Thursday, September 08, 2005

On a roll

If you do not read Atrios regularly, today is a great day to start.
Drink Local Cont.

High end restaurant Tru serves still water from Genesee Wisconsin called Century Springs.
Open your hearts—and stomachs—as Farm Aid battles dual disasters

Katrina and eating local, what can be more interesting to me. Read how you can participate here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Drink Local

Recent tastings conducted during a statewide tour of the major winemaking regions showed a number of drinkable wines out there, from decent to extraordinary, from as dry as any posh Napa bottling to as sweet and homey as Grandma's berry pie.

The Chicago Tribune does a nice run down on the local (meaning Illinois) wine business. Especially nice, they focus on vitners using grapes GROWN in Illinois.
But one of these days he and the Rovians really ought to take a stab at trying to solve other people's problems.

Billmon (and others) report:

Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.

But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas." (emphasis added)

Salt Lake City TribuneFrustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMASeptember 7, 2005
and Daily
For All You State and Local Blame Folks

AP (via MSNBC)

WASHINGTON - The government’s disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security workers to support rescuers in the region — and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.

Read the whole thing. You too Mickey Kaus.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

After 21 Years, Overnight Sensation
Flamingo Ice Cream

Scooped. I was scooped. One day not that long ago I drove past Flamingo #2 on Cermak near Oak Park Avenue. It had enough neon in the signs, that impressed me that there would be capital for a decent product. I made a mental note to try soon. Then, the Chicago Tribune scooped me. Reporting on this place. Discovering too a place that actually has another branch in Chicago for over 20 years. 20+ years of offering 101 flavors of Mexi-Italian style ice cream made with natural fruits and flavors. Flavors include agave, avocado, cheese, rice pudding, mamey and elote (corn). That's the ice cream. There are also a range of ices including several with boosts of salt and chile. Do not expect a lot of butterfat in the ice cream. Do not expect gelato like smoothness. The thin ice cream, however, is an excellent carrier for the flavors. Go to taste.

We got around to trying the ice cream last night. As told in the Tribune, the owner, Guadalope is part of the appeal. She spends a lot of time explaining her ice creams and offering tastes. In fact, I tasted so many, with the flavors so intense, that I got palate fatigue. She told me that the Trib tasters had water lined up between tastes. I needed some bits of bread or something.

The bad thing to say about the place is that, as I imagined, 101 flavors is too much to handle. Even an apparently fresh looking vanilla suffered a bit from freezer burn. Ice cream really benefits from freshness, and I wish they slash their daily inventory greatly.

OK, that out of the way, everything is interesting in its own way. All of the flavors come from natural sources, meaning sometimes the flavor itself may be muted, but it will always taste like something. One of my scoops was cajeta. As noted by a poster on, this is not a creamy caramel. Yet the flavor of the cajeta, sugar, burnt sugar, carried the scoop. Guava was especially good as the flavor is strong. Then again, some of the ices, especially the ones with salt and spice were, as I noted, too intense.

In the annals of undiscovered, it should be noted that this place has existed on the South Side for 21 years. I'm glad it is being discovered.

Flamingos #2
6733 W Cermak Rd
Berwyn, IL
14th Market
Oak Park Farmer's Market 9/3/05
Win Some Lose Some

I love my farmer's market. I love nearly all farmer's markets. I do, however, recognize a few flaws with markets. For one thing, they aint cheap. I spend around $50 or so each week, and I've been a bit more careful this year, less vegetables, less flowers, not as much meat as I'd like to buy. The other thing, though, is that money-schmoney, there's a crap shoot angle to the market. Now, I am looking for puffball mushroom segments, or Piedmontese beef, I do not have many choices. Either it's good or not. For most things, I have multiple vendors to choose. Sometimes I make the right choice...

...And sometimes, not so good. You go by several things. You pick up, smell, poke, inspect, taste. That works sometimes. Other times, with apples that reveal very little or peaches that are not quite ripe, reputation plays a big part. Sometimes, you rely too much on reputation. Skibbes Farms is the biggest "pure" fruit vendor at the Oak Park market. They combine better than necessary prices with outstanding fruit. They also do a great job with variety, and most weeks I visit them last to supplement whatever seasonal fruit I still need. For instance, they will have blackberries when no one else does. This week, perhaps because the donut line was too long, I started with Skibbes. They had a great price for local grapes. Without doing much, I snagged a bunch (or bunches so to speak). Turns out these grapes taste as sour as currents.

I wished I waited for Nicholl's Farm. They had green Niagara grapes that, six more hours, would have been on the vine too long, but the result was incredible sweetness against the musk of Northern grapes. I did get a basket of Champagne grapes for the freezer again. Also, a bunch of apples including the pink Dayton and the classic Cox Pippen. I skipped the cannonball sized Wolf River, but my daughter zeroed in on one variety, I did not catch the varietal name, that she wanted for her teacher. It was the teacher's apple. So exactly appley apple-red, so apple-curved apple shaped. It even had a distinct, woody, thick, Pisa leading, visible stem. It will grace a desk very well.

Besides grapes and apples, I picked up green Bartlett pears, yellow flesh peaches and raspberries. I admired the selection of heirloom tomatoes at Nicholl's, especially the dark Cherokee Blacks, but I have a ton of tomatoes still. I admired those puffballls mentioned above at Nicholl's, but I had no desire to buy. More things I admire around the market including palm sized mini-cabbages, multiple brands of melon, cheddar cheese colored cauliflower. Everything else is great and worth the money. Nothing beats local fruit in season.

See ya next week.
America's Grandma

Barbara Bush speaks her mind:

What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overhwlemed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle)--this is working very well for them.

All the details, including audio here.

Monday, September 05, 2005

State and Local

As predicted, the Bushies are now splitting the blame between an especially mean Mother Nature ("we did not know") and state and local officials in Louisiana. Par for the course, they lie. What is also especially interesting, is that those closest to the scene ARE NOT blaming state and local officials. Broussard did not. Read what the Times-Picayune sez:

OUR OPINIONS: An open letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our
devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going
to make it right."Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise
before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.
After three months, Russert Watch is officially speechless...

Did you see Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussaard's gut wretching performance yesterday on Meet the Press (just the antidote from hearing that is was really the fault of state and local officials). Well, if you saw it, you wondered too, how the hell could Tim Russert live with his performance. Arianna Huffington explains.

The Washington Post makes a few key corrections. See here.

First, they note that the first levy breaches were reported on MONDAY MORNING. So, quit all this, we did not know stuff.

Second, they note that LA. Governor Blanco had declared a state of emergency on August 26, despite efforts to report the contray.

Remember, I predicted the sliming of Blanco and Nagin several days ago!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Billmon on the real Bush (link):

Likewise, for the conservative ultras to accept Bush's failures now would be to admit the patriotic demi-God constructed after 9/11 by the White House propaganda machine (and, ironically, by the mainstream media ) doesn't exist. All that would be left would be the real Bush: the incompetent, arrogant rich kid who's failed at every significant job he's ever held -- from CEO of Arbusto Energy to commander in chief of the planet's most powerful military machine. For many Bushistas, this is equally unbearable.