26 March 2007

Mass Media, Descartes and Cleo

These are some odds and ends posts of media pictures in Chicago. In other posts I featured the Sun Times and Ebony and Jet magazines. This has WGN, the Tribune Building, NBC and a stunning Jack Brickhouse statue.

Breakfast was at the philosophically themed Descartes coffee, which had numerous vegan bakery items as well as a wide range of coffee and tea drinks.

Lunch was at a nondescript bar Cleos that had March Madness on. I ate stuffed mushrooms and a veggie burger with two cheeses, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and lettuce while Ohio State put away Memphis.

Pictures are featured in the Picasa link below.

Descartes Media

Vermilion and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Vermilion has been on my to do list for some time now. Consider it checked off. Vermilion is an Indian/Latin fusion restaurant. They offer tapas and degustations of seven courses. This dinner was a measly two tapas with an entree.

Vermilion has luscious drinks like a tamarind margarita and a coconut cream saffron drink with dried coconut and rum that was a perfect foil to the spicy fare. The dinner started with an amuse bouche that was a spicy gazpacho accompanied by a tapioca cracker served on a plate with a character written in chili powder.

This was followed by a plate of artichoke pakoras served with a mild brown mustard and a sweet, spicy red sauce. The other plate was a manchego and Indian lentil/ vegetable empanada. The entree was asparagus wrapped in phyllo served on a red and green tomato curry with okra and spicy starch support beams.

The menu featured almost half vegetarian half not vegetarian options, and the staff was helpful in pointing out the best vegetarian items. The menu does change frequently, but the Indian part of the fusion keeps the options very veggie friendly.

Vermillion et al

The virtual barrage of bars followed.

Swirl Wine Bar featured a number of conservative wine choices and small nosh plates.

Goose Island Wrigleyville was stop number two. They have the same Goose beers on tap as my previous post on Goose Clybourn.

Casey Moran's featured sports on television, loud classic rock music, weird psychedelic patterns on screens and a bustling crowd of people with a fairly vanilla beverage list.

Then of course came the beer-from-everywhere-including-a-pile-of-Belgian options Hopleaf that has most anything you'd think of by the bottle or on draft. They have pages of Belgian beers on a menu plus a pile of tap handles. Some of my old pictures might be more telling for Hopleaf. It is part of a different trip to Chicago where I visited these same clowns.

Field Museum pics and Rock Bottom

This is an afternoon spent in the Field Museum, which is Chicago's Natural History Museum. I saw the animals, plants, dinosaurs, Mendel exhibit, evolution exhibit and the Ancient Americas exhibit. The Egyptian display is also outstanding, but the last three in the list of things I did see are limited time displays. The video clips were great on the enormous screens. That day I ate breakfast at Starbucks, which was bogus, and lunch at Rock Bottom, which is always fair.

Rock Bottom is a chain that employs local brew masters to craft beers at the brew pubs. Chicago is one location that brews tremendous beer. The food is not nearly as good as the beer. The Brewery pretzel was good, as was the Portobello Fontina sandwich sans mayo . That came with onion rings that had no onions in them, which was moderately disheartening. The beer was excellent in staving off frustration from the oversight.

The Line Drive Light is always a pleasant quaff. The gold, the brown, the red and the wheat are all typical in style and soundly made. The Terminal Stout is a mouthful of tobacco and molasses. The seasonal beers are the showstoppers. They had an Irish Stout, a Belgian strong ale and the Fire Chief Irish Red. There is also typically a cask ale. The place gets crowded, but it opens up considerably when they open the rooftop beer garden.

Check out the pictures in the link below.


24 March 2007

And now your Chicago Bulls (and dinner)

When you sit in the good seats, you are in a better position to take pictures of "The Answer" Allen Iverson being questioned by Captain Kirk Heinrich while Ben Wallace and his cornrows (sob...not the 'fro) watch on in quiet anticipation.

The Bulls topped the Nuggets 109-108 in a see-saw battle at the United Center. The game ended with Ben Gordon missing a shot at the end that improbably rolled to Tyrus Thomas, who soared above the opposition to dunk the ball with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.

