Cincinnati, where its ice cream reigns supreme… even though the company is based in Louisville.

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In honor of my visit to Kentucky, I got a cone of bourbon ball ice cream. Now, I’m not usually one to drive out of my way for ice cream. With the exception of one dairy farm near my house, which offers a particularly excellent product, I’ve always pretty much thought most ice cream was the same. Well, Graeter’s uses what it calls a “French pot” method of injecting the chocolate pieces into its ice cream. I have no idea what that actually means, but I’m here to tell you that it works! This was delectable.

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What’s this? Another dessert? Yep! I’ve expounded on Krispy Kreme on the boards before, but here’s the short story: They opened one up near me when I was in college. My friends and I went there so often that we developed a crack-like addiction, especially to the hot original glazed. Then Krispy Kreme fell on hard financial times and closed every one of its stores within 200 miles of me. Now I make it a point to stop there whenever I’m on vacation in the South.

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I mean, wouldn’t you?

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The next morning, after my caramel apple pie breakfast and a visit to Caufield’s Novelty, I went downtown to visit the historic Brown Hotel.

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Not bad, eh?

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More specifically, however, I went to visit J. Graham’s Café inside the Brown Hotel. Why?

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This is why: the Hot Brown sandwich. It’s basically Texas toast, turkey, bacon, cheese and two tomato slices (which I picked out after taking the photo) covered in Hollandaise sauce and broiled. And its whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. This was marvelous! Plus it was nice to check off a lingering “roadfood” item I had wanted to try when Kelly and I visited in 2009, but got sidetracked by a different restaurant instead.

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For dessert, I picked up a “Blue Monday” candy bar from the hotel gift shop. It’s made by Ruth Hunt Candies, which offered tours at its nearby factory. Had I not already had a full itinerary for the day, I probably would have stopped there. The bar itself was sort of a powdery cream-like filling (think the stuff in the middle of Cow Tails or Goetz’ Caramel Creams) enrobed in chocolate. Interesting… but I don’t need to sample another.

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This is where I spent the evening, in Cave City, KY. Look familiar, Chadster?

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The complex included a small room with ice and this drink machine advertising a soft drink brand I hadn’t heard of before.

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It was pretty good… kind of like a Sprite, but with orange instead of lime. I found a wild cherry version at a gas station down the road the next day, which I didn’t like as much. Unfortunately, I later read the labels of both and found out that, although Ski isn’t a cola, its flavors do contain caffeine, which I’m supposed to avoid. Oops.

 

Up next: the self-proclaimed “Bar-B-Q Capital of the World,” a brief detour to Nashville and lots more Kentucky.

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