Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Delta

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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Fri, 03/2/12 9:51 PM
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Louis

It may taste only so-so, but it sounds intriguing!  Undoubtedly a regional taste.

On the nose.
 
Buddy

Michael Hoffman
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sat, 03/3/12 9:52 AM
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1bbqboy


Cool! What's creole cabbage, Dale?

Creole Cabbage
(From "Grandma's Wartime Kitchen" by Joanne Lamb Hayes)
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons bacon fat or shortening
¾ cup thinly sliced onion
½ cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
1 pint home-canned or 1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes
1½ teaspoons brown sugar
Salt
2 whole cloves
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 medium head (2 pounds) green cabbage, coarsely grated
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, melt bacon fat or shortening. Add onion and bell pepper; saute until onion is golden. Stir tomatoes, brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt into onion mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat. Insert cloves into garlic and add to tomato mixture along with bay leaf; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook cabbage in 1 inch of boiling, salted water in a large, covered saucepan, until just tender. Drain well and return to saucepan. Discard garlic clove and bay leaf; pour sauce over cabbage, and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot.

 
 

MiamiDon
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sat, 03/3/12 12:20 PM
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Dale, I must confess that I've not had the Cafe au Lait since we went there on our first anniversary in 1990.  Maybe it's changed, or my memory is wrong!
 
I like to think that Brennan's, Commander's Palace, Acme, O'Brian's, Napolean House, Cajun Hut, etc.  haven't changed, but I'm likely wrong.

1bbqboy
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sat, 03/3/12 12:41 PM
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Thanks, Michael

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sun, 03/4/12 4:42 PM
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Sorry I couldn't answer some of the questions-  I was away for the weekend and just got back. I didn't know the two questions about Creole Cabbage (I just know it was good- bu the recipe provided by MH makes sense based on the flavor)  and also the question about what kind of wood is used in the smoking process- Glad that question was answered too.
 
Brad
 
I'm not sure if Redfish Hannah is a regional dish or of its unique to Weidmann's, but it seems that Redfish in general is very popular in the gulf states- especially Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Foodbme
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sun, 03/4/12 5:02 PM
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wanderingjew

I'm not sure if Redfish Hannah is a regional dish or of its unique to Weidmann's, but it seems that Redfish in general is very popular in the gulf states- especially Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Redfish is popular in L.A. (Lower Alabama) AKA The Florida Panhandle too!!
Lived in Pensacola Fl 16 years.

the grillman
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sun, 03/4/12 5:21 PM
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The grits, eggs, and debris combination looks amazing.  I've never heard of that...(heard and had debris on a po-boy, but didn't know it was also for breakfast).
 
A few splashes of Crystal sauce, and I'd be in heaven.

CajunKing
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/5/12 5:24 PM
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WJ
 
Did you know Benjamin Henry Latrobe is buried in St Louis Cemetary #1?
 
Without Googling him does anyone know who he is?? And why he is famous??  Davvydd you shouldnt answer yet  (hint hint)
 
 

Foodbme
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/5/12 5:29 PM
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CajunKing


WJ
Did you know Benjamin Henry Latrobe is buried in St Louis Cemetary #1?
Without Googling him does anyone know who he is?? And why he is famous??  Davvydd you shouldnt answer yet  (hint hint)

My GUESS is he's who Latrobe, PA is named after and he's probably the founder of the Rolling Rock Brewing Co.
Now, I going to look him up!

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/5/12 7:08 PM
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Chapter 5- Where the Black Folks At?
Saturday February 11
 
Ok, I know the theme for chapter 5 may be considered controversial, but I think you'll understand where I'm coming from towards the end of the chapter.
 
Today I'll be gallivanting all over Mississippi. In fact I'll be spending alot of time backtracking across the state over the next few days, and the theme for the next chapter will explain why.
 
I left Meridian in a huff after heading on over to The Daily Grind Coffeehouse and finding out that they're not open on weekends  even though all comments on the web noted that they are. Obviously I won't be able to stop for coffee until I get to Jackson and I did at the local chain "Cups" 
 
After  imbibing some very mediocre joe. I headed south to McComb home of.
 

 
 
The Dinner Bell.
Home of the revolving table style restaurant.
For those that don't know, platters of food are set down around the edge of the revolving table. Instead of asking folks to pass what you want, you simply spin the center of the table customarily clockwise until the platter is within reach.
 

 
I arrived just in time for first seating at 11am. 
The Dinner Bell appears to cater to mostly families and older folks. 
 

 
The main courses of the day were Fried Chicken, Chicken and Dumplings, Ribs and Sausage.
Here is my first plate. 
 

 
I must say the sides are exceptional- Clockwise theres a  corn muffin, amazing fried eggplant, fried chicken, sweet potato casserole, chicken and dumplings, green beans and squash casserole. 
Again I cannot say enough about the sides, the fried chicken was better than average and the chicken and dumplings were really good.  I did not get any photos of my second plate since I didn't think a photo of a dirty plate would be very appealing (you are only given one plate) however I chose the ribs which were tough and weren't very good. 

I finished off with not one but two desserts.
 
 
 
bread pudding with a fruit topping
 

 
and Banana pudding
 
Both very pedestrian- but then again I had just left New Orleans a day earlier and I had the epiphany of Banana Pudding at Miss Myra's also the day before.
 
I was conversing with the folks at my table, some came as far away as Alabama and Louisiana, however it was determined that I traveled the furthest.
 
I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the Dinner Bell and the sides were cetainly second to none. I would certainly return.
 
From McComb which is in the southern part of the state- I beelined it back up north to Clarksdale however I had to make a special stop in  Tutwiler right off Hwy 49.
 
The downtown area near the train tracks had some really cool murals
 
 
 

 
 

 

 
As the sign says, Tutwiler is where the Southern crosses the dog.
 

 
And truth of the matter is when I headed back onto hwy 49, I almost ran over 2 of them that were in the middle of the road.
 
I arrived in Clarksdale just under 4 hours after leaving McComb. 
 
My first stop was 
Hicks Tamales
 

 
I was in luck because Buffetbuster told me that usually only the drive through was open, 
 

 
 
However the small fast food style restaurant was also open as well.
 
I got half a dozen tamales. 
 

 
warm and fresh and still in their husks. I enjoyed these tamales much more than the ones I've had previously at Abe's and Doe's
 
I finally arrived at my accomodations for the evening....
Quite different from any place I've ever stayed at
 

 
 

 
On the outside, the place looks like its ready to fall apart.
 
The interior actually was quite a surprise. However even though the room has a TV- it doesn't work since cable was disconnected, and that means no Wi Fi also- 

I met up with the owner, Rat, a blues afficiondo who has been in the hotel business since the age of 4. His mother actually opened up the hotel in the early 1940's and hosted several famous African American blues musicians.
 
This is the Bessie Smith Room. She died here after an auto accident in 1937 when the place was still a hospital during segregation.
 

