Monthly Archives: September 2010

Falling Behind

Ever reach the point where you have to capture previous adventures before starting in on new adventures? Yeah, that’s kind of what it’s like here.

On the Friday before Labor Day, we packed up my car with our stuff, Buddy’s bed, and Buddy, and off we went. It was the Friday afternoon of a summer holiday weekend in Chicago, how bad could traffic be? It turns out that traffic was appalling. Horrible. Wretched. It took us three hours just to reach Indiana, and even that was only because of a detour through the middle of nowhere Illinois/Indiana and down through Lowell, IN to avoid the craziness of I-80/94.

Once we were past the worst of the traffic it was pretty much smooth sailing, except for the fact that for all that Buddy enjoys short rides in the car, long rides are an adventure in anxiety. We finally wound up dosing him with ace-pro, but that didn’t really make him sleep. He instead just lay between the front seats, head drooping, trembling slightly less than usual. Poor guy. Anyway, we got to Fordshepherd and Baja_Hyena‘s place in Columbus a little before 1 AM and crashed not long after. We arrived at the same time as Linnaeus, and r_bear had flown in earlier in the day.

Saturday morning came way too early. We chatted the morning away (accompanied by very tasty lattes from Baja) and then it was time for the big Labor Day bash. And a party it was, with lots of great folks, great food, and a whole lot of drink. The highlight was Kwik‘s monster slushie machine, which was loaded up with tasty strawberry daiquiris and a homemade frozen bloody Mary that really snuck up on you. A great party all in all, and we had a blast.

Sunday was a little more laid back. We made our annual trip to North Market where I picked up a few items for dinner, had lunch (mmm, banh mi), and then headed north on High St. up to Denise’s Ice Cream, which proved to be quite excellent. For dinner, Ford and I collaborated. He made roasted pork and creamed spinach, and I made potatoes roasted with duck fat. A great meal, and excellent company.

We went out for a tasty brunch on Monday, then it was time to hit the road. The drive back was uneventful, and we determined that while the ace-pro still didn’t knock Buddy out, he’s much happier when we’re moving and not stuck in stop-and-go traffic. We got home at around 7 PM and had time to relax before crashing for the night.

Not too much of note has happened since then. We enjoyed a lovely meal with Roho and Genet last Friday, helped Dan’s mom move on Saturday, and had a very productive Midwest FurFest staff meeting on Sunday. This week has been dragging by as we get ready to leave on Thursday afternoon for our big annual group trip: Montreal, Quebec!

We’re flying out from Milwaukee to Burlington, Vermont. We’re staying at a rental house that is part of the Fiddler Lake Resort property, which is far enough out of Montreal to be rural, but close enough for day-trips. We’ll have twelve people in total, which has introduced some interesting logistics, though nothing that we haven’t been able to handle. I’ve put together some fun itineraries, but I hope to take a laid-back approach . we have twelve people and four cars, so if someone wants to stay behind or strike off on their own, mazel tov! (as long as we’re not left with more people than will fit in cars) I’m hoping for a fun, relaxing trip. We’re flying home on Tuesday. It’s all too short a trip, but it’s what we had time and money for this year.

So much to do before leaving tomorrow afternoon! Yikes!

Where Have I Been and What Have I Been Doing?

I could bore you with the long drawn-out tale of how I was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia, made friends with the captain and wound up entertaining Bedouins in a Yemeni oasis before I was able to escape to Belgium, where I subsisted on crackers, aged cheese, and fine Trappist ales before stowing away on a transatlantic cruise ship and talked my way into a ride back to Chicago in an art-car covered with Hello Kitty dolls, but that would be tedious and wholly fabricated.

Instead, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing the last few weeks.

The weekend of August 21st, I joined aureth, linnaeus, genet, and roho for what we termed the “Milwaukee Booze Tour”. We started out with the Sprecher Brewery tour. We’ve done it before, but this time we paid extra for the “Reserve Tasting”: 15 beers paired with 15 cheeses. Not much beer (a shot glass of each), but most of the pairings were good, and a few were excellent (the Scotch ale paired with a whisky-infused cheddar was stellar).

From there we grabbed a quick bite at a little dive Mexican joint, Conejito’s, then walked around Milwaukee Public Market and did a bit of shopping at The Spice House.

Then it was off to Great Lakes Distillery for a very interesting tour and tasting. The $6 cocktails before the tour were nice. The specifics of their distilling process were fascinating to me as a chemical engineer, and we had great fun sampling their various products. My personal verdicts: Their gin is wonderful, their vodka so-so, the maple-spiced rum kind of vile. The grappa was watery, the kirsch was…well, kirsch (the only think I know to do with kirsch is spike fondue with it). And their absinthes were overhyped. I’ll buy pastis and be happy.

I was only slightly tipsy after the tasting, but fortunately Genet was our designated driver. For dinner we went to Crawdaddy’s, which was apparently a really great place back in 2002. Alas, it’s 2010 and the place is well past its prime. Roho left a scathing review on Yelp, and I agree with every bit of it.

Last weekend I felt the urge to cook. Since I have a lot of cookbooks but don’t use them nearly enough, I decided to pull some recipes from there. We were joined by Aureth, Roho, and Genet, and I made a baby lettuce and arugula salad with peaches and almonds, and a summer vegetable gratin (with zucchini, summer squash, Japanese eggplant, and Roma tomatoes), both from Ad Hoc At Home.

For the entree, I made Anthony Bourdain’s pan-roasted pork chops with Sauce Charcruterie (a brown sauce made with onions, demi glace, mustard, and cornichons) from the Les Halles Cookbook. For dessert, Dan made a delicious fresh yellow watermelon sorbet that was amazing when mixed with Grey Goose vodka 🙂 The salad was pretty good, but the flavors didn’t quite meld. The gratin was amazing and I would absolutely make it again. The pork was OK, but I really liked the sauce more.

The big news this week is that we got shiny new phones, the Sprint Samsung Epic 4G. We’re still getting used to the quirks of Android, but after less than 24 hours I can still say that they are far superior to our Palm Pres. More on these as we’ve had time to play with them!