Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Arkansas (page 1 of 2)

Thorncrown Chapel

Despite our modern, urban centric idolization of great works of architecture, an extraordinary rural gem can be found discretely tucked away in a secluded corner of Northwest Arkansas. Nestled amongst the rugged Ozark Mountains inconspicuously lies one of the great architectural masterpieces of the 20th century; Thorncrown Chapel.

Designed by architect by E. Faye Jones, Thorncrown Chapel has been lauded as one of the finest works of American architecture in the last century. Our trip to Arkansas presented us with the rare opportunity to visit this masterpiece, found just outside of the peculiar town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The most defining characteristic of Thorncrown Chapel is an omnipresent feeling of “lightness”, amplified by tactful attention to verticality. Expansive glass, delicate trusses and slender columns stand in stark contrast to traditional churches typically burdened by monolithic stone and heavy wood. Jones attention to airy detail is evident throughout the structure, to the extent that his construction plans decreed “no structural element could be larger than what two men could carry through the woods.”

A remarkable composition of wood, stone and glass, Thorncrown is as much a religious edifice as an exquisite showcase of meticulous detail and native material. Trusses were hewn from local Arkansas pine and gently perched atop a flagstone floor quarried nearby. Taking its inspiration and material vocabulary from the surrounding rocky Ozarks, the blindingly simple clarity of construction asserts an understated harmony between site, structure and god.

Even the approach to Thorncrown is appropriately humble, as little more than a winding stone pathway through the forest reveals this glass temple of the trees. Jones took great measures to preserve as much of the wooded escarpment as possible and the delicate structure is veiled as little more than a modest glass enclosure cloaked amongst the towering oaks of the site.

Simply exquisite.

http://www.thorncrown.com/index.html

http://www.thorncrown.com/architecture.htm

http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek05/tw1216/tw1216_25year.cfm

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Runnin’ Hog Wild

For some reason, the SEC has this endearing little nuance where they refuse to announce official game times until a few days prior to the actual game.In this case, they decided a week before kickoff to play the game at 11:21am on Saturday morning.In addition to wreaking havoc with our travel logistics, these early start times deflate the overall gameday atmosphere.With such an arbitrary early start time, fans (students especially) barely have a chance to roll out of bed and get to the game in time for kickoff.Nevermind have enough time to squeeze in a solid shift of tailgating and pregame festivities to get adequately warmed up for the contest ahead.

Regardless, Razorback fans did an admirable job getting in some early prep time, and while it wasn’t the most raucous atmosphere we have been to, the tailgating passion unique to the SEC was clearly evident in Fayetteville.I spotted more than a handful of trailer smokers in the parking lot, a leading indicator of adept tailgaters.

As for the game itself, the Arkansas and South Carolina squads were pretty evenly matched during the first half, with both playing some rather stingy defense, as they headed into the locker room at the half knotted at 10 apiece.In the second half, however, the Hogs came out like a ball of fire and ripped off 23 unanswered points on the shell-shocked Gamecocks to cruise to a rather handy victory.Cannon armed Razorback QB Ryan Mallett finally found his stride in the second half, connecting on bullet like passes and softening up the Gamecock secondary enough to free up a few nice long runs by the Hogs.

 

Razorback Stadium, having been recently renovated, is an impressive facility equipped with the latest field turf and replete with their own “Pigscreen” jumbotron.But it’s the fan’s that truly make Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium an imposing place to play.The Razorbacks lay claim to one of the most eerie cheers in college football, the “Calling of the Hogs”: Wooooooooo.Pig, Sooooie!The cheer is purported to have started in the 1920’s when some local farmers, disappointed at the teams play, began hog calling them for encouragement.The cheer stuck and the “Calling of the Hogs” has been an Arkansas tradition ever since.Hearing the forbidding sound of the Hog call by 68,865 fans is quite a unique experience, and would run chills up my spine if I were on the opposition.

To get a feel for the cadence of this distinct cheer have a look at the videos (not ours):

Final score: Arkansas 33South Carolina 16

Go Hogs!!!

