Saturday, February 28, 2009

End of an Era

After 11 1/2 years, Panache is no longer going to have jazz on Tuesday and Thursday night. It was a great place to go after work, relax, unwind and have a Sam Adams (or several). I guess the shrinking economy was sort of the last nail in the coffin. Hopefully, this is only temporary.

However, Panache will still have jazz on Friday evening 5:00-7:30 with Dave Hoffman and friends and the Bradley Jazz Ensemble on Saturdaynights starting at 7:00. Tan Nguyen still does classical guitar during Sunday brunch.

The Disillusionists on Facebook

The Build The Block people even have their own Facebook page. Just go to Facebook, search Build the Block and you will encounter a large group of disillusioned people. Well, they gotta be somewhere.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Museum Opposition Formed

I'm surprised CJ, Billy or PI don't have this up on their blogs yet. They are usually far ahead of my slow game on issues like this: A group has been formed to oppose the riverfront museum.

Visit their site here here

Apparently, they are taking donations to their cause. Too bad they don't have a PayPal account, but I've got to use up all my 43 cent stamps anyway!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Peoria Museum I'd Like to See Open

With all the discussion on the Riverfront museum (pro and con) that goes on in the media and Peoria area blog-o-sphere, I'd like to propose an idea for a Peoria museum. This idea popped into my head in a discussion on about some local area bands that we enjoyed going to see in the 1980s such as Pork and the Havana Ducks, Mackinaw and The Dave Chastain Band.

The History of Peoria Music Museum (Hall of Fame or whatever you want to call it).

Unfortunately for me, I'm not old enough to remember much past the local band scene of the late 1970's & 1980's. I'm sure there was some talent that came out of Peoria before then.

There have been some big names come out of Peoria, spent time in Peoria, now live in Peoria or Peoria was somehow part of their history. One could get a good start of the "REAL BIG" names just on Wikipedia, but a few names are missing as it is a "Peoria" list and not a Peoria area list. First name not on there that comes to mind is Suzy Bogguss. I know of some local jazz and blues musicians that have spent time on the road with big name acts. Luther Allison spent some time in Peoria. Head East recorded their most (probably) famous and breakthough album "Flat As A Pancake" in Pekin. Cheap Trick's breakthrough tour (opening for - and blowing away, in my opinion, Foreigner) stopped at Bradley.

And there are other bands, such as the three listed above, that enjoyed some moderate success in the Midwest. I'm sure there are more in other genres of music that I don't know, but would love to know. I have to believe there had to be some great local talent that came out of all the little joints that existed when Peoria was an alcohol induced happenin' place in the teens to the 40's.

Of course, someone would felt left out if not included, but just like a regular hall of fame, could be inducted later.

Ok, I understand this is a fantasy. It will never come to pass unless I can twist the county board to swing a referendum to increase the sales tax to support it and a lot of people with deep insight of local musical knowledge in different musical genres to provide information. And then hope that those musicians (or their families) could donate items.

But it would be cool.

All for a History of Peoria Music Museum say "Aye"!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Best

This blog post is about "The Best". A couple of situations have brought this up. I believe the esteemed PeoriaIllinoisan brought this up awhile back ago that on the Journal Star's site you could vote for "the best" in a certain business category in Peoria (where sometimes there was only one choice). I get asked frequently "What's the best restaurant in Peoria"? My friend Jim brought up the subject the other night of who was the best musician, by instrument, in Peoria.

I thought to myself, How does one determine "the best"?

Since I'm a restaurant person, I'll use that. People ask me all the time what I think the best restaurant in Peoria is and I get a stupid look on my face and reply "for what?" Certainly, it is hard to compare the "Gebby Burger" at Schooners to Childer's Eggs Benedict to the Smo-King Pit's ribs to 2 Chez 12 ounce pork chop Marsala. While those are some fantastic eats, I can't say it makes their joint the best. If you are going out for a romantic dinner, if it is deemed the best restaurant in Peoria is Crusens, that probably isn't going to fit the bill. (Ok, please don't comment that Crusens isn't the best restaurant in Peoria...just an example. But it could be the best in some people's eyes...IDK) or send someone looking for the best Buffalo wings to Chef Johns because it is the best restaurant (Ok same scenario with Crusens...not saying Chef John's is the best...example, example).

Jim & I were discussing musicians. Who is the best drummer, guitarist, etc. Someone who can play a lot of different songs in different genre but maybe not the best technically talented? Someone who is extremely talented is a genre or two but wouldn't know where to start if you asked for a song far outside those genre (like asking a classical guitarist to play some Mudvayne or vice versa). So, what would make someone the best triangle player in Peoria?

Who is the best blogger? For what? political? humor? basic information? While I have my favorites, I can't say ONE is the best.

I'm not trying to start a debate to which restaurant is best or who is the best guitar player is or why you think you have the best babysitter. Simply stated, how do you determine "the best"?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Looking For A Culinary Road Trip?

