Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Spotted Cow

I was on the fly most of the day yesterday and wanted something quick. I drive past the new Spotted Cow on Glen about everyday.

This is going to be pretty quick. Nice, shiny new place done in mostly black and whaite...looks like an upscale '50's diner. Had the chili and a BBQ Pork Sandwich. Chili was hot and tasty...they use kidney beans, which is cool, but I kinda like pintos. Nevertheless, it was not the best I've had, but far from the worst, but definitely will not disappoint. Thick and plenty of meat in it with a very slight hint of sweetness.

The BBQ Pork was of more a shredded variety than a pulled type. The sauce on it was good, could have used a little more zing. However, this was a MONSTEROUS sandwich served on a French bread roll...and was $4.00. I couldn't believe it...$4.00.

With a large beverage I'm out the door for about $8.50 and have half a sandwich for dinner tonight. Gonna have to go back again to see if all their sandwiches are this big and inexpensive.

See you around the table.....

Monday, October 30, 2006

First a smoking ban, now this.....

It isn't any secret that I'm against smoking bans. If you have read half the blogs in the Peoria blogosphere, you know what my objections are and as much as I love to go back and forth with The Knight, this isn't the topic of this post. This goes way beyond my complaints that banning smoking effects the private property owner. I touched on this briefly before. First, New York City banned smoking in 2003. Now it is ramping up efforts to ban transfats.


The news (KFC switching to all soybean oil for deep frying) preceded the New York Board of Health's first public hearing Monday on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, yet so unhealthy, that New York city health officials say it belongs in the same category as food spoiled by poor refrigeration or rodent droppings. (I didn't make this up)

If New York City approves banning food with artificial trans fats, it would only affect restaurants, not grocery stores, and wouldn't extend beyond the city's limits. But experts said the city's foodservice industry is so large, any change in its rules is likely to ripple nationwide. "It's huge. It's going to be the trendsetter for the entire country," said Suzanne Vieira, director of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where students are experimenting with substitute oils and shortenings.

New York's thousands of independently owned restaurants are beginning to look for ways to make changes too — not all happily. Richard Lipsky, a spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said many eatery owners rely on ingredients prepared elsewhere, and aren't always aware whether the foods they sell contain trans fats.

Ironically, many big fast food companies only became dependent on hydrogenated oil a decade and a half ago when they were pressured by health groups to do something about saturated fat. McDonald's emptied its french fryers of beef tallow in 1990 and filled them with what was then thought to be "heart healthy" partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. "They did so in all innocence, trying to do the right thing," said Jacobson, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Everybody thought it was safe. We thought it was safe." (In other words, I'd be wary of anything the yahoos at the Center for Science in the Public Interest say in the future.)

Some restaurants were still completing the changeover when the first major study appeared indicating that the hydrogenated oils were just as bad for you, if not worse. When eaten, trans fats significantly raise the level of so-called "bad" cholesterol in the blood, clogging arteries and causing heart disease. Researchers at Harvard's School of Public Health estimated that trans fats contribute to 30,000 U.S. deaths a year.

OK, my 2 shiny Lincolns. Now what if 15 years ago the NY Board of Yahoos decided to ban butter? Wouldn't that have just been the shits. This is as about as stupid because it is banning transfats in restaurants only. So, it is up to the restaurant owners to protect you from tansfats but you can go down to Cub foods, buy it by the gallon and guzzle it like a "40". Kinda seems ridiculous, huh? If they push non smoking through, then tansfats, what's next? This ban is obviously real, so be very, very careful and very aware, people. Next that big fat medium rare NY Strip Steak or spicy tuna roll you love at your fav restaurant might be next on the banned list next to smoking and trans fats. Don't tell me it won't happen: they banned foie gras in Chicago and there are always some ongoing attempts to ban veal (same "cruelty issue" as foie gras). Yeah, yeah, smoking and 2nd hand smoke can kill you, but so can e. coli in unsuspected tainted spinach. Big Brother is going to have you eating steamed brussel sprouts and kholrabi in no time.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fighting Sickness

Nope, I'm not sick...nor have I been sick recently. Sickness in a different sort of way. I've had this discussion at work and with another local chef friend of mine in the last few days...in a society that has become obsessed with not getting sick, why do we seem sicker?

We buy antibacterial soap, wipes with bleach, kitchen sprays with disinfectants, we keep out kids from playing in the mud, we cook the hell out of our chicken and fish until they are hockey pucks (and then complain it is tough and chewy and go bitch at the meat department guy), take out sanitary wipes everywhere and if some food hit the floor, if you even think of eating it you'll automatically die of the most horrific food bourne illness known to man. But yet we seem to have more colds, sore throats, flu, etc. than ever.

