Boston Butt, Cioppino, Dublin, and Why We Don’t Regret Missing Homecoming

Jason Getz/AJC

As some of you may or may not know, Kaia and I are alumni of Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, respectively.  This past weekend was the annual joint Homecoming weekend and we had a wonderful time…in Dublin, GA.  Wait, what?  Why did we decide to go to didn’t-even-know-there-was-a-Dublin-in-Georgia Dublin, GA? We’ll sometimes, you just need to get away.  So, let’s get to the recap!

Last week, one of my co-workers was telling me about an excellent hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint that’s right up the road from where I live.  Ribs, pulled pork, Boston butt, etc.  I was like, “Oh really?”  He sold me on this being one of the better BBQ spots in the area, so I decided to stop by on my way to Dublin.  Now even though my co-worker sold me on this spot, he didn’t do a lot to help me get there.  First off, he didn’t know the name of the restaurant.  And his directions consisted of “Take the main street down the center of town, turn left at the dead end, and it’s on your right somewhere.”  Not really all that illustrative, but I was game so there you have it.

Upon leaving work on Friday, I make my way towards a restaurant I don’t know the name nor the exact location of.  I get to the town of Folkston and drive through the center.  There’s the dead end, so I turn left.  I see no BBQ joint.  So I circle around, drive around, hit a left, hit a right, and still no signs.  I then go back to the beginning of “Main St.” and make a right this time.  What is that in the distance, I see.  Is that a smokestack?  Why yes it is…coming from a Burger King.  Normally at this point, I would have charged it to the game and continued on to Dublin.  But I had some serious determination in me.  I decided to make one final sweep.  Driving slower than Miss Daisy, I spot a sign that said “Jalen’s BBQ” out of the corner of my eye. Yes! Whether this was the right place or not (it was), I was going to stop and get some BBQ damn it!  I decided to go with a Boston butt. At $26, it was a bargain since going out to eat would cost at least that with no leftovers.  Satisfied, I made my way to Dublin.

I arrived at the hotel first, got checked in, and waited upon the arrival of my beautiful bride.  As the clock ticked, that BBQ started smelling real good. “She needs to hurry up,” I said to myself.  Then she arrived.  I got mind control over Deebo.  Anyway, she brought with her a six pack of Angry Orchard hard cider.  Let’s eat!  Being as prepared as I am, I brought along a knife, paper plates, chips, and BBQ sauce.  We set up a little dining area, then I commenced to slicing away at the butt.  It was pretty darn good, I must say. As I sliced away at the porcine gold, someone kept coming behind me and snatching various bits of meat and fat before dinner officially started. I’m not naming names, but she’s short, from New Jersey, and likes purple.  At any rate, we chowed down on some smokey pig, drank hard cider, and plotted our culinary adventure for the next day.

The plan was to hit up Cake Art and Williamson’s Bakery and stash various sweets, then head to Deano’s Italian for lunch.  When we got to Cake Art, I notice that you have to spend $20 in order to use a
credit card.  That’s a whole lotta confection, with another bakery to hit up.  Oh well, Team Tyson doesn’t play by rules.  So we headed in to check out their wares, and theselection was tempting.  An array of cookies, cupcakes, barks, and pops greeted us.  After much consternation we decided on six cupcakes, a rice krispies pop, chocolate covered pecans, and cookies and cream bark.  Yes, I nice haul for sure.  Next stop was Williamson’s Bakery.  The only thing you need to know about this spot is the two pound oatmeal pie they sell.  Yes, it’s AT LEAST two pounds.  This thing is like the Rock of Gibraltar with a sweet tooth.  A confectioner’s conflagration of hubris, daring, and batsh*t insanity.  And it was only $2?!?  Come on now.  I’m surprised we didn’t get two of ’em.




The next stop was Deano’s.  Now Dublin is a small town in middle Georgia, with a definite small town feel.  I’d never expect a restaurant of this magnitude to be nestled in the middle of Georgia.  That probably says more about me, than it does about Dublin but I digress.  Kaia and I had visited Deano’s earlier in the year and were blown away by their shrimp & grits and pizza.  Nothing, however, could prepare us for this meal.  We started off with the Roman fries.

That’s french fries dusted with fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, and various herbs.  If that’s not sexy enough, they were served with a dipping sauce that was magical.  As we continually stuffed our face, we decided on cioppino and bacon-spinach pizza for entrees.  After quickly dispatching the fries, our entrees arrived.  The bowl of cioppino caught our noses, then our eyes.  Mussels, fish, and shrimp swam among pasta in a thick aromatic sauce.  I portioned it out into two smaller bowls.  One taste of the broth, and we both knew that we were in the presence of greatness.

I don’t want to say that this cioppino moved me in a religious manner…but it pretty much moved me in a religious manner.  Dear God, no sauce should taste that good.  We asked the waitress to bring us some bread so we could sop up the sauce.  Man, did we sop that sauce.  After we finished, we still had sauce left over.  So of course we took it back in a styrofoam cup.  It would have been a crime to let that quarter cup of sauce get thrown away.  Oh yeah, the spinach-bacon pizza was stupid good.

