Debbie, a reader who has offered many great comments along the way, asked the other day about road food. I’ve thought about her question and done some additional research.
Barbecue from Birmingham to Montana has been varied, tasty and plentiful. But even a barbecue aficionado can eat only so much of the stuff, and you have to try something else.
That’s when the trouble starts. The sad news is that chains have taken over America’s road ways. Occasionally you do see promises of “home cooking.’’ This apparently is a euphemism for “lots of starch.’’
Jane and Michael Stern have written a guide, Roadfood, that identifies great home cooking across America. Their guide doesn’t mention restaurants along the path I’ve traveled in the past 10 days or so.
Good regional food is available, but it usually lies far from the main roadways. In Hot Springs, S.D., I ate at Scotty’s, which has a great Sunday buffet with salad bar, slow-roasted meats and yummy casseroles.
In Butte, Mont., I ventured into the Historic Uptown District. I bypassed the buffalo sausage and burger joint for the Uptown Café. This turned out to be a friendly place where most everyone knew each other and the ladies who run it went out of their way to be helpful. By night this is a gourmet dining experience, but at lunch it’s more casual, with a salad bar, soup and a couple of entrees served cafeteria-style. The clam chowder was terrific, both light and flavorful – despite the distance from the sea.
Several people have asked about my daily routine on this trip. It generally goes like this:
Up at 6-6:30. Load blog materials online and grab breakfast from the motel cereal bar; in the car and on the road by 8 a.m. Spend day driving, fulfilling your assignment to me and checking out other points of interest. Find a motel room by 7. Take an hour or so for dinner. Write blog entries; load video and images so Stephanie can access them. Use the Internet to plot the next day’s trip and identify potential lodgings (though I don’t always use them.) Hit the hay.
A quick pace, but never dull.