Fat Boy Summer Road Trip, part 2

Day 5

We left St. Louis after a great time catching up with the Golden family and headed south to Memphis.  Alongthe way we stopped at Stonie's Sausage Shop for some road snacks.  They had a great selection of fresh made smoked meats and sausages, great homemade jerky, and a wide selection of local area products from pickles to pork rinds, wine, and sodas.  It was a great find.  We picked up some cheese, some snack sticks, and some bologna and sausage to thow in the cooler for the drive to Memphis.

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 Even on a Monday evening Beale Street was busy.

Even on a Monday evening Beale Street was busy.

After a long drive we made it to Memphis around 8pm and headed straight to Beale St., starting at the West end at the Hard Rock Cafe.  If you have never been to Memphis, TN it really is a trip every music lover should take.  The sights and sounds even on a Monday night were spectacular, with live music coming from every juke joint on Beale.  We walked "with our boots ten feet off of Beale" taking in the sights and sounds until we reached the end of the entertainment district and were waived into Coyote Ugly by their manager T.  It was quiet on a Monday night, but we ended up having a ton of fun and closing the place down with Morgan and Evee.

 In this job attitude is everything, and the Memphis Coyotes had it.  Evee was fiesty and up for a challenge.

In this job attitude is everything, and the Memphis Coyotes had it.  Evee was fiesty and up for a challenge.

 Morgan was pure attitude, running the bartop like it was a circus tent at times to try and get tips from a small crowd while drawing people in off of the street.

Morgan was pure attitude, running the bartop like it was a circus tent at times to try and get tips from a small crowd while drawing people in off of the street.

 Some customers relucktently dance on the bar for a photo....

Some customers relucktently dance on the bar for a photo....

 Other customers are much more enthusiastic!

Other customers are much more enthusiastic!

 What's a guy to do when his buddy wanders away and the next round comes?

What's a guy to do when his buddy wanders away and the next round comes?

 This fat boy drinks them both and hopes his boy comes back before the next round hits the bar....

This fat boy drinks them both and hopes his boy comes back before the next round hits the bar....

 And then your bartenders steal your phone off the bar to take a selfie!

And then your bartenders steal your phone off the bar to take a selfie!

Day 6

Left Memphis for Shreveport, LA.  The long night had us so tired we forgot to set the alarm and were woken up by the guy at the front desk telling us it was checkout time.  Fortunately he gave us a late checkout without a hassle.  We had a huge breakfast at Cracker Barrel and were on our way.

It was a long drive, but we made it into Shreveport and got checked into our hotel.  It was right next to the Louisiana Downs racetrack and casino, so we walked over there to find dinner.

Fuddruckers was the only restaurant in the casino still open, but they have always made an amazing burger so we had a nice meal.  We played the slots for a few minutes after dinner then called it an early night.

 

Day 7

After an early night we got up and packed after a decent breakfast buffet at the hotel.  After a long drive made it to Austin, TX.

 Stubbs BBQ has quickly become one of the premiere music venues in Austin, and they proudly have decorated with concert posters from previous shows.

Stubbs BBQ has quickly become one of the premiere music venues in Austin, and they proudly have decorated with concert posters from previous shows.

 I had the 3-meat combo with spare ribs, brisket, and classic sausage.  On the side I had Serrano Cheese spinach and mashed sweet potatoes.  

I had the 3-meat combo with spare ribs, brisket, and classic sausage.  On the side I had Serrano Cheese spinach and mashed sweet potatoes.  

No trip to Austin is complete for me without a trip to Stubbs BBQ.  Stubbs Legendary BBQ has been doing pit style BBQ right since Mr. Stubblefield opened the original (and now closed) joint in Lubbock in 1968.  He was instrumental in breaking musical talent like Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughn back then and ever since live music has been almost as important as the food to Stubbs' customers and fans worldwide.

After a great dinner at Stubbs we headed for 6th Street to find a party.  We walked the North side of the block then crossed to come back to Chuggin' Monkey to get a look at the band that we could hear from across the street.

The Blues Posse were tearing it up! Their lead guitar, Jack Edery was pulling blues licks from all over the spectrum and doing them well.  Vocals from Mr. Jamie van Beek were tight and accurate.  A great show.  On to the next spot.

 Blues Posse blew the roof off of The Chuggin' Monkey during their first set

Blues Posse blew the roof off of The Chuggin' Monkey during their first set

We left the Chuggin' Monkey and wandered into Pete's Dueling Piano Bar.  It was packed, with hundreds of people all singing along and shouting requests spanning the decades.

