Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Spoiled For Life

One doesn't spend 6 weeks, I mean 6 days, holed up in the woods along the Onion Valley Creek and not return home with some good stories to tell.

I mean good stories, not stupid anecdotes about cheap bald eagle shaped wine decanters (see yesterday's post).

Last week, while camping with 3 other families, and despite our combined 8 Coleman coolers stocked with enough food to feed 1000 Namibians, including 3 cases of assorted beer, all manner of tortilla chip, fresh caught trout, flank steak, chicken and bourvos -- a one of a kind South African sausage -- we decided to get in the SUV, truck down the mountain and up Route 395 to the Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine.

Opened in 2014, this modest roadside attraction has already been named Yelp's Number One Restaurant in the entire United States.

Our plan was to take a respite from the cooking chores and gather everyone for a great Wednesday night dinner. However, by the time our scouting party, the wives returning from their obligatory visit to Bishop, called back to base camp, to report the Copper Top had sold out all their food by 4:30 PM.


You can imagine our disappointment.

We were already jonesing for that sweet, tangy, fatty BBQ taste. And now it looked like we'd have to fire up the coals and pick through some bony, farm-raised trout, thrown in the creek by the California Wildlife people to give people the impression they are natural born anglers.

Not to be skunked, my buddy Paul and I fought off our hangovers and got up early the next day so that we could be in line at the Copper Top by 11:30 AM.

As my family can tell you, I am not fond of waiting in line for food. But we were assured by the early birds who had already secured their Tri-Tip sandwiches and whose faces were already glazed with two coats of BBQ sauce that the wait was worth it.

One monstrously huge 11 year old boy, who was pushing 200 lbs. if I've ever seen it, summed it up best…

"Mommy can I have another root beer so I can burp and make room for more food?"

With the bounty safely tucked in the backseat of the MDX, we made the 27 mile back down route 395.

It was nerve-racking. If any of you have ever driven a newborn baby home from the hospital for the very first time, you know from which I speak. Only in this case, Paul and I wanted to pull over to the gravelly shoulder of the road and start sloppily gnawing on the baby.

The smell was tortuous.
I'm saying, in a completely non-hyperbolic way, that if we wanted to extract vital information from ISIS Jihadis, we should put them in a non-ventilated room, hands tied behind their back, with a few racks of Copper Top St. Louis style pork ribs.

I know the brave warriors of Islam don't indulge in pork products, but in this case I'm convinced they'd say,

"Allah be damned, hand me that swiney goodness and pass the wet naps."

The $175 worth of carnivorous delight was gone in minutes. Had peer pressure not prevailed I would have eaten the styrofoam container that still bore the saucy remnants. As my girthy 36 inch waist will attest, I'm no stranger to good BBQ. But I simply do not have the words that can sufficiently describe the 5 Star Copper Top dining experience.

In fact, if I were you, I would call in sick today, hightail it through the Antelope Valley and put the pedal to the metal until you reach Big Pine on Route 395.

You might get a ticket at one of the speed traps in Olancha, Lone Pine or Independence, but the Pulled Pork, the Tri-Tip and the Chili Lime Beans are all worth it.


Bob said...

As someone who grew up on Santa Maria-style BBQ tri-tip, I can make a couple of recommendations if you ever get to Jonesing: The (original) Hitching Post in Casmalia. (Not the fancy Hitching Post II featured in "Sideways.") Amazing Santa Maria-style BBQ of all kinds, as well as artichokes grilled over red oak. All in a space best described as "early ranchhand shack." And then there's Jocko's, in Nipomo. Long waits, even with reservations, are normal, but worth it. Or just wait for the Santa Maria Elks Lodge to throw a big BBQ. Of course, that would mean going to Santa Maria, which I can tell you, isn't as nice as the area in Death Valley where the Manson Family and the Siegel's hang out.

george tannenbaum said...

Rich, my wife and I just this weekend found a hole-in-the-wall barbecue place on 116th between first and second in Harlem. If you're ever in NY we'll bend and elbow and bust a rib.

Roy Brooks said...


(Farmer's sausage)

Because I thought you might just like to know