 

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Penguin Ed’s BBQ

I’ll be the first to admit that I had my doubts when we first eased into the parking lot at Penguin Ed’s.Generally speaking, quality barbecue and strip mall locations tend to be mutually exclusive, and after the AQ Chicken debacle the night before, Fayetteville had me a bit gun shy.However, between Stephanies’ ringing endorsement of Penguin Ed’s, and the lack of virtually any other dining establishments open for business in Northwest Arkansas on a Sunday morning, we sauntered in with eager appetites.

Despite my initial reservations, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Penguin Ed’s serves up some rather noteworthy swine.While their beef brisket is rather bland, and hardly worth mention, Penguin Ed’s absolutely knows their way around a hog. Half of my plate was graced with their pulled pork, which was tender, moist and well smoked throughout.But the true star came when I had the good fortune of stealing a few ribs off Mindy’s plate.These ribs were flat out some of the best I have ever tasted.They were cooked to perfection, noted by the beautiful pinkish hue inside, and had a richly colored, well developed crust that sealed in the uniform smoky tenderness. Penguin Ed’s ribs are one of those sublime food indulgences that combines flawlessly appetizing looks with an equal taste to match.

 

Finally, the home baked cookies at Penguin Ed’s were worth a note.It’s not often that you’ll hear me make mention of cookies at a hog sling, but these cookies are certainly worthy of that.We sampled the Double Chocolate Chip and Neiman Marcus cookies, and after making short work of those, promptly went back up for an M&M and Oatmeal raisin.These are good thick cookies with a nice hard crust, but scrumptiously moist and chewy on the inside.A good cookie is a subtle art, and Penguin Ed’s has it nailed, now if only they offered milk to go with them…..

In all, Penguin Ed’s more than compensated for our miss the night before, and would be highly endorsed if you find yourself in Fayetteville with a hankering for some pork done right.

http://www.penguineds.com/

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AQ Chicken Sham & The Hog Haus Brewery

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Despite my rigorous and exhaustive up front research on our dining selections, and in a constant effort to bring you stories from only the most worthy of culinary options, we finally had one slip through the cracks this week. We were hoodwinked by the appalling AQ Chicken House in Fayetteville, which guises itself as a “Northwest Arkansas Tradition”, but in reality contains about as much actual tradition as Burger King (no offense King). My winning streak has come to an end, and I feel like I just gave up bloop single to break up my no hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning.

I have no one to blame but myself.

I should have been tipped off when the place was empty a full hour before closing, and all the chairs were already on the tables. We should have gone running for the door when the ice cream scooper came out for the mashed potatoes and the macaroni and cheese looked like it spent an afternoon curdling in the Arkansas sun. The namesake chicken itself was bland, uninspired, and indistinguishable from a low rent KFC. Toss in an audible disturbance with a disgruntled employee, and you have a recipe for one craptastic meal.

http://www.aqchickenhouse.net/

I’d sooner become a vegan than fork over my money at AQ Chicken House again.

The most disappointing part was that we only went to AQ after spending a pleasant afternoon sampling our way down the impressive row of microbrewed taps at the Hog Haus Brewery on Dickson Street. A place, which frankly, we never should have left.

http://www.hoghaus.com/

Adding to the ambience and pleasantries at the Hog Haus was the affable father and son tandem we met that had made the journey all the way from the University of South Carolina. Lloyd (father) and Cameron (son) were parked at the bar next to us, and despite their allegiances to the recently defeated Gamecocks, remained in agreeable and welcoming spirits. Lloyd has led a rather interesting life and had more than his fair share of stories. We spent the rest of the afternoon pleasantly regaled with Lloyds tales of bucketing night crawlers for a living, dodging flying fish at the wheel of a 90ft sailboat, briefly entering the lobster import/export business, and turning a one week vacation in the Virgin Islands into a two year residency. In fact, we even laid the groundwork for a possible trip to South Carolina next year for a game. Between the palatable Hog Haus brew and great conversation, it made for one enjoyable afternoon.

Next time we won’t be leaving for a chicken sham.

Best wishes on the rest of your season Lloyd & Cameron, and perhaps we will darken your doorstep next year in Columbia!

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