Friday, October 29, 2004

More celebrity sightings!

Instead of a quiet, peaceful lunch in front of the art museum, last Wednesday we spent lunch with P. Diddy, Mary J. Blige, and Leo DiCaprio.

And everyone else at the "Vote or Die" rally.

P. Diddy was channeling the Rev. Jess Jackson, except with threatening slogans, Mary J., I'm sad to say, was a rambling idiot, and Leo sounded like an earnest 7th-grader giving a school report. Calls for the candidates to concern themselves with poverty and urban blight got perfunctory "woo hoos" but the issue of finding jobs for graduating students got wild "WOO HOOOOOS!" This is Case, after all, not Berkeley.

I thought they were giving away chips and sodas, but it turns out they were charging for them. Feh.

Fortunately, someone from Terra Chips, makers of gourmet root vegetable chips (like taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata, and parsnip), was there giving out free samples. I tried the Zesty Tomato, which was flavored with tomato, Worcestershire sauce and celery. The chips are thicker and harder than ordinary ones, and it was a bit salty, but otherwise quite good. The flavor was a tad overwhelming, but it's something different.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tryout Tuesday (on Thursday)

One day, driving in the car, Foodgoat and I tried to come up with a list of the best, the most recommended, the not-to-missed Cleveland restaurants.

After 10 minutes of struggling, we only had one place on the list.

What kind of food-lovin' gourmets are we? The kind that don't go out to eat very often, and when they do, the kind that always go to the same, familiar places for the same, familiar dishes.

Well, I'm fixin' to change that. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Hence begins Tryout Tuesdays. Every other Tuesday, we will venture into a new restaurant. We'll take turns choosing the experimental location, no questions asked.

The inaugural dinner (put off for two days) was my pick, and it was John Christie's Tavern down on East 185th. Why? Because Cleveland Scene said it had the best pierogi dinner, that's why.

The Tavern has dark wood booths, gnomes in one of the windows, and a cozy, neighborhood-y atmosphere. Foodgoat ordered the pierogi dinner: 3 big, heavy, but delicious potato and cheese pierogies. It's status at Cleveland Scene is much deserved.

I went out on a limb and tried the Cincinnati Chili, which is just chili on top of spaghetti, with cheddar cheese and sour cream. It was good, but not as good as the pierogies. I enjoyed the basket of onion rings much more, which had a yummy batter around real onion.

Mmmmmm ... onion rings.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Liberal Celebrity Sighting!

What could get me out of bed at 8 on a Sunday morning? Why, a training, of course. I need to mobilize!

Oh, and a chance to be that close to Robert Redford. (Chad Lowe was there too but who's he, anyway?) He was there as part of Bring Ohio Back, which had Martin Sheen and John Glenn in town too, but I didn't get to see them.

Didn't get a chance to ask him if the Natural is dead or alive at the end of the movie though, which would settle a long-running debate between Foodgoat and I.

There was, disappointingly, no food present. I did have a big Starbucks coffee, which tasted just noxious, and a chocolate cream cheese muffin, which I put in my pocket and promptly forgot about, so that will be breakfast for me tomorrow.

Friday, October 22, 2004

more random news

Peruvians are trying to promote giant guinea pigs, a traditional meat in the rural Andes, as the newest delicacy for Americans. They say it tastes like rabbit. [via the daily grail]

Just when you think every angle has been covered ... In Berlin, the new restaurant Sehnsucht ("Longing") employs bulimic waitress and an anorexic chef, has an advice center and a refuge, and calls rack of lamb "Ravenous Hunger." [from Right This Way]

Posted above the napkin dispenser at the University of Chicago Divinity School Café [swiped from farkleberries]:
"No matter how many napkins you take, your life will still be a mess. Please take only one or two."
You have to hand it to poor Martha Stewart, she always seems to find good things. As she used to say, when life hands you a minimum-security prison camp, make crabapple jelly. [thanks to the Food Section]

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Who's that clean-cut young man in a striped pink button-down shirt ... and blue jeans? Hold on to your hats, kids: it's Foodgoat himself. I know it's hard to recognize him when he's not wearing black shirts with black pants, his daily uniform since he was 16, but never fear, he hasn't gone conventional: he's protesting.

