Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chicago's Gun Restriction Shot Down

Well, by now most have probably heard that the Supreme Court has declared Chicago's handgun ban unconstitutional. Yea for the Supreme Court. I am simply amazed how Daley and all his yesmen pawns think that banning handguns from law-abiding citizens will slow down crime. (How has that worked for them in the last 20+ years, BTW?) That is like thinking taking away cars from people who never have been in an automobile accident will slow down traffic fatalities. Its about as assbackwards as it gets.

So, of course, Daley's gaggle of goons are already in the process of how to stop handguns from getting into law abiding citizens' hands. Nothing about how to get illegally possessed guns out of criminals hands, which if I were a mayor of a large city, would be more of a concern to me. Hey, I'm just a cook, a lowly cook. What do I know about government matters?

And here are some of the ideas they are tossing around (via the PJ Star):

Council members seemed eager to pass a tough new ordinance that Georges also said might prohibit those convicted of two or more times of drunken driving or drug offenses from possessing a handgun and could require Chicagoans in homes with children to secure guns in a locked box or equip them with trigger locks.

One alderman, Edward Burke, suggested that Chicago follow the lead of some other cities by requiring those convicted of gun offenses to register with the city just as convicted sex offenders are required to do.

Another, Fredrenna Lyle, voiced her support for requiring gun owners have some kind of insurance, saying that the city already requires those with dogs deemed dangerous to beef up their insurance.

"I don't think there is anything that is more dangerous than a firearm in the hands of someone that has no training and no ability and no knowledge," she said.

Ok, it is me again. OK, fine. Do all of those things. I feel most unnecessary, but... But make the law for EVERYONE, just not legal handgun owners.

HUH? you ask. Well, if you illegally possess a handgun in the city of Chicago, you are subjected to the same laws. It better be locked up or triggerlocked if you have kids in the house. If not, in addition to any other crimes committed, you get smacked with that, too. No extra insurance on your illegally possessed handgun? OOPPS! There is another law broken. You don't register your illegal handgun? Someone give the judge another book to throw. You didn't get proper training to use your illegally possessed handgun. Shame on you and here is your punishment.

So, lets see. Bob shoots John with his illegally possessed .451 Detonics Magnum and splatters John over half of Chicago's west side. John dies. Along with the murder charge, Bob also wins the following prizes tacked onto his John killing sentence: Gun not registered. No insurance. No training. Poor Bob, not only does he get to spend the next 30 years in Menard for spraying John's body parts all over the place, now he gets some healthy fines or maybe extra jail time for not having proper certifications, etc. for his handgun. What is good for the goose.....

And Fredrenna Lyle, I have no words of rebuttal to express my disbelief of your "I don't think there is anything that is more dangerous than a firearm in the hands of someone that has no training and no ability and no knowledge" statement when suggesting that future gun owners need more insurance as they may not know how to shoot. (I need help from John McEnroe here..You can not be serious!) WOW is there some criminal handgun school that teaches the people who illegally possess handguns how to shoot making it OK for THEM to have handguns? Is it some secret society with geometrically positioned baseball caps, dress codes and complicated handshakes? Oh, yeah, those are called gangs and I'm sure that since economic times are hard right now, they've discontinued their "Be a safe thug" gun safety program.

Let's see what Daley comes up with. There are as many people ready to "fire back" (excuse the pun) at Daley's future bans, etc. already calling some of the proposals unconstitutional and against civil rights. One thing is for certain, he won't get shot...the criminals in Chicago must love this guy!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not Again, Aaron!!

Are you kidding me?

Most of my readers know that I was furious with our then IL House of Representatives Aaron Schock for voting YES on HB 429 which has essentially stopped a lot of shipping of wine (as well as other alcohol) from out of state retailers into Illinois. Infuriating me further, is that I didn't even get a run-of-the-mill form letter in response to my e-mail and letter asking him to change his mind on the vote.