Luol Deng, Gordon and Heinrich ruled for the Bulls, while the two-headed Thug Nation of Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson put up a pile of points that came up about 0.2 seconds and one point short. Probably the most clutch performer at the game was the Jose Cuervo lounge with its margaritas and better-than-basketball-game-quality quesadillas.

Check out the Picasa link that has piles of Bulls game video and pictures along with a few dining experiences before the game, which will be described after the basketball links.

A bunch of meals and a Bulls game

Before the game, dinner was at the newly-opened Graze. Graze is an American small plates concept that features a wide variety of tapas and some interesting cocktails and wines that complement the small dishes nicely.

The bread was marvelous. There were flatbreads, olive bread and a sage bread with chunks of sea salt baked into it. The sage bread was an interesting taste experience with an herbal beginning and the salt making your mouth water as you swallow.

The cocktails are a mojito, which was very good, and a Moscow Mule that was absolutely killer with hints of ginger lingering on the quenching finish.

The small plates that I tried were the red pepper hummus with flatbread to dip and a cheese plate with cow, sheep and goat selections and accompaniments like griddled sweet pistachios and apples. The main course, pictured above, is a pumpkin ravioli in a vegetable broth with radishes and green peas. It was stylistically Asian flavored with enough Italian and American influences to make the dish unique. There are also side dishes like skin-on mashed potatoes made to the diner's specifications (our table had white cheddar mashed potatoes).

This restaurant has a ton of vegetarian selections. The only minor complaint in the experience was that certain dishes were a little heavy on the salt. However, a young restaurant may be trying to establish consistency, and the place had more successes than failures, so this was not a major issue.

The pictures are in the same Picasa link above that references the basketball game.

After the game, it was time for some celebratory drinking. The first spot is about 20 blocks north of the United Center. Piece features a wide selection of beer in addition to their brew pub brewed offerings.

The place offers what they call Connecticut style pizza, which is definitely not Chicago style pizza. It is very good however, with a wide variety of toppings. The only draw back is karaoke night, which drove us back downtown.

Pops for Champagne opened a new outpost in the River North area of Chicago. The place offers a wide variety of quality champagnes and champagne cocktails that are meant to pair with a massive cheese selection and small plate selections. It took a little convincing to get me in dressed like a sporto Bulls fan.

The service was gracious if stretched a little thin. The most interesting cocktail was the Hendrick's gin with cucumber, basil and champagne. The place was more than adequate for providing Bulls celebration juice, but I recommend dressing up a bit more than Al Bundy and I typically do.

Always eating the same thing

There must be a reason that I always eat the same thing for breakfast almost every day. It is a bagel with cream cheese and peanut butter with coffee and orange juice. After eating high end breakfast in Chicago, it's going to be hard going back.

Wicker Park's Bongo Room offers breakfast all day. They have breakfast burritos and various pancakes and French toast with a variety of accoutrements that are guaranteed to send your blood sugar skyrocketing.

The cheesy whole potato hash browns were divine. The sweet potato pancakes with pecans and a honey-based syrup were delicious. The restaurant is efficient and provides good service. Its a great place to eat breakfast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Beware of the address on the Web site--it gives a South Side address when the place is in Wicker Park.)

Goose Island is always a great lunch and a beer spot. The brewpub offers a wide variety of beers that never see the inside of a bottle and are poured for you straight out of the cask they were brewed in.

My stock lunch is the veggie burger. I change the cheese up (this time it was pepper jack), and I will always order it with mushrooms.

The beer sampler allows you to try four small pours of different beer. I tried the Rye stout, the Anniversale, the Demolition stout and the Matilda Belgian ale. The crazy thing is that I also later made it into the Wrigleyville Goose Island, which offers the same beer surrounded by twice as many yuppies.

The trip was finished with a trip to Sam's Wine and Spirits, the megamall of liquor stores. I also shopped at Reckless Records, purveyors of obscure used music. Then I walked through Old Town back to the hotel. Enjoy the Picasa photo link that shows off my breakfast and lunch activities.

