I don't think I'm ever going to need to eat again. Ever. We just rolled back into town and I'm exhausted! And full. There was pheasant, paella, prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. There was potica and cardamom bread. Sugar cookies and truffles. My sister even went on a jelly bean bender.
We braved the snowy roads and were able to make it up to Duluth and then over to Gilbert, Minnesota (it's outside Virginia - middle of no where) to celebrate the holiday with my 103 year old grandma Gidgee and my great Auntie Joy and her great family. We had a blast and ended up sleeping in a little later than I meant to.
We were bundled and packed back into the car to come back down in the afternoon. While we were slipping and sliding all over the roads, we heard NPR reporting a snow advisory down here. We gave up. My car that is so very much fun in the summertime is a teeny little death trap at first sign of a snow flake. We swung her towards Duluth. There was no way we were going to push it. Besides, it was Christmas Day! Why not make the holiday last a little longer?
Mom and Julie were still in route when we pulled into a foggy, snow strewn Duluth. Since the door would be locked, we could either sit in the parking lot staring at the door, or we could find another way to entertain ourselves.
Up and over the Blahtnik bridge we went. I laughed and pointed out the twinkle lights that some brave soul had hung at the top of a grain elevator. Ah, Superior. It's grungy, desolate and always there for me. The lights weren't on at the Hammond as we approached and I sucked in my breath. Could it be? The Hammond bar closed? I needn't have been concerned. Of course they were open! The liquor store was doing brisk business. I picked up a bottle of rum, but was pulled to the other side of the room. We bellied up at the bar. I ordered a bloody Mary and Matt had a brandy and soda. It was a tasty little bloody, nice and salty garnished with a pickle, olive and pickled asparagus and that drink was no joke. The vodka warmed my tummy and unwound my jangled nerves from the country slosh through the back roads.
There were a good amount of people in there, all having a great time. The jukebox kicked in and Johnny Cash filled the room. The Christmas lights were blinking, casting everyone in a holiday glow. A steady stream of rugged men would come in, knock back a drink and ask how long they were going to be open for the day. The little wisp of a bartender said somewhere between 10 and 11. They would leave and another would come in.
I could almost see the outline of my old man in the doorway, seeking respite from his family. He'd come up with some thing that we would have needed from the store and then head out for sanctuary. He would have ordered a beer and sucked it down before heading back to town and the bustling house full of women grousing and banging pans in the kitchen.
I couldn't believe that Matt had never been there! The Hammond is an institution! They're the first business on the other side of the state border where desperate Duluthians can pick up a case of beer any day of the week that they pleased.
Accorss the street is the Hammond Spur. Outwards, it appears to be just any other convenience store, but when you walk in and the fried food smell hits you, you realize this is some place different.
I'm not certain if you're aware, but it's a proven fact that drunk people are incapable of passing up the Hammond Spur's delights. You think you're just going to stop for some cigarettes on your way home because suddenly you've taken up pool and smoking and are really good at both. Then there's the line twisting through the shelves and you find yourself somewhere by the Coke display. The smell grows stronger as your slowly shuffle towards the case. Chicken wings, jalapeno poppers and fried balls of delight. The next thing you know, your stumbling out with a grease stained brown paper sack filled with what you don't even know. This is how I discovered what a Reuben Ball is and why I love the little sucker so.
We tipped back one more drink, wished everyone in the place a Merry Christmas and before you could say cake donut I was buying two Heggie's pizzas to take home to my Mama and sister. Tonight! We eat like kings. Kings of Superior.