Hot!2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas

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buffetbuster
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2013/10/23 14:12:23 (permalink)

2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas

This past weekend was the 9th Annual Roadfood Bus Tour.  We spent Friday driving around Memphis, while Saturday was dedicated to Arkansas.  Having been on all nine tours, I can say that this was the best food on a bus tour, yet!
 
On Wednesday, I flew into Memphis, landing around 1:00PM, with the ChiTownDiner making the airport pickup.  Since he arrived in town a few hours earlier, he was already several stops ahead.  He gave full details on his visits to Women's Exchange, Donald's Donuts and Wiles-Smith Drugs.  By the time I gathered up my luggage, walked through this very long airport and met CTD outside, it was now 1:30.  Our first lunch stop (together) was Little Tea Shop in downtown Memphis and they close at 2:00PM.  And since we had plans out of town the next few days and they are closed on weekends, this would be our only chance to eat here.  The GPS said we were 15 minutes away, but that probably didn't include all the wrong turns and doubling back it asked us to do.  Thanks to some nifty Chicago-style u-turns and a convenient case of temporary color blindness at a stop light, we arrived in front at around seven 'til.  I ran in to plead our case, while CTD parked the car.  Fortunately, no begging was necessary as they told us to sit down, enjoy and take our time.  They are really nice people here.
 
Little Tea Shop

has one of my favorite methods of ordering your meal.  You get a slip of paper, a small pencil and you just mark down what you want. 

The waitress collects it, asks any necessary questions and passes it on to the kitchen.
 
First out were a basket of corn sticks. 

Knowing who I was with and how much food we would be consuming over the course of the day, I passed.  CTD chose the pimento cheese sandwich,

with the pea soup on the side.  Homemade pimento cheese on white bread seems like the right thing to order in a Southern tea shop and it was quite good.  Always creative, I noticed CTD was dipping the corn sticks into the pea soup.
 
My vegetable plate

consisted of English Peas, corn bread dressing, turnip greens and corn.  The standouts were the slightly bitter greens and the highly seasoned creamed corn.  Dessert was an order each of the apple cobbler and the peach cobbler. 

These cobblers were more of the breading than fruit style, with is my preferred cobbler, but the breading was just a little harder than it should have been.  Still, these were fine versions of the Southern dessert classics.
 
In the men's room, they have one of the strangest signs I have encountered.  They ask that men please sit down to urinate, so they don't get splashed by impurities.  Huh.
 
Little Tea Shop
69 Monroe Street
Memphis, TN
901-525-6000
 
Not much time to recover appetite since we had a fabulous meal waiting just a few minutes away.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/10/23 14:16:13
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    JRPfeff
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 14:27:51 (permalink)
    Wow. A new record for fastest posting of bb trip report.
    #2
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 14:29:55 (permalink)
    It's when he finishes it that matters.
    #3
    leethebard
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 14:30:21 (permalink)
    Looks like a great place....did you have any tea???
    #4
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 14:37:54 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    In the men's room, they have one of the strangest signs I have encountered.  They ask that men please sit down to urinate, so they don't get splashed by impurities.
    As long as this doesn't require sitting in a urinal...
    #5
    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 14:51:02 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken

    It's when he finishes it that matters.
    You people know me too well!
     
    Lee-
    If iced tea counts, then yes!  Sweet tea for me, unsweet for the big guy.
    #6
    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 14:52:52 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken

    buffetbuster

    In the men's room, they have one of the strangest signs I have encountered.  They ask that men please sit down to urinate, so they don't get splashed by impurities.
    As long as this doesn't require sitting in a urinal...