Wicker Park-Bucktown-Old Town

Regional Mexican Jazz

Rick Bayless operates the mecca of fine regional Mexican dining in the River North area of Chicago. Topolobampo, which has a
four star rating in Chicago Magazine, earned every one of those stars when I ate there the other night.

Bayless' culinary philosophy in vegetarian dining utilizes mushrooms in most dishes to create the sensation of umami that comes from savory meat dishes. The vegetarian options comes without the psychological baggage of eating carcass. Upon request, the chef can create a vegetarian degustation, which he did for me.

The first course was a mushroom empanada with cream and red chili sauce. The second course was a carpaccio-ed beet salad with Mexican gherkins and apricot salsa. The third course was a huilacoche enchilada with salsa verde, rice pyramid and fried onion strings. The fourth course was a fava bean suffle with a dark mushroom mole sauce topped with micro greens. Desert featured two bread puddings, an earthy ice cream cone bite and a cinnamon cookie.

The staff matched wines with each course. The restaurant offers outstanding cocktails such as a ginger mojito, a Tecate beer mojito that was more interesting than it sounds and a blood orange margarita, amongst others. The tequila list is a tome with about 100+ selections. The staff is exceptional and knowledgeable.

Explore images from dinner as well as the jazz concert that will be described following the Picasa link below.


The Hideout looks about exactly the way you'd expect a club called the Hideout to look. It's hidden away on Wabansia, surrounded by a metro vehicle gas station and machinist shops. Last night they hosted Honeyboy. Tonight, it was the Arp assault by Jim Baker alongside the improv stylings of Jeb Bishop, Kent Kessler and Michael Zerang.

I am unfairly biased in favor of anything with a Arp synthesizer in it. For example, if there was a toothpaste commercial with an Arp synth doing the background music, I would use that toothpaste. That being said, however, the show was a fertile ground for exploring the improvised dialogues of four veteran Chicago musicians.

Baker plays both synthesized piano and Arp. Bishop plays trombone with various mutes. Kessler plays a deliberately understated bass. Zerang plays a hodge podge drum kit and could be described as a percussionist more than he would be described as a drummer.

The group played two sets, and the only complaint I had was that I wanted more Arp. Despite my pathetic pleas for semi-modular analogue subtractive synthesizers, the show was a refreshing blast of energy that lifted me beyond the ordinary. Check out the pictures and video in the Picasa link above.

Topolobampo on Urbanspoon

21 March 2007

I need to get a foodlife

While careening around the Magnificent Mile yesterday, I stumbled upon a new restaurant in the Water Tower mall. I came in today with the intention of dining there.

The first picture snapped drew an adamant chew out from the staff. It was so rude that I was turned off and decided not to order from Wow Bao. Wow Bao serves hot stuffed Asian buns. It also seems to be an extension of the foodlife court upstairs.

I did order a pomegranate ginger tea from Wow Bao. I decided that their decision to disallow my photography would send my business upstairs to foodlife (which is owned by the same people--Lettuce Entertain You). The staff was equally opposed to my camera work.

Granted, it is perfectly within the rights of an establishment to ban photography, even if it is in the middle of a tourist tar pit. Shutterbug tourists might in fact have annoyed a past Lettuce Entertain You
customer. Protecting your property is well within your legal rights.

Of course, I am perfectly within my rights to call foodlife the World's Most Expensive and Overblown Shopping Mall Food Court. Writing that sentence is protected by the First Amendment. I am also protected by the privilege of fair comment. Libel would also be a bit of a stretch, as calling foodlife overpriced mall food is a completely true statement. The total cost was $12 for a stir fry and small drink.

The court features numerous different cuisines and food items like any other mall eatery outpost. The staff was very helpful minus the cameraphobic management. The Thai stand worker told me the tofu pad Thai is not vegetarian and suggested the stir fry joint. The stir fry was big and relatively good if slightly overpriced. You choose the vegetables and sauces, which include a rich vegan mushroom broth.

Enjoy the pictures in the link below and steer clear of foodlife and Bow Wow Wow if you have a camera or are located next to a Subway or other fast food joint that might save you a couple of bucks.


