Home again

September 19, 2010

Well, it was a pleasant weekend in Memphis and East Arkansas, highlighted by Child A’s birthday party Friday, a fine Razorback football game and a great horseback ride Saturday, and lunch at an old favorite today.

It is alleged Child A is 29. I don’t believe this can be true, because I am certainly not old enough to have birthed a child who is now 29. Though in the wake of yesterday’s horseback ride, my first in two years, more red wine than I ought to have drank, and today’s drive home, I feel every bit of the age my driver’s license says I am. Anyway, the kid had a good birthday, I think, and I managed to keep my heart from stopping several times during the fourth quarter of the Razorback win Saturday. Friend Kate and I celebrated by giving her two horses a good workout, not to mention me; it’d been two years since I’d been on a horse, though there was a time in my past that I spent a good deal of time on one. My rear end, today, is reminding me quite forcefully that it’s been a long time since I’ve ridden.Won’t be that long  before I go again, though. Gonna have to do some butt-toughening.

I cooked the corn-and-shrimp saute for Kate, who admitted it was good and then told me she had almost turned down my suggestion we cook it because “it just didn’t sound like it’d go together.” But, she agreed, it does. I’m still not sure how five ingredients — corn, butter, green onions, basil, shrimp — all team up to make something that’s just altogether more than the sum of the parts, but it damn-sho does, and if I learned nothing else this summer, it was worth it to learn how to make that.

Recipe’s somewhere in the August archives. If anyone knows how to index recipes on WordPress, if they’d let me know, I’d be most appreciative.

Our route back home today took us through the thriving metropolis of Bald Knob, Arkansas (don’t laugh, that’s really the name of the place), and as it was shortly after lunchtime, I decided I’d introduce NS to one of the finer culinary institutions in the state — the Bulldog.

No, it is not a cooked bulldog. Nor is it a dish named for the school’s mascot. It is, rather, a restaurant, upscaled somewhat from when I first started dropping in there 20 years or more ago, when it was the Bulldog Drive-In.

The Bulldog is perhaps best known for its strawberry shortcake, but strawberries are no longer in season, more’s the pity. But besides the usual plethora of dairy bar desserts, they have a fine selection of homemade pies, including a pecan that can make me swoon. But first I had to get TO the pie, via lunch, which today was a barbecued chicken plate. (NS had a burger, because he had not had one in 36 hours.) There was catfish on the menu,  but I wasn’t in catfish mode. I started for pulled pork, but I thought, ehhh, chicken would be good.

Good does not begin to describe this chicken. It came out a goodly portion of chopped and shredded light a dark meat, with a delicious smoky flavor permeating it. The sauce, in a cup on the side, was peppery and tangy. The very simple slaw was mayo-based, slightly sweet, not very wet. The beans were dense and rich, with a hint of that tangy, peppery sauce and a hint of brown sugar in their tomatoey base. A damn fine lunch for five bucks, plus drink and dessert.

Oh. And that dessert. The pecan pie was absolutely ethereal. First, if I don’t miss my guess, that pie crust was made with lard. I haven’t had pie crust with lard since my grandmother used to make them more years ago than I care to remember. The custard was astonishingly light on the tongue — I’m thinking the eggs were either beaten within an inch of their lives, or maybe even separated and the whites whipped — and sinfully rich. The crusty top where the pecans congregate  was wonderfully caramelized, the nuts just a little toasty.

They mangled it a little getting it on the plate, but I did not care. It was worth the trip. And most assuredly worth the buck ninety five they get for it.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em check out the Bulldog the next time you’re headed through Bald Knob.

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