Saturday, May 07, 2011

Al the Retired Army Guy, the Maytag validation and a hottie named Sally

Al the Retired Army Guy, a regular around this here blog, was in Cleveland for a visit and rang up Yours Truly.

Hi Al!

We met at the Cleveland West Side Market, which is one of my favorite places in the world. We had a blast, but one story begs telling.

We were at the tiny Mediterranean Deli, where I buy my salted licorice and where you can find a very fine selection of better cheeses both imported and domestic. Al spied a wedge of Maytag bleu cheese.

"That's made in Iowa by the same family that makes the washers and dryers," said Al, and went on to explain that Maytag bleu cheese is some of the best in the land.

Then something happened.

There was one other customer at the counter. As Al's comments came to an end, he turned to us and said with authority, "He's right," then pointed to his hat, which was emblazoned with IOWA across the crown.

I LOVE shit like that.

I bought a sliver of the Maytag cheese (which proved to be utterly sublime), and spent a couple of hours schlepping around the market with Al and the Goat. We talked a lot and didn't take enough pix, but here's a few just the same.

Smack my Ass and Call me Sally, Holy Shit and Blow me.

Um, okay already. 

An actual pig in an actual blanket.

Detail of Al the Retired Army Guy's sweatshirt.

* * *

People, the Goat is not what you'd call a regular Richard Avedon, so that pic you have of Al and me is the pic you have of Al and me. Deal with it. I'm glad to have it just the same and was so so glad to see my buddy Al.

Al, you rock my face off and you're welcome back to my stomping grounds any time.

* * *


Al The Retired Army Guy said...

That's one handsome dude in that sweatshirt ... well, not really ... ;-)

Many thanks to Erin and the Goat (who's an incredibly nice guy, BTW) for a great afternoon - and the Maha's falafel sandwich (awesome). I had a great time and it was wonderful seeing you both.

BTW, readers of the Manual would do well to visit the Market should the opportunity arise. It is a magical place, and certainly pornography for cooks like me.


Bill said...

It's cool that you guys met and shared some fun. The answer is "yes". The question is: "can't we all just get along?"

Anonymous said...

I love the photo that the Goat took. I like when things capture the motion of a moment. You and Al look cute. Really cute. And I won't even say anything about his GOP sweatshirt (wait, I just did!).

One should probably not blow someone after having a mouthful of hot sauce. I think I read that in a comment here some time ago. Am I making that part up? Was that a different blog?

Have fun and thanks for sharing. Another lovable post, Erin!

Big Mark 243 said...

Sounds like fun and I am with you on the appreciation of coincidences like with the cat with the Iowa hat. I mean, I puff up whenever someone makes a reference about the Motor, good or ill. That is what 'representin' is really about..!

You do the same for Cleveland, along with my new bes friend and Drew Carey..!

DogsDontPurr said...

I'm so jealous! Would sooo love to experience that market with you..and the Goat...and Al...Wow!

As for the Maytag cheese...I've always wondered about that. It was really popular in the Pacific Northwest years ago. When I'd see it on a menu, I'd always rumple my nose and ask, "Why would anyone name a cheese after an appliance company?!" Now I know! (Still, don't you think they should have picked a better name? When I'm having dinner out, the last thing I want to think about is my laundry!)

Anyway...sounds like you had a blast! Did I say "Jealous!!"?

DogsDontPurr said...

Oh...on that last comment, I did not mean to say that I'm not a big fan of interesting cheeses. You can name it after a compost compactor, and I'll still eat it. One of my true loves is going to a cheese shop that truly knows their stuff.

Contrary Guy said...

Can't visit West Side Market w/o checking out the Great Lakes brewery down the block for a few brews. Gotta wash that Maytag down with something.

Erin O'Brien said...

Big Mark said "cat."


Anonymous said...

Looks like fun. Too bad E'O didn't have a sweatshirt saying "This guy has gone off the reservation, he's eatin' middle eastern food with a liberal."
I love these posts. Hope to get to Cleveland one day. This little community of peeps is one of my daily pleasures.
I like Big Marks comments too. Come back often.


Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ - Hate to say it, but I've already eaten middle eastern food with libs. Back in 2005-2006, at the Embassy in Baghdad, with State Department types .... ;-)


Anonymous said...

It occurs to me it's probably more fun to dine with libs regardless of the origin of the cuisine. I mean if you ask for seconds at a table of conservatives doesn't everyone scream you're double dipping?


Anonymous said...

the market was my first job as a 10 yr. old immigrant to the US back in 1979--selling produce. in early '80 i recall Ronnie Reagan stopping by on a campaign outing. EOB, am I dreaming that or am I right?

Erin O'Brien said...

I'm sure you're right, Alex.

Funny story about Ronnie's 1976 bid for POTUS. He gave a campaign speech in Lakewood Park right next to my house.

The SS guys detained my dad until Reagan was long gone because they thought he looked suspicious. Just came up to him during the speech and said, "You'll need to come with us, sir." Then asked him BS questions for the duration.

Dad had probably had a few beers and was looking like a goof. How funny ...

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ: Actually, it's more fun to dine with conservatives as they usually have more money and can afford the good stuff .... ;-)


Anonymous said...


Rachel Ray is holding you a seat at Le Bernardin.


Al The Retired Army Guy said...


Rachel Ray .... Must. Be. Stopped.

And Eric Ripert would never let an idiot like her soil the sanctity of such a shrine to culinary excellence like Le Bernardin. She'd probably ask Eric for "EVOO" or a "sammie" or "stoup." She'd be summarily thrown out - a good thing indeed.


philbilly said...

Having spent much of my yoot in Iowa during summers, I can attest to its awesomeness. If I didn't live here, I'd live there. My ancestral home is a farm not far from where Dvorak would take a pail of Bohemian beer, very early in the morning dew, to sit on the banks of the Turkey River and write. Here he finished "From the New World" and penned "Humoresque".

You can feel the Earth breathe there. All water flows to the Mississippi, tiny creeks cut sharp bends through loam four feet thick thus feeding tributaries that meander through woods and beneath bluffs and over spillways with the certainty of a cesium clock. At night the stars are blinding.

No Opium perfume can compete with a freckled strawberry blonde exuding a faint whiff of Fels Naptha while she wrangles a saddle on a Bay, which causes her shirt buttons to strain between her able shoulders.

Not far from Amana and the fridge and washer factories is an old sale barn converted to a tourist attraction, aisle after aisle of perfectly detailed dioramas of America According to the McGuffey Reader. G-rated.

At the former Post Office in Spillville, the first floor is devoted to incredibly detailed massive wooden clocks carved by the Bily brothers, after chores over decades, their primary education and source of subject matter being National Geographic magazines. Upstairs is a small Dvorak museum and a vial of Madam Curie's radium.

My Maytag 440 is over 40 years old, completely original less one rusted out hose clamp. There are youtube videos of 440's rocking through the spin cycle. They are the domestic equivalent a one-ton flatbed with dualies.

Love that hot sauce stand.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean I don't have to change my name and hide from Erin traveling through Ohio?

James Old Guy

Anonymous said...

MOE!! LARRY!! THE CHEESE!! whooobWHOOBWHOOBwhoooob....


Mike r, channeling the great Jerome Horvitz, better known as Curley Howard, the greatest comedian in American film history.