APPALACHIA: PREPARING FOR PAIRING

Trying to keep it Gourmet with the EVOO

Trying to keep it Gourmet with the EVOO

I grew up camping. I was hiking in the Adirondacks when I was still in my mother’s belly. I was cribbin’ it in the Great Smoky Mountains when I was a baby. I did the whole Cub Scout, webelos, and Boy Scout thing as well. Never finished but had some really cool adventures out in the woods and on rivers. It has been a long time since those days and I am now a solidified city boy in love with the Big Apple.
But that urge. That twinge of anxiety to be back in nature has never left me. I forget about it for long periods of time but every once in a while when the weather is just so I catch a whiff on the breeze that reminds me of some camping trip somewhere in my youth. The smell of dead, wet leaves, of wood burning, the crisp beginnings of autumn and the wacky smell of Spring attempting to establish itself in our lives for a short time before summer rolls in on its heat wave. My olfactory starts talkin’ to my memories and I am in a full sensory overload. It’s fun.

My mother is pure Italian but had the camping bug in her. The 70’s in Upstate New York were kind of like that. Hippies getting lit on cheap beer or jug wine from Watkins Glen around a campfire singing songs, hiking. There were no cell phones or Internet and when you were out there…you were out there. My father on the other hand is pure hillbilly proudly hailing from the great state of Ohio with family running down through Appalachia from Indiana to Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.

Hillbillies have an interesting history and are usually descendants of the Scottish or English with a nice dose of Native American blood thrown in for good measure. My father’s side has the Scottish and the Native American is side a little debated as far as which tribe but we think either the Pawnee from South Indiana or the Cherokee Eastern Chapter in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.

My wife does not have a great history of camping in her family just like my mom but just like my mom she has the bug. She loves the stuff. Every April we celebrate our anniversary by leaving the city. We go…somewhere. One year it was California…all of it. One year it was Montauk. This year with the economy being what it is we put Paris off  ’til next year and tried to decide what to do for this April.

My wife has a cousin in Nashville transplanted from California who just had a second little girl a couple years back. For two years we have been trying to figure out how to get down there. At the time I had been thinking a lot about the Smokies and how much fun I used to have with the fam. Also, more and more often we had been talking about camping and never getting around to it. We did a weekend up state with her sister and boyfriend and friends but that was just a teaser.

So we planned a big one. We decided to go to Nashville. Not fly down to Nashville… to camp down to Nashville. We decided to rent a car and drive the ” scenic route” through the Appalachian Mountains towards Nashville Tennessee camping the entire way and the entire way back. It pretty much worked. We did a lot of tenting with a two-day stint on a hide away.

The process of two city folk planning a weeklong camping trip is pretty intense. I have two businesses and she is an artist and a schoolteacher. We were busy up until the morning we left. The day before we raided K-Mart in Astor Place buying a tent and stove and all kinds of stuff for the trip. We thought we had it all planned out. And we pretty much did but we learned some valuable lessons for the next time as we worked our way through Appalachia.

One challenge I took on was that I told myself I would not bring wine from either the Shop or In Vino. I wanted to find the diamonds in the rough out there in the small towns. Well…kind of…I knew we are stopping at Linden Vineyards in Virginia early on in the trip and planning on buying a couple bottles. But other than that it was all up in the air.

We planned our meals and the whole time I was pairing wines in my head. I love to cook and if you think about it in NYC apartments are so small that cooking on two-burner propane stove is not that much different. In our apartment I am always trying to get creative with my use of space to maximize the process of making a meal so when left with a sauté pan and a saucepot and a few utensils I think I had it pretty down pat. So off we went to Commodities on 1st Ave and stocked up on grains, canned foods and anything we could boil, sauté, drain and fry.

We rented Chevy Cobalt for the trip out of LaGuardia because the price was significantly cheaper than in the city and that was it. Thursday morning we were out the door really early, cabbed it to Enterprise, grabbed the car, headed back to the East Village, packed up the car and off we went into the wilderness with seven days of camping, cooking and wine pairing.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Hope you had a fun trip.

    Reply

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