OK, now sitting on Capitol Hill is HR 5034, a bill that would strengthen each state's ability to control what alcohol, and from where, gets shipped to consumers of that state. Mr. Schock is a CO-SPONSOR of this bill. WTF, Aaron?!?!?!?! Illinois Liquor and Beer Distributors lining your pockets?? What do you have against wine being shipped into IL? When I can buy any wine made on the planet here in central Illinois, THEN I won't be pissed off about this. But until various vintages and selection of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Knebel Winninger Rottgen Rieslings, Jasper Hill "Cornella" Grenache or something more specific like 2006 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Truffières" are sitting on the shelves at Wine Country or Super Liquors, this bill is bullshit. You can buy Cuban cigars on the internet and have them shipped here and they are frikkin' illegal. All this does is gives area liquor distributors further control on what we can drink and what gives them the biggest profit. Ken Wright has been making Pinot Noirs in Oregon for at least 15 years. Why are they just now making it to Peoria. Same thing for Four Vine wines. Do the Peoria area liquor distributors just deem us dumb Peorians not good enough for these wines?

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Preconceived Notions

Recently, when the clean-up is complete after a Wine & Dine Experience at Willett's Winery, we'll pop the cork on a bottle of wine that I've had in my cellar that is most likely approaching, at, or slipping past their prime. We've enjoyed some amazing wines: 1955 Chateau Pichon Lalande. 1970 Dom Perignon, Recently Disgorged, 1998. 1975 Rheinart Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Eiswein (also, no English on this bottle).

Last night proved a lot of fun. I hid the label to protect any preconceived notions about the winemaker. The wine was a 1983 California (Sonoma) Cabernet Sauvignon which I had in possession before I even went to culinary school and was stored in some less than stellar locations at times. The cork was solid and the wine had not even seeped a 1/4 inch into it. Unbelievably, this wine only showed a hint of bricking; it was still a deep ruby hue. Blackberries, plum, prune, fennel, chocolate and baking spices (which we later agreed was very cardamom-like) were all seamlessly intertwined in this wine all wrapped up in a healthy dose of toasty oak. And the wine still had power: it would have lasted another 10 years easily.

I doubt little of this exists because I think few would have tried to age this for this long. But, I'm a little crazy like that.

So, what is this preconceived notion I talk about? This wine was from Ernest & Julio Gallo. Yeah, the people who are probably more well known for their Hearty Burgundy in a jug and a lot of other mid to lower end wines. But, they have property in Sonoma from where these grapes were sourced and obviously did some amazing things with them. The back label said the wine aged 59 months in Slovakian oak barrels, then bottled and FINALLY released in 1990. No one does this. Not the great houses like Lafite and Margaux in Bordeaux nor Romanee-Conti in Burgundy. You will see the '09 Bordeauxs hit the shelves in '12 (if we're around if you believe the Mayan calendar hype and where they may stay as they are going to demand astrophreakinomical prices).

Yes, the Gallos still have top tier wines like their Estate line and the various single vineyard wines. I don't know if they still age their top tier cabs for 7 years before releasing them, but....

No, this isn't the beginning of some rant about "don't judge a book by its cover", blah, blah, blah. You can take it that way if you will.

The story doesn't stop here. A couple of years ago, I, along with friends had the 1978 version of this wine which was more amazing and part of the reason I opened the '83.

Another two wines

I've been reporting on the wines I've been drinking of late as a new part of my blog. Most I have enjoyed. However, these next two you should seriously seek (and then drink, well, after you get home).

Of course, I have to plug my employer first. The Willetts just bottled the '07 (I believe; they don't vintage date their wines) Vidal Blanc. Without going into great detail, this wine has been somewhat of a pain for owner/winemaker Dan as it just didn't play the game that Dan wanted it to. Somewhere along the line recently, the two have made a compromise and after almost 3 years, a glorious product has resulted. You are being warned: This isn't going to last very long, but not due to lack of supply, it is selling like crazy and has only been "on the market" for a few days. If you aren't in your car now to head to the winery or to the Shoppes at Grand Prairie to get this, and they're out, it's your fault. The wine is a pale straw color and is LOADED with red apple, melon and grapefruit flavors and is slightly sweet at 2% residual sugar. Got to watch yourself, though: it is too easy to drink, but packs 11.7% alcohol which one would never guess. Some slightly spicy garlic shrimp and this would be a very tasty combination. Available only at the winery in Manito or at Willett's retail outlet at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. Should set you back a Hamilton and a Lincoln, or so.