Those Protest March Blues

Day one of the Chicago trip involved some interesting experiences. There was the original game plan. However, why follow a plan when you can just make it up as you go along?

The trip in was fantastic. No traffic pile ups made me a happy person. I checked into the Best Western Inn on Ohio and Michigan and enjoyed the quick and easy black bean and goat cheese burrito wrapped in spinach tortilla from the chain-tastic Burrito Beach.

On the way back to the hotel, I saw a protest marcher with an Anti-Bush sign. I remembered hearing about an anti-war protest on the Sirius radio Chicago traffic report. They said the march was starting on Michigan and...some street. My hotel happened to be on Michigan and...some street.

So what kind of journalist would I be if I didn't go down and film it while talking with the protesters and the police hoard? The march disrupted traffic on Michigan Avenue for an hour or so. I ran into one of my friends who was filming the march. The march was roughly three blocks long and very loud. The renegade sound system blasting Spearhead protest songs was especially nice. Enjoy the pictures and video in the Picasa link. The folder also contains pictures of my hotel and my Burrito Beach.


The protest was relatively unrestricted by the police. Media access was free and easy. Overall, the city of Chicago gets an arbitrary rating of seven for overall demonstration freedom, with points deducted for the overwhelming police presence.

From the protest, I met up with Mike and Krysta. I got them horribly lost on the way to the off-the-map club the Hideout. This joint hosts some fantastic jazz improv, indie rock and blues shows. Tonight I went to see David "Honeyboy" Edwards play with Devil in a Woodpile.

Edwards is a 91-year-old Delta bluesman transplanted to Chicago. He has played with Robert Johnson and Big Walter Horton. His accompanying band consisted of an upright bass and a washboard alongside rhythm guitar and harmonica, and it doesn't really get any more authentic than those instruments, does it?

The venue is small and the sight lines are awful. They offer the standards on drinks plus a few other odds and ends like a rye whisky old fashioned called the Wooden Leg and Goose and Stella Artois on tap. The video clips are mostly unclear, but they should give you some idea how the show was.


After nursing a sweet hangover, Eppy's Deli made breakfast. Orange juice washed down a whole wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese. Eppy's offers bagel sandwiches like the portobello sandwich in order to keep vegetarians in mind. 24 hours down and I have zero complaints.


19 March 2007

Wholly Joe's/B.J.'s Brewing

There was much eaten during my stay in Columbus. The lunch special (Spinach Queso burritos at Las Margaritas) and my cheese stacked whole wheat veggie sub sandwich from Danny's Subs were fantastic. The lack of camera leaves these meals to the imagination. However, Wholly Joe's and BJ's Brewery were consumed and documented for your Web grazing pleasure.

In order to get warmed up for Chicago I visited a few of Polaris' Chicago style eateries, including Wholly Joe's. Joe's is owned by Joe, a South Side ex-pat, and it features a cornucopia of Chicago hits. Carnivores can have my brother's favorite Italian beef and Chicago style hot dogs. The veggies can enjoy a number of different pizzas, with deep dish and thin crust options and a number of toppings.

This isn't a vegan destination, but the pizza is really good and authentic to Chicago's unhealthy dining staples of intestinally encased meats, cheese on bread and salty beef with pickled peppers.

Originally from the left coast town of Santa Ana, California, B.J's Brew House is a rapidly expanding brew pub chain. B.J's locations can be found in eight states with 13 new restaurants slated to open later this year.

B.J.'s also features Chicago style pizza like Wholly Joe's. They brew handcrafted beers and cider. The Pale Ale, the Nutty Brunette, the Irish Red and the Stout were all very good. The stout is nitrogenated, contains 8 percent alcohol by volume and it makes a wicked Irish car bomb.

The food was decent. The restaurant recently opened and had severe issues with timing the appetizers and main courses. The server was gracious, but the timing definitely wasn't there.

There was pizza for the vegetarians. I can make no pronouncement about it as I did not try it. However, the fettuccini alfredo was well made, as was the angel hair pasta topped with tomatoes, feta, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. There were a number of other vegan and vegetarian pasta selections.

