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Fat Guy

Help The Fat-Guy Plan a Cross-Country Trip

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Mr. and Mrs. Fat-Guy will be heading out on the 2002 Fat-Guy.com cross-country tour the first week of April. The plan is to drive across the South out to California, up the coast to Vancouver, and back across the North. We've got two months and no plans, and we're taking suggestions starting now. As with the 2000 trip, there will be updates and photos from the road multiple times per week on Fat-Guy.com.

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just don't forget to take a left turn at Albuquerque, wabbit.

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How about a theme?  Try visiting every town with a certain name even close to your route.  Every town named "Springfield", for example.  Or at least one town per state with the word "New" in it?  Nah...

Let's see... unless you've had your fill on other visits then North Carolina BBQ has got to be an early stop, right?

Louisianna has got to be a strong possibility, again unless you done it very often before.

If you choose to skip the far south Louisianna/Texas route, some interesting stuff might be found slightly to the north, in Missouri and Kansas.  I found the Mexican food in that area, for example, to be surprisingly excellent.  Stuff in strip malls that was sometimes better than even Californian Mexican.

Arizona has got to have a lot more going for it than Utah.

The trip north after California obviously means you'll have to stop at Mamster's house. :smile:

Canada is this big place north of Washington State, right?   :biggrin:

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Basque style dining at the Hotel Winnemucca in Winnemucca Nevada

Bowens Island, south of Charleston SC

The last two are from a trip 12 years ago but worth it if still as good as they were back then:

The Chicacyunk Cafe on the Olympic Peninsula

Boondocks Cafe, Wipatee Bay, WA

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a couple of completely random ports of call:

columbia, south carolina - the sub shack, for some very tasty cheesesteaks.

vienna, va - the vienna inn for hot dogs and a couple of cold ones.

alexandria, va - i forget the name of the restaurant, but chili-mac is great in this area.  much better than cincinnati.

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I'd want to go to the Moonlight in Owensboro, KY just to say I had mutton barbecue.

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I don't know what the whalewatching season in Vancouver is, but that activity can be rewarding (despite the "hit or miss" nature of sightings). Also, Vancouver Island can be nice if you like nature. Friends have mentioned Wickaninnish Inn near Tofino, but I have never visited the island.

http://www.relaischateaux.com/site....ninnish

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I'm shocked that you failed to mention Fat Dog's joining you on this venture.

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Tuba City Truck stop in Tuba City AZ (Grand Canyon area)

Dam Site Inn, Kingman AZ (great steaks in a sweaty roadhouse)

There's a great breakfast place in Sapulpa OK, I'll eventually recall the name.

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If you are driving through Tucson AZ, go to El Charro Café and order the air-dried carne secca.    

Along the central coast of California, here are some random thoughts:  

Hitching post in Casmalia, CA near Santa Maria.  It is always crowded and a little touristy.  Their steaks are excellent and they have a surprisingly good house pinot noir.  

Do NOT go to Andersons, a restaurant that claims to have created split pea soup.  I wish they spent some of their advertising budget to buy quality ingredients.  If you drive up route 1, you will see billboards for them about every 2 miles.  

Visit some of the farmers markets along the central coast.  My mouth still waters when I think about some of the fresh strawberries I used to buy there.  I believe April is when Santa Maria has their annual Strawberry festival.  The central coast has a huge agricultural base and cities like Santa Maria still are primarily farming towns.  That is changing as many retirees are starting to call Santa Maria home (my wife’s grandmother included).

The Santa Maria Inn is a neat place to stay that has some character and fairly reasonable.  It is one of the oldest hotels on the central coast.  Ask for a room in the new tower, the rooms are much larger.

Solvang is a waste of time.

In Oceano, CA (between Santa Maria and Pismo Beach) there is the Great American Melodrama a fun somewhat campy production held in charming theater.  It is has some vaudeville aspects, but is a fun way to spend an evening.

