Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Northwest Side Love

I've often written that one of the main reasons I love living in Bridgeport is because it reminds me in many ways of growing up on the Northwest Side of the city. Even though Bridgeport is much closer to downtown than Hermosa, Jefferson Park, Cragin, Galewood, Avondale, et al., many of the same traits and coming-of-age experiences are shared.

I found this from a facebook group called "I Grew Up on the Northwest Side of Chicago." Something tells me that longtime Bridgeport residents can relate to more than a few of these. My experiences are highlighted in yellow.

  • You went to a Catholic grade school
  • You went to a Catholic High School, and chances are it was a same sex school
  • Your eighth grade graduating class went to at least 5 different high schools
  • If you're a girl, you have no problem wearing plaid wool skirts
  • You hung out at a park (ie. Oriole Park) For me it was Hermosa Park
  • You rode your bike everywhere, every day, and it was probably either a GT, Dyno, Haro, or Redline
  • You are either a Cubs fan or one of the few people in your circle of friends who like the Sox
  • You don't mind the sound of airplanes flying overhead at any given hour
  • At least one person on your block is either a cop or fireman (Uncle Stu was a cop)
  • You shopped at the "HIP" (Harlem Irving Plaza) before it was ghetto (and spent many lazy Friday nights at Rolling Stones Records trying to pick up girls.)
  • You very occasionally went to the Brickyard, but it was usually only to buy basketball shoes (I also worked at a Musicland in the Brickyard)
  • You took the train and bus to the Cubs game without adults at a very young age
  • An ideal summer afternoon was spent swimming at your friend's above ground pool
  • You, or someone close to you, had a bike stolen at least once in your life
  • You have heard stories of scary things that go on in the forest preserves
  • You are either Italian, Polish, Irish, German or a combination of any of the above
  • You couldn't wait for "Carnival Season"
  • You partied on Harlem Ave. after one or more of the Bulls' titles
  • You didn't go to Chuck E. Cheese; you went to Caesarland
  • You loved TBK (that's the Taco and Burrito King on Harlem and Belmont) before you ever had your first beer, but now you rarely walk in there sober
  • You used to "peg" for your liquor
  • You have an alley
  • Your alley has a yellow sign warning you about rats
  • As a kid you drove by the huge Gold Domed Church on Cumberland and thought it was the Taj Mahal that you read about in school.
I'm feeling wistful.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Whisky Weather

Also some weather for some really good pork. I went back to the Publican again last night for for the final preparation for next week's review. This time, in addition to previous partners-in-crime, I extended open invitations to a few folks and my friends Todd and Linda took up the offer.

For me, the high points of the evening were watching Todd get starstruck twice. First, it was when he recognized one of the women at our four top as none other than Gina Black. That was followed shortly after once the party split up when I, Todd and Linda stayed for dinner and none other than Paul Kahan stops by to chat us up a bit. Earlier I stopped by the bar and thanked Kahan for hosting the Reader's mulefoot pig dinner, which culminated a fourteen day stretch where I ate pork for at least one meal.

After that, Todd looked at me and asked, "Do I always get to meet world class chefs and rock stars when having dinner with you?"

That was just an off night.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thank You, General Powell

It's a hard time to be a veteran and politically progressive, but General Powell's endorsement of Senator Obama reminded me that one can serve his country and make an independent decision.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mmmmm... Pork

In the past week I think I've eaten every conceivable part of a pig that can be prepared as food. If you haven't had the deep-fried bacon at Risque Cafe in Wrigleyville (served with a side of white bacon gravy) do yourself a favor and trade in your planned long lifespan for a serving. This is easily the best menu item they have, although the pulled pork (above) - while a bit on the dry side - is nothing to scoff at.

Meanwhile, I've been to the Publican on Fulton Market twice in the past week in preparation for a full review for Chicagoist I'm scheduling to run around Halloween. Jacy Wojcik, who we're bringing along slowly to help augment the food and drink beat while I get back to some new writers, has a first look at Paul Kahan's homage to the German beer hall, with dishes from executive chef Brian Huston.

Even with our banana republic economy it's been a banner year for restaurant openings around town, and the Publican is in my top five. If you do plan on checking it out, order the charcuterie plate, the pork rillette and the pork rinds. The latter is easily the most whimsical appetizer I've ordered this year. Too bad last night's crowd was a combination of post-collegiate sausage party, extremely high-maintenance women and their husbands who would make a clean break of them, if they thought they could get their penises back in the divorce settlement.

I'll use that as a seque and offer another round of advance congratulations to Scott and Erin, who are eloping in Vermont next weekend (although I do question the use of the term if everyone they know is heading there to get married). It's also fitting that they've set up a blog leading up to the wedding. They've even gone so far as to compile a soundtrack to their "eloping." Any soundtrack that includes "Cigarettes and Coffee" by Otis Redding and "If I'm on the Late Side" by the Faces is worth checking out.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall Check-Up

It's been a while since I've been around these parts. That's because, between Chicagoist, work and extracurricular activities I haven't really had anything to write about here. I won't write just for the sake of writing.

Just know that I'm hale, hearty, happy and still alive. And that's enough for now.