The avocado egg rolls were interesting if unspectacular. Overall, the food was average at best. The restaurant may improve as they iron out the kinks. The drinks were very good. With the televisions, it should be a pleasant place to watch a game. Hopefully the kitchen can catch up with the bar.

Click on the Picasa link to see clips from both B.J.'s and Wholly Joe's as well as some pictures of random dogs.

Wholly Joes-BJs-Dogs

17 March 2007

Akron/Family in Columbus, Ohio

Day one of spring break starts off with a bang, and that is absolutely not a reference to the painting of Kurt Cobain about to commit suicide under the specter of dead, young stars on the above artwork from Little Brothers in scenic Columbus, Ohio. The venue was hosting the Black Swans and the inane jam revolution that is Akron/Family.

The Black Swans got the party started with their very deliberate, slow driving style. The group is a three piece with guitar, bass and violin. The violin provides beautifully ornamented runs that typically connect the vocal sections.

The music was performed at such a slow tempo that the audience was slow dancing along with the music much like a 1950s high school dance. The lead vocalist joked that dancing like that was the same way Suzanne Summers got pregnant.

There was a short break between bands. Then Akron/Family piled up their requisite montage of musical devices and rained a furious energetic trance down on anyone and everyone within ear shot.

Each musician had a fall back instrument that they backed up with other instruments. There are two guitar players, a bassist and a drummer. Seth Olinsky, Miles Seaton, Dana Janssen and Ryan Vanderhoof play flutes and maracas and tambourines and 1980s Yamaha synthesizers and hand drums and shekere and recorders that spin a multi-genre folksplosion of music.

Many songs are an almost religious chant style, with vocals or vocables sung over melody lines that soar from under a powerful drone built by whichever members are operating the rhythm section at that juncture in time. There are classic and hard rock elements in many sections, but Akron/Family jumps around quickly enough that if you ever get bored, they'll be doing something totally different in one more minute.

The audience even got involved, with the band handing out their instruments and allowing the crowd to play recorders, tambourines and maracas along with the infectious rhythm. There was also a section with beatboxing alongside the audience's percussion foundation.

The show lasted until 1:45 a.m. Check out the photo gallery and video clips included with the presentation to get a real feel for the show.

Akron Family Web

Check out some video of the Black Swans and their carefully crafted, folksy dirges.

Here is another Black Swans clip.

This is the montage of Akron/Family video. They are all short clips.

Early Jam.

Bass Drum/Floor Tom.

Bass Drum/ Floor Tom2.

Guitar work.

Vocables in Action.

Everybody Jump and Clap!

Let's have a little bass with those 88s.

Guitar 1 close up.

Synth sounds.

The below Picasa link contains the videos from the end of the show, including the footage of everybody in the crowd jamming along with Akron/Family.

Leftover Akron Family

Thai Lagoon

Hidden in an off-the-beaten-path Quality Inn in the funky smelling Anheuser Bush polluted section of Columbus is Thai Lagoon. Despite the less than Riviera-esque surroundings, the restaurant produces quality Thai food as well as selections from a variety of other Asian cuisines, more than enough of which are vegetarian and vegan friendly.

The staff is very friendly. Vegetarian selections are clearly marked. My dinner was a vegetable tempura that consisted of breaded green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, onions and other assorted vegetables served with sweet and sour sauce. The entree was green curry tofu with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower served over a bed of jasmine rice. The sauces are intense and deeply flavorful.

There is also a selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks, including a pomegranate martini that is so big, it comes with a second side container to hold the overflow. The place is great once you find it, and well worth the trip through the Anheuser fog.

A few local publications have covered the restaurant in such a way that this review will stop here. Columbus Alive and This Week Papers reviewed them. In their mass media machine zeal, they failed to address the wonderful, fish sauce free items that the Lagoon offers.

Enjoy the wonderful Picasa Web gallery linked in the photograph below.


15 March 2007

Another day, another dollar

As the great philosopher Gene Autry once sang, "I'm back in the saddle again."

