I am currently running a series aptly called The Road Scholar, which takes you on a virtual ride on my truck, and through my mind (a journey which would likely scare the evil out of Freddie Krueger). Enjoy the ride!
06 January 2011
The Road Scholar - Day 6
The days are drawing to a close at an accelerated pace…
Now that I have garnered your attention… Today, I didn’t travel far; from Dawson, GA, around Atlanta, to Gainesville, a bustling community about 50 miles NE of Atlanta. If you’ve never been there before, nor are familiar with the general region, it’s easy to become misled into thinking that it’s another small town, masked by its sylvan surroundings, and just lucky enough to have an interstate highway built nearby… and you would be wrong. It appears that way at first, until you venture in to see what it may, or may not, offer. In fact, it has quite a bit to offer: Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks (if a town has THAT, then it MUST be worthwhile – and, yes, I made a stop… CARPE JAVA!).
Although, one mistake I made was to park next to a restaurant – on an empty stomach. Most truck drivers are satisfied, even content, to get their meals from the truck stop restaurants, or a nearby fast food joint – I am not one of them. I’ve gotten to a point of near loathing of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc., etc., etc… Occasionally I’ll go to a mass market restaurant (IHOP, Denny’s, Longhorn Steakhouse), but mainly, I enjoy the places you can’t find everywhere; independent & small chain restaurants (for example: B.D.’s Mongolian Barbecue). One such place I happened upon tonight.
I was actually intending just to pay a visit to Starbucks (Mocha Marble Machiatto, naturally). Since their “free standing” locations usually don’t have the parking to accommodate a big truck, I will usually park at a shopping plaza nearby and walk over (WHAT?! A truck driver that not only drinks Starbucks, but will actually WALK across a plaza parking lot to get it?!). As I said, I parked next to a restaurant – an Italian restaurant! I am not an Italian, but I can eat like one. I parked, grabbed my coffee mug, and told myself, “no food! Use what’s in the truck!”
When I climbed out, I was immediately seduced by the aromas of marinara sauce, garlic, Parmigiana, meatballs. It was enough to send my senses into a tailspin, and my stomach to lash out at me, as if it was saying, “It’s ‘Starbucks’… not ‘Snickers’ – it AIN’T gonna satisfy!” Now this place, Biba’s Italian Restaurant, is the kind of place that kind of slips under the radar; it’s not flashy, nor trendy, but it IS very welcoming, and has the right amount of class, without appearing too poshy. Inside, it was elegant, yet casual. As I walked in, the hostess – Lindsay – appeared from the dining area and greeted me before the door completely closed. I placed my order to go, then went to Starbucks (I STILL gotta have my coffee). When I returned, my order was not yet ready, but I was greeted by about 5 different servers, ensuring I had been attended to – now THAT is quality service (others in the restaurant industry – take note!).
I ordered the Baked Ziti Sicilian (Ziti tossed with roasted eggplant, mushrooms, meat sauce, topped with mozzarella), though I did substitute the meat sauce for Fra Diavolo sauce (spicy marinara). That with garlic/parmesan rolls, a side of fresh garlic, and a ceasar salad. Once my order was ready and bagged, I climbed back in the truck and returned to this chicken plant. Within moments, the aroma permeated the inside of the truck’s cab and I found myself whistling Frank Sinatra tunes. To taste the food was a different matter – “scrumptious” does not even begin to describe this food! For one thing, you get a very generous portion… the Ziti is mixed with the sauce, mushrooms, eggplant, and mozzarella… and it’s topped with more mozzarella! It’s one of those dishes that you want to continue eating – even after you’re stuffed – because it tastes so good! If you ever make it up here, this place is a “must visit”… then finish off the meal at Starbucks!