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#1
Posted June 7th 2004, 3:36pm
Thursday evening, friends and I begin a journey from Chicago to the Manchester, TN, for several days of camping, music, eating, drinking, and I'm not quite sure what else. I'm not sure how much room our itinerary leaves us for stops along the way, but I aim to be prepared.

My specific request is for a late night BBQ stop in southern Indiana or northern Kentucky.

The plan is to depart Chicago on Thursday night at about 7:00. We should be in Louisville by midnight and arrive at the campground sometime before sunrise. Our route will pretty much follow I-65. I would love to find a Kentucky BBQ pit open around midnight Thursday night/Friday morning. I'm not hopeful, but if anyone has any recs, please pass them on. Any other tips are appreciated too, but we're not going to be doing any fine dining. A good 24-hour diner (or reasonably late-night diner) with stellar country ham would be great too. Since we're leaving relatively late, and hopefully on full stomachs, well, time will be the most difficult variable to satisfy, but we're open to all sorts of food, especially if we can get it quick and take it on the road.

We will be driving back on Monday, same route, during the day, and likely stopping in Bardstown, so I'm happy to take recs that aren't related to late-night dining for the return leg, again with an emphasis on good BBQ close to I-65. And if anyone has good Bardstown recs or a preferred distillery to visit, or even a great liquor store where we can stock up on bourbon, that'd be great too.

Thanks,

Aaron
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#2
Posted June 7th 2004, 3:56pm
Aaron, I cannot vouch for the time of this place, but a few years back the family and I drove from Chicago to Florida. We used the same route as you through Kentucky (where we detoured from I-65 to go to Pope's Cafe in the middle of nowhere). We made it from Chicago to Bowling Green KY, about an hour north of Nashville. Perhaps West Kentucky Barbeque, near the interstate in Bowling Green is not pure Kentucky BBQ that one may find in a small town, but boy was it good. It remains, in my mind, the best ribs ever, and also my only chance to have tried bbq mutton--a bit slimey actually. It's worth a stop almost for sure. 430 US 31 Bypass.

A cautionary note: On our return trip we (well me) wanted to try the world famous Loveless Motel and Cafe (well the cafe) near Nashville. After driving around pretty lost on some really dark roads, the kind of roads where UFO's land, we finally found the place close to 9 PM. After assuring us they were still open, they totally rushed us through our meal, and were missing a few dishes to boot. I'd like to re-try there under better circumstances (the Stern's just gushed about it again), but my sole attempt did not leave a great taste.

Rob
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#3
Posted June 7th 2004, 4:00pm
Thanks, Rob, good tip. I'm thinking Bowling Green might be a possibility either there or on the way back, because it's a little bit bigger and possibly can support longer hours. But there's so damn many BBQ places there, it's hard to know quality. So this is good. And I'd like to try the mutton, being in Kentucky and all, even though I've never heard of anyone who liked it as much as pig.
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#4
Posted June 8th 2004, 10:07am
Morning Aaron

One thing to note is that much of the I-65 stretch in Ketucky cuts through Dry Counties, so I'd look for bourbon around louisville or southern indiana for sure. I'd say to stop in Bloomington, Indiana for the Big Red liquor store that has the most impressive bourbon aisle I've ever seen, but it around 40 minutes off of I-65.

Of course, the Makers disillery is also around 45 minutes off of I-65 (there are signs), but again, that is a Dry County I believe.

I'm guessing that off of I-65 there will be a decent liquor store in Columbus, Indiana and definitely some good ones in Louisville, but unfortunately I don't know any specifics.

Food in Naptown I can help you with, otherwise...

ab
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#5
Posted June 8th 2004, 2:19pm
ab wrote:One thing to note is that much of the I-65 stretch in Ketucky cuts through Dry Counties, so I'd look for bourbon around louisville or southern indiana for sure. I'd say to stop in Bloomington, Indiana for the Big Red liquor store that has the most impressive bourbon aisle I've ever seen, but it around 40 minutes off of I-65.

ab


agreed. I would venture to guess that nearly any large liquor store (and many grocery stores) in Louisville would have a fine selection of bourbons. One I remember from earlier this year is just off I-71, about 1 or 2 exits north of I-65. Louisville is really the big city heart of bourbon country, so you can't go wrong there.

