You may remember Mike Myers as Dieter, Sprockets' host. "Now's the time on Sprockets when we dance."
Although disturbing, that's not the freaky part. The freaky part is, I came into the office, brought the computer up out of sleep mode, and I heard a few random sounds-computer starty-up noises, some bell tones, a phone ringing-and then, no kidding, Mike Myers' voice saying, "Welcome to Sprockets. I am your host, Dieter." You guys. I almost had a heart attack. Turns out our iTunes was running, and, among the 5, 833 items in our collection, we have a series of random sound clips that it was running through at the moment that I turned it on, and it happened to land on "Welcome to Sprockets. I am your host, Dieter." Are you kidding me? I had no idea that we even had a Dieter clip. HOW WEIRD IS THAT??
Anyway, that sealed the deal in my mind. The time for this post is now!
So, all that is to say this:
If you have been surfing the internet at all lately, and I'll bet you have, you may have seen ads for Gary West Smoked Meats popping up all over the place. Even if you haven't, I have, and my reaction is always, "Yay! Gary West Smoked Meats!" I realized that's not the normal reaction to an internet ad, but I know the people who own the store, and they are super nice people, and they have really great products, so I'm happy to see them, hopefully, garnering some internet traffic.
How do I know these people? Remember when I told you about the Rat Race in Oregon? Well, what I didn't tell you was that we stayed with Paul and Whitney Murdoch, the owners of Gary West Smoked Meats. Paul and Whitney, whom we had never met before, who didn't know us from Adam, who already had five other visiting pilots as house guests in addition to their own two kids who had all of their freinds coming and going, who were in the middle of preparing for the grand re-opening of the bar and grill that is attached to their store, welcomed us with open arms all because they are some of the nicest people in the world.
They fed us, housed us, and let us be a part of their awesome family for the three or four days that we were there. In return, we used their washer and dryer, took over their bathroom, ate all their food, and bumbled around their store, trying to help but also trying stay out of the way as much as possible. Seriously, these people deserve a medal.
Gary R. West Meats (as the sign outside their store says) is located in Jacksonville, OR, which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is the cutest little town ever. They have all kinds of meats, but they are known largely for their jerkies (Gary West, not Jacksonville), which are awesome. These are not the little packs of dried out leather that you buy at the gas station, but hefty packs of chewy, meaty goodness made from buffalo, elk, and beef. They have several different flavors, nitrite-free versions and they even have dog jerky (uh, just to clarify, that's jerky made FOR dogs, not FROM dogs), which comes complete with a picture of their awesome dog, Gus, on the package.
If you have a lot of people to feed this holiday season and are thinking, Gosh, I wish I could just order a meal in a box this year, you might consider the West Family Feast. I haven't sampled this myself, but I'm tempted after reading this description from their website:
A huge and handsomely packaged gift box arrives stuffed with treats; One Whole Hickory Smoked Turkey and half a succulent and lean Yuletide Ham. Handmade German, Bratwurst and our trademark Summer Sausage. Papa Liebe's hand-tied Pepper Sticks and Smoked Wild Alaska Salmon. Savory Oregon Blue Cheese and Rogue Creamery's new Touvelle Gouda. Rise-up! Bakery's Ciabatta bread and Brandied Cranberry Garnish. Half a pound of our award-winning jerky, as well as fudge and our Sweet Hot Mustard. A very impressive smorgasbord of local Oregon treats.
That might be more food than you need, but you can also check out their other ham- and turkey-based gift items. If smoked meats aren't your thing, don't despair; they have plenty of other great items to choose from. They have gourmet cheeses and sausages, wine, condiments, and one of my favorite new discoveries hulless caramel corn. I don't know how they do it, I think it's some kind of scientific miracle. If you love caramel corn but hate all those little kernels and hulls that manage to hide out in your gums for days on end, this product is for you! Science never tasted this good when I was a kid!
I didn't take a lot of pictures while we were in the store, but I did take one of their honey display because I thought it was so pretty with the sun shining through those decorative bottles.
So, have I convinced you yet? If you are in the Jacksonville area, stop by the store, have a burger at the grill-they are also awesome-and say, "Hi!" to Paul and Whitney if you see them around. If you're not in the area, please consider making a purchase from their online store. They are nice people and they have a great product. In case that isn't enough, I will bribe you with a picture of Gus, their real-life sweet-heart of a dog who actually exists. (He's the sleepy-looking old guy in front. Awwwww.)
Well, thanks for listening to another one of my fairly-biased gift-giving recommendations, and, remember, if you know someone who would appreciate a bouquet of beef jerky, (come on, you know you know someone who would love that!) Gary West Smoked Meats is the place to go!