Let's face it, Birmingham, Alabama has plenty of choices when it comes to eating BBQ. Having spent the better part of 30+ years living in the city, we've tried many of them and have our favorites.
We're big fans of the Netflix series Chef's Table. The series is beautifully shot and the stories told are often compelling. Recently, the series turned to BBQ and featured, among other greats of the genre, is Rodney Scott who originally hails from South Carolina. Check out Chef's Table BBQ.
We were very pleased to see Rodney's whole hog BBQ has a location in Birmingham and got take out from there twice while we were home. Highly recommended.
Gotta Jones for some wings (wangs)? When in Nashville, check out Brother Z's. Z's is the proverbial hole in the wall spot, but, oh my goodness, are the wings good. Call ahead (615-228-6970) and they'll have 'em ready for you.
If I'm honest, when Iowa came into view as a recent destination state, it was because we had some time on our hands moving south before we needed to be in Missouri for warranty work on Miranda. And because Iowa makes our 46th state since we began full-time travel. I had never been to Iowa, Melanie spent time in Des Moines in 1986-87 when she was traveling in support of her university sorority before law school. So, you know, why not?
After spending a great couple of days in Bettendorf, Iowa, we moved west to Des Moines. Along the way, as we were taking in more corn fields and wind turbines than we'd previously seen anywhere in the U.S., Melanie mentioned she'd found a restaurant in Des Moines that had been nominated for a James Beard award and they were open and accepting reservations. After settling in at our Corp of Engineers campground, I got online and made a reservation for Harbinger.
Upon arriving on a Friday evening masked up, we signed in with our names and a phone number for contact tracing purposes and the person, who would be our server for the evening, took our temps before we were seated. The tables were nicely socially distanced. At no time were there more than 12 people dining around us in the high ceiling restaurant, something both comforting and not a little sad.
I told Melanie I missed a crowded restaurant on a Friday night with diners enjoying each other's company and a great meal. Sitting in Harbinger was more like being at a private dinner party. I asked her to remind me I'd said that once we have the pandemic behind us and restaurants begin to fill again.
During pandemic, Harbinger offers two seven course menus, flora and fauna, with optional wine parings with each course. We both choose the fauna menu, both of us had the wine parings. After the first couple of courses, chef, Joe Tripp, delivered the remaining courses, and described the ingredients and preparations. Interactions with chef Tripp were a nice touch in these times.
Our meal was truly memorable and we highly recommend Harbinger to you.
We'd been in Charlevoix, MI for a few rainy days and decided to move to Leelanau, MI for a weekend stay.
We stopped for lunch and supplies in Traverse City, MI and, as she often does, Melanie found us a lunch spot in Traverse, Little G's Fusion Cuisine. They have both dine-in and take-out service. We parked Miranda across the street and ordered take-out to eat in the van.
Melanie had the Drunken Noodles with beef and I had Lo Mein Noodle Bowl with Pork Belly and Chinese Sausage. Because our order had a mix up in it, we ended up with an additional dish, Peanut Thai with chicken and shrimp which we ate for dinner.
When in Traverse City, don't miss eating with Chef Anthony Craig.
We spent two great days in Charlevoix, MI, parking Miranda in the backyard of a friend's home there. Scovies Gourmet was one of the recommendations of our host and a good one.
Melanie enjoyed the Bordeaux Panini with a nice glass of French Rose and I had the Reuben Panini and a glass of the same Rose.
Scovies serves lunch and dinner.
We traveled into Colorado from Wyoming to, in part, try and escape the heat, but also to take care of an awning adjustment we needed (manufacturer is located near Boulder, Colorado). We haven't yet had any luck with either the heat or the adjustment and, in addition, up arriving in Fort Collins and settling in to our campsite, we got a knock on the door from campground personnel telling us our neighbors had smelled propane. That's no good.
I exited the van and, yes, I too smelled the propane additive used to prevent asphyxiation from leaking propane lines. The alarm hadn't gone off in the van. That was a relief. I turned off the propane at the source and made a call to Leisure Travel Van Roadside Assistance.