    Now there is a mental image for you.....
    #7
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 21:15:48 (permalink)
    It was an interesting ride with two gps's and a co-pilot providing conflicting reports and a tight time limit.  Glad the speeding rules had been waived!
    #8
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 21:24:37 (permalink)
    The corn sticks were really good broken up into the split pea soup.  To me, no matter where you go in the south, pimento cheese sandwiches are always good.  This one really hit the spot!  buffetbuster's corn was the hit on the veggie plate.
    For cobbler, I prefer the crumb top variety but these were a solid choice.
    #9
    tcrouzer
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 22:08:04 (permalink)
    Good start to your trip report, BB! Can't wait for more.
    I just don't get the lettuce on the pimiento cheese sandwich??? It's just wrong, in my highly opinionated opinion, and I've been eating PC sandwiches almost all of my life.
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    love2bake
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/23 22:23:49 (permalink)
    I'm coveting that vegetable plate and the cobbler on the right with the extra "goo."   And we're just getting started...
    #11
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 07:00:01 (permalink)
    tcrouzer

    Good start to your trip report, BB! Can't wait for more.
    I just don't get the lettuce on the pimiento cheese sandwich??? It's just wrong, in my highly opinionated opinion, and I've been eating PC sandwiches almost all of my life.

     
    In future ordering, I omitted the lettuce when I remembered.  Here it wasn't mentioned up front as it was a paper ordering process.  I agree and the salvation here is it one just one layer...not much of a hinderance but a perfect foil many "I'm getting full jokes!" 

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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 07:03:16 (permalink)
    tcrouzer

    Good start to your trip report, BB! Can't wait for more.
    I just don't get the lettuce on the pimiento cheese sandwich??? It's just wrong, in my highly opinionated opinion, and I've been eating PC sandwiches almost all of my life.
    Thanks!
     
    Not having grown up with pimento cheese sandwiches, I kind of like the lettuce, which gives the sandwich another texture besides just soft.  But, I will be glad to eat a cheese pimento sandwich in any way, shape or form. 

    post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/08 07:54:13
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 08:04:44 (permalink)
    CTD had never eaten at Alcenia's, which sits just outside of downtown Memphis, so we made that our next stop.  I had eaten here only once before and had a disappointing meal, which you can read about halfway down this old thread.
     
    They are supposed to be open until 5:00PM, but when we pulled up the place looked dark. 

    We were concerned that maybe the Travelin Man decided to join us on this trip.  Once we stepped inside, we were greeted immediately by a young man who turned out to be our waiter and the owner, B.J. Chester-Tamayo,

    who gave each of us a big hug!
     
    The inside is vividly decorated,

    with nothing but color everywhere you look.  Even the seats

    were interesting and lively, but still comfortable.  When B.J. asked what we were doing in Memphis (apparently we don't sound like locals.  Who knew?) and we told her we were in town for the annual Roadfood Bus Tour, we became her new favorite customers.
     
    The menu is so full of great sounding items,

    it would take eating here a week straight to get through them all.  We placed our orders and waited.  Our drinks came in tall plastic cups,

    with my sweet tea being as sweet as I can ever remember anywhere, but it still tasted freshly brewed.
     
    The first thing out to us was the fried green tomatoes. 

    Which kind of threw us off, because neither of us ordered it.  Well, we know better than to look a gift vegetable in the mouth, so we dug in.  I probably would have preferred a different sauce than ranch dressing, but how can you complain about free food?  Besides the tomatoes were perfectly tart.  We loved them!
     
    Even better yet, was the catfish bites

    which came out next.  Once again, something we didn't order.  It was at this point that I realized that we would not have the appetite (or time) to visit as many restaurants as we would have liked on this day, so just sit back, relax and enjoy the great meal in front of us.  So we did.  The catfish bites were misshapen chunks of meat in a spectacular, highly seasoned coating that explodes flavor in your mouth.  CTD was even more impressed by the pickly, homemade tartar sauce, which he was still talking about days later.
     
    Another thing I liked about Alcenia's is that they didn't bring the food out all at the same time.  They bring it out when it was hot and ready.  CTD got his entrée before I did, which was the fried pork chop,

    along with mac and cheese and a side of spaghetti.  The spaghetti, which is a common Mid-South side dish, was the only throw away food we ate here and I don't think either one of us took more than one bite.  The mac and cheese was supremely creamy and cheesy.  Not sure what kind of cheese they used, but it tasted like a mixture.  The pork chop was thick, juicy and had the same coating as the catfish bites.  Without a doubt the best fried pork chop I have ever had and may have been the single best thing I ate all weekend.  There was also a side of cole slaw,

    but I don't remember even tasting it.  Maybe CTD can elaborate on it.
     
