My year in Roadfood (2010)

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leethebard
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 04:56:31 (permalink)
You've had one heck of a year...that's the way to go!!!!....Went to Longwood Gardens often lasy year...great place!
Nancypalooza
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 07:50:01 (permalink)
Okay, now I have questions.  As you do.  Do you keep a running thread saved throughout the year that you add to, or do you really get to the end of the year and pull stuff together?  Give us some insight, Mr. Buster.  And what sort of tree would you be if you were a tree?  ;)
joerogo
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 08:03:39 (permalink)
Nancypalooza

Okay, now I have questions.  As you do.  Do you keep a running thread saved throughout the year that you add to, or do you really get to the end of the year and pull stuff together?  Give us some insight, Mr. Buster.  And what sort of tree would you be if you were a tree?  ;)

 
Sassafras?
eruby
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 08:23:28 (permalink)
A truly amazing and excellent report buffetbuster! I think you travelled more in 2010 than I have my whole life.
 
I appreciate the fantastic pictures as well as the great write-ups.  I feel as though I've been to the places you visited.
 
Well done!!
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 08:31:34 (permalink)
Nancy, since this has turned into an interview, does this make me one of People Magazine's 50 Most Intriguing Roadfooders?
 
The "I'll Take Potpourri for $1,200.00, Alex" was supposed to be a running thread, but between computer issues, getting lazy and just needing a break, I posted very little in the way of trip reports this year.  Which is why this year in review is more comprehensive than in the past.
 
Oh, and a larch.
kaszeta
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 09:04:29 (permalink)
An impressive set of travel photos.  You've crammed about 8 years of my typical traveling into 1.  :)
Nancypalooza
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 09:16:39 (permalink)
Dude, you are always one of People Magazine's 50 Most Intriguing Roadfooders.  :)  You and Scarlett Johannson.
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 09:41:07 (permalink)
After that video from The Tonight Show, I think we can add Halle Berry to the list, too!
BillyB
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 09:41:14 (permalink)
joerogo

Now you are just showing off!  You know I'm kiddin ya Cliff.  loved the whole report.  Joe


Hey Joe, it looks like you have your work cut out for you on your Cruise trip report. Make sure you talk politics so we could see some action shots................Bill
mr chips
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 09:48:39 (permalink)
Wow. I don't check in for a few days and see a dazzling array of roadfood dishes and wonderful places to see. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
billyboy
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 10:26:13 (permalink)
Cliff, I believe I have developed carpal tunnel syndrome form repeatedly scrolling through this report, especially the newest additions of your regional foods and sites visited.  Thanks a million, buddy!! 
 
And once again ladies and gentlemen, BB proves to us why John Shaft is only the #2 Baddest Mutha around!!
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 14:49:49 (permalink)
As much as I enjoy the great food and interesting sights, what I remember most were the little moments.  Here are some of my nicest memories of the year:
 
* The oohing and awwing of all the customers at Downing Cafe when the owner's father walked in with the just made banana cream pie.

 
* Having Peggy Kelly,

the owner of PK's Homestyle Cooking in Spartanburg, SC, introduce me to a full restaurant, as "That nice man who wrote about me on the internet."
 
* Not realizing that Cousin Johnny ordered three desserts at Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen until we got back to the hotel and watching him knock off all three in minutes!

 
* Chris Ayers suspected of being a spy at Harry's Drive-In, because he was taking photos, while wearing a Shady Glen t-shirt.
 
* The Travelin Man and myself running into Elvis McNuggets at Weber's Famous Root Beer in New Jersey.

 
* Despite the fact that they have lived in Pittsburgh their entire lives, taking my nephews and my girlfriend's daughter on their first trip to Primanti's.
 
* Finding a second really good pie shop in the tiny town of De Valls Bluff, Arkansas.  Even though Ms. Lena's

isn't quite as good as the great Family Pie Shop, how can you not love a place where the woman sells pie slices out of her kitchen.
 
* After many attempts, finally finding Nite Owl in Milwaukee open for business.

