Summer Fun, part 2

Our next summer trip took us to Penn State for a chemistry education conference.  We decided to travel by car and basically ate our way to State College!

Our first stop was in Lexington, KY for dinner at Tolly Ho.  We got a Ho Burger, complete with Ho sauce.  I’m real mature, so I giggled through the whole meal.  The food was great too.  :)

For lunch the next day, we stopped by Hillbilly Hotdogs.

The restaurant boasts a 10lb Big Bad Bubba burger, which some brave soul did order while we were there.  It was quite large.  I ordered the smaller version, the Big Bad Bubba’s Baby Sister Bertha Burger.  It was perfectly cooked and delicious.

The garlic ranch fries were my favorite.  The crispy fries were covered with ranch dressing, garlic salt, cheese and bacon.  Delicious.  We were especially naughty and ordered extra ranch to dip the fries in.

The Hillbilly Dog was a deep fried hotdog with chili, mustard, onions and slaw.   It was a messy bunch of deliciousness!

The Pizza Dog was topped with pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and fried pepperoni.

There was only one waitress on the very busy Saturday when we visited.  We had to wait quite a while, but the food was worth it!

Hillbilly Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Fresh Summer Produce

Summer is upon us!  For us that means it is tomato, green pepper and cucumber season!  In the past, we have participated in community supported agriculture or a CSA.  For a variety of reasons, that just doesn’t fit our lifestyle this year.  To get our fresh vegetable fix, we plan on visiting some of the area Farmer’s Markets.  Here are a few that we plan on trying to visit soon:

1.  Franklin Farmer’s Market: According to the website, over 70 farms participate.  Located behind the Factory at Franklin, this market is open Saturdays from 8am until 1pm.  There is also a Tuesday afternoon market open from noon until 4pm at Harlinsdale Farm, located on Franklin Road across from the Factory.

2.  Thompson’s Station Farmer’s Market:  Operates from 2pm until 6pm on Wednesdays at 4691 Columbia Pike.  No idea how many vendors participate, but baked goods were mentioned on the website and I do love a great baked good.

3.  Nashville Farmer’s Market:  We’ve been here a few times, mostly before the flood.  It’s open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  The hours are a little bit of a moving target, because it depends on the individual merchant.  There are also about 10 restaurants located next door that we would love to try.

4.  12 South Farmer’s Market:  The market is located in Sevier Park on Tuesdays from 3:30pm until 6:30pm.  Meat, dairy, baked goods and produce are all sold, with vendors listed on the website.

As we explore these over the summer, we hope to share some pictures with you all and maybe a new recipe or two!  Is there anywhere else we should go?

Wandering Wednesday: Patti’s Restaurant

With our recent trip to Land Between the Lakes, we’ve already had a chance to tell you about some good BBQ we had at Knoth’s, so we thought we’d also let you in on another hidden gem not too far from Nashville.  Patti’s 1880 settlement is a restaurant/roadside attraction/kitsch emporium/little piece of Americana hidden in Grand River’s, KY.  When I say full of kitsch, I mean decorated like your crazy aunt’s house, but in a good way.

Patti’s has become well known for their comfort food staples and likes to add a little uniqueness to some of their dishes.  The bread is cooked in a terra cotta pot and comes with honey butter and on the night we visited, strawberry butter, I believe.  The bread is light, fluffy, and hot, and is a neat start to your meal.

Salads also feature a nice touch here, with a hot bacon dressing that creates a really unique flavor when you get a bit of bacon dressed spinach and one of the mandarin orange slices on your fork at the same time.

Patti’s claim to fame is the myriad of pork options they serve, from pork chops to pork loin prepared in all sorts of ways.  One of the top sellers is the 2-inch pork chop.  I’ll say it again, a 2-inch thick pork chop, like the thing you would see Emeril come up with and wonder if those really exist.  I don’t know about you, but I guess I’ve just been beaten into submission to expect a 1/2 inch thick pork chops from the grocery store.  Anyway, given that these mastodon chops are rather hard to come by in everyday life, I had to give them a try.  The seasoning is tangy but not spicy, and is doused with a savory au jus that got soaked up by the loaded baked potato.  Overall, it’s basically like a steak, and I’d maybe compare the texture profile to that of a ribeye or flank steak, with enough heft to make you work, but more than enough meaty flavor to make up for it.

Sarah decided to try the pork loin wrapped with bacon and topped with fried apples.  The pork loin was tender and the apples were perfectly spiced.

Pies are a thing of wonder at Patti’s, with no less than 3-inches of meringue.  One of our pet peeves with meringue is when preparers try to mess with an already good thing.  In this case, Patti’s gets it right with a chocolately filling that tasted like a chocolate fudge and simple, substantial meringue that was light, fluffy, and slightly sweet.

Patti’s is definitely a stop you should make when visiting the area, but be sure to get reservations ahead of time, as Patti’s seems to be ground zero for families visiting the area out on their “big dinner out night”.   We definitely enjoyed our stop, and certainly didn’t leave hungry, although Patti’s will leave your wallet a little lighter than you might expect.

Patti's 1880's Settlement on Urbanspoon

Wandering Wednesday: Chestnut Tree Tea Room

On a recent trip to Denton, TX, I stopped by The Chestnut Tree Tea Room for lunch.  They had a variety of iced and hot teas.  Since it was August in Texas, I opted for the sweet tea.  I had a hard time deciding between passion fruit, strawberry hibiscus or black currant sweet tea.  I opted for the black currant tea and was not disappointed.  It had a light currant flavor that I found very refreshing.