You must plan on visiting some of the wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Below are some helpful links.

http://santaynezvalleyvisit.com/html/wineries.html

http://www.hiddenwineries.com/CA/sb/imgs/sb_map.jpg

http://www.hiddenwineries.com/CA/sb/wineries.html

Santa Maria Tri-Tip is a must experience.   I believe the local Elks club (or one of those groups) holds a tri-tip barbeque every Wednesday.  This is the best authentic bbq tri-tip you will find.  If your schedule does not coincide with the weekly town bbq, Jocko’s Steak House is suppose to have excellent BBQ as well. Interesting background ion the Santa Maria Tri-Tip.  

http://www.santamaria.com/SantaMaria/BBQ.html

Just outside of Santa Maria in the one-intersection town of Orcutt, you will find Jack's Restaurant and Bakery

(156  S. Broadway).  Great breakfasts.  Their specialty is a raisin bread french toast made with bread that is baked in house.  You receive a whole loaf per order.  If you want something lighter, they have very good 4 egg omelettes.  The portion are so huge that it is not possible to leave there hungry.  If you leave Jack’s hungry after ordering their french toast, I will pay for your breakfast!  Feel free to say hi to Jack, he used to play in the NFL and has a great sense of humor.

The wine cask restaurant in Santa Barbara should definitely be on your list to visit.

I think keep thing of other suggestions....

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Steve-I've gotten out of the domestic travel business so I haven't been on the road for a while. But a few years back I went out to Paso Robles for the Hospice de Rhone wine fair and can report that New York Texan knows his stuff about the region. I think a stop at The Hitching Post is in order. Santa Maria style BBQ is one of the stranger steak culture meals I've ever had. Just the way the places smell is unusual. Hitching Post house pinot is made for them by Hartley-Ostini. In fact, one of those two (Hartley or Ostini) own the Hitching Post or some variation on that theme. And if you are driving that way a place I never miss stopping at is La Superica in Santa Barbara, taco stand extraordinaire.

I always wanted to explore the Gulf Coast between Georgia and Mexico. There is an entire oyster, crab and shrimp served with garlic and spicy schmutz culture down there that I want to get to know personally :smile:. Actually the cookbook "Gulf Coast Cuisine" does an excellent job of detailing the different cooking styles that you run into between Key West and the Mexican border, cuisines that are not well documented elsewhere. Might be worth a few days of your time if you're going that far south since there is very little that has been written about the food. There was that place that was famous for serving Cajun Bouillabaisse but I heard it burned down.

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:smile: You're a lucky man.  I work in Birmingham, Al.  but live in NYC.  There are two great restaurants in this town that I would love to have in NYC.  The first is the Hot and Hot Fish Club that has an unbelieveable food bar that overlooks the kitchen.  There is also a restuarant called Highland Bar and Grill with Frank Snitt as the chef.  Both of these restaurants have some of the best American food I've had.  Have fun

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When driving up Route 1 in California, just south of Mendocino, go to The Albion River Inn (for dining and/or sleeping)--incredible view, terrific food.  Also check out nearby, the Ledford House restaurant--the only place I've ever watched a herd of deer (they do travel in herds, no?) on a bluff overlooking the pacific, sun setting in the background, and eaten a fantastic meal at the same time...

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If you're in Sante Fe, check out the watermelon juice at the Diner on the Plaza. Or for some real Mexican, Burt's La Taquieria in the St. Michael's Center - the tripe is excellent.

On the Silver trail, check out the Cafe San Marcos in Cerillos - part diner, part rest stop, part bird sanctuary.

If you make it to the west coast near San Francisco and familiar with the counter culture, check out my uncle's web site: www.flashbackbooks.com/ It helps if you're a baseball fan, too.

Steve, you're travelling during prime Farmer's Market season. If you locate the state tourist board and their website, you'll find your way to the regional farmer's market sites and discover untold treasures. No chew toys for Momo, but local specialties for you and Mrs. Fat Guy.

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Steven

Because i have become tortured and twisted after a year in New Orleans I would beseech you (we still use old English in Tasmania) to provide me with an independent analysis of the ancient restaurants of that city.

As visitors to various threads on this site will have noticed, I have not been swept up in the marketing hype of that city - viz New Orleans has the best food in the world and anyone who doesn't agree is deficient!

I think that some of the 'new' restaurants are quite reasonable - Bayona has a few good dishes and GW Fins is quite stylish and the seafood is good.

But I want you to go to Galatoires. The restaurant that always makes it into the lists of the best in the US. I want you to experience the Shrimp Remoulade and the Pompano with lemon butter sauce and then tell me that this is great, world class food. I want you to tell me that this beats Mr Boulud and Mr Tom at Gramercy and all those other NY restaurants that you frequent.