 

 
I believe this is the Ike Turner Room
 

 
And we have the JFK Junior Room
 

 
Yes, JFK Jr stayed here about 20 years ago.
 
I even had to get a course from Rat on how to run the gas heating unit that has a pilot light.
 
This was my room the Hooker John Lee Hooker room. Yes he slept here.
 

 
 

 
Having some time to kill before dinner I walked over to the juke joint where I would be heading later this evening- The name of the Juke Joint is Reds, and I remember talking to Red on my earlier visit in 1999. 
 

 
Since they weren't open yet, I headed back to Downtown to take a walk and check out.
The Ground Zero Blues Club
 

 
This place is not authentic. It opened up probably a little less than 10 years ago and is what I call the Disney version of a Juke Joint.
 

 

 

 
I did sit down at the bar and enjoyed a Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale, which I had the day before at Weidmann's. This time it was on tap.
 
I continued to walk around town, it seems that Clarksdale has certainly gentrified since I last visited but I was wondering if it was in a good way. I did pass the coffee house that I was hoping to visit the next morning. They were open but of course the sign said "closed on sundays". I did go in for a mediocre cup. I was reading the state tour guide that was there and it struck me, there is actually a town called "Chunky Mississippi"?
 
After my walk, it was now time for dinner. When I first planned this trip, I had considered re-visiting Doe's in Greenville, however there were so many other places I wanted to try. Don't get  me wrong- I loved Doe's and I hope to re-visit in the near future. However one place that I really wanted to check out is right here in Clarksdale. 
 

 
Ramon's
 
An Italian (well Italian for Mississippi) restaurant that appears to have been around forever.
As I was talking to the owner, explaining that I came here all the way from Rhode Island and asked what they were known for, a gentleman sitting nearby  overheard my conversation, walked over to my table and welcomed me to Clarksdale.

I started out with a salad (sorry no photos)
 

 
Moved on to some extraordinary crispy, handbreaded onion rings. (I could only finish half so I can save room for the main course)
 
 

 
Some of the biggest and best fried shrimp I've ever enjoyed. So good that I nearly forgot the side of spaghetti in garlic butter sauce, but considering how amazing the shrimp was, it was worth ditching the spaghetti. Truly one of the best meals of the trip.
 
After dinner I returned to my hotel befpre walking over to Red's for tonight's entertainment.
 
When I walked inside...
 

 
I noticed the red hue that permeated the place
But as I looked around
 

 
It struck me
 

 
It really really struck me!! 
 

 
Where are the Black Folks at??!!
 
I felt very very uneasy about all of this. 
I sat next to a guy who was originally from Wisconsin (accent and all) he looked like  someone I expected to see tailgating at a Brewers game-certainly not here! Later on two hayseeds walked in who looked like central casting for Hee-Haw, although I'll admit one of them did play a mean harmonica. Then a tall attractive thin brunette walked in with her boyfriend , They looked like they were ready to hit the martini bar circuit here in East Greenwich(he must obviously have money) she sat down right next to me. I know some would believe I'm thinking- "wow this attractive girl is sitting next to me" no I just kept saying to myself this is so wrong....so - so wrong....What happenned??!! 13 years ago in 1999, I walked into another juke joint (unfortunately out of business)  and I was the only white perso there. I must have spent at least 2 hours ore more there and during that time period not one other white person walked in- not- a- one !. Now that was an experience I will always treasure..
 
And then there was the act for the night.
 

 

 
Lightin Malcolm- even he's white!
 
I turned to the guy from Wisconsin, who was seated to my right and asked "what happenned?" his reply was "those days are long gone" It's only been 13 years- 13 years- 13 years!!!
 
All of it was so surreal- I sat for a few hours, I even had 2 32 oz BUDWEISERS ( I wasn't expecting anything good)
and I left .....disillusioned......
 
I leave you with that.............
<message edited by wanderingjew on Mon, 03/5/12 7:33 PM>

mayor al
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/5/12 8:23 PM
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Dale,
  Times change. You must evolve with that or perish !
When we last visited Huber's Family Farm Restaurant ALL of the kitchen help and busboys were Hispanic...Not a redneck farmboy in sight!
   Sort of causes one to wonder where we are all going, doesn't it?

OK Now get on with your travels.....

Louis
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 9:19 AM
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Apparently Clarksdale hasn't changed since I was there about five years ago.  You captured the atmosphere very well, Dale.
 
I've never been to the Dinner Bell.  I'll have to try that next time I'm in the area.
 

kevincad
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 9:49 AM
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buffetbuster


wanderingjew


Thanks Greymo
New Orleans is probably in my top 5....
I think in no particular order my top 5 are
Kansas City
Charleston SC
New Orleans
Austin
San Francisco


Our lists are very similar, although I would probably replace New Orleans with Memphis and find a way to slip Santa Fe or San Diego in there somewhere. 


Just make a bigger list!

Root-Beer Man
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 10:25 AM
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Great report, so far. I'm loving it. As for Chunky, MS, it's right outside my hometown of Meridian. Used to be well known for it's fish camp and great fried catfish. Not sure if it's still there or not. Glad to see Weidman's has opened back up. Now I have a reason to stop in next time I pass through on the way to NOLA.

Littleman
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 1:44 PM
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Walnut Hills in Vicksburg is identical to Dinner Bell and just as good.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 6:20 PM
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Al
 
Even I know that times have changed. But it s only been 13 years.  There's still a large African American population in the Delta When I previously visited , the band that was performing was young and most of the crowd at the Juke Joint were in their 30's, 40's and 50's, so it's not like they are too old to go out and enjoy live music 13 years later. So I'm just wondering what really happened, if you recall I mentioned that downtown  Clarksdale seemed like it was going through gentrification compared to my last visit and I was wondering if that was in a good way.  "Disney Delta" is not exactly a good thing.
 
Root Beer Man
 
Interesting tid-bits on "Chunky" . Definitely check out Weidmann's- it was one of my best meals of the trip.

smokestack lightning
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 7:30 PM
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There are still real Jukes in Mississippi and the area. Try Betty's Place in Prairie Point on the Alabama border or even Wild Bill's in Memphis. And there  are clubs in Greenville and Indianola. Each year BB King returns to a juke in Indianola for a very cool very late show.

Sundancer7
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 7:53 PM
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WJ:  I have spent quite a bit of time.  I know Clarksdale and the Delta very well.  I have visited every place you did and I agree that the tamales were super.  I wish we had them in Knoxville.  Ground Zero is better on weekends at least when I was there.  I was a bit pricey and they may be one of the reasons why you saw quite a few whites because the main industry around the  Delta is farms that employ a huge amount of blacks.  The are huge corporate farms and the owners reside in other cities.  The area is super if you know where to go and it seems that you found them
 
Very nice write and we enjoyed our time in Nashville with you. 
 
