Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I’ve been wanting to try B.T.’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, Massachusetts for quite some time now. And when I say “quite some time,” I’m not talking about weeks, or months. It’s been more than a couple of years. Alas, poor B.T.’s, I can attribute my failure to get there to nothing other than pure laziness. Finally the wait was over and this review has since been written based on my first experience at 7:15 at night Thursday, April 24,m 2014, and my second at 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014.

First Visit: April 24, 2014 (7:15 on a Thursday Evening)

It really says something for a BBQ joint to be packed at 7:15 in the evening. Usually I would expect that to be an off-peak time. Less people. Less waiting. I was wrong on both counts.  But that’s OK. My wife and I weren’t in a rush. A table opened up and we grabbed it. Looking around I realized B.T.’s was BYOB – coincidentally we had a 6 pack of Baxter Brewing Co.’s Stowaway IPA in the car. It wasn’t ice cold, but it held us over. The soda cup looked so sad and useless at the table as we drank our beer.

I figured I would use the wait time to grab an assortment of sauces and garnishes. The “Hellish Relish” was great; the pickled onions and habanero infused carrots were good – although I’m sure much better on a sandwich. I dipped my finger in the “meat heat” sauce, as well as the other sauce options. They were good – some hotter than others, and neither of the sauces had a thick consistency. After the anticipation and buildup, I expected greatness. My wife ordered a brisket platter, and I ordered a brisket sandwich. We also had macaroni and cheese and slaw as our sides. Finally my name was called to pick up the order. Everything looked really good on the tray, and the brisket was cut thick and piled high. Finally I was able to dig in…

…I hate writing these words, but I was disappointed. And I felt dirty thinking it. But my head was filled with some of the adjectives any Q’er hates to hear describing their art. The brisket was lean, dry, and tough; I had to bathe it in sauces to get it down – once again, I tried all the sauces, only this time out of necessity. Fortunately for both my taste buds and B.T.’s, I have a “try everything twice” policy. [As an aside, we were in a car and not on a bike, so maybe the motorcycle gods were getting back at me.]

Second Visit: May 3, 2014 (2:00 on a Saturday Afternoon)

Saturday morning I get the call: “Garganoooooo, I want to ride today. Let’s get some brisket.” And with those words, I was ready to give B.T.’s there second chance. I hoped it would be busier on a Saturday afternoon, resulting in food that wasn’t sitting around as long; with this logic, the quality had to be better – of course there is a fundamential problem with this logic. Go ahead, think about it for a minute.  That’s right, B.T.’s was very busy on that Thursday night,. so my rationale, at least in theory, makes little to no sense. I can only assume on that night it had been a short while since the brisket left the smoker. But back to the now… We (Todd, Angela, and myself) arrived at B.T.’s at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Although parking was sparse – as I imagine it usually is when a joint has fewer parking spaces and many diners – surprisingly the wait was not long at all. We had either come at the tail end of a rush, or we just beat it. Or it wasn’t a busy Saturday. Either way, we weren’t complaining. We quickly ordered and easily found a seat. Once the food was ready and the pictures were taken, it was enjoy time.

The Order: Andrew – Brisket Reuben and a side of pulled pork. Todd – Brisket sandwich and pulled pork sandwich. Angela – pulled chicken sandwich and french fries. And a round of bottomless sodas. Those cups now had a new found purpose!

The Reuben: This was an interesting choice. I’ve wanted to try this sandwich for a long while. The brisket was definitely tender and juicy. The bread was soft, but had the nice crispiness to it one can only get from the grill. It had a very good flavor, however I felt the dressing overpowered the taste of the brisket. Meaty brisket was definitely the mildest of the flavors of this sandwich.

The Brisket: Todd proclaimed this to be the best brisket he has had in his  life. And I will vouch that it was very very good. Heck, it was excellent! Tender. Juicy. Nice smoke ring. Easily pulled apart with fingers. What more can you ask for?

The Pulled Pork: My portion of pulled pork was fatty and it contained a lot of bark. Typically I don’t complain about too much bark. But if I separated the shreds of pork from the fatty pieces and bark, I would be left with a pile of pork significantly smaller than the rest.

The Chicken and Fries: Angela thought the chicken was slightly dryer than she anticipated, and less flavorful than the other foods on the table. The tiny forkful that I had was dry. The portion of french fries was heaping, and as far as french fries go, they were very good.

The short and skinny from the tall and fat… Wow, I am glad I made it out a second time. You know that old adage “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”? Well, it’s wrong. When one takes advantage of a second chance in the way B.T.’s unknowingly did, it really makes you forget the first impression. Portions are a good size. I would recommend trying the brisket. And on future visits I must try the ribs. Every order of ribs I saw go out to the customers looked absolutely succulent. There are many more options on the menu than your typically BBQ place. That’s OK. Breathe. Choose wisely. You will be back a second time. And most likely a third. There will be plenty of opportunity to sample the remainder of the menu.

