The TV Show: My eighty-nine-year-old mother has become addicted to the Food Network. She had been telling me about this show where “the guy is so lively and fun.” So on a recent visit I had to check it out. The “guy” she is so crazy about is Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I watched the shows (over and over) and I like them too.
The idea for the show is very simple. Guy travels around the U.S. visiting independent, usually Mom and Pop style restaurants. Like the title of the show, they are usually diners or drive-ins and sometimes dives. As Guy puts it, “Places where Rock and Roll Bands eat.” Guy (and the camera) are everywhere in the restaurant, checking out how the special dishes are made, talking to customers as they eat and, he is always tasting.
Guy has a unique take on food and restaurants. He doesn’t talk like your usual TV-perfect-English type of host. He talks like a normal person, uses slang and great facial expressions. He also has the nicest way with people. He respects them and you can tell he respects good food. Best of all, I like the way he gets right into the kitchen and sticks his face into the kettles, tastes what’s cooking, wants to know how the restaurant got started.
The Book: As is my habit with most things I’m excited about, I want the book and yes, of course, Guy Fieri has one or two. The book is based on the places he visited on the show. It’s divided into section of the country – Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, South, Mid-West and West and Southwest. There is a total of sixty restaurants visited.
For each restaurant there are pictures, a little about how the place got started and what their specialties are. AND, there are recipes. Each restaurant shared a home-sized recipe of one of their dishes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Mike’s Maine Crab Cakes from A1 Diner in Gardiner, Maine
- Pork and Sweet Potato Empanadas from The Dining Car in Philadelphia, PA
- World Famous Chow Chow (very much like my husband’s grandmother’s) from Harold’s in Gaffney, South Carolina
- Chorizo Garbage Plate from Frank’s Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin (my birthplace)
- Trucker Special Sandwich with Tri Tip from Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe in Victorville, California
The Restaurant: After I got back to my son’s place, I was telling Christopher and Genevieve about Guy Fieri. They interrupted me and said, “Oh, that’s the guy that owns Johnny Garlic’s.” What? Guy Fieri has a restaurant right here in Windsor, California! Well, I have to check this out. I persuaded my husband to visit.
The place is in the middle of a shopping center across from a Carl Junior’s. Very unassuming as you can see from the picture. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a good sized open bar area with all sorts of drinks and a big TV. Just past that is the restaurant seating area with about twenty tables. There are real napkins on the table and a very friendly, cheerful waitress.
After our waitress took our drink orders, she brought us squares of onion foccacio bread with special seasonings on top and little dishes of olive oil to dip in. The menu offered specialties, pastas, pizzas, soups and salads and Humter’s Special (varies daily from venison, buffalo, elk or crocodile). My husband had grilled chicken (moist and tender), garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes and mixed green vegetables (green beans, zucchini, asparagus).
I had caesar salad and garlic soup. Both of those dishes were perfect. I love garlic anyway but the soup was not overpoweringly garlic. It was thick and creamy, a pale gold color and nice little croutons. The salad dressing was made fresh and the best ever. Tangy and just a little tart. All of this served on square and rectangular white dishes. Very, very nice.
I had my camera in my purse and wanted to take a picture of it all but I was too embarrassed. It seemed too much like what a fan club person would do. However, I am a fan. We are taking the book with us on the road and will try to check out some of these diners, drive-ins and dives.