AT COOK’S COUNTRY, WE’RE big fans of road trips. For the last decade, our team has traveled all around the country in search of the very best traditional and down-home fare. We've visited small towns and big cities, home kitchens and busy restaurants, truck stops and taco trucks. Why? To bring recipes that have flown under the national radar back to the test kitchen and then to Cook’s Country magazine, so anyone can recreate the best in American fare at home—no matter where they live.
Since we love stories—and food—from the road, I reached out to our Cook’s Country team to ask them about their ultimate, no-limitations road trip.
Today’s dream trip comes from Bryan Roof, one of the masterminds behind our recipe research. Here’s where the man who travels to eat for work (and play) would go, what he would listen to, and most importantly, what food he would seek out.
What are your top 5 must-visit destinations and what are you eating when you get there?
I don’t really have one kind of food I prefer that’s guiding this trip. I love vegetables just as much as I love fried chicken and I love barbecue just as much as I love banana cream pie. Maybe I enjoy comfort food more than anything else. It just depends on the mood I’m in, you know? I do try to eat whatever is available regionally, so if my first stop is Texas, you better believe that I’m stopping for barbecue in Lockhart, Austin, Hill Country, and Pearland. Killen’s Barbecue has probably the best barbecue I’ve ever had. Can’t forget about San Antonio . . . the Tex-Mex there is outstanding.
Next, I’m heading to Wisconsin. Believe it or not, from the cheese to the lake fish to every Bloody Mary in between, it’s a great food state. I like that they take pride in their local products and feature them on menus because they’re so good—and not just because that’s what the cool kids are doing.
I’ve also got to make a stop in North Carolina. It’s a super well-rounded food state—they’ve got everything from barbecue to fine dining to fried chicken and cheese biscuits. They've got a unique and delicious spin on just about everything served on a plate. If you’re in Wilson, make your way to Flo’s Kitchen. Snag a couple cheese biscuits for breakfast, but don’t sleep on the so-called “chicken and cheese.” It’s a horizontally-halved biscuit containing a fried chicken cutlet that’s served around lunchtime.
Louisiana is an obvious choice, but I opt for a visit to Lafayette over the more widely-tread New Orleans. Once you discover boudin and fresh cracklin', your life will be forever changed.
Last stop is Pennsylvania. There is more good food between Pittsburgh and Philly than you could consume in a lifetime. And I'm not sure there are nicer people to be found anywhere.
What will you be jamming to while on the road?
Anything old country. I’m a big fan of Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, Jack White. Actually, I’m a huge fan of Jack White . . . so actually lots of Jack White for the road. I like some old school Elvis stuff, too. This is the kind of music I typically listen to but it also makes for good road trip music.
Any car snacks?
The two car snacks that I will allow are boiled peanuts and fresh cracklin'. Other than that, you’re just kind of torturing yourself by ruining your appetite on the way to the next place.
Though, when I’m in Louisiana maybe I’ll stop and get some salted peanuts with a Coca Cola. You get an old-school Coke bottle and you pour the salted peanuts into it, then drink and eat them at the same time. It’s an acquired taste but it tastes good.
What are you bringing back with you from this road trip?
I don’t typically bring anything back from road trips but a stomachache. I’m not a souvenir person but I do bring back magnets for my kids everywhere I go.
What’s the inspiring the destinations for your road trips?
Food and maybe some concerts (concerts will be a good reason to go back to Texas). I mainly travel to places where I want to eat. I’m not much of a sightseer, museum goer, or a tourist but I will travel great distances for a good restaurant and a good plate of food.
Cook's Country Magazine
Each issue of Cook's Country is full of foolproof recipes for easy, weeknight meals; heirloom recipes for the modern cook; regional favorites that showcase little-known local specialties from across the country; pull-out recipe cards for 30-minute meals; objective equipment reviews and taste tests; and lots more.
Are you hitting the road this summer? If so, where are you heading? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to check out our other team members' ultimate road trips below.