6/6/2013 – 6/9/2013 Miles MPG Average Speed  
  1100 46 54  


Driving listening:


6/6/2013 – 6/9/2013

Priceline Retail $ Savings % Savings
Marriott Atlanta Airport (4-star) $58.61
($48 bid)
($84 pretax)
$35.47 38%

The bidding for this trip put me in the Marriott across the street from the Westin I’d stayed at last time. They’re both nice hotels at the right price, but I haven’t been thrilled with the area – it’s pretty empty of anything but a few hotels and warehouses.  So next trip I’ll likely spend a bit more for downtown or the areas north of Atlanta. 

The point of staying so far out is to avoid the parking charges, but both of these hotels have the same parking rates as downtown hotels.  Downtown, if I’m willing to walk a couple blocks, I can put my car at the Emory hospital parking lot across from Shakespeare Tavern for a third of the hotels’ parking rate.

This trip was a little different, because I was in town mostly to see three shows, so I did little during the days – other than one visit to the High Museum, I just relaxed at the hotel, reading and using the gym. 


Smok'n Pig B-B-Q on Urbanspoon On the way to Atlanta (and again on the way home), I stopped for lunch at Smok’n Pig BBQ in Valdosta, GA.  I’ve seen their billboards on previous trips, but never stopped before – now it’ll probably become my lunch on every trip in or out of Florida on I-75.

I was a little worried when I first stopped, because the décor is reminiscent of the Sonny’s BBQ chain, with a large, shiny dining room in a huge building with a salad bar.  They do have two locations, Valdosta and Macon, but there’s nothing “chain” about the food.


On both stops I got the sliced pork sandwich combo ($8).  The pork was tender and lean, generously piled on a soft bun.  I tried three different sauces: sweet, sweet & spicy, and original.  Of the three, I thought the original was best, with even the sweet & spicy being a bit too sweet for me.

For sides, I got baked beans, Brunswick stew, and, on the return trip, sweet potato casserole.  The beans were pretty basic, but the sweet potato casserole was very good and the stew was excellent.  The Brunsick stew itself is enough to get a return visit from me.

On Friday and Saturday, I ate at a pair of restaurants because I’d read somewhere that the owners had originally been partners in one place, then each opened their own.  BBQ being a competitive sport, I decided to try both and compare them.

Both places are storefronts in stripmalls – about the same size, with reviews, plaques, and porcine-topped trophies proudly displayed.  It’s clear that both owners take their BBQ seriously

Dave Poe's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sam's BBQ 1 on Urbanspoon



At Dave Poe’s, I got brisket ($9), with baked beans, mac & cheese, and Texas toast. At Sam’s, I got brisket, with baked beans, sweet tater tots, and Texas toast, but I also added a corn muffin.



Dave Poe’s brisket was perfectly cooked.  It was sliced unevenly, some thicker than others, but that was almost irrelevant, as the slices were fork-tender and shredded easily.  The sauce was thin, sweet and spicy, with a strong black-pepper flavor. Sam’s served two distinct briskets on my plate.  On the right was a lean flat – the left was more marbled.  Unfortunately, both were served barely warm, so the marbled slices were quite chewy.  The sauce was
Advantage: Dave Poe’s  
The Texas toast lacked any butter, so it was pretty dry and only lightly browned. Sam’s Texas toast was well-buttered and nicely browned.
  Advantage: Sam’s
Poe’s baked beans were thick and sweet, with a slight kick of heat at the finish. Sam’s beans were very thick and sweet, redolent with molasses.  Good, but by the end of the meal I was putting only two or three beans on my fork, because it was just too much sweet and molasses.
Advantage: Dave Poe’s  
The mac & cheese.  Oh, Our Dear Lord of Dairy, the Dave Poe’s mac & cheese …

Not elbow noodles, but huge tubes of pasta that oozed sauce.  A sauce that had both a creamy texture that clung to the pasta, and a bit of stringy, chewy cheese that had incredible flavor.  The pieces of dark brown mac & cheese crust were perfect.

Sam’s sweet tater tots were interesting, different, and tasty.  Made out of sweet potatoes with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

It was some time into the meal, though, before I could appreciate their full flavor, because they were the hottest thing on the plate when it arrived.  Clearly they’d plated the brisket, then the beans, and last the fried tots, which is the opposite of what they should have done to ensure everything arrived hot.

Advantage: Dave Poe’s  

So, on points, it’s Dave Poe’s, but the real test is what’s left on the plate at the end of the meal. 

At Sam’s, I left most of the fattier slices of brisket and about half the beans and tater tots – not because I was full (there’s always room for BBQ), but because I just didn’t want any more of the items.  I liked Sam’s, I’d return there, but it wasn’t enough to make me keep taking just one more bite.

At Dave Poe’s, I left a corner of the dry Texas toast and a plate wiped clean.  If there’d been a scrap more brisket, a drop of sauce, a single bean, or the slightest schmear of mac & cheese sauce … I’d have happily sopped it up with that dry toast.


Thursday and Friday nights I was at Shakespeare Tavern for performances of Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


For those unfamiliar with R&G, it follows Rosencrantz and Guildenstern through their roles in Hamlet, but since they’re rather minor characters they spend much of their time “off-stage” (though they don’t know it’s a play) wondering about what it all means and why they seem to be always waiting for something to happen.

Described as an absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy … it’s just weird. 

But seeing the two in repertory, with the same cast playing the same characters in both Hamlet and R&G was fun.  The actors had the opportunity to perform their characters seriously in Hamlet and then with some comedy in R&G – seeing these on consecutive nights really heightened that effect.

The entire cast was wonderful, as always, but there were some standouts:

Nicholas Faircloth and Paul Hester as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (whichever is which) were great in both productions, but especially in R&GaD.  These are marathon-roles, since the play, at almost three hours, follows their two characters almost exclusively. 

Jonathan Horne as Hamlet.  A great performance, subtly different in both productions.  I can’t wait to see him next month in Fortinbras, when he gets to play Hamlet as a ghost.

Kelly Criss as Ophelia.  Her part in R&G is small, but worth mentioning because it’s not every day an actress gets to walk up stairs and across the stage in a diving mask, snorkel, and swim fins (at Ophelia’s drowning).  In Hamlet, she shined, drawing the audience in when Ophelia is crazy. 

Next month they’re doing Fortinbras, the “sequel” to Hamlet, when all the dead characters get to come back as ghosts and pester the Norwegian Prince who came to rule Denmark by showing up.

Saturday was Christopher Titus at the Punchline.  The show was hilarious and all new material.  If you’re not familiar with his shows, check YouTube for excerpts – he’s a brilliant comedian.