I kinda hope Knight in Dragonland, as a physician, reads this and gives us his two cents on our conclusion: We may be wrong here, but we think we're TOO clean. We do such a good job at killing every little germ that our body can not or does not digest any (or enough) to help us build a natural immunity, so when we are exposed to something that we haven't drowned in bleach, it kicks us in the ass...really hard.

Chef Kevin, you're smoking crack. Maybe so. But I don't remember ever being sick as a kid. No even a cold. I had so many perfect attendance merits in school I think I may have held a record (until my younger siblings came along and broke it). Did mom hose us down with bleach? Chase us around with sanitary wipes, sanitize her kitchen so it could have been used as an operating room? NO. We played in the mud, we ate fruits and vegetables straight from the garden WITHOUT WASHING THEM (OH, MY GOD) and the garden ground had so much cow manure from grandfathers farm tilled into it as fertilizer that there probably was enough e. coli hanging out to kill everyone in Chicago right now if they didn't have their little bleach wipes handy. Can't believe that didn't kill me? We butchered our own chickens down on the farm. When just several people knock off 150 birds in a few hours, do you think it was the most sanitary of all conditions? The health department would have went crazy. Still not enough? We drank well water, unpasteurized and unhomogonized milk and ate hamburger that had thawed out on the counter!!!! Lord knows what had crawled on or did what to the raspberries we ate straight off the plant.

Now, of course, we had strict German parents. You ate three square meals a day and you ate everything, including nasty things like peas, brussels spouts and liver that was on your plate, whether you put it there or not. You drank orange juice and water..what the hell was soda...you might talk grandma into a half bottle of 7-up behind mom's back. You drank milk (the milk above) with every meal. Mom was the dope dealer in the house shoving vitamins down your throat.

So, the conclusion, we ate better, probably slept more and we ate slightly germmy food to help bulid up a tolerance.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Put Down The Phone and Get Ready for Some Blues!!

Ok, ya gotta read the two posts below to understand this post. Read 'em? Good.

The show is on folks. Be there, eat Jambalaya, hear some blues or be square (or a triangle if you are jamming to Lawrence Welk).

Hold The Phones

Regarding the post below. I didn't want to add to it, so I thot I would post an additional blog.

Apparently, there is some sort of mix up, misunderstanding, etc. who is playing at Po' boys Saturday night. OUCH.

Stay tuned.....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Support a Friend of Mine

I could've bought Billy Dennis's site for a day, but thought, eh...at least 5 people will read this, so call me a lousy friend.

A very good friend of mine,
Joe Metzka, is having a CD release party this Saturday (Oct. 21) at Po' Boys starting at 8:00PM. Joe has released previous CDs that were covers of jazz and blues songs, but this is a new CD called Some Kinda Blue with all his own stuff.

If you are into jazz and especially blues, come to Po' Boys and check him out. Once he gets that '62 Fender Strat or '65 (I think) Gibson 335 goin' through that old Fender Twin... Obviously with one CD of originals, I'm sure he'll get into some B.B., Albert & Freddie King, Howlin' Wolf, Bill Withers, Clapton, SRV, Billy Preston and other blues greats (and maybe a VH lick for an old chef friend of his), so if that is your "thing".....

Some of you have may already heard him...he opened for Buddy Guy this summer on the CEFCU Stage.

Eatin' jambalaya and feelin' some blues guitar around the table.....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Play in Peoria??

Was gone over the weekend.

Ate at the following places:

Zengo

KAZ

Meskerem

Cashions

Old Ebbitt's Grill"

It would be cool to see a few of these in Peoria.

We do have two sushi joints, just not as inventive as KAZ. Two of the nightly specials were a Sashimi of Halibut on seaweed Salad and pesto and a teriyaki sea trout tartare napoleon...and the +$10 price per to match. (I know Anon E. Mouse, I know, LOL) Dessert: Tempura banana with Black raspberry ice cream. YUM!

Cashion's didn't live up to the hype.

Ebbitt's was...I can't explain. It's like fine\better dining meets Kellehers. We left at close to 3 PM and people were STILL in line for LUNCH and this place has gotta seat 300 people.

Zengo is about as eclectic and funky as you can get. Z-Bar could be this if they did away with the TV's and the wanna be gangsterism...and that ain't "gansta"-ism.

And Meskerem...my first exposure to Ethiopian cuisine. You eat with your fingers. Yep, you tear off a piece of bread, which is more like a thick crepe, pick food up with it (including stew-like items) and into your mouth it goes. No need for pesky utensils.

Gettin' my dose of big city around the table....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm Saddened By This

Nothing to do with food.

Saw today on Yahoo! News that this guy might hang it up after the 2006 NFL season. As probably one of the most prolific passers since Dan Marino, Kurt Warner is talking retirement.

