Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicago/Evanston: the homebase.

A month without being surrounded by college friends had begun to really gnaw on me, so I finally took a three-day trip back to the city. (My valid excuse for the excursion was a passport renewal in preparation for my India trip. Details about that on a later date.)

On day one, I met up in Chinatown with nine of my beloved teammates at Lao Szechuan for dinner. Ten steaming dishes of the most authentic Chinese food around, family-style. Bill split over ten cards, as an amused Seth candidly documented. Molly's Cupcakes in Lincoln Park for dessert afterwards; I had the caramel apple.

On day two, I lopped ten inches off my hair, went to dollar burgers at Bar Louie with some of my core college posse, and thoroughly frightened myself watching the trashy new thriller Orphan.

Day three was defined by my first acquaintance with one of the most wonderful eating establishments in all of the city, nay, the world. My friend Taylor's recent experiences at Hot Doug's first stoked my curiosity (here, here, here). Then, three nights ago, I popped the television on right as Anthony Bourdain was espousing the merits of the very same hot dog joint (see for yourself at 2:37).

That did it. I had to taste the foie gras dog for myself.

Pictured counterclockwise:
- classic Italian-style chicken sausage ("The Dave Kingman")
- hot Andouille sausage ("The Salma Hayek")
- beer-soaked bratwurst ("The Paul Kelly")
- corned-beef sausage with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese
- Sauternes duck sausage with foie gras mousse and truffle aioli

I'll go on the record to say that if deliberately force-feeding birds is wrong, then shit! I don't wanna be right. The taste was strangely familiar and yet totally new, rich and creamy enough to be downright sinful.

I really do applaud the place for their ingenuity. One, it takes a real kook to imagine making gourmet hot dogs, and two, there was nothing wanting in the execution. Just look at the menu. It took a single taste of that truffle sauce on char-grilled meat for me to add this one to my select list of Chicago treasures.

Thanks to my friends for a satisfying visit back to homebase, and to Alex for letting me crash on his couch and putting up with my inexplicable fascination of the Tyra Banks show.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A friend.

My good friend Stu has now come and gone through Nashville on his cross-country bike trip. He parked his now-broken-in Bianchi and trailer at my house, and I played host for two days.

We ate southern home-cooking at Kleervu, went to Nashville's true-to-size reproduction of the Parthenon, got Mexican popsicles at Las Paletas (spicy chocolate, vanilla guava, rose petal), looked at real Faberge eggs at the Cheekwood Gardens, watched Breaking Away, played Go, and listened to hours of music in the car. I sent him off yesterday and sadly watched him ride into the distance on the Natchez Trace Pkwy.

Encouraging it is to know that having left the college life, there is still this closeness and ample conversation that aren't threatened by physical distances.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A video.

A teammate's roommate, a film major, came out to a couple races this season with the idea of making a short film of us for a class. As it turned out, his theme was about females and minorities in sport, and there's quite a bit of me in there.

I suppose I didn't say anything too embarrassing. The interview was an hour long and was conversational enough for me to forget I was being interviewed.

For the record, yes, I know that "you go so much faster on a bike than when you run" is a rather obvious statement, and no, contrary to the last line, I don't settle for mediocrity given all the people out there better than I am. I wince a little at some of these comments, but nevertheless, this video makes me recall with fondness all those race weekends that were the highlight of this year.