Maria Yagoda

This unassuming Amish market is a roadside gem. 

Maria Yagoda
August 29, 2018

Every week, we're publishing This Good Thing, where we'll feature a restaurant dish, store-bought food item, kitchen tool, or food-adjacent obsession that we can't stop thinking about. 

Last week, I was driving down Highway 11 on the way to Florence, Alabama, blasting Kacey Musgraves and getting burned through the sunroof of my rental car. Amid a long stretch of rolling green hills, trees, a few abandoned farms, and a ten-minute sequence of triggering break-up songs, I spotted something on the side of the road that piqued my interest: a country store. A large white sign read: "Flatrock Cheese 'n' More," advertising "Amish country meats & cheese," deli sandwiches, bulk foods, spices, candy, and Virginia ham.

By the time I realized I absolutely needed everything on that sign, and to pee, I'd already zipped a few yards past it. With the road to myself for a mile in front and in back of me, I figured this would be an appropriate (and relatively safe) occasion or me to make my first U-turn. So I screeched around and drove to Flatrock, checking my jorts pocket to make sure the $20 I'd squirreled away was still there. It was, and the $20 would go very far. 

Maria Yagoda

If you're a fan of miscellany, Flatrock is a wonderland. There's one wall lined entirely with locally-made preserves, jams (the peach-jalapeno one is excellent), and jars of pickled bologna and chow chow and more pickles than a human brain could ever register. There's a table topped with herbal rememedies and curious antiques and homemade candles, including a lavender-colored one called "Love Spell" that I bought for $5.99 and in no way regret. There are spices and cheeses and massive bags of dried egg noodles in all shapes. You could spend hours here, but keep your priorities in order: The baked goods are the real prize. Namely, the pumpkin whoopie pie: a huge, fluffy orange disk that tastes like all of your wildest autumn dreams.

Having grown up on the Amish baked goods of Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, I know a thing or two about quality whoopie pies, and these are the real deal. Cakey, fluffy, sweet, and stuffed with ideal amount of delicate whipped cream, this pie was my favorite expression of the "pumpkin spice" trope yet. One bite and I was a pumpkin spice believer. (The sizeable whoopie pie, which can make two generous desserts, cost just 99 cents.)

And don't miss the fresh-baked cookies, either, but especially don't miss the deep-fried handpies, made locally at "Bob's Bakery" per the packaging. I grabbed the last fried pie of the day around 1 p.m., a crispy-sweet blackberry one for $1.99, so make sure to get there early. 

2825 Minor Hill Hwy, Pulaski, TN 38478. (931) 363-3603.

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