So once again there we were, staring down the barrel of the weekend with no ammunition and insufficient beer. This past weekend started, as they all do, on the Friday beforehand, when at nearly 1pm I got a text from SOBUMD requesting that I leave the office early and pick up the kids from school. Since this is a highly unusual request, and since the words “yes dear” have saved my marriage more than once, I of course complied. It turns out that she’d been to a local Trader Joe’s to pick up ingredients for the evening’s meal, and they had more than the usual display of cinnamon-scented everything – not just as you walk in, but throughout several aisles and at each register.
Since SOBUMD is highly allergic to cinnamon, this lead to her fighting her way home in a headachy blur and slamming several Benadryl, which is not conducive to holding one’s head upright without a drool-cloth, much less driving. I retrieved said lunatic children and proceeded to make dinner with our friends Sara and Toby, who arrived full of good spirit and left full of good spirit and also fish. Wonderful evenings are wonderful, and getting to show off my badass cooking skills to an interested 11-yr old Toby was a treat.
The next morning dawned with the promise of the girls going to a birthday party for a 5-yr-old and then the Human Tape Recorder having 2 friends over for fun, dinner, and a sleepover. Number One Son and I looked at each other, counted the number of girls in the house, gave a nod, and packed our overnight bags – by which I meant a change of clothes, and he meant his iPod.
We lit out for the House in the Woods, up in West Virginia. I have to tell you, driving the Blackfish up the hills and curvy, winding, newly-paved roads, with the windows down, on beautiful fall day, with Katy Perry telling me that I’m her missing puzzle piece – well, I think I understand why some people ride motorcycles. I was very well behaved. I mostly almost kept it under 70 going around the turns.
Once we arrived and unpacked, we worked the fields for a while, evicting the black walnuts like tenants from a – OK, that wasn’t really going to be all that funny anyway. We removed them from the path of the mower, since they otherwise sound like golf balls going through a shredder when the Very Clever Grandpa mows. I mentioned that the riding mower is about the only way to open the damn things anyway; he mentioned that he didn’t want to open them in the first place; I mentioned that they were yummy and bitter and yummy; he mentioned that shut up and toss ’em in the creek. I tossed ’em in the creek.
Following the successful castration of the lawn, we enjoyed a celebratory cold beverage and did inside things for a while. Once complete, we retired to a new venue for dinner in the neighborhood, by which I mean “places you can get to within 45 minutes in a fast car.” Needless to say, we took the Blackfish and got to the Lost River Brewing Company in 44 minutes.
Lost River Brewing Company – not to be confused with the already-famous Lost River Grill – is not yet allowed to brew their own beer. If the food is any indication, this is a crime. The Very Clever Grandfather and I both had steak with fries, very nice if slightly past medium rare; Number One Son declared his cheesepuck the equal of the Lost River Grill version; and the Cesar salad was interesting – standard fare until they dropped two anchovies right on top. The jaw-dropper, though, was the plate of fried calamari. Remember, this is Wardensville, West By God Virginia. To say that “calamari ain’t local here” would be to risk understatement in the way “that’s a really big hole you got there” describes the Grand Canyon. My expectations were not, shall we say, high.
And they were blown away. The calamari were as good as any I’ve had at McCormick and Shmicks and better than I’ve had at Legal Seafood. Someone in the back of the Lost River Brewing Company is paying attention, and in a good way. I hope they get their brewing license soon!
The kitchen staff may be paying attention, but the front office makes me wonder a bit. Our waitress, dusky-eyed with a squint and a smile, was wearing a black tee-shirt with the words “Take Me Home.” The rest of the wait-staff were also wearing black shirts with other lines from “Almost Heaven, West Virginia” – I can only assume that our friendly server drew the short straw that night. Why would you do that to a cute young lady? West Virginia gets a lot of miles out of that song, but still – you know she has to get heckled pretty badly with “Take Me Home” across her chest.
Although, we had to remind her which wine was the red and which was the white (Cabernet is one of the easier ones to remember), and she slipped on the beer order as well – maybe she’s just very friendly and not too quick? She was very nice. But we didn’t take her home.
The next day we did come home, down country roads, at speeds that would be considered unsafe if not attempted by professional drivers on a closed course. Since we’d spent the morning splitting logs that would not have otherwise split themselves, I found driving to be a fine course of therapy for sore muscles, and applied it vigorously. The Very Clever Grandparents joined us for another excellent dinner, and the Lost Weekend was found to have been Almost Heaven.