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B.T.’s Smokehouse on Facebook

B.T.’s on Twitter

B.T.’s on the web

Address: 392 Main St., Sturbridge, MA 01566

Phone: 508-347-3188

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Yesterday was supposed to be a beautiful day of riding around the Quabbin Reservoir in Mass. I met Jim in Sturbridge for breakfast at Annie’s Country Kitchen (much to my amazement, I was a few minutes late and he was about 40 minutes early so I didn’t have to wait for a table). Over a few cups of coffee and and egg sandwich we decided rather than ride the Quabbin, we would head south into CT, then head west across CT-20, north up 8, and scoot over the Pike so he could be home for a dinner reservation.

The ride south and west was uneventful, but after we passed through Granby and were headed toward Winsted, it occurred to me we had the New England Air Museum nearby at Bradley Airport. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, and I knew from previous conversations it was something Jim would enjoy. And so we turned around and headed to the museum.

As much as I am fascinated by airplanes, I don’t know anything about them and their history. Walking through the NEAM was great, and having it basically in my backyard makes me wonder why I haven’t been there in the 13 years I’ve lived in the area. We didn’t do a ton of riding, but that was OK.  It was more exciting to see and do something new…

Here is a gallery of Jim’s photos from the NEAM:

More Information:

New England Air Museum

38 Perimeter Rd., Bradley International Airport (Windsor Locks, CT)

Phone: 860-623-3305

Web: http://www.neam.org/

Admission: $12/adults (12 and up), $6.50 (ages 4-11), Free (3 and under), $11 Senior Citizens 65 and up

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

 

August 16-18 were the dates for the 2nd Annual Weekend Motorcycle Trip. We (Melisa, Todd, Kim, and I) settled on Burlington, VT as our home base and rode up Lake Champlain and through the Adirondacks on Saturday. Sunday would be our long return trip home. Over the three-day span, we clocked almost 800 miles on the odometers, drank some decent (and some better than decent, and some not-so decent) beers, ate both good and disappointing food, saw some unexpected sights and places, experienced a ferry ride with the bikes, got crabs, cherished great company, and enjoyed every mile of the trip.

The one thing missing from this trip is a photo of the four of us. It really bums me out to realize we missed the opportunity to take one.

The Good

Asiana House (191 Pearl St. Burlington, VT) – This was great sushi. No complaints could be heard at our table. After a disappointing plate of chicken sate the night before, the sate here was the exclamation point on an eating experience filled with tasty rolls, and tuna and salmon sushi.

Fiddlehead IPA – This beer was consumed at Asiana House, not in the Fiddlehead taproom. It proved to be the best non-Hill Farmstead or Lawson’s beer I had all weekend. It was hoppy and citrusy with just the right bite! A close second was the Lompoc LSD at The Farmhouse.

Blackback Pub (Interesection of Main and Stowe, Waterbury, VT) – I couldn’t imagine being within 20 minutes of this place without stopping by. Faithful readers know this is a favorite location of ours, and the hour stop on Sunday early-afternoon was well worth it. Lawson’s Double Sunshine was my draft of choice.

The Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was

The Vermont Pub & Brewery (144 College St. Burlington, VT) – I am hoping we were the victim of the late night menu. The food was sub par at best (in fact, my rare burger was probably the best offering at the table and that’s probably because it was unintentionally undercooked), and worse, the beer was not memorable.

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill (160 Bank St. Burlington, VT) – I don’t feel right putting this in the “The Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was” category, but it’s primarily because of the beer selection. For a 24 beer tap list, I expected so much more. The aforementioned Lompoc LSD and the Hill Farmstead Edward were the best offerings on Friday night. And both kegs were killed by Saturday night (fortunately the Edward was followed by HF’s Society and Solitude 7). Clearly this is the hip and happening place in Burlington. Another drawback in my book.

The Scenery – We’ve done some great riding over the last few years, and unfortunately we all agreed that the scenery on this route was a bit disappointing. All roads are not created equal, and it’s ok. We still had a blast.

The Unexpected

Lake Placid – Never thought I would ride through this town on this trip. I had seen a few shots of the ski jumps some friends took on a June trip, and I at that point I wanted to eventually get to Placid. The town was packed with tourists, and riding down the main street reminded me of riding through Freeport, Maine. Long story short, I would like to spend at least a day exploring Placid in the near future. Of course, riding through the town wasn’t enough to make me want to sit through the movie of the same name.

Fort Ticonderoga – It is difficult to ignore pieces of American history, and it seemed a no brainer to take the short road up and try to see the fort. It just wasn’t in the cards for that day. Unfortunately we pulled in minutes after the gates closed to the last tour. I think the $17.50 price tag per person to visit is rather steep, but it really punctuates the point that nothing is cheap nowadays – including history! When I visit Placid again, I will be sure to visit Fort Ticonderoga.

Breathe Right – Thanks to these wonders of modern medicine, Todd really didn’t snore. Of course, he supposedly woke up looking like he played the role of punching bag to Mike Tyson (1980’s vintage Mike, not the Mike we’ve been subject to in later years) – again, one of those photos that unfortunately was never taken on this trip.

