Monday, October 19, 2009

suddenly Seymour

The news that is likely to disappoint many All Saints parishioners caused cheers of elation at Holy Family Catholic Church last night. They were having a dedication ceremony for their new Family Life Center when Bishop Richard Stika announced that Fr. Ragan Schriver is the new pastor of the Seymour parish. Fr. Ragan had been there on a temporary basis as parish administrator for the past couple of months. Schriver retains his full-time job as executive director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee.

Even Fr. Ragan was surprised that the Bishop chose to break the news at the dedication ceremony. I told him that my wife and I were ready to help organize some sort of vegetarian-friendly farewell reception for him in West Knoxville. He responded that Fr. Michael Woods is already planning something. It'll be great. They certainly know how to throw a party at All Saints.

My wife and I went to the parish hoedown on Saturday to enjoy some BBQ and dancing. My first attempt at square dancing left me a little dizzy but I might have been overly tired from shooting stuff that day. The congregation from the Saturday night Spanish Mass came over when their liturgy ended. The hoedown organizers had to run out to Famous Dave's to buy more pulled pork to feed the new arrivals.

On Sunday morning I picked up a copy of the Spanish language bulletin. Even though I don't speak or read the language, I was amused by a few of the words advertising Saturday's event. Obviously my trail mix would have been an inappropriate dessert, not so much for the nuts but for the frutas secas dried fruits. Who knew?
Fiesta en All Saints. El tema es Hoedown (danza típica del los americanos). Todos están invitados. Se servirá comida y se bailará. Se pide traer postre, por ejemplo: Pastel o tarta de frutas o galletas dulces, no traer nada que contenga frutas secas por razones de alergias.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

millions of peaches, peaches for me

Having guests in the house last weekend gave us a reason to cook baby back ribs on the smoker for the first time in a long time. My wife made a dry rub from scratch, using a recipe she found online as a partial guide. She started with the ribs wrapped in foil to keep them moist during the long cooking process. A few holes in the top of the foil allowed the smoke inside.

After a while she opened the foil to apply a mop she had also made from scratch. She let them finish cooking without the foil. When the meat falls off the bone, the ribs are done. We were surprised that they were ready a few hours earlier than expected.

After the ribs were taken out of the smoke box, we put a grill into the fire box and cooked some peaches. If you've never tried this, I highly recommend it. Slice the peaches in half and brush them with oil before placing them over the fire. Keep an eye on them and flip them when you're satisfied with the way they look. Ours were perfect. We refrigerated two leftover halves in Ziploc bags and had them for breakfast the next day. They were just as good served cold.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


Over the years, a few of my blog entries have covered topics similar to Carly Harrington's excellent "The Bottom Line" blog. She reports on the openings and closings of local businesses. I'm especially interested in her restaurant coverage. For example, I certainly thought of Carly when I happened to be the first person to show up on opening day at Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets.

A couple of things happened today that also reminded me of her column. I drove past Pup's Pit and noticed they had moved. A sign on the window announced that their new location is on Northshore Drive at Rocky Hill. The most obvious reason I thought of Carly was the notification I received this afternoon that knoxgirl75 had started following my Twitter feed. It's no wonder that Carly is thought of as "the face of newsroom innovation."

"The Bottom Line" crossed my mind last Friday when I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new location for Academy Ballroom. As I was taking a picture of their new sign, another new sign caught my eye. Hard Knox Pizza recently opened a few doors down from the dance studio. I stopped in to look around and promised owners Dean and Jill that I would be back for a meal with my wife. I'll be sure to wave at their webcam.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

you're not gone till you've been

The line to get in to Jack's Bar-B-Que on Broadway in Nashville was too long. My friends from Wise Brother Media had to catch a flight back to Los Angeles after the Morning Show Bootcamp. They wanted to grab a quick lunch and decided to keep walking down the street to someplace less popular. I went with them but made a mental note to come back to Jack's next time I was in Nashville.

Last week my wife and I were on our way home from Missouri. We were approaching Nashville around dinner time when I saw a billboard along I-24 for Jack's. The sign told us to exit on Trinity Lane, a couple of miles before we hit downtown. We found ourselves at Jack's other location in Talbot's Corner.

We ordered chicken for dinner but will positively plan ahead to have pork the next time. My wife ordered greens as her side item. I thought they might have been collard but they were probably turnip, based on what I read on Jack's website. The people behind me in line laughed when I couldn't identify which of the three varieties in front of me was chess pie. The other two were chocolate and pecan. Next time I'll try a piece of chess. Or should I say chess piece?