Another music town, another Coyote Ugly! Rosalyn, Morgan, and Ashley were fun but didn't match the energy or fun of the great ladies we met a couple of days ago in Memphis. 

We closed Coyote Ugly down again, and headed back to the hotel.

Day 8

We got up and moving planning on heading for Amarillo, but plans to see a friend fell through so we changed our routing a bit, heading to Roswell, NM instead. It was a long drive, but we made Roswell about 7:30 local time.  We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant recommended by the girl at the front desk called Los Cerritos.

I had a great stuffed sopapilla with all the trimmings.  The recommendation if anything undersold the food.  I love New Mexican food, with the great use of hatch green chiles and a unique addition of fried dough.

I ❤️ Kentucky

Carrie and I spent the weekend in Louisville, and the visit reinforced the fact that I love Kentucky like it was where I was born to live.  From the small-town feel of the big city you get in Louisville to the rolling bluegrass fields and horse ranches of the countryside it's an amazing place that reminds me of my real home in Portland, Oregon but adds so much charm and history, not to mention actual seasons.  And we can't forget the bourbon.  From great bourbon bars to the largest and best bourbon distillers in the world both Louisville and Lexington are amazing whiskey towns. 

Mar 3, 2017

Day one of our anniversary trip to Louisville was a long drive, where we checked into the historic Seelbach Hotel followed by a great bowl of Burgoo and cocktails at one of the best hotel bars in the country, The Old Seelbach Bar.

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 The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing whiskey selection in addition to being one of the oldest bars on Louisville's Urban Bourbon tour. 

The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing whiskey selection in addition to being one of the oldest bars on Louisville's Urban Bourbon tour. 

Traditional burgoo was made using whatever meats and vegetables were available—typically, venison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or game birds, and was often associated with autumn and the harvest season. Today, local barbecue restaurants use a specific meat in their recipes, usually pork, chicken, or mutton, which, along with the spices used, creates a flavor unique to each restaurant.

The Seelbach takes things to a new level featuring pork, rabbit, and venison in their burgoo. This combination of meats with the traditional okra, corn, and potatoes whose starches leech out to thicken this amazing soup create a concoction thick enough to stand your spoon up while still leaving an ample amount of broth to be soaked up by their amazing bourbon bread.

 The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing burgoo

The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing burgoo

March 4, 2017

We started with a quiet morning and breakfast in bed from the amazing Gatsby's on Fourth Cafe in the hotel. We then took a drive through historic Louisville. We tried to get in for a tour of the Angels Envy distillery that opened across from Slugger Stadium since the last time we were in town, but tours were sold out for the day. Instead we took a drive out Old Bardstown Road through the historic neighborhoods East of Downtown known as The Highlands.

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We came back early afternoon and walked down the street from the Seelbach to another historic Louisville hotel, The Brown for lunch. Our favorite spot in the hotel, the Lobby Bar wasn't open yet but I got some pictures before heading down to the historic J. Graham's Cafe on the first floor.

 The Lobby Bar at The Brown Hotel

The Lobby Bar at The Brown Hotel

 Lobby and mezzanine from The Brown Hotel's front desk

Lobby and mezzanine from The Brown Hotel's front desk

J. Graham's Cafe is the originator of the Hot Brown, the city's signature sandwich which was developed in the 1920's to satisfy late night diners looking for more glamorous than ham and eggs after attending the historic dinner dances hosted in the 4,300 sqft Crystal Ballroom which regularly accommodated more than 1,200 guests per night.

 The J. Graham cafe in the Brown Hotel's daylight basement is one of Downtown Louisville's oldest

The J. Graham cafe in the Brown Hotel's daylight basement is one of Downtown Louisville's oldest

We of course both chose the Hot Brown for our lunch, and as always were not disappointed. The amazing mornay sauce is as ever the centerpiece of this amazing open faced sandwich, combining Pecorino Romano cheese with a perfectly made cream sauce with just a hint of nutmeg to draw out the nutty flavors of the cheese. This sauce covers the base of Texas toast and Turkey before being sprinkled with more cheese and thrown under a broiler. The sandwich is then covered with 2 strips of bacon before being garnished and served. There is no better sandwich in my experience, and I've eaten some amazing sandwiches in my travels.

