Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Almost Forgot

Deconstructed Turducken with Microgreens, Sweet Potato Puree and Jalapeno Foie Gras Cornbread
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

Between curbing an urge to check Facebook every fifteen minutes, filling in for Stolpman on Top Chef Recaps, dropping deadlines, checking appeal briefs at work, figuring out how I'm going to eat at all the places I want to eat on my birthday weekend next week without gaining weight, knocking out a serious 75-mile bike ride on Memorial Day in under six hours and treating myself afterward to a nice bath filled with bath bombs from Lush (the soap store, not the wine shop), I wrote about the rise in good BBQ on the north side in yesterday's Sun-Times.

As you read it you may want to double check what I wrote. But I stand by it. Sheffield's has some serious good BBQ.

Now it's time to find out who's in the coffin on Lost.

Monday, May 26, 2008

... And Full of Vim and Vigor

Originally uploaded by P4O4E4T.

I rode Bike the Drive yesterday with my friends Todd and Miguel. Those rides to Evanston and back for work have really paid off. I felt like I could have done the 30-mile loop twice. Unlike the gentleman in the photo, who is actually a neighbor and does a daily round trip to Albany Park.

Anyway, I practically bunny-hopped my bike from Lawrence to the rest stop at Bryn Mawr, where the three of us were trapped by a volunteer. This man would not let us go as he told us that we should exercise for "balance, stamina, strength and flexibility." He asked if we did yoga; we each allowed that we did.

"That is good," he said. "But only do the stretchy yoga, not the jumpy kind." He wouldn't let us return to our bikes as he told us about climbing mountains in Nepal and hauling a wheel barrow from Edgewater to Washington Park. When he returned to the subject of yoga, I made a downward dog quip that went way over his head.

But the unsolicited advice was enough to carry us through our respective exits and into the remainder of the day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Friday night I checked in with ChEfrain Cuevas at his latest underground dinner, this one in the breakroom of a grocery store on the North Side. It was originally supposed to be on the roof, but the possibility of bad weather forced it inside. I thought it worked out better this way because it gave diners the feeling of actually doing something illicit.

I was lucky to get my hands on one of the drumsticks from the turducken that was served as part of the main course. Andrew Huff of Gapers Block also snagged one. However, while Huff removed the meat from the bone with a knife and fork, I tore into the drumstick like a Viking. Or Henry V.

It was a good night, on many fronts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just a Few Hours Until Game Time

And this is how I'm gonna get ready for this evening's media slam at Hideout.


Sometimes watching the two of them together makes me fear for diabetes (I kid) but Scott and Erin are a perfect match. They're like one of those couples you refer to as one word; scottanderin, if you will.

Erin announced on her blog yesterday that they're getting married in the fall. It makes one hope that everyone could find the happiness the two of them share.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Leisurely Thoughts

New Glarus, WI - Greetings from "Little Switzerland." The beer is cold, the air less so.

I'm up here just gathering my bearings and catching up on some overdue things. One of them is finishing reading this week's New Yorker. It has a killer piece on Alinea's Grant Achatz and his battle with oral cancer, a story which has been covered exhaustively locally but is only now starting to break out nationally. It is a killer article worth the read.

In the process, author D.T. Max manages to humanize the usually reserved Achatz, a chef who rarely shows emotion but who constantly elicit them from his guests from his carefully crafted meals (a question I asked in my own interview with Achatz from last spring). Most notable is the passion with which Achatz sought the radical form of treatment that he eventually took to fight the Stage VI cancer, continuing work on his cookbook and putting in eighteen-twenty hour days at Alinea as he was fighting radiation sickness and undergoing treatment.

It's also given Achatz a lesson in trust. As the radiation treatment resulted in a loss and slow return of his sense of taste, Achatz has had to rely on his sous chefs to ensure that his "prototype" dishes are ready for the ever-changing menu at 1723 N. Halsted. I find it astounding that he was going through all of this at the time I interviewed him. According to Max, Achatz had been plagued by this since he was at Trio, nearly five years ago.

It also reminded me that, when I was in the lost post-HotHouse months trying to make ends meet freelancing, I pre-ordered the Alinea cookbook set for release this fall. Pre-ordering (and it's only $50, so don't be a cheap bastard) grants you access to the Alinea mosaic, which for me is like the ultimate Harry Potter wiki for anyone else. Customers holding pre-orders on the cookbook are allowed to view hi-res images of some of Achatz's menu creations, video of the process for some recipes, and recipes themselves. Achatz mentioned in our interview with him that it all boils down to it simplicity, a theme repeated in countless interviews before and after. After reading his recipe for cheese and crackers, I now see that.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Correcting an Error

A couple months back I had the bright idea to switch my office and bedroom around, which turned out to be a monumentally bad idea. The office was relocated to the back of the apartment, past the kitchen and away from the street view and living room that offers me motivation when I sit down to work. Meanwhile, the bedroom now had the street view, and - at night - a streetlamp burning its essence into my brain as I slept.

I switched the rooms back around today, as well as tossed out an old sofa that I gained possession of when Sue and I finally stopped being roommates four years ago that had long outlived its usefulness.

After I switched the rooms around I did some moving around of the Chris Voit Botanic Garden, now in its third uninterrupted smash year in my apartment, and started getting inspired to fully utilize the front room for the sunroom I always aspired it to be. I think I'll get down to that order of business after Mothers Day.

Back in the day I would have been content to stack some milk crates up, drape a piece of fabric over it and call it a divan. Someone I dated briefly called it "early bachelor," 'cause I also was alright with having my California king mattress and box spring rest on the floor with just a simple fitted sheet covering it (I may have bought some actual bedding for it once she started sleeping over, although I doubt it which was one of the many reasons we only dated briefly). That was 27, 28.

Now I'm a month away from 39 and walking into Nordstroms looking for the right sized storage benches to parallel the front room windows and obsessing about the right tone of sagebrush to complement the tile in the fireplace mantle when I paint an accent wall.

I'm probably gonna make someone a really good wife.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Trying to Forget the Early 90's (And Late 80's)

Spending the weekend in working through a stomach virus. There are better things in life than running to the bathroom every half-hour to drop a soupy deuce. Like, everything. But the worst is past and even Mom called in unannounced because she had a feeling that something was wrong with me. I just told her that it was a really bad case of gas.

I haven't always been a paragon of refined taste. It has taken some mistakes along the way to get to where I am. 'Course, if I'm still using phrases like "soupy deuce" there's probably a ways to go still.

Case in point: during my military service I listened to a lot of, well, crap music. Bands like Extreme, for example:

And they're getting back together, too. Who asked for that?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Never Say Never

I'm usually not one to follow tagged memes; I already have more recipes, music quizzes and good luck charms than I know what to do with. But when El Hombre en Chicago tags you, you might want to take a second look.

The rules of the meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

Well, part two of the fifth step was already applied; I'm tagging Random Esquire, TGI McFunsters, Hixx, Mario, and C.O.O.B.

Now, for the book. I closed my eyes and found Extra Nutty: Even More Letters From a Nut, by Ted L. Nancy.

"I will sit in your lobby for hours and talk like Carol Channing. And don't worry I sound just like her. 'Charles never touched me in 48 years of marriage.'"

Deep reading, I know.

In the Desert, a Blog Grows

My good friend Elizabeth is the Operations Manager of the Western Colorado Botanic Garden in Grand Junction. While I try to figure out when a good time would be to go visit her, she started a blog where she's showing the day-to-day operations at the garden, in particular what's blooming.

Check it out.