780 miles later, here is a map of the route, with the letters representing our various stops along the way:

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 3.36.16 PM

A: Starting and end points (Enfield, CT)

B: Hotel (Burlington, VT)

C: Jon’s Family Restaurant (Malone, NY) – A very enjoyable lunch stop. Food was very good with no complaints.

D: Lake Placid (Lake Placid, NY)

E: Essex – Charlotte Ferry (Essex, NY)

F: Hotel (Burlington, VT)

G: Blackback Pub (Waterbury, VT)

H: Start of Route 17 (Waitsfield, VT) – See below.

I: Fort Ticonderoga (Ticonderoga, NY)

J: Joe’s Crab Shack (Latham, NY) – First time eating at a Joe’s, and probably my second or third time eating crabs. Very enjoyable. And costly. But enjoyable and worth it.

Road highlights: Route 73 in New York, and Route 17 in Vermont. The recommendation is to ride all of route 17. The Mad River portion of 17 is very twisty with ascents, descents, and hairpins. Unfortunately, the road is in horrible condition.  In my opinion, riding the Mad River portion of 17 is best done west to east ending in Waitsfield rather than east to west. But of course, it’s all subjective. Route 73 was the best stretch of road on Saturday’s Adirondack ride. It meets with Route 86 south of Placid and meets up with 9N (N apparently does not mean north) which took us to the Ferry.

Although we didn’t stop, we passed a bbq joint called Tail O’ The Pup in Raybrook, NY. The place was packed tighter than a can of sardines (I think that’s a decent cliche). This is a definite must stop in the future. Further research shows it to be lobster and bbq. This may just be food Heaven, but I won’t know until we go back.

And finally, a gallery of our trip:

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[Note: Purposely omitted was our stop at Green Mountain Harley Davidson where Kim fell in love with a Wide Glide. I chose to leave it out so this post does not pour salt in the wounds of her aching heart.]

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Bikes and barbeque seem to go hand in hand. Like Tom and Jerry. Like ketchup and mustard. Like meat and potatoes. Like bacon and, well, anything. So when the opportunity to finally ride out to Wingdale New York to try Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q presented itself, I couldn’t resist. Big W’s was brought to my attention two summers ago, and the first ride was planned for last summer until things, as they say, got in the way.

Now, I’ve been to Big W’s twice, and both times I was impressed. The ride on its own is beautiful, and the Q makes it even better.

The First Visit: Sunday April 28, 2013

Three of us (myself, Todd, and Kim) rolled into Big W’s around 2:00 pm. I didn’t think it until my second visit, but our arrival time might have made a difference here. We were hungry to say the least. And from the moment we pulled in we were hit with the sights and smells of barbecue; from diners enjoying large platters of food on the outdoor picnic tables, to Big W carving pounds of brisket, ribs, and chicken on the cutting board as you walk through the door. Our senses were hit immediately and stomachs groaned for food.

Big W’s serves three basic sizes: truly sensible, sensible, and roadside. Story has it that roadside, the largest portion, dates back to the earlier days of Big W’s as a roadside eatery without tables. Diners would get large portions of ‘cue and often split it amongst multiple people. One platter and multiple forks is a size option suitable for me, but even I couldn’t bring myself to order the roadside portion on this visit.

The Artist and His Canvas

After staring in wonder and awe for a few minutes, it was finally our time to order. There is something exhilarating about ordering for the first time at a restaurant you’ve looked forward to visiting. Am I ordering the right thing? This looks good, but so does that… I have a simple solution. Order more than necessary. That’s right, be a glutton when possible.

Between the three of us, we ordered 1/2 dozen of the smokey hot wings, and three sandwiches (or as they call them at Big W’s, Smokin’ Wich) – beef brisket, pulled pork, and burnt ends. Each Smokin’ Wich was ordered in the sensible size and came with a side of slaw and your choice of regular or spicy sauce (or both).

Neither of us was at all disappointed in the food. I focused my efforts on the brisket and wings, eating only a few of the burnt ends and a small portion pork. In fact, when sampling a new barbecue joint I will typically choose brisket as to me it is the best apples to apples comparison between restaurants. If one screws up their brisket, I probably don’t want to be eating there. Much like I will judge pub fare by nachos and wings. If you can’t make a good nacho platter, why am I to think anything else will stand out?

The wings and brisket.

So, on to the brisket. The brisket was extremely tender, trimmed perfectly, with the proper amount of char to get both the flavors of the meat and the flavors of the burnt ends in a single bite.  I found it much easier to eat some of the brisket with a fork, as the mountain of meat makes it a more difficult sandwich to eat by hand. And please, understand, this is a compliment to Big W’s, not a complaint. The more the better, especially when quantity does not sacrifice quality. This brisket rates much higher than many of the briskets I have eaten locally.

