Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eating our way across the South, Part 1 Going East

The past couple of weeks Barb and I have been on the road, literally. By the time we got home we logged over 3,550 miles on our Ford Edge and passed through 12 states. On the way we have been eating very well, there will be many trips to the YMCA after we return. We drove to Durham, N.C. to visit my brother, but we took our time visiting friends and family along the way. We have tried hard to not eat at any national chain restaurants, unless they featured southern specialties.

Our first day we made it as far as Hartsburg, Mo., to stay with my sister and her husband. That night we dined on venison and wild turkey. The next morning we headed to Nashville via I-70, 64, 57 & 24. We had planned to eat at a Bob Evans, a southern staple, at Mt Vernon, Ill. However, construction at that exit changed our plans and we headed on down the road. Thanks to the iPad we decided to get off interstate at Benton, Ill. We went past all the typical fast food establishments and went downtown. The Franklin County Courthouse sits in the town center at the intersection of three state highways and the streets around the courthouse have become a roundabout.

One of the small shops around the courthouse housed a coffee house called The Buzz. For those familiar with Lexington, it was a slightly larger version of Madeline's. They have 7 or 8 sandwich choices, 3 soups and 4 or 5 salads on the menu. You can mix or match any of them for a great light lunch and according to Barb the coffee was excellent.

From there we headed on into Nashville to meet one of Barb's college friends for supper. She had a couple of suggestions, one downtown and one out by the airport. We decided against the downtown restaurant since it was close to the Ryman Auditorium, which was hosting the Grand Old Opry that night. We also discovered that Justin Bieber was having a concert downtown as well. So we headed to Monell's at the Manor, a southern family style restaurant in an old southern mansion. The food, atmosphere and company was great. As guests arrive they are seated at large dining tables. Food is served family style and passed around the table to the other diners. We dined with four college students and a couple of visiting engineers. Food included three salads, 3 meat choices, 5 vegetables, plenty of biscuits and cornbread, topped off with banana pudding for dessert. All was great.

Saturday we drove on down to Chattanooga to see Barb's cousin. Dinner was at a small pizza house on the north side of the river which is being redeveloped. We also went sidewalk shopping and took a trip across the Tennessee River on an old bridge.

While at Konnie's we enjoyed a pork dinner with a roast vegetable plate, breakfast brunch and finally Sunday night was everybody for themselves. Somehow we expected a great pork meal from a former Nebraska Pork Queen.

Monday morning we moved on to Asheville, N.C., to tour the Biltmore House. Lunch was at the Biltmore Bistro on the grounds around the Biltmore House. The tour of the house was fantastic. For those who don't know, the Biltmore House is the largest house in America with 250 rooms built for George Vanderbilt in 1895. These include 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces and a 70-foot tall ceiling in the dining room. During the 42-room tour we were reminded several times of the PBS show "Downton Abbey." While the gardens in the winter are fairly low-key at Biltmore House, locals and others who have visited assure us they are nothing short of fantastic during the spring and summer. But even in winter the Conservatory just below the main house is filled with plants and we did enjoy the orchids in bloom.

Supper that night was at a local Greek/Italian restaurant, the Apollo Flame Bistro. Again we enjoyed great food that is different than we can get at home. Barb had a gyro combo and I had the pasta combo. Yum.

Tuesday morning we shopped at Biltmore Village, a quaint shopping area designed by the same architects who designed the Biltmore House. The highlight was oil and vinegar tasting. For those of you scoffing, you really do need to try this sometime. We brought several bottles home including chocolate balsamic, which is out of this world when drizzled on vanilla bean ice cream. Lunch was at the Village Wayside Bar & Grille, which is in the old train station. We were told we had to try the onion rings, great choice.

Tuesday night we finally arrived in Durham, N.C. I'll talk about the Durham food scene in the next segment.

1 comment:

  1. AAAGUH! I have wanted to see the Biltmore House for years! I'm so jealous - of that, and of the wonderful trip. So much to see and such GREAT FOOD!