Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Howl-O-Ween!

Scene from the 6th Annual Happy Howl-O-Ween Dog Parade & Costume Contest, sponsored by the Andersonville South Neighborhood Association.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream

When I visited my cousin this past summer, I was quite impressed by what a good host she was: she took me to the best ice cream place in Madison, WI. Students at University of Wisconsin are not the only people to be blessed by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. They distribute many Midwestern states, including exotic locations like Andersonville in Chicago. Yes, their product is sourced by George’s, my neighborhood enabler, to which I recently made my autumnal waddle for Snap O’ Lantern ice cream (pumpkin ice cream with gingersnap cookie dough).

The company makes over 100 flavors available for wholesale. This translated into some exciting options at the hometown scoop shop. Coconut Almond Bliss (my favorite), Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (Raspberry cheesecake with Oreos and chocolate chips) and—be still my beating heart—Horchata! (It has been in the back of my mind for years to do a blog post about horchata, but I want to try it at every place in Chicago first…which is nearly impossible.)

Another appealing element of this super premium ice cream is their nutrition information. And I quote: “Don’t even ask…You want nutrition, eat carrots.”

Note from 2012: Here is the blog post I eventually did about horchata.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

International Brad Day

For the past few birthdays, I've referred to the event as International Brad Day. To me this seems like a fun way to diffuse the awkwardness that sometimes comes with (a) what does a person bring to a birthday party for someone who doesn't drink and (b) it removes birthday from the equation so there are none of those unwanted jokes-about-aging cards that I have no need for in my life. It also creates a curiosity amongst people that don't realize it's my birthday as to what this day is I've devised to throw a party in my own honor. Oh, and it's fun.

In past years, I have celebrated my birthday with all-out dessert bashes. And since I've been in Chicago, I've started throwing pot luck dinners at my house, which have all the appeal of a normal party but the downhome-ness of a family gathering. They have been huge successes. I decided that this year, I wanted to do something adult: throw a legitimate dinner party.

What is legitimate? Well, I wore a button-up shirt, which is a rarity in this unemployed phase. But, more importantly, I invited 6 guests to join me and my epicurean girlfriend for a multi-course home-cooked meal served on non-disposable dishes with real silverware and enough seating to accommodate all the guests. This was our menu:
  • pumpkin hummus (with fresh pita from my local Mediterranean market)
  • curried pumpkin soup (with veggies from my local Mexican market)
  • date honey chicken and cous cous (the date honey was from my main squeeze's recent trip to Israel)
  • date honey ice cream with pumpkin spice granola on top (the granola made by Chicago company, Milk & Honey)
  • pumpkin bread pudding
As you see, dessert was quite the production. Boren's special lady friend--who so adores me referring to her like this--said it was easily the dessert that excited her the most in recent memory. She then asked me to make this autumnal treat for her birthday in February. Knowing that she is a more well-rounded foodie, I was quite flattered. Everyone else concurred that while the entire meal was outstanding, the dessert was the best.

The evening was superb. And the work that went into putting together a meal with so many different parts gave me new appreciation for my mom and all the dinners she planned for our family growing up or for dinner parties I had been to where everything had to come together at the correct time. And while two of us had to sit on the couch for lack of chairs, and I had to borrow some of plates and spoons, and I had to wash everyone's soup bowls before they could have dessert, I sort of felt like a real adult.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eels and Ice Cream

Usually these two topics have nothing to do with another. Not tonight.

A concert that started boring--throwaway tracks, a food festival cover of "Summer in the City," a funk-ish version of "My Beloved Monster"--got cool--"Fresh Blood," jazz version of "Dog-Faced Boy," rocking "I Like Birds"--and then weird--drummer sang some random song, "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" sung over "Twist and Shout," a mariachi cover of "Summertime (and the Livin' is Easy)". During this last track he cracked open a cooler on stage and started throwing dozens of half-melted ice cream novelties and popsicles into the crowd. I watched as a Drumstick was passed around by confused audience members. Idiots.

I just got back and had to wash chocolate off my jacket. This is actually the second article of clothing today that has needed this treatment. La vita รจ bella.