Ode To The Fall Fresh Market

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Lordy, I love The Fresh Market! It’s a place where normal people like yours truly can feel a tad sophisticated buying six cucumber sodas and a bag of cinnamon bears. Its warm and cozy with classical music playing overhead, lulling people into paying twenty percent higher for everyday items. Some say it is a snobby market and others brush it off as a specialty food shop, but I say it is a necessary Saturday morning stop to energize the soul and dent my wallet, especially now that we are a foot into the Halloween season.

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This is the place where you plan the best autumn dinner of your life. Every vegetable imaginable is available and if yours is like mine, they come from local farms. That is a huge thing for me. I can’t put my finger on it, whether it is the track lighting or the fact most produce and items are in barrels but you kind of skip around aimlessly in this market. It is a scientific fact most amazing things come in a barrel. And for that, I am sure almost no one sticks to their lists. At least I don’t. I went in one time for three steaks and left with clams.

Hmm, maybe it is a gas leak that is the cause of such aimless shopping?

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The free coffee station is one of the best parts of The Fresh Market. Every season they have a select coffee to try with a full station to garnish your tiny cup. I was excited to see what Fall coffee they were pushing for this year but it never fails that some old bitty would be crowding the coffee sample table, adding cream and sugar with the speed and purpose of an aquarium-ed manatee. I hate her!

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Back to the wacky produce! Tell me, where can you get dwarf squash these days? Think real hard. I don’t know where but at The Fresh Market, this time of the year, you can. It is the main ingredient for my “Little Squash Big People Soup”. If you want the recipe just email me. It is just right for rainy and cold October days paired with the right beer. And yes, I do feel a little bad for that insensitive parody of the midget show. I meant little people show.

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SON OF A BITCH SHIT! I turn around for two seconds and the old guy jumps in and proceeds to go all Cialis on the decaf. Dude is quick in them Foot Joys!

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Here we come to what The Fresh Market does so well and that is the Halloween display. Every year is a bit different but damn if it isn’t always impressive! They always have a crazy candy display throughout the year but they really turn the knob to high in September. I love the fact an entire three-foot wicker basket is filled with one pound bags of gummy ghosts. If that were to fall off the roof and kill someone, their obituary would be clipped and permanently added to my fridge. It’s a place of honor.

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I know this picture is a tad bit blurry but I had been looked at with some suspicion while I roamed around taking pictures of small squashes and old people. This one was taken with great haste.

I love the decor. It is such a throwback to when I was a little kid. Ghosts and pumpkin-headed scarecrows are hung from the rafters with orange and black streamers dangling, carelessly blowing with the central air. It is simple yet perfectly nails why I love this holiday so much. There is no hint of modern pop or Disney shows. Just the same decorations we loved for years and years.

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Holy shit nuts and gum! I can’t catch a break this trip!

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I know this isn’t very Halloweenie but I can’t go to sleep without yelling from the hills about how amazing their organic nut selection is. Every kind of nut, berry, mix and seed is available for you to buy AND sample. I can’t tell you how many bags of trail mix I have, which are most likely stale, in my cupboard. There is no helping help myself and it is not beyond reason that I buy over one hundred dollars in almonds a month. Don’t get me started on cashews.

Also, I am not entirely sure about the sample part. If someone stops me I’ll just do my best impression of the homeless demon eating crickets in Hellraiser.

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We have success! Even though I like to browse the aisles for the best Thai peanut sauce and vegan friendly pasta while drinking  a free shot-cup of seasonal coffee, beggars can not be choosers. It is an added pleasure to an already fun fall grocery shopping experience.

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Of course it is pumpkin spice! How could it not be?

I am telling you folks, go to The Fresh Market if you want to immerse yourself with autumn goodness. The smells, specials, free samples and specialty food items are enough to make you go home and get drunk on spiked cider while hanging skeletons from trees. It is that great of an experience for this time of the year. Sure you will spend five dollars on a box of Triscuits but that’s why you save that for lame-o Kroger. You buy cornish hens and seven-year old sharp cheddar from The Fresh Market, ya silly!

 

 

Beers with Movie Sauce: Jaws 2

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I promise I’m not going to say “just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water”.

Well, shit.

Okay, so it really was not safe to go back in the water back in 1978 because Universal Studios cashed in on the cash cow that was Jaws; the original summer blockbuster. As sequels usually go, they can’t hold a candle to the original but with Jaws 2, I would say they made a damn good attempt. Sure, it a silly premiss that a monster shark came to seek vengeance on a small beach community  only a few years after the first monster shark had its head blown off but hey, life is weird like that. Just ask New Jersey.