 
* Similarly, also in Milwaukee, I finally had enough time to order the burek at Three Brothers.  This dish can take as long as a hour to make and on two previous visits, we didn't have enough time.  The burek

was every bit as good as advertised and Cousin Johnny and I thought it was the best meal we had during our week in Wisconsin.
 
* Twenty years after the fact, listening to the owner of Megallon's BBQ complain about the time his wife dragged him to the movie theater to see REDS.
 
* Sharing birthday cake with Rose LoBello of LoBello's Spaghetti House on her 80th birthday.

Just a few months earlier, we had a get together of Pittsburgh Roadfooders at LoBello's.

 
* Everyone at Chick & Ruth's Delly stopping what they were doing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Apparently, they do this everyday at the same time.  First time I have ever seen that in a restaurant.
 
* Ralph Melton riding the mechanical bull at the New Mexico State Fair!

 
* When Cousin Johnny and I were dining at Thomason's Barbecue in Henderson, KY, the owner asked where we were from.  Apparently, we don't sound like we are from western Kentucky.  When I said Pittsburgh, she said her husband was currently on a business trip to Pittsburgh.  Then she said, not actually Pittsburgh, but a little town called Mars.  "Ever heard of it?", she asked.  Mars is my hometown!
 
The next place we stopped at was Bell's Drug Store in Sebree, KY.  Once again, the owners pegged us as tourists and asked where we were from.  When Johnny said Baltimore, they told us they had recently returned from visiting their son, who lives in Glen Burnie.  Which is the city next to where Johnny lives.  
 
* File this under the bad boyfriend department.  I had read ahead of time that the door

at Gilley's PM Lunch in Portsmouth, NH doesn't open in or out, but slides open.  You can always tell who is there for the first time because they will have trouble with the door.  When Mariton and I approached the door, I made sure to lag behind, just to see what happens.  Of course, she tried to open it in and then out and then didn't know what to do.  To her credit, she laughed about it when I showed her and felt better when she saw several others make the same mistake.
 
* The lady

at Country Club Bakery insisting on me taking her hot dogs, since the hot dog place was closed when I stopped in.
 
* The ceremony that is a Wisconsin fish boil at White Gull Inn.  Because fire is cool!

 
* Spending an hour plus, visiting with owner Randy Walters

of Pittsburgh Willy's in Chandler, AZ.  Since the place wasn't too busy, he just sat at my table and we chatted like old friends.  Randy is a natural host, with lots of great stories.  The food was really good, too.  Just a couple of yinzers, hangin' out n'at! 
 
* Remember at the beginning of Animal House when Larry and Kent go to the Omega House and they are dropped in the one room with all the "losers".  That is how I felt when I ate at Durgin Park.  Since I was by myself, they sat me at a table with others who were dining alone.  Before I sat down, I let out a big hello.  All three men looked over at me and didn't say a word!  I swear one even growled at me like Lurch from The Addams Family.  Anyway, the waitress was chatty and great company and I still had a fine meal.
 
* So Cousin Johnny and I are cooling our heels outside of the Doe's Eat Place in Paducah, KY, waiting for them to open.  A man and a woman park in front and start walking towards us and I am trying to figure out where I know them from.  Finally, it comes to me and I ask the man, "Excuse me, are you Big Doe?"  He said yes, that he was Charles Signa.  I explained to him that we had met a year and a half earlier in the Starkville, MS, location of Doe's and then he asked if I was the guy who was driving around the state, eating at all the restaurants.  Yup, that was me.
 
During our meal here, we were treated like special guests, with both Mr. and Mrs. Signa often coming to our table to check on us and chat.  Such nice people!

 
* While dining at Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH, our young and enthusiastic waiter asked if we had been there before.  We said no.  Little did I know what was coming next.  Soon, everyone in the place is hooting and hollering and we are wearing stickers that say we have been de-virginized.