His place of employment, or rather, its new and uptight CEO, recently resurrected an antiquated dress code from the 1977. No jeans, ties preferred on men, no bare legs on women, no artificial nails, two earrings max per ear. While Foodgoat, like all of us, appreciates a smartly-dressed colleague, he resents an employer that actually hires fashion police. Especially since he works in a lab where no one except other lab monkeys might see him. Especially when at the same time they cut health benefits.

Hence begins the Rebellion.

Fruits of paradise?

It being Ramadan, I seem to be on a Muslim streak. Today's factoid comes courtesy of a New York Times op-ed several months ago. It seems that the 72 black-eyed virgins promised in the Koran to martyrs for the jihad may in fact be a mistranslation.
The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Koran, and there's growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.

For example, the Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get "hur," and the word was taken by early commentators to mean "virgins," hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant "white" and was commonly used to mean "white grapes."

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown.
My idea of paradise does not include white grapes, but it does prominantly feature chocolate truffles, perfectly ripe mangoes, apple strudel, sticky rice and Filipino languanisa, vanilla bean lemonade, a large roasted pig, cinnamon toast, and churros.

I wouldn't ask for 72 virgins, but a couple of tap dancers would be nice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hey baby, how 'bout a date?

Ramadan marches on, and traditionally, the first meal you have when the sun finally sets is dates and milk. Dates, fruit of a type of palm tree (which is probably the biblical tree of life) and the staple food of many Arab tribes since the dawn of civilization, look and taste like giant golden raisins with a big seed in the middle: wrinkly, slightly sweet, and chewy. It's a tasty snack, and I'm sorry I only bought four of them at the market.

I ate them for lunch straight up, but I wish I had saved one to eat the popular way: replacing the pit with a lump of butter. Butter, as we all know, makes everything taste better.

Monday, October 18, 2004

E! True Cereal Story

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this cereal box is worth this hilarious post on This Afternoon in Drama about the background story behind something claiming to have "Tastier Twigs!."

You know you're in for a good story when it starts,
"Patty was a Schizophrenic, and one of her most dominant alternate personalities was that of a fifty-something Filipino man named Tuazon...."

Two unrelated food news

One stewardess (excuse me, I mean flight attendant) engages in her own In-Flight Survivor by living off of airplane food for an entire year [from Right This Way]
She took the fruit left on the unused breakfast trays, cereals, yogurts, bread rolls, and made sandwiches from the leftover deli platters. She had the most impressive-sized flask and was a walking ad for Tupperware. ... She had lost 40 pounds, estimated her grocery bill savings at $9,000, and was planning to run a marathon in a couple of months.
That can't have been tasty. Unless the food is much better in first class. I certainly wouldn't know.

I lost what little interest I had in the baseball playoffs waaaay back when the Angels fizzled. But I liked reading what the respective mayors have wagered on the series.

If Los Yanques win yet again (grrrrr!), the Boston mayor concedes ...
An authentic New England Clam bake for four including lobsters, steamers, shrimp and clam chowder from Yankee Lobster; 10 lbs of Pearl Country Club ¼ lb. all beef natural casing frankfurters; one "You're a real winner" bouquet of balloons from Geneva Balloons; one case of Harpoon IPA; a case of Sam Adams Boston Lager; one case of Lobster Ravioli from Serino's in Hyde Park; "Congratulations, watch out next time" marble cake with white butter cream icing decorated with grey and blue pin stripes and Yankees logo from Dutchmaid Bakery; one case of coffee cake featuring red white and blue Patriot Coffee Cake from My Grandma's Coffee Cake in Hyde Park; Boston Cream Pie, the official dessert of the State of Massachusetts, from the Omni Parker House Hotel, where it was invented; Reverse the Curse Cookies from the Dancing Deer Baking Company in Roxbury; 2 pounds of homemade milk chocolate baseballs from Phillips Candy; 2 gallons of Boston homemade creamy ice cream; a dozen Boston Pretzels, homemade angel hair pasta dinner fine linguini noodle served in "RED SOX" clam sauce from Spinelli's in East Boston.
Comparatively, if Boston can shake off the Curse of the Bambino, they get ...
2 pounds each of pastrami, corned beef and brisket, a dozen knishes, three loaves of jumbo seedless rye bread, two pounds of mustard and a bucket of sour pickles, a couple of cheesecakes from world famous Juniors Restaurant in Brooklyn.
I think Boston wins the tasty wager battle, hands down. New York could have at least thrown in a pizza, too. [via gothamist]

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Happy World Food Day!

