Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hangin' in Indy

Thursday night I went to see Marc Broussard in concert at the Vogue Theater in Indianapolis. Beforehand, we went to the Broadripple Brew Pub.

To start, the brew pub had some really good food. And what we didn't have, looked pretty tasty going past the table enroute to other diners. I had the two alarm tuna sandwich which was just spicy enough, that after I ate the whole thing, had a nice burn going. My DA had the fish and chips. The fish batter could have used a bit of salt, but the deep fried thick cut potato chips were wonderful. This place has an awesome menu sure to please everyone!

I stumbled upon Marc Broussard's music while cruising iTunes looking to put together a CD of traditional and non traditional Christmas music. Marc's 4 CD's do not do his voice justice. Live, he has this very powerful, gritty voice that just demands your attention, yet after about 2 hours he does an encore and only accompanied by a piano, a song almost of lullaby status where his vocal gymnastics were pretty impressive (he isn't going to make Mariah Carey or Lisa Fischer vocal range look bad, but then again they don't have voices that sound like they smoke three packs a day followed with a quart of Tennessee Whisky, either).

If you want to check him out, he is going to be on Conan O'Brien's show this upcoming Monday (July 30) night.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

E-Bay Sellers

I need a question answered. I just about bought an item on E-Bay and changed my mind. Why? $14.95 shipping and handling on an item and packaging that MIGHT weigh 1 1/2 pound via UPS GROUND from California. Are you f-in' kidding me? $14.95 for UPS ground on a 1 1/2 pound package? I can order 2 bottles of wine, which, with packaging weighs about 14 pounds, and have it 2 Day DHL-ed from California for $18.

Some pooch is getting screwed...not me. Think E-Bay needs to look into its sellers who jack up shipping charges to make money. Don't think so. Just for shits and giggles I went to UPS's webiste and plugged in a 2 pound package from here to the city where this shipper in CA is located. UPS Ground: $8.06. So, $6.89 for ??? Packaging? Must be some WONDERFUL Packaging.

Monday, July 23, 2007

So funny I forgot to laugh

I watched the Bill Maher "comedy" special on HBO. I don't watch Bill most of the time because of his endless bashing of President Bush. I'm not huge fan of GWB, but Maher just goes on & on & on about the same stuff over & over & over again to the point that it just isn't funny anymore and borders on annoying. I was hoping that his special was going to be more stand-up comedy instead of another Bush bashing.

Nope. Bush bashing. And when he went to another subject, somehow it came back to Bush bashing. It wasn't comedy so much as it was commentary. Get some new subject matter and jokes, Bill, 'cause the current schtick is getting boring, uninspired & old.

Thank Goodness for my remote....click.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Next Food Network Star

I get a lot of "do you watch the Food Network" type questions. No, I can't say I watch it very often. I think the last time I actually tuned into watch it was when Sammy Hagar appeared on Emeril Live.

So, I keep hearing I "need" to watch The Next Food Network Star. While I was flipping channel a few days ago, I noticed that tonight was the final and that all the previous episodes would be broadcast beforehand leading up to the "Next Food Network Star" finale.

A few observations:

Who was responsible for the shirt\tie combinations for Bobby Flay? If I didn't know they were being serious, I would have thought it to be a joke. Pink tie, light blue shirt, dark blue blazer and grey slacks? Maybe the color on my TV is just going.

Obviously, I haven't watched in awhile. My Lord, Emeril has packed on the pounds. His face looked pretty pudgy and that sport coat button was reaching its limits.

Speaking of button popping, did you catch Giada De Laurentiis and Ingrid Hoffman? Either of those two show any more cleavage and her show will have to be on Skina, er I mean Cinemax. Maybe I WILL start watching...

And not to pick on the Food Network too much, but the two execs who were judges mentioned frequently that the Network appeals to the home cook. Well, I can see how it can appeal to GUY home cooks. But then I see recipes for Potato Crusted Lobster with Truffled Mashed Potatoes and think, yep, I'll blow my weeks food budget on that feeding the husband and three kids.

And one thing this show did prove: The Food Network is into it for the entertainment value. Except for Alton Brown, can you really learn anything from The Food Network? No offense to the woman who won, but you know, since she has no culinary background, a lot of the knowledge she will present you will most likely come from the research team via cue cards. Notice all that bright green asparagus and broccoli rabe they were using on the last show with Rachael Ray? Think that was natural? Did they tell you it was blanched....and how.....and why...and how it became so green...and why?

Ok, call me bitter or jealous, if you want. That's fine. Just let me know when Hagar is going to be on Emeril again.

Various Ramblings

I really don't have anything to say.

I can't find where the health police in NY are trying to ban jello, mozzarella sticks or pumpkin pie in addition to all the other stuff they've banned.