 
* The hushpuppies at Greenbrier Restaurant in Madison, AL were nothing special.  So, I concentrated on the things on my plate that I did like.  Soon, a large family came in and everyone at the table was covering their hushpuppies with the famous northern Alabama white bbq sauce

and then popping them in their mouth.  I tried it and, hey that's pretty good!  Amazing what you can learn by watching the locals.
 
* When wanderingjew and I were sitting at the counter of Goolrick's Pharmacy in Fredricksburg, VA, the people next to us ordered a root beer float that was so beautiful, I had to ask if I could take a photo of it.

Hopefully, that was the only time all year that I photographed a stranger's food!
 
* On an early Sunday morning, Mariton and I decided to eat at both Lafayette and American Coney Island in downtown Detroit, to see which one we liked better.  For those who don't know, these two competing restaurants are literally right next to each other.

We decided to hit American first and as we were walking, the Greek guy from Lafayette, who has waited on me at least a dozen times, watched us through the front window.  Now, I know there is no way he remembers me, but still, I felt pangs of guilt as he watched us all the way to the American front door.
 
After leaving American, we decided it would be less awkward if we snuck back to the car and then acted like we had just showed up.  But, the Greek guy from Lafayette was having none of it.  As soon as we hit the door, he greeted us with, "So, how was it?"
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/01/07 22:24:58
mr chips
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/07 20:31:11 (permalink)
This is the best annual review ever!
ann peeples
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/08 04:06:27 (permalink)
I am just having the best time reading your food adventures!! Truly enviable, my friend.
MiamiDon
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/08 08:35:05 (permalink)
What a great report, Buffetbuster!  You even made me laugh aloud at the tale of the losers' table in Durgin Park.
 
Do you know what food photo really sticks in my mind?  The Iowa Pork Chop!  Boy does that look great.
 
PLEASE call me if you go to Joe's again.  My wife doesn't like stone crabs, so the idea of standing in line for at least an hour is a non-starter.  I actually made it as far as the bar once, but after an hour my companions were bitterly complaining of hunger, so we went to The Place for Steak up in North Bay Village.
Sundancer7
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/08 08:51:26 (permalink)
BB is a blessing for Roadfood.  We are very fortunate to have folks like him to make such an addition to this food site.  I, like many of you appreciate his efforts, his notes and explanation of his entire trip.
 
There are many others who are taking up the slack with their own experiences and Roadfood certainly appreciates that.  There are too many of you to mention but you know who you are. Thanks to you all.
 
BB, we salute you for your wonderful contributions.
 
Sincerely
Paul E. Smith
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buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/12 09:42:10 (permalink)
How in the world did I not include this

(spotted in a shopping center, just north of Houston) in the best signs category?
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/12 09:46:00 (permalink)
MiamiDon
PLEASE call me if you go to Joe's again.  My wife doesn't like stone crabs,
You got it!  I remember being very surprised when you mentioned you had never been there before.
 
Sorry that this year end review is taking so long.  It has been over a month since it was started and it needs to be mercifully put to an end, soon.  Just a few more categories and that will be it, I promise! 
ann peeples
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/12 12:58:20 (permalink)
I dont think anyone is complaining, BB
kaszeta
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/12 14:58:54 (permalink)
Despite the rivalry between Lafayette and American Coney Island, they can be fairly friendly towards each other.  A few years ago I got takeout from both and ate on the sidewalk in front, doing a side-by-side comparison.  Workers at both came out to talk to me, and the guy from Lafayette said that he didn't mind if next time I brought my American coneys into Lafayette to eat them...
mr chips
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 01:21:04 (permalink)
There is more? Fantastic news.
post edited by mr chips - 2011/01/13 01:53:04
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 11:35:25 (permalink)
With that much traveling, there had to be some disappointments, too.  Yes, there were a few Roadfood reviewed places that I didn't particularly care for (Pat's Drive-in, Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe, Andy Nelson's Southern Pit Barbecue and Marion Pit Bar-B-Q leap to mind), but I am thinking more about disappointing moments here.
 
