Monday, November 15, 2010


I'd never been to Alabama, I'd never been any where down south so when my sister and brother in law asked if I wanted to join them I thought this was a good chance. Tennis, my brother in law is from Decatur Alabama and his parents are still there. I wasn't sure what to expect but I found that I loved the south and the people. People in the south, or at least in this part of the south are so friendly, and polite and they all talk funny.

Tennis and his dad Bill

We arrived in Decatur on Thursday and his mother met us with fried pies and coffee cake!

The first evening we went to dinner at a restaurant much like a Denny's.. I wasn't expecting much of a good meal. It was a classic chain restaurant called O'Charley's. It had this cheesy mural on the wall, but it did show that we were in Decatur.
To my surprise the food was great! I had the fried catfish and fried sweet potatoes. The fish was nice and crunch and well seasoned, the fries were good but could have a little more crisp. They even had good martini's. Great start to my southern culinary adventure. So far so good.

The next day we went to Friendship Cemetery to visit Tennis' grandmother's grave. I'm not quite sure what town it was in, but it was out in the country and the drive was beautiful. It is an OLD cometery with lots of headstones dating back to the Civil War. It's a shame that so many of the old headstones are falling apart and no longer readable. Really interesting looking at old headstones.
That evening we had barbecue from Big Bob Gibson's. Gibson's is rated the number one barbecue in the country. It has been around since 1925! When they say barbecue around here they usually mean pulled or chopped pork. The sauce isn't as vinegary as Carolina barbecue so I really liked it. Tennis' mother had picked up the barbecue earlier in the day so it wasn't right from the pit, but it was still good as was the beans, the slaw and her potato salad. I'm loving the south...
Next on the menu was the CF Penn burger.
Another Decatur institution. This is is another place that is a must go to when people arrive back into town. CF Penn has been around for 83 years. Last year because of the economy they were thinking of closing but luckily they have managed to stay open. Back in the 20's the burgers sold for 10 cents each or 3 for 25 cents. Today they sell for $1.30. The burgers have a secret ingredient.. it is said to be bread. Bread is mixed in with the ground beef so it gives the burgers a more meatloaf like texture. The patties are cooked up in advance then when ordered they are dropped into 4" of oil to fry. They are scooped out and put on a bun with mustard and chopped onions and if you want cheese. Back in the day they used to fry with lard but now they use vegetable oil. I bet the burgers were really good fried in lard. The burgers are simple but they are delicious. They also have fries but we didn't have any the day we went but I've heard that they are good. CF Penn's employs 6 people... most who have been there almost their entire lives. . It is also said to have been a favorite of Elvis Presley. He would send his people all the way from Memphis to pick up a sack full of burgers. This is a great place with tasty greasy burgers made the same way as it was 83 years ago.

burgers waiting to be fried

these women have worked at CF Penn for 17 yrs and 26 yrs

She has been here for 37 years

A side trip to Moorseville. A historical pre and Civil War era town. All the homes in this little town are much like this one and all the homes and businesses are on the historical registry. This is a real functioning town not a museum or tourist attraction. So going through the town you need to respect the fact that your these are peoples actual homes.

This is the Campbell-Woodard-Hill-Pollard house on High street, Circa 1826

Mooresville post office built after 1840 this post office has been serving the town for over 150 years. The town currently has 58 residents.

The Old Brick Church built in 1839

The steeple fell in the early 1900's and was replaced in recent years

Circa 1908 this used to be the Oliver Bedingfield-Green store. It is now the Limestone Bay Trading Company Restaurant

We stopped in to get some sweet tea, they were making spaghetti that day for lunch and it sure smelled good

Huntsville Alabama is NASA country.. this is a shot of one of the rockets at the space museum
Yee Haw!! Jack Daniels!! Lynchburg Tennessee is about an hour and a half drive from Decatur
We took the tour which was interesting and we were able to buy a few bottles. This is a dry county so we didn't get to have any tastes. It makes it kind of hard to know which type of JD you want to buy..just buy one of each type.

Lynchburg court house
the town of Lynchburg TN cute tourist town. dinner here on Saturday night. One of the better restaurants in town.
strange wall hanging, it used to be a Greek restaurant so maybe this is a remnant of Greek sculptures? The restaurant now is more of a steak house. It was OK..though I think I'd rather have had more barbecue.

spinach salad with fresh strawberries and a balsamic was quite good
fillet, duck breast and lamb chops with mashed potatoes and vegetables..lots of food around here
pecan pie
How much more Southern can you get? When you think of the South you think of Cracker Barrel, at least I do. The breakfasts are huge!!
in the left corner apple hash, like pie filling. 2 eggs, country ham, bacon, sausage and hash browns
plus grits and biscuits and gravy

We met a couple of Tennis' old friends for breakfast and had a good time. It was nice meeting them. So, this was our last meal in Alabama..after this we headed to the airport for our trip home.

I had a great time, like I said loved the people, the food and the more slow way of life down there. I hope I can return again.

Thanks so much to Bill and Rena, Tennis' parents for all their hospitality.

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