Between three of use, eating a half dozen wings should not have been a problem. Except for the fact that it was. We filled up on meats and could not bring ourselves to finish the wings. I brought three of the 6 home. They were smokey, and they were spicy, just as the name implied. The heat was not a buffalo/hot sauce heat however, and they were a welcomed change from traditional hot wings.

Kim ordered the pulled pork and she enjoyed it, as did I enjoy the bite or two I took. However the big surprise was the burnt ends. I get it, as I smoke by own BBQ at home, the burnt ends are the best parts of the barbecue. We make jokes that the burnt ends are nothing more than smoked carcinogens, but that doesn’t stop us from eating them. And fighting over them. In fact, it’s like fighting over the turkey skin on Thanksgiving, only no one makes a turkey skin sandwich (quite unfortunate I say). But Big W’s makes a Burnt Ends Smokin’ Wich with all the charred and meaty goodness. On this visit, the burnt ends were smoky, they were meaty, and they were still, surprisingly, a little moist.

The burnt ends were definitely the star of the show. With our Smokin’ Wichs gone and the wings packed to go, we made our way out of Big W’s and on home. I knew I would have to make the trip back sooner rather than later. And I did…

The Second Visit: Sunday June 9, 2013

Sometime after our trip to Big W’s in April, we all hopped on the bikes and made our way back to Bub’s BBQ in Sunderland, MA to compare the two. We remember Bub’s to be excellent. And next to Big W’s, it was not. So our mind was set to journey back to Big W’s. The biggest difference between this trip and the last, Melisa was able to join us. The second biggest difference, everyone had burnt ends on the brain.

I again ordered the sensible brisket. Only this time, instead of supplementing the meal with wings, I added the mac and cheese and the sloppy ribs instead. Ordering the sloppy ribs was actually a mistake, as I thought I was ordering a pound of ribs on the bone, not a pound of rib meat. Had I paid attention to the menu, I would have known the difference, but no harm no foul. They were certainly sloppy and the meat was extremely tender. I can only imagine how messy this would be on a Smokin’ Wich. And how tasty as well!

Melisa, Todd, and Kim all ordered the Burnt Ends Smokin’ Wich. The burnt ends on this visit were drier than the first visit, and accounted for a slight fall off in quality, but we could only attribute this to our later arrival time… after 5:00 on a Sunday. This will by no means prevent us from coming back and ordering them again. Interestingly, although I ordered the brisket, I ate more burnt ends this time than the last. And my wife ate the majority of my brisket as it was more tender. This again, is not the fault of Big W’s. Why a woman whose idea of cooking meat is walking a cow through a warm room would ever order something called burnt ends is beyond me. But she did. And her loss was my gain. Of course, I did lose out on my brisket in the process.

The short and skinny from the tall and fat… For the second time in less than two months we walked onto Big W’s hungry, and we left full and satisfied. It’s been decided that next time, and there will be a next time, we are cutting to the barbecue chase and ordering the “For the Table.” It will give us a great sampling of everything… 1 whole rack of ribs, 1 whole chicken, 1 pound each of brisket and pulled pork, and 6 large sides. I think the “For the Table” leftovers is the real reason I bought the tour pack…

Website: http://bigwsbbq.com/index.html

Address: 1475 Route 22, Wingdale NY

Phone: 845-832-6200

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Today we had an opportunity to go for an early afternoon ride with Angela. We knew we wanted a nice leisurely ride for some lunch, and the choice was simple… Tailgate Picnic in South Hadley, MA. Tailgate was recommended by one of my wife’s co-workers as one of the best sandwiches in the area… and when accolades like that are thrown around, I want to judge for myself.

We rolled into South Hadley and found Tailgate Picnic tucked into The Village Commons shopping plaza. As you walked in Tailgate Picnic, it was to overwhelmed by the country decor. After all, Tailgate Picnic is a store as well as a deli. Chalkboard menus lined the wall above the deli counter listing all the sandwiches and ingredients. Although it took a few moments to sift through the options, we stepped up to the counter and placed the order. We would be having an Italian, a Rare Roast Beef, and a Lumberjack.  When the sandwiches were ready, we brought our tray outside and enjoyed a fine meal in the sun.

The Tray of Sandwich Goodness

The Italian

Much like nachos at a bar and brisket at a BBQ joint, I judge grinder shops by their italian grinders, so ordering this one was a no brainer. Of the three subs we ordered, this was by far the tastiest. Taking a bite out of it, you can taste each of the individual meats, the provolone cheese, you get the crunch of the pickles and vegetables, as well as the herbs in the oil dressing. Combine all the flavor and textures with a bread that was extremely fresh and soft and you it makes for one awesome sandwich. This one is on my short list of best italian grinders in Massachusetts (along with Richard’s Super Deluxe Cold Cut and Angelina’s Original).

The Italian

The Rare Roast Beef

Melisa wanted to order this one, and I am very happy she did. It seems to be the norm around here to list rare roast beef Sandwiches on the menu. I wouldn’t call it a staple of every shop, but it’s common enough.  And these sub shops taunt it as rare, but the roast beef is never rare. And aren’t we surprised when it is! This sandwich, as seen in the photo, had a beautifully pink roast beef, it was served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a cheese spread. Although the flavor profile for this grinder is fairly simple, the execution was excellent. The roast beef was extremely tender, and you were able to bite through the sandwich without pulling half the meet out of the bread with each bite. We were both pleasantly surprised.