(thanks for the food museum blog for the head's up)

And biodiveristy is the theme. First, didja know ... ?
People depend on just 14 mammal and bird species for 90 percent of their food supply from animals. And just four species - wheat, maize, rice and potato - provide half of our energy from plants.
or that ...
FAO estimates that about three-quarters of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops have been lost over the last century. And of 6300 animal breeds, 1350 are endangered or already extinct.
I didn't either.

So to celebrate biodiversity, I picked up four foods I've never tried before at the West Side Market: dates, fresh figs, ugli fruit, and green bamboo rice. Stay tuned for my reviews!

But today I make a particular plea for the banana. Bananas aren't endangered, you may scoff. Bananas are ubiquitous, available all year, at every grocery store. And yet one day when I was in the Philippines, my dad and uncle waxed nostalgic about the dozens upon dozens of banana varieties they remembered from their youth now increasingly scarce. Not only are many interesting varieties being lost, but even the familiar, far more common variety of banana, the Cavendish, is being threatened with extinction in ten years ... because of a lack of genetic diversity.

So look for other banana varieties. Try a plantain, for instance. And don't keep bananas in the fridge.

Friday, October 15, 2004

back, and with pretzels

My blog, how I've neglected you. It's only now, however, that I've been able to type (and thus blog) comfortably, suffering as I have been for the past two weeks with a horrific allergic reaction to tea tree oil. Remember, my sensitive skin friends: patch test, patch test, patch test. Or you too may end up, Mummy-like, with both hands wrapped up in gauze.

In any case, I'm slowly returning to normalcy, albeit without any fingerprints. I flirted briefly with the idea of fasting during Ramadan, to thank the Higher Power that my affliction wasn't flesh-eating disease after all (sometimes self-diagnosis just isn't a good idea), but who am I kidding? I have a hard enough time fasting during Lenten Fridays, let alone fasting a whole month during the daylight hours. And if I don't eat breakfast I get very sad. And if no one else is fasting with you, it's not nearly as interesting. But I will cut out the junk food. Or at least, I'll eat less of it.

The first thing to go will be the Snyder's of Hanover Buttermilk Ranch Pieces. Sounds tasty, no? No. No. Like any good American I love me my Ranch-flavored snacks, but this was just weird.

I recommend, instead, the Honey Mustard & Onion pretzels, which are addictively good.

By the way, if you've ever wondered what I'd be like if I started talking back to the little bird in my mouth and the monkey in my brain, think Mad Pruner of Buena Vista Park (via SFist.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Scavenging along with the wolves at the VP debate

Veganism is weird enough, but freegan? Not only are they not eating cheese, they're getting fruit from dumpsters.

While I'm disgusted by the idea of a salad from a plastic bag from the darkened alley behind the grocery store, I too have been known to scavenge for food. I have a tendency to haunt the refreshment table after events held here at the university. It's a habit picked up back in college, when many a poor, starving student sat through arcane speakers or wandered blankly through new art exhibits just to get at the table of free pizza, brie cheese or mini-quiches.

Just last week dinner (a surprisingly taste pasta salad with artichoke and sun-dried tomatoes) came courtesy of a work meeting.

But as I learned working with John Edwards advance press for the VP debate yesterday, those piddling college refreshments got nothing on the leftover spreads for media people. You really want to eat well for free? Join up with the media corps. Reporters and journalists get treated to much better food, and there were always tons of food left over.

