How Much is that Lemon Meringue Pie ?

Raoul and Gonzo
Two glasses of ice water with ice.

Ahwatukee is where you go when you’ve fucked up once too often in Parasite Valley and when you’re not even welcome in the cut-rate downtown Scottsdale places.

The Nellos pizza lounge seemed like a fairly safe haven from our storms.

No hassles, no talk. Just a place to rest and regroup.

I wasn’t even hungry.

Nello’s Ahwatukee sits in the far corner of a nondescript strip mall at a high traffic intersection in Phoenix.  This is the case for every pizza joint and every intersection, at least in the generic sprawl of cascading Phoenix suburbs and lookalike crossroads. For one night though, this was the only pizza joint and the only intersection that mattered.  Because beer.  And dinner.  And wait, what do you mean there’s no pie?!

nellos menu
Where does it say “lemon meringue”?

Five courses of beer sounds about right.  A tall glass of Kellerweis to start.  Hefty, but light tasting, with no need for lemon.

Then on to something a bit stronger.  Tumbler brown ale is “Roasted, rich, and perfect for an autumn afternoon.”  Unfortunately, it was already evening, and autumn in Phoenix doesn’t actually exist.  There is a week in about May when all the plants die and the trees shed their leaves (which then spontaneously combust – woohoo bonfires!).   We overcame the temporal guilt with plates of hopsalted pretzels, dipped in brown mustard with porter, honey spiced mustard with pale ale, and three cheese fondue with Tumbler.  The mustards complemented the beer well; there was not enough fondue.  In the world. It was that good.

Reception and Amuse
Kellerweis and Tumbler ale

Next it was on to the beans and pale ale.  I hoped for an extra pale ale, Like Rockies Brewery used to make.  According to those guys, I am the only person in America that liked the smoky malty goodness of EPA over the hop orgy that is nearly everyone’s IPA.  Blecch.  The beans were served with bacon chips and a “pork wing.”

Pigs Can’t Fly Without Wings

The rest of the course went like this:

Then it was steak.  A little more rare, a little less trimmed than i usually like, but wait.  That is butter and an onion ring on top.  If they are serving all the food groups (beer, steak, bacon and butter), the least I can do is dip my polenta fries in the fondue we saved and shut the hell up.  This course was accessorized by a pygmy salad.  (So you can tell the GF or wife with a straight face that, “yeah, I had a salad for dinner.”)

Ben Ben (the Sierra Nevada host):  No sir, it is NOT made with, from or by actual pygmies.  Now please put down the blow gun.

I did dip a piece of steak in the roasted red pepper ketchup, not because I have no manners, or the palate of a goat, but because only the bravest warriors should stare down that challenge.

steak and fries
Steak and fries, with Celebration ale

And with that, we came to the glory note of this orgiastic crescendo of flavors and aggravating factors for that DUI checkpoint.  All good things, as they say, must

END WITH A 10% ABV NARWHAL*, AND AN ELVIS SHAKE.

*Bill Nye Moment:  A narwhal is a whale with “a long, straight, helical tusk, actually an elongated upper left canine.”  It is NOT a “unicorn fish” (according to “Ben Ben”). Narwhals are closely related to Beluga whale, which, coincidentally, are not where caviar comes from.

The Elvis shake is what victory tastes like – the chocolate liquorness of the Narwhal stout, along with banana, peanut butter, and little bits of bacon.  It’s the Chunky stew of shakes: “so thick you could eat it with a fork, but bring a spoon because you’ll want to get every drop.” Especially the bacon drops.

Narwhal
Elvis shake and the best Ho Hos ever

Ben Ben (the Sierra Nevada host):  No sir, it is NOT made with, from or by the actual Elvis.  Now please put down the qualudes and twinkies.

Many thanks to Sierra Nevada for beers, the pizza joint for not spoiling the beer with mere pizza, and my non-Samoan attorney for the company and the advice not to drive to Barstow with my blinker on.

EPILOGUE:

How much is that lemon meringue pie ?

Her eyes were turgid with fear, but her brain was functioning on some basic motor survival level.

Thirty-five cents.
How much is that lemon meringue pie ?
Thirty-five cents.
Whoo ! What a waste of talent.
No, honey, I mean the whole pie.
The whole pie.
Hmm ?
What, three ?
Three ? Four ?
Five ? Hmm ?
Five.
I’ll be in the car.

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