The Rare Roast Beef

The Lumberjack

On the menu, this grinder makes a lot of promises. Spicy tenders, cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato and cucumber, and honey mustard, all served on a French roll. Based on the description, this sub should stand out, especially if one has a love for buffalo chicken like I do. Unfortunately, this did not deliver on its many promises. The chicken was tender, the sauce had a nice flavor to it, but I think the downfall of the sub was the drizzle of honey mustard. It added a sweetness to the grinder that was overwhelming. Perhaps if there was more heat to the chicken, the balance of sweet and spice would have worked. Further, I expected the cucumber to add a nice “fresh” feel to the taste and a crunch to the bite – and perhaps if the cucumber was sliced and not chunked it would have done just that with the crunch of the cucumber juxtaposing the tender chicken and the soft roll.

Lumberjack

The short and skinny from the tall and fat… Tailgate Picnic afforded us the opportunity to get out on a beautiful Sunday for a great ride and an even better lunch. I love when recommendations from others pan out as awesome places to eat. Tailgate Picnic will be visited by us again.With many awesome sounding grinders on the menu, it will be nearly impossible to chow through them all knowing that every time I make the trek to South Hadley, I won’t be able to pass up the italian grinder.

Website: http://www.tailgatepicnic.com/

Address: 7 College St. South Hadley, MA

Phone: 413-532-7597

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

365=6,332

Posted: April 10, 2013 in Destinations, Food, General Musings, Travel

April 7th marked two milestones in my riding life. First, it was the 15th consecutive month of riding. Not too shabby a feat here in the northeast. But most importantly, it signaled the one year anniversary of Bea. And in that year, I clocked 6,332 miles. I know, I know, it’s not at all about the miles clocked and it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And for the most part I agree. But the miles are important because it means there were plenty of destinations. And plenty of destinations means a year of wonderful journeys and memories.

Do I hope to clock more miles than 6,332 in my second year? Absolutely. But I’m not counting. More miles means more memories. And more memories means more hours spent on the road with Melisa, Todd and Kim, and my entire riding family. My goal this year? Teach my dog to be the best passenger possible.

Bea then…

And Bea now… Oh how far she’s come.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

A 60+ degree day in November. Couldn’t resist the urge to ride. Jumped on the bike with Melisa, and met up with Todd. Grabbed some lunch, had a few beers, and watched some football at Moe’s. We missed you Kim!

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Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

I admit, I’m a foodie. And a beerie too – did I just coin a new word?!?  A few years ago my wife and I happened upon Waterbury, Vermont; it’s a small town with all the Vermont charm one can handle. And, in my opinion, some of the best craft beer destinations in the country including The Blackback Pub and The Alchemist (although the pub and brewery is no longer, the cannery is a must visit); famously, The Alchemist is known for the hop heavy Heady Topper; notoriously, The Alchemist lost its brew pub to the flooding waters of Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Taking its place is the dining destination Prohibition Pig; in addition to a full menu, Pro Pig jumps right up there with Blackback and The Alchemist by keeping to the 23 South Main St. tradition of serving some of the finest craft beers available, both locally and nationally.

With “Smoked Meats and Libations” as its tagline, how bad could it be?  To make a long story short, it’s not bad at all… in fact, it is one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life. Truthfully, everything on the menu looks awesome, and I often find myself ogling the plates sitting on others’ tables, but as a creature of habit, I never order anything new. I often visit Waterbury for one night at a time, and this is the meal I must have:

Appetizers: An order of smoked wings ($8). They are smokey and some of the best wings I have ever eaten. But not only are they smoked, they are then fried for the perfect wing finish, topped with crumbled bleu cheese, and served with carrots and house dressing. We also like to order a second appetizer, an order of mussels. They might even be better than the wings (although good luck trying to get me to admit that when I have a mouth full of wings). The current mussel offering is Maine Beer Mussels ($10), but in the past they have offered PEI mussels.  They are soaked in a beer and onion sauce, and then smothered in french fries and a spicy aioli. Don’t pass either appetizer by!!!

Maine Beer Mussels and the Smoked Wings (or at least what’s left of them)

Entree: The House Quarter Pounder ($8). For lack of a better word, it is beef, bacon, and cheese perfection. The burger is topped with pimento cheese (is it a spread?!?), house smoked (really thick cut!) bacon, and, wait for it… keep waiting… a slice of fried green tomato.The burger is served on a sweet potato roll and is cooked to order; unlike other restaurants, rare means rare!  The burger also comes with a pickle on the side. Although you might be thinking, “so what, it’s a pickle,” I guarantee you, it is a phenomenal pickle; it is one of the best I have ever eaten. It has a slight spicy kick, and a tinge of garlic to the taste. What does it say about the meal when even the pickle is top notch? Yeah, it’s all that good!