I haven't come across any wacky tales of stupid or irritating behavior.

I'm tired of griping about HB 429, the museum, the build the trail over the rail fantics and ignorant weedwackers.

Either I've been working weird hours or catering so I haven't been out riding my bike.

Geez....life is becoming boring.

Ok, I'll start with this. Youngster winging bricks off of overpasses. The 14 year old, who was listed as a person of interest, isn't of interest anymore. His mother wants an apology. WTF is that? Innocent people get questioned every day about possible involvement with crimes and does the police department show up with FTD, Fanny Maes and a Hallmark card? Hell, no. Get over it. Maybe if your kid wouldn't have been previously flinging shit off overpasses, maybe he wouldn't have been a "person of interest". Over on one of the PJ Star comments boards (too lazy to look for and link to it), there are many people screaming "hang him AND his parents". Of course, then there are the few who say "You don't know the situation" "Maybe the parents were working", etc. Ok, Ok, Ok, what was the situation that allowed a 15 and 12 year old out roaming the street AFTER A PARTY at 1 am to throw a brick off an overpass? This really should be good. Invest in a higher speed DSL\cable package to fire off your comments about this one :)

I cooked brunch at Panache this morning. "Why don't you ever make crepes?" I hate making crepes. I hate making hollandaise (that isn't true: I hate trying to hold it at the proper temperature so it doesn't break and then have to "fix it" when it is busier than hell) and refuse to use a hollandaise mix. I hate making easy over eggs (that isn't true, either. I'm such a fibber today. I hate making them in a saute pan. Invariably, I'll pop one on the flip. Its easy to do them on a flattop, which Panache doesn't have). I hate making souffles. They look all pretty and puffy and them boom...they fall. Lot of work to have the damned thing look like someone headbutted it. I cook there for fun so I'll cook what I want to cook. I know that sounds selfish, but, since I don't do it because I need the money, it has to be fun.

Once again, it is all some bartenders fault that some idiot got drunk, drove and killed someone. You know, if you are too stupid to know your limit, maybe your mom should go with you to let you know you've had enough. That might not work. I know some moms who aren't responsible and can outdrink their kids. Maybe some guy the size of Shaq so he can throw your drunk ass out. But ya know what I mean. If the state, city, etc. government are going to hold bartenders and waitresses responsible, the gov't. needs to supply any open liquor serving establishment with a breathalyzer. Then you have to blow into a breathalyzer before the bearer of alcoholic beverages brings you another alcoholic beverage. Blow .06 or higher, too bad, no booze for you.

Do you know how hard it is to find Cotswald Cheese? My Lord.

My next house is going to have all ceramic tile walls and floors. And each room a floor drain. I really need to dust my house and it is the one household task I REALLY hate, even moreso than ironing. I figure if I have the aforementioned enhancements, I just can hose everything down. Cover the stereo and crank up the H20.

I'm done.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm Cooking at Willett's Winery Again!

After weeks of speculation, most of the deciding factors have been made and this is the announcement for which some of you have been waiting. On Saturday, October 27th, Dan & Cris Willett, along with myself, will be hosting the Autumn Harvest Food & Wine Experience at Willett’s Winery in Manito. The menu has not been decided as I am waiting to see if Dan’s latest vintages of a few wines will be ready so that we can introduce them to the world at this event. If not, we’ll have to rely on some of his past efforts. However, the food will follow an Autumn harvest\Germanic theme. I’m thinking some sort of cream soup and Rouladen as two of the courses.

We believe that music will again be provided by Joe Metzka who has worked with me on countless food & music events.

The cost will be in the $45 per person range. It includes the dinner with wine, music and I’m sure some after dinner informal tastings of some of Willetts other wines not poured at the dinner. The time will be 6:30 PM. Contact the Willetts at the winery at 309-968-7070 or e-mail Cris at cris@willettswinery.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm gritting my teeth.

I'm watching stoopid-vision, I mean television tonight. In a restaurant scene, the woman orders tuna salad sandwich without celery. The waitress brings the tuna salad sandwich and it has celery. Woman complains to waitress and waitress makes the comment "Oh, that kitchen".

I can't repeat here what I was screaming at my TV. Since 99.9% of restaurants either buy or make their tuna (or chicken) in fairly large batches in advance, one of two things will hold true. A. they are going to dump your portion of tuna salad and pick out the celery (if they can if the celery isn't minced too finely). Sound appetizing? Trouble is, I bet you could still taste the celery. B. They could open a can (and probably not one of those dinky retail cans...most likely a 66 ounce can), force drain it to get all the liquid out, mix all the ingredients minus the celery together, try to chill it down in the freezer quickly so your tuna salad isn't warm (so there isn't any bitching about that)and THEN make your sandwich. By this time it is time for dinner and you might consider the fried chicken and spaghetti combo. Does one really think a restaurant makes each tunafish salad sandwich from scratch every time it is ordered? My Lord. Next time you are waiting for your food, look for a celery-less tuna fish sandwich that the cook has been working on instead of cooking your ribeye steak sandwich.

