Friday, December 03, 2010


IMG_20101203_230355.jpg, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

After Spending a Good Chunk of Saturday Driving Back and Forth on Devon, We Capped the Day with Dinner on Devon

While I know it's just one of many colorful Chicago neighborhoods, the stretch of Devon between say Ravenswood and California is one I always find very visually interesting. Sari shops next to grocery stores next to store fronts offering GSM phone unlocking services next to restaurants next to the National Bank of Pakistan next to etc. etc. etc. Sensory overload.

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And it's jamming at all hours. 3pm traffic. 9pm bumper to bumper traffic. Never stops. Great energy and people watching, as long as you're not in a hurry. And since there is plenty of time at every stop sign and red light, I decided to talk some random shots as I crawled along the strip yesterday.

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Love seeing the Cabbage sale featured prominently in the Patel Brothers window.

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Still need to get into Adelphi some day and try the fine Indian wine that the sign seductively promotes.

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Flyer in the window is for 'Free English Classes for Women'. Knowledge is power.

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I'm not 100% sure what Nayab Mart carries, but if you're in a pinch at 3am, they'll be open for you.

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All this driving back and forth on Devon got me in the mood for an Indian dinner. It had been a few months so we were due.

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Though I was almost swayed by the Chop Suey Cocktail Lounge, I couldn't quite persuade Judy that was a good idea.

We intended to try something other than our usual (Indian Garden), but Al-Habib Grill failed because it didn't look like they served alcohol and I was ready for at least one beer last night. Then we considered giving Tiffin another chance, but as we walked up to its fancy, stylish exterior we peeked inside and saw the boring grid layout of tables that were just a bit too close together and remembered why we didn't like it the last time we were there. So, we walked on to the old stand by.

But at least we mixed it up some. First, no wine. Kingfisher to wash it down, as it probably should be.


Then, we went the three app and split one entree route, finally learning after umpteen visits that we always have way too much leftover when we each get our own entree.

Vegetable samosas, cashewnut rolls and aloo tikka

Murg makhani and kandhari naan

And the main dish, Murg Makhani, which was excellent with the Kandhari Naan.

Dinner @ Topolobampo for Judy's Birthday

Like much of the rest of America, Judy has become obsessed with Rick Bayless. After the Top Chef Masters show I heard a regular refrain of "we should go there". But just try getting a reservation. No es muy facile. Try it over at OpenTable. You'll get a bunch of options Tues - Thurs at 5:30 or 9pm. But booking 6 weeks out, I managed to finagle a 7:15 slot during Judy's spring break week when a Wednesday night dinner date could actually work. A belated celebration, but still squeaked it in during the birthday month, so I'm counting it.

Though I had been to Frontera / Topolo twice before through work functions, I had never actually eaten upstairs in either dining room. So we were pretty pleased with our corner booth table in the front room.

View from our table @ topolobampo

The guacamole and jicama chips is a nice opener. Really could have just eaten those all night.

Guac and chips - topolobampo

judy w/ her sparkling rose

Warmed up by a few glasses of cava (thought I had remembered the name of the brut rose cava, but cannot find it anywhere via the Google. Guess it will just be a special one night thing) and some jicama chips, we were ready for the main show. We each went with a 5-course tasting menu. Judy chose the 'Celebration' and I opted for the 'Michoacan'. Italicized words indicate its the actual menu description. Non-italicized words are my less eloquent take on how we liked the dish.

Pollo con enchiladas a la plaza
Pan-seared red chile "enchiladas" of jicama "tortillas." Crispy chicken, roasted carrots and potatoes, homemade fresh cheese, pickled jalapeno.
Pollo con enchiladas a la plaza

Bad picture, nice opener. The jicama 'tortillas' were nice and spicy, the breaded chicken cubes were quite tasty. A winner.

Pescado crudo "al pastor"
Samshimi-grade Hawaiian day-boat catch with La Quercia prosciutto crust, lime pudding, three-shile salsa, grilled pineapple, red chile cracker.
pescado crudo "al pastor"

This was Judy's. I think she liked it.

