The final installment of our summer journey covering the drive from Roswell, NM to Salem, OR during which time we discover that Chris Ledoux was right, life really is a highway.Read More
We left St. Louis after a great time catching up with the Golden family and headed south to Memphis. Alongthe way we stopped at Stonie's Sausage Shop for some road snacks. They had a great selection of fresh made smoked meats and sausages, great homemade jerky, and a wide selection of local area products from pickles to pork rinds, wine, and sodas. It was a great find. We picked up some cheese, some snack sticks, and some bologna and sausage to thow in the cooler for the drive to Memphis.
After a long drive we made it to Memphis around 8pm and headed straight to Beale St., starting at the West end at the Hard Rock Cafe. If you have never been to Memphis, TN it really is a trip every music lover should take. The sights and sounds even on a Monday night were spectacular, with live music coming from every juke joint on Beale. We walked "with our boots ten feet off of Beale" taking in the sights and sounds until we reached the end of the entertainment district and were waived into Coyote Ugly by their manager T. It was quiet on a Monday night, but we ended up having a ton of fun and closing the place down with Morgan and Evee.
Left Memphis for Shreveport, LA. The long night had us so tired we forgot to set the alarm and were woken up by the guy at the front desk telling us it was checkout time. Fortunately he gave us a late checkout without a hassle. We had a huge breakfast at Cracker Barrel and were on our way.
It was a long drive, but we made it into Shreveport and got checked into our hotel. It was right next to the Louisiana Downs racetrack and casino, so we walked over there to find dinner.
Fuddruckers was the only restaurant in the casino still open, but they have always made an amazing burger so we had a nice meal. We played the slots for a few minutes after dinner then called it an early night.
After an early night we got up and packed after a decent breakfast buffet at the hotel. After a long drive made it to Austin, TX.
No trip to Austin is complete for me without a trip to Stubbs BBQ. Stubbs Legendary BBQ has been doing pit style BBQ right since Mr. Stubblefield opened the original (and now closed) joint in Lubbock in 1968. He was instrumental in breaking musical talent like Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughn back then and ever since live music has been almost as important as the food to Stubbs' customers and fans worldwide.
After a great dinner at Stubbs we headed for 6th Street to find a party. We walked the North side of the block then crossed to come back to Chuggin' Monkey to get a look at the band that we could hear from across the street.
The Blues Posse were tearing it up! Their lead guitar, Jack Edery was pulling blues licks from all over the spectrum and doing them well. Vocals from Mr. Jamie van Beek were tight and accurate. A great show. On to the next spot.
We left the Chuggin' Monkey and wandered into Pete's Dueling Piano Bar. It was packed, with hundreds of people all singing along and shouting requests spanning the decades.
Another music town, another Coyote Ugly! Rosalyn, Morgan, and Ashley were fun but didn't match the energy or fun of the great ladies we met a couple of days ago in Memphis.
We closed Coyote Ugly down again, and headed back to the hotel.
We got up and moving planning on heading for Amarillo, but plans to see a friend fell through so we changed our routing a bit, heading to Roswell, NM instead. It was a long drive, but we made Roswell about 7:30 local time. We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant recommended by the girl at the front desk called Los Cerritos.
I had a great stuffed sopapilla with all the trimmings. The recommendation if anything undersold the food. I love New Mexican food, with the great use of hatch green chiles and a unique addition of fried dough.
The Fat Boy Summer Road Trip started out with a day of flight from PDX to Kansas City.
After my arrival we went to dinner at a local spot called Nick & Nino's Pub. I Continued celebrating the #OldFashionedFortnight with a strong but decent Old Fashioned made with Makers 46. For an appetizer we had the Fried Trio, a combination of fried pickles, fried zucchini, and fried green beans. Dinner was a 16oz Rib eye, served with mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed veggies. The rib eye was perfectly cooked and seasoned, in addition to being tender enough that I didn't realize I was using my butter knife until the second bite.
The atmosphere at Nick & Nino's was great, with friendly staff and live music from a decent band. Not a bad start to the adventure.