The really important international top story is the newly minted confession by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who looks like a haggard "Time to Make the Donuts" guy Fred the Baker from the Dunkin Donuts commercials). He also claimed responsibility for bombings in a number of other countries, including Bali and Britain. After six years of questionable interrogation techniques and illegal incarceration, at least the U.S. will get a chance to show Iraq how to properly handle a high profile execution (if there is in fact a way to properly handle any execution).

On a more serious note, he also claimed responsibility for the execution of journalist Daniel Pearl, a Jewish American reporter for the Wall Street Journal. This is a tremendously sad event.It is so depressing that instead of making a joke about it, I will type in a moment of silence.

My good friend Tom Hemsley has been urging me to get focused on the Alberto Gonzales/federal attorney fiasco. He sees it as a cheap, partisan shill. I find that hard to believe. What kind of fool would buy into a low blow allegation like that? Well, for starters, the Nation magazine does. They call this the biggest scandal to plague the Attorney General since the 1920s. Another blog at The Nation identifies the Gonzales issue and Walter Reed as another in a long line of miserable failures by a misguided leader. A CBS interview profiles a terminated Democratic U.S. Attorney who claims he was given no reason for termination after prosecuting a person trying to start an al Qaeda training camp in Oregon as well as the Millenium bomber. Okay, maybe it was a cheap, partisan shill. How was I to know? Now I do.

The New York Times is reporting that progress in Iraq is lagging behind initial goals set by President Bush. These are the same pessimists who are still denying that the mission has in fact been accomplished.

On the front of the ever growing hoard that also doesn't believe the mission has been accomplished is Alabama teenager Ava, who makes professional quality anti-war video clips out of her bedroom. Her Web site
has been receiving more and more hits. It is a terrible thing when a 16 year old can figure something out that the President can't.

But at least the war on terror is still going strong. Finally, the Justice Department is taking a bite out of that Miss Chiquita Banana hooker and her terrorist militia ties in Columbia. When nothing else is working, at least you can fall back on the war on terror.

With everything else going so smoothly in Washington, it is also difficult to fathom dozens in the G.O.P turning away from the No Child Left Behind/No Child Moves Forward education plan. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt and as well as Representatives John Cornyn and Eric Cantor (all Republicans) are all jumping off the ship. It appears that in the near future, George Bush will be the only child being left behind.

Federal attorneys who weren't fired recently have taken up prosecution of Angel Raich, a patient with scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other ailments that uses medical marijuana to treat her illnesses. If the war on terror isn't working, you can always go back to the ever successful war on drugs.

Or maybe you can't. According to a National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse report, frequent binge drinking and abuse of prescription drugs is up at college campuses. I'm not a doctor, but as a professional student, it would be pretty easy to blame unsafe behavior on taking the edge off the cost of college. But what do I know?

In other health news, the L.A. Times covered two cases of Chagas disease being transmitted in Los Angeles by blood transfusions. I worked on a project at a medical school with a researcher who was studying Chagas disease, an illness passed by an insect known as the kissing bug throughout Latin America. The disease causes flu-like symptoms at first, which subside and are then followed by severe organ failure as much as 20 years later, and it can be transmitted through blood transfusions. The illness is becoming more common in the United States with its increasing Latino population. Many, but not all blood banks check for Chagas disease. Ding ding ding...U.S. Government, it's your turn to take over.

In media issues, the same L.A. Times has come under fire because two reporters successfully nominated themselves for a Pulitzer Prize. Each newspaper is limited to three nominations, and some feel that this process by the Times was unethical. Everybody, that is, except for the guys who got nominated.

Sports will become all college basketball all the time with March Madness now. I always need an excuse to sit in my apartment in my underwear drinking beer and screaming at the top of my lungs. This is the kind of activity that fills my time card this time of year. So, ladies, if that's the kind of trait you look for in a man, I'll be at the apartment drinking in my underwear until 4:30. Then I have to step out and turn in a paper. I'll be back in my boxers at six. Just knock on the door...pants are optional.

