There are lots of cover bands blasting tunes out the open doors/windows along Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but we only found one band that was playing authentic Creole/Cajun (not sure which!) music. These guys were great!
Central Grocery is a small Italian grocery store in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I was down there this week for a conference and this was on my 'NOLA Bucket List' as this is the HOME of the original Muffaletta sandwich. These beauties are stuffed with cheese, salamis and most importantly: olive salad. I've had plenty of Muffalettas and I don't know if it was because I was eating this one in the store where it all began - but this was the *best* sandwich of it's kind that I've ever had.
The store itself isn't much to look at. It really is a grocery store with canned/jarred products everywhere.
Nat and I had a discussion about this type of place (the sort of local 'food touchstone' that tourists seek out - like Pat's/Gino's in Philadelphia or Uno's in Chicago). Do you think that they had some great PR person back in the day who got them in travel books (before the web) and then it sort of self-propagated itself? Or...do you think that this type of thing just happened organically?
This guy was just screaming to me at Menards. I just had to take him home before they sold out. We already have the Santa and one reindeer, so I figured it was time to add a second to the herd. Clark W. Griswold had them in his front yard (see them here at the beginning of the video), so if they're good enough for him, they're good enough for the Parrillos!
Last week, we were fortunate to be invited to see a special screening of a movie titled "The Way" in the city at the AMC River East. The screening was hosted by Home Run Inn Pizza (the #1 frozen pizza in Chicago!) and their marketing team put together a pretty great event. We were not only treated to a free movie, but also ate tasty pizza! Oh, and did I mention that both Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez showed up at the screening? And...at our tailgate in South Bend over the weekend? All thanks to the good folks at Home Run Inn.
The movie, directed and adapted by Emilio Estevez and starring his father Martin Sheen was a heartstring-puller. Focusing on a father/son dynamic set on a pilgrimage on the Camino, the movie is a neat combination of family dynamics and history. My one quibble with the film is that it is just a bit too sad. I LOVE going to the movies, but I go for the escape quality that the deliver. Being a parent - and thinking about my relationship with my own father - this film hits a little too close to home for my taste.
There were plenty of lighter moments with the character Yost stealing the scene more than once.
The Way opens on October 7th, but I'm not certain how wide of a release it will be. If it is your theatre, make time to check it out.
Our good friends took Nat and I to the ND-MSU game this weekend. I only heard from 2 comments about my gear all day. Either the Illini don't even register on the ND radar or I guess those Indiana Catholics aren't as confrontational as us Illinois ones.
Costco may have beat them to the punch, but the fine folks at my favorite store - Menards - are hard to top when it comes to Christmas setups. I took the Babe there this weekend and while most of the Halloween stuff isn't even on sale, they've already set up a bunch of their enchanted forest. They have a ton of blowmolds and I may have even picked up something for our yard this season!
This photo shows the interesting dynamic at play in our garden: many of our pumpkins are way out ahead of the season - being BRIGHT ORANGE, some or still in the midst of their growing stages - still green and bulking up on size, and then there's this little guy. It is already mid-September and he's the size of a golfball. He doesn't have a chance to make it does, he? There's not enough warmth left in the air to power him, right?
There were also more than a few opportunities to shake some money free from our pockets - and that seemed fine. We all knew what we were getting into and the overpriced toys and cotton candy were part of the bill. I just wish/hope that some of the concession dough goes to the school and not just the gate.
Unfortunately, we didn't have time to head into this guys booth - which is my favorite part - the Side Show!
These will go into our root cellar. Oh wait. We don't have a root cellar. So, I guess they'll just end up in our pantry for now. And they'll wait for their first appearance next summer when the pizza oven is done. *IF * the pizza oven gets done, I suppose.
Late Friday afternoon, my fifth sports-related went up on the Official Google Blog - this one focused on football. Entitled "It's Kickoff Time for US Football Searches", the piece touched on the behavior of football fans all across the country. I'm just the 'ghost-writer', as this piece is (once again!) signed by someone else.
A few things to note:
1. I was able to sneak in a Jim Mora "Playoffs?!?!" Easter Egg in the post that links to a video clip.
2. I also had a link from the post where I referenced the Bears to Denny Green's "The Bears are who we thought they were. If you wanna crown their asses, then crown 'em!" rant, but that got pulled.
3. In the draft version, I included a link to this chart below (comparing football to religion) when saying that football was a big deal. Again, wiser heads prevailed!
World Series will likely be the next sports post, but that only gets us to six. I'd like to find a few more before the year ends. What other significant events are there in the fall?
Here are the live links to all eleven of my posts on the Official Google Blog:
It was just a bit more than a year ago that we put up the pavilion in our backyard and I've enjoyed a lot of summer days and nights back there ever since. It is made up of (entirely) of treated lumber, so I wanted to wait a while to let some of the green leech out of the boards before applying a color. I picked a toner versus a pure semi-transparent stain and I'm happy with how it turned out. The grain came through and although it now means there's *another* color in our backyard, it turned out great.
A bunch of my pumpkins are way ahead of schedule (due to the hot August maybe?) and they'll likely be rotten long before Halloween comes, but there's a whole separate set of pumpkins that are currently springing up from the vines. These ones are still small - like 12" softballs and are bright green. I planted 3 different kind of seeds: Big Max (competition size), the Trader Joe's Flat-style grey pumpkin, and some other variety (That I can't quite remember!) that is smallish - like a volleyball.
This place came in at #12 on the list - which is surprising once you find this place. It is way out on Lake Street under the El tracks and kind of isolated. At least for this suburban guy, it felt isolated. The place from the front couldn't be cuter, though. In the front part of the store, they have a deli/bakery in each of the front windows. I don't think they're actually open to the public (I don't think you can come in off the street and buy meats to take home), but it seemed like they're using it to 'serve' the restaurant. When we were walking out, a waitress was picking up a salami plate from the deli counter and was set to deliver it to a table.
