Monday, October 20, 2008

Restaurant Review- Green Zebra

GG and I went into Chicago Saturday night for dinner. It was a special occasion for us to go into Chicago just for dinner, my birthday dinner. We had looked at several places for dinner, we were going to go to Topolobampo as I have said that I wanted to try one of the Rick Bayless restaurants and GG thought that Topo sounded really good. I agreed and was really excited about it until the two of us started to look into the restaurant more. We decided for the money it was going to cost us, it might not be worth it. We had read several reviews that said the portion sizes were really small and that although the food was amazing people left the restaurant hungry still. We decided we wanted to go somewhere different where we would not still be hungry even after eating especially if we were spending a small fortune. GG did some research and found Green Zebra.

Green Zebra is an upscale vegetarian restaurant that had gotten some really good reviews that we had seen online and after making the reservation, GG had talked to a friend who had loved the food at Green Zebra. The menu is not huge, but there are many different types of food, but all vegetarian. We had thought about before we had gone that we would get the tasting menu at Green Zebra and even after looking at the menu, we thought the tasting menu sounded like a really good idea. Everything sounded so good we were not sure how to pick what we wanted and the tasting menu had five courses, four savory courses and one desert course. I also ordered a beer, Laguinta's Copper Ale. First, the beer was really good. Anyway, back to the meal, so when we ordered the tasting menu, the waiter mentioned that everything that comes with the tasting menu is not on the regular menu, but is fresh and organic foods. We waited with anticipation for our food. They do have bread available with a member of the wait staff walking around with the bread basket offering you a slice of white or wheat bread and some butter. The butter was a European butter, so it was rich and creamy. It was a bit odd to not have the bread basket on the table for us to peruse when we wanted but this also kept us from filling up on bread, which was great as we had plenty of food coming. They brought out a double shot glass of a leek and sweet potato soup which was amazing and drinking soup out of a double shot glass was really interesting and fun. We started with a salad of frisee, puffed wild rice, and an onion that was filled with more wild rice (this was amazing and I think GG's favorite course). We then had a smoked tomato soup that had chili oil and a buttermilk foam on top. Both GG and I liked this soup, it was a bit different and interesting. We both immediately noted the smoked smell, with me thinking of smoked salmon and her of bacon. Next was an abalone mushroom that had been poached in butter accompanied by a corn madeline, concord grape reduction and pistachios. GG was not fond of the madeline, but she does not like cornbread anyway so this is not a surprise. This was my favorite of the savory dishes, I love mushrooms and had never heard of let alone tasted an abalone mushroom, which was amazing. Our waiter said the mushrooms were grown in Oregon state. Our final savory dish was a squash mousse with what we guessed was a pumpernickel bread crust with an apple cider gastric accompanied by brussel sprouts and chanterelle mushrooms on the side. This was amazing and GG decided she is going to figure out how they made this as it would make a great breakfast food or something with Thanksgiving dinner as their was a taste of maple syrup in with the squash mousse. The final course was desert, which was homemade pumpkin ice cream and three blinis with maple syrup to pour over the blinis or the ice cream as GG chose to do.

The meal was simply amazing. It was filling without being too filling. We did not leave hungry, but we were not overstuffed either. The chef was able to show us a variety of different food items, all of them a bit different than the usual take on vegetables and vegetarian cuisine. There was no tofu in any of our dishes although they do have dishes with tofu on their menu. As we were eating, we saw one of their mushroom popovers come to the table beside us and it also looked delicious. The food was simply delectable and the service was very good as well. The only complaint I had, and this is pretty minor, is that the booth that GG and I were seated at was a bit close to the table next to us. It was a raised booth with two tables very close to each other. I seemed like a better fit for a table of four or maybe it was because neither GG nor I are small people, but I was a bit cramped behind the table the entire meal. This was OK for part of the meal as pretty soon after we arrived the couple beside us left and for most of the course there was no one beside us before two more people came into the booth next to us. But when I did have to enter or exit the booth I did feel as though I had to place my butt right in the other diners faces or right on their table to get out. This is pretty minor as the food and service overcame this and we learned to ask for a table next time and there will be a next time, GG is talking about going to the Green Zebra for her birthday. If you are ever in the Chicago area and want a really good, fancier, vegetarian or just really good food restaurant, the Green Zebra would be my suggestion.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Youtube Sundays

I overshot Friday so I am making this week's Youtube clips two songs I heard yesterday as I was traveling with GG.

The Sweet- Ballroom Blitz

From Rocky Horror Picture Show- The Time Warp

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In honor of the debates tonight...

I give you the Presidential Battle Rap.

Now of the debates were like this, I might actually give a shit, but they are just vague monotonous bullshit with no real interesting points.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A blue NC?!?

I am so excited to see this article where it appears that my former home state, NC, may not be such a lock for McCain in this election. It appears that Obama is outspending McCain, has more people on the ground in NC than McCain and hence has a very close election in a state that has not voted Democrat since 1976. Remember this is also the state Jesse Helms represented and Elizabeth Dole still represents in Congress This just shows that even the areas and states where Republicans have traditionally dominated are in play for this election. This election is becoming more interesting and important everyday. I just hope that Obama can hold onto NC and many of the other traditionally Republican areas and win this election like we need him to do. That and I hope that Shrub does not shut down this election which also seems like it could be possible especially if the Republicans are struggling like they appear they could.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cats that look like Hitler, baboons are evil and the election will be suspended

All of these topics are covered in this segment from last nights Graham Norton Show. I was just looking for the part about 7:30 into this segment where Harry Shearer talks about the thought that I have seen many times on the progressive blogosphere that Bush will suspend this election or do something just as shady to stay in power. I couldn't find a clip of just that part and this 10 minute clip really is quite funny anyway. Enjoy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

