A TINY HOUSE IN OMAHA

I still haven’t told you guys about all the beautiful things I saw on my road trip this past summer. That being said, I’ve also spared you detailed stories of all the times since the road trip that life was rude and I became fused with the couch and proceeded to watch Vince Gill singing at George Jones’ funeral over and over on my iPad (if you EVER need a good cry, my lord, that clip.) 

One of these days, I’m simply going to use this blog as an outlet in which I solely write in detail about my feelings and dramatic sensitivities. The blog will either go insanely viral or be blocked by corporate servers all over the country. Okay, ANYWAY, I must tell you about Omaha. Three major things–humidity, steak, tiny house. Enough humidity to prevent eyeglasses to be worn effectively outdoors, the best steak I’ve have ever had in my life (hi, Drover Restaurant, I love you more than anything!), and Jamie Hiner’s tiny house.

Sincerely, this night was one of the most unique and special experiences. Now, look at this perfect picture and then click to read more in order to really understand what in the world I’m even talking about and what a tiny house even means.

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TYLER’S BARBEQUE

This red building using its unassuming yellow marquee to entice each passerby with mention of their chopped barbecue beef sandwich (or as the sign simply puts it “chop beef”), became a cathedral of sorts to quite the religious experience for me. This particular overcast Tuesday began for me in New Mexico but found me 285 miles east, in Amarillo, for lunch.

Tyler Frazer’s place was not one that I simply stumbled upon. Before heading out to the largest city in the Texas panhandle, I did my research. Since I was only going to be in town for one hour and one meal, it had to be the best. All research, including customer reviews and an article in Amarillo Magazine calling it the best BBQ joint in Amarillo, had me set to visit Paramount Boulevard. Now, this lunch stop also signified my first entry back into a lifestyle that includes eating meat, which I’m happily rolling with, for the time being.

Tyler may serve up a pretty standard selection of barbecue items for this area but there is absolutely nothing standard about the way he’s serving them up.

After a lovely welcome and a knowing mention from Tyler about my first venture back into the world of eating meat, I ordered a combination plate of ribs and brisket with beans, slaw, and potato salad. I also considered trying their best selling item, the chopped beef sandwich–finely chopped brisket with bbq sauce on a roll.

However, I had already at this point on my road trip, developed a distinct pattern of eating too much at my lunch pitstop and then proceeding to have an utter meltdown where I was convinced that I couldn’t carry on, like a child who desperately needs a nap.

The ribs were smile-inducingly flavorful and wore a perfect halo of mesquite flavor. I later discovered, in Memphis, that ribs made with a dry rub can be so overly spiced that one bite will cause all the moisture to be instantly pillaged from your mouth via salt army attack. In turn, sometimes the smoke flavor can be so aggressive that you are unable to locate the spices and flavor of the meat, itself, underneath the smoke haze.

What are the opposites of pillage and haze? These were that. I am usually a bbq sauce over-saucing fanatic when it comes to ribs and I barely needed it, they were just that good. I used a touch of the Red Panther sauce on my ribs and it had a perfect sweet start with a kicking-back-at-me finish.  (Side note–George Straight’s ‘Amarillo by Morning’ just started playing on the radio, I think it’s a sign.)

Tyler doesn’t believe in leftovers. He makes the amount of fresh food he believes he will sell that day and that’s it. Just as much as it I’m sure they instills fear in folks hungry for his food, his simple brown paper “SOLD OUT” signs (like this one here) are also a symbol of his dedication to freshness and when used, a reinforcement of how dedicated and in love his customers are with the food he serves.

If you follow him on Twitter and Facebook, you see that the sign is not a rare occurrence (he always shares the bad news for you, good news for him through social media). Tyler did tell me that if there were in fact leftovers, he has a backup plan. The brisket is used in the beans and the ribs he takes down to a Children’s Home nearby.

As far as sides go, I fell in quick and shameless love with the beans–the brisket inside of them was ridiculously unforgettable. I mean, look at them. As I mentioned earlier, I ended up gorging myself here on a Tuesday, so I missed Mac & Cheese Thursday. I’ve learned to accept and not regret this failure, on my part.

After I had my fill, Tyler gave me a little behind-the-scenes peek into his process. Once I got behind the counter and passed through the kitchen, to reach the smoker, there were no microwaves or freezers in sight. I guess you don’t need them if you don’t use them.