Then I want you to go to the Central Grocery and try a mufaletta and compare that with the food at various delis around NY. Then I want you to go to Mothers and subject yourself to a fried oyster po-boy.

But - I don't want to bias you in any way.

Hope you can swing by the southern city. If you like the food I promise to keep away from the southern boards!

You have a mission!

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Steven, or is it Steve?, and Mrs. "Fat Guy"? How can you? Especially when your wife posts as Ellen Shapiro?. Well, it's your life.

But for Burgers, this place in Bellevue Nebraska, just south of Omaha, on Galvin Road named "Stella's", has the best Burgers I have ever tasted. They have been in business since 1946, and yes are still there, although I last visited them in 1983.

And then on when you reach? Arizona, in Mesa is the "China Gate Mesa Restaurant", General Manager and Exec. Chef Mr. Wan-Chung (called "Bill") Sy, is one who supports the "East meets West" concept. I was with him, and 13 other Chefs from all over the US, on a Culinary Arts Delegation tour to four European Countries in 1994. This was a trip sponsored by ACF/WACS and People to People Citizen Ambassador Program.

Hope you and the Missus will enjoy the trip!

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Plotnicki, there's also a nice book called The Florida Cookbook: From Gulf Coast Gumbo to Key Lime Pie, by Jeanne Voltz and Caroline Stuart. A few years back, Knopf did a series of American regional cookbooks: "Knopf Cooks American." I think they sold about six copies of every title put together, but I happen to have a complete set of all 12 titles (I think it was 12 altogether). There's also a rather impressive gourmet culture in the panhandle, which nobody really knows about -- it's something I'd like to do some feature-writing about for the food magazines, someday.

Thanks for all the great suggestions so far, people, and keep them coming please. As the itinerary takes shape, I'll be sure to update you so as to be able to focus more specifically on neglected regions.

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Fatus-I have that Jeannie Voltz book, or maybe I had it and got rid of it. I have to check. She did a good BBQ and Ribs book a number of years back. But if you ask me, the Florida section of the Gulf Coast Cooking book is the worst chapter. The action is in Alabama and Texas. Those are the "in-between" regions where nobody has really investigated the local style of preparing seafood. Mobile appears to have an oyster culture that rivals the one in New Orkeans. The Stearn's wrote about Wintzel's in Roadfood but they tend to pick middle of the road places. I bet there's some authentic places on that shoreline.

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No doubt. Now, how to sell a feature story about this to a food magazine or newspaper food section . . .

How many cookbooks/food-books you got, Plotnicki? Bet I got more.

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Fat Guy-I'm not sure. 400-500 maybe? I'll have to check. I used to have more but I got rid of a bunch of them for various reasons.

I think the way to sell the story to a magazine/paper is a story about the undiscovered south. How people are familiar with N.O. cuisine and Florida Stone Crabs etc, but there's a long tradition of regional cooking in Natchez etc. Throw in a Civil War battlefield or two and maybe a Plantation where Rhett Butler lived and you're in business.

You just want to write off your trip you mamser.

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Plotnicki, C.P.A., surely you know that to make writing off a trip beneficial one must have income against which to write it off!

Yes, I have more cookbooks than you. Why did you have to get rid of so many? Is there a deep dark secret here?

Good idea for a pitch. I'm going to run with it.

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I am sure that you know of all of the top major city destinations, so I won't suggest any.  I have driven cross-country 3 times and I all ways seem to pass through Missouri on Interstate 80.  Any way, about mid way through the state on 80 you will pass an old beaten up sign (it's on both sides of the highway) that says "worlds best fried chicken and mile high pies to the sky" or something like that.  I have stopped there once on each trip and they truly do have incredible chicken.  The pies are good and really huge.  So even though you plan on circumventing the breadbasket, you might want to plan a detour on your way home.

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This is good - It will be a crash-course in my education too  :smile: As you'll post we shall enjoy. Two months  :wow:

I'd become homesick and then some more

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Wolf, I don't mind being Mrs. Fat Guy. Sometimes Steven gets addressed as Mr. Shapiro. No biggie.

What is it about that burger in Nebraska that's so good? I'm already salivating but I need more to go on than that. Fill us in.

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