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

shop around

There's a particular brand of fat-free salad dressing that I have been buying at Food City for the past few years. I have made a point of only shopping at the specific locations (Bearden and Morrell Road) that stock Henri's. The cost per ounce made it more affordable than smaller bottle's of Ken's fat-free dressings.

Food City recently raised the price of my favorite dressing to well over $4 a bottle, which gave me reason to try another brand. The honey mustard variety of Eating Right Salad Dressing looks watery but for the price, I'm willing to put up with it. The current sale price is $2.50 a bottle. It's flavor is more mustard than honey, whereas Henri's is more honey than mustard. Eating Right dressing has ten fewer calories and 135 fewer mg of sodium than Henri's.

It's a little odd to me that Food City carries products from Eating Right, which is a Safeway brand. Food City recently denied rumors that they might be sold to Publix.

I've also tried a cheaper barbecue sauce, hoping my family will like it. I had been paying over $3 a bottle for Sticky Fingers Memphis Original Barbecue Sauce. It tastes great but to save some money, I bought a one-gallon jug of Corky's Bar-B-Q sauce at Sam's Club. When we finally finished the jug, I went to Sam's to buy a new one. As is their habit, they had discontinued the item.

While at Food City, I started comparing labels and prices of the different BBQ sauces on the shelf. Some had too many calories. Others had too much sodium. Most cost too much. Sticky Fingers has only 35 calories and 240 mg of sodium but the price is high. Corky's had 40 calories and 310 mg of sodium. After considering the Jack Daniel's sauces, I finally picked up a bottle of a store brand and was surprised by what I saw. The Valu Time BBQ sauce has 45 calories per serving and only 190 mg of sodium. Best of all, it cost 96 cents. Although my wife and son still prefer the name brands, the taste of Valu Time is completely satisfactory to me. I should have tried buying it a lot sooner.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

yo old lady

Marshal Andy Smalls invited me to his Big Band Showcase at the Bearden Banquet Hall yesterday afternoon. He performs there on the last Sunday of every month, alternating between big band and western shows. The price of admission includes a buffet meal from Buddy's Bar-B-Q. They were supposed to serve chicken yesterday. Due to a scheduling mix-up, we had some delicious pulled pork instead. Normally the pork is served every other month during Marshal Andy's western music show.

My wife and I sat at a table with Brad Walker and Gary Bluemel, "the singing deejay." Gary would sing two songs with the band later on. During lunch, Brad told me about his new show on WKTI, Sunday afternoons at 3:00. He said he might have me on as a guest to talk about some of my favorite songs.

The Sisters of the Silver Sage were the opening act. They sang songs like "Mr. Sandman" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" rather than their western tunes. Their calendar shows them performing at Marshal Andy's Cowboy Jamboree next month, presumably with pulled pork on the menu.

Near the end of his set, Marshal Andy surprised me by announcing that I was in the audience and asking me to come up to the microphone. Although it was the Big Band Showcase, he was going to try to teach me to yodel like Eddy Arnold. I warned him that I couldn't sing, much less yodel. All I had to do was follow him, he said. Before starting, he said that if I knew the song, I should make sure not to get ahead of his lead. I didn't want to offend the good Marshal but I don't know any Eddy Arnold songs. In fact, until recently, I used to get Eddy Arnold confused with the guy from "Green Acres." Fortunately (I think), my wife was quick to grab the camera and switch it to video mode. You can see me nervously grabbing my pockets.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

stabba-slabba do

When the lovely Carol Bass invited us to lunch, I thought it might be fun to go someplace that had bones on the menu. Her husband is, of course, the renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass. My wife, our son and I met Dr. and Mrs. Bass at Calhoun's on Bearden Hill. We had a great visit, mostly talking about mutual friends and about my son's experience at college so far.

The talk of college led Dr. Bass to ask if I had seen the Washington Post's favorable review of "Bones of Betrayal." The column was written by a professor at my alma mater, George Mason University. I told him that Jon Jefferson had emailed me a link to it. Jon is the co-author of several books with Dr. Bass.

