Friday, September 30, 2011

Road Food – Its Ups and Downs…

So, you’re on a road trip and it’s time to eat… Fast food?  Not us!  No way!  We always try to find some local restaurant to satisfy our needs, not only staying away from fast food joints but, if possible, also avoiding the national chain restaurants.

Around Noon, as we drove north up I-81 from East Tennessee on our way to upper New York state, we started getting hungry. (If we have a long drive ahead of us, we skip breakfast…just juice and coffee) So when we came to Roanoke Virginia, we just swung off a promising exit and looked to see what might be available.  Famous Anthony’s was our selection… 

From the list of daily specials, I ordered the Southern Breaded Chicken Sandwich with French fries. ($7.09) I asked for the spicy version as was shown on the menu.  As you can see, when it arrived it had no visual appeal.  It also wasn’t spicy, although I admit that I like a bit more heat than the average customer.  The sandwich was bland and the fries were just OK. 

Laurie jumped out there and ordered a 6” Anthony’s Italian Sub. ($5.29 with chips) It looked fairly appetizing in it’s basket but Laurie described it as bland and fairly tasteless…not a lot of flavor.  This was a little disappointing as it contained ham, turkey, salami, Swiss and provolone cheese plus hot (?) cherry peppers with Italian oil and vinegar.

To summarize, Famous Anthony’s, (since 1986), shouldn’t be ‘famous’, at least from our point of view.  The prices were low but the food was bland and the inside of the restaurant itself was also ‘bland’.  We couldn’t decide where it fell in our pantheon of chain restaurants…probably somewhere between Shoney’s and Denny’s.  We classify it as a low priced ‘fuel stop’ only kind of place…
Yes, Famous Anthony’s is indeed a small chain of restaurants, with 9 locations in Roanoke, Lynchburg and Christiansburg Virginia.  For more information and to have a look at the menu, just go to

For lunch on our third day into our trip, we stopped at the Glen Mountain Bakery and Market in Watkins Glen, New York.  To be honest, this was the only place that caught our eye as we drove down the main street of town.  When you pick a place to eat at random, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t…

On this occasion, we definitely lucked out!  On the left, my ‘Grand Prix’ sandwich included thin sliced rare roast beef, jalapeno cheese, lettuce, tomato and horseradish mayonnaise on a fresh and tasty focaccia roll.  Even the pickle on the side was good!

Laurie went with the “2nd Street Rye” sandwich.  It was peppered pastrami on marbled rye with spicy whole grain mustard, lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese.  Another winner was proclaimed!  Lots of flavor and top notch bread…
We would recommend the Glen Mountain Bakery and Market to anyone.  It has a laid back combination bakery/deli/market ambiance and it wasn’t too pricey.  Our sandwiches with chips and pickle wedges, plus 2 local root beers with tax and tip, totalled $22.71.
It was all we could do to walk out of this place without loading up on bakery sweets such as cinnamon buns, filled croissants, turnovers, muffins, scones, donuts, fruit danish and/or other delights.  Glen Mountain Bakery and Market is located at 200 North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen New York.  Phone: 607-535-6900.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it.
Moving on down the road… Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monterey Mushrooms and More!

Have you ever heard of Monterey Mushrooms?  The company was started in 1971 and its still family owned.  While the company’s headquarters is in Watsonville California, one of its 10 mushroom farms is located right here in Loudon County Tennessee.  And guess what…our friends, Bev and Larry, (, introduced us to the fact that you can drive up to the guard shack at the plant/farm and buy slightly damaged mushrooms or “seconds” by the bag.  Larry drove us over to the plant after our day trip to Chattanooga last week.  He bought a big bag full of white mushrooms for only $4.00!

Now, I have way too many food dislikes and mushrooms are one of them… However, Laurie loves mushrooms and when Bev and Larry gave us a pile of them, she was a happy camper!

Laurie lathered a large number of mushroom caps in butter and then filled them up with garlic and shredded parmesan cheese.  Then I took them out to the grill and cooked them in indirect heat… The finished results are shown above.

So…this was what our dinner looked like.  Fresh mushroom caps with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil from our deck, accompanied by a rib eye steak and a roll from the Bluff View Bakery in Chattanooga.  We ate well this evening!

If you’re in or near Loudon Tennessee, and you have a hankering for some really fresh mushrooms, the Monterey Mushroom Company farm or plant is at 19748 TN Hwy 72 north just about a mile west of I-75.  Stop at the guard shack.  Mushrooms are picked daily.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Road Trip – 'Irene and Lee' Flood Photos!

