Archive for April, 2010

My March TriPorkta

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Well, it was my birthday festival week, as the family tradition has it. And so on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009, I set off on my triporkta celebration.

That afternoon I had high tea (well, barbecue high tea) at the Leesburg VA outpost of Red, Hot, and Blue with Doug L–, a friend dating back to a little office on Capitol Hill where we volunteered our time to help the ACLU move Richard Nixon toward impeachment. Those were the good times!

Life’s road has left some dust on Doug and me – he now lives in Bequia, in the Windward Isles, and I now split my time between Annapolis and West Virginia: the old man of the sea and the mountains, both. He asked me if I colored my hair, and I later complimented him on his pure white shock that does NOT have a pink peak above the tree line, as mine does.

Red, Hot, and Blue is a chain, and it does what it does very well. I’ve always loved their onion loaf, although I didn’t finish mine this time. The cole slaw is admirable, the baked beans have a bit of BBQ stirred in for flavor. The pork barbecue is very good, although usually on the dry side. This time it was fresher than usual, although it was 3:30 before I got there. There was enough. Their vinegar-based sauce, however, is more Alabama than North Carolina, and leaves something to be desired.

They serve iced tea in little pitchers that are really enormous glasses, and I asked for “sweet tea” in honor of having grown up in Charleston, South Carolina. Usually I ask for “half and half” to celebrate my years of driving up and down Interstate 95 – dating back to before there WAS an Interstate 95.

After our conversations had achieved a balance of yesterday and tomorrow, with a slice of today thrown in, I took my leave. Doug went back to admiring the house in Waterford he’s been trying to sell for some years now, and I headed west. I was braced by the slice of pecan pie, appropriately cooled down by a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

After a calming evening at Far Muse, I drove to Harrisonburg, Virginia on the 19th for some shopping. And my first stop was Log Cabin Barbecue, exactly 10.5 miles west of Interstate 81 on Route 33, in Elkton. Actually, it’s on the west side of Elkton, where some turn left (and north) to go to Massanutten Resort. And it’s well past Hank’s Smokehouse, an enormous place that has metastasized into a full menu, catering establishment. Must have been a good BBQ place some years ago. Sigh.

For some reason, I again arrived at about 3:00 pm. My first question to the staff was “Where is everybody?” I was told they’d been there, and had left already. Ah well — I had the place to myself. I said a little prayer to the barbecue gods, because good BBQ joints are an ephemeral commodity in the epicureal community – they come and go. I asked, and they said that the economy wasn’t hurting them too bad.

I had the pulled pork platter, adding a side of cornbread instead of the proffered dinner roles. Never liked dinner roles. I had forgotten that Log Cabin gives out a grudging serving of cornbread, wrapped in saran and accompanied by margarine. I ate it anyway. The baked beans were a disappointment, right out of the can. But the cole slaw was a joy! A little more vinegary than most, and obviously made that day. I could have eaten a quart of it! The pork was the best – moist, plentiful, and obviously touched by hickory. Too many places consider the mighty oak a substitute for hickory. This keeps them (a) profitable, but (b) out of the first rank.

[That's .667 of the triporkta -- even better than Ted Williams did in 1944. Sigh.]