The mention of Jon's name reminded me of the anecdote that had prompted me to suggest Calhoun's in the first place. Dr. Bass was happy to use the bones from my son's order of ribs to demonstrate how a knife leaves marks during a stabbing.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

involved and committed

The ideas I had for my son's seventh grade science fair project were rejected, including the one that made it as far as the teacher. I thought that a miniature body farm, using critters that had accidentally died in the pool, would go over well. It never made it out of committee. By committee, I mean my wife.

My son presented a better idea to his teacher. He wanted to soak some teeth in Coca-Cola to see if they would dissolve. When she said no teeth, I suggested that he use rib bones from a pig. We were heavily into smoking pork at the time and finding a surplus of bones would be easy. The teacher then made it clear that she would reject anything organic. My son had to do the experiment with iron nails, which had only the most minuscule change in weight during their time in the soda.

A teacher named Stephanie Chavez at Washington Union High School in Fresno would have been more receptive to my scientific method. According to the Fresno Bee, she wants to create a "chicken body farm" using store-bought chickens. My son says that she should make sure to buy the kind without preservatives.
Description of Project: The "Chicken" Body Farm: Scientists have put together an ongoing study of how bodies decompose in different scenarios. I would like to have my AP Biology class perform a similar experiment but instead of using cadavers, we would use store-bought chickens. Students place their chickens in various created scenarios such as: submerged in water, enclosed in a box, covered in clothes and wrapped in aluminum and will track the rate of decomposition. They will also observe how long it takes for insects to show up, learn the insect life cycles and how it affects the decomposition of the chicken. The grant will provide the equipment necessary to create a secure environment in which to study as well as all the equipment needed to create each "chicken" decomposition scenario.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

chicken little

KFC blew it. They had a perfect opportunity to make a good impression and really reinforce their "Unthink" advertising campaign. They even had the almighty Oprah behind them. Other businesses have been able to figure it out. Ben & Jerry's hands out free cones every year. Denny's gave away two million Grand Slam breakfasts the Tuesday after the Super Bowl.

Instead of picking a day and doing a simple giveaway, KFC asked people to go online and print a coupon. They stopped honoring the coupons after a day or two and now require patrons to apply for a rain check. The letter (and press release) from KFC President Roger Eaton makes it sound like they don't have enough grilled chicken to go around. There was no line and plenty of grilled chicken available when I got there last night. The clerk behind the counter said he thought that counterfeit coupons were the real problem.

KFC's public relations fiasco made me wish El Pollo Loco had a restaurant in Knoxville. Not only did one of my favorite fast food places do a successful chicken giveaway in April, they are honoring KFC's coupons on Mother's Day.

Frustrated by last night's inconvenience, I chose not to buy my dinner at KFC. On the way home, I realized that I was fairly close to M&M Catering. Considering how often I used to stop by their old location (now home to Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets), I was surprised that I had not yet been to their new place at Middlebrook and Chert Pit Road. A memo in the window points out that they were chosen as best barbecue joint in the 2008 Metro Pulse survey. They made runner-up this year.

I ordered a chicken sandwich with a mixture of hot and mild sauce. Like their previous spot, there's no place to sit and eat. All orders are to go. While I waited, the lady behind the counter told me that the reason their website didn't work when I clicked on it last week was because it was being rebuilt. The sandwich looked good but the meat was only lukewarm. Bummer. I picked the chicken off the bun and zapped it in the microwave at home.

An inscription in the concrete caught my eye as I carried my sandwich to the car. It read "In Memory of Robert; M&M Catering; Love, wife & kids."

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

first pitch

By accident and design I found myself at two grand openings on Monday. Danielle and Wes Hope invited one and all to the opening of their new gallery for Hope Photography on Bearden Hill. My little camera was in my pocket the whole time but I was too self-conscious to take snapshots at a professional photographer's event. I felt like I had already been there thanks to the beautiful pictures of the construction progress on the Hope Photo blog.

The Hope's gallery space is inside Lisa Foster Floral Design. The open house was a showcase for several wedding services. When my wife and I arrived, we saw a white tent, a deejay, a wedding cake and servers offering sandwiches from the neighboring Pimento's Café. I especially enjoyed some red velvet cookies from a small specialty company. I think Wes took a picture of the cookies and the tent card for his blog.

I only had my cell phone camera with me earlier in the day when I was the first person to show up for the grand opening of Two Sisters Sandwiches & Sweets on Middlebrook Pike. Ruby and Dixie have taken over the old location of M&M Catering, which moved down the road last summer. Instead of the many large BBQ pit smokers that M&M had, the ladies have an inconspicuous electric smoker around back.

