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Sep 12, 2006 04:32 PM

Generalize Itinerary


I do wonder if there is any generalized itinerary for the Alpha Hound on this tour. Is it as most dogs do by checking interesting fire hydrants and then look around and if there is a eating establishment in sight that's the one. Or by checking with local hounds as all dogs do. Or roll over on his back and wait for someone to rub his tummy and realize he needs food and takes him to eat. or and if the last one does not work, does he lie in the road and play dead dog in hopes that some one will stop and take him home. Would really like to know so that if The Alpha Hound is coming our way we can give him the proper greeting.

  1. I can't wait until he hits the Twin Cities (I'm hoping he's coming to the Twin Cities...)


    1. 1WH,

      Thanks, that's really nice!

      But I'm trying to do the chowhounding version of free-climbing...find stuff without tips or guidance. Some tips have been too irresistible to pass up, but in general I'm trying to accomplish the ambitious task of going somewhere and finding great stuff even the locals don't know about.

      So with very few exceptions, I'm going it alone (or having buddies rendezvous with me en route). The essence of chowhounding is to make your own finds, rather than eat where you're told, and I'm trying to live up to that ethos!

      As for itinerary, the coverage you're seeing is pretty delayed, so I'd rather not tip my hand too much to what's happened since (and what's to come), 'cuz it'd be anticlimactic!


      3 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff

        Thanks for the return post. Good luck on the trip we will all be following your progress.

        1. re: Jim Leff

          Jim, if the locals don't know about the restaurants, then who exactly is eating at these places?

          1. re: Frolic

            "Jim, if the locals don't know about the restaurants, then who exactly is eating at these places?"

            Often no one. I very frequently have great meals in desolate, utterly empty restaurants. Lots of people choose a restaurant by looking for a crowd, but I've found that crowds are attracted by 1. hype, 2. location, and 3. crowds.

            Most people stick to places they've heard of, and deem the dining scene to be an "efficient market" where if something great were out there, they'd hear about it. This is not true in the least. There is greatness everywhere, low and ripe on the trees, that has attracted no clientele at all. And more often than not, when I talk to food lovers who live right around the corner, they've never tried the place. You're not going to hear about everything from media. Food writers (with some huge exceptions) are unbelievably lazy. The vast majority do little chowconnaisance. They just plug into the hype machine for their info. "Conventional wisdom" is manufactured, and never ever serves the consumer. So we have to make our own "finds".

            The theme of my chow trip - and of this site - is that if folks go a bit further out of their way, and actively hunt for treasure, their lives can become a giddy adventure filled with treasure. And the good guys, who cook from heart and soul, can find a foothold in an industry that's increasingly being locked up by soulless crap.


        2. Interesting. I guess we fundamentally disagree on what food is worth finding (nothing wrong with that; variety makes the world interesting).

          When I travel, I want to find where the locals eat, because I believe food is about culture. Oh sure, I also want to eat something delicious. But I'd rather eat it with the locals who care deeply about it and have been eating it their whole lives. A meal, for me, is something to share.

          If you're traveling in an area where food is not cherished (and that covers most of the United States), then it's true that crowds are not always a good sign of deliciousness.

          I hope you get down to New Orleans. I'd be curious to see what you find. Of course, I'd also be happy to show you a few things.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Frolic

            "Where the locals eat" is, almost without exception, Olive Garden, McDonalds and Applebee's. In fact, it's a truism among food critics that if you run a reader poll, the winner of top Italian is almost guaranteed to be "Olive Garden", even in cities with excellent Italian food.

            But then you say "the locals who care deeply about it", which is a different set of people. There are indeed at least a few people everywhere who care what they eat, and they do tend to be more reliable. But even they tend to be sluggish on probing new, out-of-the-way places that don't open with a boom. I've been to nearly every state and 21 countries, and I've found that simply by poking around, I can almost always find places that excite informed locals who I subsequently bring (and by "almost" I mean like 99.9% of the time). Not because I'm such a great detective....again, unsung deliciousness is low on the trees. So I reject even informed conventional wisdom. I've found that nothing - NOTHING - beats simply chowhounding around. More deliciousness can be found that way than any other. People can read my trip reports to get a sense of this.

            Even in New Orleans, conventional wisdom is incestuous (by which I mean that assumptions builds on assumptions, rather than on the efforts of actually scoping out places in real time). For example, in my opinion Mother's (on Poydras) is really, really good. Most New Orleans food lovers I know dismiss it as a tourist joint, but on the basis of pure deliciousness, and (only) in my opinion, it's ace for a bunch of things. Of course, being choked with customers, it's not an instance of undeserved desolation, just an instance (again, in my opinion) of underrating by the locals who love food. But it's all I've got to offer as an example, as I haven't spent enough time down there to build up more obscure finds. I'd like to, though! (and I'd certainly like to help support recovery down there!).

          2. I think you're wrong about the local's take on Mother's. A lot of people who dismiss it as a tourist joint would also agree that it's good. There are just plenty of cheaper options that are equally good (or better).

            Anyway, I hope you make it down here. There is lots of good eating.