I absolutely love the funky decor of the tea room.  The colorful chandelier in the middle of the room was my favorite.

Every table has a different set of fun salt shakers.  I loved the cute puppies.

A variety of muffins were delivered to the table with regular and strawberry butter.  One muffin was  chocolate chip, which was great with the strawberry butter.  The strawberry butter had actual bits of strawberries and wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet.  The other muffins were some sort of fruit.  I couldn’t exactly figure out what they were, but my best guess would be either apple or pear.

Everything on the menu looked delicious, so I ordered the “pick three” with a choice of a soup, salad and sandwich.  The waitress suggested the fruit salad.  I was a bit hesitant because I imagined frozen fruit that had been thawed.  The beautiful salad on my plate could not have been farther from that image.  The salad contained fresh bananas, apples, honeydew, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, kiwi and pineapple.  The fruit had no trace of lemon juice, which is a pet peeve of mine.  When I eat fruit, I want it to taste like the fruit not lemon juice.  The salad was complemented perfectly with an almond yogurt dressing.

The chicken salad was served on beer wheat bread.  The beer wheat bread was phenomenal.  It was soft with a crunchy crust and a slight sweet taste.  The chicken salad had chunks of chicken with almonds and celery.

The soup was a chilled avocado with tomatoes and tortilla chips.  I enjoyed dipping the chips into the soup.  Once the chips were gone, I lost interest in eating the pure soup, partially because I was full.

I couldn’t resist the strawberry pretzel salad for dessert.  The crust is a delightful mix of pretzels, butter and sugar. The layers are sweet cream cheese and strawberry jello with fresh strawberries.  After my large lunch, I could only manage a few bites, but it was divine.

Chestnut Tree Tea Room
107 W Hickory St
Denton, TX 76201

Chestnut Tree & Garden Tea RM on Urbanspoon

Wandering Wednesday: Cowgirl BBQ in Santa Fe, NM

On our last day in New Mexico, we went to Santa Fe for an afternoon trip.  We walked around the Santa Fe Plaza and saw the Miraculous Staircase of Loretto Chapel.  After shopping and site-seeing we decided to try out the Cowgirl BBQ restaurant.  When we walked in, we were surrounded by pictures of cowgirls.  There was a nice funky vibe to the restaurant, complete with glitter paint on the walls.

For an appetizer we ordered Texas Caviar, similar to Tennessee Caviar sans the rotel, green peppers, onions and shoepeg corn.

The Texas Caviar was marinated in a light vinegar with a spice that might have been cilantro, resulting in a pleasantly tangy dip.

I debated for a long time about what to order.  There was an interesting squash casserole on the menu, but I decided to go with the beef brisket with a side salad, cole slaw and potato salad.  The salad was a nice bed of leaf lettuce with garbanzo bean, red pepper, red onions and carrots.  The brisket was the shining star of dinner.  It was so tender I cut it with a fork.  It was served on Texas toast with a spicy barbecue sauce. I could almost detect a hint of cayenne pepper.  Yum.

The potato salad and cole slaw were almost bland.  There were really no defining features.  They had a variety of sides and if I were to go again, I would try the scalloped potatoes or the spicy collard greens.

For dessert, we had their baked potato ice cream.  Basically, it was vanilla ice cream rolled in cocoa powder.  It was topped with nuts that had been died green and fondant butter.  A very interesting and original dessert.

Cowgirl BBQ
319 S Guadalupe St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Cowgirl BBQ on Urbanspoon

Wandering Wednesdays: Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe is a funky joint located in Lousiville that could best be described as Cracker Barrel on acid.  All the food served there is a unique take on down home, comfort food staples, with a slight “funkification” added to each item to make it a little special.

We started with the Rueben quesadillas, which are just a neat take on the typically heavy sandwich.  While I’m never one to pass on a good Reuben, sometimes the mixture of rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing is just a bit much.  Grilling the sandwich ingredients between two tortillas, and then providing a Thousand Island dipping sauce that had been spiked with Jim Beam is a great way to enjoy the delicious tastes and textures of a Reuben and still have room for something else.

Sarah had two chicken breasts topped with bacon and smothered in a cream sauce.  Lynn’s has a myriad of side dishes from which to choose.  The mac and cheese was truly casserole style, with a crunchy top and cheesy creamy filling surrounding the  noodles.  The rosemary cabbage was done well and the rosemary added just enough flavor without being overwhelming.

Each entry comes with your choice of 2 sides.  You gotta love a place where banana pudding is considered a side!

Fried green tomatoes were sliced thin and featured a light, but very crispy breading.  While sometimes thin sliced tomatoes don’t hold up, these maintained their integrity and were able to hold up the spicy remoulade dressing that had been spiked with more than a little bit of cajun seasoning.

I tried a special that night, which happened to be a spicy fried catfish dish, and ordered the cheese grits (can you tell I like grits?) with roasted garlic mashed potatoes (as well as a few sneaks from Sarah’s plate).  The catfish were breaded with a cornmeal mixture that I haven’t quite tasted anywhere else, but remained crispy with a hint of spice (but weren’t spicy like some other catfish we’ve tried).  The cheese grits were creamy and cheesy, but maybe could have used a little bit of bacon or little more roasted garlic to push them over the top.  The mashed potatoes were a little bit chunky, which I consider a good thing, and featured a heavy dose of roasted garlic to round things out.

In all, Lynn’s is truly a sight to behold, both for what’s on the walls, and definitely a place to get a good meal.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe
984 Barret Ave
Louisville, KY 40204

Lynn's Paradise Cafe on Urbanspoon