Archive for the ‘Tennessee’ Tag
We stopped by Petunia’s Silver Jalapeno, Gin-gin’s (another mutual friend and former workmate from Chattanooga) little food stand out in Red Bank. She has a proper bricks-and-morter restaurant and a culinary school certification but this stand has a reputation for some of the best fish tacos in the east.
I like fish tacos, and in spite of the innuendo involved these were legit. And, very good I should add although I have had better…but it’s not fair to compare food prepped for the dull taste buds of these mountain yahoos to real mexican food so I’ll leave it at that.
Bring your own beer.
(Original article was from Chattanooga Free Press)
I like Bob Dylan. I like big cats. I like beer. I like getting naked. If only there was a way to combine these interests…
The deck upstairs at the Pickle Barrel
Jackie used to work at the Pickle Barrel back in the early 80′s after it was bought by Nick and Brian, two former air traffic controllers at loose ends after the whole PATCO fiasco. In many ways it was the best job she ever had and when she moved to Atlanta many of the Pickle Barrel denizens of that time soon followed. I met many of them before we met, in fact.
So, rare is the visit to Tennessee during which we fail to stop in for a round or two. This time I had an ice cold half pitcher of New Belgium 1554, but eventually it warmed to a drinkable temperature (bunch of savages!). On our way out we spotted Nick at the bar being very Nick-esque and had not so much a conversation as a few disjoint words.
The place predates Nick and Brian (Brian has since left for greener pastures). In the years preceding the PATCO strike it was run by some sort of religious cult and, I am assured, the food was superb. The one remaining nod to this past is the toilets marked “Brothers” and “Sisters” although if you’ve been there more than once you’ll realise these are arbitrary and superfluous labels.
Reading matter in the brothers (or, possibly, the sisters)
The kitchen looks good, still and they have always had the best bar eats in town. The servers can’t possibly be as surly as Jackie ever was, but I’m sure they try. DO, by ALL means, plan on stopping in for a few drinks if you find yourself in town.
“If you get to the donkey you’ve gone too far.”
For a town full of military folk, it’s strange that this is the first ever Veteran’s Memorial
Yep, been drinkin’ and, yep, been quite ill for a few days, but after awhile here this sort of statement is normal regardless of how ridiculous it looks in print. At least these are just street directions and not some sort of hard won ‘Tijuana Juisdom’. We are back in the UK now, but we’ve already worked this into our lexicon usually as a chastisement, e.g., “Oh, you’re way past the donkey.”
Speaking of drinking, after our first day to ourselves or, rather, our first two hours to ourselves we had planned a quiet meal at the mom-in-law’s and to watch the ALDS game (Rangers v Yankees) and arrived home to find that we had been scheduled for yet another command performance (this time at some of Jackie’s rabid but relatively tolerable relations’ place…a couple I actually LIKE to visit, in fact). Sent to find a suitable wine to carry with us, I spotted this bottle:
Actually, Sassy Bitch but fotoshopped to show it as the dyslexia presented it to me…how apropos!
We’d been driving around a bit, as you do, and went up on “the mountain” to see Jackie’s uncles’ property…pretty nice stuff up there, a lot of it was already in the family long before her grandpa Bill went off on his long Federal vacation in Kentucky for producing fine distilled spirits during prohibition (that Prohibition fiasco was exemplified in movies about bootleggers and Al Capone was done and dusted by 1933, for you lot in the civilised world). We stopped for a visit at the window rock which has so much dubious folklore attached to it that I decline to add anymore to it…some indian nonsense or other. The modern folklore is more interesting such as the way like minded individuals might be just on the other side of the rock from one another:
Still it is a great place to have a wee climb and nearby there are some great views of the valley (but the photos all came out a bit ‘flat’ as it was a hazy day) at the hang gliding club’s leap-off point. Beautiful territory up there and the next trip (hopefully years away) I’m going to hit the logging road for a long run.
We had a visit to Chapel Hill, where most of Jackie’s people attend church and quite a few of them are buried. We always stop by on our way out of town and have a drink with her brother (may he rest well), but the little cemetery is worth a walk around sitting in the shadow of Signal Mountain and with a good look across the Sequatchie Valley. There’s also a rough little beer joint 200 meters away that is always worth a visit.
