Friday, May 29, 2015

30 Biscuits Found in Arkansas.

On a blue-rimmed plate, under a slosh of gravy or stuffed with breakfast protein, Arkansas has its fair share of biscuits  To celebrate National Biscuit Day, here's a selection of some of those fluffy wonders.

The largest biscuits I have found have been at Meacham's Family Restaurant
in Ash Flat.  We're taking ridiculously large.

The Old South in Russellville still makes its own.

So does the Bellwood Diner in North Little Rock, though one of the biscuits
on this plate is a bit dark.

They're an important part of a delicious breakfast at Anne's Country Cafe in
Pine Bluff.

The handmade, crumbly biscuits at Stoby's (in Conway and Russellville) are
often overlooked but are really marvelous, especially with some housemade
strawberry jam.

You can make a meal out of biscuits and cream gravy at the Shady Corner
Cafe in Hot Springs.

Biscuits are part of the topography for most breakfasts at the Frontier Diner
in Little Rock.

And in Weiner, you can get your big flat biscuit creamed good at Penny's Place.

Hard to find the biscuit under a cover of thick sausage gravy at Kitchen's
Corner Cafe and Grocery in Heth.

The ones at Buddy's Hawg House Cafe in Murfreesboro are great for sopping
up just about anything.

They come with a good flour gravy and anything else you can imagine at
Jimmy's Diner in Benton.

I know people who swear by biscuits and sausage gravy at Susan's Restaurant
in Springdale.

You can't beat a good biscuit breakfast sandwich at Skinny's White Spot
in Fort Smith.

B-Side in Little Rock makes a Biscuit Mountain, topping a goodly biscuit with
egg, gravy and sausage.

At the famed Ozark Cafe in Jasper, the gravy of choice is chocolate, and the
biscuits are pliant.

In Paragould, biscuits are tall and fluffy at Couch's Barbecue.

Calico County in Fort Smith offers theirs with chocolate gravy, and it's just massive.

You don't have to settle for biscuits with breakfast at Dave and Ray's Downtown
Diner in Little Rock -- biscuits come with lunch, too.

At JJ's Cafe in Lake Village, you can have biscuits, gravy and toast.

The recipe for biscuits at the Cliff House Inn near Jasper comes from an old
cookbook, and they're square there.

One Eleven at the Capital also uses a heritage recipe, and its biscuits are
equally square.

They're dippable at the Front Page Cafe in Jonesboro.

Brave New Restaurant in Little Rock understands the necessity of a good biscuit
as the base for the perfect strawberry shortcake.

So does Eleven inside the world-famous Crystal Bridges Museum of American
Art in Bentonville.

The Broadway Rail Cafe in Prescott makes its gravy for biscuits so thick, you
can eat it with a fork... or turn it upside down like a concrete.

Cozy Kitchen in Mountain Home bakes theirs golden.
They're flattish at Sweet and Savory Cafe in Eureka Springs.

They're fluffy at the Log Cabin Restaurant near Rogers.

And at Tinkerbelle's Wildwood Bed and Breakfast in Hot Springs, they often
come filled and speckled with strawberries.

Gadwall's Grill even serves them up with a butter-rich chocolate gravy that
will make you happy.

Doesn't matter where you're from or where you're going, you'd be hard-pressed
not to find a good biscuit in your part of Arkansas.  What's your favorite?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Five Great Short Trips (And Burgers) From Central Arkansas.

So, summertime is just about here, and you're strapped for vacation time.  Or you want a quick place to get away for the weekend?  

Here are five such destinations... and the burger you should try when you're in town.

Perryville (56 minutes from Little Rock).  Like animals?  Want to learn something?  Consider a trip out to Perryville to visit the Heifer Ranch?  This facility is used to train people who volunteer with Heifer – and for groups to experience life in a variety of different dwellings representative of housing situations around the world.  Lots of livestock, too.  

The burger:  The Widowmaker at Mustang Sally's.  What might be the tallest burger in Arkansas comes with bacon, egg, barbecue sauce, fried cheese sticks and more between two round grilled cheese sandwiches.  Learn more here.

Lonoke (30 minutes from Little Rock). Did you know that sixty-one percent of the value of all cultured baitfish in the country come from Arkansas? The center of that activity is Lonoke - the Minnow Capital of the World - where you’ll find a large number of minnow farms.It’s run by Arkansas Game and Fish, and it’s where you’ll learn about the bait fish industry. It’s named after Joe Hogan, who started the fishery back in 1929. Today, you can go and visit the hatchery, look around at the aquariums and mounted fish and learn a lot about fishing in Arkansas.

The burger:  The regular cheeseburger comes on a sesame-seeded bun with your choice of condiment and a slab of Velveeta cheese.  Fries are served with cheese dip! Read more here.

Bauxite/Benton (32/29 minutes from Little Rock).  Ever wonder where aluminum comes from?  The source ore is bauxite, and there's a town in Arkansas named for that very substance.  Bauxite has been mined and refined in Arkansas for decades, and there's a Saline County town that even has the name.  Head there on Wednesdays to visit the Bauxite museum, then roll into Benton and visit the Gann Building -- the only structure in the world built with bauxite.

