I 95 Road Trip Report
Well, I got back last night around 5:30pm and took today off before returning to reality (work) tommorow. I'm glad it's going to be a short week.
I'll be dividing my trip into three parts.
I left on Saturday the 19th for the first leg of my trip. This is the first big trip that my new car, a 2005 Camry was going to take. The plan was to head to Long Island. I would be staying over at my friend' Steve's house. In fact he and his wife just bought the house and it would be my first time visiting. I was going to head to Long Island and then we were going to drive to Di Fara's in Brooklyn. Steve has never been there before and the last time I was there was over 8 years ago.
Everything ran smoothly until I got onto the Cross Island. 90 minutes and a mile and a half later I found out that that there was construction and traffic was down to one lane. I decided to drive to Queens and then give Steve a call since I was already an hour late. At this point, we decided I would go on my own to Di Fara's and then get to Steve's house in the early evening.
After some more gridlock on the Belt Parkway I arrived in my old neighborhood of Midwood in Brooklyn. I parked my car and walked a couple of blocks to Di Fara's. I walked in and could not believe that there was a line practically out the door. I lived in this neighborhood for three years and there was never a line. Anyway, I ordered one square and one regular slice. 30 minutes later the Square slice was ready, but the regular slice wasn't. There was one lonely square slice left, so I decided on two square slices. Well, I sat down and was a little dissappointed. The Pizza simply didn't taste like it used to. The crust was burnt and to be honest the Pizza tasted like "burnt goo" The cheese was dripping everywhere. This was not the slice I remembered. Being a two man operation it seems that they cannot keep up with the demand and as a result the quality just simply wasn't up to par.
I headed back to Long Island and it was dark by the time I got to my friend's house. My friend, his wife and I decided to go for Chinese that evening. I suggested Eng's Restaurant in Bellmore. I used to frequent their now defunct takeout place in Merrick and had never been to the actual restaurant. I was wondering if it was going to be just as good. We each ordered an eggroll, Steve's wife ordered the vegetarian dumplings. I got the hot and sour soup and Steve and I shared an order of Moo Shoo Pork and Kung Pao Chicken. Steve's wife got something else for herself that wasn't quite as spicy. Well, everything was outstanding. I will say it again and if I sound egocentrical, then who cares. Chinese food in Metro NYC definetely puts out a superior product compared to the rest of the country. Hands down!
Sunday afternoon I decided to visit another friend on the Island. He and his wife just had a baby girl. Their first. After spending a couple of hours with them I headed back to Steve's place to get dressed for the wedding. Steve, his wife and I were all going. The wedding was typical Long Island, the food was typical too, nothing notable to report, other than that the bride to be is a Russian Jewish Immigrant who came to the US 10 years ago, therefore the wedding band was also Russian and played some Russian Music thrown in with "Wedding Band" and Jewish Traditional Music.
Monday I started out on the long drive towards South Beach. After some minor gridlock on the Belt Parkway near JFK Airport, traffic ran fairly smoothly into Baltimore. I was going to meet Signman at the Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore for lunch. I arrived a little early and walked around the market a bit. Although there was a decent selection of food stalls it wasn't quite as impressive as the Reading Terminal Market in Philly. While waiting I decided to order some Boardwalk Style Fries at the Dudley's Fries stand. Of course I added some Cider Vinegar and Old Bay to the fries. The fries were fresh cut but seemed to be just a slight notch below the fries from Chap's Pit Beef. Finally Signman arrived and he showed me around the market. Signman ordered a Shrimp Salad Sandwich at one of the other food stalls. We then walked over to Faidley's which is actually a Restaurant inside the market. I ordered a Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. Signman pointed out that Mark Silverstein from the Food Network's "the best of" was in the Restaurant. Honestly I never would have recognized him. Signman advised that he apparently lives in the area and apparently reports for the local newspaper or tv station. We both approached Mr Silverstein and engaged in some brief small talk. Anyway the jumbo lump crabcake was good, however it was about 1/2 the size of the cake at G & M's and was not quite as good. Well, I'm glad I got to try it anyway.
After lunch, Signman and I parted ways. It started to rain as I left Baltimore and rained all the way down to Goldsboro North Carolina, thankfully traffic continued to run smoothly. I got into Goldsboro at close to 6pm. I was going to meet my coworker from catastrophe duty and his wife at Wilbur's BBQ. Unfortunately he had to work late and works an hour away in Newburn. He was going to try to get in at around 8pm (Wilbur's closes at 9) however he called and advised he is running late. We agreed that I would eat at Wilburs on my own and then he would meet me at Wilburs and we would go out for a few drinks. Wilbur's was excellent as always, the smoky pork which compliments the vinegary and peppery sauce was outstanding. I ordered the boiled potatoes and coleslaw and hushpuppies (more like cornsticks) really add to the meal. I also ordered a small side of Brunswick Stew and Sweet Tea. For some reason although it was still good, it tasted a little different. I remember it having a thicker stew like consistency, it tasted almost more like a soup this time. My coworker and his wife arrived at Wilbur's at 8:45am. Too late for a meal there, so we ended up going to Chili's- yes a chain, however all I did was have a few beers.
The next morning on Tuesday, I continued on the next leg of my trip. I stopped at the Summerton Diner in South Carolina for lunch. I was dissapointed to find out that neither the baked chicken, mac and cheese or rutabaga were listed as "today's specials". Instead I had the veal cutlet, cabbage, black eyed peas and rice and gravy. The Veal Cutlet was hot and crisp and the gravy ladled on top of the Veal was delicious. The Black Eyed Peas were ok, the Cabbage was also delicious and the rice and gravy were nothing special. Pineapple pudding came with the meal as dessert. Although I was hoping for Banana Pudding, it was actually pretty good.
I continued on with my trip into Jacksonville Florida. I was going to meet my Sister in Law and 6 year old Nephew at Clark's Fish Camp.
I arrived early and to say the least, the Restaurant has a quaint "swampy atmosphere. Situated right on the river, there were stuffed animal heads everywhere. I ordered the Fried Jumbo Shrimp which came with two sides and hushpuppies. I chose the Green Beans and Cheese Grits. I also ordered unsweetened Iced Tea. My sister in law ordered the Stuffed Flounder with Yellow Rice and Green Beans. The shrimp was plump and crispy. Even the Green beans were good. My sister in law recommened the Peach Cobbler for dessert, however I really didn't want to over do it with dessert on this trip so I declined. After dinner I drove to St Augustine and took a brisque evening stroll around Old town before turning in.