Wednesday, October 1, 2008

If It's Tuesday, I Must Be at The Clyde

One of the best things about living in a small town is our small town movie theater, The Clyde. The Clyde shows one movie at a time and they switch it out twice a week. It costs $6 for adults to get in and you can get popcorn and soda pop for another $2. It's the last great deal in the United States. I absolutely love The Clyde. After we moved here, I couldn't wait to go to my first movie, which I did within the first week of moving here (although I don't remember what I saw).

The owners of The Clyde, Lynn and Blake Willeford, are great people. Not only do they go out of their way to keep The Clyde affordable and bring in the best movies, they do a lot for our community. Among other endeavors, they are active in Friends of Friends, Hearts & Hammers, and Fair University. This year they organized the first RainDance Film Festival. They are busy people!

The ticket takers are all 'volunteers.' In exchange for taking tickets one night a week, my family and I get into any and all movies, and I get a drink and popcorn, for free! If this isn't a deal, I don't know what is.

Sometimes I sub in the snack bar when one of the regular ladies needs a night off. This is great fun as it affords a longer opportunity to chat with people while they stand there and decide what to buy. We have our regulars. Bob always gets a large coke and a large popcorn. Billy likes his popcorn tamped down just so and refuses to take a straw with his drink. Many people are under the misguided impression that snack bar ladies are mind readers. "A medium soda, please." Then there are the kids who just cannot make up their minds. Faced with goodies galore, they stand there in a daze until forced to make their decision by an impatient parent or snack bar lady.

Tuesday nights are my night to take tickets and last night I saw Bottle Shock, a delightful movie about the Napa wineries in the mid '70s, most specifically Chateau Montelena, and the French/California 'Judgment of Paris' wine tasting that put California wines on the map. I was completely unaware of this event and the associated history, although I'm a California girl and have been to the wine country many times.

The movie was especially timely for me because I'm planning a trip to California next week and, along with 3 girlfriends, will be touring the Napa wine country in a private limo. I get giddy just thinking about it!

Bottle Shock has that great indie movie feel to it. I would be really interested to know how much is real and how much was made up for the movie. For instance, one would hope that Jim Barrett, owner of Chateau Montelena, is not such a crabby person. I hate to think one of my favorite wines is made by a crabby appleton. One also has to wonder why cute female intern Sam switched from the adorable Gustavo who had such a passion for wine to the badly-wigged Bo, slacker son/heir. Guess she's just a wine-ho! Alan Rickman is wonderful as Steven Spurrier, a British wine snob living in Paris, who organizes the blind tasting. He appeared to be enjoying himself tremendously in this role. Maybe the glasses had real wine in them! I whole-heartedly recommend this movie, followed by a glass of your favorite wine.

(After writing this, I found an interesting article online regarding the accuracy of the movie.. Guess even indie movies have to go a little bit Hollywood.)

Before tonight's showing, a local shop around the corner from the theater, The Chef's Pantry, will be recreating the taste-off with a blind tasting of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the best French Meursault. How fun is that?!?!?!

Smokin' in Seattle

Photo courtesy of Mickey

 Several years ago, while awaiting arrival of Dorothy, our Aga cooker, someone mentioned to me that there was a bbq I should look into that was the griller's equivalent of an Aga.  It was called a Big Green Egg.  Of course, I immediately had to investigate this oddly-named thing and learned that it was a ceramic Kamado-style bbq.

Here is Jim looking oh-so-excited about his new toy

 One thing led to another and within fairly short order, Jim was receiving his very own Big Green Egg for Father's Day. Never mind that he had never even heard of it before, let alone requested such a gift.  I needed one, which meant he needed one, and that is how Dimples, our large Big Green Egg, came to live with us.

The Big Green Egg has a terrific cult following which means a great online forum where all things Egg-related can be discussed at any hour of the day or night.  Having a problem in the middle of your all-night pork cook and need some advice?  No problem, there is guaranteed to be at least one 'egghead' up and online to help you out or commiserate or show off photos of what he cooked for dinner earlier that night.