The timing of our trip could have been a little better…but then again it could have been a lot worse!  Basically, we drove north up into Pennsylvania and New York right behind Hurricane Irene.  Then Tropical Storm Lee slid up the east coast right after we’d arrived in the very northern portion of New York…

We didn’t stop, take photos and gawk at any of the folks we passed who were dumping their possessions on the curb…or at the police and members of the National Guard blocking roads or helping with the clean up.  Still, I think that the following photos show just how wet and flooded some of the countryside was as we drove up through central Pennsylvania and then back down the Hudson River Valley.

This is the Susquehanna River after Irene passed but before the extreme flooding caused by the subsequent passage of Tropical Storm Lee.   The river was over its banks but this was before it caused serious flooding.  This photo was taken about halfway between Duncannon and Selinsgrove along US Highway 11 North.

This is another photo of the Susquehanna looking upriver…

This is New York Route 9N north leading out of Keene.  That torrent of water alongside the road is called Gulf Brook.  The ‘brook’ is normally a picturesque little stream littered with boulders.  The road was closed just north of this barricade.  Fully 2 weeks before we drove through Keene, Irene passed through and she turned Gulf Brook in to a raging torrent.  At 6:07 PM, the stream destroyed the building housing the town’s Volunteer Fire Department.

The Town of Keene, which has 1,105 year-round residents, encompasses the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, including the 5,344-foot Mount Marcy.  More than half of the town's 165 square miles are too rugged to have ever been settled.

Here are further ongoing repairs along NY Route 9n north.  Worse yet, New York Route 73, the most direct route for locals to and critical tourist traffic from I-87 and the Hudson River Valley was totally washed out and there was concern that repairs wouldn’t be completed before winter set in.

This was some of the debris left behind after the ‘Brook’ and the East Branch of the Ausable River rampaged through the area.  Many homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged.  The National Guard, contractors, residents and volunteers were all working to clean up the town as we passed through.  Damage was severe enough in this town that Governor Cuomo stopped here to review the destruction and lend support.

This was flooding that we encountered along the back roads as we drove from Cooperstown over to the Hyde Park NY area.  Twice we had to pass through flooded roads, (standing water only), we were once again detoured before I revised our route and resorted to using I-88 to reach our destination.

We passed this temporary waterfall and stream just pouring off a low cliff…

Another flooded river valley… This was along a loop detour off of NY Route 7 on side roads to a bridge that allowed us to circle the flooding and return to the highway. 

This is another view along the detour…ruined crops for sure!

This is the village of Schenevus New York at the east end of the detour caused by the flooding of Elk Creek.  A check of the map shows that Elk Creek eventually flows into the Susquehanna River.

These final two photos show the explosive torrent of the Wappingers Creek at Wappingers Falls New York.  The sound of these falls in full flood was deafening.  To check out the flooding and the noise level for yourself, just go to:

I’m sure that the owners of the old buildings along the river in the center of Wappingers Falls were a bit tense as the river tried to eat away their foundations and protective walls.

Laurie and I continue to be very lucky when it comes to the weather and our vacations.  Despite all of the rain and flooding in New York and Pennsylvania, we only had rain for about a day and a half on this trip…and that always seemed to happen when we were driving or when we were somewhere where we had an indoor attraction planned. 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, September 26, 2011

Motorcycles and Airplanes - The Glenn Curtiss Museum #1

In addition to the ‘standard’ big time museums and attractions, when Laurie and I are driving the back roads, we are always looking for something a little different or for a relatively unknown destination. 

This little 3,088 mile jaunt was no exception… Our first museum/attraction that most people have never heard of was in Hammondsport New York.

This is the front of the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport…  While this facility is dedicated to the memory of pioneer aviator, Glenn Curtiss, the museum also contains an interesting collection relating to early aviation and local history.  This includes such items as antique boats, tools, toys, fire-fighting equipment, wine-making equipment, clothing and home furnishings.

This is a photo of Laurie taking a picture of a photograph of Glenn Curtiss.  Curtiss was born in Hammondsport back in 1878.  Glenn didn't start out in aviation.  When he was a teenager, he was a champion bicycle racer, building many of his own bikes.  Later his passion evolved and he began building gasoline powered motorcycles that he raced.  By 1907, he’d become known as the “Fastest Man on Earth” when he set a motorcycle speed record if 136.3 miles per hour!