I’ve read that most of the barbecue around Amarillo is smoked with hickory but not the case here, it’s all mesquite. Not mesquite found somewhere easily reached in town but from 100 miles away because of course, it’s been deemed the best. My understanding from Tyler is that a fire built with mesquite is trickier to get right but it seems more effort for a better product is the trend.

When the restaurant opened back in 2010, Tyler would come in before the sun rose to load the smokers himself and then stay past closing. Now, growth of his business and in turn, his team, has allowed him to have a guy who comes in to prep for the day ahead and load up.

I got a chance to peek at some ribs that had just begun their journey towards a dinner plate. It was my first time around a smoker of this magnitude, I totally get why barbeque dudes wield the power of their smokers. It’s quite the macho feeling. I felt a little bit macho but more so scared of the heat and the fire that made my eyeballs feel like they were getting a sunburn.

I can’t conclude my overly gushing (but completely true) post about this place without talking about how wonderful Tyler and his team were. From witnessing Tyler check in with each guest in the dining room while I chowed down (including one fellow who I was told comes in multiple times a day, some days) to Tyler’s mother delivering the mail and even a little hello my way, it made me thrilled that I didn’t live in Amarillo because I would be a million pounds.

Seriously, go eat here.

Tyler’s Barbeque // 2014 Paramount Blvd. Amarillo, Texas 79109 // twitter & facebook

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LOVELESS CAFE

Nashville really swept me right off my feet and I’m actually happy to say I didn’t document much with my camera for the entire two days and a few hours that I was there. Too be honest, one part was because I was having the most amazing time taking it in and the other part was because I had a little bit of a meltdown. A meltdown pretty much fueled by exhaustion, a little bit of life, and then more exhaustion. There will be more to come on my time spent in Nashville but this post is dedicated to the darling and delicious, Loveless Cafe. 

Located in southwest Nashville, off highway 100, the Loveless Motel and Cafe has been serving up amazing southern food since 1951. Martha Stewart is known to have called the Loveless Cafe the best breakfast she ever had. I’ve heard it’s not a good idea to disagree with Martha on many topics, one of them being breakfast. I was warned by a few locals that it can get quite crowded and there can be a hefty wait but even though it was Sunday morning, I got so lucky and walked right in and was gifted a table by the sweet hostess. 

Within two minutes of settling into my nook of a table, as if they came down from heaven, I got my plate of their world-famous biscuits and jam. They make 4,000 to 7,000 biscuits every day. So in comparison, the five that I ate don’t even count. And yes, they gave a table of only little ol’ me, a plate of five biscuits. Oh, and for free. I wonder if Red Lobster knows they got crushed at the free biscuit game.

The plate came with three homemade jams–apricot, strawberry, and boysenberry. Without a doubt, my favorite was boysenberry because of that tiny bit of tartness that offsets the sweet jam. 

My waiter highly recommended the chicken-fried steak, as one of their house specialties and his personal favorite. He said it was between that or the fried chicken. Now, I had specific fried chicken aspirations in Nashville, so I had to go with the first choice. It was incredibly crisp and evenly so.

The inside though, oh goodness, in such contrast was so tender. There was no shoe leather, dog growling pulling meat with teeth, struggles to be found. It was perfectly seasoned and what really impressed me was that it wasn’t too salty–it was just right. So many times, when it comes to heavy dishes, I find that everything goes overboard simply because the dish is indulgent. They proved that just because it’s a splurge, doesn’t mean it can’t be easy handed and delicate. 

It was strongly and enthusiastically suggested that I get the hash brown casserole as my side dish. This glorious concoction consisted of hash brown potatoes, who knows how much cheese, probably a whole bunch of cream and milk, and sour cream. Potatoes, cream, and cheese are one thing but the crispy texture of starting with hash browns and the sour cream that gave the casserole the most incredible tang. 

The coffee mug absolutely stole my heart. I knew instantly that I needed to roll myself over to the on-site store after breakfast and buy a couple for morning coffee time when I one day, got back home.

The 14-room motel portion of the Loveless became no more in 1985 and it wasn’t until its current new owner, in 2004, that the Loveless Hams & Jams Country Market opened. By the time I was at the shop, there were equal numbers of hungry customers passing their time waiting for a table and stuffed full customers, buying a taste of their breakfast to take home.

The market has endless souvenirs as well as of course…hams and jams. They also have biscuit mix (I called one of these my own), fried chicken breading,  and signature seasoning blends. Luckily, they do have an online shop, that I just spent 35 minutes drooling over.

Without a doubt, no trip to Nashville will ever be complete for me without a little Loveless.

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