Have a blast at Bonnaroo, I am jealous.
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#6
Posted June 17th 2004, 1:09pm
Well, we've returned, and what a long, strange trip it was. Our schedule ended up a bit different than I thought it would--I fell asleep in the car and woke up at Waffle House in Murfreesboro, TN about 2 hours later at 6:00 am. Waffle House was a great spot for dining between 1 and 5 am when I was in college. The food was somewhat less than I remembered. It's really not very good. Nonetheless, it hit the spot after all night on the road and very little sleep.

The Bonnaroo music festival, raison d'trip, was fantastic--musical highlights for me were Wilco, Bob Dylan, the Dead, Beth Orton, Neko Case, and Bill Laswell's Material, featuring guitarist Buckethead, so named for the everpresent KFC bucket atop his dome. In terms of food, drink, and other logistical concerns, the show promoters did quite a nice job managing 90,000+ festival goers/campers in both beating 90 degree sun and lightning-filled rainstorms.

Festival-sponsored beer tents offered 20-oz Budweisers for $5, but also a nice selection of microbrews at the same price--the best in my estimation was a highly-hopped IPA from Magic Hat. There was another Magic Hat beer, something from SweetWater, New Belgium, perhaps a couple others. In addition to these officially sanctioned beers, various "vendors" throughout the campground were looking to make a buck by peddling a variety of other quality brews.

The food was surprisingly good and diverse as well. We brought some brats and steaks for the grill. (There's nothing like a grilled 12oz ribeye and a Red Seal Ale for breakfast to get you through a day of dedicated concert attendance.) But a wide variety of other food stuffs were available--some very good tortilla sandwiches ("quesadillas") filled with Mediterranean foodstuffs--one basil-tomato-mozzarella, another feta-olive-other stuff. A very good falafel sandwich. Sausages and dogs from Sabrett's (ok, not great). A guy at a campsite next to us making veggie burritos that really felt right at three in the morning after a Dead show. All in all, we ate surprisingly well.

A friend of mine on the trip, who has been a regular on the Dead and Phish-type tour circuits for a number of years, had advised before leaving that these sorts of weekend-long camping/music festivals had spawned a cottage industry of unofficial vendors that travel from show to show, offering a variety of good to very good food and drink. I was eager but skeptical, but I was certainly not disappointed.

(Note to Cathy2 and other mycologists: There were also a wide variety of mushrooms very readily available, in addition to an impressive collection of artisanal herbs that I've never seen at the Spice House.)

The return trip to Chicago on Monday afternoon provided me a sole opportunity to employ my vast prior research about stops along the way: Smokin' Ed's for some pulled pork (courtesy a tip from pogophiles at Roadfood.com). Well, the smoke wasn't billowing, but there were three huge smokers out front. Pogophiles had advised to get two pulled porks, sauce on the side, but I couldn't help asking the young guy behind the counter what he did well. "Everything," he said predictably, and then not so predicatbly, "Yard work." He later showed us the brambles he had been clearing in back. I liked this place.

I liked it more when he came outside to show us the smokers. "Too bad you didn't come tomorrow," said the counter guy, "we'll have 140 butts, 100 shoulders, and 100 slabs of ribs in here."

"Wow," I replied. "What's tomorrow?"

"Tuesday."

Ah-hah. No nonsense, straight-up southern barbecue. Good stuff. The sandwiches themselves were delicious, though not as smokey as I would have expected, and perhaps a bit saltier than I would have liked. I've spent some time with Texas and KC BBQ, but I don't really have a pulled pork frame of reference. I liked them.

And I also came away with this tidbit: Smokin' Ed's, which has four or five rural (?) Nashville-area locations, is scoping out a spot in Chicago.

"Wow, that's great," I said. "You can't get good pulled pork in Chicago."

"Yeah, we know," was the simple reply. A real straight shooter, this fella.

I look forward to Ed's arrival.

(Smokin' Ed's also makes an appearance, with pictures, on Holly Moore's website.)
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