Just look at the lunch (I think catered by Executive Caterers) the press got at the John Edwards townhall meeting in Parma yesterday. The eggplant lasagna was hot and especially cheesy; the cheesecake brownies were yummy. The townhall meeting itself was fun; Dennis Kucinich walked right by me. He's awfully short.

Later that night (after 5 1/2 hours of waiting to get my upgraded, all-access credential, which leaves me with no great confidence in the efficiency of the Secret Service), just before the debate, we stumbled upon this abandoned feast between the media center and the inner sanctum where the party staff were hunkered down. It looked like dinner: salad, rice, chicken ... and four kinds of cheesecake, barely touched. I had the strawberry swirl cheesecake (thumbs up). I thought seriously of coming back after the debate to rescue these poor, neglected desserts.

The media center, during the debate. You can see on the second floor the Budweiser signs where the Anheuser-Busch food court was. They included such odd dishes as brown lentils, red cabbage sauerkraut-type stuff, and boiled potatoes. And, beer and ice cream bars, which cleaned out so quickly I didn't get any. I also saw the food table for the Edwards family and staff, which was provided by La Dolce Vita in Little Italy. I didn't get a picture but I had a nice chat with the La Dolce Vita staff guy.

I had to skip out of the debate early to escort some Fox News crew to the freaky cold rally site by the Botanical Gardens via bus. There, the press file (where the reporters type up their stories) was not only stocked with delicious hot chocolate but also chicken fingers, dessert, and these pigs-in-blankets.

So I ate well and had lots of fun in my stint helping out the Edwards campaign, even though I was exhausted this morning.

More pictures:

Monday, October 4, 2004

The Debate Hits Home

One week later, and I'm finally feeling better. Driving my recovery is the fact that my esteemed alma mater/employer is hosting tomorrow's highly anticipated Vice Presidential debate. Case is all a'flutter, overflowing with news crews, people with Very Important Nametags, and flowerpots that just appeared over the weekend. To partake in this remarkable Historic Event (and because I got the day off anyway!), I signed up to be a volunteer. Here are my thoughts, food-wise.

Saturday, Day 1: Woke up at the ungodly hour of 7 am to go to my first shift, only to be told to just "hang out" until 9 because the credentialing process was pushed back. I had high hopes for the hospitality table. Free food is always good, but it's especially good at a college, and I figured it would be even better for a national event. Alas, no. It wasn't so much the coffee (which was quite fine), or the selection of flavored cream cheese (four!). Rather, it was the big fat (and disgustingly slow) fly that buzzed around the pastries. From whence it came, I know not: it did not have any proper credentials. Insects, frankly, are an appetite killer. I had to dig to the bottom of the danish pile before I felt comfortable having breakfast.

Rest of the morning spent signing in other volunteers, eating free chips and cookies and soda, and feeling jealous of way cooler assignments helping out CNN or CBS.

Sunday, Day 2: Came in at noon and had the challenging task of updating the names on an Excel spreadsheet. But I did get pizza for lunch: 2 corners of a square pizza! Before long I got re-assigned to work at the driveway gate where I got a radio (to confirm everyone trying to drive inside), a newfound sense of power, and no food at all. Someone working with the Commission for Presidential Debates has Domino's Pizza delivered and walk off without offering me any. Newfound sense of power fizzles.

Monday, Day 3: Volunteer HQ gives me a choice - help Eurovision or help the Kerry Edwards campaign? No hesitation here! I skip off to help the Kerry Edwards press staff with a song in my heart. I get a tour of the debate facilities, including the dark, draped debate hall, the vast media center, for the 1,800 press people, and "Spin Alley," where various personalities make pronouncement to TV stations about how it all went. The lil' old gym cleans up real nice. No food, or beer, set up yet in the media hospitality lounge provided by sponsor Anheuser-Busch, though. And I was so busy I didn't get to eat until 2, when we dropped by Jake's Sandwich Shop somewhere near Public Square for a BLT. I'm ashamed to say I forgot to recommend Slyman's for lunch.

Tomorrow I help with the Edwards people again, which means going to Parma for his town hall meeting. Unfortunatly this means I won't be able to go to the Pancake Breakfast the students are holding in the morning, where Kevin Bacon is (supposed) to appear.