I'm getting ready for my annual Prez Day Bash, which I inherited from a very talented and very funny Andy Ball back in 2004.
This is the 13th Bash—the Fillmore—so I hope less goes wrong than in previous years. The first ten ran from 1995 to 2004, then the 11th came back in 2015. (I suppose that means the 21st will be in 2035?)
I'll post more if I get a lull in preparations.
After a really enjoyable trip, and even before I'd gone to get Parker from boarding, I discovered to my horror that my fridge compressor was making a godawful racket and the freezer door was just slightly ajar.
This is what it looks like now:
Welcome back to college.
Really, I'm mostly bummed about all the cheese, not to mention the homemade turkey stock in the freezer and the mushroom tea in the fridge I was going to make rice with.
Also note that the thermometer says -3°C. I've since adjusted the temperature back up to 2°C where it belongs.
We are closely monitoring this situation and will provide updates as warranted.
Yesterday I did exactly what I set out to do: visited three pubs and read an entire book.
The book, David Frum's Trumpocracy, should be required reading by Republicans. Frum is a Republican, don't forget; he's trying to put his party, and his country's shared values, back together. As a Democrat, I found his critique of President Trump and the current GOP's policies insightful and well-written. I don't agree with Frum's politics entirely, but I do agree with him fundamentally: disagreement between the parties is healthy when we agree on the fundamentals of what it means to be American.
The pubs were entirely less controversial.
First: The Anglesea Arms, Hammersmith, where I had a St. Aubell Tribute Cornish Pale Ale. Second: The Dove, also in Hammersmith, where I had a Hammerton N1 American Pale Ale and some foccacia with olive oil. (I'm trying to appreciate some pubs, not get sloshed.)
Both pubs were comfortable, classic English pubs. The Dove was more classic (it opened in the 17th Century), but the Anglesea Arms was more comfortable. I'd go back to either in a minute.
The third pub, where I read about half of Frum's book, is my third-favorite pub in the world*: The Blackbird in Earls Court. Over three hours, I sipped a couple of Fuller's ESBs and had their amazing steak and ale pie.
I may post some photos when I get back, but the glass over my phone's camera is all jacked up and I didn't bring my real camera.
Today I also plan to read a book and visit three pubs, and for the entire trip (including the flight home), I aim to finish four books and visit 10 pubs. And as it's already 11:30, I should get cracking.
* After Duke of Perth in Chicago and Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak, London, which I plan to visit tomorrow.
I'm heading back to the East Coast tonight to continue research for my current project, so my time today is very constrained. I hope I remember to keep these browser windows open for the plane:
- 538 examines why, a full year later, the 2016 election just won't go away.
- James Bridle says something is wrong on the Internet.
- Josh Marshall continues to bang the drum on President Trump's creeping authoritarianism. (Or, you know, not so much creeping as shambling, with all the zombie implications in the term. Says Marshall, "[I]ncompetence and authoritarian aren’t in tension. They tend to operate together, each catalyzing each other as both cause and effect.")
- On the same theme, yesterday the President called Chicago a "total disaster" because he doesn't understand how the lack of Federal gun laws makes our local regulations irrelevant.
- Last Friday, Andrew Sullivan wrote that the Democrats are failing the resistance. But Jeet Heer thinks our party's internecine conflicts are good for the party.
- Crain's Chicago Business lists the most indulgent dishes in Chicago.
- Chicago Magazine investigates the rash of suicides-by-train plaguing the area.
- WaPo describes the weirdness behind the attack on Senator Rand Paul over the weekend.
- Writing for CityLab, Carolyn Adolph says Seattle has fallen out of love with Amazon, with some implications for Chicago.
- Finally, Samuel Adams now has a $200 beer at 28 ABV. Not sure if I'll ever try it.
So much to do today...and then a short, relaxing, upgraded flight to BWI.
