Good-Bye, Lead Penny, Hello
Local Burger w/Chipotle Curry Sauce, Muenster Cheese, Bacon, Tomato, Mayo, Red Onion.
The Lead Penny is closing! I was shocked to see the announcement of its last day on Instagram. I was aware that the restaurant group that owns the Penny was opening a new place three doors north of their present location, but I thought this new bar/restaurant would be in addition to the Penny and that the Penny would remain open. That’s what I get for leaving town for two weeks. I had plenty of questions, primarily would they continue the 69 drinks challenge? Like I said, I was shocked.
I don’t like going out of town and leaving my house. It’s a bit like leaving an aging mistress. (Not that I would know.) There are many things with the various systems that can go haywire — cooling, heating, plumbing, electric — events that could prove disastrous if I’m not around to catch them early. The house is old: everything old is prone to problems. Now add the strange occurrences that I have been chronicling here: the little girl apparition, Rafe digging up bones, the lights, the possibility of an even more malign being under the house, cat kidnapping, killer squirrels, the moving of the camera into the pillar, the house shifting, the fact that my phone camera no longer works under the house, the increasing number of nuisance computer problems. (The Hell to Pay type is still there, I can work around it, but I can’t remove it.) The fact that I found the base of the remote camera inside the house sitting on my keyboard upstairs in my office. This is perhaps the most disturbing element; we lock the house every night, but something, someone, is able to move freely inside when I’m sleeping a few feet away. What are they doing when I’m not here?
So I depend on the Penny as a place of refuge. It was with some trepidation Sherry and I went to the last-night celebration. It was crazy. The place was jammed, people were standing on tables shouting, taking picture, drinking toasts. I looked for Rafe, but he’s hard enough to spot on a calm night. I had a Fernet Branca, which is an Italian liquor, a type of amaro known for its bitterness. I have a long Fernet Branca story from my youth, which I sometimes tell if I’ve had enough to drink. I had originally thought I would recount it on these pages, but I’ve changed my mind. It’s indeed long, too long, involves a beautiful Englishwoman I met in Rome, a night of epic drinking and a terrible hangover the next morning whereupon the English lady taught me about the restorative powers of Fernet Branca; then she took me on a trip to a black-sand beach down the boot of Italy where the ladies strutted around the sand wearing bikini bottoms, no tops, and high heeled shoes; promises were made, promises were broken. If anyone passes through my town and we end up at the New Penny, buy me a few drinks, maybe I’ll tell you the story.
It was not my finest moment; or maybe it was.
For some reason Fernet has become a hipster drink, beloved by chefs for after-work drinking. Bitter is the operative word, but I like it and keep a bottle in the back of the liquor cabinet for those rare occasions when I need a hangover remedy.
Here’s a picture of me and the Big Guy grabbed in the midst of the craziness of that last night.
The New Penny has opened. Here’s a report.
Steelhead Salmon Tacos w/slaw, Creamy Dressing, Cilantro
They debuted the new bar just a few days after they closed the old one, three buildings up the street in what was originally a drug store. The new version looks pretty much like the old, only cleaner and bigger. All the old “art” is on the walls, including a line of the plaques honoring those who have entered the pantheon of 69 drinks. All the handwritten chalkboards announcing the changing lineup of food and drink are back up. There’s more room inside and a nice outside seating area. The only drawback is that with more people it’s extremely loud. You have to shout to be heard over the crowd noise and the music. This may sound like a geezer complaint and it may quiet down if there are fewer people, but it was REALLY loud. I may have to become an outside drinker, at least until it gets too cold.
And so the saga of the Lead Penny, and my 69 drinks, continues.
Next week: Things get serious.