I started a plasma business in that city.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Texascajun
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/6/12 10:04 PM
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I'm new to the site and just wanted to say that I really enjoy your reports. I have lots of family around the NOLA area and the food there is great. Thank You for the great reports.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 9:18 AM
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Smokestack Lightning
 
Apparently there are some "real" juke joints left, however Red's is supposed to be one of them- it's been around at least since the 1970's- it used to be called "Red's South End Disco" and was part of the "triumverate" of Clarksdale which included Smitty's Red Top Lounge  and Margaret's Blue Diamond Lounge. Both Smittys and Margarets are gone-I went to one of them back in 1999- I don't remember which one. I remember going to Red's earlier that day  but there was no live music that night (interestingly enough Red dropped by briefly early in the evening on my visit last month and he looked exactly the same as he did in 1999.
 
Paul
 
Thanks, same here- when are you going to make it up here to New England?
 
Texascajun
 
Thanks for the compliment and welcome to Roadfood !
 

Sundancer7
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 9:37 AM
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WJ:  New England is quite a journey for a old man like me although I have been in that area many times.
 
Thanks for the BD gift you presented me.  I used it yesterday on a pork butte and it was super.
 
I am anxious for your next pics.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Michael Hoffman
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 9:49 AM
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Sundancer7


WJ:  New England is quite a journey for a old man like me although I have been in that area many times.


An old man like you? I'm older than you, and I'll be driving up to Connecticut later this year, and maybe driving to Alaska come late August. And definitely driving to Mobile next February, too.



wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 10:03 AM
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Michael Hoffman


Sundancer7


WJ:  New England is quite a journey for a old man like me although I have been in that area many times.


An old man like you? I'm older than you, and I'll be driving up to Connecticut later this year, and maybe driving to Alaska come late August. And definitely driving to Mobile next February, too.


MH
 
I agree,
 
last I heard, 70 is the new 50 (I guess in my case that means 47 is the new 27 since I'll be entering my late 40's next week)  When you  & Lleechef come to Connecticut- please let me know- if you can cross the border to Rhode Island even better! I'd be happy to play tour guide

tcrouzer
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 10:13 AM
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WJ, a great report as always! A tamale trip is definitely something I could get on board for. When I was a girl, we would have TV dinner nights when my dad was away for business ---- I always chose the Mexican dinner with the tamale. But we can imagine how bad that frozen meal actually was. I keep asking around locally for someone who makes tamales out of their home, but no luck so far.
"Juke joints" --- now that dates all of us!
 
Teresa

will_work_4_bbq
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 11:21 AM
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WJ,
Next time you ar ein Birmingham, we will have to go to Gip's Place.  A sure-enough, real juke joint!

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 7:19 PM
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tcrouzer
 
Thanks, it's always good to hear from you. Who would have thought that Mississippi would be a haven for tamales.
 
Lynn
 
I'm up for anything blues related, hopefully there won't be a 7 year gap before my next visit to Birmingham like there was last time.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 8:25 PM
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Chapter 6- Closed For Business
Sunday February 12
 
I already knew when I woke up it was going to be a long drive back to Jackson without decent coffee since the only decent coffeehouse in Clarksdale is closed on Sundays. Come to think of it- just about everything in Clarksdale will be closed on Sundays. For that matter the entire state of Mississippi seems to be closed on Sundays, well, not every place. 
 
I arrived in Jackson for another mediocre cup of coffee at the local chain, Cups.  After my 2nd blah experience I already decided I'm going to try to find a better coffee house in Jackson the next morning before I leave.
 
One place I was looking forward to returning to, again after 7 years was.
 

 
Two Sisters Kitchen
 
Looks like I made it in time for the after church crowd. The parking lot was close to full- and I looked at the license plates- all Mississippi tags. That's a good sign. As I entered- I could over hear the classic central Mississippi drawl among the patrons
 

I entered the old house and got on the buffet line and made the rounds for plate number 1
 
 
 

 
I started out with this fine, dense, warm doughy roll
 

 
Counter clockwise you'll find creamed corn, mashed potatoes, fried okra, black eyed peas, greens and Fried Chicken. With the exception of the Mashed Potatoes , the creamed corn and fried okrah, the sides take  a distant second place to the sides at the Dinner Bell from the Day Before in fact the greens and black eyed peas didn't impress me at all. The fried chicken at Two Sisters Kitchen on the other hand just "owns" the fried chicken at the Dinner Bell. Two Sister's Kitchen fried chicken was crisper, crunchier and spicier,
 
I returned to the buffet line (with a clean plate) for round number 2.
 

 
a corn muffin that was much tastier than I remembered last time- this time it was fresh and warm
 

 
 
I returned for some more fried chicken, and the sides I enjoyed (the mashed potatoes and cream corn) this time I went with cabbage as well. Unfortunately I wasn't impressed.
 
I ended my meal, the same way concluded it 7 years ago.
 

 
Unfortunately as I much as I touted the banana pudding previously, this was NOT the same banana pudding I remembered, a let down. 

Overall the Two Sisters Kitchen was a mixed bag, but I would certainly return, if not just for that delicious fried chicken. 
 
After checking into the downtown Hilton, I realized that there will be absolutely nothing to do today since Mississippi is closed for business.  I did want to check out Trustmark Park, the home of the Mississippi Braves in suburban Pearl. The last time I visited in 2005, the new ballpark was almost competely finished. This time I'll get to see how it looks after setting in for a few years.
 

 
 

 
Unfortunately the park was closed, but I managed to squeeze a photo of the scoreboard. 
Trustmark Park seems like a nice little ballpark, hopefully I'll get a game in here someday.
 
Afterwards, I checked my triple A guide book for something, anything in the area. It seems the Antique Mall of the South in Ridgeand is open. I get there and I'm ready to expect acres and acres of antiques.....It was just a building with antiques that I managed to go through in less than 20 minutes. 
 
I did have an assignment to try and fulfill while I was in Jackson. I have a post card collection that goes back 25 years. 
I collect downtown birds eye view postcards of the larger cities in each states. I obviously have post cards from 48 contiguous states and I'm still missing birds eye views of Hartford CT, Sioux Falls SD (I already confirmed they don't exist) and Jackson MS. Once again, I hit the two major malls (actually one of them, Metrocenter mall appeared half empty and quite depressing) and absolutely nothing.  At this point I was only a few miles away from my dinner stop.
 

 
Crechales Cafe
 
One of the classic, old school greek owned joints in Jackson. The other two of course are The Elite (which I've been to before) and The Mayflower Cafe (which is closed on Sunday). I believe that the restaurant owners of all three are somehow related.
 
I walked into the place and it was virtually pitch black. I did ask for a window table, as I sat down, the waitress closed the window drapes, I asked her to open them as I need all the remaining sunlight I can get.
 
Each meal begins with a basket of garlic rounds
 

 
and of course I noticed the bottle of the "only in Mississippi" comeback dressing on my table as well
 

 
which complimented my salad quite nicely.
 

 
For my main course I ordered the Fried Red Snapper.
 

 
The snapper was fried perfectly, and had a nice clean flavor and crispy coating. Unfortunately, however I did not like the home made tarter sauce served with the meal. It tasted like someone dumped a load of olive juice into the tartar sauce.
 
