Fat Saturday: One Last Pants Before Lent


This was my last Fat Pants Friday until after Lent.

Hey, if I’m going to make a run at the 40th Grandma’s Marathon, I’ve got to be physically able to move myself 26.2 miles. I’m close; but, to make absolutely sure, I’m cleaning up my act for six weeks. That means white meat only, no food challenges, and no more than one pint of beer per non-Monday day.

Before the break, though, I learned the secret behind Angel’s super-hot jalapenos and leveled a chili-dog/cheeseburger challenger in front of a corner of onlookers. Let’s hop right in:

WHAT DO THEY CALL THIS? They called this The Lipsmacker.

TOP TO BOTTOM: Jalapeno, pretzel bun, cheddar fondue, French fries, hot dog? Hot dog. 6Smith’s signature chili, beef patty, cheddar fondue, French fries, hot dog, chili, beef patty, bottom bun. There was bacon jam in there someplace. The asparagus came on the side.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: There was plenty of protein, carbs, and spice to assist with digestion. Come to think of it, it might be healthier for me to eat exclusively these during Lent. You never know what they’re putting in green beans these days, y’know?

WHO’S WITH ME? They looked so hoity-toity, the couples around me.

To my left, a pair of dirty martinis were served in advance of an oyster plate. The couple specified Nisqually and West Coast oysters. Her manicure looked fresh. He spoke with a decisive, discriminating tone.

To my right, two women drank wine and gossiped about exes. They dressed well and carried nice purses. I laughed inside. Wait till they get a load of me. 

Chilly Bar

WHAT’S THAT GLOWING OUTSIDE? That’s the chilly bar, yo! It’s going on all day today. Hit it while it’s hot.

STRATEGY: This was compact and pretty straight-forward. Looking back, I maybe wish I had tried eating it like a regular cheeseburger. In any event, I hacked it up and deleted it in less than 10 minutes.

Remember the snooty people sandwiching me? They were into the action! The women to my right cheered me on, and the couple to my left explained how the gentleman used to don Fat Pants weekly himself before the doc put him on a restricted diet.

The only caution I took was eating the jalapeno between bread bites. Still, I was reduced to wet eyes and hiccups. I’ve eaten scorpion pepper chicken wings and left in better shape than this. HOW?!

Well …

It’s because I rub them,” said Chef Angel.

Wait, what?

TURN YOUR JALAPENO INTO A BOMB Angel explained the process of rubbing peppers: how it releases the heat of the seeds into the pepper itself (the heat is produced by a compound, but I don’t explain science well enough to get into this). Back home, said Angel, his father would ask his mother to “rub him a jalapeno.”

Once released into the chamber of the pepper, Angel then grills the peppers. That, he says, intensifies the heat even more.

When it comes out,” he said, “it’s like a bomb.”

He then serves it to me.

STILL GOT TIME: Check out the Fat Pants I took on during my lunch break at work, and check out the one the whole office team came down for two days before National Frank’s Birthday!

ABOUT THE BREAK: For the next six weeks, the plan is to speak with fellow Fat Pantsers and tell their stories during my break. I’ll be there on Fridays, but I’ll be the guy with the chicken wings or the mac-n-cheese. If YOU plan on having a Fat Pants over the next six weeks, hit me! 

Yo Ho Ho and a Killdevil: We Still Set Sail for Smalley’s

Smalleys Sign

It’s getting better.”

That’s what the pirate bar in Stillwater symbolizes. As I had my first Killdevil and ate my first mac-n-cheese, I had just moved into a real home for the first time in … gawd, had it really been almost a year? … and I had, at long last, locked up a job in the Twin Cities.

All I had to do now was plan a wedding and avoid pissing my roommates off. The distinctive taste of a Killdevil and the gooey mouthfuls of thickly-cheesed noodles induced a sense of peace, relaxation. I did it.

That was six years ago. Since then, I’ve brought family and friends from afar to Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque. My folks and I stop in before my mother’s antique-shopping binge; my friends have kicked off many a night in the bar; and I’ve had talks, from the dead-serious to the laugh-to-death kind, leaned over a high table and out on the patio.

It’s more than a restaurant now. I’ve passed through probably 100 spots once, I’ve gone back to a few, but only one will ever be Smalley’s.


The Basics: Shawn Smalley is the bearded-est, most pirate-est branch of the legendary Tim McKee tree, having gotten his start at the now passed La Belle Vie. Smalley opened up his own spot in 2008, and has since been featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives, and countless other TV and web shows locally.