Our second day started on base at Ft. Leavenworth for Maj. Michael Cooper's graduation from the United States Army's Command and General Staff College. It was great to be able to be here and see Coop reach another milestone in his military career.
The keynote address was provided by Gen. Abrams, Commanding General, U.S Army Forces Command. His address focused on the bonds forged by graduates with each other and with graduates from the 93 nations represented in this year's class, the threats they will face in a faster paced global environment than his generation of staff officers had to deal with, and the relationships that would change to the organizations graduates would return to or be joining.
After graduation breakfast was in order, so we headed to downtown Leavenworth to a restaurant that opened just a couple years ago in the old railroad depot, appropriately named The Depot.
My breakfast special included a biscuit with gravy, crispy and perfectly fried hashbrowns, two eggs, and two slices of crispy bacon. The biscuits were flaky and amazing, gravy was peppery beauty. One of the best classically dine breakfast Atos I've had in a long time. Definitely worth a stop if you find yourself in Leavenworth, KS.
That evening we went out to celebrate before leaving town, and spent must of our evening at DraftCade in Kansas City's Zona Rosa mall. Featuring 60 taps of craft brew goodness, classic pinball and arcade games, and a decent bar menu it was a fun place to hang out.
From there we headed out to local dive Arthur's for karaoke and drinks with some old friends to end the night.
Day Three dawned with a delay after finding that the Uhaul had been stolen from the parking lot over night. After a three hour delay to file the police report and track down a replacement trailer we were finally on the road to St. Louis and a home cooked meal with the Golden family. Bob worked for Coop in New York, and I met them on our last trip West three years ago. Since then they have become good friends.
We arrived to advance amazing meal and great time catching up with the whole family. We stayed up until after 3am laughing and talking around the fire out back. It was the perfect end to a day that started out so crazy.
We woke up and had a light breakfast before heading out to see a little bit of the city. We stayed at Anheiser-Busch's Grants Farm. The historic home if general US Grant's in-laws it became the country home of the Busch family in the early 1900's.
We expected to see the Clydesdale horses so famous for pulling the beer wagons. We didn't expect to find camels, elephants, buffalo, and exotic birds.
From Grants Farm we headed downtown to visit the Arch.
We were all hot and tired so headed back to Bob and Rinku's house for dinner. On the way we grabbed pizza from local favorite Imo's. Featuring a cracker thin crust and light sauce it is unique but a nice might take on a take out staple.
We left St. Louis after a great time catching up with the Golden family and headed south to Memphis. Along the way we stopped at Stonie's Sausage.
Snack stix and sweet bologna were my favorite finds, but a great selection of meat and sausage aft decent prices.
Carrie and I spent the weekend in Louisville, and the visit reinforced the fact that I love Kentucky like it was where I was born to live. From the small-town feel of the big city you get in Louisville to the rolling bluegrass fields and horse ranches of the countryside it's an amazing place that reminds me of my real home in Portland, Oregon but adds so much charm and history, not to mention actual seasons. And we can't forget the bourbon. From great bourbon bars to the largest and best bourbon distillers in the world both Louisville and Lexington are amazing whiskey towns.
Mar 3, 2017
Day one of our anniversary trip to Louisville was a long drive, where we checked into the historic Seelbach Hotel followed by a great bowl of Burgoo and cocktails at one of the best hotel bars in the country, The Old Seelbach Bar.
Traditional burgoo was made using whatever meats and vegetables were available—typically, venison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or game birds, and was often associated with autumn and the harvest season. Today, local barbecue restaurants use a specific meat in their recipes, usually pork, chicken, or mutton, which, along with the spices used, creates a flavor unique to each restaurant.
The Seelbach takes things to a new level featuring pork, rabbit, and venison in their burgoo. This combination of meats with the traditional okra, corn, and potatoes whose starches leech out to thicken this amazing soup create a concoction thick enough to stand your spoon up while still leaving an ample amount of broth to be soaked up by their amazing bourbon bread.
March 4, 2017
We started with a quiet morning and breakfast in bed from the amazing Gatsby's on Fourth Cafe in the hotel. We then took a drive through historic Louisville. We tried to get in for a tour of the Angels Envy distillery that opened across from Slugger Stadium since the last time we were in town, but tours were sold out for the day. Instead we took a drive out Old Bardstown Road through the historic neighborhoods East of Downtown known as The Highlands.
