Wednesday, June 13, 2007

UPDATED: No Sleep 'til Wayne

I'm back in Pennsylvania for work. I'm pretty sure that I will not be waylaid by freezing rain this time, but I wouldn't dismiss the possibility of some kind of weather event causing me to get back later than I had planned.

Since I'm about sick of US Airways, I flew up on Southwest this time. It was my first time on that airline, and some people cringed when I told them that was who I was flying with. I'm not sure why. Southwest has been around 36 years, and has actually turned a profit for the past 34, so they must be doing something right.

Southwest has "cattle call" boarding, where everyone boards at one time, and there are no assigned seats. On this flight, that worked out great, as the plane was probably less than 2/3 full -meaning that for every group of three seats, the middle one was empty. My plane pushed back from the gate two minutes early, flew through smooth air (affording me a great view of my plane's right winglet)
Southwest Winglets

and landed 15 minutes early. For comparison, there was a coworker who flew up on the 7:00 US Airways flight (fifteen minutes after my flight left), who ended up getting to the meeting at least 90 minutes late, since his flight was delayed at RDU, and once again at PHL. Yup, US Airways was once again not the way to go.

Avis upgraded my rental car for being an (alleged) first-time Preferred user (with my seven year old Avis Preferred card from aaiPharma). I got in early enough to get some leisurely breakfast before my 10 - 4 meeting in Upper Providence (Collegeville/Phoenixville).

After work it was off to Wayne, PA to the Wayne Hotel. It's a very cool place, and Wayne seems pretty neat so far. The hotel appears to be Victorian, the rooms seem like a Bed and Breakfast, and the place is 101 years old. Here's the view from my room:
View from the Wayne Hotel 1
You can see the backs of the buildings on the right that have their fronts on US30/Lancaster Avenue/The Main Line.

Here's the view from the street
Wayne Hotel

Tom (my GSK manager) and I are heading out to dinner in a few, so check back later for more pictures.


It turns out that Wayne is a fine town to walk around. North Wayne Avenue between Lancaster Avenue and the Septa station was sort of a restaurant row. Tom was familiar with a few of the places (all of which looked great), but we decided on Teresa's Cafe, 124 N. Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087. The place had a restaurant side, which was decidedly Italian, and a bar side, which was decidedly not. The bar specialized in French/Belgian bistro food and beer.

Teresa's had a very impressive beer selection, between the 20 or so on tap, and the many others in bottles. I wish I had brought something to write down the beers we tried, for they all were worthy of revisiting.
Beer's Eye View

For food, Tom started with the Moules Frites, (mussles and fries), my favorite Belgian/French dish, which is traditionally 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of mussles and a bowl of fries. These were cooked in beer, and had some chorizo sausage added. Tom was gracious enough to share.

I had the Steak Frites, my favorite Belgian/French dish. It's just steak and fries in some kind of delicious sauce, but maybe it's the French name that makes this better than any old American steak and fries. The remoulade on the side there wasn't too shabby either.
My second beer was a Rodenbach Sour Ale., a traditional Belgian-style red ale that I'd had once before at Monk's Cafe in Center City Philadelphia.

Rodenbach Sour Ale

As an aside, all these pictures in the dimly lit bar were taking using my new GorillaPod SLR tripod that Andy got me for my birthday. Tom's a photography guy too, so we had lots of fun playing with the tripod and the camera. Some random lady even came up to us to ask me about the tripod and how much I liked it. I like it plenty. I highly recommend one. It is choice.

As a digestiv, we had shots of Jameson's Irish Whisky.
Two Fingers of Jameson

From there we walked to Gryphon Coffee Company, 105 W. Lancaster Ave, Wayne, PA 19087. There were some college kids hanging out, a guy with a guitar doing some pretty decent covers of some John Mayer songs, and Tom and me hanging out, drinking coffee, and goofing with the camera and the GorillaPod.

Coffee Shop Flowers

We got a few more shots on the way back to the hotel. The coolest of which were probably of the art deco-style Anthony Wayne theatre
Anthony Wayne Theatre

It was time to call it a day. One and a half more remaining in PA.
Friday, June 08, 2007

Pig Pickin' 2: A Public Evening of Enjoyment

After all the invites had been sent, orders placed, deposits put-down, and planning accomplished. . . it was time to start the Pig Pickin' 2 Weekend.

Friday afternoon: drive the truck to Satriale's Pork Store,
Satriale's Pork Store

get the 72 lb. (37.7 kg) pig, and put the pig cooker on the trailer hitch, and carefully take North Carolina Highway 54 all the way to Mebane.
There's I, II, III, IV, V, VI wheels on a Pig Rig

Take the requisite portraits with the pig,
Same Shot, Different Year
then into the action packer for the pig, and off to the store for some ice to keep the pig cold for 36 hours.

