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Newsletter: Charlotte, Ho!
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 7:15 AM
Queen City, Here We Come

The Roadfood trip to Charlotte & beyond (October 17-18) has been sold out for a while, but one traveler who bought two tickets is unable to come, so there are now two available spots for anyone who wants to join us as we eat our way through some of the nation's best fried chicken, BBQ, fish fries, and more. The tickets can be purchased here. [READ MORE]

No Gluten, No Yeast, No Problem!

While getting my chocolate fix at Bridgewater Chocolate in Brookfield, Connecticut, I got into a conversation about local restaurants, during which someone said that Mama's Cheese Bread Factory (just around the corner) made the best sandwiches for miles around. I was super-skeptical, given that Mama's breads are yeast-free and gluten free, but after a couple of bites of the punta cana sandwich pictured above (shredded chicken, raisins, carrots, lettuce, mayo, and crunchy little potato sticks), I became a believer. The bread is chewy, flavorful, and hugely satisfying. I can't wait to try it in a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. (Mama's opens at 7am.) [READ MORE]

Give Us This Day Our Daily Pizza

Ever since attending a pizza making class/party at Steve Rushmore's house, I have become a pizza making fool. Led by Mark and Jen Bello of Pizza A Casa Pizza School in New York, the evening made home pizza a snap -- so easy and fun that my home oven is turned up to 550 three or four times every week. Mark said that some people have figured out how to put their oven in self-cleaning mode and thereby bake their pizzas at 700-800 degrees -- a trick I don't intend to use, since even 550 frequently sets off the smoke alarms around here.

Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 4:39 AM

Chicken Biscuits

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen is a kitchen and little more. There are no dining accommodations whatsoever. Service is drive-through, and there's not much available parking nearby if you need a place to eat. All that is OK with me, because the biscuits are superb. They are extra large with fluffy insides that radiate a rich buttermilk character. The kitchen splits them into halves and loads in such items as bacon and eggs, sausage, and country ham. That ham – rank and salty with plenty of chew – is a well-nigh perfect match for the creamy biscuit, especially when sided with a tall, icy cup of sweet tea.

We also loved the pork tenderloin biscuit and the chicken biscuit, the latter a luxurious pillow of expertly fried white-meat chicken with a golden crust and insides moist enough to flavor the biscuit once that crust is severed.

For an on-the-go breakfast, this humble little shop cannot be beat. The menu also lists sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs. I can't imagine coming here and not wanting a biscuit.
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Roadfood of the Day: Chez Piggy - Kingston, ON, XX
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shrimp, Garlic, Pepper

The shrimp were good, the garlic oil was great.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, September 22, 2014 5:42 AM

Skyline Drive, the 105-mile two-lane that threads through Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, offers boundless opportunities to hike, camp, bird-watch, and horseback ride in the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is possible to eat well at a National Park Service oasis along the limited-access road – try the Smithfield Ham Monte Cristo or the roast turkey with cornbread stuffing at Big Meadows Lodge at mile 51.2 – but when big appetite beckons, we head for one of the four entry/exit points and drive into the countryside for great Old Dominion eating

Just off Highway 66 and ten minutes from the Front Royal terminus of the drive, The Apple House has been a landmark stop since the 1960s. If ever you doubted that Virginia is serious apple country, a visit to this little place is sure to clear things up. It's not fancy; in fact, for many regular travelers it isn't a restaurant at all, but rather a place to stock up on crunch-skinned apple butter donuts plastered with sugar. These are four-star donuts, radiant with fruit flavor and all the luxury of fried dough. They are modest-sized and easy to eat by twos and threes – a great, albeit rather messy car snack as well as coffee's best friend.

You can eat on premises, and the vittles are good. Breakfast, served all day, includes a typical roster of eggs and flapjacks; and the pork barbecue available at lunch is hickory smoked and satisfying. There are soups and salads and specialty sandwiches that range from BLTs to one-pound hamburgers. If you do have a meal here, save room for dessert. The next best things on the menu, after the apple-butter donut, are the apple fritter – sugar-glazed and chockful of fruit – and the baked apple dumpling with a caramel glaze.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, September 22, 2014 3:40 AM

With urban-renewal brick walls on which hang blues-themed pseudo-folk art paintings for sale, 5 Sisters is a pleasant place to dip into traditional African-American-Dixie cuisine, much of which is very good. When we stop in for lunch on Saturday, the clientele is 90% Caucasian, many of them large, happy families with babies in tow. Classic blues play on the sound system. The air conditioning is efficient and comfy. Lots of light streams in through big windows.

