RE: Hocutt's/Moundsville, WV
I make the trip from Baltimore, Maryland, to Braxton County, West Virginia, a few times a year - less often than I used to because of school. Last year, or maybe it was the year before, by now, I postponed the trip for a week and went 3 hours out of my way to stop at Hocutt's.
Extremely impressed. Next time I go to WV, I'm stopping by Hocutt's again.
I went there with the mom. Got there around 3 pm, in between the lunch and dinner shifts, and so it was just Mr. Hocutt, a couple locals, and two girls who might've been his daughters. I ordered hush puppies, fried green tomatoes. She got the pork with a side of coleslaw, I got the "Swamp Platter" - fried catfish, fried frogs legs and fried alligator, with a side of fries.
First, Mr. Hocutt came out and said the tomatoes had started turning pink. He offered to fix them up for us anyway, and it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. It had all the crunch of green tomatoes, but the juice and flavor of fully ripened ones. The hushpuppies were sweet and crispy and I could've ordered two more buckets of them.
The pork was great - Carolina style sauce, up in very tiny pieces. I didn't get a chance to try the slaw. The frog legs were the one disappointment, greasy and tasteless. They might have been undercooked, but I've had froglegs maybe 4 times in my life, and am no great judge of what makes a good one. The catfish was a bit on the delicate side, but the fry was delicious, and the pepper vinegar that was on all the tables spiced it up. The alligator bits were the high spot, I could've eaten them hand over fist like popcorn. The fries I don't remember well, I want to say they were very good but not spectacular - they certainly didn't compare to some of the other stuff I'd already had.
Towards the end, as I was adding hot sauce and pepper vinegar to my fries (I'm a spicy food loving guy), Mr. Hocutt came out with a little plastic cup full of something like I've never seen - it was a pasty sort of thing made out of oil and hot peppers. By accounts, it was spicy enough that I turned so red it showed through my hair. Delicious. He talked to us about how it takes him several hours to make his pork.
On the way out, he was happy to fill our dog's water bowl so he could get a drink.
The only really bad note was that the ice cream cooler was dismantled and obviously out of action. It was a very hot august day and I'd been looking forward to having some.
The worst thing about Hocutt's is that the food really sticks to your ribs, and so you can't keep eating it.