These are some of the early bicycles that are on display in the museum.  It was interesting to learn that in the 1880's and 90's, cycling became the most popular sport in America! Over 10 million people learned to ride in this early wave of “bicyclemania". Note the early ‘motorized bicycle’ 

I included this bicycle in this blog just because I thought that it was a grand example of bicycles from my time as a kid living in southern Michigan.  I would have given just about anything for a bike like this one!  Instead, my first bicycle was baby blue and white…and it was a girls bike passed on to me by my mother!  Still, I don’t remember complaining…

Here’s another display of early motorcycles or motorized bicycles.  Anyone who’s into motorcycles, especially early collectable models by a variety of builders, would love to view this collection.  By 1902, Glenn Curtiss had 3 employees and he was building his own motorcycles under the trade name “Hercules”.

By 1903, Glenn Curtiss was America’s first motorcycle champion.  He set a ten-mile speed record in 1904 and, in that same year he invented the handle bar throttle control.  

This is a 1909 Curtiss V-Twin…battery ignition, with the motor producing 8 to 9 horsepower.  We’d watched Mike and Frank in one of the "American Pickers" shows on the History Channel, when the guys came across an old V-Twin Motor like this one…just the motor!  They got very excited… These motorcycles and the engines that powered them are extremely rare and very collectable.

Laurie and I thought that this was an interesting unit.  It’s a 1910 Curtiss Motorcycle equipped with magneto ignition and a single cylinder engine developing 4 – 5 horsepower.  Of course, what we thought was especially cool was the wicker side car! 

Here’s a second 1909 Curtiss V-Twin.  It has a completely different look than the gray V-Twin 2 photos previously.  It’s interesting that even back in 1909 different looking models were being made in the same year using the same motor.  Curtiss won many races on a motorcycle like this one…

Now, this is a motorcycle!  This Curtiss V-8, (Yes, a V-8!), is a reproduction of the original motorcycle that Glenn Curtiss rode when he set the speed record in 1907.  His motorcycle speed record would stand until 1930, the year that he died.  Can you imagine blowing along at 136+ mph while literally sitting on top of a V-8 engine and wearing no protective gear of any significance…!

Here is another display of some very desirable and collectible ‘early’ motorcycles.  The closest one in the photo is a 1973 Triumph X-75 Hurricane. (750 cc)

Around 1907, Curtiss began focusing more on aviation than on motorcycles.  His innovations and inventions in aviation overshadowed the Wright Brothers for a time.  Interestingly, the Curtiss Wright Corporation, an almost $2 Billion company, still exists today.
In the near future, I’ll write more about Curtiss and this museum.  Just as a movie preview would do, I’ll set the scene by stating that Glenn Curtiss is known both as the father of Naval Aviation and the founder of the American Aircraft Industry! 
The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Early Aviation and Local History is located at 8419 New York State Route 54 in Hammondsport.  Phone: 607-569-2160.  For more on this museum, just go to 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it...
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lunch in Chattanooga!

Laurie and I had gone down to Chattanooga earlier this year, visiting the Bluff View Art District and exploring the railroad related attractions in the area.  We’d purchased some baked goods from the Bluff View Bakery and we’d had a light lunch at Rembrandt’s Coffee House.  We enjoyed the experience and we vowed to return for further exploration…

When our friends Larry, (aka. Larry at, and his better half, Bev, suggested that we all drive down to the Bluff View area to look around and have some lunch, we jumped at the chance!

The extra good news was that Larry and Bev wanted to eat lunch at a restaurant on the bluff that we hadn’t experienced before, but that we really wanted to try.  This is Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria.  In 2010, it was picked as having the Best Outdoor Dining, (great views!), in Chattanooga.  In 2009, it had been selected as the Best Italian Restaurant and as the Best Power Lunch in Chattanooga.

This is the lower level dining room at Tony’s.  Both this room and the upstairs dining area have lots of windows and plenty of light.  The ambience is simple and straightforward… As per the website, Tony’s is located in the former carriage house for a Victorian mansion.

Here are Bev and Laurie at our table in the upper level dining area...

And here we are…Big Daddy Dave and Big Dude (Larry).

When the wine we ordered was served, we decidied that it was a very positive sign.  Genuine Italian Trattoria…wine in a water glass!

