Corned Beef and Cadillacs

Sean McCormick
corned-beef-and-cadillacs

Greg gamely drives through the middle of the night as I doze, getting us most of the way through Pennsylvania, albeit with several stops. ("We Fink men have small bladders," he explains.) I take the helm again around 7 a.m., close to the Maryland border.

With the sun rising above the Appalachian Mountains, I experience a miracle that, if not quite equal to the Biblical story of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, is enjoyable nonetheless. Trying to merge onto I-70, I'm instead dumped off into a driver's paradise of winding, dipping country two-lanes. I set the dampers to sport mode and heel-and-toe down to second gear. The light, precise steering comes alive over the surface and camber changes, inspiring incredible confidence for such a large vehicle. In a vain attempt to avoid grossly exceeding the speed limit, I accelerate only up the steep hills, charging upward to the whine of the supercharger and digging deep into the Brembo brakes before we hit the crest.

Twenty minutes later, I'm back to earth, trying to figure out precisely where we are as I plunge a toilet at a rural Maryland gas station. The Lord works in mysterious ways, I suppose. We're way behind schedule, such that it's pushing 10:30 a.m. by the time we reach the D.C. line and hit the expected traffic. Privately panicking, I note to Greg that he'll probably need to take the Metro to meet his friends and then meet me right at the food truck. But Greg, who's spent the last several hours passed out behind his sunglasses, has tempered his ambitions. "I just want to find a clean restroom, eat my sandwich, and get out of here," he says. Nine hours in a Cadillac have apparently turned him into an old Jewish man.

Sixth & Rye has posted on Twitter that it will be serving lunch near Metro Center between G and H Streets. We're fortunate enough to find street parking on the same corner. The truck hasn't arrived yet, but a small crowd of mostly young adults is already gathering in the 104-degree heat. Among them are my incredulous friends, Max and his wife, Ann Rose. Max works as a spokesman for the National Wildlife Federation, so I make sure to proudly point out the CTS-V's indicated fuel economy, which is still less than 18 mpg. "I'll probably leave that detail out when I tell my coworkers about this," he says.

At about 11:30 a.m., a big white truck with pickles emblazoned all over it pulls to the curb. If you want prompt service in any kosher deli, you have to be a little pushy. I illegally park the Cadillac right behind the truck, and it literally opens doors as the bearded Gavriel Urszuy emerges from the truck and ushers me into its tiny kitchen. As Sixth & Rye's mashgiach (supervisor), Urszuy ensures that the food preparation and service is consistent with Jewish dietary law under the authority of Rabbi Y. Zvi Weiss of Baltimore. The actual cooking is done by Malcolm Mitchell, personal chef to several NBA players (Chef Mendelsohn doesn't work in the truck).

At last, what I've driven nearly 550 miles for: warm, savory corned beef with just the right amount of fat complemented by a powerful yet sophisticated mustard (Mitchell makes it himself).

OK, time to go. I bid adieu to my friends and climb back into the driver's seat. Feeling refreshed, I chirp the tires as I depart. That, it turns out, is about as much speed as we're able to build in the next hour as we snake through Georgetown. I nosh on the leftover pickles and nervously blip the throttle as Greg runs out to the sidewalk to take photos. It's past 1 p.m. by the time we reach the congested Beltway, and my left shin is twitching from depressing the heavy clutch. We have fewer than eight hours to repeat a drive that had required ten when we were better rested and fighting less traffic. Then it starts to rain. Earlier in the trip, we'd maintained a stream of twenty-something male banter: cars we want to buy, memorable episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the attractiveness of actress Mila Kunis (she's Jewish!). Now, we sit in tense, tired silence, one person trying to rest and the other staring stoically at the road ahead. We're even too spent to enjoy the V's performance. Once we're beyond the city I stay in sixth gear, relying on the ample low-end torque for passing. As in racing, going slower actually makes us faster -- we squeeze 275 miles between fuel stops, which we're now able to complete in about five minutes. As a result, the sun is still hanging lazily over the horizon as rolling hills give way to familiar Midwestern plains. Greg, who at some point has stripped down to a sleeveless undershirt, awakes as we near Toledo, Ohio. "What's that smell?" he asks groggily.

"We've been sitting in this car for eighteen hours, stopping only to eat corned beef. What do you think that smell is?" I reply.

We pull back onto the curb in front of the office -- only a few minutes from my home -- at 8:42 p.m. We have twenty-three minutes to spare. Silly though it may sound, we both feel we've genuinely accomplished something. "Our holy mission is complete," sighs Greg.

Credit, too, the CTS-V wagon, or "the gentle beast," as Greg has taken to calling it. Through nearly 1100 miles it proved comfortable, confident, and truly luxurious. In other words, it's everything a Cadillac should be, even if, as a Corvette-engined station wagon, it's also quite absurdly everything a Cadillac is not. Being a bag of contradictions myself -- what's a religious Jew doing as a car reviewer, anyway? -- I can respect that. I pull into my driveway with just enough time to heat up my pasta. After almost twenty hours of driving, it's time for my day of rest.

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Ajohn
What a beautiful car. I would have loved to have been a passenger/driver on that trip!. I don't know of any Sport Wagon that looks this good. Can't wait to see the ATS version :)
BigBlock45
Corned Beef sandwich? From a street vendor!! Using a CTS-V Sportwagon? I wonder if there isn't a better excuse for using a great touring car for such a mundane exercise. The point of having all that HP and handling is NOT blasts of speed but a consistent high cruise speed that actually gets you there quicker and easier! Try Ann Arbour to NOLA or AA to Beantown during the week -- so Sabbath observences dont interfere! Oy Vey! Better yet, try a run that includes the SkyLine Drive in Virgina!
Sideways the Seven
Interesting story. Love the CTS-V wagon.

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