I recently completed my spring breaded pork tenderloin pursuit (among other pursuits) in two stages covering 12 states and about 4,500 miles over 3-1/2 weeks.
On May 13 we headed east out of Minnesota and first stopped at Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo, WI for the night. Before settling in we had lunch in Wisconsin Dells at the River Walk Pub
in the heart of the town.
Sorry to say, we did not start out with a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. They are rather rare in Wisconsin. More suitably for this north woods atmosphere we had their Elk Burger
with onion rings.
The next day we traveled down I-39 in Illinois and then headed east on I-80. Our next lunch stop was R Place
right on the interchange at Highway 47 in Morris, IL. My wife, determined to eat someway healthy opted for the BLT.
Not me. I went for their Hubcap Tenderloin
R Place's booths are interesting. The tables have antique toys under glass like this.
We camped at the Indiana Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan, a park I recommend you try if you ever get the chance. The campgrounds are newly renovated and are very nice. The next morning we headed for Nick's Kitchen
in Huntington, IN for lunch and had one of their 100th anniversary tenderloins. Nobody makes them better than Jean Anne Bailey (janicks).
After lunch we headed on to the Hocking Hills area in Ohio southeast of Columbus. There we met up with 47 other Class B camping vans for an RV.net sponsored rally. Since we got there the evening before the start of the official rally we headed in to the nearby town of Logan and stopped at Bush's Restaurant
. Ohio is bereft of pork tenderloin sandwiches except in the northwest quadrant. We were southeast in Appalachian territory. However, Bush's had a dinner entree featuring grilled pork tenderloins and sandwiches of breaded and broasted chicken. It was not impossible. So I asked the owner, Lee Howdyshell, if he could make a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. No problem, and he made a great one consisting of two pieces of true pork tenderloin and not pork loin cutlets most restaurants use.
Bush's Restaurant was our caterer for the rally and provided many excellent buffet style meals. I couldn't help myself. I loaded up with this breakfast.
Our rally group is pictured here. If you are interested in Class B camping vans, you can see all of them here - http://gallery.mac.com/davydd#100080
After the rally we headed on to northern Virginia to visit our daughter and family. Meals were kind of uneventful and we did not seek out any road food. It was a time to recharge and eat healthy. We did make a trip to George Washington's Mount Vernon Gristmill and Distillery
. It is further down the road from Mount Vernon itself and is an interesting tour.
After Virginia we headed for Indianapolis. On the way we camped at Carter Caves State Resort Park
in eastern Kentucky. There we ate dinner at the park lodge. The meal was pretty much uneventful but we did try for the first time, deep fried pickles for an appetizer and enjoyed them.
We passed through Cincinnati on our way to Indianapolis. We found a Skyline Chili
on a freeway interchange using our GPS. So we made a quick lunch stop. I had the regular size 5-way pictured here.
Now it was time for some serious BPT pursuing. Our first evening in Indianapolis we went to the Carolina Grill
in the Stonegate area near Zionsville. http://www.mycarolinagrill.com/
Indiana tenderloins can be found in all classes of restaurants and pubs even in the more upscale places. Here is the Carolina Grill tenderloin with buffalo chips.
The next evening I attended my annual Speedway high school reunion always held the Friday night before the Indy 500 race at Grindstone Charley's
restaurant in Speedway on Crawfordsville Rd. Johnny Parsons Jr. was our honored guest. Johnny was a childhood Speedway contemporary who went on to race in 12 Indy 500s. On this night, Grindstone Charley's tenderloin is named after me on the menu. It was excellent as always.
I'm not finished. For lunch the next day we went to Plump's Last Shot
in Broad Ripple on Cornell Ave. right off the Monon walking trail for a tenderloin. We sat outside on the patio. It seemed everyone there had their dogs with them. I understand that is a new trend in the outdoor patio seating at many restaurants. It was interesting. The tenderloin itself was another excellent tenderloin.
Sunday was race day. We sat in the 4th turn Northwest Vista stands. The Indy Grill
concession stand served the Jumbo Tenderloin. It was pre-packaged but not too bad. The idea was to have a tenderloin at the race. I went down midway around lap 100 and was informed by the concessionaire that I got their last one. I took it up into the stands and had my wife hold it up with the backdrop of the race cars coming around the 4th turn.
We then headed home yesterday and took a more circuitous route through Iowa adding about 20 extra miles and stopped at the claimed world's largest truck stop, the Iowa 80
in Wolcott on I-80 outside Bettendorf and Davenport. The tenderloin itself was nothing but average but it made number 8 in four states to end the tour.
After a short week of rest and catching up at home in Minnesota we headed out in our Pleasure-Way Class B camper van again on June 1 with the intent of meeting up with 19 other B van traveling enthusiasts representing 12 states and Canada as far away as Arizona, New Jersey, Texas and Louisiana. The place was Niobrara State Park
in northeast Nebraska where the Niobrara River flows into the Missouri River. The Lewis & Clark Expedition stopped there in September 1804 and met with the peaceful Ponca indians.
But first we made a slight diversion toward Pipestone, Minnesota and as we neared Pipestone we crossed the Buffalo Ridge dividing the Missouri River flowage from the the Mississippi River flowage. The natural crest was dotted with windmills stretching for miles. Minnesota gets a significant percentage of its electricity from the wind.
