Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Road Music

When I’m home, I listen almost exclusively to jazz music. It’s not until I’m out on the road that I sample from the current cultural beat. Of course, in small town American, the cultural beat is stale. Finding stations that aren’t playing “Classic Rock of the ‘70’s, 80’s, and 90’s", "Today’s “Best” Country", or "Crunking the on Hip Hop" are rare.

For a day or two I am intrigued to hear the sounds of my youth and recall fondly those days of California and Arizona.

Here are some of the songs which caught my attention enough to bother writing down:

YES – “Yours Is No Disgrace”

Santana – “Oye como va ”

The Dog Night – “The World is Black, the World is White”

Green Day – “Basket Case”

Chicago – “Saturday in the Park”

Bruce Springsteen – “Tunnel of Love”

Jerry Rafferty – “Baker Street”

American – “Horse with no Name”

Black Sabbath – “I Am Iron Man”

Don Henley - “Boys of Summer”

Who – “Who are you”

I don’t know if you can pick it out from a weeks worth of posts, but I like being on the road – and I think I’m a pretty good traveler. Rather low maintenance, in a gourmet-type-of-way.

As far as hotels go, I find it’s the stupid little things that earn my allegiance. Like a soap dish in the bathroom, towels that are “fluffy”, rooms without air-freshener scents, and beds with “lap-desks”.

Of course – I really HATE hotels with sway back mattresses, sticky carpeting, continually running toilets, and molding shower grout.

One of the best parts of being on the road is the chance to eat in different places. Please note the word “different”. If I come to your town, I do not want to eat at the Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday’s, O’Charley’s, the Cracker Barrel, or TGI Fridays. I do however understand eating at these places if there in nothing else nearby. For me though, when I am alone? I do not mind driving 50 miles or so to check a place out.

Here are some of the outstanding meals I’ve had recently:

Hernando, MS Timbeaux’s I eat here when ever I have a chance. I was lucky on this trip and ate here twice. The first evening we had a lovely appetizer of wild game sausages/salami and imported cheeses. The sausages/salami are cured on the premises. They were earthy and smoky and entirely good. For my main course there was sea bass served on mashed potatoes, with asparagus and hollandaise sauce and Creole shrimp. For dessert I split rum-laced bread pudding.

At the next meal in Timbeaux’s I enjoyed duck breast with a cabernet reduction sauce served on pureed turnips. I skipped the appetizer and dessert – I think we were all tired and just couldn’t focus on any ancillary courses.

Memphis, TN - Is always a fun town to eat in. I’m getting to the point though where I have my “regular” places. This time I paid the customary call to Golden India for some Lamb Vindaloo, and Brother Junipers for a fantastic portabello mushroom/tomato/spinach/feta cheese omelet.

Once I departed Memphis, my epicurean expectations diminished. But a few surprises were in store for me. I had the most amazing fried grouper in a ginger sauce topped with shredded scallions at Tai Pan’s in Madison, AL. The fish tacos and ½ and ½ salsas at El Rey’s in Montgomery were good enough to consider returning for on the next trip. Lunch in Prattville and Jim ‘n Nick’s BBQ is worth a mention. I was particularly fond of the pulled pork sandwich served on sourdough. Not your typical pairing. Their trio of sauces were also appreciated – Habanera Ketchup, Habanera BBQ sauce and then Malinda’s Spicy BBQ sauce were all wonderful accompaniments to the homemade onion rings and sandwich.

Besides being the home of El Rey's, Montgomery also had this lovely advertising in front of a dry cleaners. "Dry Clean - Ostrich pants $2.00" it wasn't until I was a few more blocks down the road before I was unravel the sign .... NOT "Ostrich" pants - it was "or Starch Pants" ... I cracked myself up for a good 2 miles on that one alone. (Dylexia is SO fun)

Finally, my last meal was at Osman's in Mobile. There I had the best Gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce followed by Red Fish Meuniere. I shouldn't have been surprised though - I mean anytime you walk up to a restaurant and there are pots of basil growing everywhere - plus rosemary and mint ... what could go wrong, right?

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