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TRAVEL TRIVIA  When and where was the hottest temperature in California recorded?
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Thai Thai Restaurant

We were laying over in Bishop one Friday night when we got a hankering for Thai food.  The question is where do you find a good green curry in the middle of the desert?  Naturally, at Thai Thai Restaurant in the Bishop Airport, three miles out of town.  Here's some free advice.  When traveling through Smalltown USA, check and see if there is an airstrip nearby.  Many of them have restaurants on the premises.  These diners cater to locals and those whose idea of a Sunday drive and a bite to eat include a Cessna.  Mediocre food will put them out of business faster than a ten year old chasing an ice cream truck!

Thai Thai Restaurant is casual dining; don't expect to be whisked in and out.  Dishes are prepared as they are ordered so it takes a little more time, but worth the wait.  Chef Alisa has been serving up award winning Thai food Thai Thai Restaurantfor over thirty years.  Her Chicken Rama has won four major awards in Hawaii.  Her curries have been recognized as well.

When we walked into the Thai Thai we noticed a couple of gentleman playing a guitar and violin in the corner.  Not what you would expect to find in a Thai restaurant, but they proved to be very entertaining.  Once seated, I ordered the Cashew Chicken, Debbie tried the Chicken Rama and our friend in tow had one of Alisa's curries.
The Cashew Chicken is a spin on a traditional dish.  The star ingredients are mixed with a medley of vegetables, perfectly cooked to an al dente stage and then simmered in a deep amber sauce.  The rich sauce has a hint of sweet followed by a nice warm after burn.

One taste of the Chicken Rama and you can see why it is an award winning dish.  Taken from the menu's description, the entrée includes "sautéed chicken in a creamy sauce with garlic, ginger, onion and ground roasted peanuts served over a bed of spinach".  We agreed that the spinach was placed in the bowl raw, then allowed to wilt by the sauce's heat.

Rita, our ever present travel partner commented that her curry had the perfect balance of spices that were not so hot that she couldn't enjoy the layers of flavor in the dish.  It is a good idea to put plenty of rice on your plate to soak up every last drop of the delicious sauce.

As an added bonus to an already pleasant dinner we were introduced to Chef Alisa herself.  A petite, unassuming wisp of a woman, Alisa is not only an excellent chef but a gracious hostess as well.  Her smile was so sweet and charming we drove away forgetting we didn't have dessert.

TRIP TIP!  Thai Thai Restaurant does not serve alcoholic beverages but welcome you to BYOB.  There is no corkage fee and they supply glasses.  I'm not bashful; next time we eat there I'm carrying an Igloo in filled with ice cold Buds!

703 Airport Rd.  Bishop CA 93514

Schat’s Bakkery

Schat's Bakkery is the Disneyland of bakeries.  The lines are long, it’s hard to find parking and you spend more money than you planned.  After all that, like the Magic Kingdom, you can't wait to return.  Sometimes they are so busy you'd swear Highway 395 is routed through their parking lot.

Sheepherder Bread is Schat’s claim to fame, but there is much more.  Step inside, the aroma is intoxicating.  Baked goods range from sweet to savory.  There is a deli onsite serving homemade sandwiches and a cooler with quick meals to go.  Everyone has their favored treats.  Let me tell you about three of ours.

Schat’s Cheeze Bread is worth making a trip to Bishop.  Available in original, garlic, onion and chili varieties.  A few slices could be a meal in itself.  To make a loaf, the bakers toss dough on a table, spread a pound of shredded Schat's Bakkeryjack cheese over it, fold the dough a few times and then bake it to crusty perfection.  I like to cut the bread into thick slices and microwave them for a half minute.  Voila!  A grilled cheese sandwich without the fuss.

If we are pressed for time Debbie and I will pick up a roast turkey sandwich from the deli case.  Nothing fancy here; just bread, sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayo and mustard.  Sometimes the nicest things in life are the simple ones.  Turkey breasts are slow roasted on the premises then sliced thick.  Schat's Sheepherder Bread spread with mustard and mayonnaise provides the foil for this sandwich.  The taste brings back fond memories of bowl games the day after Thanksgiving.

Be sure to pick up a bag of Cheese Stix (breadsticks with melted Cheddar Cheese).  Now comes the fun part.  Put the Cheeze Stix, still in the wrapper, on your dashboard.  If it’s cold out turn on the defroster.  If the weather is hot let nature do the work.  Driving south, by the time you reach Big Pine the aroma of fresh baked bread fills your car. Five more miles and you’re drooling.  “We’ll have one apiece and save the rest,” you reason.  You bite into the warm bread.  Sadly, by the time you arrive in Lone Pine there’s nothing left but the wrapper and some stray crumbs.