Then our waitress brought us this lovely crusty Italian bread with oil and shaved parmesan cheese.  The excellent Bluff View Bakery, which is located right next door, produces all of Tony’s breads.  For more information on the Bakery, go to:

Larry and Bev ordered this appetizer.  It’s the Salmon Fritto…pieces of salmon battered in Italian bread crumbs, fried and served with red pepper citrus aioli. ($6.49) We’d never seen this on a menu before…and it was very nice indeed!

Bev ordered the Spaghettini Carbonara…spaghettini topped with bacon and creamy alfredo sauce, then topped with mozzarella and baked. ($10.99) Bev is an excellent cook and she judged her entrée as a winner!  She couldn't finish all of this food, but she made sure to ask for a take home container so she wouldn't leave any behind...

Although Lobster Ravioli was on the menu, Laurie surprised me by ordering a Sicilian Salad as her entrée! ($10.99) Ingredients included grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, capers, artichoke hearts, tri-colored orzo and feta cheese toasted with a roasted garlic citrus marinade.  Laurie gave her salad a ‘two thumbs up’!

Larry and Bev had been down in New Orleans earlier this summer and Larry couldn’t resist ordering Tony’s Low Country Linguine. ($11.99) This dish is described as sautéed crawfish and mushrooms in creamy Cajun alfredo sauce tossed in house-made black pepper linguine.  He cleaned his bowl!  The spice was just right and he said that he’d definitely order it again. 

I just didn’t feel like pasta, but I wanted to try something different.  So, I ordered the Italian Sausage Burger, ($7.99), plus a side of Tony’s grandmother’s Sicilian Meatballs. ($3.50) The ‘burger’ is described as a hand-formed Italian sausage patty topped with sauteed garlic spinach, melted provolone cheese, oven roasted tomato aoli on a fresh house-made ciabatta bun.  My sandwich had lots of flavor…very nice!  Larry also had a side of the Sicilian meatballs.  They were very good but we enjoyed them even more once we requested some of Tony’s excellent marinaria sauce to accompany and complement them.

We noted a couple of issues…at least from our viewpoint.  Service was generally good but we weren’t offered any fresh ground pepper, unusual, especially for a salad.  Also, no one offered any extra parmesan cheese for the pasta dishes.  Serving meatballs straight-up/sauceless, also seemed a bit strange.  Maybe that’s just the way it’s done at Tony’s. 
All in all, Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria is a great spot with great food.  We will be back.  Laurie and I have several other dishes we’d like to try and I noted still other entrees on the dinner menu that sound terrific!
If you would like to check out the complete lunch menu for Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria, just go to  The dinner menu is at  Phone number: 800-725-8338, ext. 8.  Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 AM – 9 PM; Friday – Saturday, 11 AM – 10 PM.  For directions to Tony’s and the Bluff View Art District, go to
Just click on any photo to enlarge it.
Thanks for stopping by for a visit…
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2011 Road Trip – Railroad Depots (#2)

As we continued our road trip north through central Pennsylvania along US 11, we kept our eyes open for additional old railroad depots to add to my photo collection.  What we found was one success story plus a story of slow decline toward oblivion.

We’ll start out on a positive note!  This is the well preserved depot in Duncannon Pennsylvania.  It’s now an office and payment center for Blue Ridge Communication.  The Pennsylvania Railroad built this station as well as 4 others in a similar style, beginning in around 1900 and ending ca. 1910.  The other depots constructed in this architectural style are located in Alexandria Virginia, Chester and Irwin Pennsylvania and in Elizabeth New Jersey. 

Duncannon welcomed its first locomotive in July of 1849.  At first, there was just a single track with 2 passenger trains each way every day plus 3 freight trains each week.  Currently, the Norfolk Southern and Amtrak pass by the old station on a regular basis.  The old station is located on a mainline and Duncannon has become something of a train spotter’s ‘go to’ location.  Just go to ‘Duncannon’ and ‘railroads’ on the Internet…and there are several blogs about trains…to include a number of videos.

Then there is the sad looking structure shown above.  This is also a former Pennsylvania Railroad Depot and it’s located in Selinsgrove.  This depot was built in 1905 and it was expanded in 1923.  The first depot was built after the Middle Creek Railroad began construction of this section of its line in 1871. 

