I can tell that I've been devouring too much television/blogs/media when I start feeling like my real-life experiences are mimicking them. This weekend roadtrip to Western Mass for Julie and Jim's wedding felt very much like a Food Network show like Rachel Ray's $40 a Day, or even The Hungry Cabbie blog.
On our trip up, we decided to stop for lunch around 1 pm, and decided to exit the next time "food" was designated by the freeway sign. I thought it would be nice to try something local, non-chain fast food, and after passing this place:
we did a U-turn and went back to it. It was called Carville's Ranch House, and it looked great. Sachin and Dennis both got cheeseburgers, and I got a veggie grinder (we were in grinder country!) and fried clams. I can't say any of the food was the best I've ever had, but it was solid, and the place had a good vibe. As I was taking the picture, and older patron told me mid-chew that the place had been around for 60 years, and he used to come there as a kid over 40 years ago. He now lived in Florida, but decided to stop by while passing through. "But don't come here at night" he said, "this is a horrible neighborhood." Heh. Seemed okay to me.
Once in Deerfield, MA we passed a sign for "Bub's BBQ" off the 5/10, and so on Saturday we had some free time for lunch before the wedding and decided to check it out. It was 5 miles away in Sunderland, MA.
Yum! We decided to share a combo of spare ribs and pulled pork, which came with all-you-can eat cold and hot bars, so we were stuffed. The ribs and pork were delicious--great seasoning--but I think we were both taken by the sides of hickory smoked potatoes, orange glazed sweet mashed potatoes, dirty rice, collard greens, etc. etc. Sachin got a local beer: Berkeshire Brewing Company's Steel Rail, that was very flavorful and good. And only $3. The total bill came out to be about $25--maybe a bit pricey for lunch, but a ton of food and totally worth it.
After the wedding we dropped Dennis off in Flushing, and then since we had the car we took the opportunity to go to Sachin's favorite Falafel place, Naomi's Kosher Pizza, which is nowhere near a subway stop. Yeah, sounds weird (Kosher...pizza...Falafel?), but it was awesome. Sachin was disappointed I wasn't raving about the Falafel more at the time, but I was a bit nauseated from the car, and really, although I like Falafel, I generally don't find that one place is so different from another. But truly, they were great, and certainly worth trying--and actually different from other Falafel I've had. Not as crispy or hard as usual, a bit softer and with a nice smooth texture. The tahini and hot sauces there were excellent. The place was a total trip--pizza and Middle Eastern food on the menu, a very diverse clientele, and buzzing at 4 pm on a Sunday. Anyway, afterwards we went to Chinatown Flushing and walked around a bit, and then found a random teashop called Tong's or Tang's on Main Street where we got drinks (Watermelon Milk Shake for Sachin, Plum Red Tea for me) and a bowl of wonton noodle soup. Perfect.
I also bought a bundle of my favorite vegetable kong xin cai (water spinach--or literally translated as empty heart vegetable, as the stems are hollow) to cook when I got home, stir-fried it up with garlic and olive oil and ate it for both dinner that night and lunch the next day. The perfect finish to the perfect food weekend. And I didn't even mention the wedding food which was also excellent. Tuna shish-kebabs, noodles with peanut sauce, mahi mahi, and the desserts! Oh, the desserts. This was one of the cakes from that awesome dessert party:
When I was a kid, I remember reading about how in the future people will be nourished via pills, and I was horrified. I get so much enjoyment from eating. I look forward to each meal, each food adventure, and since I don't have picky taste buds, I tend to like almost everything I try.
I'm hungry now. What's for breakfast?