Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Feasting On Americana!
Day 2 - My First Fried Green Tomatoes


For those who patiently waited for Day 2...thank you.
Perhaps when I am done blogging about Kentucky I'll tell you about my recent Dells trip.
And, thank you to Alton Brown, whose inspiration led to this adventure.


Now, grab your coffee, jump in and buckle up.
We're going for a ride - a long one.
And, bear in mind...we did this in...one day.

For the safety and comfort of others,
please keep your arms and legs inside the blog at all times.
Off we go!

We woke refreshed someplace south of Louisville...gassed up...
And giggled at the "Drive-through Donut Stand" at the BP.
That would explain the very friendly officers inside ;)

On the make for Lynne's Paradise Cafe, we headed back north to Louisville -over the bridge - which, in the wee hours made me feel like I was driving down a monster's gullet. It was that fabric stuff hanging from the top - looking like a soft palate - that freaked me out in the dark. In the daylight, the monster's not much of a meanie...


Back and forth we went across the bridge.
Note to self: There is no replacement for a city map.
A state map just won't do.
We had many maps, printouts - even our atlas didn't do the trick every time.

Finally, we found the cute neighborhood and were greeted by just the cutest produce stand. There were also small little cottages which housed art shops, a spice store, sellers of unique shirts and tea towels, etc.

Lynne's Paradise Cafe - Louisville, KY
Since it was 90 degrees in October (!) and still morning, we elected to wait about 40 minutes to eat breakfast inside. Luckily, Lynne's provides MORE than enough entertainment during the wait by means of kitsch. You name it, they have it. I was especially fond of the salt and pepper shakers and the "What Would Bacon Do?" spinner. The bottle cap belt was very nice and came complete with a bottle opener belt buckle.

Had I known that locally bottled beverages would play such an important role in our short journey, I would have bought the belt. Actually, the unofficial name for our trip should be "Sodas and Sheriffs" considering how much interaction we had with each. Remind me to tell you about the cop in Owensboro who....Aw, now, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Back to Lynne's.
Our names were called none to soon, as a pushing match was forming at the register as we jockied for position. I was stunned and then remembered that 90% of the people in the building were tourists. Grumpy tourists - and, upon closer examination, I deemed myself to be a card carrying member. I needed coffee - badly.

Our server was a pretty young blond woman in a spaghetti strapped black knit dress. She had a wonderful smile and some very nice tattoo art on both of her shoulder blades. I was going to ask if I could get a shot of her shoulders...but as I reached to put sugar in my coffee...I managed to knock an entire glass of ice water all over the table. Feeling bad, there was no way I was asking.

Karen ordered cheese grits, scrambled eggs (with tomatoes, white cheddar and bacon), buttermilk biscuits (which came with a yummy honey-butter), and iced tea. I had the biscuits and gravy, and my very first fried green tomatoes.

Fried. Green. Tomatoes.
Now, Karen isn't fond of FGT. I'd like to say that she just had enough of 'em growing up. She did. But, truth is, she never liked 'em. Still doesn't - at all.

So, I was on my own in the FGT taste test.

These FGT's were very thin and fried crispy. They came with a mayo horseradish sauce with slivers of horseradish in it - and, I think a whole lot of black pepper. The sauce was hot, but only on the tongue - not up the sinuses. I really enjoyed it. The tomatoes tasted good. But, since they were my first, all I can say is the tomato was very thin and I could have very well been eating fried zucchini - but for the fact I could see "hub and spoke" tomato shape.

Grits.
Cheese grits.

Kentucky white cheddar cheese grits (I think Karen saw that on the menu.) We were seated right out front of the kitchen door - which was perfect seating in our case. I caught a glimpse of someone with a cutting board full of pale yellow and orange 2x2 inch chunks which got dumped into...something. (The door swung closed.) We guessed it was the cheese for the grits. Karen just couldn't say enough about them. They were mighty tasty, very cheesy, not at all stringy, and gone waaaay too soon. Karen's only recommendation is that they serve an "All you can eat" cheesy grit bowl. She really loved them. I did, too.

Remember the hotness of the mayo horseradish sauce?
Well, I took a bite of biscuits and gravy and said they had really put too much pepper in the gravy? I had Karen try it and she tasted barely any pepper. I drank some water and tried again - this time finding little pepper. Apparently my palate was playing a trick, and my slightly abused tongue was hyper-sensitive from the horseradish.

Solution?
Eat the B&G, ignore the faux pepper signals being sent to my brain, and focus on finishing those yummy those tomatoes. OK, really it was all about...that sauce. Tongue torture and all - it was tremendous.

We admired the old stove (behind the lamp in the photo below), the stamped galvanized steel-ish looking things hanging from the ceiling (which we believe light up at night from the inside), the '60s style pants adorning the disembodied legs above the windows, and the giant Lite Brite on the wall near the "Where are you from?" map which invites visitors from all over the world to place a sticker on their point of origin.
Without rushing us, our waitress brought our check and asked if we would enjoy a coffee and tea to go.

