Sunday, August 24, 2008

Good as Fried Pickles

There are many the reasons why I head out of town, for a day trip:

-a nice hike in the mountains somewhere - like Hanging Rock or Stone Mountain;
-wine tasting - Chateau Morrisette, in Floyd, VA;
-picture taking opportunities - like Chinqua Penn, in Reidsville or the Mabry Mill in VA;
-just love of food - like the olive tasting at Villa Appalachia, in the Blue Ridge Parkway in VA, or the delicious trout po’ boy in Blowing Rock, at The Speckled Trout;
-boredom: just to see where roads can take me.

Sometimes might be sick people or puppies I want to visit. This was the reason for the last trip to Charlotte, on Saturday. But, we, in Romania, have a saying that would translate something like: ‘The plan at home and the one in town never match’. And most times they don’t.

I went to Charlotte to play with a sick pup, who turned out to be feeling much better that day, and I came back with a new destination for a “food day trip”.

Signs of "The Penguin"

And here’s how it happened. While there, I had lunch at The Penguin, in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte, and a landmark in its own right, as I was to find out. The place is small, and has tons of character, and instead of wallpaper they might as well tape all their awards on the walls – they cover pretty much every inch of wall space. Anything from “the best bbq” to “the best juke box” – they’ve won it at some point or another.

The wait was long, but you know they’re good when that happens. The food was generous in size, very inexpensive and absolutely out of this world delicious! At least by my standards.

I love places that just cook and don’t try to be fancy for the sake of being different. The bbq sandwich was simply un-messed-around with! Just smoky, sweet flavor of pig! You could distinctively taste the hours and hours of roasting, and nothing else. Not goopy with bbq sauce that completely steals the taste of the meat, like most places. The meat spoke for itself. Cole slaw just enough to accompany the flavor and not overpower it. And then … there were the fried pickles.

What an eye opener! Those – I had never had before. Nor have ever heard of! When people tell me “you can get anything deep fried in the South”, I am skeptical. But, boy, I assume, now, that you just might!

Fried pickle chips: just slices of pickles, dunked in batter and deep fried, then you dip them in ranch! Holy Heavens what an addictive dish! Plain, simple, delicious and boy, a dish that is asking for yet more and more beer! And I guess that’s what they were thinking, too, right?!

Now, as a lover of pickles and ranch and anything fried, this was easy love for me. But I tell you, even non-pickle lovers (I eat pickle spears for snacks like folks eat carrots, all right? So, trust me: I LOVE them!!), like my friend, could enjoy them just as well! I was just surprised how wonderful they tasted for such a simply made dish! Again: just plain, simple, hones-to-goodness food – "pretty", gourmet food Iron chefs eat your hearts out!

I am now on the lookout for fried pickles in Greensboro, and I only came across one place (Google, thank you!), that’s across town. Of course, I’ll try it out just to compare. Or I might start making them myself. But you’ll never forget your first. And trust me: you gotta be pretty darn good to top those!

In this ever changing, ever fast, ever over-super-seized world of ours, there is something to be said for simplicity! Now, if they had a “the best food find of the year” award or “the best food destination”, you know I’d be the first one to throw a vote in. Or maybe many!


Mary said...

Fried Pickles very close by:

Mary said...

Fried Pickles VERY close by:

Dawn in NC said...

AW, they have fried pickles at Fincastle's on S. Elm! Let's go for lunch one day this week, OK?

Kehaar said...

Fried Pickles are the state dish in Mississippi, I think. Right next to the Fried Green Tomatoes. And the Fried Catfish. And the Fried Chicken. And the Fried Paint Chips.

There's a reason Mississippi is the fattest state in the nation. Everything is fried and the only portion is "all you can eat".