WW was kind enough to chronicle our journey through the Carolina’s, but he did leave out one important thing….. at least it’s something important to me….. the FOOD! I know I tend to talk about food more than music, but the road becomes a collection of meals even more than a collection of gigs for me. So……
As we were leaving Tennessee, we had a late breakfast/early lunch at Cracker Barrel and they offered some granola pancakes that were pretty awesome. The only thing better that morning were Danny Shirley’s stories. That guy is a great story teller. It’s a good thing I ate a big hearty breakfast, cause our drive ended up being a bit longer than expected and by the time we arrived, played our show and got somewhere to eat it was 11 pm. That’s not a good thing for me to do and I was so hungry I could barely read the menu at the sports bar we ended up in. So I ordered a burger. It was some special Carolina thing. Blackened with slaw on it I think. I wasn’t very excited about it to be honest and as my food arrived I watched WW receive his order of a chicken and vegetable stir fry with rice. I was so jealous I almost couldn’t eat! I didn’t even see that on the menu! I got out ordered. I felt like I needed something good for me and I got a burger. It may have been a great burger, but I wouldn’t have known.
With the exception of the fine homemade Kolaches that WW’s buddy Barry Ray made for us, the whole next day I ate salads. Big salads with fish on them. One with ahi tuna and one with salmon. Both really good. I ate the second one, the salmon, in an Irish pub in Winston Salem, NC as I watched WW and friend eat fish and chips. I stole a few fries, but satisfied myself that I was doing the right thing eating a salad. It was pretty good and not at all what I expected in a pub.
Eating in Charlotte was all about home cookin. I got some time to visit with one of my oldest friends and musical mentors, Lou Mondelli. Lou sat in with us at Puckett’s and had me over to the house to visit with the family for a bit and I was treated to sausage and peppers like only my old friends from NJ and NY can make. It was wonderful.
After our run through the Carolina’s, WW and I had a day off to make as many miles as we could between Charlotte and Buffalo. We decided that Pittsburg would be a good place to stop and I used my considerable Priceline skills to get us a really nice hotel for our destination. We decided to stop for lunch just inside of West Virginia and as we were turning into a hilly driveway leading to the Cracker Barrel we figured would offer the most “real” food we’d find, I spied a sign for a Japanese food restaurant right down the road. We made a quick u-turn and sat down in a nice little restaurant that offered WW the curry dish he’d been craving and me one of the best bento box lunched I’ve ever had. The minute my lips touched the miso soup I felt better than I had for days. The Gyoza was perfect. Hot crispy and porky. The highlight of my bento box was the hibachi grilled vegetables and although the chicken was just a little bit dry, the california roll was perfect as was the fired rice. I packed away just about every bit of my food, before I could even take a picture, and it got me all the way to Pittsburg.
Every time I say the word Pittsburg people say “Eat at Primante Brothers!” Well honestly I didn’t think we’d have time. We checked into our hotel at about 9:30 and when I asked the front desk where we could find some food, it turned out that Primante Brothers was the closest place! So we got back in the car and headed over. Since everyone was talking about the sandwiches that this place is famous for, I figured I had to go for it. Corned beef with provolone, tomatoes and french fries on fresh, soft italian bread. That’s right the fries are on the sandwich! It was good. Very good. I was wishing I had ordered pastrami instead because I think it may take a more full flavored meat to stand up to the fries in the sandwich, but all in all in was fine. WW ordered spaghetti with meatballs and it’s good to be back in a part of the world where you can get a goos marinara sauce almost anywhere.
After a big sandwich and a good night sleep it was off to meet up with Brian on the road, pick up Ray and the airport, eat at Joe’s pizza again and play the Sportsman’s Tavern in Buffalo again. It was a great day and overtime I visit the Sportsman’s I love it all the more. And Joe’s too…….