Friday, May 28, 2010

New Life for an old Hardees

In my daily travels to the wine mecca of Manito, I've noticed the old Hardees building at the corner of MacArthur and SW Washington has received a major updating to the grounds and building. I noticed a banner hanging from the side of the building today but all I caught was "Gyros" and "Open for Breakfast".

That Hardees has been sitting empty for about as long as I can remember. I wish the owners luck in their new endeavor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Last Time

If you haven't read my zillion posts about this here, Peoria.com, Facebook, etc., then here it is. If you have, well, just a friendly reminder. If you are sick of it, well, show up in person and tell me....and order one of our yummy pork flat iron steak sandwiches to nosh on :)

AND if this event just needs ONE more thing to draw you there (if the predicted fantabulous weather isn't enough), the gas prices in Manito are the cheapest I've seen in the area. As of last night (Wed. May 26) gas was $2.59 a gallon.

Eleven wineries, great artisans, awesome musicians, tasty food AND cheap gasoline? What more can you want?


Illinois River Wine, Art, Balloon, & Jazz Festival



Date:
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Time:
11:00am - 8:00pm
Location:
Memorial Park, Manito Illinois
Street:
400 E. Southmoor Street
City/Town:
Manito, IL


Description

Eleven Illinois Wineries along with central Illinois artisans, jazz musicians, and hot-air balloonists will participate in this fun event! You can enjoy wine tasting, then purchase your favorites to enjoy at home. Of course, you may want to purchase a glass of your favorite wine to enjoy while listening to your favorite jazz tunes in beautiful Memorial Park. Artisans will be displaying and selling their unique creations. Always a highlight, local hot-air balloonists will lift-off at 6:00pm, then create a "night glow" at 8:00pm (weather permitting). Food will be available!
11:00am-2:00pm - Sally Wiesenburg and The Famous Sidemen
2:00pm-5:00pm - David Hoffman & Friends
5:00pm-8:00pm - Joe Metzka & Friends

Tickets: 10.00pp includes souvenir wine glass and 5 tasting tickets!

If you want to attend, but not pay & taste the wines, there is a $5.00 admission charge. Children are admitted for free.

As stated above, I will be cooking pork flat iron steak sandwiches and all beef hot dogs. Of course there will be other food vendors.






Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hmmm....maybe a business opportunity for me.

Well, it looks like we are going to get a taxpayer supported hotel to go with our taxpayer supported (for the last 25 years) Civic Center. Hmmmm.... According to this article, the Civic Center and PAVCB are going on a full fledged onslaught to attract more conventions, etc. now that we will have an attached hotel.

So, I'm wondering "Where are all these throngs of people going to eat?" Lets see: Lindsays on Liberty and Bistro 320? Closed. F. Scotts? Gone. Fahey's? Out of business. All the Main Street eateries (except Richards) that close at 2 PM? Is there anything in the Twin Towers? I guess that leaves the Whammy Bar (if it happens to remain open that long, I hope it does, though that location hasn't been too restaurant friendly over the years), Hoops (if you like their pizza) The Pere Marquette (I hope it has improved since the last two times I was there). I'm sure the new Marriott will have some chow. I guess they could walk to Water Street for Old Chicago, Joe's, Hooters, Rhythm Kitchen, Kellehers, Water Street Wines and Rizzi's. But nothing really close. After shoving wings, pizza, etc. down their gullet on Water Street, who wants to hoof it uphill back to the hotel?

Thusly, since the city is giving millions of taxpayer $$ away to hotel developers, museum people, library rebuilding and the like, maybe I should ask for a few million to have a taxpayer supported restaurant to feed all of these 1000s of people who will be flocking endlessly to Peoria for their conventions, sporting events, etc. I'm sure the ROI will be spectacular and the HRA tax alone will pull the city completely out of debt. And I bet I can find a consultant that will say that, too! Any one got the number for the Knoxville Cub Foods consultant?

So, city of Peoria, how about fronting me about $10 million to rehab the old Lindsay's on Liberty building and put in a kick ass, appeal to all restaurant? Seriously. If we get as much business as all the consultants for the hotel and Civic Center SAY we will get, this is a SURE thing.

