Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Three Mile Island: An Update

I visited John again this weekend as I traveled for one last time from New York to Christiansburg. While in Arlington, I was able to go on a pilgrimage to John's local bar, Kitty O'Shea's, home of the famous Three-Mile Island shooter. Kitty's, by the way, is located at 2403 Wilson Blvd, in case you were wondering. Here's their website.

The creator of the famous glowing green goo is Erik, who apparently doesn't work on Saturdays and doesn't like to share his recipes. Consequently, I was not able to enjoy the now-improved shot, which John says tastes like "An atomic-powered slurpee. Seriously, it goes right to your brain."

I strongly encourage you to visit the bar and try the wonderful mind-eraser, available evenings, Monday through Friday. If you do, please post your comments here!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Three Mile Island Iced Tea

I meant to write about the NRA museum, but I got a little sidetracked on the back story, so it'll have to wait for a few days. I'm going back up to New York tomorrow, and hope to be back on Saturday. I will probably be running all over the place, so I won't be posting for the rest of this week. I promise to get back to it by next Monday. In the meantime, this is just a little vignette about my last trip to Christiansburg.

And, by the way, thanks so much for your encouragement over the past month or so. I can't convey how much I've appreciated the comments and e-mails!

On the last trip South, I didn't leave Brooklyn until one, which meant that I didn't leave New York until two, which meant that I got caught in the grip of some seriously awful Pennsylvania traffic. Route 78 in the Keystone state is constantly under construction, which means that one has to plan one's trip through PA with a level of precision usually reserved for moon shots or the German auto industry. Alternately, one can simply pack a book. War and Peace is a good choice.

By the time I got to Harrisburg, it was apparent that I would reach Christiansburg sometime around midnight. Not relishing a high-speed ride down 81 fueled by terror and coffee in a can, I decided to call my friend John and ask if I could crash (pun definitely not intended) at his place in Arlington. Being a true mensch, he readily agreed, and my evening brightened considerably.

The evening in Arlington won't quite live in infamy, but it was a lot of fun. This was largely due to the "Three Mile Island Iced Tea," a beverage that John is developing with his local bartender. John came up with the name, and has dedicated himself to taste testing. The bartender, on the other hand, has taxed his resources coming up with a wide variety of glowing green potions that look like antifreeze and taste like bubblegum, pineapple juice, and sterno. After test tasting four of the damned things, I was in a very good mood. I couldn't feel my gums, but there was a slight ache somewhere around my middle. I think it was my liver.

I also got to meet John's girlfriend, Andrea, who contains multitudes. She has an anarchic sense of humor and also took delight in John's iced tea from hell. I think she might be truly evil, in the absolutely best way. When we got back to John's, we savaged the small selection of Dietrich's treats that I had packed as a late night snack and host's gift. In the process, I discovered that Dietrich's makes a truly outstanding kielbasa. In case you were wondering.

The next morning, the sun shone brightly and I looked forward to a leisurely trip back to Christiansburg. Perfect side-trip weather.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Roadside Imponderables

Dear Everyone,

As my friend John has pointed out, it is almost a month since I last posted. It seems like only a few days, but I'm beginning to realize just how much time flies when your life is in total flux. I deeply apologize for my neglect, but I'm not sure that I can even express just how crazy things have been.

I have, however, discovered a few useful things. First off, I've noticed how comforting random bizarre thoughts can be when one is driving solo to and from New York. On my last trip northward, I began to wonder if General George S. Patton was gay. I think there's some interesting circumstantial "evidence" that suggests that he might have been. This, of course, leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities, my exploration of which made the hours of driving through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania fly by much more quickly.

I've also taken to stopping off at roadside museums and stores, as doing so breaks up the monotony of the highway, and restores blood flow to my ass. Over the next few posts, I'm going to tell you about some little gems I've found that you should check out if you ever find yourself trapped on I-81 or I-78 for a considerable period of time. Today's special attraction is Dietrich's Meats:

Dietrich's Meats
Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for bizarre food attractions, so it was hard for me to resist the sign for Dietrich's meats. After a few trips, I just stopped trying. Besides, I needed to get a present for my pal Tom, who watched my cats, and we'd always enjoyed daring each other to try strange new foods. Dietrich's meats seemed like the perfect place to up the ante.

Outside, Dietrich's is all lurid signs advertising various meaty temptations. However, once I came through the front door, I immediately noticed the quiet hush of the store, the smoky scent of the cured meats, and the simple, honorable wood walls. I realized that this was, indeed, a church. A church dedicated to meat.

The back wall of the store was dominated by a huge refrigerated case and butcher counter. However, before I could approach the holiest of holies, I looked over the lesser offerings on the shelves. Homemade Chow-Chow. Homemade Sauerkraut. Homemade jams, jellies, and relishes. There were dozens of pies, dominated by the proud Shoefly. Wandering toward the meat case, I noticed a huge wooden table covered in smoked meats. There was a whole smoked hog's head, accompanied by smoked feet, ears, and snouts. There were cured bolognas of every stripe. And that was only the beginning.

Looking at the wonders that filled the refrigerated case, I had to resist the urge to kneel. It was filled with every kind of smoked, processed meat imaginable. Homemade Westphalia ham, liverwurst, kielbasa, bratwurst, kishka, muttwurst, hot dogs, liver pudding, headcheese, souse, and a hundred other wonders, both delectable and disturbing, fought for elbow room in the crowded case. I took a deep breath; to quote Hostel, this was the kind of place where you could spend all your money. Employing reserves of willpower that I never knew existed, I managed to keep the tab down to $20. However, even that modest sum went a long way: I bought two kinds of bologna, liverwurst, liver pudding, headcheese, shoefly pie, horseradish cheese, and a few other little nibbles. As far as eating these foods, well, let me just say that I never thought liverwurst could be transcendent. Regarding headcheese, I admit that I was terrified, but I am now a true believer. Yes, I know how it's made. Shut up.

I've been back a couple of times now, and am working my way throught everything in the case. To be honest, the liver pudding was a bit much, and I don't love the Lebanon balogna, but these minor obstacles haven't stopped, or even slowed, my enthusiasm for the greatest meat market in the land. Dietrich's has officially become a key stop on my North/South run, and my sister's fiancee, Rich, has decided that he has to add some of Dietrich's meats to the menu in the Manhattan restaurant where he cooks. If you want to check it out, click here.

Next post: The National Rifle Association Museum

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