The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

In other news...

The week keeps getting more fun:

For the next 9 months, I'm considering changing the official style of this blog to refer to "Republican trolls" whenever the party comes up. Because at this point, they're really the party of nihilistic trolls. And we have actual problems that need solving.

Too many things to read this afternoon

Fortunately, I'm debugging a build process that takes 6 minutes each time, so I may be able to squeeze some of these in:

Back to debugging Azure DevOps pipelines...

Feeling saucy

Armed with an InstantPot, a Cuisinart, and some basic understanding of cooking, I made this today:

Starting here:

Ingredients used (amounts where known):

Hot Italian sausage, 300 g Salt
Mild Italian sausage, 150 g Pepper
Diced pancetta, 50 g Butter
Tomato puree, 800 mL Juice of 1 lemon
Tomato paste Juice of 1 lime
Olive oil Basil
Mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) Sage
Shallot Rosemary
Garlic Thyme
Romano Smoked chile powder
Parmesan Chipotle powder
Red pepper flakes Mushrooms
Coriander Bay leaves

I sautéed the meat first, then after a few minutes, added the onion, garlic, and shallot. All of that got browned. In went the carrots and celery, a few more garlic cloves, and everything else a few minutes later with the heat off. Mixed the lot, then cooked at high pressure for 20 minutes with 7 minutes slow release before opening the steam vent for fast release.

So, it came out well, and it's very tasty. But I will do some things differently next time:

  • Put the cheese and tomato paste on top and last to prevent burning.
  • Don't forget the wine!
  • Prep the herbs better, and use more of them, especially basil.
  • In fact, add more salt, olive oil, butter, mushrooms (smaller pieces), and acid (one more lemon).
  • Skip the hot sausage. Use neutral ground meat (bison or beef) and mild sausage at 1:1. 500 grams of meat was about right, though.
  • Skip the pancetta. it got completely obliterated.

Also, it probably doesn't need to cook so long.

But now I've got two litres of deliciousness to eat or freeze.

Sick day reading

I hate taking sick days, I really do. Fortunately, the Internet never takes one:

I'm now going to try to do a couple of hours of work, but really, I just want to go back to sleep.

War in Montreal

The New York Times Canada Letter today lead with a story about how local regulation in Montreal threatens a culinary tradition:

[Irwin Shlafman and Joe Morena] are competitors in the business of Montreal bagels, which have a distinctive flavor from being boiled in honey-infused water before being baked in a wood-burning oven.

These days, however, Mr. Shlafman and Mr. Morena are united against a common threat — environmentalists who want to abolish the pollutant-producing ovens where the bagels are made.

The battle heated up late last year when rumors began to circulate that a City Hall official was planning to ban the ovens, which emit fine particles that can aggravate respiratory ailments like asthma. Angry neighbors had complained to the city and some were boycotting the vaunted bagel shops.

Coming to the defense of the bagels were fans who treasure the carb-heavy snack as an essential part of the city’s Jewish history and social fabric.

Montreal bagels have become a global culinary emblem of the city, alongside smoked meat and poutine, and are doughy unifiers in a majority French-speaking province buffeted by identity politics.

Next time I'm in Montreal I hope to try these wood-fired bagels. If they're still available.

Pausing from parsing

My task this afternoon is to parse a pile of random text that has, shall we say, inconsistencies. Before I return to that task, I'm setting aside some stuff to read later on:

And finally, Crain's reviews five relatively-new steakhouses in Chicago. Since we probably won't eat steak past about 2030, these may be worth checking out sooner rather than later.

Welcome to the Fourth Quarter

October began today for some of the world, but here in Chicago the 29°C weather (at Midway and downtwon; it's 23°C at O'Hare) would be more appropriate for July. October should start tomorrow for us, according to forecasts.

This week has a lot going on: rehearsal yesterday for Apollo's support of Chicago Opera Theater in their upcoming performances of Everest and Aleko; rehearsal tonight for our collaboration Saturday with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony of Carmina Burana; and, right, a full-time job. (The Dallas Opera put their video of Everest's premiere on YouTube.) 

We also have a few things going on in the news, it seems:

I will now return to reverse-engineering a particularly maddening interface.

