More of Anne’s bits & bytes from the road!

Oxford. In Mississippi, that is. If you’ve made it as far as Memphis you can drive a little more than an hour south into Mississippi, the land of William Faulkner and all things Southern. Oxford is a gem of a town with a beautiful historic square and on that square is an aptly named and well known book store called Square Books. Browse, relax, reflect, chat, maybe meet a visiting author there to sign books. I stopped by and Lyn Roberts of the store baked my  Chocolate Buttermilk and Bake Sale Caramel Cupcakes. www.squarebooks.com

Houston. October has to be the best month to travel, especially to humid cities like Houston where the air is often so sticky you wonder if the cream cheese frosting will stay on the cake! Becky Stewart, my media escort, whizzed me around the city, from TV to Central Market cooking classes, to Sam’s Club on the southern side of town near NASA, and back to the Houstonian Hotel, a lovely and quiet oasis. They have the best Caesar salad on earth – their legendary Southwestern Caesar. If you want to create one at home, make your favorite Caesar, then add roasted corn, black beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, and on top grated Mexican Cojita cheese. Or go to www.recipezaar.com for the recipe.

Lexington and Louisville. Kentucky is full of so many great cooks, and one is Jennifer Degler of Lexington, whose recipe for the Pumpkin Cranberry Cake is in my new book. Jennifer sent me that recipe several years ago, I tested it and loved the cake, and then I met Jennifer and her friends at my book signing at Joseph-Beth in Lexington. A little more than an hour down the road but seemingly a world apart, Louisville offered up flavors of its own. The quirky and wonderful Lynn’s Paradise Café (www.lynnsparadisecafe.com) is where to head for breakfast, Southern vegetables, monster salads, meatloaf, and legendary fried green tomatoes. In honor of my appearance, the kitchen whipped up chocolate chip pancakes with a cake mix and served them with a creamy Bourbon sauce. These unbelievable pancakes had me wishing I had run all the way from Lexington! Fortunately I saved a little room for dinner at Proof on Main (www.proofonmain.com) in the 21c Museum Hotel downtown.  Look for handmade pastas, Brussels sprouts cooked with cranberries and andouille sausage, and vanilla pudding cake topped with Bourbon-soaked cherries. What did you expect? It’s Kentucky!

Pittsburgh. My first trip to Pittsburgh will definitely not be my last. I cannot want to get back to Penn Mac, the historic Italian cheese-and-so-much-more store along the Strip. I cannot wait to get back and see the cheese lady and get another sample of Prima Donna cheese and buy enough pasta to fill my suitcase. And I’ll get that fish sandwich at Wholey’s across the street. No matter how long the line, I’ll wait. I was in town to take part in Great Taste Pittsburgh, a massive food show in the suburb of Monroeville. I loved meeting fellow food writer Katie Lee and seeing my cousin Margaret after all these years. I loved staying downtown in the Omni William Penn Hotel, and when I go back will order another Aveline salad, greens wrapped in long strips of cucumber then drizzled with a brown sugar vinaigrette, Amish blue cheese and toasted pine nuts.

For more of Anne’s bits & bytes from the road, check back on Tuesday!

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