Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dinner With the King

I've always been fascinated with Elvis. Perhaps it's because we share the same birthday. Or maybe it's because it was the only music I can remember my mom and grandmother ever agreeing on. But it's really more because he was the first super star to rise from nothing, completely fall down on his fat face and have the progression carefully recorded by video and audio tapes. He was a great talent and an enourmous ass, all rolled into one.

Today is the anniversary of his death, and I usually mark it with a list of facts or random stories that please me greatly. But this year I share just one story. The story of the Fool's Gold Loaf. It's one of my personal faves, probably because it's a great but relatively harmless example of his love of excess in all things. Although it's been recorded in a few other books, this particular version comes from the book The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley by David Adler.

The evening of February 1, 1976, found Elvis home at Graceland entertaining two favored guests in the jungle room. Capt. Jerry Kennedy was a member of the Denver police force, and Ron Pietrafeso was in charge of Colorado's Strike Force Against Crime. Elvis had met both men several years earlier during his period of extreme interest in law enforcement, which culminated in his surprise drop-in visit to President Nixon, who named Elvis a "special agent". Tonight, as Elvis sat on his Kon Tiki throne chair in front of the jungle room's babbling waterfall, the discussion centered on law enforcement in Colorado. Elvis however, was reminded of something else. Colorado was the home of the absolutely delicious sandwich, the best Elvis had ever eaten: the Fool's Gold Loaf.

Elvis had sampled the sandwich only once, when after a concert he was invited to a restaurant called the Colorado Cold Mine Company in the Denver suburbs of Glendale. He ordered the house specialty, which was named Fool's Gold Loaf because of it's outrageous price -$49.95. The first bite alone was enough to make a lasting impression on Elvis.

Now, months later, Elvis was reminded of those sandwiches. Both of his guests from Colorado were very curious about this extravagant treat. The King's policy when enteraining in his rock and roll palace was to grant his guests' every desire - your wish was literally the King's command, be it a game of racquetball at four in the morning or a down-home Southern breakfast at midnight. However, the "Fool's Gold Loaf", since it came from a restaurant in Denver, would stretch the limits of even Elvis' notion of hospitality.

Elvis gazed across at his guests, who were comfortably ensconced on the Hawaiian armchairs, cushioned by the rabbit's fur throw pillows. The conversation continued to revolve around the sandwiches. One of the guys impulsively remarked, "Boy, I wish I had me one of them now!"

Elvis knew what he and his guests wanted and the thousand-mile-journey to the Fool's Fold Loaf would not deter him. Elvis looked at his friends and shouted, "Let's go get 'em!"

Before the lawmen knew what was happening they were seated inside Elvis' stretch Mercedes along with another couple of Elvis' buddies, and whisked to the Memphis airport. Elvis' personal jet, the Lisa Marie, was waiting for them on the tarmac. As the four jet engines roared for takeoff, the excitement inside the plane revved even higher as Elvis and his guests were about to be flown the two hours to Denver for Elvis' favorite sandwich, the most mouthwatering sandwich known to the King.

Once aloft, Elvis, the lawmen, and the rest of the gang gathered in the plane's dining room, around its leather topped table with surrounding bucket seats upholstered in aquamarine plush. Though Elvis often snacked on the Lisa Marie, in anticipation of the filling treat to come his only indulgence was a bottle of his vine de table - regular Pepsi.

At the Colorado Gold Mine Company, the scene was frenzied. The call had come in from Memphis at midnight. The cooks had less than two hours to prepare the "takeout" order of their lifetime. The massive griddle was scrubbed clean in order to fry up the huge quantitites of bacon required. The loaves of bread were quickly hollowed out and then briefly browned. The other ingredients were always ready. Miraculously, the staff completed its creation in the nick of time. The restauranteur, his wife, and a waiter sped off for the Denver airport with twenty-two loaves. As requested, a case of Perrier and a case of champagne accompanied the sandwiches, along with a chest of cracked ice.

Elvis' plane touched down at 1:40 am at Stapleton Airport and taxied to a private hangar. The owner of the restaurant personally brought Elvis and his party the order on silver trays. For two hours in the Denver night, the feasting went on. It was typical of Elvis' generosity that he insisted that the plane's pilots, Milo High and Elwood Davis, join the fun. Elvis, as usual, avoided the alcohol, instead washing down the sandwiches with the Perrier. It was yet another night of dining Elvis style on food fit for the King.

This was no ordinary PB&J, folks. Eat at your own risk. For the curious, here's the recipe:

Fool's Gold Loaf


o 2 T margarine
o 1 loaf Italian white bread
o 1 lb / 450 g bacon slices
o 1 jar of smooth peanut butter
o 1 jar of grape jelly

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Spread the margarine generously all over all sides of the loaf. Place it on a baking sheet in the oven.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a bit of oil until it is crisp and drain it thoroughly on paper towels.

Remove the loaf from the oven when it is evenly browned, after approximately 15 minutes. Slice the loaf lengthwise and hollow out the interior, leaving as much bread along the walls as desired. Slather a thick layer of peanut butter in the cavity of the loaf and follow with another thick layer of grape jelly. Use lots of both.

Arrange the bacon slices inside the cavity, or, if desired, layer the bacon slivers between the peanut butter and jelly. Close the loaf, slice and eat.

Serves one if you're Elvis. Serves 8-10 if you're a regular person.



LadyLitBlitzin said...

OMG!!! What a great story! I don't think I'll be eating that sandwich though. The Fool's Gold Loaf, that's hilarious.

I went to Graceland a few years back. That was a great trip. Sooo kitschy.

Washington Cube said...

I wrote about Elvis today, as well. And you wonder why he died at 42. I'll be passing on that sandwich.

Hebdomeros said...

I have yet to make it to Graceland. I've been to Memphis twice, but just haven't made it there. I tried once, but it was sold out so all I was able to see was his fancy plane covered in rhine stones. I'll get there at some point, since Miss L's parents live there.

Cube...I LOVE the cocktails. I'd be curious to try them.

Anonymous said...

Memphis, O Memphis... Home sweet, smelly river bluff home. Sometimes I miss thee.

Elvis and I don't particularly go way back, and I've only been to his house once - when family was in town for my bat mitzvah.

There's no one bigger than Elvis, but there were better musicians from Memphis.

Hebdomeros said...

Well, if you want to get technical he's from MS, not TN. He died in TN, though. On the toilet. On a black toilet. Surrounded by thick shag carpet and dozens of spilled pills.