Just got back from ten days and 2600 miles on the road. Primary goal was visiting Thing 1 and his bride's new house, but we did a number of stops here, there and everywhere, a large number of which had food involved (who knew?).
Day 1: Chicago to Pennsylvania.
High point was Cleveland's West Side Market. A huge preponderance of meat vendors, plus cheese, bakery, and a few dining establishments. We bought some olives from one vendor, a tasty liver sausage from another (that SueF says is like she used to have as a kid: not a braunschweiger) which was a larger sausage with a yellowish casing, and onions in it. Plus some smoked beef and pork sticks for snacking.
1979 W 25th St Cleveland, OH 44113
Dinner was in a Pittsburgh suburb called Cranberry, at a place called Monte Cello's. Tortellini were nondescript, but fried pickles were very good, as was SueF's fried chicken.
20325 Rte 19
Cranberry Township, PA
We spent a couple of days on the VA side of DC, including burgers at The Counter in Reston -- quite good, but I'm sure it's covered elsewhere. We also had lunch at a Thai place near the Leesburg outlet, whose name I don't recall, that had a pretty standard ameri-Thai menu, but really brought the heat. (Scale went American, Thai, Steve, John -- and Thai was plenty hot). I think it's Burapa Thai:http://www.burapathaiclassic.com/
(nasty Flash site)
19328 N101 Lansdowne Town Center / Promenade Drive / Lansdowne VA 20178
From there we headed down to the Outer Banks. Had some good seafood (fried grouper for me), but not memorable enough for me to remember the name of the place. On our way westward, we had some piedmont BBQ that while tasty didn't stick in memory either.
Raleigh was having a Farmer's Market as we passed through: some cheese and bread made a nice lunch.
Asheville, on the other hand, is a wonderful eatin' town. The Market Place serves very nice farm-to-table, friendly service. It's more casual than, say, Vie, but the food is pretty close in quality. I had a chorizo-stuffed quail, SueF had a lamb papardelle. We started with the charcuterie which included Benton's ham, a sopressata, and my first taste of head cheese. All were outstanding. With dessert, coffee, tea and a couple of half-price wines by the glass (Wednesday's special), we got out of there for about half what we'd have spent at Vie.www.marketplace-restaurant.com/
20 Wall St Asheville, NC 28801
Second night was more laid-back: burgers at Storm. Another farm-to-table place but Chowhound recommended their burgers for Asheville.
Cooked perfectly, I had a very lamb-y lamb burger with feta and arugula; SueF had one with bacon and caramelized onions. Hard-crisp fresh-cut shoestring fries helped seal the deal. For starter, I can recommend their Pimento Cheese.www.stormrhumbar.com
125 S Lexington Ave #103a Asheville, NC 28801
From Asheville we headed toward Nashville, not realizing it was CMA Fest weekend -- hotels were hard to find. A couple of stops on the way (or not so on the way geographically): The Lodge factory outlet near Gatlinburg -- most stuff is straight retail price, you can beat it anywhere, but the cosmetic blemish pans are quite cheap.
The other stop was Benton's Hams. From David Chang's description, there isn't any other bacon in the world. We weren't the only ones taking pictures by the signs (I'll add those to the thread tomorrow morning). Picked up some bacon and ham and a t-shirt. I'll let you know how they taste later, but the whole place (and the T-shirt) smelled of the sweetest smoke I've ever beheld.
2603 U.S. 411 Madisonville, Tennessee 37354-6356
When we reached Nashville, we went to Bro's Cajun, based on recommendations here. If my late mother had arrived there, she'd have backed out: it's a pit (but the kitchen looked clean). Food was wonderful: spicy smoked sausage, spicy shrimp creole, great greens, corn, mac'n'cheese, fried shrimp.www.broscajuncuisine.com/
3214 Charlotte Ave Nashville, TN 37209
Our last night we camped at Giant City State Park near Carbondale IL. Their lodge serves a great family-style fried chicken. For $10.99 each we were served chicken (the initial platter was a half chicken plus a breast, enough for us), cole slaw, biscuits, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn and dumplings. The only things not polished off were the hammered green beans and the bland gravy, but everything else was wonderful: crisp, juicy chicken; dumplings like chicken soup without the soup; buttery mashed potatoes, fluffy biscuits. If you're in Southern Illinois, it's worth a detour.
460 Giant City Lodge Rd Makanda, IL 62958