The other wine I had caught my eye due to the snazzy labeling. Not a reason to buy a wine, but the wine was from a grape called Monastrell (which is known as Mourvedre in most other parts of the world) from the Jumilla region of Spain. If you know me, I see a wine that is slightly different or I haven't heard of it is almost reason enough for me to buy it. The wine is the '09 Tarima Monastrell. Blueberries, black cherries, chocolate, black licorice and violets just rock this wine. It is also v-e-r-y hard to believe this wine sees no oak as it is stainless steel fermented. If this is true, it is a double WOW!!! Great just to drink, as is, this is definitely a grilled red meat type of wine. Got it a UFS but believe I saw it at Friar Tuck's. $12-ish

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Idiots with Guns

Local activist, Carl Cannon, in response to the six persons shot Sunday morning says " ...its time citizens take back streets and neighborhoods from the idiots with guns". Meanwhile, people in the area, along with probably most of Peoria are becoming increasingly scared and fed up with this type of behavior. Of course, it brings up the debate about concealed carry. The victims of Sunday shooting wouldn't have had any (legal) concealed carry as it was (from what I've read) a high school age party. I'm sure gun control advocates are using these incidents to point for tighter restrictions on obtaining guns.

I doubt concealed carry will do much good against random drive-by violence. By the time it happens, the vehicle is probably long gone before you even draw your weapon trying to dodge bullets. More gun control laws won't work as the criminal element doesn't give a shit about laws. I will bet anyone $100 the person(s) responsible for the six shot on Sunday was a. not the legal owner of the gun AND 2. didn't have a valid FOID card.

What to do. First, the wrist slapping has to stop. The person who did this, if found and convicted should never see the light of day. I don't care if they are a juvenile. The way to get this to stop is LONG prison sentences. Not a year or three. Thats cool..it gives you street cred. If the criminal element won't respect the current gun laws, give them something they do understand: 75 years for randomly shooting 6 people during a drive by. Juvies go from juvie to "the big house" when they turn 21...do not pass go, do not collect $200 and no get out of jail free card.

Lets try this:

Possession of a firearm that is not registered to you (or you have permission from the rightful owner) and no valid FOID card: 20 years

Possession of a stolen firearm: 25 years

Use of either in a crime: 30 years (plus the 20-25 years for possession)

Firing said weapon during a crime: 50 years (plus the 20-25 years for possession)

No time off for good behavior. The first dozen or so put away under these new laws will learn the hard way, but it will send a message to others. The citizens, cops and prosecutors are sick of this shit and my ass is going to rot if I get caught. I seriously doubt many want to spend the next 75 years in Menard for a drive-by. Maybe they will ask themselves is it worth getting caught.

There is a young man wandering Peoria right now with a couple of felony handgun convictions, including the possession of a stolen firearm by a felon, to his credit. The last (that I'm aware of) was the possession of a stolen firearm charge. Lets see: he wasn't 21 years of age for any of these so he didn't have a FOID card. Nor was the legal owner of the guns in which he was in possession before the possession of a stolen firearm by a felon. And what did he get for a sentence? Two years PROBATION!! This is why your streets are getting shot up. Just keep returning convicted gun felons to the streets.

Don't give me this "feel good, rehab" crap. If previous and ongoing attempts would have worked, this wild west crap wouldn't be happening.

On a side note, in the article reporting on this shooting, there is a video. Play the video. Look over the reporter's right shoulder. Are those MATTRESSES laying in the street/yard? You get a real close look at about :39.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Now Ain't That Odd?

I've noticed this before, but never investigated until today.

As I'm heading SW on SW Jefferson, I see a sign that directs you to take a LEFT on MacArthur to get to the airport. HUH? So, today I follow the signs. You take a left on MacArthur, a right on Washington and come to the Washington/Adams split by Morning Glory Ministries (Old South Side Worm Ranch) where you take a left to head into Bartonville. Before getting to Bartonville, you pick up 474 West and then take Airport Road.

Hmmm...isn't it simpler to drive one more block south on Jefferson and pick up Rt. 116 to Airport Road?

I wonder why "the powers who are" that figure this stuff out decided to do this?