The meal even came with fresh cut fries
 

 
that was a nice surprise and  went very well with the comeback dressing which I used as a dipping sauce, however the waitress noted that they are famous  for their onion rings, well after the rings I enjoyed the night before at Ramon's in Clarksdale, I was in onion ring overload.
 
Unfortunately another disappointment for dessert.
 

 
A lemon tart- although it's homemade- I didn't care for the hard, thick outer shell. 
 
Besides the dessert and tarter sauce this was a good meal. 
 
As I left I spoke with the owner who recommended I should also try the Elite and the Mayflower the next time I'm in town.
 
I took a photo of the cool neon sign as I left.
 

 
Afterwards, I returned to my hotel, went to the hotel bar and had another pint of the Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown ale before calling it a night....
 
much more to come...

mikeam
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 9:54 PM
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Great report. Thanks!

Texascajun
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/7/12 9:58 PM
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The lemon tart looks great, I wish it were as good as it looked. All in all sounded like a good meal.

Tex-Max
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/8/12 12:57 AM
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WJ:  Might I suggest that the peas at the Two Sisters appear to me to be Field peas with Snap Beans.  Certainly a traditional southern sidedish but I would not consider them as Black Eyed Peas (New Years Tradition).  I have eaten both all my life, being from the South and I think they taste completely different.  The field pea  is normally what is called a purple hull pea (I think) and it has a lighter eye, it is much smaller then the black eyed pea and certainly not as robust.  Black eyed peas would normally be cooked with pork for flavoring but I have never had field peas cooked with pork that I remember, but often with snap beans.
Field peas are best eaten with a dollap of mayo! My favorite.
 
The comeback dressing is it spicey, or similar to Thousand Island?
 
Enjoy all your trip reports keep 'em comingl.
<message edited by Tex-Max on Thu, 03/8/12 1:04 AM>

Art Deco
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/8/12 1:27 PM
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Tex-Max

WJ:  Might I suggest that the peas at the Two Sisters appear to me to be Field peas with Snap Beans.  Certainly a traditional southern sidedish but I would not consider them as Black Eyed Peas (New Years Tradition).  I have eaten both all my life, being from the South and I think they taste completely different.  The field pea  is normally what is called a purple hull pea (I think) and it has a lighter eye, it is much smaller then the black eyed pea and certainly not as robust.  Black eyed peas would normally be cooked with pork for flavoring but I have never had field peas cooked with pork that I remember, but often with snap beans.
Field peas are best eaten with a dollap of mayo! My favorite.

I agree that those do not look like Black-eyed peas, but they are definitely not purple hull, which I find superior to black-eyed peas in every way (dollop of mayo?  Are you nuts?).  Those look more like one of the crowder pea variants which to me have a less agreeable texture and flavor to either purple hull or black-eyed peas.

Foodbme
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/8/12 1:30 PM
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Ya'll know your Peas!! Pass the peas, please!

Tex-Max
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/8/12 2:08 PM
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pogophiles


Tex-Max

WJ:  Might I suggest that the peas at the Two Sisters appear to me to be Field peas with Snap Beans.  Certainly a traditional southern sidedish but I would not consider them as Black Eyed Peas (New Years Tradition).  I have eaten both all my life, being from the South and I think they taste completely different.  The field pea  is normally what is called a purple hull pea (I think) and it has a lighter eye, it is much smaller then the black eyed pea and certainly not as robust.  Black eyed peas would normally be cooked with pork for flavoring but I have never had field peas cooked with pork that I remember, but often with snap beans.
Field peas are best eaten with a dollap of mayo! My favorite.

I agree that those do not look like Black-eyed peas, but they are definitely not purple hull, which I find superior to black-eyed peas in every way (dollop of mayo?  Are you nuts?).  Those look more like one of the crowder pea variants which to me have a less agreeable texture and flavor to either purple hull or black-eyed peas.

I have just always called them Field Peas,   so you are probably right on the crowder peas.  I have just never heard them called crowder peas at the dinner table.   I realize they are extremely all close cousins in the pea variety.  I think my grandmother cooked Field peas everyday with chicken fried steak, and rice and gravy.  Yep I know the mayo might not be the norm but yep its good, Blueplate Mayo always on the dinner table for the peas and the tomatoes.  (No I did not eat mayo on my tomatoes I do like those with just a little salt, but my grandfather did.)  

Root-Beer Man
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/8/12 4:04 PM
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Yet another place I have to get to. As for the peas, yep, those are Crowder peas and snap beans. A Mississippi staple. Ate many pounds of those when I lived there. Not as strong a flavour as black eyed or Purple hull (my favourite), but they are a solid little pea. Usually cooked with bacon in my family. Never have seen them in a restaurant, tho. That says a lot, to me.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Fri, 03/9/12 3:38 PM
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Tex Max
 
Thanks for the clarification on the peas- this northern doesn't know the difference. I still can't tell the difference between turnip greens, mustard greens and collared greens.
 
Thanks to Root Beer Man and Pogophiles for their input.
 
That explains why the peas lacked Pizazz, in fact I didn't have any luck at all with "black eyed peas" on this trip- you'll have to wait till the next chapter to find out why.

The comeback dressing at Crechales wasn't spicy at all- but it does have a little bit more bite than thousand island dressing. So far the comeback dressing  at Weidmann's was the best- and that did have quite a bit of zing to it. I will have comeback dressing one more time on this trip (in the next chapter) although it wasn't very distinguishable from that served at Crechales- what it was served with made all the difference.

Foodbme
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Fri, 03/9/12 4:19 PM
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WJ,
Here's one of many explanations on greens:
"Mustard leaves are thinner in texture and have a hotter taste. Collards are in the cabbage family and have a wider thicker textured leaf. They are slightly more bitter and less spicey than mustard greens. Also collards are smellier, being a cabbage, and because they have a thicker texture take a litle longer to cook. I love them both, with pinto beans , cornbread a fresh tomato and some vinegar seasoned with hot pepper to put on top of my greens."
Here's another:
"Collards are the darkest of all the greens. They have a cabbagy texture to them. Their leaves are large and the stems are very thick.
Mustard greens are the lightest in color. Their texture is sort of like fragile lettuce. The stem is semi-thick.
Turnip greens are a medium-green color. Their texture is like lettuce.
If you just boil them, they do have a distinct taste; however, most people season them heavily."
 
My thinking is "Greens is Greens". As long as you cook them with some smoked part of a pig, (Hock, Salt Pork, Bacon etc) and season them with a vinegar pepper sauce before eating, they're all good! 

lleechef
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Fri, 03/9/12 6:04 PM
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wanderingjew


Michael Hoffman


Sundancer7


WJ:  New England is quite a journey for a old man like me although I have been in that area many times.


An old man like you? I'm older than you, and I'll be driving up to Connecticut later this year, and maybe driving to Alaska come late August. And definitely driving to Mobile next February, too.