Roadside Assistance provided me with two businesses in Fort Collins to contact. While neither of those worked out, one didn't do work on propane systems in RV's (why are they on the list?), the other could see us in 3 weeks despite my telling them we travel full-time and were only briefly in town. Even though they couldn't assist us, they did provide us with contact information for a person who ultimately made the necessary repairs.
Faulty propane regulator which was out of warranty, but Leisure Travel Vans paid for it anyway because of a history of problems with the regulator in our model year van. For that we are grateful.
Since we couldn't prepare dinner in the van, we had to find dinner out. Melanie did a quick search and found Bistro Nautile in downtown. Just an aside, as of May 2017, Fort Collins had 620 brick and mortar restaurants, one for every 258 residents or double the national average.
From their dinner menu I had the House Rabbit Terrine followed by Broiled Colorado Rack of Lamb. Melanie had Oysters to start, followed by Pan Seared Ocean Trout Nicoise salad.
As sometimes happens, we met a lovely couple from Fort Collins and had great conversation with them during and after dinner. Great evening in Fort Collins.
On our way to Fort Collins, Colorado from Rock Springs, Wyoming, we stopped in Laramie, Wyoming for lunch.
From their website:
Speedgoat is Downtown Laramie’s Local Burrito & Street Taco Shop. Featuring gourmet global flavors, craft cocktails on draft, weekly specials and daily happy hour. Our aim is to provide a fun, laid back environment of the highest quality to enjoy some unique and tasty culinary options in the heart of downtown. Speedgoat was founded on the concept of community, which is why we proudly have teamed up with other local businesses to provide you with the best experience possible. A very special thanks to Sweets Bakery, H&S Coffee Roasters, Born in a Barn, Coal Creek Tap and Altitude Chophouse. We hope you enjoy your visit!
Eating out during COVID-19 has, as those of you who believe the pandemic is real know, been an exercise in being overtly careful about where and how one engages. Not too many people too close together in a concentrated spot for too long a time. No low ceilings, plenty of ventilation, tables spaced appropriately apart.
Fine dining for us has been, except for a few occasions where take-out was available, almost non-existent.
So it was great to find The Kitchen in Jackson Hole to celebrate our last night in Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Hole has allowed The Kitchen to utilize nicely landscaped planters to surround what would be parking spaces out in front of the restaurant to place generously spaced tables located in the shade during the evening hours. They also have a spacious porch on the front of the restaurant and seating inside.
Executive chef, Ash Tucker, has over twenty years experience cooking. The menu has an Asian influence featuring seasonal ingredients.
I had braised Korean BBQ Pork Shank, Melanie the Short Rib Ramen. From sipping cocktails in the cool August evening air while we decided on dinner, to dessert with a nice port wine, we throughly enjoyed our time at The Kitchen.
There was a time when I used to anticipate our arrival into various places along our route by reading restaurant reviews. Not all were of the fine dining persuasion, sometimes I'd seek out place where the locals ate lunch (or breakfast or dinner). But then COVID-19.
I miss the great dining experiences we had, but increasingly, as we, as a nation begin to figure out how to navigate during pandemic, restaurant experiences are coming back, albeit mostly in a greatly diminished form.
Montana has a governor-ordered mask requirement in place and people in Whitefish, Montana are mostly complying and wearing their masks. So we were happy to find Loula's Cafe where masks are required to be in place until you've placed your drink order. Tables are nicely spaced for inside dining.
Food's good too. Melanie had the Crispy Chicken Salad with a Honey Mustard dressing she highly recommends. I had breakfast (served all day). The breakfast Enchilada was good.
Their website homepage says "Breakfast-Lunch-and PIE! They currently have 22 pies listed. We had warmed Strawberry Rhubarb with vanilla ice cream. Save room for the pie. Seriously.
On the advice of a new friend and former Columbus, Georgia resident, Leslie Kent, we had breakfast at Stanley Baking Company & Cafe on our way out of town. Best scones we've had in a great while.