But that cioppino?  That cioppino?!? Ya’ll don’t even know…

For the rest of the afternoon, I watched football and Kaia napped.  For dinner?  Boston butt and some microwaveable side dishes we got from Wal Mart.  We could only get through about a quarter of the sweets we bought for dessert.  But you know what?  We ate another quarter of the sweets for Sunday breakfast.  Why?  Cause we grown, that’s why.  This past weekend was pure unadulterated Team Tyson.  And that’s just how we like it.


Honeymoon Day 8 – Teddy Bears, Poutine, Montreal and The Sinking Suspicion Of Being Laughed At

The day started off with a bit of lethargy.  Still feeling the effects of overeating the night before, the Tysons decided to sleep in and imitate sloths for much of the morning.  Neither of us moved with any sort of alacrity, and you’ll never see two people move with such disregard to energy.  That being said, guess what we had for breakfast? Leftover pizza, leftover sausage macaroni and cheese, and shoofly pie.  What?  We didn’t want to take leftovers to Canada. Don’t judge us, though we probably are worthy of a side eye or two.  Nevertheless, we finally got our stuff together and checked out of the hotel around 10:55, the latest we’ve checked out so far.

Next stop on the mystical magical tour was the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.  It was actually pretty fun.  We signed up for the tour, which was quite entertaining.  The tour guide took us through the entire process, and I have to admit that I wanted one afterwards.  The bears come in several different flavors, i.e colors, and you can get their clothes customized however you want.  If you run your bear over with a lawnmower, they’ll fix it or replace it for free.  How great is that?  And I can’t believe I’m waxing poetic about teddy bears.  Honeymoons mess with your brain, man.  For real.  Anyway, the place is mad cool.  The only slight drawback is the cost of the bears.  They are a tad pricey.  If you can swing it, cool.  If not, take a picture it’ll last longer.

After leaving teddy bear paradise, we hit I-89N and made our way to Oh Canada.  As we rode, Kaia read through the French translation book in a last ditch effort to ensure we didn’t look completely like ugly Americans upon arrival.  I can safely say that we still got a few warts and a couple of crooked noses.  C’est la vie.  [See what I did?]  Anyhoo, the ride through Vermont towards the border was majestic.  We didn’t even bother attempting to take pictures.  You gotta be there in person.  However, the funny part of the trip was the tension, anxiety, and nervousness we felt as we got closer to the border.  Would border control stop us?  Would they bring the dogs out?  Would they cavity search us, then strip search us?

Our fears were unfounded, it seems.  Although there was some slight tension as we pulled up to the guard.

Guard: And where are you from?

Me: Umm. Uh…United States.

Guard: Yeah, I know. Where from in the US?

Me: Umm, Atlanta?

For some reason, I thought they’d turn us around or shoot us if they didn’t like where we were from.  Hey man, I don’t know how gangsta they are in Canada.  I got nervous.  At any rate, we made it through without further incident. And as soon as we pulled off we realized that we were no longer in the States because the metric system hit us in the face.  The speed limit was 90…km/h.  What the?  Now I have to do math, while driving in a foreign country?  Thankfully my wife pointed out that the speedometer had km/h underneath the mp/h.  Like I said, I was a little nervous.

So we eventually get to our hotel and begin plotting dinner for the night.  Kaia has wanted to try poutine for the longest time, and we found a spot that received rave reviews for their poutine.  They are also purveyors of smoked meat, so yeah!  We looked out as Jarry Smoked Meat is just a frog’s jump from the hotel.  As we walked towards the entrance, all we heard was French.  Oh no.  The maitre’d  merely asked “Deux? and took us to our seat.  After a moment, the waitress came by, said something in French and gave us water.  The next time she comes to the table she starts speaking English.  We’re both like “How did you know?” Well we didn’t respond to her French the 1st time around, and I was wearing a Braves t-shirt and an Old Navy hat with a US flag on it.  I felt like such an American douchebag flaunting his American-ness in a foreign country.  Everyone in the restaurant probably went home and made fun of me.

Oh well, the food was awesome.  We started off with karnatzel sausage.  Think Slim Jim, but about two million times better.  It was a great starter for the meal to come.

We ordered poutine and Montreal style pizza with smoked meat.  The poutine was sublime.  Kaia figured they put cinnamon in the gravy, and boy did that make a difference.  The pizza was stupid.  I don’t know how they make their dough but I’m thinking they use brioche and french bread techniques.  The pizza was essentially deep dish but the crust was light, crunchy and flaky.  The meat was smoked to perfection.  It was the bomb dinner.  Even though we loved dinner, we learned our lesson and didn’t overeat.  See, no need for any further scorn or side eyes…


Honeymoon Day 7 – Vistas, Crostada, Vermont and The Striking Inability To Write A Recap With A Full Stomach

Whew!  What. A. Day.  This may have been the busiest day of the entire trip.  We started the day with a quick drive up to the King Arthur Baker’s Store.  This spot is the mecca of baking products.  They had all different kinds of flour, mixes, chocolates, sugars, utensils, appliances, and so on and so forth.  Kaia and I were like, “Damn, we could drop $5,000 in this mug.”  Nevertheless, our primary purpose wasn’t shopping it was to watch a live cooking demo.  The chef prepared a zucchini feta cheese crostada.

