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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, September 28, 2014 6:11 AM

Oklahoma's best-known foods are beef, burgers, barbecue, and catfish – all of them rugged and bold. But if you travel west to Elk City, you will find the Country Dove Tea Room and a completely different kind of meal: ladies lunch. It is served in a charming little place that is, in fact, a 1920s country home, where meals share the spotlight with an inventory of country décor and crafts and a large selection of Christian books for sale.

Gentle food, served with grace and good manners: creamed soups accompanied by heart-shaped muffins and honey butter; little squares of Jell-O here known as "Jell-O salad," positioned on a lettuce leaf. The house specialty is chicken-avocado salad, which is the two elements pulverized together with mayonnaise and served on either a croissant or grilled wheat bun. The day's special when we stopped in was "Mexican Fiesta" – a mild-mannered casserole with a south-of-the-border twist.

It is such a nice, polite, repertoire of dishes … until you get to dessert and French silk pie, which is a powerhouse: lasciviously chocolaty, smooth, dense, topped with a frothy ribbon of whipped cream and mounted on a plush nut crust. Alternative desserts include almond pound cake with lemon curd sauce and New York cheesecake.

Proprietors Glenna Hollis and Kay Farmer originally opened for business some 30 years ago, but not as a restaurant. Country Dove was strictly retail country décor. But business was slow; and one day a woman passing through said to them, "You girls need to put in a tea room." She advised, "Do not use iceberg lettuce" and provided the recipe for raisin bran muffins and the chicken-avocado salad. Kay had some experience in food service, having been a soda jerk at her father's lunch counter, and the recipe for the awe-inspiring French silk pie was provided by her mother. Now that old Route 66 is such a tourist attraction and Elk City has become a destination for its grand-scale National Route 66 Museum, the little restaurant attracts tourists from all over the country and the world.
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Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2014


These pizzas, baked in a wood oven, picked up little, if any, character from that oven.
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Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2014
Item Results
Raw 398
Oyster? Ugh. 320
Deep Fried 165
Rockefeller, Baked, or Broiled 102
Grilled 47
Pan Fried 46
In a Stew 31
Comments (1)
Roadfood of the Day: Wave Hill Breads - Norwalk, CT
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2014


If you are a lover of country bread with soul, this image of a just-cut Wave Hill loaf is a large slice of heaven.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, September 26, 2014 5:32 AM

Rich and Chris Decker took over the Igloo in 2010 from the Mazzorana family, who started it in 1937, and they have vowed to keep it as its always been: the town's favorite destination diner for burgers and chili, tenderloins and brats, hand-cut French fries and from-scratch shakes and malts. Nearly everyone here is a regular customer. One veteran waitress gives me a motherly smile when I sit at the counter, telling me I look just like good old Dr. Schott, who recently died and who was a big fan of Igloo chili.

After only a few minutes in this place, it is apparent that both Rich and Chris relish their role as owner, host, ringmaster. When one waitress starts needling Chris about spending too much time kibbitzing with the clientele and not enough running the diner, he turns away from her and announces loud enough for all around to hear: "This is my back. And this is you off it!"

Order a tenderloin (here known simply as "a pork") and its standard complements are onion, pickle, and – are you ready? – ketchup. At first I was skeptical, considering mustard to be the de rigueur condiment, but I very much enjoyed the interplay of sweet and tangy. The loin itself is wavy, crisp, and quite thin, with enough meat to be juicy once you crunch through the crust.

Root beer is served in a frosty mug, but if you like milk shakes, that's the drink to get. "I guarantee that this is the best chocolate malt I have made all day," says Chris Decker when I order one at 11:30am. I reassure him that it is the best one I've drunk all day. In fact, it was the best I drank during a weeklong trip through the Illinois River Valley.
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Posted on Friday, September 26, 2014

Lamb Sausage

The lamb sausage is made from lamb raised by a local woman.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, September 25, 2014 4:50 AM

Carla Hall, host of TV's "The Chew," hails from Nashville, so she knows a thing or two about fried chicken, HOT fried chicken in particular. Carla recently began a crowdfunding project to open Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen restaurant in New York with a menu that offers hot chicken in increments from "sweet heat" to "firestarter." Backers are invited to contribute anything from one dollar, which earns voting rights on upcoming decisions, to ten thousand dollars, which not only gets your name on the founders' wall but also includes Carla and her crew coming to your house for the day to cook and entertain a party of 10. For details, check out Carla's website.

Roadfood of the Day: Demetri's BBQ - Homewood, AL
Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Pie

This was maybe the densest and fudgiest chocolate cream pie I have ever encountered.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 5:04 AM

I’m not sure if the name of this restaurant is Cuban Sandwiches or Cuban Sandwiches To Go, which is what the sign outside says. Much business is take-out, and there is no dining room other than a few tables on a patio overlooking the parking lot. Service is eat-in-the-rough style: Order food and pay for it at one window, then receive it at an adjoining one. Expect to wait a while.

“We are not a FAST food franchise,” advises a sign in the window. “Our Cuban sandwiches are made fresh to order then grilled (slowly) to perfection.” This Cubano is, for sure, a beauty, masterfully assembled and toasted long enough for the outside of the bread to become sensuously brittle. It is then cut on a rakish diagonal from end to end, making the sandwich into two long-legged triangles.

Inside is thinly sliced pork with a good roasted flavor and enough fat to be appealingly unctuous. There is sheaf of salty pink ham and a layer of Swiss cheese that has been warmed enough to be ultrasoft but not quite molten. And, of course, there are pickle chips and mustard. Despite its compression in the plancha, you need to hold the sandwich gingerly, lest mustard lube the ingredients enough that they begin to slide out when pressure is applied.

I look forward to future visits when I can sample this little eatery’s variations on the theme: a media noche, which is a Cuban on sweet bread; a roast pork sandwich (basically a Cuban without the ham), and an intriguing item listed as a Cuban tradition, the pan con timba: guava and cream cheese on sweet bread.

Available drinks include Cuban coffee, Latin sodas, and tropical shakes made with mango, papaya, or mamey.
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Roadfood of the Day: Tim's Pizza - Independence, MO
Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Tim's pizza with pepperoni and meatballs.
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