We came back early afternoon and walked down the street from the Seelbach to another historic Louisville hotel, The Brown for lunch. Our favorite spot in the hotel, the Lobby Bar wasn't open yet but I got some pictures before heading down to the historic J. Graham's Cafe on the first floor.
J. Graham's Cafe is the originator of the Hot Brown, the city's signature sandwich which was developed in the 1920's to satisfy late night diners looking for more glamorous than ham and eggs after attending the historic dinner dances hosted in the 4,300 sqft Crystal Ballroom which regularly accommodated more than 1,200 guests per night.
We of course both chose the Hot Brown for our lunch, and as always were not disappointed. The amazing mornay sauce is as ever the centerpiece of this amazing open faced sandwich, combining Pecorino Romano cheese with a perfectly made cream sauce with just a hint of nutmeg to draw out the nutty flavors of the cheese. This sauce covers the base of Texas toast and Turkey before being sprinkled with more cheese and thrown under a broiler. The sandwich is then covered with 2 strips of bacon before being garnished and served. There is no better sandwich in my experience, and I've eaten some amazing sandwiches in my travels.
Mar 5, 2017
Country Ham and Pimento cheese on wheat from Wallace Station is an amazingly well constructed sandwich. The salt and sweet from the ham are the perfect foil for the creamy spice of the pimento cheese. Pimento cheese is one of those southern creations we just don't find most places in Oregon unless we make it like Grandma did.
Carrie had the Turkey Rachel, Roast turkey, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and creamy slaw. A southern take on the Ruben with house made slaw that takes it to a whole new level. She said it was a great sandwich, and her clean plate said she wasn't just being polite.
Note from the Fatboy-in-Chief: This article was written by my amazing wife about her recent trip with my mother-in-law and daughter to NYC for my daughters 16th birthday. You will notice some stylistic differences but the writing is probably much better than mine. Enjoy.Read More
On the Northern edge of downtown Astoria, Oregon, across from the Maritime Museum is an old tramp boat sitting on a trailer, with lines around the block. When you get closer it is easy to understand why: you can smell the greasy goodness of fried fish as only Bowpicker serves it up.Read More
FeastPDX is the Northwest's premier food and beverage event. Founded in 2012 by Mike Thelin and Carrie Welch, Feast Portland showcases local culinary talent and Pacific Northwest ingredients alongside internationally recognized chefs, culinary professionals and industry leaders. Feast Portland is also a festival with a mission, donating its net proceeds towards ending childhood hunger in Oregon and around the country through Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength.
The centerpiece of the festival is the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, a two day event in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
This is the second year Fat Boy Heaven has attended this amazing event, and this year was even better than last year. It is easy to see why everyone from Zagat to Forbes has lauded it as one of the nation's premiere food events, and while naming it one of America's top 15 food events Fodor's Travel said it was "done to such perfection you’d think one of the Pacific Coast’s biggest-catch food events was in its 30th year.”
I could write for days about the flavors and sights of this amazing event, but wiser men than I for generations have said a picture is worth a thousand words so I will give you- the sights of Feast Portland:
Whole Foods, a featured sponsor of the event had a large tent set up on the upper level of the square featuring local products they were debuting in their styles from Portland vendors.
And there you have it, the sites and food of Feast Portland's Grand Tasting for 2014. I'm already looking forward to next year's event. Up next, a new event for this year, the Tillamook Brunch Village.