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So yeah, I am yapping about Jaws 2 but more importantly I want to climb the rafters with a bullhorn and call to prayer that the fine people of Narragansett beer have released a retro-throwback LIMITED EDITION lager that was featured in the first Jaws film. The can is in its original colors from 1975 and was actually crushed by Robert Shaw who played Captain Quint. I have drunk many cans of bud lights in the Army and college just for the purpose of reenacting that famous scene between him and Richard Dreyfus.

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Also, I wanted to take this quick minute to brag about the time I met Jeffery Kramer who played Deputy Hendrix, Martin Brody’s second in command. Such a nice guy and had a blast asking him all the lame-o questions a geek like me could ask. He signed a shirt (claiming that to be his first) but he also signed a couple of autographs to include a very special one. The autopsy scene in Halloween 2 but accidentally signed is “Deputy Hendrix”, his Jaws character.

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Doh! I doubt it increases the value in real life but for the dumb collection in my office, it’s priceless.

So, please watch and sorry in advance about the crazy noises I make after eating this insanely hot, shark themed, hot sauce. It is a doozy. Honest, it will light your face.

 

A Very Random Halloween Vlog

Ho Boy am I going to probably regret posting this one but I love the season so much, I think this video expresses that feeling far more than words can. I was in the moment this past week so I decided instead of three videos I could just cover everything in one. I haven’t really watched it all the way through because I would most likely not post it. So here is to being an idiot!

Enjoy and enjoy the last weekend of October. I am off to Vegas for business so my last week will be weird at best. Make sure to do something spooky!

I love how the freeze frame of Videopress always manages to get me in a worst position. Assholes.

Fall Beer Review AND Spooky NC!

We are in the pipeline, folks. T-Minus ten days and counting before we switch from jack-o-lanterns to turkeys and trees. It’s hard to believe we are in the last third of the month but…we are. So let’s do it right.

Tonight I am reviewing a beer that takes all things pumpkin to a higher and more sophisticated level. I usually shy away from reviewing such beers because it will attract the beer snob who picks apart the video and scoffs at he fact a guy like me can have two cents to throw. If you are reading beer jerk, expect to be pissy. But, I wanted to shed some kind light on Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale because of the way they make it. It’s a farm to table way that I love. Real pumpkins from their farms make this mild and sweet beer all the more enjoyable.

Also! Also my pal Dave tells a spooky story about a notable haunted bridge only miles from where I live. He’s the type that is pretty serious so I 100% believe this tale. Now whether it was a ghost, who knows? Sometimes the perception is as fun as the reality of an event.

Enjoy this video and expect another catchup post later tonight.

Jekyll And Hyde

Last week I had to go up to New York City on a business trip. It’s part of the reason why I haven’t been so involved with the site for the Halloween countdown. Sometimes work just does that. But I did happen to pay a visit to a spot where Halloween rules the roost and it rescued me from having to pull an article from my fourth point of contact. (Airborne reference) This special place is a restaurant/bar near Greenwich Village called, Jekyll and Hyde and it is everything and more when it comes to a spooky good time. You’ll fall in love.

Call it fate, call it karma…I believe there was a reason I decided to walk to my client’s office instead of cabbing it. Had I taken a cab there is no way I would have walked past a street sign with the words “Spooky Hour” chalked on it. Or would I have seen the adorable ghosts and ghouls painted on the windows. It’s as if a higher power said, Will/Bill’s blog sucks and he needs a gift”. It was a gift and if you are in the area, this gift is also yours.

There are two Jekyll and Hydes in NYC; one in Greenwich Village and another in Times Square. This is not the one in Time Square though I am told that’s the better one. Sorry folks, I plumb ran out of time. I’m only reviewing this one and can not vouch for the other although the manager says it’s a lot more elaborate.

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I know this is a really dark photo but what you are looking at is a fully functional animatronics dining room. Every decoration has a little more to it that what you think. From a werewolf’s head on the wall to painting with eyes that follow you around the room. It’s creepy but in a really cute way. I like to compare it to a satanic Chuck E Cheese. The even have arcade games. Well, an arcade game.

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As you can see, I wasted no time making friends because I knew I would be here for a while so I may as well have the locals get used to me and my nagging nags. This is Anna, an awesome bartender, actress and all around cool person. We talked for hours and I learned more about the sketchy side of New York City than a dude from a little old town in North Carolina should. But I loved it.

She and the manager gave me the full tour of the place since I was the only person there for three hours so I have quite a bit to show you. I almost felt a little guilty about eating up their quiet time but I bought them lunch proving there is nothing that can’t be accomplished with the persuasion of tacos.

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In a break from conversation this dude popped out from behind the curtains and said something eloquent but it caught me so off guard, I nearly threw my beer at him. I wish I could remember what he said but at that time I looked like a stupid tourist, caught up in something that happens three hundred times in a week.

See? This is a place that has surprises around every corner and in this case, a coffin door behind a curtain with a sophisticated corpse. I love it.

