As Wildcat Guy and I have traveled together more, one of the things I've gotten better at is packing snacks and drinks for our drives. It doesn't necessarily reduce the amount of money we spend for food on our road trips, but it does make me feel better about the types of foods we're eating. For example, instead of relying on gas station potato chips and cookies, maybe we have homemade muffins or a large bag of sweet potato chips to choose from. This has been especially helpful on longer road trips.
As our plans fell into place for this week's mini-vacation to Gatlinburg, I knew I wanted to use a similar approach and take advantage of the full kitchen in the condo we rented. Because as much as we enjoy eating out at restaurants, doing that for all our meals for three days would definitely be expensive. So I pulled on my meal-planning hat, shared some ideas with Wildcat Guy, made a list and went for it.
We knew our first meal in Gatlinburg would be lunch, and we knew this would be a restaurant meal. Specifically, we knew we'd be eating lunch at the Red Rooster - or breakfast for lunch, I guess. Because the food is just too good not to eat!
Our favorite part of the meal this time was the sausage - mine in the gravy, and his in the omelet. It was the perfect blend of spice and flavor.
For dinner on Sunday, though, I cooked. This was where the planning really came into play, because for some reason, I decided that I needed to make something that involved lots of ingredients and spices. Maybe not the best recipe to choose, but my planning and list-making paid off and the meal turned out well - chicken fried rice (which I'll say more about later) with a glass of Riesling to go with it.
If I didn't enjoy cooking - or if I hadn't been able to organize everything so neatly - this wouldn't have worked. But I do and I did. As a side benefit, it was really nice (!) to spend all of our Sunday evening relaxing at the condo and savoring the quiet of being away from life.
Dessert, though, was something left to the experts - the candy-making experts in Gatlinburg, that is. As we'd been walking around earlier in the day, we stopped at Aunt Mahalia's to buy some truffles, and yum - they were definitely divine.
Monday morning was a buffet of breakfast items that I'd prepared before our trip - muffins, hard-boiled eggs and yummy chocolate peanut butter doughnuts. (More on those coming soon, too.) The doughnuts didn't travel as well as they could have - but then again, I don't know that Averie imagined people would be traveling with them when she made the recipe.
Lunch that day was something else for which I'd planned carefully. Knowing we'd be going hiking that day, I wanted something filling and well-rounded, but also something easily packable. Turkey and cheese sandwiches, with sweet potato chips and fig newtons, were just the thing!
Ahhh. Eating a good sandwich while sitting on a large boulder in the middle of a river, beneath a lovely waterfall 1.3 miles into the woods, with the sunshine warm on my shoulders - that is pure delight!
Dinner on Monday night was good! Because we were at a dinner show, though, and because the food was served in courses, I don't have any pictures of it. Considering the venue (and the large number of people fed in one sitting), I was impressed with the quality of the food and amused by the total lack of utensils. Everything - from the rotisserie chicken to the baked potato to the corn on the cob to the apple turnover - was finger-friendly.
Tuesday morning, while walking around on the southern part of the Gatlinburg strip, we stopped at the Ole Smoky Moonshine store. Some people go to taste the moonshine, I know - but not us. We were more interested in the samples of salsas and barbeque sauces that were available. And the Applejack BBQ Sauce? Was good enough to buy.
And our final meal in Gatlinburg? Why, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, of course. No? Not what you think of when you think of Gatlinburg cuisine? Well, we figured that, since neither one of us had ever eaten there, and since we consider it a tourist-y restaurant cliche of sorts, eating there while on vacation in the Myrtle Beach of the Smokies made perfect sense. The food - Kentucky Bourbon shrimp for him, shrimp scampi for me - was actually pretty delicious and kept us full until we got home that night.
Lots of good eats on our vacation this week - both from the kitchen and not!
Where I am: home
What I'm reading: last week's issue of Entertainment Weekly