Churipo de Lujo
Savory red chile short rib soup with epazote, chayote and chochoyotes (corn masa dumplings).
churipo de lujo

Back to me. Not my favorite. The corn massa dumplings were nice, but the smoky, peppery main flavors of the soup were a bit too strong for my palate.

Mariscos en Chilpachote
Grilled baby octopus, Viking Village sea scallop, soft-shell crawfish, PEI mussels, tender squid in velvety chilpachote broth of chipotle chiles, epazote and tomato. Yuca "sand".
mariscos en chilpachote

Definitely a Judy dish. Again, think she liked it.

Pescado con dos Chiles y Uchepos
Smoky walleye capped with roasty arbol chile-peanut salsa. Uchepo crumble, roasted tomato-guajillo sauce, Nicholas Farm beets, wood-grilled knob onions.
pescado con dos chiles y uchepos

This was my favorite. Who knew? I like walleye. At least this walleye. A few of the dishes were served with fresh tortillas so you could work up some very fancy DIY tacos. I made 3 of them on this dish alone. They were awesome. I might now be a fish taco guy.

Carnitas de Puerco
Roasty golden carnitas of Maple Creek pork shoulder and pork belly (slow-cooked confit style) with fresh green tomatillo-avocado salsa, homemade tortilla, line air, radish.
carnitas de puerco

This was Judy and she barely touched it. We were getting full and learning our lesson that, really, we don't need to be doing multi-course meals.

Borrego en Mole Negro
Roasted Elysian Fields lamb "ribeye" in classic Oaxacan black mole (made from chilhuacle chiles and 28 other ingredients). Seared lamb belly, black bean tamalon, huazontles, jamaica whip.
borrego en mole negro

I was also apparently getting a little buzz from the Cava, as I forgot to get a shot of this dish until I was half way through it. Also probably explains why I'm eating medium / medium rare-ish lamb. Not something I'm usually inclined toward.

Arroz con Leche de Coco, Nieve de Zapote Negro
Coconut ride pudding with creamy tropical black sapote nieve. Toasted rice biscocho, orange cream, puffed rice.
arroz con leche de coco, nieve de zapote negro

This was a very nice dessert. Any other night you might say it was a really great dessert. But on this night they also had ...

Cafe con Leche y Chocolate
Very chocolatey chocolate ganache cake with espresso pudding, bittersweet chocolate swirl ice cream, cookie crunch.
"cafe con leche y chocolate"

I've said this before and I'm sure I'll say it again, but at the time, this seemed like the best dessert ever. Ridiculous.

You might also have noticed that they sauced a little 'happy birthday' on the plate. When I originally made the reservation six weeks prior I had indicated it would be for my wife's birthday. But I hadn't said anything at all at the restaurant, so it was nice of them to remember that touch. Thankfully, there was no birthday sing along tableside.

Later, I asked our waiter, Paco, if I could see the menu one more time, intending to take a picture of it since I would never remember everything we had been served. Paco did us one better. He got a nice 'happy birthday' autograph from Chef Bayless himself.

topolobampo menu

All in all a nice evening. But I left uncomfortably full. Next time, I think we'll opt for the Frontera bar area. Seems that would be more my speed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spending a Saturday Watching Hockey and Making Questionable Food Decisions

While most other people were resting up and getting ready to watch some Elite 8 basketball games, a friend and I were going to watch the * real * tournament: Mens Hockey. Specifically, the Northeast Regional opening game between BC and Alaska.

After a false start at Trinity, an alleged BC bar that confirmed multiple times over the phone they'd be showing the game but then didn't actually have the necessary channel, we fell back to the old stand by, Finley Dunne's. It's kind of in no man's land @ Lincoln and Cornelia, but you'll know you're in the right area when you see the landmark Pelly's Liquors sign.

pelly's liquors

With a swarm of about 7 fans, we managed to get the D2 mens basketball championship pushed off the main TV.

front and center @ finley dunne's

The Tang Burger was surprisingly good. And before all was said and done, about 80% of those tater tots were gone, too.

tang burger w/ tater tots & guinness

Oddly, or maybe typically, there seemed to be some kind of private party happening in the backroom that involved young couples with toddlers. But if that wasn't weird enough, three grandmas ambled in and grabbed the table next to us.

