With the mercury edging precariously close to 100 degrees, and the humidity at a level that I consider thick, I admit that I was flat-out dreading Mark's outdoor gig last Sunday night. Fortunately my curiosity about Foxfire Ranch
motivated me to put my piles of curly hair up on top of my head and don the obligatory cool sundress to trek north on highway 7, a little past Betty Davis BBQ, to the ranch. The drive was scenic and I was already starting to feel a good vibe when I saw hand painted signs directing me in off the main roads to the ranch, which sits on a vast property of rolling hills, dotted with cattle and horses. I turned into the ranch, down the driveway, past a picture-perfect house and out towards an extraordinary barn-type structure. Cost of entry was $10 to see the band. I am not sure if it was the refreshing thunderstorm that I drove through or the well architected and ventilated framework, but upon exiting my air conditioned car and entering the open air building, I found it downright pleasant. The building is massive with a high pitched roof and three open sides, providing views of the pasture land.I no sooner had entered the building, awed by the space, when Miss Annie, the host and owner, hollered a welcome at me and gave me a big hug; mind you I have never met her before tonight. That vibe was just getting stronger. She danced around behind the counter, intent on fixing me a plate of BBQ that judging from the size of the smokers, could feed the Rebel football team. The smell was intoxicating, at least to this meat lover! A few minutes later she delivered my plate, asking if I wanted cornbread for my greens. Of course, I answered...although I had no idea how those 2 things went together; I thought maybe I could cut the cornbread in half and sandwich the greens between...Regardless with a cold Bud Light in hand (since the ranch is over the county line they can sell beer on Sundays) (For my yankee friends, I will at some point attempt to explain some of the local alcohol laws, but for immediate purposes, know that you cannot buy alcohol anywhere even in restaurants on Sundays in my county. I won't say that is the reason for my drive out to Foxfire, but it certainly didn't hurt the cause.), I found a seat on one of the 20 or so picnic tables and assessed my plate. It appeared to be your standard issue BBQ with one exception... spaghetti. I was fascinated. If you have read any of my earlier posts, you will know that Mark is an Italian pasta snob, but to me, this type of spaghetti is pure comfort food. It is reminiscent of church fund raisers. Smothered in a sweet sauce and full of ground hamburg, it clearly would not win any bolognese contests, but yet I devoured it, enjoying every bite. After a while it hit me that the flavor was very much like my Mom's beloved American Chop Suey. As you might suspect, Mark passed on the spaghetti, and shook his head at my enjoyment of it, muttering "met" under his breath. The beans were sweet and laden with sausage and the BBQ pork was tender and lightly sauced so you could taste the flavor of the meat. I ate my greens and cornbread separately and it was not until later when my friend Steve, eating next to me, held up his cornbread and exclaimed two simple words, "Pot Licker" as if professing a brilliant invention, that I finalized realized the tie between the corn bread and the greens; I was supposed to sop up the tasty juices from the greens with the cornbread.
The band went on at 5pm, set up on a stage at one end, framed by the early evening blue sky. The crowd which was wonderfully eclectic, consisted of local hill country blues-loving folks and a healthy contingent of college aged, Frisbee playing, cooler carrying types. Miss Annie encouraged people onto the dance floor for much of the night and at one point, a patron's dog, reluctant to leave his owner, joined in the fun.
To me, Sunday nights in the summer are special. The nights are long. The heat is high. We are forced to slow down, enjoy our friends and family and eat good food. Time seems to be on a different schedule out at Foxfire, one that encourages us to enjoy life, to laugh and to dance, while it matters. I promise you this, the BBQ, the music, Miss Annie and most importantly the vibe, are all worth dragging a group of your friends out to Foxfire Ranch for a Sunday night treat.