Sunday, September 04, 2011

Day 2 - Fried Green Tomatoes

After getting a good night's sleep, one I regard to be one of the best in my life (thanks to Mr. Tylenol), our Tuesday started off with breakfast and discussion about what we would do that day. There were some places my grandmother had suggested visiting, including a local brewery that allowed tours and taste testing. Unfortunately, that location was only opened on weekends and at certain times, so that was out. One other idea came up, and it was to visit the filming location of the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," which was only about an hour's drive from where we were.

I had never seen the movie or read the book, so I was viewing everything for the first time. Of course I had heard of the movie, which is now 20 years old, but just had never gotten around to seeing it. Having the opportunity to see the place it was filmed sounded interesting to me, since I had never been on a movie set, current or prior.

The small town where a great deal of the shooting for that movie was set is Juliette, Georgia, and it's about as small a town as I've ever seen! It's practically in the middle of nowhere, and many of the roads are dirt or gravel, with the exceptions being the highways that got us there. The actual "set" is made up of several small houses and shops in a row about six or seven deep on each side, and trails off to a few more shops down the line. Toward the end and on the left is the Whistle Stop Cafe, which is the largest of the buildings in the area. There is a train that runs nearby, and it came through as we were visiting as well.

It was pretty quiet around there, but there were several other cars worth of people walking around and enjoying the day. We parked and walked around into some of the shops, but there was an overwhelmingly delicious smell issuing from the cafe; mental note - must get something to eat soon! One of the more memorable stores we visited was one dedicated to everything honey. The man running it harvests the honey himself from several hives he runs on his property, and it must be paying off for him. He has the plain honey bottled for sale, but also has other food items, soap, clothes devoted to bees and honey, and other commercial products. It was pretty interesting, but not cheap. There was one lady that was visiting who informed us that his soap was the best soap in existence. She bought it all the time and loved it, and didn't mind paying about $5+ a bar; my grandmother remained skeptical and rolled her eyes at the woman.

We walked through a few other stores, but the urge to get something to eat was bearing down on all of us (Grandma, my parents, and myself). The Whistle Stop Cafe, which is the same name used in the film, is only open for lunch, and it was just about that time. Upon sitting down, all four of us decided to get the barbecue sandwich, named "Bennett's Bar-B-Q." (To understand that reference, you'd have to see the movie/book.) Unfortunately, it was nearing the end of lunch, and there was not enough barbecue remaining for four large sandwiches. So my mom ended up getting the last sandwich, and the rest of us got hamburgers. In the meantime, we got to try the famous fried green tomatoes, which were served with a zesty onion sauce. Let me tell you, they were delicious! They were just the right texture to be crunchy, yet still juicy in the center. The breading was just spicy enough to give a little kick, but not too overwhelming. It was a little bit salty, but there's very little in the culinary world that I don't find too salty. Add in the zesty, sweet sauce, and it made for the perfect appetizer.

Once the main dishes came out, we were ready to chow down. My mom was kind enough to offer each of us a bite of the bbq, which they had piled both on a bun and in a dish in case she wanted to share the excess. The bbq was so tender and delicious, and the sauce only enhanced the wood-smoked flavor. Mmmmm! The burgers, on the other hand, were a little overdone and crispy/burnt on the edges. I still enjoyed mine, but both my grandmother and dad were none too pleased. At this point, with the shortage of bbq and the burnt hamburgers, the place was losing a bit of its appeal. The fried green tomatoes were still a success, so everything came down to the dessert to decide the fate of this meal. They had several choices that piqued our interest, but it turned out that all but one were sold out. The only one left was a warm chocolate cake with hot fudge and ice cream; yes, please for me! I was the only one that ended up getting dessert, so the rest of my party ended the meal a bit disappointed. I, however, wouldn't mind going back someday, but maybe getting there earlier would be a good thing.

After visiting a few more stores, we decided it was time to head back. It was early afternoon and very, very hot, so it was definitely time to get somewhere cooler. We managed to take a wrong turn at one point, but after awhile we made it back to the main road and back to I-75. By the time we got back to the house, it was definitely time for a nap, so that's what I did!

Once we were rested and comfortable again, it was time to think about the next meal! (Imagine that...) We had originally decided to prepare a roasted pork loin, but decided against that when it was taking forever to defrost. So the plans changed. Since we had spent a great deal of time driving and adventuring, we decided to make something easier, and heated up some ham and cheese croissants. In addition, since I had never seen the movie, and the rest hadn't seen it in a while, we decided to run to Blockbuster and see if they had "Fried Green Tomatoes." After searching for some time to actually find a Blockbuster that was still in business, they had it! So while we ate our croissants, we were able to enjoy a classic film, which I thoroughly enjoyed! It was great to see scenes shot at a place we had just visited, kind of like we were a part of it all.

Thus the second day ended on a high note, following a nice meal and an excellent movie, not to mention great company. Stay tuned for the third day, which will hopefully not take as long to produce as this post has!