three unexpected grandmas @ finley dunne's

Inertia took over after the hockey game and we wound up watching the whole Butler / K State game, too. But I try to limit my Saturday afternoon drinking to no more than 6 hours, so after that it was time to schlep back home via the L.

paulina L platform
Finley Dunne's is conveniently located near the Paulina brown line stop

With the wife out having a girls' day / night and therefore abandoning me for dinner, I was left to fend for myself. And that equals El Norte.

espero para mi burrito

All in all, a solid way to spend a gray, chilly Saturday afternoon in March.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Colombian soccer on GolTV (Now you tell me)

Millionarios v Nacional on ...
Post bocce night, post SNL, I pulled up my recording of Millionarios vs Nacional. Learned that Millionarios is the premier tream from Bogota and that Nacional is one of two solid clubs from Medellin.

Further research on Wikipedia revealed that the souvenir shop coffee mug I picked up in Bogota for La Equidad is kind of like picking up a White Sox mug in Chicago instead of a Cubs mug, or maybe a Mets mug in NY instead of a Yankees mug. Yes, La Equidad is a team based in Bogota, but they are absolutely not the city's iconic club.

In fact, if you check out the historical performance by club within Colombia's Primera A, you see that they are one of the three least successful clubs in the league. No wonder why there was only one token mug in that store, sitting there amid dozens of Independente Medellin mugs.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stories I Noticed This Week

All via Current

Taxpayers forced to pay for neo-Nazi's daily makeover
Paying $150 / day to cover up his tattoos. My first reaction was this is absurd. He got the tattoos, he should live with his tattoos. Or he --- not the taxpayers --- should pay the $150/day to clean himself up. Then I read some of the comments about potential for a biased trial. I suppose there is some sense in that, but again, if he made those changes to his appearance on his own, isn't he responsible for the 'better or worse' that comes with those decisions? In my opinion, the most sensible comment on this was from liveBK who noted, "by this logic the jury and judge should never see the defendant". Interesting, and why not? If the Lady Justice's blindfold is meant to represent true impartiality, maybe juries and judges shouldn't see defendants.

Pepsi Sponsors Anti-Gay Concert In Uganda
Not good news for Pepsi. Saw one comment suggesting Pepsi's record of supporting LGBT issues is otherwise fairly strong. That may be so, but it is kind of ugly to be trying to do business in a country where the prevailing values are apparently so extreme (a new proposal before the Ugandan Parliament assigns a death sentence for certain homosexual "crimes" and outlaws all advocacy or defense of LGBT people with a punishment of seven years imprisonment). Where do you draw the line?

Finally, the Huffington Post story about the bigoted mayor of Arlington, Tennessee.
Upset that President Obama's speech was preempting Charlie Brown's Christmas, he unleashed a foolish rant that exposed him as a small minded clown.

In his words:

Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim [sic] president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation [sic] about it....w...hen the answer should simply be 'yes' obama [sic] people need to move to a muslim [sic] country," ... "you know, our forefathers had it written in the original Constitution that ONLY property owners could vote, if that has stayed in there, things would be different........

Hearing that an ironically named Russell Wiseman, mayor of some small time town in Tennessee, was expressing ignorant and intolerant views did not come as a huge surprise to me. But it was somewhat surprising to see that said mayor is apparently NOT a crusty good ol' boy. (Good ol' boy, maybe, but not yet too crusty. At least not outwardly crusty.) From his Mayor's Welcome page he looks to be, what, early 30s? I guess old racists were once young racists. But I thought / hoped that some generational evolution in attitudes was taking place, even in Arlington, TN.

So, to recap just the few things I have noticed over the past couple of months, there was the Louisiana justice of the peace, the Mississippi school district and the fact that the Secret Service won't take Michele Obama to South Carolina. And, for fun, I'll throw in a favorite from last year's Red States, Blue States, Fat States, Dumb States ... post:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Another Funny Target Women: Jewelry

"Jewelry face is the ultimate goal of jewelry. It says 'I'm touched' or 'I love you back' or 'I guess we'll be having the sex now'".