Category Archives: Food

Hey, you got Chicago in my Vegas

So today I made a dangerous discovery.

That discovery is that there’s at least one brewpub in Las Vegas that is open and serving beer all day, every day. And all night. 24/7, as they say. I still don’t know why that expression annoys me, but it does.

Don't ask me why it's named Chicago. It's not cold, windy, or smelly.

Don’t ask me why it’s named Chicago. It’s not cold, windy, or smelly.

This is dangerous, of course, because I’m not one who believes there is a proper time of day to drink beer. It’s not just for breakfast, you know. Nor is there a proper time of day to not drink beer.

Oh, and did I mention the place also has a cigar lounge?

Why, again, do I not live in Nevada?

Oh, yeah, because I’d be broke in a week. Or possibly dead.

Many places here are open 24 hours, incidentally. There are, as far as I can tell, none of those silly laws about when you can or cannot buy or consume beer. Virginia has silly laws like that. Bars have to close by 2 am, if I recall correctly, and shops can’t sell beer between midnight and six am (though they may have changed that law recently – I don’t have to buy it at those hours because I’m usually stocked up). Haven’t run across much of anything like that in Vegas. Places seem to open and close when they feel like it. It makes finding snacks at 4 am much easier.

Anyway, I had a good day at the blackjack table. Good enough that I decided to try some Kobe beef. Well, not real Kobe beef from Japan, but the same kind of dead cow, only the cow, when it was alive, lived in Idaho. I’m not sure it lives up to the hype, but further research may be necessary.

Tomorrow, I’ll see if I can visit more brewpubs. I was here in August, but I got sick, which kind of puts a damper on the whole “tasting” part of beer tasting.

Turn the Page

Rumors that I pick my daily stops for their pun potential are completely unfounded. Maybe.

But let’s first go back to Alamosa, where a weather report indicated that the overnight temperature would be dropping well below 0°F, which the temperature should never do. Ever. There are warmer places on freaking Mars right now.

But this was my dashboard as I was about to drive out of town:

NOPE

Nope.

Yeah, I just have one thing to say to that:

Yeah, that’s a great big tub full of NOPE.

Once I got out of that accursed valley, though, temperatures rose to a balmy mid-20s.

I passed through Pagosa Springs, Colorado, too early to do anything but take pictures of this too-hipster-for-words brewpub:

I'm sure you liked this one before it was cool.

It’s too small to see here, but Kermit the Frog is desperately trying to escape from the upper window.

I did, however, manage to make it to this one in Cortez, Colorado by lunchtime (at which point, by the way, the temperature had climbed up into the mid-50s):

Oh look, a brewery in Colorado! How rare! Not.

Never did find out what those orange cones were for.

I hung around this also unbelievably hipster town (I’m sensing a theme here for Colorado) for an hour or so, because at that point I really needed to a) stretch my legs and b) apologize to the glowing yellow thing in the sky for calling it “the accursed daystar” and thank it for making the temperature a little bit less NOPE.

The rest of the trip today took me through Ute and Navajo country once more; you may recall I went through it last year. In fact, this route took me right past the Four Corners monument, though I didn’t feel the need to stop there again.

On the road to Page, I encountered some more awesome scenery.

Clearly, I wasn't the sole visitor.

I hereby name this place the Valley of Lost Soles.

Upon reaching Page, which is a small town just south of the Arizona-Utah border, I looked for a place that would sell me some Navajo frybread, which is as good a reason as any to be alive and have taste buds. But there wasn’t any. Instead, I found something far, far more dangerous – a sushi bar within walking distance. Okay, well, the sushi part wasn’t so dangerous, but it was also a bar bar. And they had sake. And absinthe.

I don’t remember much after that, but apparently I made it back to the hotel, and the reason this post is later than usual is I had to wait until I only had one screen to look at.

I’m pretty close to Vegas, now, less than a day away. Unfortunately, my reservation there doesn’t start until Sunday afternoon. I still haven’t decided whether to find another place in Vegas for one night, or maybe stay somewhere else. You’ll find out tomorrow. Later today, I mean.

All Dried Up

I meant to leave home at the solstice yesterday, for purely symbolic reasons, but I couldn’t get my crap together fast enough.

Also shamelessly stolen

Symbolic because of this.

No matter, though – I got to my friend Mike’s house outside of Roanoke in time for us to go into the city and get some kick-ass barbecue and beer.

Neither place was a brewery, but that’s never stopped me before. I did sample a couple of brews the BBQ joint had on tap and, uncharacteristically for me, I ordered an IPA. I don’t usually like IPAs because a) they’re too hoppy and b) they’re too popular. But all of the beer snob sites assure me that the Next Big Things in Craft Brewing are sours.

Compared to sours, IPAs are nectar. Sours are just that – sour. I was sampling some sours at a brewery in Richmond one day a couple months ago, among their other selections, and by the time I was done there, I was just buzzed enough to hand the sample glasses back to the bartender – all empty except for the three sours, which I’d dutifully tasted, made faces at, and left most of behind – and reply to her question about how I liked the beers with, “Great, except for the sours. I just can’t drink something that tastes the same going down as it does coming back up.”

Really, I’m not usually that rude. I still feel bad about it.

But it’s true.

