Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unexpected Loot

I always like it when I stumble upon some unexpected loot whether it be in the grocery store, a cake supply shop, or, as the case was this weekend, in a little flea market-style shop on the river road. Loot is loot, and tasty loot is even better.

Shannon and I decided to head over to Alton/Grafton, Illinois today. The weather was warmer than usual, the sun was poking its face through the clouds, and the threat of colder, wetter weather was just around the corner. Suffering from severe cases of cabin fever after so many weeks of dreary, cold weather, an excuse to get out of the house and explore the world at large was just what the doctor ordered. The doctor being me in this case. I needed out of the house in a bad way, and a drive seemed like just the thing to cure the antsy attitude that's been brewing in me over the last few weeks.

A road trip is a road trip is a road trip. So snacks are always in order. You do not set out about the world without a bit of food to sustain you. Our forefathers knew this when they set out across the Oregon Trail, and I adhere to the same principles of preparedness that they did as a tribute to their... Oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted an excuse to buy some Planters "Wicked Hot" Chipotle Peanuts. Well worth the $1.99, too. After the initial shock of hotness, the chipotle flavor really came through. Bravo, Planters, bravo.

I also wanted an excuse to buy Munchos. The. Best. Chips. Ever.

Our trek across the Missouri/Illinois border was made a wee bit more difficult by MoDot deciding to shut down I-70 all weekend, but we didn't let that dampen our spirits. Oh no! We were going to make a day of it, dammit.

And so we did.

I was happy to discover that Alton has both a tea room and a dessert cafe on the main strip. I was not happy to discover that they both close rather early. We made a concerted effort to be back to Alton before they closed shop for the day, but we failed miserably. I wasn't too upset, though. In between spying these little nooks of potential yumminess and getting back to them, I was able to drive the river road, see a Bald Eagle perched in a tree, and find this gem of a truck in Elsah, IL.

At first you might say, "Oh, it's painted a little funny." But then you're going to stop and really look hard at this picture. You're going to furrow your brow and squint. You're going to think, "No, it can't be..." And then you're going to realize that, oh yes, this truck is covered in action figures.

Take a closer look. Go on. It's okay.

Hello, Jabba. It's so nice to see you today. And you're hanging out with Captain Hook again. How predictable.

This truck made it all okay that we didn't make it back in time for homemade desserts. Well, this truck and Shannon's promise that he'd take me back for a dessert-only meal one day in the very near future. It didn't hurt that we stumbled upon this adorable corner of the world either.

Sutton's Place is a flea market meets garage sale meets consignment shop. It's dusty and cramped and full of treasures. Coffee percolators, casseroles, blue glass water bottles, and any number of old cookbooks and nick knacks. It was a thrift seeker's heaven made all the better by this wall of fantastic right by the front door.

Look at it. Jellies and preserves and jams and pickled just about everything. The loot of the day ended up being a jar of Tomato Preserves, a jar of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, and a jar of Hot Brussels Sprouts.

This kind of find makes my face light up. It makes me smile. It makes me take cheesy pictures like this.

I am holding (tightly) the "Hot Brussels Sprouts." Spicy, pickled brussels. Oh my. I cannot wait to try it all. Loot is one thing. Tasty loot is in a class all its own. First thing tomorrow morning, bagels and cream cheese with Tomato Preserves. Road trip success? I definitely think so.

Sunday morning update: Tomato Preserves have managed to wiggle their way into both Shannon and my heart with only one tasting. On a bagel with cream cheese the tanginess of the tomato comes through the sweetness of the preserves nicely. It's a wonderful, rich flavor that you wouldn't necessarily expect out of a tomato, let alone tomato preserves. It's delicious, though, and not only worth a try but worth a passionate embrace if you can manage it. Try it. Soon.

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