 The world famous Hot Brown originated in this historic cafe

The world famous Hot Brown originated in this historic cafe

Mar 5, 2017

 Wallace Station

Wallace Station

Country Ham and Pimento cheese on wheat from Wallace Station is an amazingly well constructed sandwich.  The salt and sweet from the ham are the perfect foil for the creamy spice of the pimento cheese.  Pimento cheese is one of those southern creations we just don't find most places in Oregon unless we make it like Grandma did.

 Wallace Station's Country Ham & Pimento cheese sandwich features a house made white cheddar pimento cheese. 

Wallace Station's Country Ham & Pimento cheese sandwich features a house made white cheddar pimento cheese. 

Carrie had the Turkey Rachel, Roast turkey, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and creamy slaw.  A southern take on the Ruben with house made slaw that takes it to a whole new level.  She said it was a great sandwich, and her clean plate said she wasn't just being polite.

 The Turkey Rachel from Wallace Station features an awesome house made slaw

The Turkey Rachel from Wallace Station features an awesome house made slaw

Yesterday was an off day around here....

I said goodbye to an old friend yesterday.  In some ways it was exactly what I thought it would be.  Not much has changed in the funeral mass of the Catholic Church since the 2nd Vatican council approved the move to an English mass after all.

Other things  (mostly people), surprised me.  People who I never would have bet against making it were missing for a variety of reasons.  People I don't remember having a kind words for Packy in High School were crying like it was their son and not Tom and Sally's first born that was taken much too young.

I understand no one knows what to say all the time at these things.  I knew his mother just needed a lot of hugs, because she reached for one any time I was within arm's reach.  She also needed to know she wasn't losing all contact with us just because he was gone.  One thing I have come to realize over the years since high school is that there are some relationships that just ARE. I had not seen Sally in more than twenty years when I walked into that church yesterday, but the hug I received and the obvious thankfulness that I had made it there to be with the family didn't need explanation.  

With his Dad, who had lost his firstborn son and with whom I should have been able to empathize, I know I came off sounding like a freshman on one of his intro to journalism classes.  We had a strong student-teacher dynamic in school but it wasn't very deep or personal.  Why is the first thing we ask "How are you doing?" Or "Are you ok?"????  Shouldn't we know the answers to those two questions without opening our mouths and looking like morons?  We say them anyway, especially or maybe because we don't know what else to say when we know Ok is at a minimum weeks away, and there is still a lot of shock and grief for us all to work through before we can really know how we are coping with this loss.

On one side of the gymnasium we had a family clearly grieving.  Sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles.  Among them were a scattering of good friends that either now or at various times in the past felt like part of the family.  We were standing around sharing stories about Patrick that made us laugh or cry.  Often stories that needed to be protected and remembered but not amplified by the PA system.  From this group came a stream of people to the microphone to share stories with a wider audience  about the amazing and complex person who the world had lost.

On the other side of the room were a lot of Packy's former classmates, probably some friends and associates from work.  Those who felt for whatever reason socially obligated to be there.  They hit the buffet line, and milled around in the corner furthest from the PA so there was less chance anyone would ask them to say a few words. 

We're all supposed to be adults now.  All around forty (some much older) with lives, jobs, and many of us with kids of our own.  Yet to hear half of the conversation my peers had today you would think they were still living in fraternity houses.  The number of people talking about parties I threw in the early '90s shocked me, and some of the best parts were my knowledge that the guy talking was no where near my party that night.  I hate to reduce myself to a variation on a pop culture reference that will be dated before most people read this post, but - Do you even funeral bro??

As things were winding down I was going to get together with some of the guys for some drinks and reality intruded.  My daughter started texting me about power flickering and water dripping from the ceiling. 

I get home and the dogs are barking, and product is waiting in boxes to be reviewed.  I opened the first and it's candy, and in my mood that works great.  It is a sample pack from a local confectionery we have reviewed before, The Candy Basket.  This sampler contains Red Velvet Fudge, Pecan Rolls, and Divinity.  All are done to perfection, and arrived fresh and soft to my door..  I can also confirm that they all pair well with both Teeling Irish Whiskey and Barterhouse 20yo Bourbon from the Orphan Barrel Collection that I also have sitting there needing to review.  I know, I have a hard job sometimes.

 The sampler from The Candy Basket includes from left to right Divinity, Pecan Rolls, and Red Velvet Fudge  

The sampler from The Candy Basket includes from left to right Divinity, Pecan Rolls, and Red Velvet Fudge  

 I know it looks like a problem, but the flasks in this picture are water bottles from FRED Flask.  Look for a full review of them soon. 