Fried chicken is very, very juicy with brightly-seasoned skin – available by the piece either on a plate or on a waffle on a plate. BBQ shrimp (peel them yourself) come cosseted in a spicy sauce that is quite delicious, but the shrimp are mummified, dense, flavorless. There are too many good shrimp in this part of Florida for there to be any excuse for these.

We like the side dishes. Cheese grits are vigorously seasoned and luxuriously cheesy. Cornbread dressing is radiant with pepper and spice and stout enough to be a meal unto itself. Collard greens are deliciously bitter, just soft enough, and include lots of little lengths of tender stem that is nice to chew. Sugar and Spice yams, lolling in syrup, are uncomplicated, soft and friendly. Banana pudding is light and frothy – sometimes available in a chocolate version; and there always is a fruit cobbler on the menu.

5 Sisters is a live-music venue, with jazz and blues bands at Sunday brunch and in the evenings Thursday through Saturday. The current schedule is available on the 5 Sisters Facebook page.
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Roadfood of the Day: Stash Cafe - Vieux Montreal, XX
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014

In Old Montreal

Menu catchphrase: 'Where Old Montreal's stone walls meet old Poland's cuisine.'"
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, September 21, 2014 5:58 AM

Finding Fulks Run Grocery on Route 259 just south of the West Virginia border is half the fun. It is alluringly remote, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by nothing but countryside. It’s a real grocery store, built in 1949 by Garnett Turner; and, frankly, there’s little that you can buy and eat on the premises other than a country ham sandwich on Friday. But even if you are nearby some other day of the week, it behooves you to check out this place, for it is the outlet for Turner Hams, which are some of the finest anywhere.

Many people who know Turner Hams never go to Fulks Run, for it has been a thriving mail-order business for years. At home in Connecticut, we order boxes of boneless, center-cut sugar-cured ham slices and red hot rooster sauce and ham glaze to dress them.

Good as it is to get these items in the mail, there is special pleasure in entering the old, wood-floored country store and taking a deep breath of air perfumed by well-cured ham. Of course, you can buy a nice ham right here, to take home and prepare. We love the way the big beauties are displayed – wrapped in cheesecloth, piled up in various shopping carts all around the store.
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Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2014

Haddock And Chips

As you tear open the oil-stained paper, that distinctive fish and chips aroma escapes.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, September 20, 2014 5:37 AM

One of the juiciest niches in the restaurant trade over the last several years has been the upscale fast food burger joint. Not upscale as in fancy or gourmet, but upscale in the sense that the hamburger you get is hand fashioned and of better quality than the typical fast-food chain, and it is presented in a way that tends to be a little bit nicer than waiting in line at a drive-through or at the counter of a Micky D's.

It's a broad niche. Five Guys and In 'n' Out are positioned towards the mass production end of the spectrum and Shake Shack and Umami Burger are at the high quality end, with lots of one-of-a-kind burger joints and small chains of varying merit in between. Among the worthy singles is Prime Burger, which opened in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in mid 2014, serving burgers ground from a mix of top round, short ribs, and prime sirloin. They're good burgers, always cooked medium and therefore on the dry side of succulence, but full-flavored and pattied in such a way that they are agreeably fragile. They come plain or infused with Peter Luger steak sauce and bits of green pepper; and of course they can be gilded with all the usual condiments or with such one-dollar extras as avocado, chili, cheese, or bacon.

Fried sides include crinkle-cut French fries, sweet potato fries, waffle fries, and onion rings. What I've tasted seem to have been once-frozen, but of good enough quality and cooked in fresh enough oil that they come out crisp and tasty. Likewise, milk shakes on the side have a somewhat prefab flavor, but they do their job as a thick, high-calorie beverage/dessert.

Alternatives to the hamburger include a salmon burger, turkey burger, veggie burger, and grilled chicken sandwich. Nine-inch hot dogs also are available.
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Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2014


Grover's burger, with crisp garnishes, is a beautiful sight.
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