This is my first moment to catch my breath (other than sleeping) since Friday. While I'm doing that, read about Chicago steak houses. Next post later today.
So, this might be happening at my house next weekend:
The "sous vide" part of sous vide cooking refers to the vacuum-sealed bags that are often called for when you're using the technique. (The French phrase literally means "under vacuum.") However, these days, when someone says "sous vide cooking," they're generally referring to any kind of cooking that takes place in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath, whether you're actually using a vacuum-sealed bag or not.
Sous vide cooking offers unparalleled control over whatever it is you are trying to cook, whether it's steaks and chops, shrimp and lobster, vegetables, or even large cuts of meat like pork shouldersand legs of lamb. With fast-cooking foods, like steaks and chicken breasts, sous vide removes all the guesswork involved in traditional methods. No poking with a thermometer, no cutting and peeking, no jabbing with your finger—just perfect results every single time.
A sous vide circulator mysteriously arrived at Inner Drive World Headquarters yesterday. We're going to start with eggs and work our way up to a venison steak. Yum.
Articles I haven't got time to read until later:
That's all for now. Busy weekend behind me, another one ahead.
I'm heading to Missouri tomorrow to get into position for Monday's eclipse. Since Springfield is on the way, I spent the day at the Illinois State Fair. Again. So, naturally, we had to make a pilgrimage to the butter cow:
No idea what we're doing tomorrow, but Monday we'll be standing in a parking lot with our eclipse glasses on.
And sweating. It's warm out there.
I forgot to mention this article in today's Tribune:
Short of ripping raw flesh from a freshly killed beast in the wild, meat eating doesn't get much more primal than ribs. Sure, chicken wings also have bones, but they are miniature little things one can pick up with two fingers. You can find them on the appetizer section of the menu. A full slab of ribs lands on the table with a thud, like a declaration of true gluttony. They also function as a fair warning to nearby persons to avoid eye contact as things are about to get messy.
Mention ribs, and most people know exactly what you're talking about: a wide hunk of pork interspersed with long bones. Even without considering how they are cooked (smoked, baked or boiled), you know what they look like. But just as there are different cuts of steak, there are numerous kinds of ribs. Four show up the most in Chicago — baby back ribs, spareribs, St. Louis ribs and rib tips. Baby back ribs come from high on the pig's rib cage near the loin, resulting in lean and tender meat. Spareribs are cut from lower down the rib and are meatier and fattier, with one side featuring a host of bones and cartilage. Trim away that gnarly side from the spare rib, and you have St. Louis ribs. The piece you trimmed away is called the rib tip.
One rule of thumb for Chicago ribs? The more comfortable you are, the less likely it is that you're eating real barbecue.
I now have a new list of places to try this summer. Yum.
I've been a bit busy, so I just got a chance to pull Saturday's Ribfest photos off my phone.
I have to say, this year's fest was a little underwhelming. Some of my previous favorites, like Piggery, didn't present this year. So instead of 10 local restaurants, there were actually only five locals, three catering companies, and two itinerants. Not only, but the suggested donation jumped from $5 to $10 just to get in there. And three-bone samplers now cost $8.
So I only sampled four places this year, and none of them was as good as last year's Piggery bones.
- Mrs. Murphy's. I mean, I love the sauce, but this year they glooped so much of it onto less-than-perfect meat that I was a little put off. Only 2½ stars this time.
- Pork Chop. Holy crumpets, the ribs were meaty, with some smoky-spicy sauce that I really liked. 3½ stars.
- Citizen's American Eatery. First, I don't think they exist; I think it's a temporary brand for a catering company, only I don't know which one. That said, they had really good tug-off-the-bone ribs with a sweet-spicy sauce that they didn't slather on the meat. 3½ stars.
- River Forest Catering. They had the best meat I had but not the best sauce. And they're a catering company. 3 stars.
I really missed the greats this year: Smoke Daddy, Smoque, and Fat Willy's. I wonder why.