Come on, whaddaya say? I promise I won't charge you a $9 million dollar developers fee, either.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just........don't.

I've gotta bitch on a higher level, so I'm going to blog.

If you aren't sure, don't know, don't think you know, etc. what an item is on a menu, please ask your server. Please don't order it then send it back (and expect the restaurant to replace it at THEIR cost) because you didn't like, can't eat, won't eat, etc. something that was CLEARLY printed on the menu but you chose to ignore it or had no clue to what is was. Apparently, you weren't having lunch with my mother; she would have made you eat it anyway.

Speaking of my mother, restaurants and what food is. I remember when we were little kids and our parents took us to Germany for vacation and to visit relatives. We went to this "really nice place". The older adults were indulging themselves in escargot, etc. to put it in perspective. Not really a place for kids. My mother, trying to find something for us kids to eat, questions the waiter...in German (which she is flawless). She turns to us and says "Its spaghetti". The waiter replies in perfect English (though sounding horrified the menu item was called spaghetti) "It is NOT spaghetti". To which mother replies: "Its spaghetti". And, as I recall, neither was quite correct. Much "more" than mom's spaghetti, but probably not the pasta creation of the Gods the waiter was making it out to be. At least my mother had: the good sense to question the waiter and not order us snails!!!

Build It Up?

While I'm waiting for the grass to dry so that I can mow it...for the second time in 4 days...I have to make some comments.

As I figure out my way around the East Bluff of late, since many roads are closed due to construction of and around the new Glen Oak School, I'm witnessing another school related construction project going on. In the area around the school, all of the sidewalks where they meet the street are being re-done to become ADA compliant along with new curbs and gutters. They look really sharp!! Kudos to those who have replaced them! However, some of the sidewalks leading up to these new crosswalks, (which, at this time, aren't being replaced) look impassible or non existent. Thusly, while we have beautiful ADA compliant corners, people who would need to use them, probably can't get to them or would find hardship in getting to them because the sidewalks are so frikkin' bad or non-existent. And Kansas Street between the new school and Prospect grows increasingly worse and almost requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle. One of those "Fast & The Furious" cars would get stuck and swallowed by the sinkholes. No, not potholes. Potholes you hit and lose a hubcap. The sink holes on Kansas could swallow my Geo Metro. I'm barely exaggerating.

And then I read this: http://www.pjstar.com/news/x258108064/Business-File-H-o-t-e-l-spells-jobs-and-more Paul Gordon writes how area construction workers are highly anticipating the building of the new hotel to create jobs. All well, fine and good. I wonder how many jobs replacing every street, sidewalk, curb, gutter and storm drain in the East Bluff and South side would create? And after they are done with those the central Bluff and North Valley.

The article also points out two things (and one commenter on the PJ Star site alluded to it): Peoria doesn't have a 3-4-5 star hotel. Well, I've been in several rooms at the Pere years ago, the castle lodge (back in its heyday) and I've heard pretty good things about the Mark Twain. So, it isn't that we didn't HAVE them, we just didn't maintain them (which could be said about a lot of things in Peoria, and if I mentioned them all here, my grass wouldn't get mowed today...or tomorrow) and makes me wonder how long this new hotel will stay "to the nines". The other is the jobs that will be created after the hotel is built. This is why the hotel is more important than streets and sidewalks as its construction will produce additional jobs where sidewalks won't. However, I wonder how many mid and upper management jobs that provide a livable income will be held by Peorians (or Central Illinoisans, for that matter) or will Marriott bring in their own peeps to run it while Peorians get the grunt jobs of waiting tables, cleaning toilets and taking out the trash. Same jobs we'd have if we built 10 more Kentucky Fried Chickens (or the like). Then when the Marriott peeps are tired of the crime, the roads, the bad schools, etc.....

Build it and they will come...but when they see the crumbling intercity, decreasing police presence and D150, will they stay or will they walk away on the new trail?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm Bored. How can I spend $110,000 today?

