Mom eats steak, and gets cranky
We took a road trip this weekend, driving from Pittsburgh down to North Carolina, and decided to break the trip up by spending the first night in Beckley, West Virginia. Leaving Pittsburgh around rush hour and dealing with the construction on 79S is not for the faint-hearted, and we were ready for dinner by the time we reached Clarksburg, where we stopped at a franchise steakhouse called the Texas Roadhouse. I had a decent steak, properly grilled, and Poppy’s wasn’t too bad, either. The “house-baked” bread on the table had the taste and texture of sweet rolls, and the dinner salads were a fairly forgettable mixture of mostly iceberg lettuce with a few darker greens, shredded cheddar cheese, and cherry tomatoes, dressed with a very sweet vinaigrette. We each got the baked sweet potato which was as big as a baby’s head, and could have, but didn’t, order them “loaded” with marshmallows and caramel sauce. We also opted not to get our steaks “smothered” with jack cheese, fried onions or mushrooms, or brown gravy. Judging by the heft of the other restaurant patrons, a lot of loading and smothering goes on there.
The trouble began after dinner; I knew we had 2-3 hours of driving left before bedtime and wanted a cup of coffee, preferably a large one. The restaurant didn’t serve coffee but there was a McDonald’s in the same shopping center. I had heard about their new bold roast and thought this would be a good time to try it since there wasn’t another coffeeshop in sight. I entered the store and grilled the manager about just how premium the roast actually is and he assured me that it tastes strong and good, so I ordered a large cup. But before he poured it I thought to ask him if he also had real cream or half & half, to which he replied that they serve “low-fat creamer”! Now, this may be illogical and inconsistent, but I drink my first cup of coffee in the morning black, but like my subsequent 1-2 cups with cream, real cream. The morning cup delivers that jolt of caffeine that I need, and the others are more in the order of treats, if you know what I mean. What I don’t understand is that if McDonald’s is going to streamline their menu and make it healthier, why start with the cream?! So naturally, I cancelled the order and left in a huff.
But then, resuming our journey south through West Virginia, there was no coffee to be had anywhere, even though as time passed I began revising my standards downward, even being willing to drink Sheets coffee because I know they have real half & half at least. (Tip: if you are ever in a position where you have to drink Sheets coffee do not bother with the “European Blend” because it is a truly foul, burnt rubber-tasting concoction). But there weren’t even any Sheets convenience stores, let alone any Wawas, the acme of convenience stores; what they have instead down there are “Go-Marts”, and eventually the need for fuel and the bathroom forced us to stop at one of them, where I did try their brew, and a weak and watery one it was. The truth is that they really don’t seem to care much about coffee south of the Mason-Dixon Line, unless you’re in a college town or big city.
More highlights and photos of my weekend will continue as time permits. I have the contractors coming in this week and have to empty my kitchen! :(