Read the stats on the link above. Even in his later years, look at the yards this guy racked up. But after the Rams, teams he was on couldn't win. If Peyton Manning throws for 300+ yards, you know he is going to win. How can a team with the #1 ranked passing offense in the NFL in 2005 (yeah, ahead of Peyton and everyone else) be be 5-11? Something ain't right there and rookie boy Leinart ain't the cure, Coach Green. I can think of a half dozen teams that this guy could play for right now as their QBs ain't cuttin' it. I was kinda suprised that after the Giants he didn't sign up with ex-Rams defense coach Lovie Smith and the Bears. At that time, who was their (one of three stuck in a revolving door) QB? Guess it doesn't matter now that the Bears are (finally) winning.

Now I'm going to catch grief. The downfall of Kurt Warner: Mike Martz. Yeah, that's right. When Martz took over as head coach, it was pass, pass, pass. Gone were the quick pitches and little touch swing passes to Marshall Faulk around the ends which was part of the one two punch that made the Rams "The Greatest Show On Turf" (Faulk carried the ball 5 times in the second half vs. the Patriots in Super Bowl 37 which the Rams managed to lose...hmmm). But erase Faulk from the equation, throw the ball 40-50 times, what do you get? Warner flat on his ass and injured because the defense knows what the play is...Torry Holt and Issac Bruce screaming down the sidelines at breakneck speed.

Now he is a babysitter handholder to the future golden boys. Play until they may be ready, play if they start f*-ing up or injured. Screw that, I'd retire, too.

(Even though Its My Blog) Highly Suggested Reading

Ummm...

If you are going to post here, better give THIS a read first.

'Nuff said...

The Smoking Issue, Part 3.

I know there is a lot of debate on this. There are people who feel offended (and hey, I AGREE with you) that the majority of the people have to suffer by the smoking minority. OTOH, mine & others think it is wrong for the government to enforce a law that has the potential to decrease business or shut business down altogether and screw with someone's livelihood. Now, that last sentence only applies if they ban smoking just in Peoria and not the surrounding communities. So, lets not debate the above...its been done until my fingers bleed.

I've been thinking about this. What would be fair to smokers and non smokers and to business owners whose livelihoods depend on smoking. I'm not too concerned about restaurants here, more along those smoky little neighborhood bars that don't have anything going on for them but booze, BS, cigarettes, poker machines and a TV set. But it would apply to all.

Let's say by Jan. 1 2008, you as a business owner have to make a choice; not the government making the choice for you. You have to decide whether you are going to be a TOTALLY smoking or non-smoking establishment. There will be no mixed; no smoking and\or non smoking sections. If you choose non smoking, and you currently are a smoking facility, you can't go back to smoking. If you are non smoking and go smoking, you can't go back to non smoking without making a substantial financial contribution to the American Lung Association as a stupidity tax. This is the "you made your bed, you lay in it" "law". You, as the business owner, make the call on your own livelihood.

After Jan. 1, 2008 ANY establishment built, closed and re-opened (well, if they close because the water heater blew up, etc. it doesn't apply)are to be non smoking. This wouldn't apply to selling the business (as long as the name stays the same) as the new owners are obviously buying it for the clientle, business, etc., but would give the new owners, say 60 days, to change if they wish.

Obviously, this is an option. I can see flaws. But I can bet on two things: 1. A lot of places, especially restaurants that offer both smoking and non smoking, will go totally non smoking. Most owners are probably smart enough to know the trend is going NS. 2. The smokers will have their hangouts, but these places will probably die out in a decade or two as new places will keep being built, the wealth of $$ being spread out among all these places, the numbers of people smoking will most likely decrease and some of the rest will get some sort of disease associated with smoking, and well.....(sorry, that's morbid, but...) which will make smoking establishments obsolete.

Personally, as a former restaurant owner, a non smoker, but someone who doesn't think the government should be making this call, I can live with it. I'm going to away from the computer for a few days, so it should be interesting to read responses...especially (& respectfully) from Knight in Dragonland as we've had this debate previously.

Breathing easier around the table.....

Monday, October 09, 2006

When isn't Hot Hot?

I'm with friends watching football. We order some wings that sound like they were supposed to cause incurable stomach problems, kill cancer or blow my eh hole into outer space. OK, they didn't. They didn't get close. Now why is this? There are mild, medium, hot, 911, insane, God Couldn't Eat, etc... You've heard all the inventive names. So, there should be no reason to hold back the "essence" that is going to cause my eyeballs to pop out of my head. Granted, they had a great flavor, but if these were supposedly some of the hottest wings they offer, mild but be tossed in water diluted ketchup and served with ice cubes.

Ok, the argument may exist that some bobblehead idiot thinks its funny to try them for whatever reason (big man, on a bet, I can eat spicier wings than you, etc.) and you don't want a lawsuit for capsicum-ing someone's lips off. Too bad. Stupid enough to order them, stupid enough to be without lips.

Light me up around the table....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm in print again!!