The sisters offered me a small sample of a smoked bologna sandwich and a nice moist mini cupcake. Their full size cupcakes looked great too. Perhaps best of all, they will offer frosting shots, like the cupcake bakeries in the big cities.

I promised Ruby and Dixie that I would eventually be back to buy a smoked chicken sandwich and a full sized cupcake. For now they are sticking with basic flavors but can make anything by special order. I told them I might just challenge them to whip up some Rocky Road or S'mores or Elvis-themed cupcakes. They'll also be selling soft-serve ice cream and slaw dogs, among other things.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

salad days

A trip downtown on Friday turned into a nice date for my wife and me. After seeing Julia Nunes perform and getting a free cupcake, we used another coupon to get a discount on lunch at La Costa on Market Square.

Because I planned to eat my free cupcake for dessert, I wanted to order a salad rather than a sandwich. However the very tempting daily special was a pulled pork sandwich with mango BBQ sauce. My wife ordered a delicious Ancho Chicken Salad Wrap and had them add some enticing Benton's bacon bits.

There was a smoked duck breast salad on the menu which sounded okay except for the duck. I asked the waiter if the chef would be offended by me asking him to create a salad with the pulled pork. He reported back that the chef was excited by the challenge. I said that I wanted them to name the dish after me if it was good enough to get on the menu in the future. The waiter said it depended on whether or not I had a cool name. I said, "fortunately for you, my name is Pork Salad."

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Monday, March 09, 2009

stew in your own juice

Because we were directed around to the back of the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum on Saturday, my son and I found ourselves in the entertainers and vendors parking area of a local street festival. Before heading into the museum, we made a quick tour of the various tents and booths at the Jupiter Jazz & Art Festival.

In one tent, a man and his wife were offering tastes of their barbeque sauce on tortilla chips and small pieces of rice cake. I tried both the mild and hot varieties of Rodney’s Backyard Barbeque Sauce and ultimately bought a bottle as much for the story behind it as for the taste of it.

Rodney had been making his own sauce at home for years. He got hooked up with a Florida company called IPAC, which bottles products for dreamers like him to sell for themselves whether online, at festivals or door-to-door. Rodney said that the head of IPAC was some sort of well-educated genius who got tired of the corporate rat race. I found an article about another guy who uses IPAC to bottle his comically-but-crudely-named hot sauce.

My son and I used Rodney’s sauce to season some boneless, skinless chicken breasts that we bought on sale at Publix. We’ll have to try to finish the bottle while we’re in Florida because I don’t think the TSA will let me bring more than three ounces of it on the plane.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

fat Tuesday

Comedian Pat Godwin wrote a note on my wall Sunday that asked "who is that thin guy in your profile photo?" It was a callback to our conversation at the old Comedy Zone a year and a half ago. I wrote back that I might dare to post a "before" photo that he would recognize. The inspiration to do so came during lunch today when I chose a sauce for my chicken.

When my wife and I went to the fancy Kroger this weekend, I noticed that they carry the delicious Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce that I love. They sell the 15.75 ounce bottles for $7.49, which is more than the $6.87 I used to pay for a 40 ounce bottle at Sam's Club.

The word chipotle caught my eye on another label I knew. Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q has a new Spicy Chipotle B-B-Q Sauce that I wanted to try. I bought a 16 ounce bottle for $2.99. It's noticeably spicier than their regular sauce, which I've used in the past.

The message from Pat and the bottle of sauce combined to make me flashback to a trip my family took to Atlanta in May, 2005. We ate at the Williamson Bros. restaurant in nearby Marietta. It was still four months before I started the weight loss program that changed my life.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

see you in the funny papers

Dagwood Bumstead is more like me than I thought. He said two things this week that could have come out of my own mouth instead.

As a kid, I used to read the comics every day. Now I mostly read the newspaper online, only glancing at the comics when I have access to the dead-tree edition. Most comic strips are available online (including my current favorite, Bizarro) but who has time to visit each strip's website? It's not the same as scanning two whole pages of newsprint to see if something makes you laugh. I have long wondered if comic artists need to draw a new set of pictures for each strip or if they can use stock images and put new words in the speech and thought balloons, especially for heritage strips like Blondie.

