Jan 28, 2018

Finding Phat Bites in Nashville’s Donelson neighborhood

If there ever was a place I’ve found in my travels that could be described as having a bohemian-style identity crisis – but in a very good way – it had to be Phat Bites.  Located behind an Ace Hardware of all things in Nashville’s suburb of Donelson near the airport and close to where I worked for a couple of months, Phat Bites is part deli, part coffee house, and – later in the evening – part dive bar and local music venue.  Somehow, though, it all blends wonderfully together.

It was that odd mishmash of identities that drew me – like so many of their regulars, I suppose – to Phat Bites repeatedly, whether it be for a lunch that was a little out of the ordinary or to serve as a watering hole close to my hotel.  Indeed, the main dining area, which quite literally was carved out of the service bays of an old garage, always seemed to stay busy. 

Jan 15, 2018

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn – masters of mutton …and much more

It’s no secret to anyone who browses this blog that I love my barbecue.  I’m no culinary expert; I’m just a commoner who loves to eat the best each region I visit has to offer.  That means if I’m near Memphis, I’m craving pork ribs.  If I’m in the Carolinas, I’m seeking out the pulled pork.  Texas hill country?  Bring on the brisket.  And Kansas City does no barbecue better than its burnt ends. 

Yes, it seems like every region famous for its barbecue has a specialty.  And if you’ve never been to western Kentucky, you might be surprised to find a vibrant barbecue culture all its own. But while they do the standard pork, beef and chicken quite well, the star attraction is something quite different – they make the most out of barbecued mutton. 

Mutton is simply older sheep than lamb, but if you barbecue it right, the meat loses any toughness one might associate with older livestock, the gaminess is made mellow and taste is as moist as barbecue gets. 

Perhaps no place in western Kentucky is more famous for its mutton – or barbecues it better – than the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro. 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...