Yes.
Yes, we would.
That was such a simple thing, but made us very happy.
The meal was worth the wait, the kitsch was...just the kitschiest.
And, the service was very, very good.

Hey, Lynne's!
We are serious about your needing an "All-you-can-eat cheesy grit bowl." ;)

We didn't get to see much of Louisville.
Here's just a bit of what we saw.

Stopped at a red light in downtown Louisville, we saw two girls holding "Free Hugs" signs.
No one was taking them up on it.
It was sad - if they were on my side of the car...I would have gotten out.
Ever see the video?
It's touching, pardon the pun. http://www.freehugscampaign.org/

There was a tap on my driver's side window.
Free hugs person?
Panhandler?
Nope.

"Wammabreecote?"
I heard through the window as the giant smiling face held up a can.

(Rolling down the window)

"Want a free Coke? It's 'Love Louisville Day' and God loves you!"
I thanked the person as I reached for the can.

We found one sign particularly puzzling.
How EXACTLY do you get on this bus? (See photo.)

The trip to the river town of Madison, IN was a pretty one.
And, it included a very retro looking motel.


Mundt's Candies - Madison, IN.
Recorded in the Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Mundt's has been confectionery shop and soda fountain - in spot since 1917.

For lovers of the small print - Mundt’s closed May 1966 and re-opened June 1998.

The people were nice.
The candy I sampled was good.
The building was well-preserved and in excellent condition - though it was so busy inside - I was distracted. It was the second touristy place of the day - and I think I just wanted something less chaotic. Here's a look at the place when it settled down a bit.
The ice cream was very creamy. The literature they provide on each table said that it's made in an old ice cream maker. I can tell you that the "Coffee Caramel Espresso" tasted like it had real chunks of coffee bean in it. This created a chewy - bean pieces in your teeth - texture that coffee lovers like me would enjoy. If you only kinda like coffee - then stay clear.
We took one last look around Madison, IN.
Karen noticed this cute town crier perched upon a fire station.


Update: A helpful poster on Roadfood.com, CajunKing, read the blog and provided some additional background on the lil gold guy in the photo above. Seems that particular fire station has quite the history. Apparently, that's the Fairplay Fire Company #1 - established on September 15, 1841 - and it's the oldest fire company in Indiana. The weather vane on top of the "Ones" station, is "Little Jimmy" - dressed as a turn-of-the-century firefighter. Here's a close up of him - now that we're on a first name basis. *grin*


We originally thought we might head to Dana, KY. But, it was about 2pm and we only had about 4 solid hours of daylight left. Single lane roads in foothills under dark...nah! Instead, we followed the river a bit - and a quite a mess of mobile hay - and headed toward a guaranteed non-tourist dinner in Cynthiana, KY. The tiny towns, twisty turns, and the tale of a renowned (?) piscator were just what my soul needed. The sign for "fair Verona" made me smile. And, here I will lay my photos... Biancke's Restaurant - Cynthiana, KY
This place is quaint - but it ain't small. There's room after room after room. I think almost everyone in town was seated for dinner, and most ordered off the blackboard instead of bothering with any silly menu.
Karen tried the smothered chicken and hand-dipped onion rings. I went for the "special" which was a baked spaghetti with yeast rolls. I chose corn pudding for a side, and decided that another helping of fried green tomatoes was in order. In her research, Karen learned that a ginger ale called "Ale-8 One" had been locally bottled in nearby Winchester, KY since 1926. We both ordered some.

I would love to tell you this was the greatest meal I have ever had.
Instead, I will tell you that it was the best corn puddin' I've ever had.

Having never had it before, I am now a BIG fan. It was sweet enough to be a dessert and had enough corn in it to be a meal. Nice texture. Very good stuff.

As for the rest of the meal, well, perhaps it was just my "out of town" taste buds. Everyone and their Momma ordered the spaghetti - like I did.

And, I thought it was ok.
Just ok.
Bland.

Karen said the smothered chicken was - yep, you guessed it - ok. It came out hot, and covered in cheese, peppers and onions. But, the chicken was a dry. And, I thought it was...bland. Karen said the onion rings were "Good, but they weren't 'Mug N Bun' good."

We were hungry and gladly ate our meals.
But, well... I hope you understand.

Fried Green Tomatoes - Round 2 *Ching*
These FGT's were slightly thicker than the ones I had that morning at Lynne's. Maybe 1/4th of an inch thick. These came with a pinkish sauce - the flavor of which I liked well enough, though can't remember it now. In the morning, when I tried FGTs for the first time - ever, Karen said that they can have a slightly sour taste that she doesn't like. I didn't taste that in the ones at Lynne's, but I understood now. It wasn't overwhelming, but I could taste it. Wasn't bad. Though I chose to finish the corn pudding and leave a lot of the FGTs behind.

I loved the yeast rolls.
Rolls and a large corn puddin' from Biancke's would make me a very happy camper.