The Best Thing Under the (Sweet Potato) Bun!

The biggest disappointment with the burgers is that sides are not included, they are an additional $4 per side. I prefer fries with my burgers so I usually order them from the appetizer menu ($5). When all is ordered and eaten, the burger and fries is still a very manageable $13 for a product well worth the price. The homemade sauces on the table are very good, and the homemade ketchup is great; but to make your dining experience complete, be sure to ask for a side of the Heady Topper mustard.

Dessert: I am not a dessert eater, but I will occasionally order the maple bacon ice cream. It is a perfect blend of the mapley sweet and the savory smokiness of the bacon. A great way to finish a great meal.

Beverages: Normally I drink water with my dinner, but not even I can pass up the opportunity to drink world class beers. I like to drink two beers with every meal at Pro Pig. One is always a Heady Topper (the aforementioned hop bomb from The Alchemist), and then an offering from either Hill Farmstead or Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Viva la Vermont Craft Beer!!!

By far this is one of the best 3 meals I have ever eaten at a restaurant. It is awesome from drinks and appetizer to dessert, and it is completely satisfying – you will not leave hungry. But you will leave hungry for more in the future. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you what the other 2 top meals are. Maybe this is in fact one of the top two, or the top one. I just don’t want to crown a king just yet. There is plenty of food to be eaten, but this meal (as ordered above each and every time) is very hard to top. If you haven’t been, go.

Web site: http://www.prohibitionpig.com/

Address: 23 South Main St. Waterbury, VT 05676

Menu: Click Here

Price: $$-$$$

[My apologies for the dark photos, I do not like to use a flash in a restaurant… especially a dark restaurant.]

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile. And meal!

This is probably one of the hardest riding related pieces I’ve ever tried to write. And why is that? Quite simply, Melisa and I packed so much into 3 days of riding that I wouldn’t even know where to begin! It started off as a quick getaway… a nice ride, time at the beach, and lobster dinners. And we kept adding to the list from there. The best way to format it is to try day-by-day…

Wednesday August 22, 2012:

We left CT after 9:00 am with the hopes of making it up to Seacoast Harley Davidson between 12 and 2 – I had a service appointment to install the Boom! Audio speakers on my bike. And this wouldn’t have been a problem had our stomachs not gotten in the way. On our previous trip to Maine with Todd and Kim (see A New England Weekend series of posts dates July 28-31) we passed a restaurant on RT 1 in New Hampshire that touted the best lobster roll in New England. Seeing as the point of the July trip was to try “the best lobster roll” Todd and Kim had ever eaten, it was safe to say The Beach Plum (the restaurant on RT 1) would become the brunt of many jokes that weekend. But fast forward a few weeks. On my weekend trip to Vermont, The Beach Plum came up again in conversation; this time from Jeremy, a resident of the area. He swore they were the best. If what he was saying was true, Melisa and I weren’t about to let the “best lobster roll in New England” go untasted. And of course, we were stopping for lunch before our service appointment!

According to Todd, “Served with cheap potato chips……I think not.” According to Melisa, it was way better than Day’s.

Following lunch and the subsequent (late) installation of my speakers, we made our way up RT 1 for a whopping 10 minutes until we stopped in Portsmouth – I have been meaning to stop in at The Portsmouth Brewery for quite some time, and I was hoping, although a long shot, that Kate the Great would be on tap at the brewery. Well, it wasn’t. And worse, I found out Kate may never be brewed again [what the article doesn’t mention is that although Ted Mot owns the recipe, The Portsmouth Brewery supposedly retains the rights to the name]. Well, without Kate on tap, we ordered up two beers, which were average at best, and ordered up a plate of nachos. They were definitely above average… see what I mean?

Oh my god… soooo cheesy!!!

After filling ourselves up at The Beach Plum, and then topping off our tanks at Portsmouth Brewing Co., we were ready to make our way into Maine and discuss our dinner options. But first, we had to check in at The Lodge at Kennebunk, unpack, take a dip in the pool, cruise the town a bit, and then, and only then, were we finally able to eat again. As self-proclaimed creatures of habit, we like to stay where we’ve stayed in the past, and we like to eat where we’ve eaten in the past. Tried and tested by me is always better than recommended by another. The Pilot House is a great example. Personally, I can’t stand the places that are touted as “the place where the locals go when they want…” in this case, a lobster meal.” Truthfully, the locals aren’t going anywhere. They are buying their whole lobsters for $2 off a boat and cooking them up at home. But alas, I digress. The Pilot House is not a tourist trap in the expensive sense of the word.  We have learned through many a meal there, that their food is very good, and reasonably priced. You can usually get a lobster dinner around $10 (the cole slaw is worth the price alone, it is sooooooo good!), and if you read all the signs, you can often add a steak to it for a buck more. Cans of PBR are cheap. The outside dining is more like eating in a shipyard than a quaint Maine harbor, and because it’s never as busy as the true tourist traps next door, it feels like you’ve made the right decision choosing a place to eat. And it tastes that way too. Just keep your motorcycle maps off the table, and no one will ever know you’re not from around there (except of course, if you order the lobster dinner).

