Road Trip Edition: But I forgot my instant-read thermometer

Disappointment compounding on disappointment:  Not only is the world’s largest, oldest cured ham off limits on Mondays BUT the Bob’s Big Boys in the rest stops along I-95 in Maryland no longer have breakfast buffets –  they’ve restructured the rest stop to make room for some bullshit seafood restaurant, like we’re all stopping at the Maryland House to refill the tank, take a shit and grab some nice dover sole with rice pilaf.

Where are my powdered eggs? My biscuits with chipped beef in gravy? My unlimited bacon? My scrapple, that I don’t actually eat but find endlessly fascinating?  I DEMAND ALL THE FRENCH TOAST STICKS I CAN EAT.

Goddamn it.

Misspelling, or little-known Pittsburgh-style barbeque?

We tried to salvage the day by stopping at Pierce’s BBQ, at exit 234 off I-64 in the vicinity of Williamsburg, Virginia, which had been recommended by my sister as a worthwhile stop.  Despite her love of Cheese Waffles and her refusal to allow anything other than bread, onion and celery in her Thanksgiving stuffing, I trust her.  My faith was affirmed when we pulled into Pierce’s parking lot and found our car overshadowed by two enormous smokehouses, the air suffused with the smell of smoking pork.  Sweet, sweet smoking pork.

This should not have been the start of yet more disappointment. Le sigh.

To my mind, a good ‘cue joint should have tasty pork butt and tasty ribs, so I went with the half-rack while Brian got the pulled pork plate.  If your pulled pork is good but your ribs are middling, you merely disappoint me.  But if your pulled pork is good but your ribs suck?  FAIL.  So it is with much sadness that I must say to Pierce’s: FAIL.  The ribs had to be sawed apart with a knife, and had no smoke ring to speak of – it looked and tasted like they’d been boiled or braised and had never so much been in the vicinity of a smoker.  The sauce was some kind of vinegar-tomato hybrid, and managed to completely mask the best of both those not-mild ingredients.

And then? I got really sick to my stomach. INDIGNITY UPON INDIGNITY.  Just pour that salt into my wound, Pierce’s.  Would you like some lemons as well?

Not enough to save it.

The pulled pork, on the other hand, was excellent.  Meltingly tender, good and smoky, doused in a tangy spicy vinegar sauce, and with a good mix of pig parts – chunks of meat, finer shreds, and bits of the crackly skin and fat.  The hushpuppies, despite being oddly finger-shaped, had a nice corn flavor with a bit of onion; the fries were forgettable, but you don’t go to a pit BBQ joint for the fries.  The pulled pork is good enough that it really does make me sad to have to give Pierce’s an overall FAIL.

Do you follow proper procedure?

You’ve gotta wash your hands well after BBQ, even shitty BBQ, so it was helpful to have this detailed, illustrated guide to proper handwashing procedure.  I don’t know if others find this as amusing as I do; certainly, the other denizens of the Pierce’s ladies’ room did not think so, and looked at me as though I was on a photo reconaissance mission and would be bringing photos of the bathroom back to my al-Qaeda cell.  I post it here as a reminder not to neglect the backs of your hands when washing, and to carry a thermometer with you to ensure adequate minimum water temperature.

You’re welcome.

16 thoughts on “Road Trip Edition: But I forgot my instant-read thermometer

  1. it is my tendency to lurk and enjoy the humor alone, but this was too much:

    “…like we’re all stopping… to refill the tank, take a shit and grab some nice dover sole with rice pilaf.”

    priceless travel commentary, duly noted.

    and the Q is serious business!

  2. Sorry to hear about the bad barbecue! But I just have to chime in and say I’m with your sister on the stuffing. Oysters, chestnuts, sausage–it’s all fancy-pants show-off bullshit (who really likes the texture of chestnuts?). I do use sage though–how does she feel about that?

  3. WTF!!!!!????? No breakfast buffet at BBB? I haven’t been there in years but that was a major stop for me on my journeys back home to Philly. Man that sux!

    What do you mean you don’t eat scrapple? That is the best breakfast food EVAR! I am sooooooo glad that I can get Habersett scrapple here in Atlanta. I was extremely happy to find it here.

  4. OH NO!!!!! More distressing pork related news? How much more can we take?
    There needs to be some proper pork enforcement and I suggest Obama get on that first thing. You know, before health care and the economy. Because without good pork, lets face it. Life is just not worth living.

  5. Aw Michelle *pats her back*. So unfair you didn’t get your unlimited bacon and scrapple and then you don’t even get good ribs! I know there will be some decent roadfood in there for you on this trip somewhere. I just know it!

  6. No breakfast buffet??? HORROR. I love french toast sticks. Do did you have to pick JUST ONE BREAKFAST THING to order from the menu?? I’m so sorry.

  7. lurking, thanks for popping in!

    claudia, true dat, yo. and yet, it makes me uncomfortable to think that my bitching is productive.

    zora, sage is allowed. but stuffing without sausage is like a bob’s big boy without a breakfast buffet: a paltry simulacrum.

    anna, yes! i would gladly volunteer to head up the new department of homeland pork quality control.

    at the very least, someone needs to write a strongly worded letter about all this.

    robin and donald, i just can’t do it. i’ve tried, but i can’t.

    jodi, the whole idea of a non-buffet big boy was too much for us, so we got coffee and muffins at starbucks and got the hell out of there.

    i tried to get brian to pose next to the big boy, but he wouldn’t do it. more disappointment.

  8. Pingback: thursday night smackdown » Thanksgiving ‘08: Homeward Bound, Part 2

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