There is a giant frying pan standing off the main drag of Long Beach, Washington pining for the days when it was the world's largest. Across the street is Marsh's Free Museum, which is most famous for being the home of Jake, one of the world's most beloved half-man, half-alligator creatures. Marsh's has just about everything inside. In addition to the two-headed calf there is an eight-legged lamb. Every purchase comes with a free sea shell. It must have been a slow day when I was there because they gave me eight shells when I bought a couple of postcards.
My dad gets his asparagus at this farm stand, which is on a back road between Phoenix, NY and Mexico, NY. Unfortunately, he prefers the bunches with the largest stalks, which his wife proceeds to boil until they are dead, dead, and more dead. I wonder why asparagus is cooked like that when it is so much tastier when lightly boiled, sautéed or grilled.
At least he is getting fresh asparagus. When I was a kid I think my mother bought canned asparagus, which she also cooked until they were well dead. It made me gag and I successfully avoided asparagus for many years.
Lo, those many years later I had a job interview at Western Washington University in Bellingham. For dinner the faculty took me out to a seafood place right on the water. Much to my horror the grilled salmon I had ordered came with a large mound of steamed asparagus. I knew I had to make a visible dent in the asparagus so I steeled myself and hoped for the best. It was better than the best. I actually liked it!
Despite my new found love of asparagus I didn't get the job. It was a one-year temporary position and they really, really wanted someone to teach a soils class. I didn't know anything about soils and was clearly unqualified to teach about them. It would have been fun to live out there for a year.
I was tempted to visit Bellingham when I was out that way this spring. I was curious to see if I would remember any of it from the whirlwind visit in 1990. Alas, I did not budget enough time.
You never know what you'll find at the Brooklyn Flea. This is the backside of an old apartment building mailbox case. I did not buy the mailboxes but instead settled for a delicious bonfire (soft cocoa waffle cookie, salted caramel sauce, dark chocolate ganache, and roasted meringue) stroopwafel from the good batch.
Did you ever notice that every drugstore has a small section of off-brand or strange items? The section will be a foot wide on two or three separate shelves. On the shelves you'll find Carter's Liver Pills, Octagon soap, Hongo Killer and other oddities.
This morning at CVS I picked up a bar of Saint Barbara Soap. I can't figure out if it is a sincere product for the devout or an ironic joke. Googling only revealed another perplexed customer.
The Queen Helene Cholesterol hair conditioning cream is sincere. I wonder where they got the name?
There's a new grocery store in the neighborhood. The Best Yet Market opened a few weeks ago and they are having a grand opening sale starting tomorrow. My walk home in the evening sometimes takes me past the store so I've already shopped there several times.
They have a small, but good, selection of fresh breads. Prepared foods are a work in progress. Produce selection is limited but mostly good. There's lots of meats and a very long frozen food section but I rarely buy either. The cheese section was disappointing. The bakery is open in the morning. I don't recommend the overly sweet bagels but the apple danish I had was tasty. Prices seem reasonable.
Overall "Best Yet" is a misnomer, but the store is far better than the nearby C-Town and is a more pleasant place to shop than Fine Fare.
A few days before I left for Pasadena I happened to see a video about John Nese, a man obsessed with soda pop, and his store in Los Angeles. I checked out the address of the store and saw that it was just a little bump from what was already a meandering route from LAX to Pasadena.
The Mr. Q Cumber was delightful! You might not think cucumber and soda are meant to be said together but the soda was very refreshing on a hot day. Not pictured, the ginger beer was also excellent. Not quite as spicy as Blenheim (which, by the way, I can no longer find in the city) but it still had a good kick to it. Cheerwine is a tasty cherry cola. Double Cola is not imaginatively named, it has twice the cola flavor as other sodas.
To make Galco's all that much cooler, while I was there a tractor trailer pulled into the parking lot with a delivery. To get the forklift needed to unload the delivery, Mr. Nese had to pull his car out of the storage shed. He drives a DeLorean!
If you clicked on the Cheerwine link you'll notice that it is a little nutty. It is sane compared to the Pop Shoppe. Beware of flatulent clouds and harp playing bunnies!