I dunno, sometimes I think I spend too much time online or snorting too much chipotle pepper powder and either causes me to lose track of time or just messes with my head. An article in which I was quoted on wine appeared in THIS PAST Wednesday's edition of the Peoria Journal Star. For some odd reason, I thought it was going to be in this upcoming Wednesday's version. See what I mean? Oh, well. I'll just blame it on work.

I gotta give Danielle Hatch credit, though. Many moons ago, I was featured in the "Meet The Chef" series the Journal Star used to feature about once a quarter. I was quoted in many food articles they ran. I have them all framed in my home office. However, after some misquotes, some piecing together of quotes that made me sound like a bigger bumbling idiot than Graham Kerr induced with a fifth of gin, not being credited at all for information provided and the "last straw": an argument with a reporter who didn't understand (after repeating it several times) what "I'm in the middle of my lunch rush, call me back later" meant , I just said no thanks. (Damn, I run on sentences...) However, Danielle, whom I met through a mutual acquaintence, has done a great job at keeping things straight: the one article even got picked up by a wire service and ran in some east coast newspapers. So, thanks, Danielle.

So, slap all the screw caps ya want on 2006 Beringer White Zinfandel. I doubt anyone would notice (or care). However, I can't imagine 2000 Lafite Rothschild, 2002 DRC Romanée-Conti, 1998 Penfold's Grange or 2001 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese with a screw top. There is just something very wrong with that.

Pulling corks around the table......

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Walt's Dos

Ahhh...not having to travel for work.

So, off I go. This is a single mission, no DA today. Kind of a short notice on Thursday afternoon to find someone.

I've heard of Walt's Dos. Dunno about Walt's or Walt's Uno if that is what Walt's Dos refers to. Situated at the corner of Garden and Westmoreland it isn't the easiest place to park. But whatever...maybe the city will be so kind to build Walt a parking deck, too. Oh, wait, it isn't Caterpillar's Dos...what AM I thinking?

Definitely a bar (even though the menu says restaurant): Video games, pool table, beer lights. A small dining area. I perch myself at the bar. A friendly guy named Augie gets me a margarita. This guy, although somewhat unconventionally adding the mix first, then the liquor, makes a darn good margarita. Oh, I didn't mention this, did I? Walt's is rumored to serve some tasty authentic Mexican cuisine!! Anyway, I noticed there were 3 liquors going into this. Tequila, triple sec and ???. I hate sweet margaritas and this one was almost tart which is how I like 'em. Augie gave me a small sample of their blue raspberry margarita and it was a bit too sweet for me..like a dessert margarita of something.

I ordered the daily special, the steak burrito with Suiza Sauce. Wasn't too sure what Suiza sauce was so, I asked (hoping that it was a misspelling of Sauza thinking they would douse my steak burrito in pretty good tequila for an extra $.75). Damn. Out of luck with that wish. Augie explained it, but what it turned out to be was sort of a chunky enchilada sauce. A very good sized burrito with a bit of shredded (what appeared to be romaine)lettuce, rice and beans. The rice seemed to be a bit more reddish orange than most you get and had a slightly zippier flavor. I noticed it was also laced with a few vegetables. But the beans were the most noticeable...they weren't mashed or pureed into complete mush..there were some whole and partial beans in there!! The burrito was great. The steak was tender and had a great smoky, grilled flavor. The burrito looked to have some rice, beans and cheese in it, but was mostly steak. The "hot" green salsa was more of a medium heat to me as I'm a heat freak is probably why. It was a bit sneaky, though. Not one of those instantaneously hot salsas...kinda sneaks up on ya.

I'm out for under $11.00 not including tip.

They offer some egg dishes for lunch and make their own tamales. For those who want to forgo the Mexican food, they offer steaks, chops, BBQ, fried catfish and a burger. I could be mistaken but it looked like they had a dark Mexican beer on draft.

I'm not going to get up on a soapbox here. I'm don't really want to debate the smoking issue on this post so I'm asking to refrain from too many smoking comments here. We can debate that at one of my other blogs\posts. But for you "against smoking" advocates, well, it was noticeably a smoking establishment and even had a sign saying "smoking allowed". There were only two other people in the bar, both smoking at the other end and I didn't notice the smoke, but FYI. Regardless, I'm going back.

See you around the table....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An Update of a Different Sort.

I know there are a few people that read this blog. From people I see and know in person, not so much in the blogosphere, I hear "You don't post on your blog much anymore". And it is, unfortunately, true.

I've thought about just shutting it down. Work is busier, I seem to be taking on more side projects, I'm traveling a bit for work again and I guess the bit of time I do spend eating out, I'm, as before, in a rut of places I like....or I'm cooking at home.

But I think about it, and I'm not going to discontinue it. But the reviews will probably be sparser than a. they used to be , b. you, the blog reader would like them to be c. I'd like them to be.

Not going hungry around the table....