Alright, I'm caught up on sleep and spending time with the family. The novelty of having me home has worn off for the kids and they are back to hiding in their rooms so I can finally get the last of the Fat Boy Summer Road Trip posted.
Day 13 had us leaving Reno and turning towards home to fulfill a promise to my son. I missed Father's Day and his 17th birthday during this trip, but I promised that we would end the trip with him at the Def Leppard and KISS concert on the 27th of June. We made changes quite a few times along the course of the trip to make sure we made it home in time, and I am so glad that we did.
We left Reno headed North West across the mountains and Shasta to reach I-5 and home. Halfway through the day we stopped for dinner in Ashland with my brother and his girlfriend Shawna. There are lots of great choices in Ashland for dinner, so I let my brother choose where we should go. He picked an amazing restaurant that I'm going to have to visit every time I'm back in town.
My brother eats out in Ashland quite a bit, so I asked him where we should eat while we were in town and he didn't hesitate to make reservations for us at Smithfields, a local steakhouse that specializes in local ingredients and amazing creations that are sure to wow anyone, but define Fat Boy Heaven. From House bacon beignets with maple chive crème fraiche to Roasted bone marrow with parsley, capers, house-pickles and charred sourdough their starter menu is amazing and everything we tried was perfect.
We started with the roasted bone marrow and bacon beignets, and I have rarely if ever had better appetizers anywhere. The bone marrow was expertly roasted and seasoned, and the flavor was amazing. Coop had never tried bone marrow before, and once again my recommendation won him over to a new experience. The bacon beignets were perfect, with nice chunks of crispy bacon suspended in a light and fluffy dough and served with an amazing maple creme fraiche that elevated them to the next level. A great start to what was shaping up to be one of the best meals of an amazing road trip.
For my dinner I had a hard time deciding and asked the owner to decide for me. She selected the cider-braised pork belly, and I am glad I went with her recommendation. Served with bacon braised collard greens, mash potatoes, and topped with a grilled apple slice it was an amazing meal. The pork belly was juicy and bursting with incredible flavor, while still crispy and crunchy on top giving it that great bacon crunch. The hard apple cider used as a braising liquid gave this a nice zip, and a strong apple flavor.
The collard greens braised with bacon were slow cooked to great effect, giving them super flavor and a tenderness that is hard to find without the greens coming out a water logged mess. Served atop mashed potatoes the combination was an amazing meal that I couldn't have expected when we arrived in Ashland of all places.
Smithfields is a special place, and has everything we could ever hope to find in Fat Boy Heaven. If you find yourself in or anywhere near Ashland, you have to give this place a try.
From Ashland it was another 4 1/2 hours to sleep in my own bed. We spent longer enjoying the amazing food at Smithfields than we planned originally, so it was almost 2:00am when we finally made it to Hillsboro. It was great to sleep in my own bed again, and seeing the wife and kids after 20 days on the road trip was a much needed refresher.
We woke up on day 14 getting laundry done and catching up with my family ahead of the Def Leppard and KISS concert that was designated as the end of the trip when we started planning this adventure. The show was amazing for us, and my son had the time of his life at his first big rock show.
In all it was an amazing adventure, and having the time to reconnect with an old friend was priceless. We had the opportunity to explore much of America over the three weeks we spent on the road, and ate some incredible food along the way. We travelled more than 4400 miles together (plus my travel across the country on the train in part 1 of this adventure) and survived without any accidents, deaths, or arrests so I call it a success.
Until the next adventure, enjoy these slices of Fat Boy Heaven as you travel the back roads of America. You won't be sorry you stopped at any of them.