We picked up some tips on how to make a tender and flaky dough, and trust, those tips will be implemented when we get back home.  After the demo, the chef put the crostada in the oven for 20 minutes.  We had to taste it, so we stuck around…to do some shopping.  You’ll be glad to know that we only spent $22, when $100-150 could’ve been easily spent.  Go ahead, pat us on the back.  We’ll wait.  Anyway, the crostada was excellent.  I’m pretty sure I found a new friend.

As we made our way north through Vermont, we were awestruck by the ridiculous vistas we encountered.  The foliage, hills, mountains, and rock formations were damn cool.  I tried to take pictures, but they couldn’t do justice.  You won’t get a feel for the depth, the textures, hell even the air quality that you would if you were actually here.  Pretty awesome.

Anyway, next on the list was Morse Farm Sugarworks to check out some maple syrup.  You could tell they were the real deal because they were unlike any “maple syrup” I’d ever had from Wal-Mart.  One even tasted like maple liquor.  Yeah, I know.  Oh so tempting, yes?  We bought a more subtle variation, but if we ever come back I may have to put my paws on that maple liquor.

“We’re not done.  We’re not done. We’re not done. Check this out.”  The day was not over yet, not by a long shot.  Because we can be a tad eccentric, we decided to hit up Liberty Tea Company.  I was a little shaky about going there, because I wasn’t sure it would interesting enough.  I also thought planning a wedding could be a piece of cake.  So, yeah I can be a bit of a dumbass.  Turns out the tea shop was the dope.  They had about a thousand different flavors.  Basic, exotic combinations, isht I ain’t never seen nor heard of before.  The proprietor even had a “block of tea,” which is a huge block of caked tea that mongols used as currency a thousand years ago.  After sampling two hot and two cold teas, we finally made our purchases.  This was another shop we could’ve dropped over $100 in, but we limited ourselves to $22 again.  Yeah!

Ben & Jerry’s. True dat.  Next on the agenda was the famous ice cream factory.  We signed up for the tour, which admittedly had some filler, but was still entertaining.  We learned the history of the company, how their ice cream is made, and got to sample a new flavor that had not hit the stores yet – cheery malt.  I’m not usually a fan of malt, but the malt combined with cherry was right tasty.  (Think the flavor of a cherry Italian ice combined with the middle of a Whopper malt ball.)

We then decided to stand in line for a half hour to get some ice cream.  I went hard in the paint like Charles Oakley on a horse steroid bender.  I got two scoops of Triple Caramel Chunk and one scoop of 7 Layer coconut Bar in a large chocolate dipped cone waffle cone.  That’s so gangsta, prissy chicks don’t wanna mess with me.  Kaia went with a small cup of Late Night Snack.  It has chocolate covered chips and a stream of salted caramel, which actually works.

Our last stop was the Flavor Graveyard to pay respect to those fallen flavors that people stopped liking or never liked in the first place. I think I saw Kaia swipe a tear for Rainforest Crunch.

But wait! The day still wasn’t over because we had to eat dinner.  We found an Italian place called Lui Lui, which sowed the final seed of our destruction.  We started off with some bread and dipping sauce.  Apparently, too much bread and dipping sauce. Then a boat full of buffalo chicken dip with homemade potato chips made it’s way to our table.  We ran out of chips, so obviously we asked the waiter for more bread.  Then we received our entrees.  Kaia got the lobster ravioli, and I got a sausage, peppers, ricotta flatbread.

Halfway through the meal, we looked at each other and went “Uh oh.”  My stomach felt like I was carrying twin toddlers.  Kaia didn’t look to be in much better shape.  But that’s still not the end, because the waiter brought us a complimentary brownie sundae because we were on our honeymoon.  Seriously?!? The button on my jeans is about to fly off and take someone’s eye out and this dude is bringing free food.  Well, we couldn’t be rude so we eat the ice cream and pick at the brownie.

Walking back to the car was a bit of a struggle.  Walking from the car to the hotel was a bigger struggle.  Writing this recap was like running a freaking marathon with this guy on my back.  What a day.  And we still have another week to go.  Lawd’ a mercy…

It’s About Them Pictures On The Wall

As we made our way up the coast, we made a quick detour to Piscataway which is Kaia’s home town. We saw her old house, elementary school, and high school. But the highlight was a trip to Dominick’s, a pizzeria. Kaia had been bragging about it for some time, and I was eager to try. Upon inhaling both of my slices, I must say that it does represent. Kaia toyed with the idea of never eating anyone else’s pizza.

Now we sit and contemplate what to do next. Pretty sure a nap will be on the menu.