"Alright Lads this is a respectable event and we will all behave accordingly"
Greetings from the US of A, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and the Mecca of all things Barbecue. And to top it all off we are celebrating the day of my birth. I am officially one step closer to getting my Senior Citizen discount at the local cinema and going to bed at 9pm on a school night is perfectly acceptable.
I'd set the bar high, planning had commenced a few weeks ago when I received Sadler's Brewery Peaky Blinder spirits trio a few weeks ago. I immediately thought of our friend across the pond, Annie who makes a lethal Margherita. I set the challenge to design a Gin and a Rum cocktail to get the party started. Challenge accepted, but more about that later.
Not only had I treated myself to a nifty little Char Griller charcoal BBQ pretty much the moment we had touched down in LA exclaiming that there was no way I was cooking on gas for three weeks, but Mrs S had BBQ'd up some American streaky bacon and sausages and the In Laws had treated me to tickets to Zac Brown Band. All in all things were looking pretty sweet at the kick off.
First stop for Operation Birthday: Riverside Archery School. I'd been chomping at the bit to pick up a bow since Joe Rogan mentioned this place on his podcast. I love the Joe Rogan podcast and I recommend it to everyone. I'm shocked at the amount of people who still ask me what a podcast is! Well over here it's pretty much a standard way of life, everyone talks about Joe and EVERYONE listens to his podcast. I fit right in. That, AND there's not a pair of skinny jeans in sight.
Meet Scott, our Instructor for the day. When asked he explained that he used to attend the archery centre so often that they offered him a job there. Again, when asked he explained he first got into archery from the Boy Scouts. We hadn't even picked up a bow yet and already this poor guy must have had the internal alarm bell ringing at these crazy Australians asking so many questions about weapons... We get out into the practise room and Scott has set us up with two recurve bows and explains the safety precautions for the day.
Scott must have detected a hint of jealousy as I looked over and saw a four foot nothing twelve year old standing next to us handling a compound bow which would have made Hawk Eye jealous. He explained bow appreciation to us, explaining that recurve bows are easy to access, uncomplicated and flexible, that’s why beginners should practice with it.
Recurve bows can be used for hunting and are commonly used in archery competition. The expected velocities of the recurve bows are about 190 FPS (feet per second). Meanwhile, compound bows are mainly composed of a string, a riser and two limbs which are easy for releasing arrows making it an ideal choice for hunting.
I'm keen to get going as I picture myself becoming quite the hunter gatherer although I imagine it will be quite a useless skill living in London. Not unless you enjoy barbecued scabby fox.
I wasn't disappointed with my choice of birthday activity. We learnt a lot, had tonnes of fun and Scott was extremely engaging with our stupid questions. No wonder Joe likes it here.
Guess which target is mine?
Next stop, In and Out Burger. If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed my numerous mentions of countdowns until I get my hands on a Double Double. You may have even have ready about me mentioning my love in a previous blog post do you like my buns. I make no apology for repeating myself because, 1. I am a year older and 2. I need to reiterate just why so many Americans make this their first stop when travelling to the West Coast.
The most obvious thing that sets In-N-Out apart from others is it's limited menu, which features nothing but burgers, cheeseburgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks. Not a nugget or fancy wrap in sight. There's also the "secret, not so secret, menu" with more variations on the staple offerings.
I order at the standard white-tile, corner-shaped counter beneath the menu board. The whole place has a '50s car-hop feel right down to the paper hats worn by the servers. Two double doubles and animal fries please.
don't let the expression fool you, I am 100% excited to get my beard covered in sauce
Home for a nap, belly full of goodness and ready for dreams of Elk hunting. I am jet lagged as fuck and I need to get ready for tonight's celebrations.
Annie attends early to rise to the Peaky Blinder challenge. The Creators of the Peaky Blinder drinks range are the Sadler family who have been purveyors of the finest beers and spirits since 1900. Over a century's worth of knowledge and passion has led the family to create a bold, small batch, handcrafted spiced gin, blended with exotic spices and botanicals and is Bronze Medal Winner of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2018 AND Bronze Medal Winner of the International Spirits Challenge 2018. But we're not stopping at Gin, Annie has also created a cocktail with their dry spiced Rum blended which delivers notes of orange, nutmeg, vanilla and raisin. If it is anywhere near as good as their selection of ales which I regularly buy then we're in for a good celebration. They are in fact another alcoholic masterpiece.
I fire up the Char Griller for it's maiden cook. I debated endlessly much to Mrs S's disdain over which grill to buy for our visit. Having a number of Weber's back at Blighty I was in the market for something a bit different to play with.
Char Griller claim that this bit of kit is built to last. The 24 inch grill with 625 square inches of total cooking space I'm impressed with the addition of heavy-duty cast iron grates inside. I quite like the look and feel of an oil drum cooker, old school American. This little dude packs a mighty punch.
As the Americans arrive they are more than generous with their gift giving of beer, beer and more beer... how did they know? On go the pork and burgers as I pick shamelessly at Heidi's infamous bacon wrapped Jalapeno poppers whilst sipping on cocktails and getting merry ready for tonight's main event, UFC Fight number 229.
Little did we know what was yet to come
Without a doubt the Birthday Fight Gods were smiling upon me on October 6, 2018. I mean c'mon even though McGreggor lost the fight DID YOU SEE the chaos which ensued seconds after Connor tapped out. Absolute carnage.
In case you had been abducted by aliens on the night or have some other kind of LEGITIMATE excuse for not watching the fight itself then who better to tell you all about the madness than the man, Joe himself...