On Thursday
, Dagwood was griping about the amount of money Jerry Seinfeld got to do those odd Microsoft commercials. I identified with his answer when Blondie asked him what products he could endorse. I also would gladly do commercials for pillows, recliners, homemade pies, mattresses, hamburgers, hot sauce, cakes, pizza, ice cream parlors and BBQ joints. It makes perfect sense, just like the time I endorsed a company that sells and installs high-def TVs.

I spotted another similarity with Dagwood yesterday. Like me, he's a fan of naps. Unlike me, he claims there's a difference between sleeping and napping. When I take a nap, I do it right, changing into sleepwear and crawling into bed, not to be disturbed for three hours.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

cupcake, gonna have a cupcake

In celebration of my major award, I went only partially Elvis today. First, I stopped by Pilot to get a free copy of the News Sentinel to send to my mother. The print edition of the East Tennessee's Best section has a nice portrait photo of me next to the Best Local Blogger description.

At lunchtime I found myself driving past a BBQ joint I have been wanting to try. Pup's Pit is a small building tucked into the corner of a used car lot on Walker Springs Road. I ordered a pulled chicken sandwich with a mixture of mild and hot sauce. The combination gave me the perfect level of spicy heat, however the flavor was too ketchupy. Before eating the sandwich, I ate a little piece of chicken without any sauce. It had a good smoky taste. Next time I will have them leave off the sauce and put on my own when I get home.

As promised yesterday, my celebratory dessert was a Graceland cupcake from The Cupcakery. The banana cake was topped with peanut butter icing and a slice of dried banana partially dipped in chocolate. It was fine, however I would have liked it better if it had banana icing too. The clerk told me that the Pumpkin Harvest cupcakes in the same case had a cinnamon icing and a piece of ginger snap on top. Generally speaking, the Cupcakery's cupcakes look perfect but could benefit from more icing. I like icing.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

pig pun

Half the fun of going to a BBQ competition is seeing the names of the teams. Some are ordinary, others are funny and some are outrageous. At the Tennessee State Bar-B-Q Championship on Saturday my wife and I saw Pearls Before Swine, Cookin' Possums, Q the Pig and my personal favorite, Grills Gone Wild.

An online database helps novice BBQ-ers check to see if their idea of a team name has already been taken. A quick glance brought a smile to my face when I saw Jack the Ribber on the list. The Commercial Appeal had a list of teams that participated in the Memphis In May competition, including one called The Church of Swinetology.

Here's your chance to use the comments section to report any funny BBQ team names you've seen on Food Network or in-person.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

smoking section

An old blog entry helped me finally accomplish something that I wanted to do two years ago. Last night, my wife and I went to the St. Joseph School Fall Festival. As I finished writing about it, I checked my archives to see if I had mentioned the festival last year or the year before. I had, in a 2006 post which told of my dashed hopes to visit the Tennessee State Bar-B-Q Championship in Lenoir City.

I enjoy watching BBQ competitions on Food Network and had a great time at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue a few years ago. A couple of clicks revealed that St. Joseph's festival and the Tennessee state championship were on the same weekend for at least the third year in a row. This year the cook-off moved out of Lenoir City Park to be combined with an antique car show and street festival on Broadway and Depot Streets.

Because of my work schedule, my wife and I got to Lenoir City around 10:30 a.m. and left around noon. We hadn't been there but a few minutes when we encountered Tammy Hudson, the official photographer for the event. I told her that I had recently looked at her photos from last year. She said she would get today's pictures posted as soon as her slow upload would allow.

The only vehicle in the car show that intrigued me was the Doubleheader Volkswagen Beetle. My wife said it was just like the pushmi-pullyu. Unfortunately it has one engine and only drives from one end. She also photographed a radio relic. And a piece of antique cabinetry.

What looked like an eighteen wheeler turned out to be a Peterbilt conversion RV. Just across the way, a friendly contestant told us about the chocolate cherry cobbler he was making. He cooked it in a dutch oven using a Boy Scout recipe.

We found three booths selling BBQ on one of the side streets between Broadway and Depot. One was serving Cades Cove BBQ, which had been cooked in a nearby factory. I opted to get a plate from the Smokin' Rednecks, who were cooking on site. I avoided their "Sissy Sauce" and used a combination of their medium and hot. Before we left, I followed a contestant from 4 Little Pigs BBQ as he turned in his chicken entry at noon.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

in the pie hole

Which is better, cake or pie? It's an age-old dilemma that pits brother against brother. Or in my case, co-worker against co-worker. During my KROQ days, the morning show staff used to travel to New York for the MTV Video Music Awards. One year Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla posed the cake or pie question to the rest of us. The friendly argument continued during the award show as all the people sitting near us in the Radio City Music Hall balcony weighed in.