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Like they say, you only rent the beers you drink and soon I was in search for a men’s room but that too was an adventure. At the far end of the dining room there is a long hallway lined with bookcases. I walked down to the end and back again, met with the staff who giggled at my obvious discomfort and total confusion. Anna said to try harder and read the clues like the sign at the end of the hall. Makes one wonder how much puke they clean up on a busy Saturday night from a drunk patron who had no time for clues or hidden doors.

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Okay, so it’s not the best clue. I had already done that maneuver on my own. It is kinda cute though, don’t you think? Where else can you solve a puzzle while having a pee-pants incident at age 35?

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Oh we have much success! I just prayed that I hadn’t found the woman’s restroom instead. I lead a life of 50/50’s and I am 100% wrong all he time. Lucky for me, this was a fluke.

After that little adventure, I wandered back to my bar stool, well aware of the eyes following me from painted pictures and eyeballed skeletons. When I passed the manager he asked if I wanted to see one of the animatronics shows while I was in the dining room. I said no. NO WAY I WOULD MISS IT!

I took this crappy video on my iPhone so you’ll have to bear with it. I never anticipated having enough time to get a real video on this trip.

Wow, that video is pretty terrible and super huge on this WordPress blog but you get the point. It’s a room of mechanical wonders and not too far off from the Rock-A-Fire Explosion.

I sat back down, completely satisfied with my experience so far only to find out they have an upstairs.

They have an upstairs? And it’s just like this only darker and more macabre? I don’t mean to sound easy to please but if you have singing skeletons, hot bartenders, beer and bathrooms behind bookshelves, I am yours. To add to that is like telling me I won a monkey who plays the ukulele and makes perfect lasagna. It’s beyond a bonus.

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There are two stairways to the second floor; one leads to Bwana Bob’s Safari Bar and the other to Laboratory Lounge. I had to rub my eyes because now we are talking about three distinctly different bars all strange and unusual, just like me. I can’t decide which is better so I will say their personalities crossed the finish line together.

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It’s a weird thing to be in an empty bar full of skeletons and angry tiki masks with the sun shining bright while monkey sounds and native chanting bellow from the speakers. It’s surreal  for a place that had been established in the early thirties, the creep factor was high. I absolutely can’t show you everything without turning this into more of a picture blog than it already is so I will share the ones I thought painted with the broadest brush.

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It was really cool of the manager to join me after I wandered around for thirty minutes. He said that this part of the restaurant isn’t open to the public but they are working to restart it. He went to the control room (which I have plenty of photos but don’t feel comfortable sharing) to start up the animatronics show. Before I knew it skulls appeared out of the walls, mouthing to the headhunter songs as the bridge rippled up and down. They really include the patron into the show and I find that so neat because getting drunk should always be an experience.

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If you are going to drink a mai tai, you should drink one sitting next to a skeleton in an aviator’s cap, pretending you are stranded on an island full of tribes who will shrink your head and probably eat you. Another positive note, no malaria carrying mosquitos!

After I took in all of Bwana Bob’s Safari Bar, I walked to the next room that was not nearly as fun but certainly as cool, the Laboratory Lounge. I couldn’t get over what a change in atmosphere it was because there was no separation between the two rooms!  Amazing what a skylight can do.

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It’s no secret that life-size monster statues are my thing. Especially the ones that have creepy signs with stories from horror literature. This is a two-headed abomination that a mad scientist created only to have it turn and kill him. Pretty dark but this is a place for it to hangout. Don’t try to buy it a drink because your bill will always be double. (I’ll be here all week folks!)

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Here’s another couple that let’s you know you’re not at a Chili’s. We see a patient and a doctor before what looks like an attempted surgery sans the drugs. It might be just me but that doctor looks like he got his MD online. And looking closer, it appears he’s being coached by his patient. That’s kind of high for a vasectomy. I’m sure they’ll get it right after a few attempts.

I would show more photos but the Lab was getting renovated to be open for the Halloween season so besides a few more skeletons and a bat..thing, there really isn’t much to show for now. I am sure it’s pretty insane since my visit.

I made my way back down the other stairway to grab another beer and gush over what I’ve seen. I must have sounded like a person from a country full of famine who discovered a Whole Foods. They had a good laugh at my “and then I saw…and after that…did you see…” type gibberish.

Pretty soon my mouth began to get dry. You know you’re pretty high when your mouth is dry. I had to say my long goodbyes and throw cash at Anna. Parting is always such sweet sorrow but I still had a meeting with a lady on a rooftop bar back at the hotel and slurring is not something I mask well when talking about financial and techno mumbo-jumbo. Plus, I heard a rumor that the people who own the Jekyll and Hyde’s also own this little hotspot around the corner:

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That’s for next time.

I also needed real pizza.

Thanks for reading and if you have the time, means and are close to New York City, pay them a visit. It’s a neat place to have a beer. Or ten.

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