Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Food Road Trip

Two days after graduation, I set my sights on a few famous eateries between me and Venice, Florida. Sure I was going for vacation, to sit in a beach chair and drink beer at noon if I wanted, but I knew of a few places I should stop and eat too.

On the way down, all of us - me, my girlfriend, and my mom - stopped at the now famous Taco Bus. I first saw the Taco Bus on Guy Fieri of Food Network's "Dinners, Drive-ins, and Dives," and I thought "Hey, maybe I'll actually go there like he says everyone should!" Sure, Guy says every place he goes is awesome and every dish he tries is "out of bounds" and so on, but the Taco Bus really caught my eye (and my appetite) the first time I saw it on TV. Not everyone's a Guy Fieri fan, but after visiting the Taco Bus, maybe they should be.

First of all, I was absolutely insistent that we eat at the Taco Bus. It was a good 45 minutes out of the way. Other suggestions were made as to where or when we could make it, but I was determined to go then and there immediately. Second of all, this place is a semi-permanent food truck with beer! Yes, food truck with beer! As I approached the gravel parking lot and saw a tap and buckets, I knew I picked the right place.

The menu is large at the Taco Bus, especially for a place that is almost entirely on wheels. The torta (Mexican sandwich) is one of their most popular, and it's the dish I saw on "Triple D" that made my mouth water. This sandwich is made with the "cochinita pibil," (shredded pork) they say comes from a 5,000 year old Mayan recipe. I wish I found this place first, but at least I can confirm that one place Guy swears is good truly lives up to it. A few Dos Equis and satisfying a hunger I experienced nearly a year before: check!

A few days later, it was on to a new place and a new adventure. I knew Adam Richmond of Travel Channel's Man V. Food had an episode dedicated to Sarasota so I did a little research - also known as a youtube search. I'm not into the whole competitive eating thing but Adam always visits a few awesome places before stuffing his face. One of those places is the Old Salty Dog.

After being burned to a crisp on the beach the day before, it was time for some shade, more beer, and lunch. After much deliberation - choosing whether or not we should go to a famous Cuban place - we decided on the Old Salty Dog. This drive was a bit of a road trip in itself. We pulled up to the restaurant, got out, and gazed at the sign like we found the holy grail (that's supposed to be in Florida right?).

Insofar as hot dogs are concerned, I might have found it:

Yes, that's cheddar cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions on top of a beer battered hot dog. Sure, it's not some breakthrough in the culinary world, but just look at it! That is heaven on a bun. Bacon, yet again, makes an already awesome food item even better. Beer batter on a hot dog. Need I say more? 

The trip would've been worth it to visit these places alone, but we made some pretty tasty dishes at home too: homemade BBQ sauce and salsa from scratch, both of which I was advised to jar and sell. More on that soon! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heirloom Market BBQ does it again!

I just ate probably the best sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. Truly, hyperbole aside, Heirloom's smoked pork belly sandwich was the tastiest thing I might have ever had.

It was literally slabs of smoked pork belly topped with a kimchi apple salad. It might sound kind of different but that's because it is and it's delicious! Oh and the onion rings were amazing per usual.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

False Alarm: Donate to California Plane Ticket Fund

It seems there is no other way to characterize my lunchtime adventure today other than a false alarm. No real talk of the coming revolution in the gastronomic art known as burger making, not in Georgia anyway.

Since checking the official In-N-Out Burger website, it appears that the closest location is in central Texas. Perhaps misadventure is a better word to use? It seems the only "mythology" today was the place I went to eat for lunch. I'm all about supporting local businesses, especially eateries. At the same time, it seems they might be setting themselves up for failure here.

Secondly, I have to apologize if you ran to the location after reading, on Facebook, that there existed a place sharing the real restaurant's namesake......or if you incurred any psychological whiplash, much like I did, today.

My roommate even told me he didn't think it was the same thing. Convinced to prove him wrong and that he was just giving me a hard time like he tends to do, he's had a good laugh. At least I got to poke fun at Anthony Bourdain today and hear a friend say he laughed out loud about it.

When, in fact, beyond a reasonable doubt, no other truth can exist insofar as the REAL In-N-Out Burger making it's way to Atlanta is concerned, I will certainly let you know.

Maybe I should contact the In-N-Out corporate office and they can fly me to Cali for free?

Happy lunch hour tomorrow. More new places and dishes, at home and away, to come.



In-N-Out Burger in Marietta, Ga.

I was sitting a Waffle House booth when I glanced across the street and saw the unmistakable logo of In-N-Out Burger. Being a native to Georgia, I have only heard the great legend of In-N-Out. I've never made it to California to have one of their famous burgers, but I knew the sign when I saw it.

Sighting the mythologized restaurant nearly two weeks ago, its has since called my name every time I drive by. Finally, today, I decided I had to try it out. I had to see if the reality met up with the mythology - if it matched up to to what folks from the West Coast and friends who traveled there told me.

I'm afraid it did not. As much as I wanted it to, as much as I tried to wish it into being, that isn't the case here. Now, let me say to all the die hards out there (which is apparently everyone who has ever eaten at In-N-Out), I am not trying to dispel all that is holy. What I experienced  today wasn't bad, and I also have a feeling that what I experienced today was not the In-N-Out Burger I've been promised most of my eating life.

I had my doubts going into it. I hoped that they could transport the greatness of the California establishment here on the opposite side of the country. I wonder if such a thing is even possible. To be completely fair, the name of the place here is In-N-Out Burger - Wings-N-Burger, which seems a little different. It's not the conventional In-N-Out; it is not free-standing and doesn't have a drive through. From what I know, this place is a little out of the norm.

I've seen Anthony Bourdain stop at one when he went to L.A., and Anthony doesn't do, breathe, or eat anything conventional, anything resembling the overdone. He probably doesn't eat peanut butter and jelly because "everybody's eating peanut butter and jelly now," or because he once saw an entire crowd of awful tourists eating them. But he stopped at In-N-Out. Come to think of it, he might have stopped there twice on the show. Once on the way in and once before flying out.

There was nothing bad about my burger and fries, but it was also nothing near my expectations. Perhaps I need to go to CA for the real experience. Once, the awesomeness known as In-N-Out Burger could only be found in my dreams, and now I wish that's were it could've stayed.