    My dinner was the dark meat fried chicken

    that also had the same delicious coating on it.  I could have eaten a meal of just the skin on this chicken, but the inside meat was also tender, though not as juicy as I would have expected.  Really good fried chicken, but it did not reach the heights of the pork chop.  Besides, I will take great Southern vegetables over just about any meat.  And the vegetables here are perfectly done.  The green beans

    are cooked in pork juice and you can really taste the piggy flavor.  They asked if I wanted okra in my lima beans and of course I said yes!  The limas

    were buttery and a little sweet and I finished the entire bowl, which was no easy chore on this day.
     
    As if that wasn't enough, they also brought out a bowl of the cabbage

    for us to try, just because Jane and Michael Stern liked it so much on their previous visits.  And it is easy to see why.  The cabbage contains lots of spices, with pepper at the forefront and was the top vegetable on the table, at least for me.
     
    There were also some thin griddle cakes on the table,

    which I ignored, since there was too many other things to concentrate on.  CTD

    seemed to enjoy them, though!
     
    At this point, I am very full with absolutely no designs on dessert.  But, as usual, CTD had other plans and ordered a slice of the custard pie,

    which was brought to us warm.  Light and eggy, this was the perfect conclusion to a memorable meal.
     
    The service here was informal and constant, without being overbearing.  Our waiter was incredibly polite, calling us sir throughout the meal.  B.J. also made several trips out from the kitchen to check on us and answer our questions.  She is a genuine person and a fabulous host.  She told us all the recipes are from her or her 92 year old grandmother, who lives in Meridian, MS.  She has had a lot of success lately, deservedly so, appearing on national tv shows and writing a cookbook.  But none of it has gone to her head and she is still a grounded, very kind woman who sincerely loves what she does.
     
    Since it was CTD's turn to pay, I never saw the bill, but whatever it was, it was a bargain for the quantity and especially the quality of this food.  What a great experience!
     
    Alcenia's
    317 N. Main Street
    Memphis, TN
    901-523-0200
     
    As full as we were, our work wasn't done, since there were two places we had to get to before they closed for the day at 6:00.             
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/08 08:00:00
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 08:49:34 (permalink)
    A few more things worth mentioning:
     
    * ChiBears15 also dined at Alcenia's, the day after us in fact, so hopefully he will chime in and tell us about his experience.
     
    * The only other customer in Alcenia's at the same time as us was a young man dining by himself.  Based on our conversations, he was very worldy having traveled all over the globe and did his best to eat local everywhere he went.  Surprisingly, he had never heard of Roadfood before, but he has now.  We asked him what he does for a living that allowed him to travel so much and he said he tours with bands.  He isn't a musician, but a behind the scenes guy.  The current group he was working for was something called AFI, which I only knew as an acronym for the American Film Institute.  He also told us about some of the other groups that has employed him, with Death Cab for Cutie being the only name I recognized.
     
    * I do think it is necessary to say that we never look to get free food.  As a matter of fact, it makes me more than a little uncomfortable.  I would much rather pay for everything.  But sometimes restaurants owners see you taking photos or expressing enthusiasm for the food and they want you to try some other items on the menu.  I have learned it is much better to accept and be grateful rather than argue and appear ungrateful. 
     
    Furthermore, we never go in and announce we are with Roadfood or a food blogger or anything like that.  In this case, all we told B.J. was that we were taking part in the Roadfood tour and the R word was all it took to have her treat us like special guests.  I get the feeling she treats a lot of her customers as special guests!   
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/10/24 08:52:32
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    ann peeples
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 09:06:22 (permalink)
    What a fun beginning to your report! Cant wait for more!
     
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    Big_g
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 09:55:44 (permalink)
    Great photographs and verbage, always a joy to read your trip reports.
     
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 11:03:46 (permalink)
    Thanks Ann
     
    And Big_g, it was a real pleasure to meet you down in Memphis! 
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    lleechef
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 11:21:35 (permalink)
    I have been waiting for this trip report!!  I must admit I laughed when I saw that The Little Tea Shop proudly advertises HEALTHY Home Cooking.
    Now get busy and show us more!!!
    #19
    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 11:26:00 (permalink)
    lleechef-
    We also noticed the healthy home cooking sign.  I said to CTD, "Not if we have any say in the matter!" 
     
