Live Trip Map Day 11: January 3, 2009
A Bonus Day
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Any day you start by looking over a French Broad just has to be a good one, especially if you do that looking from the side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even though I had kept my northbound pace low, having Key West turn into a day trip and not staying put on Christmas day had me ahead of where I thought I'd be. I had counted on an expressway dash home and I'll still do that but it doesn't have to start immediately. Closed sections and my own schedule ruled out a major excursion on the BRP but I could work in a few miles. I followed US-70 east from Asheville to the Parkway and enjoyed a drive west to where it crosses the French Broad River.

That also happens to be near NC-191 which leads to the Moose Cafe which happens to be where I intended to eat breakfast. I just love it when a slap-dash last-minute plan comes together. So that you don't go hungry while waiting for your order, they give you one of the fresh-baked big-as-your-fist biscuits and some delicious apple butter that is chunky enough to be a fruit salsa.

I have two stories for this panel. The first is about a book. My sailor son's family sent me the book for Christmas. I knew it was a book but I didn't know what book until I unwrapped it in my motel room on Christmas day and discovered Jane & Michael Stern's "Roadfood". Perfect. I thought I'd get some use out of it just one night later in Key Largo. I found the place that fit the description of the Cracked Conch but it was closed and there was no apparent identification. It was still not open when I left town the next day and a hand lettered sign identified it as La Cuccina. The Cracked Conch has been gone awhile. So I targeted Key West. The Blue Heaven sounded good and both of the Ohioans I met at Schooner's recommended it. In fact, one guy's description of the lobster Benedict had my mouth watering. But no room in Key West meant no breakfast in Key West. T-Ray's Station, where I ate on New Year's Eve, is in the book but, since I had already planned on going there because of Heat-Moon's mention, I couldn't give the Sterns credit. But the book worked today. Litton's is in the book, is in business, and was open.

So that's how I got to Litton's Market-Restaurant-Bakery in Knoxville, Tennessee. What I got there was the Italian cream cake. I had just put away that Moose Cafe breakfast a couple of hours ago so knew I couldn't handle a 'burger. The Sterns singled out the cream cake so that's what I went for. Superb! As I was taking the cake's picture, a voice behind me said, "That cake's better than it looks. Trust me." That voice belonged to Erik Nick Litton who chatted happily about the 'burgers, the bakery, the market, and the history then offered to show me around the place after I'd eaten my cake. The business started as a grocery, became a meat market, started serving meals, and added a bakery. The famous hamburgers are made from freshly ground beef and served on freshly baked buns. I just gotta get back for one of those. The restaurant is obviously going strong and the bakery has started doing mail order in the last year, and, yeah, they still have a meat counter.

ADDENDUM: Aug 29, 2010 - When I did at last get back for that hamburger, I learned that it was Nick and not Erik who had given me the grand tour. I'm guessing that I met Erik briefly and just got the names confused.

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