I know it looks like a problem, but the flasks in this picture are water bottles from FRED Flask.  Look for a full review of them soon. 

The Teeling you've probably seen reviewed here before.  It is by far my favorite everyday Irish Whiskey and for good reason.  The sweetness it gains from its time in Caribbean rum casks truly set it apart.

 Barterhouse is an extremely limited edition, bottled by hand from "Orphaned Barrels" 

Barterhouse is an extremely limited edition, bottled by hand from "Orphaned Barrels" 

The Barterhouse Orphan Barrel release is something that you don't find every day, and I am telling you right now, you better start looking.  Several barrels were found in the back corner of an old rickhouse outside of Tullahoma, KY after sitting forgotten for almost twenty years.  What begins on the nose as honey and biscuits along side faint hints of buttercream opens up into bold roasted grain, mellow toasted tobacco and marshmallow to compliment the subtle smoke from the barrel and finishes with hints of nutmeg and brown sugar.  Never have I tasted a bourbon that was at once as complex and as smooth, especially after twenty some years in the barrel.  I'm going to have to hunt some more down, because I don't want ever reach for this and find the bottle empty.

So, that was another day in Fat Boy Heaven.  Sorry if it started a little bit too personal and uncomfortable.  I've decided that the only way I can write is to actually engage my mind, that means sometimes the truth as I know it might hit your screen. 

My love, prayers, condolences, and thanks go out to the Eichsteadt/Mitcheltree clan.  We all shared in the joy and happiness Patrick brought into our lives, thank you again for allowing us to join you in saying goodbye.

 Ve con Dios old friend. 

Ve con Dios old friend. 

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 16yo Distillers Edition

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Tonight a good friend that I don't get to spend much time with due to geography came by to catch up, and we decided to sample a few whiskys while he was here.   

As a big scotch guy Lagavulin is one of his favorites, so when I pulled this off the shelf his eyes bugged out.  Labeled bottle 4/504 and distilled and barreled in 1998 this is a double matured Scotch that was sure to meet our expectations. 

As an "Islay" Single Malt Lagavulin is known for a strong smokey flavor, and this bottle did not disappoint.  Straight from the bottle the nose had notes of dried stone fruit and burnt sugar.  The taste started with smooth but strong smoke, which was quickly joined by leather and mild tobaccos before fading into smooth caramel and vanilla.

As my readers know by now I'm not typically a single malt fan, but this will stay in my cabinet for special occasions. 

The Fat Boy Summer Road Trip 2014 - Day 1

Day one of the trip had me leaving Portland behind on the train via Amtrak's Empire Builder on route to Chicago where I will have a wait before changing trains.  I love train travel, and have since I discovered it in college.

 Crossing the Columbia River Draw Bridge

Crossing the Columbia River Draw Bridge

The train leaving Portland crosses the Columbia river into Vancouver, WA before heading East up the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side of the river.  There are some great views on this section of the trip, and the first afternoon and evening is one of the most scenic on Amtrak's route.

 The Bistro Box served for dinner out of Portland was ok, but needed a little help.

The Bistro Box served for dinner out of Portland was ok, but needed a little help.

Leaving Portland the Empire builder has a viewing car with a cafe downstairs but no dining car, so dinner the first night was a boxed affair.  The choices available were limited to shrimp or beef, so I selected the Burgandy Beef Tri-tip.  The beef was flavorful and tender, cooked a little farther towards well than I would prefer but when trying to serve a variety of people and keep under refrigeration that is often the case.  The fruit was fresh and tasty, not over ripe as sometimes can be the case with this type of meal, and the dessert was creamy and delightful.  The only thing that didn't really work for me was the veggie selection.  A mushroom and broccoli combination that might have been good warm was decidedly not when served cold and tossed in some type of vinaigrette.

 

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After dinner I decided to open the bottle of Teeling Irish Whiskey the folks at Caskers sent me to review for a first tasting.  Made in Dublin since 1782 The Teeling hasn't been available in the United States since the revolution.  With whiskey making such a resurgence in the Americas they decided to begin export in January of this year.

This is a smooth whiskey for a type normally known as a shot not for sipping.  As a shot it was so smooth with great sweetness and depth on the finish that I decided to try it on the rocks as well.  Over ice it loses what little bite it had on the nose and leaves the sweet aromas derived from its rum cask finish.  The sweet malts hit the palate first, followed by a little spice before a slightly fruity finish.

 In all a very nice close to my first night aboard my favorite train.

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