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Atlanta Road Trip - The Report

G-Mo | Jul 22, 200410:28 PM

Last weekend my 8 year old and I traveled from Michigan to Atlanta. We rented a PC Cruiser (free upgrade!), and here's the food report.

Friday night, we ate dinner with friends on the upper deck at La Fonda on Ponce de Leon. Overall it was good. I had a bit of a goldilocks problem: salsa was not spicy enough for me, so I dumped about a quarter bottle of habanero sauce on the rice and beans that came with my grilled salmon. But once the flames died down, one of my friends gave me a wing from his grilled chicken. Just right. Crisp, peppery, garlic taste - washed down with a gulp of Mojito, with mint and lime. Get that chicken dish if you go.

Dessert on Friday was gelato at What's the Scoop? on Highland. The kids liked it well enough that we had it for breakfast the next day too. They stuck with the chocolate; pretty decent dulce de leche for me.

On Saturday, we blasted up to hike to the start of the Appalachian Trail on Springer Mountain. On a tip from a chowhound, we ate ribs at Dogs N Hogs in Dawsonville. The ribs were good - great smoke ring - though the sauces were a bit weak, and the brunswick stew tasted a bit too much of canned tomato sauce (in fairness, though, I'm not sure anyone can make stew like my Grandmother, a taste that lives on in my memory). Back to the ribs - cooked so much down to the bone that you could, and I did, suck the marrow. Good chowhound spot.

After a long hike to Springer, we got home late, and I cooked dinner.

Sunday, we finally made the pilgrimage to The Varsity. Let's see if I can get this right: two hot dogs all the way for me with ring one and an FO; a red dog for my daughter with strings and an FO. I've had better dogs - the Wiener Circle in Chicago and Lafayette in Detroit come to mind - but we had a great time, and the fries were good enough (similar to my Mom's) that my daughter sent me for more. And here's the highlight: we bought souvenirs, and the lady at the counter got to chatting about where we were from, etc., and pretty soon, off she goes to get us some fried pies, on the house, to take on the road. We liked the peach better than apple, but both tasted of southern hospitality.

Sunday afternoon, my daughter and I drove over to Callaway Gardens for a visit - her middle name is Callaway - very distant relatives. I was too full to eat anything, or so I thought, but the next thing I know, after touring the grounds and going for a swim, we were at the Ironwood Lounge, with my daughter getting a frozen virgin strawberry daquari and a bacon cheeseburger. I opted for the traditional southern meal of 3 vodka tonics and fried green tomatoes. The tomatoes were good - my daughter liked 'em too. Good bartender.

Monday morning found us at the Country Kitchen, also part of Callaway Gardens. Biscuits and red eye gravy, eggs over easy, grits, pancakes with muscadine syrup, sausage patties, coffee and OJ - all this and a pretty good view.

We saved maybe the best for last. On a swing through McDonough - most of my Dad's family lived there - we had dinner at Valin's Cafe on Hampton. Try this place. I had chicken and dumplings, just about perfect cornbread, collard greens, and sweet tea. My daughter got to order her favorite dish in the world - a terriyaki chicken rice bowl. And although we both vowed we had eaten too much, we had to get the banana pudding, and for good reason. Probably the best dish all weekend. Simple, sweet, and to the point.

That's the report for a pretty fun swing through Atlanta and surroundings. Thanks for all for the tips. And I noted my daughter has now started "hey," so maybe we got ourselves a convert!

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