I mentioned near the beginning of Part One that my wife and I go to southern Indiana Periodically to visit with friends. More specifically, we go to Bloomington, the home of Indiana University, my wife’s alma mater. Some of her college mates went to work for the university and never left B-Town.
We arrived in Bloomington in a satisfied mood following our great lunch at Shapiro’s and went straight to the home of close friends to do some catching up and see how big their two young children had grown since our last visit. When it was time for dinner, we headed to Bloomington’s most popular pizzeria, Mother Bear’s, where we met up with more friends. I had eaten at their original downtown location once before, but we would try a newer spot that was much bigger on this occasion.
I was a little disappointed by Mother Bear’s pizza the last time we had it, but I was in for a pleasant surprise this time around. The standard pan pies we ordered, like last time, were not particularly impressive. But they also offered a deep dish pizza that I hadn’t tried before. We ordered one; half plain, half sausage. It was rectangular and appeared similar in style to photos I had seen of Detroit-style pizza. It was also dramatically better than Mother Bear’s traditional pan pizza. The crust had a nice crunch, the sauce was flavorful, and the Chicago-style chunk sausage was some of the best I’ve ever had on pizza.
They also served Sprecher’s, my favorite root beer, which I’m always excited to see on a menu. It’s hard to find in my area.
I left Mother Bear’s with a revised opinion of them and look forward to returning during future visits to bloomington.
Our friend and her two beautiful children joined us the next morning as we headed north for Mooresville, Indiana, which sits just southwest of Indianapolis. We had two planned stops in Mooresville, The first was the Anderson Apple Orchard. As we were nearing the Orchard, we spotted an emu on land next to it. They are the second tallest birds in the world, behind only ostriches.
The Anderson Apple Orchard has a huge array of apple trees. But before we wondered among them, we checked out their food stand. I couldn’t turn down a chance to eat a fried apple pie. To this day, I curse McDonald’s for dropping them in favor of baked pies. My wife went with a cider slush, while our friend’s daughter tried an elephant ear.
After our snack, we found a good looking spot among a couple appealing varieties and picked enough apples to make many pies (that wasn’t the plan; it’s just how my mind works).
Our second stop in Mooresville topped my Top Ten list of all-time favorite roadfood stops. I’m referring to Gray Bros. Cafeteria. I had been there two or three times before this visit, but I was as excited as the first time. This place never gets old for me.
Gray Brothers is massive and known to have lines that stretch out the door. But we always manage to get there between meal rushes and have never had to deal with a long wait. After grabbing your tray and silverware, the first thing you come to is the drool-inducing display of pies and other desserts. One of the Cafeteria’s main drawing points for me is their tremendous selection of pie, both meringue-topped cream and fruit, although it was primarily the former that interested me. We picked out slices of lemon-meringue and chocolate and butterscotch cream pies and moved on to the salads section. Actually, I just kept going. My next area of concern was the entrees and sides, which are served by the always friendly Gray Bros. staff. Prime rib was on the menu that day, but it looked to be cooked a little longer than I prefer, so I went with fried chicken, one of their specialties. We all shared the various sides we picked out. I love Gray Bros. pork-laced green beans, as well as their mac-and-cheese.
As always, everything was great. But the grand finale was those pies. The lemon-meringue was solid, if unspectacular. The chocolate was outstanding. Then there was the butterscotch. Oh, the butterscotch. If the peach pie at the Summit Diner may have been the best fruit pie I’ve ever eaten, I could probably say the same thing about this slice of butterscotch and cream pies. My wife, her friend and I were all in agreement on that. We swooned with each bite. My main concern before trying it was that the butterscotch would be too sweet and overpowering. But it had a more subtle flavor than I expected. Everything about it was heavenly, including the added texture from the toasted pecans sprinkled on top. This was the third of four items I would eat on this trip that went into my personal roadfood pantheon.
We left Gray Bros. utterly satisfied, and as it was a late afternoon meal, we had no desire to eat again that evening.
But I had big plans for the next day.
To be continued.