A German white (and how to read those darn German wine labels)

2002 Aspisheimer Johannisberg Bacchus Kabinett. Huh? What? OK, I'll explain. 2002 is the year. I think ya p-r-o-b-a-b-l-y got that one. When reading the label of really good German wines, you'll see about 4 words as above. The first word is the city in which in which the vineyard (second word) is located. So the grapes from this wine are from the Johannisberg vineyard in the town of Aspisheim (the -er is a possessive). The next word is the grape variety...in this case (and the reason I bought this wine) is Bacchus, which is a kind of hard to find little cousin of Riesling. The last word is the ripeness of the grapes when they were picked...in this case, Kabinett, which will produce a just slightly sweet wine. Other words here would be: Spatlese is sweeter than Kabinett, Auslese is sweet, Beerenauslese costs too damn much money, Trockenbeerenauslese will set you back a cold winter's monthly CILCO bill payment...for a HALF bottle and Eiswein, call your loan manager. You get the picture, they get sweeter and more expensive the bigger the words get (well, except Eiswein).

A-N-Y-W-A-Y, this wine smells like honey, nectarines and apricots. The color is light golden. I'm thinking "this looks a little to rich and sweet looking for a Kabinett". The flavor is of ripe, ripe peaches with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Now, I'm the first person to say that Kabinetts are not sweet; its the fruit. Kabinetts are supposed to be 2% residual sugar or less. I have a HARD time believing this is 2% or less. It is very tasty but a bit heavy to be refreshing. It also lacks acidity which means it is just like biting into a fresh peach (except no chewing involved) which makes it a little unbalanced for my taste. But two things are going for it: 1. its only 8% alcohol and 2. should be a perfect foil for spicy food due to its lack of acidity.

Not quite my cup of tea, but I'm far from crying over my $7 curiosity expenditure. You can find this at Friar Tucks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fun Friday Event

Yes, I use my blog for SSP...shameless self promotion. This Friday night, Willett's Winery & Cellar will have a Cruise-In combined with music by local blues favorite, Cobalt Canopy and food from The Ironstone Room. For you non-wine lovers (what's the matter with you - just kidding) there are several beers and soft drinks available.

Music runs from 7-10 pm, food 6-9:30 pm. Check out the new outdoor patio area!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two more wines

I've had two wines recently, so here is my "report".

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the latest offering from my employer, Willett's Winery. The new St. Croix was bottled yesterday. St. Croix is a medium bodied red grape suited to be grown in cold weather climates. The nose is of plums, black cherries and a hint of smoke. On the palette, the same fruit flavors, a small hint of vegetable and well integrated smoky oak. Not a lot of tannin, acid or alcohol in this wine which makes it a good food wine and a wine for the "I don't like red wine" person or the red wine novice. For those of you familiar with Willett's St. Croix, this is a lot more full bodied than their previous offering. Available at the winery and in a few days at their shop at Grand Prairie.

The second is Kono Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Smells like Sauv. Blanc: green apple, gooseberry, citrus, grass. The first sip about knocked me out of my chair!! This wine is very bright and the fruit explodes out of the glass. The vibrancy of this wine would probably do a better job of waking you up in the morning than espresso!! Lots of lime, kiwi, gooseberry and green apple which unfortunately fade far too quickly into the grassy flavors for which Sauvignon Blanc is known. Ok, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it is just a little too disjointed for my tastes, but if you love the "fruit bomb" wines, this is for you. Pick it up at Friar Tucks.

Over-The-Limit Options

I recently got a (form) letter from one of my credit card companies. It informed me that I now had options when it came to going over my limit.

1. The do-nothing option which when I try to charge something and that charge will put me over the limit, it will deny that purchase.

2. Switch to option B, which will allow me to go over my limit, but charge me $35.00.

3. Their new "overdraft protection" option which lets me go over my limit, doesn't charge me $35.00, but there is a monthly fee for this.

Personally, all of these options suck. They aren't options for the consumer, they are options for the credit card company. Either be cheap and embarrassed that your card didn't work, or spend yourself into oblivion at an additional charge (which you probably can't afford in the first place if you are over your limit). As I'm nowhere near my limit, I'm pretty sure I'll stick to option A as I didn't see my preferred method: When I go over, a provocatively dressed Jessica Biel shows up, buys me a drink and personally lets me know...for free. I'd be over my limit several times a day.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Three Summer Wines You Need To Try.

