My brother had flown up from San Diego to spend the holidays with me. After a few days in Bellingham, we drove 150 miles over to the Olympic Peninsula to see our family. Sweet and satisfying – We spent our trip soaking up familiar faces in familiar places as well as some new. It was just what I needed. On our last day we stopped at rustic bar down by the water and indulged in some really great beer before hitting the road out of town.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, there had been a generous amount of time spent imbibing on this trip and perhaps an insufficient amount of time spent “aguafying”. By the time we had reached the outskirts of this small city, we were already pondering our last supper, wishing it to be something of substance, something of speed. Fast food? Heaven forbid. We had already gorged ourselves on righteously sloppy burgers and seasoned fries at the infamous Frugal burger. But off to the left side of the road I noticed the blue flicker of a neon light and recognized it immediately. What started out as a roadside stand peddling house-smoked BBQ, quickly gained in popularity and eventually became a true walk-in, sit-down joint.
“There,” I said, pointing out the window. “We should eat BBQ there.” In my mind it wasn’t really up for discussion, but my husband and brother okay’d in unison regardless. The decision had been a no-brainer. Yes, of course meat. It had to be meat. Hot, juicy, unctuous meat, to soak up any of the 11.00% ABV remaining in my system and fuel all of our bodies for a long drive home.
We entered the restaurant and were hit with…that smell…oh my…that smokey goodness…
The interior was basic: simple chairs, simple plank tables, a condiment bar, and an open serving area loaded with steel pans full of steaming meats. We glanced at the chalkboard menu above the drink case. Pork ribs, smoked whole chicken, brisket, pork shoulder, prime rib – How could we choose? My husband stepped forward and posed the appropriate question, “Do you have a special that would allow us to try a little bit of each?” The young women behind the counter lit up. “Of course!” she exclaimed. “But will it be enough for three people? We’re pretty hungry.” he replied. She just smiled and winked and began busily opening lids and dishing out the contents. Minutes later she was pushing three tied up plastic takeout bag towards us, each sack cradling three large styrofoam containers. We paid for our bargain meal and skipped out the door, swinging our suitcases of grub, hot steam and happiness trailing behind us. We settled anxiously into the car, hardly able to buckle our belts before ripping open the bags to get a glimpse of our spoils.
Let me first say that BBQ is not car food. However, I suspect that in almost all circumstances this would become a moot point if you were dishing out onto your flimsy paper plates the meaty glory that we had in front of us. There where whole barbecued young potatoes. Soft and buttery, with crispy skin, you were inclined to pop a whole one right into your mouth. There was an entire container dedicated to cornbread – Two-story cornbread that was soft and sweet and not crumbly. There was another just for the salad: baby romaine leaves drizzled with blue cheese dressing and crumbles. There was homemade barbecue sauce. And there were proteins. Too many to choose from, I had some of each. Sinking my teeth into a hefty and perfectly charred pork rib and pulling apart a smokey chicken wing with my fingers, I stuffed my face and disregarded the juices leaking down my wrists and onto the seats. Who needs a fork (or tidiness) when BBQ is involved anyways. Downing what seemed like multiple platefuls each, we settled into full-belly happiness, and drove into the darkness, Fleetwood Mac drifting through the radio.
Now this is the miraculous part. When we had gotten home, we opened our remaining containers to see how much damage we had done. To our surprise, nothing seemed to have changed. Like the miraculous loaves and fishes, the meat did not diminish as we had thought it would. No. It had multiplied! So we did the only thing that could be done. We devoured the food all over again. And when a friend stopped by to visit the next night, we made him eat as well. And we counted ourselves blessed to have received such a meal from a such a small town.