Monday, November 30, 2009

Low and Slow

The account of Gene's mounting bounty recounted, here in the form of fork-tender boneless pork shoulder, traded at the deflated rate of a mere $2.99 a pound. This is prime meat for carnitas, though this time Tamalehawk seared it and braised it in a bacon-tomato broth with some garlic and sherry vinegar for three hours.

In the waning minutes he realized he could make a polenta foundation for the pork monolith. It turns out you just need a cup of cornmeal and a quart of liquid to make it happen, and some butter, cheese, and salt to make it worth eating. Tamalehawk stole some of the braising liquid. Make sure to grab the pot lid bare-winged, recoil in silent pain, and stalk around your kitchen in maddeningly concentric circles while football noises from the TV mask your palpable hunger-rage.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sojourn

For the second trip to Gene's, Tamalehawk was determined to approach the butcher counter with a modicum of restraint, poise, and strategy. He started by securing some links, Polish and Italian, and completed his pork quatrefoil with an enormous pork shoulder and ground pork. He likes pork.

He bought like forty other things and finally somehow left the store in one piece. That night, the Polish feast included pirogies, potato pancakes, sausage, and red cabbage. Each a victory alone and when towered together onto a single forkful. Do yourself a favor and don't ever not be standing in Gene's buying wingloads of delicacies. The cannoli delivers too - he was going to save it for dessert but remembered that is a stupid expectation and ate it immediately.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eat To Forget

So when you're eating dinner at ten o'clock because you just got back from an awkward and contentious condo association meeting in the bowels of your building's bleak basement, Tamalehawk recommends reaching for the seriously serous splendor of a soft-boiled egg. Cook the egg in boiling water for about five minutes while you slice and fry your toast soldiers in a buttered non-stick pan. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and sea salt or don't but do, then eat until the last hour of your life is erased from your memory.

Expert cooking tip: Don't keep accidentally brushing your feathers against the side of the pan over and over again as you flip the soldiers in the burning hot pan because you're too lazy to get some kind of utensil.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Realm

So on Wednesday, Tamalehawk made these tortas for dinner and they were what he'd call a success. He got the chorizo, torta bread, and chihuahua cheese from Edgewater and forgot about four other things he would have put on them but all in all, a very satisfying dinner. He even toasted the bread in the pan of lingering chorizo grease, creating a crunchy orange crust that made him pause for a moment of silent reflection on the power of fat.

Then on Thursday, Tamalehawk and associates headed to XOCO downtown for a mid-week lunch adventure. One thing Chicago superchef Rick Bayless does not do is mess around, and what he has created here is nothing short of a sandwich Valhalla. After a feeding frenzy of four tortas, guac, almond milk with freshly ground chocolate, and churros, Tamalehawk staggered out having forgotten all about Wednesday, and angry that any person would ever consider making a sandwich without Rick's strict supervision. Also, everyone, the churros. If the next thing you chew isn't one of these churros, then you should really retire your jaw because it has failed you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Search

Do you guys have any insane new ideas of what Tamalehawk can put into his risotto? For crying out loud, he is desperate for some kind of arborio revelation here. It isn't without a pronounced tinge of shame that he finds himself adding the same brigade of veg all the time. He is looking for a game-changer to make all the stirring and ladling worth it. Poblano lime? Peanut butter basil? Avocado tarragon? Blast his brain.

He did at least add lemon zest this time around, which lifted the whole endeavor up in a satisfying way. But he is hungry. And not just in the usual "eating a second full dinner at 9:45 at night so deal with that" kind of way - he is hungry for innovation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A New Dawn

It's tough to discover modesty when photographing an enormous coiled homemade potato sausage, but Tamalehawk figured the best way to commemorate Gene's Sausage Shop opening in Lincoln Square was to portray in its natural state. Avert your eyes if such an abundance either grosses you out or makes you too hungry to live.

Tamalehawk and family visited Gene's Saturday night and was met with a crowd packed scapular to scapular for the rapt scavenging of the two-story butcher, bakery, deli, and international grocery monolith. Needless to say, it was a paradise of sorts, the kind of place Tamalehawk could spend a hundred bucks in the flap of a wing. Also, the phone number is 773-SAUSAGE, which wins all your childhood trophies and knocks over the display case.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jacket Required

One genre that Tamalehawk carried back with him from England was the potato-as-entree "jacket potato," wherein a giant potato is bedecked with a melange of toppings and promptly torn apart in a savage fashion. He didn't have the more traditional British beans or tuna on hand, so he opted for the distinctly American practice of taking a vegetable and suffocating it in cheese sauce.

In other news, he was wondering if it eating increasingly smaller dinners in order to justify eating a larger dessert is a self-destructive habit or a stroke of genius. He's not sure when that switch started happening, whether incremental, or triggered by Halloween, or in preparation for the holidays, but it has become a hardship that Tamalehawk will bravely endure.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Further Adventures

Tamalehawk has long subjected the imposing Strangeloaf to deranged experimentation, ransacking cabinets and pillaging his fridge for more balance, texture, and flavor to finesse into the perplexing mess before crossing his feathers and hoping for the best.

This time around, Tamalehawk managed to add leftover black beans, tomato sauce, carrots, spinach, onions, and bread along with the ground turkey, egg, and melange of condiments. He achieved the density and moisture he was seeking, and was pleased that all things considered, it was a pretty healthy endeavor. He felt perfectly justified in devouring dessert.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beyond the Grave

Enthralled by cauldron's sprawling haul, Tamalehawk celebrated Halloween by observing the annual tradition called Remembering Whether Or Not You Like Almond Joys. The verdict fell in the "strangely intrigued" column for the ersatz coconut candy, who's grainy, gelatinous center produce a texture that is somehow appealing in its revulsion.

All in all, Tamalehawk was comforted to see the haunted handouts haven't changed much since he stalked the streets as a plucky youngster - Reese's, Smarties, and Milk Duds - though he was surprised to see one neighbor was going old-school and sticking kids with Pixie sticks. Tamalehawk kind of admired the audacity of that dude's hardcore candy agenda before immediately throwing it away.