    As for more, there will some pie and bbq tonight!
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    lleechef
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 11:32:49 (permalink)
    Yay!  Pie and BBQ.......my favorites!  I must admit I was never, ever a fan of pie.  But there must be some kind of pie karma or pie osmosis oozing from my computer because now I love the stuff.....when it's properly made.  I blame it on you, bb  
    #21
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 11:53:17 (permalink)
    Yeah. Me too!
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 14:52:27 (permalink)
    Pie Folks has been on my hit list for years.  Doing research before the trip, I was surprised to find that they had moved from Olive Branch, MS to the east Memphis suburb of Germantown.
     
    Despite us leaving Alcenia's in the downtown area after 4:00PM, we experienced almost no traffic heading out to the 'burbs.  As we were flying down the highway, CTD pointed out that if this was Chicago, we wouldn't even be moving.  So the question is, does Memphis have that little rush hour traffic or do people know to get out of our way on our quest for pie?
     
    Pie Folks

    is a shockingly little store front in a strip mall.  What they lack in size, they make up for is available pie flavors! 

    How is that for a pie menu board CajunKing?
     
    Do you notice how there is a name for the pie and then a translation or description of the pie?  Well, it shouldn't have, but this threw us off.  The first thing I asked about was the banana cream pie, which they were out of.  The next choice was the lemon ice box pie, which they had, while CTD went with the blueberry.  After ordering, I continued looking it over and there had to be at least a dozen others that would have been preferable.
     
    Still, the lemon ice box pie

    was quite good.  It had a nice balance between sweet and tart and the whipped topping tasted homemade.   But how could I pass up peanut butter and chocolate?  Or double mocha java?  CTD's blueberry

    was also a fine effort, with plenty of sweet fruit in a soft crust.
     
    The inside of Pie Folks is only two small tables, plus a ledge with a few chairs.  Most of the customers we saw were getting their pies to go.  They also had a board where patrons were free to write comments. 

    Not a bad idea, although it could backfire if you don't watch it carefully.  Bonus points for anyone who can spot my comment.
     
    Since Cousin Johnny was landing in Memphis in a few hours, we took a slice to go.  And as long as we were up at the counter ordering, both CTD and I added a slice each to go.  More on those later.  We still had to hit our first bbq stop of the trip before they closed.
     
    Pie Folks
    7781 Farmington Blvd.
    Germantown, TN
    901-752-5454 
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/10/24 14:57:58
    #23
    lleechef
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 15:12:18 (permalink)
    Did you comment, "Wonderful pie!!! crust and all" ???  What do we win if we get it right?  I don't want no stinkin bonus points.......I want pie!
    #24
    TJ Jackson
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 15:17:30 (permalink)
    "Pie Rules"
     
    Given the pricing as shown, I would order two one-half blueberry pies
    post edited by TJ Jackson - 2013/10/24 15:19:42
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 15:52:51 (permalink)
    TJ got it!  I will go ahead and drop an autographed photo of wanderingjew in the mail to you.
     
    lleechef-
    I wish I could drop off a slice of pie in the mail to you!
    #26
    JB-ME
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 16:36:17 (permalink)
    Another wonderful trip report! Can't wait to read the rest. It was fun to read the list of pies and wonder what I might choose, if I were there. I would have had a hard time, too! I also enjoyed reading about your wonderful visit to Alcenia's. 
    #27
    TJ Jackson
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 16:57:02 (permalink)
    Make sure you use that one particular photo.......you know, my favorite
     
    Permission from Mr Mayor may apparently be required
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 17:23:14 (permalink)
    Thank you JB-ME! What pie or pies would you have chosen?
    #29
    CajunKing
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    Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/24 17:40:30 (permalink)
    Be SCARED VERY SCARED!!!!!!!

     
    BB - Not to bad on a pie list looks kinda small though 
     
    Ok my order is:  (in no particular order)
     
    City Slicker
    Millionaire
    Big Daddy
    Ape Wild
    Goober
    Coolin Ya Heelz
    Cool Breeze
    Aloha
    Uptown
    Zoe's
    Henhouse
    Mammaw's
    Haywagon Ride
     
    Then I may try some cookies too
    #30
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