One trend noticed on this visit was the use of laser imaging on rock:
and on brass:
Religion is big here…even more so in the mid south than in America in general, and added to the overall WILLFUL stupidity of the region (hey, sorry, but they’re my people so I get to be judgemental about it) this can result in something amusing and embarassing in almost equal measure. Here’s a good example, a front yard out on the highway that I ran past in December 2008:
is still holding up the tradition of psycho-religio-babble at this time:
God bless America, I guess.
Surrounded by the ones I love most...
We were going to do another pizza but I talked Jackie and her brother into mexican knowing full well that mexican in a small southern town is a loser’s wager. However, El Metate was really very good, rivaling some of the more middle of the road South Tucson dives for quality of food…Chris had fish tacos, Jackie had beef ones, and I had a combo of burrito, taco, and stuffed poblano (all pork). And, Chris decided he didn’t want the dark beer that was delivered to the table (large is one liter each) so I got two when he reordered a lager.
The only downside to the night: the Braves got knocked out of the series.
We were supposed to meet Jackie’s aunt and uncle for lunch and instead met several aunts, uncles, cousins and kids-of-cousins. I’m sure a reunion like this was deserving of a better meal, but everyone else seemed happy with the buffet.
Like the “Japanese” place earlier this week, the only thing really chinese about it was the name and the fact that some of the items were stir fried. At least the staff appeared to be asian, if the meat loaf balls and boiled cabbage and lasagne and biscotti were a bit surreal (both on their own merit and as a chinese dining experience).
I am ready to move on to better food, please. And, I still haven’t got my pitcher of beer and nachos. This trip sucks.
No trip to visit Jackie’s mom could end well. But, the surreptitious–and heavy–pouring of distilled spirits make the journey less horrific. Slightly.
The laws here are funny. A few years ago (just before our last visit, in fact), liquor sales were approved here and now the county has several purveyors of fine spirits. However, you have to go some statutory distance to purchase mixers as they cannot be sold on or near the premises. Also, while they can sell liquor and wine in a licensed establishment they cannot sell beer.
Nearby states have their own quirks. Alabama and North Carolina only sell liquor from state run shops (actually called a “State Store” in ‘bama). Until recently, South Carolina ONLY had liquor-by-the-drink so that a loophole allowed stores to sell those miniature airline bottles in cases of 48 or so. There was a drive through shop in Atlanta that you could shove a gallon milk bottle through the window and they would fill it with draft beer, and if you bought a pint of liquor and a mixer they would throw in a cup of ice for free…what you chose to do with those items on your journey was your own business.
I picked up a 1.75 liter bottle of Early Times bourbon for $18 (that’s about 11.50 pounds sterling, brit folk…read ‘em and weep). We are each bringing our own treats back with us, and for my 1 liter duty free import I ill have Wild Turkey White Label (101 proof sipping bourbon for the Christmas holidays). Dunno what Jackie will bring, but the prices can’t be beat.
Oh, here’s the view just outside:
Nothing says Japanese food, to me at least, like being served chewy, overcooked, teri-yucky drenched beef connective tissue by an obese guatemalan dude. While the NASCAR report blares out of the televisions in the two rooms of this quite lovely little house. No sushi, no sake. No return visit.
Afflicted with a massive upper respiratory infection, I begged off the luchtime outing with Jackie’s people but needed a bite to eat before heading back to bed. I drove up to the little barbeque stand up the street (a little bit katy-cornered across from the Sequatchie County High School) and got a large pork sandwich for about $4.50 and was set for the day. This was piled with about a pound of succulent, sweet pork shoulder smoked to perfection and came with a small tub of hot (not flaming, but spicy) sauce.
My god, that was good.
If they ever get proper BBQ and baseball in England I will never need to tread this forsaken land again.
It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a good pizza. You don’t have to use homemade sauce, fresh toppings, a hand spun yeast crust, or even a non-industrial byproduct excuse for cheese. Granted, the more of those boxes you tick, the harder it becomes to fuck up the pie. Andy’s Pizza, however, goes that extra mile to make an especially unpalatable pizza, with gobs of rubber eraser-like cheese on top of a soggy, bland crust, topped with a few chewy mushrooms and a few very salty olives (enough on the whole pie to just about make a slice’s worth at most other restaurants).
But, the place was crowded, or at least seemed crowded with the two tables of morbidly obese regulars. Well, not so unusually fat for the local populace but (I kid you not) the guy who came up to pay his tab while I waited for my order completely blocked a 4 foot wide hallway and quite approximated the shape of an egg as he banged against the wall opposite the side of whichever foot he was stepping out with. Lovely.