The burger:  Jimmy's Diner serves up beautiful traditional smashy cheeseburgers with nice griddle char.  And the fried pies are great, too.  Best of all, you'll pass Jimmy's between the two destinations. Check it out here.

Greenbrier (49 minutes).  The Faulkner County town on US Highway 65 may have the greatest concentration of flea markets in our state, no joke!  American Pickers would have a field day with the run of antique malls, treasure troves and collector's havens that line the road from Springhill to Damascus.  Greenbrier's the epicenter.  Take cash.

The burger:  The Cowboy at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant is served on a long seeded road with sauteed peppers and onions, Monterrey Jack cheese and pickles.  Try it out.

Scott (20 minutes).  The Arkansas Delta is less than half an hour from Little Rock, and the place to learn its agricultural history is the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park.  Here, you'll unearth the story of cotton, boll weevils, seeds and grains and the farmers that took on the fertile fields of the Mississippi River alluvial plain.

The burger:  The Hubcap at Cotham's Mercantile is legendary.  For safety's sake, take a friend to share it with you, and don't forget the onion rings.  See why, here.

Need a burger recommendation where you're headed?  Tweet Kat @TieDyeTravels or send a message to

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waka Culture: Chompdown!

A long music festival can be exhausting.  Four nights (five if you choose early arrival) in the Ozark Mountains can be beautiful, but also straining, especially for festivalgoers who either make their own food in camp or choose one of Wakarusa's many food vendors

There's nothing quite as restorative as a good meal, especially one taken in the company of friends. That's what Chompdown is all about. 

The Wakarusa Camping and Music Festival is just a few weeks away.  The annual event, which draws up to 25,000 music lovers each year, will be held June 4-7 at Mulberry Mountain on Highway 23 (The Pig Trail) in northwestern Arkansas.  More than 50 musical acts will hit the stage during the festival, which also includes art installations, group activities and the beauty of the Arkansas Ozarks in the early summer. For what to pack, click here.  For the latest road update, click here.

The very first Chompdown happened in 2007, just a group of friends gathering at Wakarusa (back when it was held in Kansas) bringing a little of this and that to create a breakfast feast.  Musical groups played, more people poured in and suddenly there were hundreds peacefully waiting, cooking and eating together.

Last year, photographer Grav Weldon and I took part in the breakfast, heading down the hill and out to RV Camping at eight in the morning with eggs, fruit, Oreos and Rice Krispy Treats.  The first early risers were awakening, and a couple of folks from another
camp were making coffee.

And there was a guy in a bacon suit.

Within minutes there was a crowd, which created the most orderly of lines. 

And that's when the magic happened.  So here's what to expect when you're attending Chompdown.

Everyone is a volunteer.  Everyone contributes.  Donated fruit is sliced for
easy consumption.

Everyone's out to have a good time and have a little fun.

For many concert-goers, this will be the one wholesome meal they'll get while
on-site. Many of the attendees are younger folk who save up for their tickets
and do the festival on the cheap.  The fruit is quite welcome.

Food is placed on tables for the line to approach.  Many dishes are gone just
as soon as they're set out -- but that's all right.

Just as the food is consumed, more is made and set out.

A veritable army gets together and fries bacon.

Other items appear on the table. Donations run the gamut from cereal
to syrup, granola bars to grapes.  People bring what they have to share.

The mood is generally cool.  Yes, for those who don't arrive early, the wait can
be long, but no one seems to be having a rough time. Not even the guy
in the bacon suit.

Or the guy photobombing the guy in the bacon suit.

The dishes at Chompdown are real dishes. Disposables damage the environment.
There's a wash station over to the side, and people are encouraged to bring their
own plates and utensils.

After you eat, you wash your dish and return it to the stack on the table for others
to use, Unless you bring your own and want to take it back, of course.
Chompdown is located on one lane in the RV section of the site. The line can
go out the gate into Main Camping.  But no worries.  There's plenty of shade and
people to talk with while waiting in line.

The operation is considerably large, with whole stations scrambling eggs.

That's a lot of eggs, but they'll go quick.

It takes another army to cook up all the bacon and sausage.
Though... you can sit down on the job if you really want to.

Pancakes are another option... they're cheap, easy to make and can feed a crowd.

While the line is processing by, and after folks are fed, the great Louisiana
group Dirtfoot jams...

and people come enjoy the bonus concert with their breakfast.

Some folks even groove a bit.

The lineup on the food keeps changing as the morning progresses, but thanks to the
nice variety of donations, there's usually something anyone can eat at the table.
But what is it really like?  Here's a walkthrough you should hear to believe.

The jam goes on for quite some time.

So now you've seen what Chompdown is all about, here's a list of things you can bring:
Pancake mix (the kind that just requires water is best)
Fresh fruit
Granola bars
Cheese (sliced or shredded is best)
Sour cream
Salsa (remember, plastic bottles only)
Cooked vegetables (peppers, onions, potatoes)
Baked goods

For more information, head over to the Chompdown Facebook page and remember -- this year's feed is Friday morning at 9 a.m.