Hard Habit to Break: The last hurrah in Chicago (this season)

4 May

So, I know I said that I was going to go to new places on this epic Chicago excursion, but sometimes you just need your creature comforts. That is what happened to me last Friday after my event. I worked all day, not having a chance to eat something. So by the time 4 rolled around and I was back in the city, I was starving. I knew exactly what I wanted, and my car took me there.

Kuma’s Corner is a heavy metal bar and burger joint in the Avondale neighborhood. I first heard about it from my friend Kermit, who has in the past shown me the way of deliciousness in Chicago. Kuma’s opened in 2005, and has been a staple in epic Chicago burgers ever since. Things to know about Kuma’s: it is LOUD. The burgers are named after metal bands. They have whisky on tap. You may have to wait up to 2 hours. They do have veggie burgers. It is worth it.

Luckily I was going early enough on a Friday where I knew I could get in and out fast. I had to meet my friend J for a show at 6, so time was of the essence. Especially when you factor in Chicago traffic, which is some of the worst. 45 minutes to get 3 miles? Not unheard of. I rolled in to Kuma’s at about 4:30 and bellied up to the bar.

I know in my heart of hearts I should try something I haven’t tried on the menu. However, I am such a creature of habit when it comes to this place. The first burger I ever had here is the one I get every time. I almost buckled this time and got the burger of the month, but the bartendress came up to me and I ordered my usual. Jameson soda with a lime and the High on Fire.                                                                                                     

The High on Fire consists of a hand made pretzel bun (all of the burgers are on pretzel buns) a giant burger with sweet chili sauce, grilled pineapple, roasted red pepper, sriracha and prosciutto. This burger is not to be trifled with, sweet, spicy, perfectly medium rare. They have recently changed their fries, and thank Godzilla they did. They now have hand cut fries that are a perfect accompaniment to their burgers. I will say that they also have a fantastic side salad, the basil vinaigrette they make is to die for.

In summation: I can’t say anything bad about Kuma’s on Belmont. I will say Kuma’s Two in Lincoln Park is way to clean and sterile for my tastes. I want my metal burgers METAL.                                                                                        

Post Script: #JBFA

So, I had totally forgotten that the James Beard Foundation Awards were taking place in Chicago this year. My girl Michelle is up for best chef (go girl go!) and she was flying down to Chicago on the last day I was to be in town. Uh-Oh. After work I met up with her and her girls Brennan and Shannon at GT Fish and Oyster. Everything kind of became a blur: but here are some photos from GT, Yusho, and the Soho House. My liver still hurts, but man was that fun. Kinda wish I would have stayed the extra couple of days to hang with these ladies. But I’ll be back in Chicago soon enough.                                                                                                         

         

                

 

                                                 

 

                 

                                  

 

                                                      

                           

               

 

                                                         

                                  

 

                                                                  

 

                                  

 

 

Elvis Perkins at Icehouse

29 Apr

11200582_10103172443150325_201412325716095511_n

“This one’s a little more straightforward,” joked Elvis Perkins at Icehouse on Monday night, before playing his new tune “My 2$.” But, he carried on, “it still can be cryptic.” Six years after his last record, it’s good to have Perkins back on the scene, and he really is as cryptic as ever. The new disc, I Aubade is a play and pun in and of itself – an “aubade” is a piece of poetry for the dawn, but it sounds like “I obeyed.” For this self-produced and released disc, Perkins mainly seemed to be obeying himself and his whims, which takes us all over the map. on “My 2$” Perkins channels his early Dylan and writes a biting topical song with lyrics like, “It matters less who I vote for/than what I put my dollar towards.” The performance of “I Came for Fire” was a welcome tune for long-time Perkins fans, with an element of longing and mystery in love, and the satirical “Hogus Pogus” played with porcine wordplay and imagery to set up an unexpected revelation of kindness and love. In all, cryptic and far-ranging, as Perkins has always been.

If there is a criticism of the new record itself, the production can feel over-wrought and layered on, but there was no such problem on stage. Supported by Danielle Akroyd on bass and a variety of synthesizers, as well as a hurdy-gurdy, and Mitchell Robe on keys, the support was just enough to let Perkins’ own sweet, wry tenor to shine through on new tunes and old. The quiet Sunday-night Minnesotan crowd offered little support on a singalong to “Doomsday” but the sharp and spare arrangement of “Shampoo” cut through the crowd to close out the set. It was reminiscent of the first time that I heard the tune, at a hootenanny in the Java Jack’s basement eight years ago, with a rapt audience eager to sing along. In closing out his encore, Perkins included the epic, gorgeous, “While You Were Sleeping” and there more than a few mouths joining in and humming along. If Perkins is making a break for a new day, there is at least the memory of our love, as we decide what to do next.

Elvis Perkins at Icehouse – Encore snippet from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

God Bless The Biscuit Belt

27 Apr

When I told people in the Midwest that I was going to visit my sister in Durham, North Carolina the first thing they would say is, “oh, you have to eat biscuits”. This I knew, as North Carolina is known for biscuits upon more biscuits. Within in city of Durham, there are 4 or 5 biscuit places I can count just off the top of my head, and I don’t even live there. So it was my mission to get as many biscuits as I could put in my face for the 5 days that I was in the triangle (Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill). And biscuits were consumed.

I arrived on a Monday, starving. I left Chicago really early in the AM and didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. Jecca picked me up and we went straight to Rise Biscuits and Donuts. Jecca had never been there, but a friend of mine (Hi Alysia!) who used to live in Durham told us we should check it out. Located in a strip mall next to a nail salon, it is quite unassuming. We went in and the menu was overwhelming with fantastic selections. Jecca is a vegetarian, and Rise has a biscuit sandwich with fried eggplant “bacon”. She got that, and I got a biscuit with fried chicken and bacon. Flaky biscuits, brimming with flavor. Jecca fell in love with the eggplant bacon, I tried it as well: delicious and crisp. My fried chicken biscuit was perfect, juicy chicken and bacon done just right. We also got a couple of donuts to bring home: a blueberry “wonut” with blueberry glaze and a pineapple basil with pineapple glaze filled the basil creme filling and pistachios. What is a wonut you ask? Well I’ll tell you: waffle donut! So cute.

     

 

    

In Summation: The biscuits are out of this world. A must for the biscuit lovers. The donuts were good, but not our favorite in Durham. I want to try the fennel and pink grapefruit donut next time.

Tuesday brought us to Monuts. Now, I love monuts. I have been to their old location twice before, and I have been following their construction and new space on instagram for a while, and was so looking forward to checking it out.

It did not disappoint. Eli (my brother-in-law) and I got 2 donuts: apple cider cake donut and a maple glazed raised. Both were perfect. Jecca then met us for lunch and I had a biscuit and a beautiful salad of arugula, pea shoots, asparagus, a slow poached egg and fresh farmer cheese. They both had bagel sandwiches: the bagels at monuts are fantastic. I also had a crazy coffee: it was a combo of espresso and cane sugar cola. WHOA. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ.

   

 

   

 

   

In Summation: a good biscuit, not spectacular. Probably my fault for not getting anything on it. However, everything else is fantastic here. The donuts are for sure the best in the city, as are the bagels. It’s a great place to hang out, and they now have beer and wine! Bonus!

Wednesday Jecca and her friend Ben and I went to Scratch Bakery for breakfast. I have had the bread from Scratch, they have a booth at the Durham Farmers Market and I knew I was in for some good stuff.

I went with a biscuit with an egg and cheese. Keeping it super simple. It was perfectly lovely. Jecca got a buttermilk donut muffin that was to die for. I also had a fantastic iced vanilla latte, made with one of my favorite Midwestern coffees: Intelligentsia. However, everything we had was overshadowed by the pie. Oh yes, pie for breakfast: and what a pie it was. A perfect strawberry rhubarb. The crust was just the right consistency and the filling bright, sweet and tart.

   

 

                          

In Summation: I really want to go back to Scratch for some of the savory offerings: but it’s gonna be really hard when there is that pie staring at me. I mean, their website is piefantasy.com.

Thursday Jecca and I met up with the creator of sheelanumnum.com: Alex, and his kids Viv & Nick. We met at Parker & Otis, a favorite place of mine in Durham. It’s part gift store, part wine shop, part cafe, all awesome (For Twin Cities folks reference: it’s like if Cafe Latte, Patina and Surdyk’s were all one store. With better food). A friend of Jecca’s had told me to get the pimento cheese biscuit there, and of course I had to try that. Sadly, they didn’t have it on this day, so I went with a cheese, egg and bacon biscuit. Totally good, not outstanding. I do love the pimento cheese here, so hopefully next time I am in town they will have that biscuit!

In Summation: I really like hanging out at Parker & Otis. They have great stuff for everyone and I will be hunting down that biscuit!

Friday, my last day in town. Jecca and I venture in to Chapel Hill to a place I had been hearing about forever. Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen is a tiny shack of a place on the main thoroughfare going in to Chapel Hill. It is a drive through place, and there was a line on the bridge as we approached!

The line was 100% worth the wait. Jecca had an egg, cheese and kale biscuit whereas I went for the pork chop. Yup, that’s right. Chicken fried pork chop on a biscuit. This may or may not have been everything I had hoped for and more. Biscuit was soft and pillowy, pork chop beautifully seasoned. It’s a good thing I don’t live anywhere near here as I would be here every day.

   

In Summation: Run. Stand in line. Eat all the biscuits.

Phew! And that’s just the biscuits! Next up: more Durham goodness.

 

Just you ‘N’ Me: A Night in Logan Square

21 Apr

After another long day at the shoe store in Andersonville, I was so looking forward to an evening with one of my favorite humans on earth. My dear friend Bridgid is from Chicago, lived in the Twin Cities for about 1 minutes 15 years ago, and we have been super close ever since. I love that when I am in Chicago for work I get to spend some time with her.

Bridgid is a bartender in Boystown (more about her bar next week: I will be spending the evening there and it’s gonna get pretty real) and has been for the past 12 years. So needless to say she doesn’t get out to new places very often, especially if they are only open for dinner. So we went through a list of places she has been wanting to try. We decided on a place in Logan Square: as there are also some great bars in that area we could hit up post dinner.

Analogue opened in 2013, mostly to be a cocktail bar and dance party, from the articles I have found about it. It has a New Orleans-inspired menu in an open and airy space. We were the first ones there, it was a super rainy Sunday evening and also pretty early. Bridgid and I snagged a high top and settled in.

We decided to start with a little bubbly: and a basket of biscuits. I mean, who doesn’t want a basket of biscuits? I know I have been on a tear when it come to southern food, and it is about to get even more epic since I am now sitting in Durham, North Carolina. But why not start off my second southern adventure of April with biscuits in Chicago?

                                                                                                                                  

This basket of biscuits comes with 3 lovely biscuits, creamy butter that is made with syrup, and hot pepper jelly. Bridgid took one bite and said, “I want to drink this every day”. Sweet, hot, flaky, spicy. All of the things one would want in a biscuit experience. Paired quite well with our dry cava.

We then shared a green salad and the mushroom french fries debris po’ boy. Bridgid is a vegetarian (I know, so many vegetarians in my life) and these were basically the only vegetarian items on the menu.

The salad was exactly what I wanted, fresh and bright, lots of dill with a creole mustard vinaigrette. A little feta really brought the whole salad together. The Po’ Boy was good: not nearly enough mushroom debris. The bread was tasty, and the flavors were all good but I feel like the filling was just lacking. It probably didn’t help that I was just in New Orleans eating the true stuff, but I think if they just stuff that sandwich more, it would be a world of difference.

In Summation: A cool joint! Probably I would be back for cocktails and snacks, not for a full meal. Not when there are so many other choices in Logan Square for amazing food.

Bridg and I decided to hit up another cocktail joint about a block and a half away, The Whistler.  This is a super popular bar in Logan Square, and both of us had been here before. They make really inventive and delicious cocktails, and we wanted to see what they were up to this season. The bar that Bridg is a bartender at doesn’t really allow her to flex her cocktail making skills: it’s more a RUM AND COKE! BEER! JAG BOMB! kinda place. So she loves to see what other bars are doing, since there are so many interesting cocktail lounges around Chicago.

                                                    

There were two cocktails I really wanted to try here, but I ended up with The Pastry War. I mean, how could I not get a drink called pastry war? It was tequila, cognac, apple, almond, cinnamon, beetroot and lime. WHOA. I was a little nervous, as that is a lot of crazy in one glass. It was pretty sweet, but very good. An ideal way to start our night off.

                                                                   

In summation: I will always go The Whistler. Better early when it is not wall to wall people, it does get completely insane in there.

We then moseyed down the block to a bar neither of us had been to but have always meant to: The Owl. I have always loved the sign for this place, it is super old school and the eyes have lights that blink. So great. We went in and found a HUGE bar, and we were the only people in there (again, it was early: like 8pm on a Sunday night). We bellied up to the bar and checked out the cocktail list.

                                                        

Bridgid and I chose the same cocktail, not something that normally happens. It is called The Gem: sarsaparilla whiskey, rye, ginger beer, lemon juice and bitters. Welcome to my new favorite drink. This thing is perfection, warm and dark but with bright notes. We may or may not have had 3. Each. And a shot of four roses with the bartender for good measure.

                             

In Summation: New favorite bar in Chicago, now that Bonny’s 4 a.m. is no longer. The Owl is homey like the bars in Milwaukee with cocktails and staff that are excellent. Thanks The Owl!

See you in 5 days, Chicago! Off to The Triangle to Visit Jecca and Eli!

the bars in Milwaukee with cocktails and staff that are excellent. Thanks The Owl! 

See you in 5 days, Chicago! Off to The Triangle to Visit Jecca and Eli!

 

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

18 Apr

I can hardly keep my eyes open long enough to post this: I am so crazy tired and full. It was a beautiful and long day of work, eating and friends.

I had to be at the shoe store I was doing an event at early, so I made sure I got to the bakery/cafe I wanted to check out early. I got there too early: 10 minutes before they open! Ooops. I pulled up to Baker Miller in Lincoln Park. I hung out in my car until they opened: and turns out I wasn’t even the first one there! I maybe should have stood in line with these folks:

                                                        

I have been following Baker Miller for a while, it is the original owners of Bang Bang Pie Shop. They decided that they wanted to make their own flours, so they left Bang Bang and started Baker Miller. They ground their grains and make flours and grits which you can buy in the store and online. I have been following them on facebook and instagram, and the photos are stunning. I had it in my head that I was gonna get the grits with corned beef, pickled cabbage, coriander mustard and and soft egg. I got up to the counter and asked the super helpful counter lady. I told her I was fluctuating between the grits and the ploughman’s breakfast. She said Ploughman’s, so that is what I went with.

                                                

I am so glad I did. A perfectly soft cooked egg, 4 bread soldiers, a local sausage and perfectly dressed arugula. They also make from scratch marmalade and hand churned butters. I took a bit of the satsuma marmalade and the cherry honey butter (apparently I am on a honey butter kick). All of it was bursting with flavor. Simple and well done. A perfect and hearty breakfast. Next time I am gonna get the Toast Platter: as they have toasters on each table!

                                                   

I then went to work and slung shoes all day. Busy and fun, as it always is at the store I was at. My friend Natalie came to the store to meet me and take me to a new candy store down the street from where I was. I needed to find some new fun gummies for the Vlog. Many awesome things were purchased, and then Natalie had the fantastic idea to grab dinner at one of the best vegan restaurants around.

          

The Chicago Diner has been around since 1983. It is a full on diner: burgers, fries, shakes and the like. However, it is 100% vegetarian, mostly vegan. Natalie is vegan, and I am a huge fan of this place. It is so hard for me not to get the same thing here every time, and today was no exception. Country Fried Steak: vegan style. Battered seitan, country gravy, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. It is so so delicious: veganlicious I would say.  I sent a picture to my husband Ben and he was super jealous. Natalie and I also shared a vegan peanut butter cookie dough shake. That is some sweet lovely stuff right there. Thanks, Chicago Diner, for making vegan food so delicious. 

           

Okay, this is when I probably should have gone back to me hotel and kept it mellow. Instead I met up with the fantastic Rajani and Vijay at a new place in Logan Square. Lost Lake Tiki is a bar that is connected to a American-Chinese take out counter called Thank You. So you can order from your server at Lost Lake anything from Thank You. One of the many reasons I love Rajani and Vijay is they eat like me: they want to try anything and everything and are always up for it. My favorite thing is when Vijay said: we should just order one of everything. So we did.

                                                    

This is the cocktail I had: It’s called the Pool Rules. Bourbon, Rum, Curaçao, Cinnamon, Allspice, Vanilla, Angostura Bitters. Cutest fish glass!!

Here is the link to the : and photos of everything!

                       

                                             

 

                                       

                         

Holy Moses. Our favorites: the long beans, the fried rice and the Mongolian beef. This place is also open til 4am on the weekends, how fantastic is that! Makes me want to move back to Chicago for the good food.

Tomorrow: meeting up with my girls Bridgid and Diana, so it’s gonna get good.

Now Playing: Comedy Bang Bang Podcast 

 

(I’ve Been) Searching So Long: Chicago Fried Chicken Pt. 1

17 Apr

I am always on the prowl for perfect fried chicken. It is much harder to find than you might think: especially in the great white north. We in the Twin Cities only have a couple of great options: the most noteable the brand new Revival in Minneapolis (try the Nashville Hot: AMAZING). So when I am out and about I am bound and determined to find the chicken of my dreams.

I saw Honey Butter Fried Chicken (HBFC) starting it’s construction in 2012 when I was visiting Chicago visiting friends. The name had me right away, and so did the concept. Smear the honey butter all over the fried chicken. You don’t have to tell me twice! Somehow I had never made it until today, but it was 100% worth the wait.

                                                         

I met up with my pal Carl who is also in Chicago from the Twin Cities for work. His birthday is tomorrow, and I thought we should meet up for some birthday fried chicken. We went in to the joint: beyond adorable. The super friendly guy behind the counter offered us menus and we set out to order some goodness.

HBFC, very much to my chagrin, were out of the collard greens (super sad face). However, we made do. We ordered up the 4 piece chicken (comes with 3 biscuits), kale and cabbage slaw, pimento mac and cheese and creamed corn. They have pure cane sugar sodas on tap, and we both went with the ginger. They also have a full bar, local beer and wine. Next time I am for SURE gonna get the Smoky Derby.

                                                                 

Carl and I sat outside on their patio, and waited on our foods. It look literally no time at all: 5 minutes max. I was shocked at how fast it was, and super excited to dive in. The chicken from an antibiotic free and humanly raised farm in Indiana, and is boneless except for the leg. They explain their whole philosophy on their website, and they take it seriously. The chicken is served with corn muffins, and a whole lot of honey butter. The lovely girl who brought us our food told us yet again: slather the chicken with the butter. Yes M’am!

 

                                                    

 

The chicken is fantastic. Super flavorful, not overseasoned or breaded, and the chicken is just crazy moist (I know, worst word ever) and flavorful. That honey butter does not hurt things either. The muffins are a perfect size, full of flavor, and again a great vehicle for more butter. And they had little bees and honeycombs on them! Adorable!

                                                                  

The sides: the pimento mac and cheese had a crazy depth of flavor I haven’t experienced before. It was also the perfect portion, any more and it would be overkill. I would have liked it to be a bit warmer, but that is my weird temperature nit-picking. The creamed corn had a thai green curry in it that made the corn sing. Sweet, spicy, creamy, delicious. Kale and Cabbage slaw was light and refreshing, not overly dressed. It has a cumin-yogurt dressing that lends itself really well to the kale, and is topped with dried pomegrante. Crisp and light, a perfect balance with a lot of heavy creamy cheesy fried things.

                                                                

Now: dessert. Okay, when I looked at the menu online I, of course, went straight to the desserts. I could not believe my eyes. DUMP CAKE. On a menu. Not at my parent’s house. I was pretty sure my mind was playing tricks on me. But lo and behold, HBFC has a daily dump cake. At MARKET PRICE. What is happening. Who is the mastermind behind this and are they my new best friend (turns out, yeah kinda).

So I got the dump cake, obviously. It was a strawberry dump cake with balsamic whip cream. WHAT THE WHAT. Unbelievable. I can’t even with this. I wanted to call my mom immediately (yes I have called her since to tell her all about the dump cake). Carl had never had dump cake, and now understands all of its wonders.

                                                    

In summation: Honey Butter Fried Chicken is everything I hoped it would be and more. I will not be missing this ever again: it is on the list of must go to every time I am in town.

Now Playing:

The Dirtbombs: Ultraglide in Black

Jay Reatard: Blood Visions

Dum Dum Girls: Only In Dreams

 

You’re the Inspiration Part 1: A Pie Love Affair

12 Apr

(I was going to call this you’re the insPIEration, but thought maybe that was too punny)

My oh my do I love pie. Even though I was known for cake, I have always preferred to eat pie. Lucky for me there is a lot of great pie here in the great white north. In the past 2 days I have hit up 3 pie places: and there will be more within this great spring excursion!

I already waxed poetic about Bang Bang, so I won’t get redundant. This morning I had to be in a far flung northern suburb of Chicago, so I started my day at Dollop Coffee and Hoosier Mama Pie Shop in Evanston. This shop has a full bakery in it, the first Hoosier Mama Pie Shop is in Chicago proper, in the Ukrainian Village/West Town area. I knew they had biscuit breakfast sandwiches, so I though that would be a great place to get breakfast and a slice to go for after my event.

I ordered the biscuit with egg, mushroom and Gruyere,  a soy vanilla latte and sat down with my laptop to do a bit of paperwork before my event. It was a beautiful spring day, and sitting in the window with a delicious breakfast and coffee was a perfect way to begin. I ordered a piece of the chai pear pie to go, but ended up eating it while drinking my coffee (ooops!). It was a custard pie: I would say not overly chai or overly pear, but tasty nonetheless!

In summation: I am a fan of Hoosier Mama! I quite like sitting in their shop.

                                   

After I finished up with the shoe event in Schaumberg I drove up to Milwaukee. We all know how I feel about Milwaukee! I went straight to one of my favorites, as I wanted more pie (sweet tooth always prevails) and a little comfort food. My allergies have had me really run down, and I also knew this place would do a great warm cocktail.

Honey Pie Cafe is in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee. I have been going here for years, and it is just so lovely and delicious. They are dedicated to using local ingredients, and their food always shows the care that they put in. It is serious Midwestern comfort food, which I can never be mad at.

                                                

I sat at the bar, and ordered a hot toddy. They fabulous bartendress made it with ginger bourbon. Let me repeat that. GINGER. BOURBON. Where have you been all my life ginger bourbon? Let’s get to know each other better. I ordered my comfort food usual, a green salad and macaroni and cheese.

The salad: BEAUTIFUL. Fresh, bursting with flavor. No bag salad here! With a champagne mustard vinaigrette. Just lovely.

The Mac and Cheese: YES. Covered in bacon, just serious comfort food. I make a pretty damn fine mac and cheese, so when I can find one in the world that I love, I am extra happy.

I ordered the strawberry malt pie to go, as I wanted to eat it while watching the premier of Game of Thrones tonight. Fully strawberry, fluffy and creamy. Kinda overly sweet, though. I think what I have found is I am more akin to real fruit pies, less on the cream pie side. Good to know!

                                  

                                                          

In summation: Honey Pie is the stone cold jam. They have great vegetarian and vegan options as well: even vegan cupcakes! However if you are in to meat: PORK FRIES. Do it.

 Now Playing:

Jim Croce: Photographs and Memories

The Wipers: Is this Real? 

 

25 or 6 to 4: the beginning of a Chicago expedition

12 Apr

(Disclaimer: Yes, I plan on using song titles from the band Chicago for all of the posts from Chicago. How could I not?)

Chicago: there are so many things to say and have already been said. I really love this city; it is huge, full of dark history and amazing food. I have been visiting Chicago on the regular since about 2011, I have a very close friend who lives in the Andersonville neighborhood. It is going to be hard to break free from my regular spots in this city, but since I have literally 5 weekends in a row in the Chicagoland area, I think I can hit some of the old and some of the new.

Let’s start with the old. I rolled in to town with a hankering. It was a hell of a drive, there were tornado warnings all through Illinois and the rain was not messing around. So I knew I wanted something comforting and lovely that I could take with me to the hotel. My brain took me to just the place.

Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits is a tiny sliver of heaven in the Logan Square neighborhood (side note: when I lived in Chicago for about 3.3 seconds: this is where I lived). I have been here numerous times, but have ever had their savory items. I always just ran in for a slice of pie. Today was the day.

                                                     

I got the chicken pot pie and a slice of the rhubarb ginger crumble pie to go. I wanted to stay: but the little shop was packed and since the weather was very touch and go the pie garden (outside seating) wasn’t really open. So I had them warm up the savory pie before I left and away I went.

Oh man, it was worth the wait. Huge shreds of freshly roasted chicken, veggies, and a cream sauce that was divine. But the crust: OH the crust. Buttery, flaky goodness. Just melt in your mouth beautiful.

                                    

The rhubarb pie didn’t disappoint either: tangy, spicy and well balanced. Beautiful. The rhubarb was the most amazing color, you could tell it was super fresh. A perfect meal for a scary rainy day.

In Summation: If you haven’t been to Bang Bang, you are truly missing out. They have a seasonal menu, so watch for new and fantastic things from them!

Let us skip a couple of days of me working and having to eat with staff so buying them things like Panera, Five Guys, Jimmy Johns and the like (when you gotta feed the masses…). After my event on Saturday I was feeling a little run down (still am: damn spring allergies). What fixes that? Ramen, of course.

Urban Belly  is my go to ramen in Chicago. I know there are a ton of ramen shops, and I have the plan to hit a bunch of them during this season. However, since I was not feeling great and wanted serious comfort, off to Fulton Market I drove.

                                                               

(this is the living wall by the bathrooms at Urban Belly/BellyQ. How cool is that?)

They have a menu that is succinct, which I appreciate. So many restaurants have far too many choices, it makes it difficult to find that thing you are gonna love. I am a total one trick pony at Urban Belly, I always get the Urban Belly Ramen. Pork belly, veggies, a soft boiled egg, a spicy broth, and ramen noodles. It is perfection. I wanted to try the cheeseburger dumplings as well: which were good but they came with ketchup on them (side note: I hate ketchup. Yeah yeah I know, how can I even call myself an American). The ramen was just like I remember it, a deep broth of spicy and savory. It was exactly what I needed.

                                  

In Summation: Yes always yes to Urban Belly. One of these days I will hit up BellyQ, which is connected to Urban Belly. Maybe next weekend!

Note: If anyone has recommendations for restaurants for me to hit up: please let me know! I always like to hear new stuff!

Now Playing:

Led Zepplin: III

Tuxedo: Self Titled

T.Rex: Tanx

Comedy Film Nerds Podcast

 

Crime and Punishment at the Soap Factory

12 Apr

IMG_8474

There’s an old Borscht Belt joke that has two patrons at a restaurant complaining about the food. “The food here is so terrible,” the first exclaims. “Yes,” agrees the second, “and the portions are so small!”

Live Action Set’s Crime and Punishment feels very much in that vein, including the “terrible” part – as in, full of or causing terror. The narrative of Dostoyevsky disappears into installation of the set in the Soap Factory, you could be a scholar of Russian literature and come away with no idea of what happens in the book itself. But the tone – pre-Dickensian Russian poverty, the debauchery and depravity of desperation, is all-encompassing and inescapable. The design of the show is audaciously engrossing, a triumph of minutiae and disorienting surprise that has antecedents more in the work of Gregor Schneider and Ed Kienholz than traditional theater design. There are diaries to discover, phones that ring and pass on furtive, horror-filled messages, peepholes that open up new worlds, not necessarily more pleasant or enticing than the one at hand.

Into this built horror are thrown almost two dozen performers, characters seeking escape and and respite, domineering control, drink, and maybe even love. There are hookers and hawkers, landladys and repo men, cops and villains, ingenues and and the shadow of death. You can follow any of them singularly, or bounce between characters, but the strength of Crime and Punishment is in the moments of pure surprise – an achingly sweet and powerfully lithe dance between a Cossack and his lover, the moment of holding all tension before an axe is brought down, being pulled aside by a character and told of a dream where you were together.

Depending on how you move through the space you may experience any or none of this, and that is the second part of the joke. At an hour’s run time, a visit to the Soap Factory basement barely scratches the surface of what it is or what it could be. When the performers came through, banging on trash can lids and herding people together, my first hope was that here was the use of the space to bring people together for a shared moment to create something together that could then be diffused back into the playing space. But no, they were coming through to clear us out, which was as terrible and jolting as anything that had been a part of the show.

Suck The Head: New Orleans

8 Apr

DISCLAIMER: this post is not gonna be the same as others. Since I was with my friends on vacation and a little booze soaked at all times I wasn’t as diligent about taking photos and notes. But I will do my best! 

New Orleans, you are a blessing and a curse. I could get lost in this city for ever if I wasn’t careful. I know I am not the only one, it is known for delicious decadence. When my sister, Jecca, suggested that she and I meet up there to meet our (yes our, we are good at sharing) best friend in New Orleans I immediately responded with OBVIOUSLY.

The last time I was in New Orleans was for said best friends wedding 6 years ago. Siobhan and her fabulous wife JV lived there at the time, moved back to the Twin Cities, now have an amazing little boy (Hi R!) and then recently moved back to NOLA. Since Jecca, Siobhan and I all now live in different cities (yet again) this was a great opportunity to have some time to hang out and celebrate Jecca!

I got it on Jecca’s actual birthday, took a cab to Siobhan’s house and we had a plan to hit up a drive thru daiquiri place. Yes, that’s right, DRIVE THRU BOOZE. Apparently they can’t be in the city limits of NOLA anymore but right outside: there they are! Here is me in the back seat of Siobhan’s car with my cup of booze.

                                                   

For Jecca’s birthday dinner we went to a place called Mat and Naddie’s that S and JV are fans of. Jecca and Siobhan are both vegetarians, JV is both gluten and dairy intolerant, so this place could accommodate all of our needs. It is in a house with a beautiful patio, and we sat in what they call “the clubhouse”. It was a glorious night, and we had a fantastic meal. What did we eat? I can’t even start to remember. But it was all delicious. I did take a picture of the pie: lemon icebox pie! Southern goodness.

                                                                

We then hit the bars: there was champagne and whiskey and fun.

The next day we went to Magazine street: to brunch at Surrey’s. Shrimp and grits and strong iced coffee is just what I needed. Another winner!

                                                                   

Okay now things start to get a little fuzzy: so here is just a list of goodness and some photos. GET THEE TO NEW ORLEANS. You will be happy with whatever you do there.

                                                  

                                      

                                  

                                   

                         

                                                           

-The Franklin : craft cocktails

-Cafe Du Monde : BEGINETS

-13 Monaghan : debris and frozen irish coffee

-K-Jeans: all of the boiled seafood. crawfish for days.

-Superior Seafood : oysters

-Molly’s at the Market : dive bar goodness

-Fiorella’s Cafe : fried chicken. no really. FRIED CHICKEN. do not miss this.