Anyway, so, I guess some IPAs aren’t that bad after all. And some of them make a fine accompaniment to real Southern barbecue.

Then we caught the first part of a blues act. This 17 year old ginger kid was seriously singing the blues at this other bar in Roanoke. I really don’t know how you get to be that good at the blues when you’re 17. And ginger. Well, at least we know that, unlike Robert Johnson, this kid won’t be able to sell his soul – being ginger and all.

. . .

This morning, after seeing that there’s a fairly clear forecast across the middle of the US, I just pointed my GPS at Vegas, told it to avoid highways, and drove through the incredibly cool (as long as you don’t stop to listen for banjos) Appalachians, in Virginia, a bit of West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Now, since one of my purposes here is to see the countryside, I decided that when it started to get dark, I’d find a place to stay. It’s even harder to see the country in the dark than it is from an interstate.

This landed me in a little city called Monticello (yes, named after a famous landmark from home) in south-central Kentucky.

And then I discovered the true horror of south-central Kentucky:

This is a dry county.

Not that I’d planned on drinking anything tonight. It’s the principle of the thing, dammit.

I think I found the one decent restaurant in town, incidentally. Well, decent except for the no-alcohol thing. The place had a horse for a logo, which I trust was because this is Kentucky horse country and not for the same reason that a lot of barbecue restaurants have pigs in the logo. I’m pretty sure the whinnying sound I heard when I bit into the steak sandwich was my new phone making unfamiliar noises.

I’m going to try to get an early start tomorrow, get out of this hellpit* as soon as I can. No idea where I’ll end up tomorrow night.

Hopefully not Arkansas.

. . .

*the hotel is actually quite nice. It’s just that ALL dry counties are automatically hellpits.

Vernon, Texas

Last entry prompted a comment by my friend Mindfulmoon:

So, I have to ask… red or green chili with your meal? I got so tired of that question. I’m not a really big Mexican (or even NEW Mexican) food fan. Hot is not my idea of good. Strangely, I do love Indian food a great deal. New Mexico is not an ideal place to live if you’re not a chili fan (the vegetable, not the soup) which, I suppose, is why I stayed for 5 years. I’m glad you got to go to the monastery though because there are some truly impressive religious communities in New Mexico if the overwhelming majority are of the judo-christian persuasion. Also, I found the people in general to be some of the nicest I’ve had the pleasure to live near.

Yeah, I got asked that. I asked her, “What do you get?”

“Both,” she said.

I decided I liked this bartender. But then, she’s female and a bartender so I’m going to like her anyway. “Okay, both.”

And it was good.

I love spicy food. My favorite hot sauce these days is ghost pepper sauce.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of those macho idiots who are like, “Dude, pile on the hot sauce! No such thing as too much!” And then they drink five gallons of milk to try to get feeling back in their mouths (milk doesn’t do much against the Bhut Jolokia). No, that’s not me. I use it very, very sparingly.

Just the right amount (a quantity measured in nanoliters) of ghost pepper sauce added to food enhances it, gives it a bit of a tingle, like five hundred kittens are purring in your mouth.

Too much, though, and those kittens start hissing, spitting, and tearing at your mucous membranes with their claws and teeth.

So yeah, hot sauce is a delicate balance. And at least I wasn’t in Texas then, where they drink that stuff right out of the bottle.

Poor kitties.

I only got the “red or green chili” question once, being in NM for only one night. You know what question I’m getting tired of, though?

“Credit or debit?”

Argh. It’s 2012, people. We have Star Trek communicators, computers in cars, instant money transfers, satellites, the magic internet thingy, and there’s even talk about a potential warp drive. How come every time I hand my credit card to a cashier, they have to ASK? It’s even worse when I don’t have to hand it to the cashier, and there’s a little electronic pad there. I swipe the card, hit the “credit” button, and… “Credit or debit?” I get asked. Okay, I just pushed CREDIT. To make matters worse, the two words end with the same syllable, so if I go into a shop in Minnesota with my Virginia accent and mumble “credit,” they might even hit the wrong button.

Okay, yes, I know, there are debit cards that get used like a credit card. I even have one, though I never use it (no cash back rewards). Still: technology, people! And no, I do not want fries with that.

Now, I’m not shooting the messenger here – not mad at the minimum-wage cashiers who must get even more tired of asking that every. single. day. It’s not their fault. Let’s just get the technology up to speed, okay?

Speaking of speed (I was wondering how I was going to segue into this), I got pulled over today!

I deserved it – I was totally speeding. It’s the first time I’ve been pulled over in years and years, but drive long enough and you’re going to get busted for something, and I’ve been driving a lot. Only trouble was, it was in Texas. I hear they execute people here for jaywalking. One cop got all my information while the other peered into the visible sections of my car.

I got a warning. I don’t think they cared much about some tourist doing 9 mph over the posted limit; I think they were looking for other things and using speeding as an excuse to pull people over. In any case, no ticket this time.

No pictures today, though – it was a long drive and after the awesome scenery of northwest New Mexico, it was back to fairly ordinary ranches and cultivated fields. Not even any cool roadside attractions, unless you count some small town in New Mexico that claims Billy the Kid. I don’t. And tomorrow’s a long drive too, so we’ll see if there’s anything worth taking the time to snap or not.