I still think everyone needs to spend two weeks waiting tables and two weeks in a commercial kitchen so nonsense like this stops.

I know I'm gonna get my ass ripped over this, but until you've strapped on an apron....

The Burger Barge

I'm gonna guess a fair percentage of Central Illinoisans have eaten at the Burger Barge. If not, you should.

The other night my DA and I sat out on the patio and had dinner. The inside decor isn't much to talk about, but the outdoor view is pretty good; ya just got to shoo a few flies.

My DA had the portabello and shrimp salad and I had the volcano burger with onion rings. No specialty drinks to report, just cold beer. My DA enjoyed the salad, but realized about 1/4 of the way through, that there were no portabellas. We flagged down our waitress and she immediately retrieved them. As they were breaded and deep fried (like about 75% of the menu) they must have made them but forgot to put them on the salad. My volcano burger, a large 9 oz. patty, was topped with sport peppers, pickled jalapeno peppers, some salsa and cheddar cheese sauce. This burger had some zip. I'm going to say it is a toss-up whether the onion rings came from a bag or not. some were just too perfect to look hand breaded, but others looked so inconsistent they almost couldn't have been commercially made. they were tasty, nevertheless.

I've been there a few times and can't say I've ever had anything bad. I will say this was the longest I have ever waited for food, but I think the dining room was completely full and there were only two empty tables in the outdoor area, so they were b-u-s-y. Grace was our waitress and she was a true delight.

See you around the table.....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Code Enforcement

I received this notice via e-mail today: Highlighted\bolded portions are of my doing.

"Please be advised that Code Enforcement has been given a clear directive by the City Manager that, starting July 1, 2007, only ONE environmental warning notice is to be given to a property. After that first notice, ABATE NOTICES are required for any future issues. In addition to that, after the first abate notice, a CITATION is required each and every time there would be an environmental violation. The fines on these citations would escalate each time there was a need to issue a citation for a period of two years, topping out at $500 per violation per offense. In other words, if a property had litter on it, cans with no lids, and atire, on the fifth and any additional occasions after that, the fine would be $500 times 3 violations would = $1500 each time those three issues were found. If it was only litter, then the fine would the $500.To avoid these types of issues, please be sure to keep your property clean at all times, have cans with lids for all garbage, no auto parts (including tires and batteries) on the property unless in a storage area, all vehicles must be licensed and operable, and weeds must be cut to below 10" at all times, on all portions of the property and along the curb/alley. This is the only and final environmental warning you will receive. In the future, should it become necessary, the process outlined above will be followed without exception."

Ok, my today's project is this (for which I probably will need to get a permit): a sign that reads: This is a hollyhock. This is not a 7' weed. As in the past, if you STILL do not know the difference, Illinois Central College offers a course called Biology 120 - General Botany. There is no prerequisite so even YOU can get in. Registration for Fall classes have begun and by calling (309) 694-5600 you can reserve your spot. Thank You.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Find This Somewhat Disturbing

While trying to find the time that the Riverfront Market opens on Saturdays, I came across this map of the riverfront.

Listed are the Caterpillar Visitor Center and Central Illinois Regional Museum. Listed above these are the words "Future Home of Museum Square". If I didn't know better, or was visiting from out of town, it sounds like the Visitor Center and Museum are currently there and the "Square" is currently under construction. They don't, and might not even exist, so why are they on the map?

However, long time riverfront anchors such as Rhythm Kitchen, Rizzi's on State, Rhodell Brewery, The Antique Center along with chain restaurant Old Chicago aren't listed (just the names of the buildings in which they are located). One has to click on the number, the names appear but little to no information. Yet, newcomers Hooters, Tavern on the Water and the reincarnation of the River Station are named outright.

Interesting....veerrrrry interesting......

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ridin' The Rock

I took my old "Chef Kevin's Culinary Hotline" blog and have changed it to Ridin' The Rock (Island Trail). More of an online Journal of my rides of the Rock, other trails and probably some streets in the Central Illinois area.

I know some of you might have a link in your "sidebar blog rolls" to this webpage, so a heads up to maybe delete it or change it.

Reasoning for me doing the online journal thing is here.

See you around the table...............

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ridin' the Rock Island Gets Me Thinking About Kellar

As I recently resumed riding a bike again, I've been riding the Rock Island Trail. Until now, I have never been to the RIT. It is better than I expected as I've heard (and this is how bad rumors get started) that there is a lot of loose gravel and if you have thin bicycle tires you could be in some danger. There have been a lot of people zipping by me on "speed bikes" that obviously aren't concerned and I find "lots of loose gravel" at a minimum.