In a few years, I'll hit the big 5-0. So, I've been casually searching (but really need to step up the search) for a bottle of wine from my birth year to celebrate. My options seem to be either Bordeaux or maybe Burgundy, but as I'm not a huge fan of Pinot Noir, its Bordeaux. I've had a wine from my birth year when I turned 40 and again at 43. I know what my choice needs to be: 1962 Lafite Rothschild...preferably in magnum. During my search this morning I come across 1784 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux

No, seriously, ya gotta click on the link to see this. Make sure you change the currency to dollars.

This company in England (supposedly) possesses and has for sale a bottle of 1784.....yes 1784....yes a 225 year old bottle....Chateau Lafite Rothschild for the nominal price of $104,763!!! (reeeeaaally...is the $3 necessary??) I'm sure with taxes and shipping it would be $110,000.

Daaahhhhhliiiinnnnngg.....Where's my petty chaaaaange purse.....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

So Long, Lin Hing

Long time Asian grocery store, Lin Hing will cease to exist as we know it on May 31. The current owners told me today that they are just worn out, don't see their kids and would like to have a normal life for awhile. I applaud their efforts over the last decade or so to provide Peoria with a nice selection of ingredients from the Pacific Rim.

However, all is not lost. (I'm sorry, I do not know the woman's name, so I will call her) Mrs. Lin Hing said they just sold the business and assures me little will change with the new owners. I have a feeling that the new owners MAY be one of the 3 restaurants in that block (Great Wall, Pasand or Thanh Linh) as per eavesdropping on another conversation.

Thanks Lin Hing!!

Wine, Art, Balloon & Jazz Festival

I've probably posted this before, but......

Illinois River Wine, Art, Balloon, & Jazz Festival



Date:
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Time:
11:00am - 8:00pm
Location:
Memorial Park, Manito Illinois
Street:
400 E. Southmoor Street
City/Town:
Manito, IL


Description

Eleven Illinois Wineries along with central Illinois artisans, jazz musicians, and hot-air balloonists will participate in this fun event! You can enjoy wine tasting, then purchase your favorites to enjoy at home. Of course, you may want to purchase a glass of your favorite wine to enjoy while listening to your favorite jazz tunes in beautiful Memorial Park. Artisans will be displaying and selling their unique creations. Always a highlight, local hot-air balloonists will lift-off at 6:00pm, then create a "night glow" at 8:00pm (weather permitting). Food will be available!
11:00am-2:00pm - Sally Wiesenburg and The Famous Sidemen
2:00pm-5:00pm - David Hoffman & Friends
5:00pm-8:00pm - Joe Metzka & Friends

Tickets: 10.00pp includes souvenir wine glass and 5 tasting tickets!

If you want to attend, but not pay & taste the wines, there is a $5.00 admission charge. Children are admitted for free.

Somewhere is the midst of all this, I will be cooking. As it is currently slated, I'm most likely cooking ribeye steak sandwiches and Polish Cheddarwurst.



Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm Making a Dental Appointment - I Think I've Gritted My Teeth Away

Several years ago, my readers were well aware of my protests of Illinois House Bill HR 429 which, among many things, halted the shipments of alcoholic beverages from retail establishments outside Illinois, a privilege Illinoisans had for over a decade. As a wine lover, I was despondent over this as I would occasionally find some very unique wines available in shops and now could not obtain them due to this law. What a sad, sad thing.

I try to buy as many of my wines locally and do my best to support local Illinois wineries and regional (just dumped $100s in Missouri). But some wines just can not be bought in Illinois that I would love to get my greedy little hands on. This all comes about again as this was brought to my attention:

1999 Bert Simon Serriger W├╝rtzberg Riesling Auslese Artist Label 1.5L

SKU #1053453

This is a K&L exclusive and straight from Bert's cellar - "Who Is Afraid Of The Brandenburg Gate" The title was influenced by the artist Barnett Newman Pate and this original "Who is afraid of Yellow, Red and Blue". Mr. Koeppelf's versions of The Brandenburg Gate were done in various styles including Picasso, Miro, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Dali, Mondrian, etc. In this case a 1999 Serriger Wurtzberg Riesling Auslese from the Bert Simon estate was paired with a Paul Klee version of the Brandenburg Gate. A group of wine journalists chose specific wines for the different versions of the Brandenburg Gate. This Riesling Auslese is spicy and presents great richness to the palate with salty minerals on a wide carpet of yellow fruits, especially apricots, along with spicy acidity to add support to a corset of taste. Only 360 magnums were produced with only 120 brought to the United States. For the year 2009, they added a celebration sticker which notes: 1989 - The Wall came tumbling down celebrating 20 years of freedom, creativity and growth in Berlin.