MH

I agree,

last I heard, 70 is the new 50 (I guess in my case that means 47 is the new 27 since I'll be entering my late 40's next week)  When you  & Lleechef come to Connecticut- please let me know- if you can cross the border to Rhode Island even better! I'd be happy to play tour guide

We sure will let you know.  We'll bring our passports so we can cross over from CT to Rhode Island to buy you a coffee and a meal and  BTW, Happy Birthday!

ann peeples
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Fri, 03/9/12 8:40 PM
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Just got internet again-moved -am enjoying and missed your reports, Dale...........

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/12/12 6:48 AM
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lleechef
 
Thanks for the birthday wishes- although I still have 3 very long days before I officially enter my late 40's.  Yes. you will certainly need a passport to enter Rhode Island. I believe they sell those at any participating Dunkin Donuts- once you enter the state, you can find one every 1/2 a mile- the only problem is there will be long lines ahead of you.
 
Thanks Ann
Hope your internet woes are over.
 
I plan to continue the next chapter this evening

buffetbuster
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/12/12 9:01 AM
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WJ-
I am way behind on comments on this wonderful report of yours, so I have to go back a couple of pages.....
 
What a find you have in Miss Myra's!  I am not a big fan of bbq chicken, but it sure looks like you made the correct choice there.  Besides, how can you resist a place that serves deviled eggs on the side?  And that banana pudding looks just about perfect.  Next time in Birmingham, I am definitely going to Miss Myra's.  Any chance you will write an official Roadfood review?  This place certainly seems worthy.
 
We read about so many classic Roadfood restaurants either closing or going downhill, it is refreshing to see that someone took the time to restore Weidmann's back to how it used to be.  In fact, I had read so many bad things about the place, I didn't even bother going there during my Mississippi vacation in 2008. That redfish you ordered with the shrimp and mushroom sauce looks so good, I have hardly paid any attention to the accompanying pie photo.
 
Glad you enjoyed the Dinner Bell as much as you did.  I agree that it is the sides and vegetables that is their strength.  And their fried eggplant is second to none.  I am also very glad that you got to eat inside at Hick's.  They are still my favorite place for Delta tamales.  At Ramon's, did you sit in the front room with the booths or back in the main dining room?  They seemed to have two completely different atmospheres.
 
I was so disappointed that my trip into Jackson last year had airline difficulties, which prevented me from having dinner at Crechale's on the Friday night.  What a great neon sign they have.
 
Keep up this impressive report WJ!  Can't wait to see more.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/12/12 6:41 PM
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Chapter 7-  Ole Wet Miss
Monday February 13
 
(Before beginning this chapter- I want to apologize for the awful photos- it appears I got some water on my lense from the rain, and then later on  at dinner I experienced the worst lighting of the trip) 
 
Before leaving Jackson, I decided to change coffee houses. I checked out Sneaky Beans, also in the funky fondren neighborhood (like cups) and it faired slightly better but I still found it "average" at best. I was wondering at this point if there are truly any good coffee houses in the south. 
 
As I left Jackson it started to rain. there was some sleet and snow mixed in as I was heading north to Oxford, it was mind boggling that I've been experiencing worse weather down south on this trip than I have in Rhode Island all winter. 
 
As I approached the Oxford area,  it was mostly a light to moderate steady rain that prevailed for the most part all day and all night. 
 
My first stop  was difficult to get to- I knew my GPS would fail me so I had to get the directions off of google.
 

 


 
The Taylor Grocery in Taylor just outside of Oxford.
 
Taylor itself is so miniscule, even their post office is pint size.
 

 
Taylor Grocery just started serving lunch during the week. I really wanted to hit this place in the evening, unfortunately they are only open a few select days for dinner.
 
The atmosphere at Taylor Grocery is just second to none
 

 

 
I perused the daily specials. 
 

 
I already knew what I wanted for my main course but was dissapointed that their "Big Deb's world famous brown rice" was not available (it is at dinner). 
 
I chose the Catfish, which comes with hushpuppies, and chose fried okra and rotel cabbage as my sides
 

 
The meal itself was nothing short of fantastic, however, it's very rare that I make this complaint, I thought the portions were skimpy. These are lunch portions and I did have the option to get 4 catfish filets instead of 2. Either way, I'm hoping they are a little more generous at dinner.
 
I'm glad my meal didn't fill me up too much, so I can make room for some  Peach Cobbler- also really good
 

 
After lunch, I took the short drive to Oxford and checked into my motel which was just a short walk from the Oxford Town Square.
 

 
I spent most of the afternoon walking around the square and checking out the various shops.
 

 

 
 

 
 

 
One place that caught my attention was the old Presbyterian Church.
 

 
 

 
Unfortunately it didn't seem like there were any tours being conducted so I didn't walk in.
 
Another place I walked by was the Faulkner house. Home of the  parents of the  famous writer William  Faulkner.
 

 
 

 
I believe tours are only conducted by appointment.
 
My most intriguing stop was at the final resting place of William Faulkner
 
 

 
 

 
Considering the bottles of spirits surrounding his grave, I can only assume that he's "living it up" after death as much as he did throughout life.
 
After my dreary wet day of walking around town, dinner time was approaching. Lauded by Hollyeats, I thought I would give  this place a try.
 

 
A really cool diner in the square. The lighting itself was quite peculiar, a dark olive green hue. I made every attempt to avoid using the flash.
 
I started out with an order of fried dill pickles.
 

 
 
Served with a side of comeback dressing, I found the pickles to be quite addicting. Not overly salty like the ones I've had previously at The Cherokee Inn in Jackson and at the Original Cock of the Walk in Natchez, I had to ensure that I didn't clean my plate so I can enjoy my main course.
 
'
 
Tamale pie was what I ordered, it came with a side salad, corn muffin and one side.
The tamale pie was quite good, filled with bbq pork which actually tasted more like bacon, it  was very filling.
 

 
Unfortunately my only complaint was that my side, the black eyed peas were just way too salty.
 
I concluded my meal with something I haven't had yet.
 

 
Pecan Pie a'la mode- A fine ending to a decent meal - and yes this is a flash photo- although I didn't use full flash. 
 
After dinner, I walked back to my motel (it was still raining) and called it a night since I'll have to wake up early the next morning.
 
much more to come...
 
 



wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/12/12 7:08 PM
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Buffetbuster
 
Thanks for directing me to the Dinner Bell- not only were the  sides superb, but the atmosphere and unique revolving table experience was something to remember.
 
I totally recommend Miss Myra's, I have a feeling their bbq chicken might make you a convert.  Unfortunately I've hung up the restaurant reviews for now. Maybe things will change in the future.
 
Hick's was great, I'm glad I got the opportunity to check it out. Definitely my favorite tamales in the delta. 
 
At Ramon's I did sit in the front room but I was at a table across from the booths, is there a seperate room?
 