But what has prompted this blog isn't the Rock Island itself. It was C.J.'s blog about the STB board's ruling and it got me thinking about what if the Kellar Branch was turned into a trail.


Coming back from a recent 25 mile jaunt, my last 2 miles were a little tricky. I am in NO WAY objecting to family outings on the trail. But to dodge little children riding willy-nilly all over the place could get dangerous. On one hand, I don't really think the Rock Island is a good place to be zipping around at 40 mph practicing for a cycling race. On the other hand, it isn't a driveway where there are no concerns on how kids can ride anywhere without very little cause for injury.


But what really made me think was the (I'm guessing 7 year old) boy who refused to listen to his father's repeated ""Billy", get back here" as "Billy" was just tearing off ahead of parents and siblings. Personally, I wish dad would have just picked up some speed and caught the kid. I don't know what eventually happened as I was past by then. But what if "Billy" just keeps zooming onward and "onward" is Pioneer Park or Glen or Adams or Prospect or Knoxville if the Kellar Branch gets "trailed"? Scary thought.


Ok, maybe parents would avoid taking their younger children to this section of the trail. And I could be wrong, but even as a novice cyclist, stopping every 1/4-1/3 mile or so for traffic would be a bummer...I wonder what true cycling enthusiasts thoughts would be.


I know some people who walk the Fondulac (or whatever it is called now) trail. They avoid downtown EP like it is the bubonic plague because of traffic. These are adults who have walked that trail almost daily since its inception, so walking another mile or so isn't the issue...the extra distance is nothing to these people. It doesn't appeal to them as dealing with the traffic isn't enjoyable. They do it for enjoyment; the health benefit is sort of secondary as they lead fairly active lives. Now if active walkers avoid downtown EP, how would they respond to all the big streets in Peoria? I know, it is only a couple of peoples' opinions.


So, I ask myself "Who is going to walk or ride the Kellar"? All the traffic crossings seem to be a headache for biking enthusiasts and dangerous for misbehaved children or for that matter anyone not paying attention. Coming back up the hill probably has little appeal to anyone but a health enthusiast looking to get their heart rate up. Don't think so? Start at Matheny Road in East Peoria and head east on the Fondulac Trail. Or start at Adams & Spring and hoof it up to the top of Glen Oak & Prospect. Enjoyment or exercise? Guess that is in the eye of the beholder. And where does the Kellar cut through on this map? And those are the reported ones.


I've always been a proponent of building the trail besides the rail: I'm against ripping it out. I like the trolley idea if Pioneer had its way (and it wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent). I can't believe that these tracks can not be brought back to be useful.

Whether they build beside it or rip it out, I really ask myself "Who would use this trail"? I, for one, don't see how it would be an enjoyable experience.

The Cutter

Formerly known as the Woodcutter in Lake of the Woods Plaza.

A group of four of us headed there last week. We were sat immediately. We were told by our waiter that the whole place had been re-done, etc. Maybe so, but there were some things I distinctly remember being there previously and it pretty much has the "feel" the Woodcutter has always had. I don't know if it is the new owners or one of the previous owners doing, but they have opened up the kitchen so that you can see quite a bit of it from the bar area.

Three of us ordered iced tea. Good stuff. For some reason, no matter how good, cloudy ice tea just some how bothers me and this was as clear as tea can be.

Our orders were the following: A burger with fries. Chicken Marsala. A Tenderloin with fries and I had the Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with fries. Everyone was happy with their respective meals except two of us thought our fries were warm at best and were immediately sent out new fries (which are the skin on variety). My grilled buffalo chicken sandwich was just that: A grilled chicken breast, doused in Frank's Hot Sauce and placed between two buns. No lettuce, tomato, etc. Not that I care: just thought it was odd that the other two sandwiches came with lettuce, tomato, etc., but mine didn't. The tenderloin wasn't as large as the Frisbee sized versions at Schooners, but it was fairly good sized and smaller eaters could make two meals of it. The other two diners didn't comment much except that they were happy with their selections. I'm there to enjoy, not to pry for my blog's sake.

We split a skillet cookie. It was a bit crunchy, but tasty.

All in all, it was just like the old Woodcutter. Just good, homestyle, no-frill\fufu food at a good price. If it was closer to home, I'd be there a bit more often.

See You Around The Table.......

Sunday, July 01, 2007

New Chef Kevin Sightings

I've added one definite and one 99.9% sure future Chef Kevin sighting at my website. Both involve me working with Dan & Cris Willett at Willett's Winery in Manito.

See you around the table......