Oh, I almost forgot the Ale-8.
We both enjoyed it. It was mild. Didn't have the bite of Vernor's - for those who are lucky enough to experience Vernor's. Oh, and even though its formal name is "Ale-8 One" seems it's just plain ol' Ale-8 to those in the know. ;)

I took a slice of apple pie with me for later.
The filling was quite tasty. All I'll say about that.

With our bellies full and our wallet wounded - it was getting dark, so we headed to the interstate. Sadly, we drove through a lot of horse country in the dark. So, no wonderful photos of that.

We stopped in Corbin, KY off of I-75. We thought we might hit the Burger Boy having heard good things. But, alas, we were still full. Burger Boy had a great sign.

Sanders Court and Cafe - Corbin, KY
Yep, "Harlan Sanders," the Colonel himself.

Like moths to a flame...or perhaps more like ants to a picnic...we were drawn to the Sanders Cafe and Museum. Harlan was an extraordinary guy. Yes, he created the "secret recipe" but there's more to Harlan's story.

You see, in 1930, at the age of 40, Harlan moved from Indiana to Corbin, KY. There he opened a service station with a lunchroom out back. By 1937, the Sanders Cafe was built which seated 142 food lovin' folks.

Now, Harlan's chicken was very popular. But, it took a long time to make good fried chicken. So, Harlan decided to use a pressure cooker - the increase in pressure would lower the boiling point of the oil and cook the chicken faster.

Oh, dear...I fear I've lost you.
Don't glaze over.
Here's the point.

The Cafe was sitting smack dab on Route 25 - a very busy route traveled by tourists on their way to and from Florida. So, while crunch and flavor mattered greatly - this IS after all the man who mastered the "11 herbs and spices" - time was also a test. The pressure cooker was the answer.

Bear in mind, Harlan had only formally complete sixth grade.
See, I told you he was extraordinary.

A fire razed the Cafe in 1939 and Harlan, seeing an opportunity, re-built the Cafe and added a motel - The Sanders Court.
Sadly, in 1956 plans were announced for a Federal Highway - Route 75. Traffic, both quad-wheeled and bipedal, would then bypass Route 25 and the Sanders Court and Cafe. Now this didn't stop Harlan. No siree. Harlan auctioned off the motel and cafe and began hitting the road himself - selling franchises - and, rumor is, making a nickel on every piece of chicken sold!

Oh, did I forget to mention that by this time, Harlan was 65!

Sorry about the rambling.
I told myself that I wouldn't drone on about the Colonel, that you could read all about him on the internet or by visiting the museum for yourselves - but can you blame me? I mean, this guy was... Say it with me now...extraordinary. (Grin.)

Oh, I just heard a rumor that KFC is changing their signs back to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kudos for them, if it's true. Never should have been changed in the first place.

Pardon the disembodied head - AB, you rock.


The Museum folks were very polite as we wandered around gazing at the sample "cottage room" and the former kitchen. Finally, we headed out - thinking we would stop for the homemade root beer we heard about. We passed two cars (perhaps coming back from the local Oktoberfest) which had recently made the front doors of a local business into a drive-through. Yep, they drove right up the curb and into the building.

Passing the emergency vehicles, we found 3 more squad cars keeping the peace in a parking lot. Friendly bunch - they knew just the place I was looking for, "The Root Beer Stand," but it was closed for the season.

We stopped at the first motel we could find that had a room and pondered the two red velvet chairs - oddly placed in the pastel country motif of the Best Western - while I finished off the apple pie from earlier in the day.

Never got to see the famed lunar "Moonbow" in Corbin.
You can Google that one. Nice pics there.

Darn.
Well, at least I got to meet the Colonel.
Sort of.
I just couldn't keep Jay's onion ring secret any longer.
Well, that was Day 2.
You hung in there, nice job.

Day 3 to follow...Which will include the phrase "Beer for breakfast."
Your patience will be rewarded.
One last photo for especially for Rob - I call it "Taillights in Corbin."

Lynne's Paradise Cafe
984 Barret Ave
Louisville, KY
(502) 583-3447

Mundt's Candies
207 West Main St.
Madison, IN 47250
(812)265-6171

Biancke's Restaurant
102 South Main Street
Cynthiana, KY 41031
(859)234-0337

Sanders Cafe and Museum
Corbin, KY
606-528-2163

Read the whole Feasting on Americana! series:
Day 1 - Drive-In Owner Shares a Secret
Day 2 - My First Fried Green Tomatoes!
Day 3 - Confusion, Confession, and Reading Between the Lines
Day 4 - What's a good Northern girl to do? Pin It

3 comments:

gerbmom said...

Yes, but my favorite sign (well maybe second favorite, but you will probably post a pic of my favorite)was:

Pro Life
Pro Choice
Pro Wrestling....

DanaMc said...

Man, I forgot about that one...

Lulu said...

I love the interior of Lynn's Paradise Cafe, it's looks like tons of fun! -Lulu

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I love to hear your thoughts!
--Dana

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