In the ever-growing growth hormone problem, center fielder Gary Matthews, Jr. finally denied using HGH. This advice evidently came from his lawyer, O.J. Simpson murder trial attorney Robert Shapiro. Hopefully Shapiro can explain how Matthews' batting average went from .255 to .313 in one season in addition to his amazing spike in power. It was probably something in the water.

Also in MLB news, Pete Rose admitted to betting on the Reds every night when he managed for them. ESPN Sports Center determined that he would have lost money doing that. All I know is that I bet that admission won't help him get in the Hall of Fame. I'll keep making that bet every night, and I'll keep winning.

Mark Prior is continuing his meteoric decent into mediocrity, taking a dive to the minor leagues.

Prior's injuries were previously mocked by the Chicago Tribune in a column called "Prior Watch" that detailed every minute of his injury updates every day in print. He was the second player drafted when he was selected by the Cubs. Now he is being mocked by a guy with a bag on his head in a White Sox jersey. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

The NFL is expected to agree with the Players Association on a new automatic one year suspension for criminal behavior. It will be called the Pacman Jones/ Chris Henry/ Tank Johnson rule.

Finally, this scandal is so big that it could probably eat half a ton of edamame and soba noodles and come back for seconds. A Japanese muckraking publication is saying that Sumo wrestling is fake, and participants are denying the charges vehemently. I always wondered how Yokozuna made the easy transition to the World Wrestling Federation. Now at least I know.

This bit will wrap up with the crazy news department. Back to issues of HGH, but this time by an American icon, Sylvester Stallone has been charged with importing 48 vials of human growth hormone into Australia. It was obvious from the beginning that only heavy drug use could have caused somebody to be so delusional that they would make the movie "Rocky 7."

Another great topic in the Cleveland Scene is the article about Amish girls getting wasted. As a person who sold piles of liquor and beer to Amish guys whose secular buddies brought them to the liquour store in a van, let me be the first to tell you, "
Na Zdrowie."

Finally, a new record may have been set for the best (or worst) criminal of all-time. A 13 year old Nelsonville, Ohio boy has been charged with 128 felonies, including burglary, theft, vandalism and witness intimidation. This may be the final proof needed to ascertain that some of the children have, in fact, been left behind.

Unfortunately, this may be the last political rant for a few days as the operation is moving on to sunnier spring break pastures.

14 March 2007

Salaam = Peace

Tonight the mission to eat dinner at Salaam was accomplished. I went earlier in the week to discover that they don't serve dinner Sunday through Tuesday. Wednesday, however was a different story. After slipping into an alley off of Court Street, the plot unfolded.

There are a few details worth noting about Salaam. First, Salaam used to be a hookah bar/restaurant in a former life before the statewide smoking ban. In those days, it was known as Shisha Cafe.

Also, Salaam has no liquor license. It is BYOB. They have a $1.50 beverage service fee which is referred to as corkage fee here in civilization. That means you can spend $701.68 on a bottle of 1990 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline which should pair wonderfully with the Mediterranean fare, and you and your date will only have to shell out $3 to have it poured for you. What service!

Salaam typically features entertainment in the evenings, which varies from Dimitar Zarev playing classical guitar in the Bulgarian style to the good old fashioned belly dancing accompaniment on other nights. Dimitar plays in a classical style that closely resembles Spanish guitar. He plays more traditional numbers as well as Classical Gas.

The food is a hodge podge of Mediterranean cuisines, with Greek, Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine. They offer hummus, baba gannouj, vegetarian grape leaves and a combination platter for appetizers. There are specials every night. Although many items on the menu and in specials feature lamb, there are often vegetarian and vegan alternatives to these items.

The baba gannouj is quite good. It comes with warm pita bread and olives. At a previous visit, the vegan harira was very good. It is a hearty vegetable stew made with tomato and lentils.

Tonight was a spanakopita night. Feta, spinach and dill wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry served alongside a green salad with cubed feta and a raspberry vinaigrette really hit the spot.

the hours are a pinch tricky to navigate, Salaam offers a great variety of vegetarian dining options. They also feature a fantastic wall mural, which was painted by Khoa Dang-Nguyen, a Vietnamese man with a son in school at Ohio University.