* Before heading to Cincinnati for the weekend, I did some research and read about a local item called schnecken.  A German pastry I had never heard of before, it sounded intriguing.  Once we got to Cincy, we spent a good portion of the morning hitting bakeries, with no luck.  They all said come back around the holidays and it was only October.  But, we passed a Graeter's ice cream location with this sign out front!

 
Later in the day, we stopped back for some terrific as usual ice cream and a schnecken to go.
 
Since we had eaten so much over the course of the day, including a big dinner at The Golden Lamb, we put the never opened schnecken in the hotel room refrigerator.  The next morning, we packed up and left and it wasn't until we were past Columbus that we realized we left without the schnecken!  So, I still have no idea if it really is lip schnecken good.  What do you Cincinnatians have to say about schnecken?
 
* Sour cream raisin pie is my favorite pie.  But, I ran into mostly frustration trying to find it in 2010.  During a week in Wisconisn, the only place we ate at that carried it was the Stockholm Pie Company and someone came in minutes before us and bought the entire pie.  On other trips, I did get a slice at Machine Shed and Norske Nook, but both of those pies were adequate at best.  If it wasn't for blizzardstormus hand delivering a piece of his mother's world class pie, the year would have been a total washout, sour cream pie-wise.
 
So imagine my shock to find sour cream raisin pie in Texas!  I was checking out a pie shop in Conroe called Pie in the Sky Pie Company.  Imagine my surprise to find this usually only available in the Upper Midwest pie, listed on their menu.  I had to have had a huge smile on my face and told the girl they must have someone from Iowa or the Dakotas working here.  She gave me a strange look, which should have tipped me off.  Anyway, I paid and she told me to sit down and they would bring it to my table.
 
And here is what was delivered.
 
Wait, is that a crumble top?  Where is the meringue?  And are those walnuts?  This pie could not have been more wrong.  I asked the girl if she brought me the correct pie and she assured me she had.  Yeah, I should have known better, but I was still really let down.  The other slice, bumbleberry was actually very good, so this place should not be written off.  Just don't get the sour cream raisin.
 
* The Sterns have frequently written about tried and true methods of spotting a good Roadfood restaurant.  And I have had many experiences over the years where they were right on.  But, there were a few exceptions this year.  While in NW Indiana, ChiTownDiner, my cousin Mark and I had breakfast at a place with a large rooster on the roof.

But the atmosphere and the food at the place were ordinary and uninteresting.  No big deal, but I did have a Roadood rule let me down in northern Alabama.
 
While looking for a good breakfast, out in the middle of nowhere, I came across a grocery store with a jam packed parking lot.  And with the exception of my car rental, they were all pickup trucks. 

As soon as I got out of my vehicle, the smell of fresh biscuits in the air was unmistakable.  Oh baby, this was going to be someplace special!  When I walked in the door, there was at least a dozen guys sitting around drinking coffee and they all stopped just to look at me.  And kept looking.  This was about the time I decided to get my order to go.  I had the nice lady at the counter pack up a country ham biscuit, a bologna biscuit, a moon pie and a bottle of water.  Total price, less than $4.00!
 
Back in the car, I opened up the ham biscuit and it looked awful.  The ham was no country ham I had seen and was instead a perfectly round prefabricated slice of meat that my local grocery store would be embarrassed to sell.  One bite and I threw it away.  The bologna biscuit was a little better, but not much.  Oh well, if we didn't have some disappointments along the way, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the truly great places.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/01/13 11:43:23
wanderingjew
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 13:16:52 (permalink)
Sometimes disappointing Roadfood will leave you with  Egg On Your Face
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 14:13:41 (permalink)
There is no way to do a year end review without writing about the untimely passing of Travis Hocutt.  For those who don't know, Travis was the owner of the Roadfood reviewed Hocutt's Carolina BBQ, which started out in Moundsville, WV.  Over the next few years, he did move his restaurant to Glen Dale, WV and then to Bridgeport, OH before the economy got too tough and it closed down.  He worked in the kitchen of another restaurant for about two years, saving his money and then was able to reopen in downtown Wheeling earlier this year.
 