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.Read More
Day 12 started with us leaving the Palazzo headed North for Reno. It was coming up on lunch time, so we stopped by John Mull's Road Kill Grill in North Las Vegas for some award winning BBQ. Tucked back in an old North Las Vegas neighborhood it isn't easy to find the Road Kill Grill, but this place knows how to BBQ. Huge portions and great prices rule the day, and the friendly folks in this shop will have you coming back for more. Click the link to read more about this amazing spot and our 12th day on the road.Read More
Day 11 began in Flagstaff, AZ just south of Grand Canyon National Park and around 700 miles from our destination of Las Vegas. Before leaving Flagstaff we stopped for lunch at one of my favorite Southwestern restaurants anywhere, Salsa Brava.Read More
We started our day at Ye Olde Pancake Station in Amarillo, TX and you have to click through to see the review of this place. We made a couple of stops for gas, the first of which was at a truck stop that had an auto museum you will see pictures from, but otherwise drove all day to make it to the hotel by 9:00 pm.Read More
Today we had planned on hard driving getting us to Albequerque, NM. We got a bit of a later start, and when I realized that Route 66 passed through Joplin, MO we decided to spend some time exploring the Mother Road instead of pushing down the interstate.Read More
We woke up after far too little sleep in Nashville this morning with another long day of driving planned, but wanted to see a couple things in the daylight before we left town. We went by and snapped a picture of the Nashville skyline in the morning sun and a picture of LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Our final stop was to the Nashville Farmers Market to grab a fresh lunch before hitting the road for Joplin, MO to hug an old friend and have dinner with her.
The Nashville Farmers Market is huge, with five buildings in total. Two "Farm Sheds" contain stalls for local farmers to sell fresh produce and feature everything from turnip greens to fresh peaches and heirloom tomatoes. In the middle is the Food Court, an enclosed building that is home to several permanent restaurants, an international foods market, and quite a few temporary food booths selling everything from handmade pastries and gelato to traditional Indian and Jamaican foods.
The final two structures are the "Flea Market", featuring booths from dozens of different vendors. Here you can find all kinds of thins from clothing to household goods and designer fragrances.
In the Food Court we decided on a crepe from Music City Crepes. They intrigued me with hot savory crepes filled with meat and cheese. I had mine with ground beef, cheddar cheese, olives, onions, and fresh spinach. It was a nice refreshing yet substantial meal to hold us through the 600 mile drive planned for the day.
From Nashville we headed out on our long drive to the Southwest corner of Missouri. Crossing the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and the Ozark mountains.
Our route took us to one of the biggest river joinings in the world. In the span of two miles Route 51 took us across the Ohio River from Kentucky into Illinois, then across the Mississippi River from Illinois into Missouri just a mile north of the point where these two mighty rivers join. You are in Illinois so briefly that the only indication is a sign saying you are on the Lincoln historical trail just before you leave while crossing the Mississippi.
We checked into the Holiday Inn in Joplin and then met up with Katie, a good friend who lives just west of Joplin for dinner at the Steak n Shake before calling it a night. It was a long drive but worth it to have a few hours catching up with an old friend and having a meal together before heading to bed for Sunday's journey.
With yesterday's delays we had some miles to make up today, but had a night in Nashville waiting as our reward for making the push.
We saw some beautiful scenery crossing the Smoky Mountains as we crossed Virginia, and driving through them in Tennessee as we logged almost 900 miles. We stopped in Bristol, VA/TN for a later lunch and found ourselves at Burger Bar, a downtown Bristol fixture since 1942 with a big sign advertising Bristol's Best Burger. We were greated by friendly staff and a 1940s style diner that I'm sure looks very much like it did the day it opened.
I had a pretty basic bacon and cheddar burger made extraordinary by the hand formed fresh beef patty, high-grade bacon, and perfect seasoning. When I eat at this type of diner I try the burger the way it is served before I add condiments, and for a burger to be "Fat Boy Approved" it has to stand on its own. This burger did with no problem at all. The beef perfectly cooked, juicy without grease running all over, high quality toppings, and a great bun that held up without being too crusty.
After completing our meal we found out that Joe Deel, one of the owners was there and when our waitress handed him the card I left with the check he came out to talk with me for a few minutes. What I wish I had known before I ordered is that much of what they serve every day isn't on the menu. Regulars know to ask what they have fresh when they sit at the counter, and it has been known to range from fresh organic produce to venison. If I make it back I'll be sure to ask Joe what he wants to cook me instead of even looking at the menu. This is hometown hospitality and tradition done right, and Bristol's Famous Burger Bar is earning a permanent place in Fat Boy Heaven as a result. Whether you are in town for races at the Bristol Motor Speedway, or traveling through to learn more about Bristol's role in country music history make sure you stop in and see the Deel's and tell them the Fat Boy sent you.
