Since I had to stay straight enough to drive 6 miles back out to my motel, I was in real good shape Sunday morning. Got up about 7:00, showered, dressed, and packed, and went downtown to pick up Woody. We broke our fast at the Zodiac Dinor (2516 State St., (814) 455-3543), where I had another Greek sauce omelette. Good omelette, but the Greek sauce was cold in spots: kinda like it had been heated up rapidly and unevenly. Bummer. Quiet on a Sunday morning. We read the paper and headed southeast.
I'd decided I wanted to skip the Interstates this Sunday morning, so we picked up Rt. 6 and then ran down through the Allegheny National Forest. Great roads, great ridge-running, and we made good time. Woody was dozing on and off, so I just let the Passat run and listened to the music. We ran I-80 for about 20 miles, then got off near Clearfield. I was headed for Otto's, but also for Port Matilda, where I pulled off for a kind of second breakfast at Clem's.
Clem's does barbecue, and I love it. I regularly go out of my way to get it, because Clem Panteleone agrees with my theory of barbecue: the meat is more important than anything: the smoke, the wood, the sauce, the atmosphere.
The smoke? Clem cooks his ribs hot, over fire. Heresy, but shut up and eat 'em. The wood? Clem uses oak because (he told me) hickory has too much flavor and masks the pig. Sauce? It's a rich red sauce, sweet and tangy, but it's not baked on like some places. And Clem's place has NO atmosphere; hell, it doesn't even have four walls or a place to sit. But the kid working the place did come out and offer everyone some wings to sample (I just don't eat wings any more, they're death on the diet, but I had one. Mmmmmm...). And the pork is just fantastic. I got a combo plate of a half rack of baby backs and a portion of boneless "country" ribs. Good Gawd, it was so good that I ate till I hurt. I hate doing that any more, but I held even on weight over the trip, so I guess I got away with it.
We wet-napped our faces and got out of there. Down to Otto's, the great brewpub on the west end of State College. No need for lunch, obviously, but I did get a half-pint of Arthur's Mild, and it was tasty and session-delicious. Owner-brewer Charlie Schnable took a break from epoxying the floor of his new coldroom to join us for a quick beer, then took me on a look in the brewhouse. It has filled up since the last time I was in there! Lotsa tanks, and Charlie's kind of wondering what he's gonna do next. Hope he keeps making the delicious beer he's been making.
We were joined at the bar by Sam Komlenic, who I last talked about in the WhiskyFest posts. Funny; I correspond with Sam fairly often, but this is the most I've seen him in two years. A pleasant change. As you can see from the picture to the left of Sam and Woody, Sam, another former "big guy," has benefited from the Weight Watchers program; dropped 30 lbs. and never stopped drinking beer and whiskey. It works, folks! Sam treated us to a sample of some pre-war rye whiskey, and it was damned nice. Thanks, Sam.
We were going to take a spin out to Millheim to see how the Elk Creek brewpub project was coming along, but I got a call from Cathy: my brother-in-law had had an accident and was on the way to the ER. We finished up and hit the road. About the time I dropped Woody off in Lancaster, I got another call: the brother was not as bad as we'd been told, and he was going to be fine. Good. Danke, Herr Gott. So I drove home, and enjoyed the presence of my family and my wee dog. A good weekend.