The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Interesting morning news

Just a couple of tasty items today:

  • One of my favorite BBQ places in Chicago, Smoke Daddy, will be opening at Hotel Zachary, which is currently under construction next to Wrigley Field. Next season's chow options will be that much better, not to mention excellent ribs a 20-minute walk from home.
  • Republican US Senator Mark Kirk sparred with his Democratic opponent, US Representative Tammy Duckworth, at the Chicago Tribune's editorial board endorsement session yesterday.

That's it for now. Back to optimizing software.

The way the cookie crumbles

On our trip to Ravinia Park Sunday afternoon, we brought along a cookie White House "because it's a project," according to the person who purchased it. A team worked diligently through the pre-concert picnic and constructed this:

The concert included Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," which is notable because the War of 1812 was not the best time for the Executive Mansion. (Of course, that's not the war Tchaikovsky was writing about.) So the trip home actually didn't go so poorly, but the South Portico suffered some damage:

We will not be eating this thing. But it was fun to put together, and only cost $4.

Later this afternoon, I'll have time to read...

It's right there in black and white

Chicago saw the end of an era today:

The final Chicago-made Oreo cookies will roll off the line Friday, ending the iconic cookie's decadeslong run of delighting consumers and providing good-paying union jobs on the Southwest Side.

The last Oreo line at the Mondelez International plant is shutting down as the global snack and confectionary company shifts some of its production to Mexico. As part of the move announced last summer, the company said it would be laying off about half of the plant's 1,200 workers; many of them are already gone. The Chicago plant will continue to make other products, like BelVita breakfast biscuits and Mini Chips Ahoy cookies. Oreo cookies will continue to be made at three other plants in the U.S. — just not at the brick bakery at 7300 S. Kedzie Ave.

In making the decision, Mondelez executives said they could save $46 million a year by installing the so-called "lines of the future" in Salinas, Mexico, rather than Chicago.

You can get a lot of Double-Stuf for $46m.

Sometimes, ribs are just OK

Chicago actually has more than one ribfest. There's the main one in Lincoln Square, the big one in Naperville, and the ugly stepchild going on right now at Lawrence and Broadway.

Yes, Windy City Ribfest, I'm talking about you.

The "fest" is tiny, with just 6 rib vendors, three of them in such close proximity that the lines get mixed up and people trying to walk down the street nearly step on dogs' tails crossing them. And of the 6 vendors, none is spectacular.

I tried two $8 samplers, one from Porky Chicks BBQ and the other from our old friend Chicago BBQ. They were both meh. Tasty, sure; but not as epic as the bones I had from Piggery last month, or Mrs. Murphy's. And the organizers are so disorganized they don't even have a website.

Parker and I attended really only because it's about a 15-minute walk from my house. Otherwise I would skip it, as I may do next year.

But hey, even mediocre ribs are tasty.

Ribfest 2016: Day two


OK, I am completely ribbed out. Yesterday I had 14 bones, today 12, which I think exceeds a full slab by a few.

Five of those bones (two yesterday, three today) were from The Piggery, because they were my favorites yesterday. Today they had a tiny bit less magic. Still 3½ stars, but not the 4 from before. They're still my favorites from this year, though.

I also sampled:

  • Austin's Texas Lightning, who had a meaty tug-off-the-bone sample with some nice char. 3 stars.
  • BBQ King Smokehouse gave me a better-than-expected sample with a tangy sauce and smoked meat that fell right off the bone. 3½ stars.
  • Celtic Crown had a decent showing, but nothing that would drag me out there. Decent meat, but very sweet sauce, otherwise just OK. 2½ stars.

It's also 29°C with a gross dewpoint, and it was even hotter at the festival. That might have affected my scoring today. It was hot yesterday, too, but it didn't feel as sticky.

It turns out there are more ribs in my future, even this month. But I think I'll skip the fest tomorrow and have some light salads and fruit instead.

Ribfest 2016: Day One

Last year, as in five of the six years before, I only went to Ribfest once, owing to the 11 km round trip distance. This year I only live 1.8 km away, so dammit, I'm going all three days.

Here's the report from this evening. I went with a friend so we could split samplers, and try more of them.

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro. Like last year, excellent sauce. Unlike last year, they kind of gooped it on mediocre bones. So they only get 3 stars for 2016.
  • Mr. B's BBQ. You'd think that, because they're right on Lincoln Avenue where Ribfest is happening, they'd have a better product. Nope. The sauce was meh, the ribs were gristly, and we were totally unimpressed. 2 stars.
  • The Piggery. These were my favorite today: nice charred molasses sauce on tug-off-the-bone meat. 4 stars.
  • Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse. They only use wood, which gives the meat a nice, smoky flavor. But their sauces were only good, not great. We tried both the default sweet sauce and the hot Texas sauce, which was better. 3 stars.
  • Q BBQ. Good, solid entry this year. Tasty meat, tasty sauce. 3 stars.
  • The Smoke Daddy. The meat was good but the sauce we just didn't understand: a bean-based (?) savory sauce, probably their Mustard Q, that we weren't really into. So 3 stars.

So that's 6 of the 15. There are a couple of vendors I have no real interest in trying again, and I will definitely go back to Q's offering. And it's only an 18-minute walk away. So I'm hoping for good weather tomorrow and Sunday, and very light lunches.

(Note: this entry has been corrected.)