Tuesday, August 11, 2009

eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'...

When I'm not neglecting to write for this food blog, I spend a good amount of time playing in a couple of rock & roll bands. We're pretty far along on the amateur circuit, so we get to visit a lot of places across the country and sample their unique cuisines and vices. Now, we usually tour in a minivan that's packed to the gills with amps, guitars, drums, and stinky band dudes, but we usually leave at least a little space to bring back the plunder of our adventure. Two of our favorite states to play (read: smuggle from) are Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Ah, the Keystone State. Penn's Woods. Your interminable east-west length was designed for snacking while driving, which is probably why you have the greatest potato chips on Earth. Utz, Wise, Herr's, Middleswarth, Martin's, Gibbles... the list goes on and on. How did Pennsylvania become this sort of potato chip Mecca? Simple: PA grows more "chipping" potatoes than any other state. Take that Idaho...

OK, maybe you're not into salty snacks, but everybody's got a sweet tooth. Enter Tastykake. This venerable Philadelphia baker inhabits the Hostess, mass-production sweets market, but you get a different feeling when biting into a moist, sweet Krimpet or Kandy Kake. I'm sure it's all psychological, but it just feels more wholesome, not like a pile of chemicals and preservatives in a Twinkie. For all I know, they're less healthy, but damned if they don't taste good.

"Chips, pastries, dude, WHATEVER. You can mail order that stuff. I thought we were talking about *smuggling*."

OK, hotshot. Check this out. The Yuengling Beer Company operates the oldest brewery in the country, and Yuengling Traditional Lager is known far and wide for it's mild, crisp delicious taste. Hey, it's 5 o'clock - I think I'd like one right now! Hold on, Buckeye: you can't get that here in Ohio. I guess it's a good thing that I bootlegged 8 cases of it back to Columbus on a recent trip...



I also bootlegged some philly steaks home in my stomach. That subject desreves it's own post, maybe even it's own blog.



"Whut about Kentucky, mang? You said they was good smugglin'!"

Hold your horses, Cletus, I'm getting there. Now we're talking good old fashioned whiskey bootlegging. Bourbon whiskey. America's whiskey.

Bourbon is a bona fide, certified product of the United States of America, and no foreign whiskeys may use the name "bourbon." Bourbon is made from a corn mash, often cut with wheat, rye, and/or barley. The corn base is what gives bourbon its distinctive sweetness. Bourbon was named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, but at that time it was much larger: there are no major whiskey distilleries in modern Bourbon county. The generally accepted "capital" of bourbon is Bardstown, Kentucky, home to several distilleries such as Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Tom Moore, and Heaven Hill (makers of Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and other brands).

Now here's the deal: you can get Beam, Maker's and a lot of these other brands just about anywhere. What you can't usually get at your local liquor store are the hand-crafted, single barrel, small batch offerings, which is exactly why we schedule a little extra time on our trips to Kentucky. We want to bring back the good stuff to stock our liquor cabinets with; let the plebians have their Wild Turkey.



A funny aside: Knob Creek, a bourbon aged for 9 years before being put on the market, apparently does not have enough stock to keep up with demand. Rather than cut their bourbon loose too soon (the next batch won't be delivered until November), Knob Creek has started running ads saying "Thanks for nothing" and showing an empty bottle. They're also selling t-shirts that say "I survived the drought of 2009." I know some of you are thinking of getting me one of these for Christmas...


I can't be the only smuggler out there. What's the best local/regional food or drink you've ever bought just to bring home? I'll see you in the comments...

5 comments:

jon said...

ah, bourbon. sweetest of the brown liquors. yes, no foreign whiskey may bare the name bourbon, none outside of kentucky may either. take that all other states.

does all this make you smokey or the bandit?

justin said...

snowman, dipshit. watch the movie.

jon said...

shit, the last time i saw that movie i was eight. i'm just glad i remembered that tom selleck was in it...

Gods little Treasures said...

hi we eat food all day, and bourbon all night.

blog with us, we're famous.

jon said...

after reviewing this article i realized you could have also just posted the pictures and written the following:
dear liver:
fuck you.
love,
justin

 
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