Mid-morning link roundup

So much to read, so much eye strain from the fluorescent lights:

And finally, this year's Punderdome competition took on food; the audience ate it up.

Base Hit ribs

I had the opportunity yesterday to get some ribs from my favorite vendor at this year's Ribfest. Base Hit BBQ opened their restaurant in March after five years of catering and festival cooking. (They framed their Chicago Defender review.)

Their thermostat showed 33°C inside the small two-table eating area, but that isn't why I was sweating. Their hot sauce lives up to its name, and they use a tasty spicy rub on their bones. Excellent quality meat, good smoke flavor, and all chopped up for easy eating when served.

At Ribfest they had more caramelized sauce than in their brick-and-mortar location, but that's because they leave the sauce off while smoking and grilling the meat. (Ribfest has certain constraints.) They were still so tasty that I managed to eat a full slab and one of the bread slices they added.

My only complaint: they don't have a bathroom and they don't provide wet-wipes. So after stuffing all those ribs into my belly, it took some MacGuyvering with paper napkins and hand sanitizer to get to a point where I felt I could touch any surface of my car.

I'll go back. But I think the next slab I have will be from my second-favorite vendor from this year, Fireside Grill.

In other news, one of Chicago's oldest pizzerias is closing today. Father & Son Pizza in Logan Square will cease operations after 72 years.

Ribfest 2019 after-munching report

This year, I went whole hog and got a 3-day pass to Chicago's main Ribfest. So this past weekend, I had a lot of ribs.

First, I should note that on days 2 and 3 I took friends. This is important because if you share four 3-bone samplers with someone you don't feel like you ate an entire pig as you stagger home from the event. Or five samplers. Not that I ate that many ribs on Friday...maybe.

Second, the weather Saturday and Sunday ranged from cool and damp to cool and rainy. Between that and arriving Friday evening just after opening, I didn't see the balls-to-the-wall crowds that I've usually encountered. Here's Saturday evening, after the rain stopped:

Contrast with, for example, 2013:

(Parker, having just turned 13, didn't go this year, poor old dog.)

Having three days, I got to try a lot of ribs:

  • City BBQ, locations in Downers Grove and Orland Park: smoked, tug off the bone, firm meat; original sauce was sweet-tangy, "brush fire" sauce was a little spicier. Not great, 2½ stars.
  • Austin Texas Lightning (two visits), itinerant: Smoked for 4 hours, then grilled. Tangy original sauce, good kick on the spicy one. Tasty meat but a lot of salt. Not bad. 3 stars.
  • Famous Dave's, national chain: Pretty good meat, tug-off-the-bone; sauces all right, sauces OK but with lots of HFCS, so I have to ding them for that. 2½ stars.
  • Fireside Grill (two visits), right in my neighborhood: tug off the bone, good crunchy finish on the grill, ladled-on sauce with good spice and flavor. My favorite from Friday. 3½ stars; will visit soon.
  • Big Joe's Backyard BBQ, Homer Glen, Ill.: Dry meat, overcooked; sauces was eh, way too sweet. Good-sized bones. 2½ stars.
  • Base Hit BBQ (two visits), Austin neighborhood of Chicago: Fall-off-the-bone, really tasty meat, nice char, excellent sauce. My favorite from this year's Fest. Worth a trip out to the West Side. 4 stars.
  • Mrs Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro, Chicago: My favorite from years past, and still good, but their sauce tasted sweeter to me this year (which is not a good thing for my palette). Fall off the bone meat, really tasty. 3 stars.

On Sunday I also stopped by itinerant Chicago BBQ, which was just as itinerant as in years past, and just as acceptable. 3 stars.

Now: was the $100 3-day pass a good deal? It came with $50 in food tickets (which I used, and then some, because 3-bone samplers cost $8), free entry to the festival (a $30 value), skip-to-the-front access for drinks (saved some time), and air conditioned bathrooms (nice to have with their real soap and running water). I will probably do it again next year, especially if we have a hot June, which will make the cooler bathrooms maybe worth $20.

But before that, on July 4th, I'll bring Parker to the Windy City Ribfest less than 400 meters from my front door.