In 2001, the Borough of Selinsgrove purchased this depot from Norfolk Southern for $35,000.  The plan was to convert the building to accommodate the police department.  In 2002, the building was put up for auction after the Borough determined that refurbishing the structure would be too costly.  Apparently, there was a plan for a restaurant to be opened in the depot, but that plan also failed.
Selinsgrove was founded in 1787.  The first woman to be elected both as Governor and as a US Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, was born here.  So was Joseph Coxey, the populist who headed “Coxey’s Army” of unemployed workers on the first violent protest march on Washington, D.C.  Most interesting of all, on 4/30/88, the longest banana split on record was ‘built’ in Selinsgrove!  It was 4.55 miles long and used 33,000 bananas, 2,500 gallons of ice cream and 600 lbs. of nuts.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moldavian Cusine, Pizza and More!

I always try to do a little research to locate potential dining spots along my planned road trip route.  Sometimes, real surprises jump up and provide special dining experiences.  Our first night on the road proved to be one of those times!

I found this restaurant on Trip Advisor…and then I backed it up via a very positive review by a local food critic.  Trip Advisor participants had ranked Dolce Pizza Gourmet and Eastern European Restaurant as #2 out of 47 restaurants in the Hagerstown Maryland area.  The building doesn’t just grab the passerby and pull them in…but, as they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover!

Here’s an interior photo of Dolce… It’s a small homey restaurant but we can assure you that size and a lack of fancy décor are not great indicators of good food.  The tables, chairs and silverware are mismatched and it looked like they could seat perhaps 30 people at one time.  But the fact is that the room had a warm friendly feeling to it…like someones kitchen.

There is no doubt that our eyes were bigger…and not as smart…as our stomachs were!  We started out with this sinful loaf of Garlic Bread with Cheese and Bacon. ($4.25) How could anyone go wrong with this treat?  It was excellent…lots of garlic, very rich and very filling!  Of course, the meals also came with some nice little warm dinner rolls…

This is one of our dinner salads.  It was fresh and contained a lot of ingredients…many more than you’d expect for a typical dinner salad!  (Iceberg lettuce, peppers, pepperchini, onions, croutons, carrot, fresh tomato slices, egg and mozzarella cheese) 

Laurie got very adventurous…and ordered the Moldavian Chicken entrée. ($12.99) It was delicious…and the sauce/broth was to kill for!  I even liked the broth despite the fact that the presence of all those peppers would have usually had me running for the hills… (I don’t care for bell peppers of whatever color)

It turns out that Iulia (Julia) Manea, our hostess, waitress, co-owner, food coach and cook is of Sicilian and Moldavian heritage.  She was startled to discover that I even knew where Moldovia is located.  Julia showed us a book with photos of her hometown, plus a map indicating where she’d lived.

Laurie had told Julia that she was having a tough time deciding what to have for dinner.  Julia recommended the Moldavian Chicken but, just to be nice, she also brought Laurie these 3 plump cheese ravioli to taste, which would of been Laurie's second choice.  They were nice and fresh but just a little bland for our taste buds.

I ordered something that I hadn’t eaten in a very long time.  Stuffed cabbage rolls…or as the menu stated, Julia Stuffed Cabbage. ($12.99) The stuffed cabbage itself was very nice…but what makes this entrée is the spicy bacon and chopped cabbage on top of the cabbage rolls.  The homemade sour cream on the side didn’t hurt either.  This was very good!

After everything that we had to eat…we were done in…no room for anything else, even dessert!  Wrong again… Julia surprised us, delivering this plate full of fried ‘beignets’ coated in powdered sugar.  They were very good indeed…and we managed to polish them off as well!

Dolce is more than eating out… Because of Julia, it’s a great experience as well.  We really enjoyed the food, the people and the experience! 
This little restaurant serves Breakfast, a variety of Salads, Sandwiches, Subs (hot and cold), Calzones, Stromboli, Italian Entrees, Pizza, Soups, Steaks, Chops, Seafood and European Specialties…along with Desserts.
Dolce Pizza Gourmet and Eastern European Restaurant is located at 792 Frederick Street in Hagerstown Maryland.  Dolce is open from 10:30 AM to 10 PM…seven days a week!  Phone: 301-745-6300 or 301-745-6301.
Here’s the link to “Trip Advisor” and the eight customer reviews that ranked Dolce Pizza Gormet & Eastern European Restaurant as the #2 choice in the Hagerstown Market:’s unusual, but no one on Trip Advisor has given Dolce less than 4 ‘stars’ out of the five maximum.  I’ll be adding the 9th Trip Advisor evaluation to the list…and I’ll be in line with the previous reviews! 
The following review by “Savory Sam” originally ran in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail as “Dolce transports diners with European food, attentive service”.
Thanks for stopping by for a visit…
Click on any photo to enlarge it.
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave