|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Friday, February 13, 2009
Things Worth Mentioning
Had dinner at The Publican last night with DP and Grubby. The restaurant's concept is "Oysters, Pork and Beer," (no, really.), and it really fucking works.
We started off with a Belgian trappist, moved into a dozen oysters followed by a sampler of fine hams from across the world, then shifted gears to a Surly Mild. The Surly sucked (a "session" beer, says Chad - "Does this beer even have a taste?," says DP), but the entrees we started to devour absolutely did not.
The first pass included pork marrow, piping hot in the bones, and pork shoulder with littleneck clams and fingerling potatoes. The marrow was a first for all of us, and was really fucking good. Spread on some high-end sourdough it had an earthy molten awesomeness to it, and is something I'm not going to be scared off of anymore. The shoulder/clam dish worked like a charm too. There was a small puddle of a tomato broth that gave the whole thing a sort of cioppino (sp) look and feel, and the little burst of having all those flavors in your mouth at the same time was worth the price of admission.
More food came, along with some Alpha King. We were graced with a barbecue octopus, which was a little sweeter than, but still reminiscent of, unagi at a sushi joint. The other dish brought at this time was a potee of three kinds of pork: rib, tenderloin and this holy-fucking-shit pork belly sausage patty that just knocked me for a loop. The patty tasted fresh and medium-rare, and didn't have any fat texture to it at all, despite being constructed entirely of pork belly. That little piece of sausage was a revelation. Never had anything like it before, despite how rustic and simple the flavor was.
We knew we were still hungry when those two plates arrived, so Grubby ordered one more - a barbecued country rib platter cooked in pomegranite and kimchi. The meat had that charcoal caramelization around the sweetness of the pomegranite (although the kimchi was buried), and an outstanding texture, considering the cut is usually in need of serious slow cooking to achieve tenderness. I can't tell you what they did to get those country ribs to be as easy to eat off the grill as they were, but I'd like to find out.
So, the only real misses for me were the tenderloin out of the potee (a nice piece of meat, but nothing remotely close to special) and the Surly Mild. I'd give the trappist, octopus, marrow and belly sausage all an A+ grade, and the rest a solid A.
Total experience? A-grade for food, B+ for service (manager and bussers were outstanding, server was buried and took his time - which was alright by us, but he wasn't as attentive as he could have been).
As it got late and the restaurant started emptying out we got to meet the assistant manager (hot, and enthusiastic about food - and dating the chef de cuisine at Alinea, apparently) and chatted her up a little bit. The restaurant has been packed since the day they opened, and has received great reviews. I'm actually a little surprised that's the case, because the menu is either something you're really going to get, or something that isn't going to make sense at all. It's a pleasant surprise that all the critics were onboard, because this place was worth it.
We're taking you there if you're coming to Gentile Summit. Tables are booked.
The best purchase I made in 2008 was Apple TV. I'm going to get a little evangelical for a minute, but I firmly believe that if you've got an HDTV, cable modem, and a sound system of any sort hooked up, this rig will change your home theater experience.
More specifically, it's the combination of Apple TV and Boxee that has changed the way I listen to my music and watch TV. Here's the breakdown:
MUSIC: My CDs have been sitting in a closet for close to three years, and Apple TV further cements their place as backup hard copies to something far more convenient than a six-disc changer can offer. My entire iTunes library lives on the Apple TV box, and since the box runs its audio content out via digital optical audio to my amp/speakers, I've got my entire music collection at my command at all times. All my playlists, all my songs, and even the ability to shop the iTunes store via the Apple TV menu and internet connection. The only complaints I have are of the nitpicky variety (can't manage the music via Apple TV for ratings or playlists, for instance, but I have a computer at hand for that), and the cool things like the cover art screen saver more than make up for it.
MOVIES: How easy is it to rent and watch a movie on iTunes? Takes roughly two minutes from when you make your purchase to when enough is buffered to begin viewing. Also, there's a growing segment of the content that's delivered in (720p, not 1080p, but I can't tell the difference) HD. It's super easy. Add to that a variety of software solutions that help you rip or repurpose content for upload to Apple TV, and it couldn't be simpler to relax with some popcorn in front of the tube.
TV: Two angles here... first of all, you can either buy or upload your content, or you get Boxee. Boxee is a program that uploads to the Apple TV which provides access to sites like Comedy Central, CBS and Hulu. Granted, the video quality can be shaky, but the amount of content out there to view is staggering.
EXTRAS: How about your flickr account on a 42" HDTV? How about Youtube? My favorite, though, is access to the podcasts store in iTunes. Plenty of short form video, along with all sorts of professional and amateur audio content free at the click of a button.
Seriously, aside from Michigan State basketball on ESPN and Big Ten Network, I haven't watched anything except my local channels or stuff off the Apple TV in two weeks or more. There's enough on that box and on the net to keep me satisfied through the rest of the year - and plenty of room left on the 160GB hard drive for more.
Huge find. Highly recommended.
Got a call from "Fredo Speech Girl" today. She asked, "What the hell is your ex-wife thinking?" Turns out, the ex tried to friend FSG on Facebook, somehow forgetting they have been mortal enemies for years. As a matter of fact, one of the big hesitations my ex had getting engaged to me was that I used to run around with FSG. So FSG calls, I get a giggle out of it, and remain as anonymous on Facebook as my five-time All-Star pseudonymous identity allows.
You know I only mention this because there's an off-chance the ex reads this blog, and I know it will irritate her that I'm good friends with FSG again. And that FSG called me about her. That's all.
Memo to G-Vegas: We'll see you in two weeks.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
2 jars homemade Italian pork and beans
1 container of homemade Bolognese
1 pound meatballs
1/2 bar of Norwegian chocolate
1/2 lb whole milk mozzarella
1/2 lb chihuahua Mexican cheese
1 baby bottle of Soco
1 slice of Key Lime pie
6 lbs coffee beans, various types (bought here, recommended)
9 lbs veal bones
3/4 lb bacon
12 cups veal stock, in containers and ice cube trays
9 chicken breasts, boneless skinless
8 pork loin chops, boneless
2 veal shanks (ossobucco)
2 lamb shanks
2 meatloaves, beef/veal/pork/andouille
2 links Andouille sausage
Sunday, February 08, 2009
I read what you sent over. Combed over it like it was the Zapruder tape, in fact. I must have sketched a half dozen paragraphs in three or four emails unsent in an effort to analyze, question and understand.
Honestly, every time I try to posit some sort of theory behind your words, I get hung up. Hung up on my own context, my own bias. It's making it difficult for me to read and parse and really understand how you saw you and I, what it all meant to you.
The main theme was one of salvation. Resignation that salvation can't be delivered everywhere you'd like it to be. That much I understand. And I guess I need to make sure I state, for the record, that I'm not assuming that what you sent is totally without hyperbole either.
So, that being said...
It only took about ten minutes with you before my intent was no longer casual. You impressed me. Still do. And I tend to want to be able to say that about my friends and girlfriends. You're a beautiful woman, and I'm still terribly fond of you.
The thing is, you were the right woman in the right place at the right time. More than anything to me, you were my ego at a time when I needed it the most. I spent a long time wandering in frustration and had finally found myself on the brink of something positive. I was jumping blind ito the void, and still didn't feel as if I knew who I was to even be granted the opportunity to jump.
My self-worth was tied to an old image of myself. One that had buckled under instead of bracing through the storm. I saw myself as incapable, worthless. As it was a woman who knocked me down, it was another who helped me find my legs to stand again.
I wanted to know you, because you were worth knowing. I wanted to talk to you, because you were worth talking to. I wanted to impress you, because you were worth impressing.
Mainly, though, I wanted you to believe in me so I knew I was worth the effort.
It's really unfair to put this on you. Obviously, you were more than just symbolism and self-help to me. I love a woman who can banter, not to mention one who is interesting and intriguing. I wanted to know you not just because I felt good being around you, but because you were genuinely engaging and fun to be around.
Eventually, my bruised ego came back to health, and we were left with a friendship and long-distance relationship that started to carry expectations just under the surface that I wasn't prepared to handle. That's on me. I handled that poorly, and it's on me that I read what you sent my way and am having a hard time understanding completely where your head is/was at. I don't believe there's anything wrong with a relationship that has run its course, or someone deciding they're going to be a little selfish, so long as the potential for real damage is acknowledged and closure is allowed, if pursued.
I probably let everything slip a little too casually, and I really apologize for that. You deserved better than the gradual disengagement I gave you, and I should have known you well enough to know that you weren't going to thrash and wail and demand an explanation. Therefore, I should have had the courtesy to talk to you about where my head and heart were, and given you the opportunity to talk about it with me too.
Some of these things did turn out okay, you know. I'm as satisfied with who I am mentally and emotionally as I've ever been in my life. And I know you're happily engaged, for which I share your happiness. We weren't a likely pair to go on forever, and I think you knew that. But know that while we were talking daily and seeing each other when we could, I never thought for a minute that we weren't together.
I do wonder what you meant in that second to last paragraph when you say what was wrecked. I'd like to think that my sins were of silence and disengagement, and not something I said on my way out the (proverbial) door.
I never played at my fondness for you. Know that much, at least, alright?
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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