I had an opportunity to resurrect the debate in Knoxville at one of the now-defunct stations where I worked. Although I don't dislike pie, I argued convincingly for cake. I mean, who has birthday pie or wedding pie? I also opined that a cheesecake is actually a pie. I used to have an aircheck of the bit visible on my website but now it's stuck in a little-used subdirectory.

Last year I was asked to judge a cake decorating contest. I found out after I got there that there would be no tasting the cakes. Tonight it was pie's turn. When I was invited to judge a contest at the St. Joseph School Fall Festival, I made sure to ask in advance whether or not the judges would get to taste the pies.

St. Albert the Great pastor Fr. Chris Michelson, school booster Jim Humphries and I tasted small pieces of seven different pies. A very light pumpkin mousse pie barely edged out an excellent pecan pie as the winner. For third place, we had a very difficult time choosing between a chocolate chess pie and a Ritz mock apple pie that completely fooled us. After dessert, we had some of the festival's famous BBQ. I chose the chicken dinner over the ribs. Chopped pork gets added to the menu on Saturday.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

road tasted

The real reason my wife and I made a stopover in Memphis was to visit our friend Jessica. While we were there we toured Graceland and had an amazing piece of Oreo Cream Cake. There are still a couple of notes on my scratchpad that didn't make it into a blog entry until now.

The first billboards we saw after crossing from Arkansas into Tennessee had the giant face of attorney Corey B. Trotz. I had assumed that his repetitive, low-budget television ads were on in Knoxville only. He's actually a Memphis lawyer.

All of the BBQ joints I had thought about patronizing weren't convenient to Jessica's neighborhood. Because she knows I'm a fan of Food Network, Jessica asked if we wanted to try Neely's BBQ for dinner. The restaurant is owned by Pat and Gina Neely, hosts of "Down Home with the Neelys." It was not crowded that Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the service was bad. However the food was good. By the time our meals arrived, I was too hungry to remember to take a picture of the plate of Bar-B-Que spaghetti that my wife and I shared.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

the big four-oh

The itinerary for my just-completed road trip was designed so that I could add another state to the list of those I've visited. Arkansas is my fortieth state, filling in a gap on my coverage map.

My copy of "1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before You Die" helped me decide to head to Hot Springs, America's first resort. The book says that the word spa is an acronym for the Latin words for "health through water" (sanus per aquam) although other sources say the Latin is a convenient backronym.

We started out by touring the Fordyce Bathhouse, which is now the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park. We walked through the old locker rooms, steam rooms and massage rooms to see the equipment used back in the olden days. My wife was reminded of the way Hearst Castle in California is also frozen in time. The from-the-neck-down steam cabinets were something I had only previously seen in cartoons. Empty bottles are for sale everywhere in town. The hot water is available for free. In the AAA TourBook I learned that it takes 4,000 years for rainwater to soak into the nearby mountains and come back up through the springs, heated to 143 degrees.

Rather than just see history on display at the visitor center, we were able to experience it firsthand at the Buckstaff Bath House. We lined up early for the afternoon session, having been advised that those tickets often sell out. My wife and the other women went upstairs. The men bathe on the first floor. Everything inside the facility looked like it had been there since 1912. As I got in the porcelain tub, the attendant gave me a little cup of water from the tub's spigot and told me to drink it. During what seemed like a very long soaking, I occasionally twisted around to protect my parts from the whirlpool. I had plenty of time to think that I had probably never been more naked on a vacation. Eventually the bath attendant shut off the whirlpool and scrubbed my back, chest, arms and legs with a loofa mitt, which I got to keep. I also sat in a small steam room, took a needle shower. and sat in a sitz bath tub with water cascading over my lower back. After that, my lower back and shoulders were wrapped in hot towels. I think I may have dozed off for a minute while waiting for my massage.

After our spa treatments, my wife and I headed to another place mentioned in "1000 Places to See..." to get some dinner. We split an order of the famous ribs and fries at McClard's Bar-B-Q Restaurant. I didn't want so many fries, so we got it with half fries and half slaw. Two stickers on the front door at McClard's grabbed my attention. One said they were also featured in a book called "Eat This!: 1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet." The other said "Warning: No Firearms Allowed." I wonder what happened in the past to make that sign necessary.

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