Saturday: More ice.

Sunday, 9 am. Pull the pig out of the action packer, lay it out on a table, dry it off as much as possible, and cover with foil to keep the flying critters away. Pose for more pictures.

Pull the pig cooker out from under the carport, remembering how I almost melted the carport roof last year.
Pig Cooking Rig
Load it up with ~12 pounds of natural lump charcoal, and a good bit of lighter fluid, and toss in a match.
Let there be Fire

Let the coals burn down and lose that awful lighter-fluid smell, Charcoal

replace the grate, and get your younger brother Andy to help you heave the pig onto the cooker.

Heave Ho

and then pose for some more pictures, remembering to stop doing inappropriate things to the pig when the picture is taken, even if your brother doesn't.
Posing with the Pig

Sit around for the next seven hours, manipulating the cooker's doors, chimneys, and fuel consumption to try to maintain a constant 225 - 250 F temperature inside, tossing in the occasional chunk of wet hickory wood, for a nice smoky flavor.
Hickory Wood Chunks

And then a lot of other stuff happens, like getting ice, borrowing stuff from the church, setting up the stereo and party lights, getting cleaned up and putting on some non-hickory-smoked clothing.

If one of your guests offers to bring a keg of Carolina Brewing Company's Spring Bock, you take them up on it, and encourage them to come early to allow the proper amount of Quality Assurance testing on the beer before serving it to the other guests.
Beer Quality Assurance

About an hour before it's time to eat, the pig has to go on its back to a) crisp-up the skin, and b) create a concave surface to hold the Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue sauce.

You need two people to flip the pig, and at least two more to take pictures.
Fixin' to Flip

Ready to Pick

Close the lid for one more hour, and then you're ready for the Official Tester to declare the pig fit to eat. In our case, Stephen has fulfilled this role.
Stephen Pickin'

And that's it: Time to Eat.

For a whole bunch more pictures, including shots of nearly all of the guests, visit our Zooomr feed. Browse them all, or use the search term PigPickin2 to see everyones' pictures from the event. Click on each picture for notes, portals, to leave comments, or choose a size to download and print for yourself.

Special Thanks to Andy and Shelley without whose invaluable assistance this annual event probably wouldn't be possible, or nearly as much fun,
To Tom for bringing the beer,
To Mebane Presbyterian Church for the ice, coolers, chairs, and Presbyterians,
And to all the guests, who brought all that food and enjoyable conversation, and without whom this whole endeavor wouldn't be a party at all.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year on Sunday, May 25th, 2008 for The Traveling Roths' Pig Pickin' III: Triple Figures.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Pig-Pickin Teaser

Wide-Angle Pig View

I just finished getting all my (and others') Pig Pickin' pictures uploaded to the new and improved Zooomr, and now I'm too tired to write about it, so this picture and the link below will have to do.

Check out the PigPickin2 Smart Set here, or you can go to the Zooomr home page and use the search term "PigPickin2"
Sunday, June 03, 2007

Shouts Out to Buick

My photo hosting site, Zooomr, is slowly but surely coming back to life, so I'll have pictures and words here soon. If you want to search Zooomr now, use the search term "PigPickin2" (w/o the quotes).

But in the meantime, I just got some e-mail from one of my Penn State Blue Band Drumline buddies, Buick (Matt Kozsuch), telling me that he now has a blog. Not only that, but Buick is a guy who also journals his travels, and he's gotten his honeymoon trip to Spain posted. Check that out here:

Of particular interest is the post on dinner at La Terraza de Casino Madrid. This place is a foodie's dream, and Buick writes about it well, and includes some amazing photos.

Buick is also a proud new father, so he should have plenty to say for a while. So check out Buick's blog (regularly), and comment. You'll be glad you did.
Friday, June 01, 2007

So Where's the Pig Pickin' Post?

The Traveling Roths' 2nd Annual Pig Pickin' was Sunday, and it was great. There was plenty of pig, plenty of people, and plenty of pictures. A good time was had by all. But I haven't written about it yet because the photo hosting service I use, Zooomr, is currently offline. I can't post any new pictures to my account, so there isn't a good way to get pictures into my blog posts here.

So rather than having a pictureless narrative about Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue, I'm going to wait until my pictures are available. Check back regularly, for when I do post it, it'll probably be in correct chronological order with the other posts here, and this post will be gone.

Also, if you have pictures you'd like to share, and use Zooomr, (once it's back up) use the tag "PigPickin2", so I can include them in a Smart Set link.
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