When you aren't drinking wine from Willett's Winery & Cellar, I'd like to give you a heads up on three wines I've found refreshing for the summer.

First, the real oddball in the bunch: 2008 Trivento Torrontes from Argentina. "HUH?", you ask. Me too. I'm a sucker for wines I've never heard of and had to have this. Trivento is the producer and Torrontes is the grape variety. Yeah, I've never heard of it either until now. But seriously, this is a nice summer wine. Reminds me of a cross between a Pinot Grigio and a riesling. The nose screams semi-dry riesling. Nice floral and peach flavors ending up with some citrus all wrapped up in a medium light body. Has a good enough foundation to complement some lighter food, but is great on its own. Found this at Schnucks for $12.

This is only one suggestion, although it is two wines. Either Famega or Gazela Vihno Verde from Portugal. Both of these are ultra light wine...in fact, they come in clear bottles and look like bottles of water. However, both are very light citrus, only 9% alcohol and completely dry, though the fruit is very bright. Oh, and here is the kicker: When you open them, they have bubbles like champagne!! It is more than a spritz like some German rieslings, these have serious bubbles!! Found these at UFS, though they were out of the Famega brand the last time I was there. And even better, I think both are under $7.

Last, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein "Dragonstone" Riesling from the Rheingau region of Germany. For about $13 at Friar Tucks, this is an amazing wine for the price. While it does have some sweetness, it does bring out the tidal wave of flavors from peach to apple to lemon-lime and even hints of red fruit combined with bracing acidity. This goes down faaaaar too easy on a hot summer day!

New Idea For My Blog

I've been struggling with what to do with my blog.

I originally set out to do restaurant reviews and report (and comment) on issues facing restaurants today. After being challenged about my ability to have a neutral stance while at work one day, I started having some second thoughts. It wasn't about doing the reviews as much as it was that I never once mentioned where I worked on my blog, yet some angry stranger tracked me down via this blog.

Now, I'm back in the restaurant game and I felt that reviewing other restaurants probably isn't appropriate.

So, I've been searching for something food related I could write about. As I write for Peoria Dining and Food Magazine, I didn't want to become an online Journalist, too (no offense to the on line journalist types out there in the blogging world). But, Speaking of Peoria Area Dining and Food Magazine (which has a snazzy new website), the editor needed another article for July and gave me the "anything I want" option. So, I did an article on Summer wines.

BINGO!! That's it!! That is what I'm going to do. I'm going to post on all the recent wines I've had and where I got them. I'm sure someone out there is saying "Dude, you work for a winery, why would you go buy wine?" Well, variety is the spice of life and while I can have a glass (or more) almost anytime I'd like, there are only so many and I already know what they all taste like.

Yes, I'll continue to blog about my trial and tribulations with my yard and house and crazy issues that happen to me and pedestrians who walk all willy nilly and how spend thrift out local government is with our taxpayers money for things that (IMHO) are high risk adventures that should be out of pocket for those who want those things.

Of course, if I hear of any new restaurants opening or have a really good experience at one, I'll mention it.

Anyway, that is where I am going with my blog.

Dead trees

I come home last night from work and curse my grass for being so tall already....I just mowed it Monday. I go to my mailbox, which appears to be overflowing, from just one day's mail. After digging through two mail order magazines, two bills (which I thought I've, numerous times, requested to just get the online version), two credit card offers, another DirectTV offer for the restaurant I closed 9 years ago, Comcast wanting me to switch, the 20 gazillionth AT&T offer to consolidate my home, wireless, internet, etc. and lord knows what else, I only came across one thing I cared about: The Friar Tuck Wine of the Month postcard.

I just don't get it. One of the magazines I don't ever recall ordering from, the other was an online purchase years ago. The others are constant. One would think that these companies would track if the shit they are sending is producing results and if not, stop killing trees by sending me all this crap. The only benefit of all this is to be able to start the BBQ grill this summer without using lighter fluid.