763 North Main St.  Bishop, Ca 93514 (760) 873-7156

Petite Pantry

More than 20 years ago Jay and Lolly Jimenez opened this Mexican American café/ accounting firm/notary public office on the north end of Bishop.  No, that is not a typo.  This may be the only place in California where you can get your taxes done while polishing off killer south of the border cuisine.  Jay also fancies himself something of a comedian.  Though I wouldn't recommend he give up his day job, Jay's banter and offbeat humor will keep you entertained.

This is another one of many hole in the wall eateries dotting Highway 395.  Sneeze and you'll miss the joint.  Find it and your perseverance will be rewarded; this is a fun place.  As soon as you walk in the door you'll notice this spot is different.  You are seated in high-backed office chairs.  The walls are festooned with family pictures.  Outside seating is available.

We keep meaning to try some of the American items on the menu, but every time we eat at the Petite Pantry the aroma of authentic Mexican cooking changes our plans.  Most of the dishes are made from time-honored family Petite Pantry Chilaquilesrecipes handed down to Jay.  His Birria is one example.  This spicy Mexican stew is usually saved for holidays and special occasions.  Petit Pantry offers it every day made with beef or chicken.  Another nod to tradition are the chile rellenos.  Instead of being fried, the rellenos are dipped in an egg mixture then sautéed.  The result  could be described as a chile relleno omelet.

Petite Pantry bakes homemade pies each morning.  You can order by the slice or take a whole pie to go.  All you can eat specials are on the menu, too. They change daily so check the eraserboard to find out what's cooking when you are there.  Beer and wine are offered.  The Petite Pantry is open 7 days a week dishing up breakfast, lunch and dinner.

TRIP TIP!  The portions here are huge!  The kitchen staff will be happy to make a burrito with your leftovers.  You get two meals for the price of one.  What a great idea!

FUN FACT!  Being a restaurant owner/accountant/notary public is not enough for Jay. So in his free time he hosts "The Spanish Show" on Bishop's FM radio station; KSRW 92.5 Sundays 2 pm to 6 pm.

2278 North Sierra Hwy Bishop, Ca, 93514 (760) 873-3789

Mahogany Smoked Meats

Since 1922 the name says it all.  If they’re cooking you won’t even need GPS to find the place. Your nose will Mahogany Smoked Meatsguide you.  Mahogany Smoked Meats is famous for their beef jerky.  Many say this is the best jerky, period.  And who am I to argue?  Hundreds of Yelp reviews can’t be wrong.  Tired of the same old western or teriyaki varieties? Then try their sweet and spicy, habanero, cowboy or Indian jerky.  For the adventurous these guys also serve up turkey, buffalo and elk jerky.  Behind the twenty foot butcher case is a cornucopia of dried delights.  And they give free samples!

Now, jerky isn’t the only reason to stop here.  Our top pick is the double smoked bacon.  Yes, double smoked.  Make a BLT out of this and your friends will fight you for it.  Add a few slices of avocado and you’ll swear you have reached nirvana.  These are nice thick slabs that will make you a hero any time you fry them up.  We made the mistake of sharing some with our friends and now every time we stop here we have to bring home a dozen or more packages of the stuff!

Mahogany Smoked Meats also sells smoked ham, pork chops, chicken breasts and  sausage.  The list seems endless.  If they can smoke it, you can buy it.  There is a deli on the premises just waiting to make you a sandwich with any or all of their fine products.  Debbie and I have not eaten here yet, but when we do, you can read about it here.

When you walk in check out the freezer in front of you.  There you’ll find smoked ham hocks and packages of bacon ends.  Be sure to grab a couple for those special recipes.  Warning!  This stuff is really smoky!  Think twice before adding it to a dish.  For instance, though throwing in a ham hock is a great addition to a pot of beans, it is a little overpowering if you are making split pea soup.

2345 North Sierra Hwy Bishop, Ca 95514 (760) 873-5311  

TRAVEL TRIVIA ANSWER  It comes as no shock the highest temperature was recorded at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. On July 10, 1913 the thermometer read an unimaginable 134 degrees!¬† What is surprising is that the Death Valley record is now recognized as the hottest day on earth, period.  On September 13, 1922 a high of 136 degrees was recorded in Libya. However in 2012 the World Meteorological¬† Organization determined the record to be invalid due to poor data recording by an inexperienced record keeper and inferior weather instruments. Interestingly, on July 12, 2012 the low temperature for Furnace Creek was 107 degrees.  That is a tie for the highest low temperature ever recorded.