Thursday, September 17, 2009

Memphis On The Half Shell

Guess who got to sleep most of the day away while her mother drove across state lines fleeing the po-pos?

Ok, I'm kidding about the po-pos part. I curled up into the fetal position, which of course means my arse hanging way off the seat. If she would have stopped fast, I might have rolled off and been forever wedged in the back of the Rav-4 until they got the jaws of life to extract me. Dangers aside ... the napping sure felt good.

Why, you ask?

Because Grandma's snoring is something of mythical proportions. I swear, the rumblings in that woman's nasal passages are enough to wake the dead. I've taken the necessary precautions: pop a sleeping pill ... turn the air conditioner on ... put ear plugs in. Yet I still have to put my head under about two pillows to drown out the freight train sleeping in the next bed.

What's worse is that she has sleep apnea, which means I can't totally tune out the thundering roar. Especially on nights when she's really tired. She'll just suddenly stop breathing. I wait for what seems a normal span of time for the next breath to occur, then sit bolt upright when it doesn't. Then there is is ... that raspy gasp for air.

It's alive -- it's alive!

Needless to say, it's not conducive to restful sleep.

We stop a few times for gas. Thankfully after I chastised them yesterday for continuing to fill the tank every time it's just half a tank down, we are waiting a little longer between fill ups. The girls are ecstatic about the cheaper gas prices. The lowest we've seen it is $2.19 a gallon. My Mom feels so vindicated when she gets the cheapest gas at home that I don't have the heart to tell her the 20 cents she saved is completely negated by driving 20 miles out of her way to get it.

I digress. I've discovered a scam at the pump. These gas companies advertise unbelievable savings across the street from their competitors -- a full 10 cents cheaper per gallon. The trick is -- it's often for plus. Who it their right mind would think that plus would be cheaper than regular? So you pump regular without really thinking about it. Then see you've actually paid MORE than what it was across the street. Very sneaky.

While we're driving, we pass a sign for "Toad Suck Park" in Toad Suck, Arkansas. It's amazing some of the names of places we've passed through on this trip. Here are just a few:
  • Peculiar, Missouri
  • Eclectic, Alabama
  • Cutt-Off, Louisiana
  • Ding Dong, Texas
  • Smackover, Arkansas

While we're back on the subject of Arkansas ... today we stopped in Little Rock for lunch at a place called Sim's Bar-B-Q. They've been in business since 1937 and I'd heard the ribs there were amazing. When we get off the highway, Mom and Gram are eying the rather sketchy looking neighborhood with concern. We roll up to the original Sim's to find the location closed down, but notice a sign for their new location. In a strip mall. Next to a Sav-A-Lot food market.

Now I'm a little skeptical.

For absolutely zero reason, it turns out. We all order pork ribs in some form or another, and I swear -- the meat melts like butter in your mouth. But the best part is the wonderful Southern hospitality we get from Leroy and Michael. They wish me a happy birthday and send us on our way with a slice of sweet potato pie for the road. I've never tried it before, and can assure you -- it didn't last long. Yum.

We rolled into Memphis a lot earlier that I had planned. Got a nice room for our free night with at the Westin off famed Beale Street. Beautiful room and great recommendations from the staff for dinner at a hidden restaurant called Itta Bena. There's no sign, which is how they keep riff-raff from Beale Street where they belong. You kind of have to know it's there. 

They bring us a round of champagne for a birthday toast (will post pics tomorrow). Mom and Gram order the She Crab Soup, which they both oooh and aaah over. I have scallops which come over a cheesy grit concoction and a lemon caper cream sauce that is to die for. The scallops aren't as good as Mr. Colicchio's, but the mushroom pasta is divine. I could have skipped the chicken, which was a wee bit overcooked. but the MUST get at this place is our server Mark's Guava Mojito. It's not on the menu, but it is so good I consider offering him my first born child for the recipe.

Mark also gives me some tips on the way to make what he says is the best bloody mary on the planet. I'm skeptical, given my out-of-body bloody mary experience in New Orleans, but I thought I would include the recipe here for you to try.

Mark's Super Simple -- But Ultimately Perfect -- Bloody Mary

  • Squeeze half a lime into a glass
  • Add Absolut Peppar vodka to "here", you'll have to eyeball it. Mark doesn't use a jigger, but where he points on the glass looks like about a shot and a half to me
  • Top it off with Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix

Let me know how you fare. Or better yet ... have one waiting for me when I visit next.

We pull out a card for the website and blog that we've been passing out during the trip, and I tell Grandma to give it to Mark. She says, "You want ME to give it to him?" So I stick it in her shirt a little and tell her to have him go fish for it.

She says she doesn't do that sort of thing without getting beads in return.

The truth comes out. I need another drink.

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