Pulled pork cooked overnight on the Egg

 The BGE, or simply Egg, is not just a cool bbq and smoker.  It makes hands-down the best bbq I have ever tasted.  What's more, it doesn't stop at bbqing and smoking.  You can bake in it, stir fry in it, and if you get the extra-large, you can probably take a bath in it.  I have personally made French toast, chocolate chip cookies, s'mores, mashed potatoes, bacon-wrapped tater tots, quesadillas, and asparagus and other assorted veggies.  Sometimes we do meat on it too.

Bacon-wrapped tater tots from Eggfest 2007 - always a big hit!
Now although the Egg makes delicious food, that isn't even the best part about it.  Whenever you have a lot of people conversing often online (and the BGE forum is very chatty), they will sooner or later start wanting to meet up in real life.  This phenomenon had happened with the Eggheads long before I ever came upon the scene.  In fact, they had been meeting up at Eggfests all across the country for 8 years when I stumbled in the door.  There is the big main Eggtoberfest put on by and at the Mothership in Tucker, Georgia, every October.  This was started back in '97.  As time went on, smaller but no less enthusiastic Eggfests were started by just regular old eggheads, sometimes with the help of their local Egg dealers.  The main gist of an Eggfest is that you get a dealer to sell a number of 'demo eggs' at a discount to anyone who is too cheap to shell out the full price.  These Eggs are cooked on by anyone who wishes to do so and then the used-for-one-day Eggs are taken home by their happy new owners.  In the meantime, for a fee, other people can attend and eat the food that is being cooked all day long at the Eggfest.  The cooks get in free, thus saving between 25 and 50 dollars, and in exchange they get to slave away cooking food they have provided at their own expense often totaling in the hundreds of dollars.

Alas, there were no Eggfests in the Seattle area, nor anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, not even on the entire west coast.  What was to be done?  For a couple years, it was discussed often to start an Eggfest in the Seattle area.  I was all for that.  It got talked to death but no one was willing to take it on.  I approached the dealer I had purchased my—I mean, Jim's Egg from, and they were not interested.

Another year went by and the subject came up again.  Being the great organizer I am, I decided I would put on my own Eggfest.  If I couldn't find a place to have it and a dealer to sponsor it, I would just end up inviting some fellow Eggheads in the general area over to our house for a bbq.

I put the word out on the forum that I was planning a PNW Eggfest.  This apparently is all that was needed to get the ball rolling.  The next thing I knew, I had dealers lined up insisting on being allowed to participate.  Eventually w approached the local distributor, AES, who came on board and agreed to be our main sponsor.  We ended up with 3 dealers on our team, a few having dropped out once they found out that they would be expected to actually put up some money and maybe do a little work.  We held our first Pacific Northwest Evergreen Eggfest (Smokin' in Seattle) in September of 2007 at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah.  It was a huge success with 25 cooks and over 250 people attending from 7 states.
Tonia came with her husband Larry from Florida

This brings me back to my sentence, "Now although the Egg makes delicious food, that isn't even the best part about it."  The people I met at our Eggfest were absolutely the nicest people I have ever met in my life.  I'm talking about the people who worked for AES and the dealers and the fellow Eggheads who came and cooked.  The people who came and ate were pretty nice, too, but it was the true Eggheads who stood out as being exceptionally nice people.
Love Brian's shirt!
Men in kilts cooking - does it get any better than that?

Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, our guest chef

Our first Eggfest was very successful and AES and the dealers got together and sent me to Eggtoberfest in October of 2007 as a thank you for my part in starting it up and all.  Again, the people I met when I attended that amazing event (200 cooks, 1500 people eating) were just beyond nice.  I don't know what it is about them.  I certainly meet a lot of nice people as I go through life, but there is just something about these Eggheads that puts them a little bit above average nice.  I keep hoping some of it will rub off on me!

Sean Alexander, the generous and talented Egger who designed and maintains our website

Eggers are a colorful bunch

So this year we held our second Eggfest, again in September and at the same location.  We had 32 cooks and over 450 people, so we grew a bit, although we only had 6 states represented.  Again, it was a super fun day with just the nicest people showing up and helping out, cooking, and having fun together.  I walked away with new friends, some great new recipes, and the hope that maybe a little bit more of that niceness had rubbed off on me.

LOVED this kid!

The heat is on!

Pizza on the Egg - delicious!

Couple of satisfied customers