Read that? K&L exclusive. A wine shop in CA, which means unless I know someone in one of the states to which they will ship (as the little Illinois wine Hitlers won't let them ship it to me direct), no 1999 Bert Simon Artist Label for me unless it gets purchased and sold by said person on-line somewhere.

Yes, I do know people in wine friendly states and e-mails and phone calls will be made.

Oh, and our local then representative, now Congressman Schock was a co-sponsor of this bill/law, who wouldn't return my e-mails or letter...not even a form version.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

More shamless self promotion

And just who is this guy on page 9?

http://travelhost.com/peoria/magazine.jsp

Gotta love publicity. Now that scene from "the Jerk" is going through my head "The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

Monday, May 03, 2010

In Quest of Norton

The Norton grape. I long ago became a fan of this grape made into wine. As its principle grower are the wineries in Missouri (although the wineries in Virginia may refute this) I made the trek to the wine mecca of the Midwest: Hermann, Missouri. However, over the last decade, those treks have become less and less. What used to be a twice a year pilgrimage, now is 2-3 times a decade.

However, the darling of the Missouri wine business hasn't always been Norton. When I started going to Stone Hill Winery and Hermanoff back in the early-mid 1980s, it was Riesling. However, riesling for a number of reasons, fell out of favor to Vignoles. Meanwhile, I think the whole state was struggling with its reds. Your normal (for the midwest, anyway) grapes such as Chambourcin, St. Vivant and St. Croix seemed over-oaked or greenish in their flavors. Norton was around, but I don't think they quite figured it out, either. I don't think it was me. I liked red wines, I just didn't like the wines these grapes were producing.

But the winemakers in Missouri, especially around Hermann, have got it d-o-w-n. For the last 20 years, I've been drinking them erratically and collecting a precious few mainly to see how they age.

This weekend a small group of my friends and I went to a Norton tasting in Hermann, MO. We tried several different Nortons from several different wineries and several different years. We were surprised that Stone Hill was pouring its 2000...out of magnum, no less!!! I possess a few bottles of this and I now know I can leave it set a few more years. Of course, it was the hands down winner of all the Nortons we tried as other wineries were pouring 2004, 2005 and mostly 2006. Did try a 2008, but it was waaaaay too young.

So, now I've had my Norton fix.

Why Norton? And why a junkie-sounding fix. First of all, it is an American grape...not a French grape like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah (or for you Aussies - Shiraz). It is a BIG, brooding red that just screams for red meat which is why it is something I don't drink every day...or week....or month. Besides, most of them need some age and I'm waiting for the newer vintages and want to save to older ones for an occasion more worthy than "what wine should I open tonight?" Next, regardless of what it is, it makes a wine - with some age- that I enjoy. And for less than $20 a bottle, a good one will easily stomp a $20 California counterpart Cabernet or Merlot into the ground. Last, it is the midwest. We are supposed to grow corn and soybeans, not grapes producing world class wines. Don't think they are good enough to be called that? There are several wineries boasting Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, etc. ratings in the 90s (on a 100 point scale). Not bad considering we are supposed to be riding our tractors through the cornfields screaming YEE-HAW!!

Yes, yes, I work for a winery here in IL, so why am I yammering on about MO and their Nortons? Each is what they are. Life would be boring if we never went outside our boundaries. It is about education. I don't know who said it, but the verbiage is "One can never learn too much. The more one knows, the more they seek to learn." (In other words, if you think you know everything, you're an idiot). It is about being able to converse with people about wines no matter where they, or the wines, are from and to educate or be educated by these people.

So, after you have consumed at least a case of IL wine, pop open a bottle of Norton from MO (Stone Hill and Hermannhof would be good choices...and might be your ONLY choices here in the Peoria area) and you'll see why I'm a fan.