Our primary destination on this diversion was Pipestone National Monument
where indians came to quarry the red rock made from clay buried below limestone in shallow layer. This stone is a soft red stone about as pliable as your finger nail. It was used mainly for carving ceremonial pipes. The park has an interpretive center, pipe carving demonstrations and a 3/4 mile easy walk through the quarries.
Waterfalls, ponds, quarries and exposed rock formations are part of the walk. This is the waterfall.
This is a more refined and finish quarry near the interpretive center.
Pipestone is also a well known road food stopping place for lunch. Lange's Cafe
is located there and their triple decker cheese sandwich graces the cover of Jane and Michael Stern's 2005 edition RoadFood
book. So for a warm up to get our road food juices flowing again we had the Rueben sandwich and the triple decker. We posted them lapping like the book photo but as you can see they did not come out as nice and pristine if you are familiar with the book. But they were tasty.
We arrived at our destination, Niobrara State Park. This is a view of the Missouri River from the high point in the park.
The next morning we made a scouting trip to the nearby Flyway Cafe
about a mile from our campground. The intent was to meet with the owner, Laura, and get assurance she could deliver breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches later in the week to our group. This was critical because breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches were not on their menu. Our local host laid the groundwork for us on this. The Flyway Cafe is strictly a local place that caters seasonally to hunters. We noted one group of men hung around until about 9 AM and we overheard one fella get up and say we gotta get out of here for the second shift and true as said a second group of even older men arrived. We tried their recommended French toast.
Later in the week we Bs swarmed the Flyway Cafe after the lunch hour and after the locals had cleared out to have our breaded pork tenderloin feast. Had we gone earlier the BPTs might have confused the locals. A few lingered and wondered curiously about us I'm sure. There has probably never been a time in history where a small cafe was swarmed with so many motorhomes with over 30 people.
Once inside everyone waited patiently as the cafe worked to deliver 30 tenderloins.
The breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches were excellent. They were true tenderloins fried to perfection. Choice of sides included fries, curly fries, pasta or potato salad. I opted for the potato salad since it was their signature specialty. The potato salad recipe was made by grating cooked potatoes instead of cubing or chopping them with a knife.
Most of our other meals were at the campground. We generally had community potlucks. On one I tried out my new cast iron Dutch oven for the first time. I made a stew cooking over charcoal. I manned the pot and my sous chef and wife Nancy chopped up the ingredients. The Dutch oven has three legs to bridge above the coals and a lipped lid to hold coals on top. Amazingly on first try it worked to perfection. The coals lasted for 2-1/2 hours and maintained a steady boil and simmer without burning. The stew went fast at the potluck.
After four nights we all disbanded and headed on our way on Thursday morning. Some of us had also attended to B Rally in the Hocking Hills area in southern Ohio in May and some of us will once again gather at Moab, Utah near Arches NP again in October.
The weather, despite rains and storms had cooperated during the week. On the morning we departed tornado warnings were issued for the park. We managed to get out before that storm came through and we watched another storm cell behind us passing through into Iowa. We decided to loop south through Iowa on our way home because north of us South Dakota and Minnesota were getting the brunt of the storms. Well, that's my excuse. It was now serious BPT time.
The first stop was lunch at the Dairy Sweet in Dunlap. IA
home of the 2005 Iowa Pork Producers Association best breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.
I had already sampled the 2003 winner at Darrell's Place in Hamlin, the 2006 winner at the Townhouse Supper Club in Wellsburg and the 2007 winner at Larsen's in Elk Horn. They are called "Tenders" at the Dairy Sweet. Just looking at this sandwich makes your mouth water and indeed it was excellent. Where would I rate it on the winner of winners scale in Iowa? I would put it better than Larsen's and Darrell's Place and neck and neck with the Townhouse Supper Club.
After, since storms were still chasing our tail, we decided to move on east toward Ames, IA. We ended up at Ledges State Park early enough to consider dinner and another BPT. With threats from my wife about my arteries and cholesterol, I won out with the promise we would get home earlier the next day by not hanging around long enough for another lunch in Iowa. That place was the 2004 IPPA winner, the Suburban Restaurant in Gilbert
on Highway 69 about 6 miles north of Ames.http://www.suburbanrestaurant.com/
This winner is probably the least known and mentioned of the five winners so far but I have to give it the nod over the others. For one the meat was the tenderest of the bunch and the frying was perfection with no excess grease.
Nancy had a salad. I have to admit two in one day is a bit much so I showed no disrespect for the sandwich but constraint and doggy bagged half of it. Since Nancy had done the same at the Dairy Sweet we had them for breakfast the next morning. Microwaving them for 40 seconds does the trick. We lucked out once again with storms and tornado warnings passing both east and west of us but did get some rain. Exploring the park located on the Des Moines River was spoiled because intervening Pease Creek was flooding the roadway through the park.
We then headed for home. Having now sampled Iowa's best I can relax, restore my arteries, stay home and await the 2008 IPPA winner before heading out again in September with stops again in Iowa and Missouri for more BPT.