Once I read here in the forums of Roadfood that he had reopened, I got down there at the first opportunity.  When he saw me, he got a big smile and greeted me with, "Buffetbuster!  I was wondering when you were going to stop in."  As far as I know, Travis didn't know my name other than just calling me buffetbuster, which was fine by me.  Unfortunately, there was an Italian Festival going on that day in downtown Wheeling and Hocutt's didn't have their regular menu.  I told Travis I was going to come back soon, but with all the traffic due to a big construction project where I-470 started, it was months before I managed to make it back down.  
 
Along with cousin Johnny, we were back in Wheeling on a Summer Saturday.  This time, I was determined to take a bunch of photos and write a new review for Roadfood.  Unfortunately, there was a Blues Festival going on in Wheeling and the restaurant was closed.  Instead, Travis had his trailer in the park selling bbq.  Once again, he greeted us with a big smile.  Johnny and I ate all kinds of pork bbq, slaw dogs, vegetable sides and hushpuppies, everything delicious.  And as busy as he was, Travis even walked over some ribs for us to try and they were fantastic!  Still, I figured I will have plenty of time to come back and get photos of the restaurant.  Just before leaving, I asked Travis to pose next to his smoker and he was happy to oblige.

That was the last time I saw Travis Hocutt before his death.
 
Travis was one of those people that you would meet for the first time and he would make you feel like you were a lifelong friend.  He genuinely liked people.  He really enjoyed making people happy with both his food and music.  One of my fondest Roadfood memories was eating in the original Moundsville location, my girlfriend and I the only customers and Travis entertaining us with an original song on the keyboards.  It doesn't get much better than that!
 
One thing that was obvious about seeing Travis this year was that he was happier than I had ever seen him.  He was thrilled to be back open again.  The new location was the best he had yet and business was going so well, they were generally sold out of food by mid-afternoon.  Travis had lost quite a bit of weight and he looked healthier than ever.  He excitedly told me about the plans he had for the restaurant.  Things were really going his way.  And then tragedy occurred.
 
No doubt, I will dearly miss Travis's food.  The slaw dogs were the best I have ever had, the ribs, pork bbq and fried shrimp were top notch.  And the hushpuppies were so amazingly good, on at least one occasion, people tried to steal his closely guarded recipe, handed down from his grandmother.  But, what I will miss most is how welcome Travis made you feel in his restaurant.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/01/18 13:08:53
Nancypalooza
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 14:15:03 (permalink)
Maybe that was the place the guys from 'Roadhouse' went after that place shut down. :)  So that radically revised sour cream raisin--nothing at all good about it, or just so far from what you'd expect that you couldn't deal?
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 14:19:43 (permalink)
Nancy-
Between it being so wrong and it having nuts, there was no way I could appreciate any part of it.  Maybe others could.  And I like the Roadhouse remark!
Charlene_grandma
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 15:27:57 (permalink)
Buffetbuster,   Thanks for the comment on the sour cream raisin pie that Mark brought to  you.   I wished I would like it better.    
Nancypalooza
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 15:32:05 (permalink)
That is a really lovely memory of Travis Hocutt.
buffetbuster
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 15:51:06 (permalink)
Thanks Nancy!  I kind of went back and forth on whether it was appropriate for me to write about Travis, but I'm glad I did.
 
Charlene-
A big welcome to Roadfood to you!  I am genuinely honored that your first post came in this thread.  Just so you know, one of my goals this year is to get back to The Farmer's Kitchen and sample more of that great sour cream raisin pie in person.  But something tells me there are other pies you do just as well, if not better.  And it is kind of funny that you don't even like the pie you are best known for.  Is it because of the raisins? 
 
Congratulations on all of the attention you, Mark and the restaurant have so deservedly received!
Foodbme
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Re:My year in Roadfood (2010) 2011/01/13 15:59:46 (permalink)
BB,
Your tribute to Travis Hocutt is very much in line and well written. You gave us a perspective into the man and his passion that made me, at least, feel like I too knew him. Well done yenzer!
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