Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Hawthornes' Road Trip. Day 1. We Go To Lexington Barbecue In Lexington And Fatz Cafe In Morganton And Garmin GPS Updates Suck.

I wanted to get an early start this morning, since we were traveling to the western part of North Carolina. Glitch. Mr. Hawthorne started receiving phone calls at 8 AM about a deal he's been working on. He's in real estate and if you have half a brain you can imagine what the real estate market has been like in this economy. Now, all of a sudden, he's juggling all these phone calls and doing more work in one morning than he has in the past year. While he's trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat, I'm loading up the truck. I take his packed bag of clothes out there. I fill up the water bottles. I take my little Nikon Cool Pic bag out. I take my Nikon Digital SLR bag out. I take my research from the internet about where we're going out. I take my maps and my legal pad out so I can map out our itinerary. I remember to switch the Garmin GPS from his truck to mine. I remember to get his sunglasses into my truck. I remember to get Mr. Hawthorne's digital camera and the charger and batteries. I get my always packed bag with my toiletries and add in my little pill container for Sunday through Saturday. I pack my other bag with all my electronic connections I'll need for the cameras and the charger for the cell phone. I pack my extra bag with reading material and my crossword puzzles. I put all this and my laptop in my truck. And I wait. And wait. And wait. I had the truck packed and ready to go at 8AM. We finally depart at 10:30. And the entire time we're driving, he's fielding phone calls from his clients, other agents, etc. But at least we're on our way. I'm spending the time checking my notes from my internet research on "attractions in western North Carolina." I'm listing the attractions I'm attracted to, checking their locations on my maps, and making an itinerary. Next, I go to my North Carolina atlas, and write out the precise route we'll be taking. I am good at this. I have it all written down and now I can look up and take in the scenery. And this is my scenery:
This guy in the red truck, in the passing lane, stayed abreast of the white truck for what seemed like forever.
I don't think he was trying to be a prick. He was just totally oblivious.
For seven miles we drove behind this blockade. I don't think he ever checked his rear view mirror.
This is highway 64. Highway 64 from Raleigh to the Outer Banks except for the very last part is a four-lane, 70 MPH, beautiful highway, thanks to Senator Marc Basnight, who paved the road to the Outer Banks. It just so happens this fairly new, lovely highway speeds vacationers directly to the Outer Banks and, very conveniently, to Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe on the Causeway.
We get a phone call from Xmaskatie and meet her and Mr. Xmaskatie at the China Buffet in Plymouth at noon. Always a good meal there. Just after leaving China Buffet, Mr. Hawthorne got The Call. His deal is under contract. Yay! I am being an expert navigator, deftly directing Mr. Hawthorne. Lord knows, the man needs directions. We are now on I-40 at 70 mph and he passes this: Lexington Barbecue.
Mr. Hawthorne had seen this place on Food Network and they had raved about it. He starts whining about how he wanted to try their barbecue since he'd heard it was wonderful, blah blah blah, whine whine whine. "I wanna go back." "No." "But I wanna try the barbecue." "No. We're on a time-sensitive mission." "But I want barbecue." "Fer crying out loud, you're driving." "That's all I needed to hear." U-turn. Back to Lexington Barbecue. As he pulls into Lexington Barbecue, a woman coming out takes a wide turn and misses my truck by about 1/2 inch. Now, he can just imagine what I'd be saying had she actually hit my truck. "You just HAAAAAAD to go back for the freakin' barbecue, didn't you!"
And he gets a pound of barbecue "chunks." We have no cooler. And that was my fault, I'm told, since I didn't pack the cooler. Note: He didn't pack a damn thing. His verdict on the barbecue: It was OK. He likes his better. And it was $10.50 a pound for sliced barbecue. I like mine pulled. And I think $10.50 is excessive. Judging by all the cars here, it's a very popular place and the people were extremely friendly, but then, this is the South, y'all.
Back on 64.
And we get stopped for 15 minutes for road work. Of course, I use this opportunity to bitch that if he hadn't stopped for the damn barbecue, we wouldn't have had to stop for the road work.
Apparently, Senator Basnight doesn't travel this little slice of 64. We decided to stop for the evening in Morganton, since I really didn't see where there might be motels past this town and I didn't want to hear the "I told you so's" from you-know-who. I check out the Garmin GPS for "Lodging" and find a Hampton Inn. I call and they only have a double suite left and that's $179. I don't think so. Then I call a Day's Inn, using the phone number given to me by the Garmin, and I get a private number. I check the Garmin for another motel, and find a Super 8. I call them and reserve a room for $76.99, with microwave, refrigerator, and wireless. We set the Garmin for directions to the Super 8 and end up at Radio Shack. I send Mr. Hawthorne in to Radio Shack to get directions. He says to the fellow in there, "According to my GPS, this is Super 8 motel." Radio Shack boy says, "Yeah, according to Garmin, we're located next to the community center," some miles away. Mr. Hawthorne gets directions and we head off, backtracking. I see a Day's Inn, but no Super 8. We call the Super 8 again and get directions, again. There's nothing where the directions said to go except a Day's Inn. So we pull in there and I tell him to go in and