I'm hoping to return to Mississippi soon- I can see why it's one of your favorite states.
 

buffetbuster
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/12/12 7:31 PM
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Man, Taylor Grocery just looks like Mississippi to me and I mean that in the best possible way.  And if WJ complains that the portion size is skimpy, then it is so.  Still, that is some mightly fine looking catfish!

Sundancer7
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/12/12 8:18 PM
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WJ:  My niece  graduated from law school at Ole Miss.  She is now employed and it appears that she will be a successful attorney.  It appears that you enjoyed your visit there and are now close to Memphis.  Happy birthday my young friend.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/13/12 8:11 AM
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Paul
 
It sounds like your niece takes after her uncle- thanks for the birthday wishes- 2 days away from the dreaded "late 40's".
 
Buffetbuster
 
My thoughts were the same about The Taylor Grocery I was actually going to comment about that in my report but then I decided not to becuase I didn't know if I could answer "what does Mississippi look like?"
 
As far as the skimpy portions, you know I'm legit when I say that-it's not like those comments came from Chi Town Diner.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/14/12 8:05 PM
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Chapter 8- Vindication
 
Tuesday February 14
 
Today was my last morning in Mississippi. I had an early start since I had to make it to Memphis to take care of some personal business that would take up most of the morning.
 
I started out my morning at High Point Coffee in the Oxford Town Square. Finally  after a week on this trip, a solid cup of coffee, it didn't completely blow me away, but certainly the best I've had all week. Unfortunately I could only enjoy one cup since I had to get on the road. Can things get better from here?
 
After taking care of business in Memphis that morning, since I would only have a short time  in Memphis before I continue westward I thought I would take advantage of my brief stay and do Memphis "Chi Town Diner" style.
 
My first stop was a little apprehensive.
 

 
Payne's Bar-B-Q
 
Oh don't get me wrong, this place was outstanding when I visited 7 years ago. However 3 years ago during Memphis Glee Club weekend, Travelin Man, Buffetbuster Cousin Johnnie went to what we thought was the other Payne's location and lets just say it was an experience that we would all soon rather forget. Well as you can see there are cars in the parking lot- that is certainly a good sign. The smell of smoke- even better. I entered and ordered a large pork sandwich- the young gentleman (the owner's son)  apologized and told me they were out of pork.  This was deja vu all over again with what we experienced at the Cozy Corner 3 years earlier. I was disappointed but ordered a half rack of ribs instead.
 

 
 
There is nothing wrong with my camera- that's smoke that you see pouring out of those ribs. My disappointment quickly turned to delight. These beauties were just meaty n' tender but not to the point of "fall off the bone", and the sauce was just spectacular.  These were the best ribs of the trip.
 
I ordered their sweet yellow tinged coleslaw
 

 
and their porky bbq beans as sides
 

 
the beans were just as I remembered- Fan-Freakin-Tastic
 
As I left I spoke with the owner, Flora and asked her why they were out of pork- she said  this isn't usual- their meat man arrived late. I also mentioned my previous "experience" with the other Payne's.  Flora assured me that although they are relatives there was absolutely no affiliation with the other Payne's, in fact they recently went out of  business. Flora told me she's been in business now 40 years and her kids are helping out too- wonderful, when Flora decides to begin her well deserved retirement, I hope the kids carry on.
Payne's - you've been vindicated! As I left, I assured Flora that I'll be passing through again on friday and will stop in for a Pork Sandwich.
 
I continued on to my next stop.
 

 
A & R Bar-B-Que
 
It's always assuring to have a smiling pig in a chef's hat ready to commit cannibalism.
 
This is my first visit and since I didn't get one at Payne's I went with Pork Sandwich
 

 
Yeah, it's big and looks good but I was unimpressed. The meat lacked smoke and I even found the sauce a little bland. It was ordinary, on the other hand,
 

 
I thought their bbq spaghetti was really good- It reminded me of the stuff served at Interstate and Neeley's.
 
Afterwards I made it to my final food stop in Memphis.
 


The Cupboard
 
This was just a dessert stop.  One thing that's been missing on this trip was a good slice of Lemon Ice Box Pie
 

 
Unforunately , I didn't get it here. Theres a reason they call this Lemon Icebox Pie. The filling is supposted to be cool and firm, the filling was room temperature and as you can see,gooey, the graham cracker pie crust was hard and crumbly. 
 
Before venturing west, I needed to stop for another cup of coffee, I only had one 20 ouncer in the morning. I made it to a relatively new place called Bluff City Coffee, practically across the street from the arcade- when I arrived the bartisa advised that they don't do traditional drip coffee- just espressos and variants of- he told me he could whip up a solid Americano- and I took him on- They're a little more expensive (about 3 and change) but wow - this was one impressive Americano- things have certainly gotten better in the coffee world since I started my trip.
 
I had a long drive ahead of me through the entire state of Arkansas. Finally around dinner time I arrived at
 

 
The Catfish Hole 
In Alma AR- I couldn't believe that I was less than 15 miles from the Oklahoma Border and only 100 or so miles from Tulsa- I almost felt like I was "Heartlanding through the Breadbasket" instead of "Wandering around the South"
The Catfish Hole is the second outpost of the original in Fayetteville.  The reviews on the web have been very promising.  
 

 
 
I was surprised at how busy they were for a tuesday night, what gives?
I perused the menu but already knew what I wanted
 
 
\
 
My meal began with creamy coleslaw
 
And a plate arrived with sliced raw onion, lemon and green tomato relish
 

 
 
The green tomato was "chunked" versus finely chopped which is what I'm most familiar with. The texture was different, I think I prefer the finely chopped
 

 
 
Some amazing crispy, crunchy and oniony hushpuppies arrived as well- I could have ordered a whole bunch and just made a meal out of these.
 
 

 
But alas, thee catfish fillets arrived- The catfish was excellent- hot,  crisp, not gamey or fishy and what a bonus- Real hand cut fries- You don't see that very often at the catfish houses down south.  
 
Can the meal continue on a high note?
 
I ordered the peach fried pie with a side of vanilla ice cream
 

 

 
very pedestrian.
 
Overall the Catfish Hole  gets high marks in my book- just don't order dessert.
 
I was now 45 minutes away from my final destination for the evening. I made it to Fayetteville and checked into the Day's Inn. The hotel desk clerk told me they were almost sold out. It's a tuesday for crying out loud, yes, but the desk clerk reminded me it was Valentines Day.....VALENTINE'S DAY!!! at the Days Inn????!!!!  
Well, whatever floats your boat.
 
After checking in, I was only a couple of miles from the center of town and wanted to check out the nightlife.
I stopped at Hog Haus Brewing Company in the entertainment district a few blocks away from the town square and ordered the Java Porter- it was smooth and reminded me of coffee. 
Afterwards I walked around a bit, returned to my hotel and called it a night..
 
More to come...

<message edited by wanderingjew on Wed, 03/14/12 8:22 PM>

joerogo
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/14/12 8:24 PM
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wanderingjew
 
I had an early start since I had to make it to Memphis to take care of some personal business that would take up most of the morning. 
 