Finally, after a long, hard day of riding, and a day of constant eating, it was off to bed.

Thursday August 24, 2012:

What should have been a nice relaxing 30 mile ride south into York, turned into a 200 mile jaunt that brought us north for more lobster rolls, then south into York.

Prior to this trip, we had watched Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America on the Travel Channel. One of the restaurants he highlighted for the New England area was in Portsmouth New Hampshire (a crab-filled grilled cheese), but we weren’t heading there again. One of the other sandwiches was a zesty lemon lobster roll in Naples, Maine at a restaurant called The Galley. When debating whether or not we wanted to try it, we concluded, “why wouldn’t we?” And so, we did.

Famously, President Bush (George H.) owns a family home in Kennebunkport, ME. We saw it for the first time on a trip two summers ago, and we couldn’t help but stop again. We were relieved to see the family boat docked safely in the bay after their previous mishap. There is something mystifying about watching Secret Service patrol the premises on golf carts and a fleet of black government vehicles in the driveway. But more so, I like to stare at the home and daydream. I just cannot fathom what it would be like to live in a house with such a stunning view of the water.

The Bush Compound (Kennebunkport, ME)

Melisa, moments before diving in the bay and cruising away on the Bush boat.

Our trip north took us through the Sebago Lakes area, which was pretty cool to see and ride. We arrived at The Galley around lunch time. We ordered up some of Baxter Brewing Company’s Stowaway IPA, and three lobster rolls… an original, a chicken caesar, and a zesty lemon (thanks to recommendation of Adam Richman… yeah yeah, I know, just earlier I was talking about recommendations as opposed to tried and tested… yada yada). They did not disappoint, however, I am hard pressed to call the flavored rolls better than any traditional lobster roll, simply on the basis of added flavor alone. Don’t get me wrong, they are very good, in fact, they were great. But it’s not like judging similar things… it’s like comparing a hot dog with mustard to a hot dog with chili, cheese, and bacon.

After Naples, and before York, we stopped in Bath. The shipyard was releasing 2nd shift at 4:00… quite a sight it was to see the workers waiting at the gates then running to their cars, and peeling out of the driveway as soon as the whistle blew. I have never seen anyone so happy to leave work. Once the whistle blows they are on personal time, so why stick around?!? On the way down to York we hit the congested Route 1, then jumped onto the highway slab to make it quick and less painful.

Picture it, Cape Neddick and the Nubble Lighthouse on a Thursday evening in August. People everywhere. Barely a spot to park the bike. Tourists taking pictures. Tourists eating seafood dinners and lobster rolls from the neighboring shack. We were those tourists, but we weren’t eating anything. Looking forward to dinner I was, but we still had a hotel to get to, and a pool to swim in… but alas, we took our pictures, we climbed all over the rocks. We read our compass readings.  All in a 45 minute stop! And all in a 45 minute stop we weren’t expecting to make but I followed the GPS wrong. Funny how that stuff happens.

Time for dinner after finally making it to the hotel and grabbing a quick swim. Of course, as tourists, we wanted more lobster. Lobster, lobster, lobster – all I could think of was lobster, and of course, the great scene in Summer Rental…

Upon receiving a recommendation, we felt it better to take a quick ride up to Main Street. Is it even called that?!? It is the Main Street in York, but I don’t know if it’s Main Street. Either way, we parked. We walked. We visited stores we would never normally visit. We bought candy. We visited more stores we only went to because they were there. We ate candy. We visited more stores that sold things we would never buy (besides candy). We watched the salt water taffy being made… you know, all the things kids enjoy doing when they go, but as an adult it might be appealing once. If that. But it was tons of fun because we were doing it.

When we were done being kids we decided to take a little cruise down the beach. There is something awesome and exhilarating about smelling the ocean air on a motorcycle. There is also something kind of awkward about feeling the salt and ocean spray as well. But it was a blast nonetheless. And down the beach we went.  And up the beach. And down the beach. And up the beach. And when it was finally time to stop for dinner, it turned into a son of a beach. Everything closes early. Who would have known. Cheap lobster was not in the cards for us. Pub fare was not in the cards for us. A burger was not in the cards for us. Everything was closed except one restaurant that very politely said, “we are closing so if you could find another place…” And they recommended the York Harbor Inn. Down the road about 3 miles. And I am very happy we went.  We had a casual dinner with live music in their Ship’s Cellar Pub. The nachos were great. The burger was awesome. And the fish sandwich was phenomenal.

Friday August 25, 2012:

There was one mantra for the day. No highway. No asphalt slab. No getting up to speed (a very rapid speed) and just going. No… well, you get the point. Without nary a worry in the world or a reason to get back home (the dogs were being cared for thankfully!) we decided we would spend the day casually riding and stopping where and when we wanted.