I've been teaching classes at The Bronze Frog which is in the Shoppes at Grand Prairie complex by Cold Stone Creamery for a couple of years. The woman who heads up these classes asked me if I would publicize their upcoming Vermont Culinary Experience that starts on September 11, 2009. It is in conjunction with Peoria Charter Coach. Looks like a vacation any foodie would love. I, however, have already scheduled my vacation time and can't attend. I did notice that local chef, Sally Davis, is one of the hosts. I've been on a bus tour of some of Chicago area's ethnic markets and Sally really has her act together providing all sorts of culinary information and keeping things fun and interesting.

Anyway, the schedule, etc. for this trip is here:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The difference is amazing

As a foodie, I love it when I get to work with really top end, unique, different or obscure products. It is one reason why I buy stuff at some of the local ethnic markets on a whim, come home, look it up and make something with it.

However, since my days at the Culinary Institute of America, I haven't worked with USDA Prime graded beef. I've seen it in a few local butcher shops, but haven't cooked with it until this weekend when I cooked for a Valentines Day dinner. Why? First, it is expensive retailing about $20 a pound for NY Strips and Ribeyes and I've seen $29.99 a pound for filet mignon. While I know this doesn't touch the price of the insanely expensive Kobe beef, it is out of most people's price range. Second, only about 7% of the beef produced in the USA is graded USDA Prime. The meat looked pinkish because the marbling (the amount of finely dispensed fat) running through it was just insane.

While I was grocery shopping today, I eyeballed the meat counter at two stores, one offering Certified Angus Beef. Most CAB is in the top range of USDA Choice. The marbling (which makes meat more tender) in the NY Strips was sooo lacking in comparison to the NY Strips we cooked that I still can't believe there is that much difference.

I'm still in awe.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just Announced....

Just letting everyone know that the next Wine & Dine Experience at Willett's Winery and Cellar will be April 18th at 6:30 PM. These events usually sell out quickly, so call soon to get your space reserved. A credit card will be necessary to hold your reservation. The cost is $50.00 per person. Yours truly is the Chef and Joe Metzka will be the entertainment. As the winemaker is not planning on having any new wines available, we have the menu ready. It is:

Vegetable Egg Rolls
with Wasabi Slaw and Sweet Ginger Soy Sauce
Willett’s Winery & Cellars Traminette

Salad Nicoise
Mixed greens layered with green beans, boiled potato, tomato, capers, black olives, hard boiled egg and seared Ahi tuna
Willett’s Winery and Cellars Hometown Red

Pork Chop “Forestiere”
A 10 Ounce Pork rib chop stuffed with a sausage and wild mushroom stuffing served with Calico blend rice and asparagus
Willett’s Winery & Cellars Chambourcin

Apricot Crème Brulee
on Graham Cracker Crust
Willett’s Winery & Cellars Vignoles

Monday, February 09, 2009

Too Loud? Not Loud Enough?

No, I'm not talking Boomcars.

I'm a big fan of local music. I'll admit, I usually support certain genres far more than others. One thing that always gets me is "the band was too loud, we couldn't talk". Before you get out the poisoned keyboard, let me get my 2 cents in.

I'm not picking on the Rhythm Kitchen; I am just using that venue as an example. I'm friends with the owner, so I hope I don't piss her off with this blog. Most of the time the bands play from 7:30-10:30 PM. I think most local musicians understand that their first set usually is performed over the dinner hour and tone it down a bit. However, I'm sure Ms. Rhythm Kitchen owner isn't paying them to be Lawrence Welk background music all evening for those who want to chat. She is paying them to be the focal point and entertain the crowd. Another example is when Anthony Gomes played at Po Boys. People were screaming at each other trying to have a conversation. I don't get that. You pay ($10, $15 - I don't remember) to get in to scream conversations with your friends and complain the band is too loud (Yeah I overheard the screaming conversation). Sweet Jesus, if you want to talk go to Starbucks. I came to listen to the band, not you standing next to me screaming your damned head off trying to "talk" over them.

On the other side of the coin, I've witnessed bands try to be louder than Van Halen at an outdoor concert while playing during dinner hour at a place like Jim's Steakhouse. That I don't get either. Dudes, I'm sure people you do a mean cover of "Shook Me All Night Long", but in a venue like Jims where people are actually dining, I hate to break it to you, but you are the live version of Muzak. The knob on the Marshall stack needs to go counterclockwise.

I guess I'm trying to make a point. Know your venue and why you are there (and I'm talking to bands, too). Are you there to be entertained or have a conversation? Are you there to entertain or are you background music? To quote REO Speedwagon's "157 Riverside Avenue": I love a screaming rock n' roll guitar as much as the next guy, but there is a time and place for everything. And I think that sums it up. There is a time and place for both parties to get what they want out of an evening, both band and patrons need to recognize their surroundings and respond accordingly.

In the meantime, plug that '63 Strat into a old Fender twin and let er rip!!