This is one of those places that you must have to *know* is here to get there, I suppose.
But since it was on the list, we had to try it. For those keeping track at home, here's the full list of pizza places we're trying. This was NOT the best Neapolitan pizza we've had. I'm clearly biased against Neapolitan a bit, but I've had better. I've also had worse. Coalfire was better. Spacca Napoli was worse. (perhaps the $85 bill for 2 pies colors my opinion on Spacca Napoli!)
When you walk into the place it is a bit jarring. This isn't your traditional small 12 table pizza joint. The place is HUGE. And colorful. We had the Babe with us, so we were eating a little early (6 pm), but the place was dead. Just a few other tables were filled. That was kind of sad.
Turns out, the pizza is just a small portion of the menu. This is a traditional Italian joint - with pastas and steaks and chops and such. Pizzas are off to the side of the menu. They have a bunch choices with some interesting combinations.
My dining mate went with the Bianca - which was the recommended pie.
I chose the namesake (Macello) that had these very colorful (and salty) olives.
The upskirt. Interesting texture, but not charred enough for me.
It wouldn't be a pizza post if I didn't include a shot of the oven. Based on the char on the front and the big vent up there, this thing wasn't built properly and isn't drawing the smoke up the chimney enough. That's a shame.
The beans have come in. In a big way. I likely left these on the vines far too long as they've gotten HUGE, but they were so well camouflaged that I missed a bunch of the beans that were still on the vine - until this morning. There must be 100 of them on the counter this morning. And they're like 6+ inches long.
This year I trellised them (post here) and I'm quite pleased with the results. Having the beans come in after Labor Day seems late to me, but perhaps I put them in a bit too late.
Three years ago, Nat and I were married in front of all of our friends and family. We're extraordinarly blessed and lucky that most of them are still in our lives today. Here's to 60 more years together, Nat!
I still think about our wedding a lot - and with Nat being a wedding pro (literally), I think the event was a great representation of ourselves and spoke about who we were and who we wanted to be as a couple. We kept the wedding website (NatalieandJake2008.com) out of search and I think I remember having the guys from 1871 (Thanks Phil and Rick!) meddle with the robots.txt file so that may be why the WayBackMachine doesn't have a copy of the site. But....we do have some relics from the wedding still around. Specifically....I have dug up digital copies of the invites just this morning - Thanks to Flickr (where they have the bulk of my digital life from 2002-2006 locked up! The rehearsal dinner - which was my domain in terms of planning (mostly) was a politically-themed affair. I wrote about the invites in August of 2008 here, but the invites still stand up and warrant a re-post. The wedding invites were *really* girly (in the nicest possible way!), but these invites designed by me (with some help from Curtis Scott - a political advertising company) and fit the bill. The theme was politics - remember....it was fall of 2008 - right it the midst of the McCain/Obama campaign (Nat was a team O member and I was on the *right* side with McCain.
We came up with a slogan ("Together for a better America") - which I think is a riot and even secured a few 'endorsements' - including the Chicago Tribune! Maisy (Margaret Thatcher Moran) is featured prominently in the photos - and even endorsed the marriage (see the fine print!) along with our folks and a fictitious wedding planners union that I made up!
We dressed the 'ole girl up in her holiday best for this weekend's Labor Day festivities. She looked great. Understated, but great. I guess there's nothing like a party to get me to hustle in the yard and landscape beds.
Mark it down: September 3rd. That's the first day we spotted Christmas 'stuff' in a store this year. We were in our Costco yesterday and came across this:
And aisle after aisle of Christmas-related products. Lights. Gift tags. Wrapping paper. And...the toys. My god. The toys.
I've said for a few years that Thanksgiving needs to get better PR folks - because we go from Summer --> Halloween --> right into Christmas without much thought for Thanksgiving. Now maybe Halloween is in trouble, too?!?!
Tomorrow is game day in Illini land. And the first chance in multiple years to start off 1-0. Thanks to someone in the athletic department finally wising up, the Illini are opening up at home against a patsy. Instead of getting beat down my Mizzou in St. Louis year after year. Not only that, but they've somehow managed to schedule EIGHT home games. Oh...and see the starting time up above? It isn't 11 am. Finally....someone (either at UI or up in Park Ridge at the BiG offices) wised up and moved some of these games back. They're bad for the team, bad for fans, and mostly...bad for students. Who wants to get up at 8 am for a tailgate after you've been pounding Captain and Cokes at Kam's until 1 am?
There's a lot of question marks but optimism is all around this program. Wins against weak opponents like Arkansas State, South Dakota State and Western Michigan in the first 3 of 4 weeks sets the team up well for conference play - where they've drawn a manageable slate. If they *somehow* manage to get past the Arizona State Sun Devils and enter conference play 4-0 with a home game against Northwestern, look out!
I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to the Orange and Blue. I can see a best case scenario playing out where they go the go 8-4 and open up 6-0 and get ranked. Winning all four non-conference games plus the first two BiG games is doable (Northwestern and Indiana). Then all that's left to do is lose to Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Pick up wins against Purdue and Minnesota and we're finishing up with a big-time Bowl game.
I plucked these two little pretties off of the vine this morning and they're perfectly soft and yellow. They've started to come in a bit earlier than last year. These Green Zebras are the only non-Roma variety in the entire garden, so they'll be worth savoring. The rest of the bunch is mostly intended to end up in a canning jar in preparation for the forth-coming backyard pizza oven in 2012.