 
You dog you!

ann peeples
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/14/12 9:15 PM
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Again, Dale, I discussed with Bob going on a major walking(eating) tour with you should we ever meet again- he said absolutely!!!!!!!!!! He knows I love history, walking and eating......I usually LOSE weight on vacation.
I am entirely impressed with your trip thus far, and cant wait for more.........

billyboy
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Wed, 03/14/12 9:31 PM
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Keep it comin', WJ!  Lovin' it! 
Little known fact:  The "Virginia is for Lovers" motto?  Stolen from the Days Inn decades ago!  True story.  ;) 

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/15/12 8:33 AM
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Joe
 
Keep your mind out of the gutter! Perhaps I was hired as an Elvis Impersonator.
 
Ann
 
Perhaps you and Bob can come up to New England- lots roadfood, lots of history and the freedom trail in Boston in itself is a helluva walk.
 
billyboy
 
Who new?
I was picturing a romantic dinner at Red Lobster and a tryst at Days Inn afterwards.

Sundancer7
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Thu, 03/15/12 10:23 AM
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Dale, I do not do dessert very often like yourself and BB and TTM.  The catfish and home fries looked super and your ribs look outstanding.
 
I sorta wish I was still traveling instead of being retired.  I sure do like traveling adventure.  I have traveled the river road on the Mississippi to Memphis many times.  Always an adventure.
 
I guess you will soon get to Nashville pics.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Fri, 03/16/12 9:24 AM
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Paul
 
I don't do dessert nearly as much as TTM and especially Buffetbuster, although when I'm either down south, in the Great Lakes Custard Belt or Northern Plains Pie Country, I can rarely turn it down.

You are correct, another 2 1/2  days before the Nashville pics- however the Nashville photos won't be posted on this trip report- they will be posted on the Glee Club thread.

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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sun, 03/18/12 8:02 PM
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Chapter 9- Ozark Academia
 
Wednesday February15
 
Unfortunately another rainy morning depleted all hopes of walking to a coffee house that was walking distance from my motel.
 
Mama Carmen's Espresso located in  shopping plaza seemed kind of promising, although they didn't have a dark roast available, they assured me that their medium roast was good. And they were right, one of the best cups of coffee of the trip. It seems like my coffee doldrums which plagued the first half of my trip are dissipating. Luckily I didn't have a plans that morning  and figured I would  do mostly indoor stuff, especially if it continued to rain.
 
Thankfully the rain stopped as I checked out of my motel and was heading to my lunch stop  about 20 miles away.
 

 
The Bean Palace at War Eagle Mill 
in Rogers 
 
Well guess what!

 
 
Travelin Manned for the third and last time ! (yes this really was the last time)
 
You know I wasn't hungry anyway, I figured I would head to Springdale to my next stop and then do some "research" at the library for a lunch stop.
 

 
The Shiloh Museum in Springdale provides an interesting perspective of Ozark Culture from a historical perspective.
I especially enjoyed this re-creation of a home from the 1970's  We know how much those hillbillies were ahead of their time.
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 
Then of course you have some cultural icons that hailed from the area.
 

 

 
and probably the most famous 
 

 
But we'll find out more about them later...
 
Now that  mid afternoon was approaching,  I was getting hungry. I went to the Springdale Public Library to get some internet access. The librarian looked at my drivers license and replied "you are the first person from Rhode Island that I've met" and I told her I'll probably be the last, I explained that people from Rhode Island don't travel anywhere (this is irony- stay tuned for later)
 
After doing some research I solidly decided where to go.
 

 
Neal's Cafe
 

 
Since 1944, this Neal's has been serving locals.
 

 

 
The atmosphere can't be beat.
 
The waitress told me that they are famous for their fried chicken. Unfortunately I had plans for fried chicken for dinner. Besides I wasn't very hungry (saving my appetite), I decided to go with the Ozark specialty.
 

 
Beans and Cornbread..
 
The beans were rich and hearty and the corn bread was actually light and airy, but still tasty and not as dense as cornbread can sometimes be.  The waitress asked if I had room for dessert, the answer was "of course" I asked what she recommended and she suggested the coconut cream pie.
 

 
Rich, creamy and luxurious, this slice of pie earns high marks.
 
I enjoyed Neal's Cafe and would love to go back one day and try their fried chicken. For a place that's been around for almost 70 years, they've got to be doing something right.
 
After lunch, I returned to Fayetteville for my next stop.
 

 
The Clinton House Museum
 

 
 
This is where they lived back in the mid 70's. In fact the previous owner, an heir to Swanson TV Dinner's mentioned that he sold the house to  "two hippie law students" in actuality they were both professors at University of Arkansas School of Law.
 

 
I believe this was the famous dress (please no puns) actually it was Hillary's wedding dress.
 

 
 

 
 

 
There is a garden out back dedicated to the first ladies who have inhabited the White House
 

 
 
'
 
Afterwards I returned to downtown Fayetteville for a walk around the town square.
 

 
when this caught my attention
 
'
 
I wouldn't even know where to begin.....
 
 
I did find a small brewpub- I thought it was a tap room but it was actually a brew pub- called West Mountain Brewing.  I walked in and there were few collegiate looking professor's who appeared to be in their 50's enjoying happy hour. 
 
Shortly after I sat down a goth looking guy in his 50's walked in-he could have been Joey Ramone reincarnated.
He sat down next to me and seemed to know the collegiate professor types sitting nearby and and began to have a conversation with them. Somehow the conversation turned to Italian neighborhoods. The goth dude menioned his experiences growing up in Providence. At that point, I think I must have turned pale, I turned around to the goth guy next to me and showed him my drivers license (like I did to the Librarian a couple of hours earlier) I couldn't believe it, I thought I was far far away from anything and everything Rhode Island. He told me he left Rhode Island "with his lady" in 1979 and never looked back- who knew?
 
Anyway back to the beer- I ordered a superb pale ale
 

 
Just ever so slightly hoppy. Probably the best beer of the trip.
 
Since I had a long drive to my next destinatation, I decided I had better get to my dinner destination before leaving town.
 

 
 
AQ Chicken House
 
I went to the Fayetteville location.
 
My meal began with some obligatory rolls
 

 
I had the option of ordering fried chicken, chicken over coals or bbq chicken or a combination of all three
 
I knew what I wanted immediately. 
 

 
I ordered the Chicken Over coals with creamed spinach and sweet potato casserole. The sides were ok, however the chicken shined. A combination of a lightly breaded  pan fried fried chicken that is actually grilled over charcoal which took it to a whole new level. I declare this the best fried chicken of the trip.
 
Considering  I was  blackberry cobbler deprived after being Travelin Manned at the War Eagle Mill Bean Palace, 
I managed to rectify the situatio with a respectable version here.
 

 
A suitable conclusion to a fine meal.
 
Unfornunately just as I was leaving, it began to rain and I had a wet ride back to Little Rock. 
I checked into my hotel in downtown Little Rock and called it a night.
 
