Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hey, I'm Eating: The FRT 2007 Southern Tour

As much as I'm hesitant to admit that most of my vacations are entirely planned around food, it's a truth I should probably own up to. (Hawaii was an exception because, well, it was Hawaii. And because I'd rather eat my own hair than try poi again.) Watching too much Food Network and Travel Channel lately, along with reading a bunch of food blogs, has increased my subconscious desire for my own "Hey, I'm eating!" show.

One of my first stops was tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains, near the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Frankly, this was just supposed to be a bathroom stop, but when I saw signs for the Pigeon River Smokehouse, I had to check it out. My curiosity waned when I saw it was a BBQ joint connected to a gas station. But, you know, I still had to make a pit stop.

I didn't really have high hopes, given the setting, but the place had its own parking lot, which surely meant it got plenty of customers. And the place was packed at lunchtime. Unfortunately, there's no evidence of that in my photos, since I didn't fetch my camera until long after making the decision to stick around and eat.

But the dining area was literally tucked right into the rest of the convenience store. The tables are surrounded by beverage coolers and snack aisles.

So how was the food? Again, I didn't think to get my camera until after I already shoveled down my pulled pork sandwich. But it was damn good. Tender, with plenty of smoky flavor. And the barbeque sauce had a zip to it, too. (It wasn't a vinegar-based, Carolina-style sauce, however. This was more of a sweet sauce.)

If I hit this area at the right time (i.e., when I'm hungry) while driving back up to Michigan, I definitely plan on stopping in again. And next time, I'll make sure to get a photo of a full plate. That picture up there looks kind of gross, doesn't it?

More later. I've been remembering to bring my camera with me.