see if we have reservations at the Day's Inn. Well, lah di dah. We have reservations. The Day's Inn used to be a Super 8. Now this kind of ticks me off, since last night I went to the Garmin site and for $69, I think, downloaded the Garmin updates. On Basnight Highway, i.e. 64, the Garmin still had me driving through cornfields. And now this? I would just like to know what was updated. Alaskan roads? European roads? Garmin, please tell me. So we start unloading the car. I get my bag with reading material and crosswords. I get my bag with toiletries and electronics. I go to get my bag with my CLOTHES. And it is NOT there. I left it at home. Mr. Hawthorne just looks at me, shaking his head. "Well, you know, I am low maintenance. All we have to do is go back to the WalMart we've already passed twice and I just need a pack of underpants, some socks, and three T-shirts. I don't need to buy jeans since I'd wear these anyways until they could stand up by themselves." And off we go to WalMart. I bought a pack of 4 socks for $5.00, a 6-pack of underpants for $7.50, 2 T-shirts for $3.00 each, a T-shirt for $7.00, then I splurged and bought an extra T-shirt for $10.00. Mr. Hawthorne bought an umbrella as it was now raining and he'd left 2 umbrellas in his truck at home. We forgot to buy the cooler. Before we left for Wally World, Mr. Hawthorne had asked the desk lady at Day's Inn for suggestions for dinner, explaining to her that his wife was a "gourmet" cook. I hate it when he does that. I don't consider myself a gourmet cook. I consider myself an adventurous cook and open to possiblities. Gourmet has a slightly "snobbish" connotation to me. You can take me to Burger King any time and I OWN those fries. She recommended Fatz Cafe.
And here we are.
These are not potatoes. They're poppy seed rolls with a honey butter and are very good.
And they were complimentary. After perusing the menu, I decided on the house salad with bleu cheese dressing and Mr. Hawthorne the Caesar salad. At the last minute, we each ordered an appetizer. He, the Fried Green Tomatoes, and I, the Cajun Firecracker Sticks. Our appetizers came first.
Here's mine: Cajun Firecracker Sticks. It's gulf shrimp, andouille sausage, onions, peppers, spinach, Jalapeno Jack cheese, rolled in a tomato-basil tortilla and crisp fried. It's served with a spicy Cajun remoulade sauce and a ranch sauce. There were 6 of them. I could only eat one. More fried flavor than anything else. Never tasted spinach or basil. But I can do this at home and make it better. So, it did give me an idea.
As you can see, more fried than filling.
Six of these. For an appetizer. Who can eat all this?
Here are Mr. Hawthorne's Fried Green Tomatoes on grits with cheese and remoulade sauce. The menu said the grits were stone ground, but I make much better grits. The tomatoes were quite good. But there were 4 huge tomato slices. Who can eat all this for an appetizer?
Our waitress, Stephanie, was quite attentive and friendly and mentioned something about my photographing the appetizers. Mr. Hawthorne tossed out, "Oh, she has a food blog and always takes pictures. She likes to critique restaurant food."
A few minutes later, a complimentary plate of their "World Famous Calabash Chicken" was brought out. I have to admit, the chicken was perfectly fried. It was accompanied with a honey mustard sauce that was quite good. In most honey mustard sauces I have, the mustard overwhelms. The mustard and honey were very well balanced here. Mr. Hawthorne is convinced that my photography of our food piqued the interest of our server, Stephanie. After all, we did get the complimentary Calabash chicken. Then Steve, the manager, came over to chat for a few minutes, asking us where we were from, what we thought of the meal, and how we found out about the restaurant. He said he'd call the desk lady at Day's Inn to thank her.
Here's Mr. Hawthorne's Caesar salad. He was impressed by the chilled salad plate and the chilled, crisp Romaine. The Caesar dressing did not impress. On a scale of 1-5, he gave it a 2. I gave it a 1. It wasn't bad. It was OK. Just not an authentic Caesar, to us. Remember, he makes the best Caesar dressing.
I ordered the house salad with bleu cheese dressing. Nice fresh, crisp, mixed greens, halved cherry tomatoes, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, applewood smoked bacon, croutons, and NO cucumber slices, although the menu said cucumber slices. So-so salad. The bleu cheese dressing was not assertive. There were no chunks. I like chunks. The service was excellent. The fried green tomatoes were wonderful. The creole remoulade was good. This restaurant did give me some good ideas for the "Cajun Firecracker Sticks." I didn't get the "Firecracker" description, since it wasn't hot at all. I can do that better.
Fried green tomatoes - $6.79. Fire cracker sticks - $8.49. Large Caesar salad - $6.99. Small house salad - $3.69. Unsweetened tea - $2.09. Diet Pepsi - $2.09. With taxes - $32.48. If you like fried, this is the place. They do it well. We boxed up the leftover 4 fire cracker sticks and 2 fried green tomatoes, along with the dips and I gave them to the desk lady, telling her we never double dipped. She was very happy to accept them. I kept the two poppy seed rolls with the honey butter and an extra honey butter Steve, the manager, brought over to me. I'll be having them for breakfast. Stayed tuned for Day 2, when we actually go see something.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, I needed a good laugh today. I can just picture your face when you realized you'd left your clothes at home. Way to go with the flow Rosie! You're an inspiration to us all.

Marilyn said...

I guess it is a good thing you are low maintenance. I would have hated to hear what would have happened if it had been Mr. H's bag you had forgotten!