How Caribbean is this place? Smalley (whose pirate get-up is impeccable, I should add) offers a book of rum choices, and cooks using pimento wood shipped from Jamaica.

Smalley and crew have taken over about a third of their brick building off Stillwater’s old Main St. There’s a main-floor restaurant, a bar up a short flight of stairs, and top-floor seats up five or six steps up from that. Another bar opens late night next-door. You have a choice of two patios, though the back patio is more of a smoke zone.

The top floor is the place to be. It’s oddly similar to what you might imagine dining in the hull of a pirate ship to be like: dark, dominated by dark red fabrics and wood surfaces, with skeletons stashed away in the corners and ceiling. No, seriously:

“Psst! You down there! Gonna eat that?”

A chicken sandwich, two Pirate Burgers, and two barbecue picks threes were ordered. My day with Smalley’s infamous 666 Wings is coming, but I wasn’t confident in my stomach that day.

We began with Killdevils, and they were just as sweet and smooth as I could remember. It was like I was drinking from the same batch my first one ever was poured from. I had two, one neat, one on the rocks. Have it neat. That feeling, it’s still there.

If you have a barbecue pick-three, your plate will look something like this:


For $22, you can have a quarter of a chicken, a good helping of pork shoulder, and a few ribs. It comes with two sides, so you can get your daily vegetables in and still not miss out on the mac. What a time to be alive.

A friend ordered a similar pick-three, and pointed out the pork shoulder as his pet cut — for reasons you’d expect, or not. “The fat tasted excellent,” he said. “People are so afraid of the fat, but if you get a good fatty piece of pork shoulder and the fat soaks up all of the spices … mmm.”

He and I toyed with the sauces, and found that shaking up the Scotchie’s Sauce before use helps it keep its promise of five-flame heat. There’s always hotter out there, but Scotchie’s Sauce is at the high end of hot sauces you can have without signing a waiver.

My mother-in-law gave rave reviews of her burger. “Medium-well,” she said, “unlike the last 25 burgers I’ve had, it was neither pink nor dried out — just the way it was supposed to be.” My wife pointed out a slight dryness in her burger, but said her side of tater tots made that easy to forgive.

My brother-in-law, meanwhile, showed off the branded top bun of his jerk chicken sandwich and said simply, “Really well-done piece of chicken.”

Bun Brand

Service and prices met expectations. The barbecue pick-three is still a relative steal. The Killdevil is still absolutely a steal, but I’d pay $20 for one. I might be the wrong one to ask about that.

Hey, I know it’s a bad idea to party like pirates technically; but, if you came out alive after eight brutal hours, or it’s time to take a deep breath, or you’ve got the crew back in town, you know where to drop anchor. Few other places can match the experience, and no other place can mean what it means here. No other place can be Smalley’s.

STILL GOT TIME? Meister’s in Stillwater is also very good. You can also check out the priest-approved Agave Kitchen across the bridge in Hudson.

Editor’s note: A few clean-up edits were made shortly after publications.

Radio Recap: February 1

Chip Selfie

Did you miss Monday’s show? Well, luckily for you, I’ve got everything you need right here. If you haven’t subscribed on iTunes yet, get to it! You can also watch it on the Livestream.

If links aren’t your thing, you can listen right here!


In the studio, Chip Walton (and his dog, Charlie P) stopped in to discuss some upcoming projects on insanely popular webshow, Chop and Brew; and new releases from his crew at Summit Brewing, who just turned 30 this year. John Garland of The Growler dialed in to preview Winter Dabbler. We also discussed the magic of $5 Pizza and the negligent pet parents I deal with in Plymouth.

This is how my interview with John Garland went:

Creepy Me

At Teresa’s, I was joined by Rob Wengler of Limited Release Beer for a run down of Super Bowl L. He dropped some trivia knowledge on the masses, and we gave our predictions for the game — as well as Vegas’ always-entertaining prop bets. We examined the Broncos’ and Panthers’ playoff victims, and a booth full of women sold us that game.

STILL GOT TIME? Catch some past episodes!
January 25: Sarah Meyer, Ben Flattum of Fulton Brewery, Ryan Tuenge, Emily Brink of the Happy Gnome, Jon Messier of North Loop Brewco.
January 18: Clint MacFarlane and Jeremy King of Castle Danger Brewery, Sandra Rowher of Palmer’s Tavern