As we left Bristol a torrential thunder storm hit out of nowhere, not an uncommon occurance this high in the Smoky Mountains. Visibility was so bad that traffic on the Interstate literally pulled over to wait it out or crept aong with 4-way flashers helping fellow travelers see them on the road. It passed almost as quickly, and we made the trip the rest of the way into Nashville without issue.
We checked into our hotel and quickly changed out of our travel clothes to go out and explore Nashville. Coop had never been here, and was blown away when we got down to Broadway, where the majority of the honky tanks in town sit side by side in a three block stretch near the Ryman Auditorium and the Nashville Convention Center. After walking the strip we decided nothing special was going on anywhere else, so we might as well hit the oldest of the bars. On Broadway, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. The place was packed and we waited on line for about 20 minutes before getting inside. Once there we got drinks at the bar from the friendly and efficient staff and found a spot to stand and enjoy the performance of Anthony Orion and the Goodfellows.
It was a great night at an amazing bar, and even after a long day on the road we couldn't pry ourselves away until last call. Now we can't wait to get back to Nashville with more time to explore.
Today started of OK, then got bogged down for hours before a great finish. We got moving this morning, checked out of our hotel in Towson, MD and planned to get to the Port of Baltimore around 1300 for Coop's appointment to ship his Jeep before a six hour drive to Raleigh, NC. Unfortunately, what we hoped was going to be a quick process dropping off the Jeep ended up keeping us there until after 1800, making getting to the Raleigh area and Ft. Bragg impossible.
what it did do was have us ending the night just south of Richmond, VA after a great meal and evenin catching up with an old friend for Coop and meeting a new friend for me when we met Art at Honey Whyte's.
When Art found out we were coming through late hetold us he had just the place for us to get the best burger in Richmond, and he was underselling what we found.
Located on Historic Tobacco Row in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, VA Honey Whyte's boldly proclaims on assign out front "best burger", and they back it up convincingly. The only entrees on the menu are burgers. They have turkey burgers for the healthy eaters and even a black bean patty for the vegetarians in the crowd but what they really do is beef. You start by choosing either a 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound patty and then the type of burger.
Fried pickles, the perfect appetizer
We started with an order of fried pickles, and they were perfect. Thickly battered and evenly coated, they were crispy and delicious. Back home fried pickles often are cooked at too low a tempature and end up a soggy mess, it's good to be in The South again.
The signature burger at Honey Whyte's is the 1/2 pound Heart Attack. A 1/2 pound fresh beef patty between two grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Presentation was simple, a giant burger in the center of a clean white plate with a knife stuck in the center. No sides like fries to detract from the mountainous burger. The individual sandwiches were grilled crispy and perfectly browned, and the beef was one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. This goes in my top 5 list along with burgers like The Boncat Bite's Green Chile Burger in Sante Fe, NM and the Hot Brown Burger from Wallace Station in Versailles, KY.
It was great to meet Art and a great chance for he and Coop to catch up, but it was also an amazing burger experience. Serendipity to be sure on this Fat Boy Summer Road Trip.
Today took us away from the beach and back to the road. We passed through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and into Maryland for tonight's stop in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD.Read More
Day four brings us to Atlantic City, the storied "King of the Shore". To many of us, the streets were familiar long before we ever heard of Atlantic City. From Boardwalk and Park Place to Ventnor and Vermont Avenues the streets of downtown Atlantic City became the backdrop upon which Monopoly was built.Read More
Today on the Fat Boy Road Trip we explored Ocean City, NJ and the surrounding area. It was the perfect day, sunny and around 80 degrees. The Jersey Shore is something you have to experience to believe.Read More
Our second day on the road started with brunch at Granny's Pancake House and Diner in Hamburg, NJ. It looked like my kind of place, and was packed with cars, a sure sign of great food in any part of the country.Read More
Coop and I hit the road a bit after Noon headed south toward North-West NJ and dinner with my cousin Carol and her son Christopher.Read More