More to come...


buffetbuster
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sun, 03/18/12 8:16 PM
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You gotta love the look of Neal's Cafe.  And what a great looking slice of pie!

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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Sun, 03/18/12 8:29 PM
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Dale, one of the most famous trails at  Mt Lassen National Park in California is called Bumpass Hell and it is through the steam vents and geysers of the park. It was names for Nathaniel Bumpass, one of the first white folks to see the area.              
<message edited by mr chips on Tue, 03/20/12 2:14 AM>

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/19/12 10:42 AM
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Buffetbuster
 
You should certainly check out Neil's Cafe on your Arkansas trip. Hopefully you can try their fried chicken and let us know if it's as good as they say.
 
Mr Chips
 
Interesting historical tid bit- I'd still change my last name!

buffetbuster
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Mon, 03/19/12 10:57 AM
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Neal's is definitely now on the list.  And I can assure you that at least one of us will try the fried chicken.  Thanks for the tip!

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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/20/12 10:26 AM
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WJ-
You wouldn't believe how many times I have gone back and looked at the bbq spaghetti photo you posted from A & R Bar-B-Q.  What I wouldn't do to be eating that today!  And that lemon ice box pie from the Cupboard is awful looking.  They should know better than to serve something like that.  Needless to say, next trip to Memphis will include a visit to Payne's.

wanderingjew
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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/20/12 6:46 PM
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Buffetbuster
 
And trust me the BBQ Spaghetti was just as good as it looked
You must get to the real Payne's - it's polar opposites of it's "evil cousin"  that we visited last time.
 
More "Arkansas" is headed your way!

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Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del - Tue, 03/20/12 8:20 PM
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Part 10 Rocks and Spas
 
Thursday February 16
 
Today outside of New Orleans was probably the most picture perfect days of the trip- I couldn't ask for better 
weather.
I started out the morning about 10 minutes outside of downtown at a superb coffee house called Guillermo's Gourmet Coffee. This is everything and anything a coffee house should be. I declare this the best cuppa java of the trip. 
 
Returning to town. I walked by this historical sport seemingly smack in the middle of downtown.
 

 
I recall touring the cabins during my first visit to Little Rock in 1999. In fact this is how I believe most folks back on the east coast would picture downtown Little Rock. 
 
I continued towards the river and the River Market district 
 

 
a revitalized warehosue district of shops, bars, restaurants and food vendors surround the area.
 
As I approached the river this plaque makes mention of the actual Little Rock for which this city was named
 

 
and there it is!
 

 
Little Rock!
 
I decided to walk over the bridge into North Little Rock with the city's downtown skyline in the background
 

 
I wanted to see the new ballpark which hadn't been built yet upon my last visit in 2005
 

 
Dickey Stephens park home of the double A Arkansas Travelers.
 
Although the park was closed, I did manage to get a photo of the scoreboard
 

 
I then walked back across the bridge into Little Rock as lunchtime was approaching and I wanted to get an early start for my day trip.
 
 
An old Roadfood favorite located inside a downtown  office building.
 

 
 
Franke's Cafeteria
 

 
I was glad I made it here on a Thursday as one of the day's specials was the old Ozark specialty  Chicken and Dumplings.
 
Here's a birds eye view of my tray.
 

 
The Candied Yams were very good
 

 

however the eggplant casserole was blander than I expected but not bad.
 

 
 
for some reason I was expecting something with more spices, especially garlic (probably from living in RI for the ast 12 years)
 

 
 
The Chicken and Dumplings were really good. Creamy, hearty and chock full of thick chunks of chicken.

However the true local specialty was this
 

 
 
Corn Pones. Very thick very dense and very chewy, kind of like corn bread on ultra steroids. 
 
For dessert I went with custard pie
 

 
Kind of like the southern cousin of Indiana's Sugar Cream Pie. I was hoping to try custard pudding too, but that was the next day's special- oh well...
 
Overall, I enjoyed Franke's Cafeteria, it's not as good as Gray's in Mooresville  IN but then again, what is?
 
After lunch I took the one hour drive to Hot Springs to spend the afternoon. This is my second visit, the first being in 1999. It doesn't look like much has changed.
 

 
Come to think if it, he was still President during my last visit.
 
My first stop was the Mountain Tower.
 

 
And I CLIMBED my way to the top (yes I really did!)
 
 

 
 

 

 
The views were really cool
 
I did opt to take the elevator back down. 
 
Afterwards, I walked around town, admiring all the old school classic hotels
 

 
 

 
 
This chubby little girl lured me into this shop
 

 
 
unfortunately their ice cream was not home made (they had blue bell) so I walked out- sorry, chubby little girl.
 
For those who don't know, back in the day, Hot Springs was a vacation spot for those who wanted to head to the bath houses and bathe in the  natural spring waters which were considered "medicinal" at the time. 
 
In fact now adays, you can bring your own jug and  bottle yer own like this lady is doing.
 

 
 
After continuing to walk around town I did end up at Bubba Lu's Bodacious Burgers and decided to go with this oreo malt
 

 
BubbaLu's seemed  like a cute place but trust me the malt looks prettier than it tasted. I suspect the ice cream used to make the malt was a commercial brand.
 
 

 
Continuing to walk around town, I approached this fountain bubbling with spring water- you can see the steam rising - that's how warm the water is.
 
I did get a few photos of the bathhouses, I believe most of them are no longer in use.
 

 
 
''
 

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
Most of what's left in Hot Springs are tacky tourist attractions
 

 
I did pass the entrance to Hot Springs National Park
 

 
as well as this interesting fountain
 

 
 
But this really caught my attention
 

 
Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Shoppe
 
Ok, fat bottomed girls don't attract me but their mini (yes, just a mini) red velvet cupcake certainly did, unfortunately I didn't get a photo.
 
Anyway, some of you may want to know why I just got a mini cupcake- well, I've been saving my appetite.
 

 
 
Stubby's Hik'ry Pit BBQ
 
I ordered a half rack  and a side of beans along with a pit potato
 

 
the beans were laced with rich red bbq sauce and bits of ham
 

 
The Pit Potato was just redolent of smoke- although I did have to remove about 75 of the huge hunk'a butter that was scooped on.
 

 
 
the ribs came with a generous side of thick deep red sauce which I just plopped on
 

 
 
These are the kind of ribs that Fred Flintstone would be proud of. They're huge, they're meaty  and take some gnawing, but oh so well worth it- Not quite as good as Payne's in Memphis, but still worthy.
 

 
before leaving, I picked up a bottle of bbq sauce to go (for guess who?)
 
After dinner, I returned to Little Rock. I did head out that evening, taking a  walk to the regional beer emporium the flying saucer in the River Market district. There was a  local beer on tap that was on special brewed by Diamond Bear Brewing in Little Rock, truth of the matter is I don't remember what I had so it probably wasn't memorable. After quaffing down a couple of beers, I walked back to my hotel for evening.
 
Much more to come...
 
Stay tuned for the next chapter "The Road to Nashville"



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