We decided to ride Route 1A as far down the coast of  Maine and into New Hampshire as possible. It was bright and sunny, and  the roads were surprisingly empty. I guess it makes sense on a Friday morning at the end of August. There were a few detours, which meant we couldn’t cross 1A into NH, but it wasn’t much of a worry. As we crossed, we noticed what appeared to be a fairly random submarine on the side of the road.

Spontaneous stop number one: The USS Albacore

This was cool! The USS Albacore visitor’s center (yes, it was the biggest Tuna sub I have ever seen) was a small  museum and you could board and tour the submarine. We took a few pictures on the sub… I felt like a giant on this thing. A man of my not-so-athletic physique is not cut out for life on a sub. Hopefully they are building them larger nowadays.

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Click here for more details on the USS Albacore.

The next stop wasn’t very spontaneous. We knew we were stopping back at The Beach Plum for lunch. And we did. And it was just as good as it was two days earlier.

After lunch we followed 1A as far as possible, down the New Hampshire coast, and into Massachusetts. It’s amazing how much Salisbury Beach in Mass reminded me of the dingiest parts of Wildwood, NJ or Atlantic City. Definitely a far cry from beaches in Maine (and even NH).

The way the GPS routed us, we were going to head directly through Boston. In order to enjoy the roads more, we rerouted and winded our way over to route 2 West, and made our way to 2A.

Spontaneous stop number two: Walden Pond

I would like to pretend I was enamored by the site. I would like to pretend I felt the magic and mystique felt by Henry David Thoreau more than 150 years ago. I would like to pretend it was silent and peaceful. I would like to pretend we visited for more than 10 minutes before we got fed up with tourists, and swimmers, and beach goers, and the inability to park, and the… well, you get my drift. We didn’t last very long there.

Click here for more details on Walden Pond

It was 4:30 pm. With the rumble of the engine, the open road ahead of us, and Walden Pond thankfully behind us, I began to wonder out loud in conversation with Melisa whether or not something was wrong with me. Here I am, a high school English teacher, a lover of literature, visiting an important site of American Literature, and I couldn’t tolerate it. Thankfully she couldn’t either.  But nothing was wrong with us, as we learned shortly thereafter. We were riding through some of the most historic towns in American History – Concord, soon Lexington, etc. We were riding on the very roads that now sit on Revolutionary War grounds. Somewhere along Route 2A we hit Lincoln and passed rather quickly a sign that read “Paul Revere Capture Site.” We slowed down, turned around, and decided to give it a few minutes.

Spontaneous stop number three: Paul Rever Capture Site

Although American History is important, I never considered myself a scholar in it, and truthfully, I never gave it much study except where necessary. Figured this would be a quick stop – after all, if I, an English teacher, couldn’t stomach staying at Walden Pond longer than 10 minutes, why would I want to stay here longer than 5?  We were wrong. Our stop was about 30 minutes. It amazes me how a site like this could evoke such a sense of wonderment and awe. Although nothing more than a small monument and plaque, my mind couldn’t get over the fact that I was standing on a site of history. The man never made it to Lexington. There were stories that you never hear in history class. William Dawes was at a bar? Samuel Prescott was with his girlfriend and he was the only one that finished the ride – figuratively and literally I guess. The scene of Revere’s and Dawes’ capture played over and over in my head…

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Click here to read Paul Revere’s account of that night. (Unfortunately I don’t have a link to Sam Prescott’s girlfriend)

Our history lesson over, we snaked our way through east central Massachusetts until we hit Route 20 and followed it west from Wayland, MA, passed Sturbridge, and into Brimfield. Although the sun was down, and it was dark outside, we noticed tremendous amounts of damage to Brimfield and Monson resulting from the tornadoes that hit on June 1, 2011. Although we had seen parts of the damage in the past, this was the first time we had seen how it affected these areas in Massachusetts. It was fascinating to say the least, as I had to force my eyes to stay focused on the road rather than trying to take in all the damage – vast landscapes wiped out (vast for New England), tree branches and tops all gone, bare hillsides, and damaged homes.

The last 30 minutes of the ride were special in their own right. A few teenagers were walking on the streets as we rumbled through Longmeadow, MA. I can only imagine the looks on their faces as they turned to see a Harley Davidson Street Glide cruising to the blaring sounds of Ke$ha’s Animal blaring from the new Boom! Audio speakers that prompted us to take this trip. We arrived home at 9:30, clocking more than 10 hours saddle time from Maine to Connecticut.

As I reflect back, this one day of riding is up there as one of the best, if not the best, days of riding I have ever had. It’s greatness is a result of equal parts shared experience with Melisa, awesome spontaneous stops at interesting sites along the way, many hours in the saddle, and of course, awesome food.

Total Trip: 646 miles.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

The Beach Plum lobster roll. It weighs in at 7 ounces and doesn’t disappoint. But is it the best in New England? It’s too early to tell. More to taste before I award the title.

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The Beach Plum: 17 Ocean Boulevard, North Hampton, New Hampshire.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.