YouTube Fridays

I saw this on the news this morning and thought it was so funny, I had to share it with y'all. In case you have not seen it, here is Paris Hilton's new campaign ad and she has the best president evah in her ad, Jed Bartlett.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Paris for (fake) President.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thoughts on fasting and Yom Kippur

As many of you know, tonight is the first night of Yom Kippur, so I will be fasting for the next 24 or so hours. (It might not be 24 hours exactly depending on when GG and I eat tomorrow and I ate kind of late tonight, but still...) I was talking to a co-worker who is taking tomorrow off since it is Yom Kippur and she is fasting. I have no idea if she is going to a synagogue tomorrow, but I would not be surprised if she was. So I started to think about why I am fasting this year. I have not been to a synagogue in at least 2 or 3 years and not regularly since I graduated from undergrad seven years ago. So why am I fasting? It is not related to the idea of fasting to concentrate more on prayers, which never made sense to me in many ways as it was harder to focus having not eaten. It is not because I am especially religious. It is not even because I think that this is God's commandment, so I must follow it. I am a cultural Jew, someone who does the routines and rituals like fasting for Yom Kippur, lighting the menorah and eating latkes for Chanukah and not eating bread for Passover. I don't even light the candles for Shabbat or do any of the rituals like I used to do. But the fasting is the only one of the rituals for a holiday (I am not including the Shabbat rituals here) that I really follow for reasons outside of this is just part of my identity and Jewishness.

I fast because it is a reminder to me that I am lucky to have food on my table. I am lucky that I can eat three meals a day and snacks in between if I want. I am lucky that I do not have to decide between food or bills or gas. I am lucky that I have never truly experienced food insecurity. I went through some rough times, where I had to watch my food budget, but I was always able to eat. I work in public schools now where the snack that we feed to kids may be their breakfast or their lunch depending on whether they are in the AM or PM session. Where the fact that they get milk or juice and some cookies or crackers means that they will have eaten at least once that day. This may not apply to all of the kids that I work with, but I suspect that at least some of them do not eat at home before they come to school or at least not three meals at home. I think about the fact that I have the luxury to make a choice to not eat for a day and that many people for whom this is not a choice. There are days at the end of the month where there is nothing to eat for some, something I have not had to experience. I think about the fact that when tomorrow night comes, I will be able to eat again, not always an option for everyone. Fasting is hard, it is difficult and I seem to think more about food and drink when I am fasting than usual, but I know that this is only temporary. I know that I have people who care for me and that will help me if I ever truly do have issues where I cannot afford to pay for groceries. This year I also think about those families who are now struggling more than ever. Those families who got stuck in sub-prime mortgages or other tricks by shady lenders and are experiencing economic distress that they are not used to. I think about how some of these families are still trying to live the same way they had, while others are now just trying to now put food on the table and keep the electricity turned on. I am lucky to not have these struggles and so I fast for those who do, so that I may be more empathetic.

I also think about how this is supposed to be a Day of Atonement. There are many things I am sorry for, but I really think that our national leaders need to atone for what they have done to us as a nation. They need to atone for sending people to fight a war over oil. They need to atone for the lives they have cost us as a nation. They need to atone for the economic crisis that is now dragging our country down. And they need to atone for the hatred and bigotry that they have allowed to flourish i.e.-homophobia, racism and sexism. My actions probably affected one or two people, probably no more than ten, but when you send people to war to die you are affecting many more than my ten. I think there is a passage during the Yom Kippur prayers where we ask God for their forgiveness of our national leaders, I cannot do that. Our leaders need to ask forgiveness from first the peoples of this nation and then if their are so religiously motivated, their God.

To those of you who are fasting like me, I wish you good luck in your you fast. It is hard and by tomorrow night I will be ready to eat whatever we have for dinner, but I also like to try and make this fast meaningful to me and so I hope that if you are fasting you do it with meaning.

So does this mean I am an official Illinois-ite?

Today I mailed my NC license plate back to the NC DMV. I had gotten my IL plates yesterday, I had gotten my Illinois drivers license last week, I have a new cell phone number that is an IL number, so that license plate was the last vestige of my life in NC. It is just odd that, I guess I have to now accept that I have really moved here and am no longer a North Carolinian. Life is funny.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Movie Review- Towelhead

NOTE: When I looked this film up on the title for it was Nothing is Private which may be a better title for the movie than Towelhead, but Towelhead is what the film is currently being shown in theaters as.

Towelhead is the story of a young women, Jasira, whose mother is White and father is Lebanese. At the beginning of the film, Jasira is living with her mother and her mother's boyfriend until the mother walks into the bathroom to find her boyfriend shaving her daughter's pubic area. The mother then realizes that Jasira should not be living in the same house as the mother's boyfriend and sends Jasira to live with her father in Houston. It seems unclear how long her parents have been divorced, but Jasira knows her father pretty well, but has not lived with him for many years. She is now living with her father in a brand new house in the 'burbs where two houses down live a White family with a young boy. The family comes to welcome Jasira and her dad to the neighborhood and are taken aback by the fact that their neighborhood has been invaded by Arabs. The father is in the National Guard and is about to be sent to Iraq in the first Gulf War under George Bush the First. The father played by Aaron Eckhart, is a stereotypical military Southern man with his blatant xenophobia and racism. He also is very creepy in the amount of attention he pays to Jasira. There are other neighbors that appear about midway through the film are played by Toni Collette and Matt Letscher who are a married couple just returned from the Middle East where they were Peace Corps workers. They also realize that Jasira may need some adult guidance and become involved in helping her to mature as much as they can.

The film follows Jasira and her developing sexuality as she has many different sexual experiences occur to her and the experiences that she initiates. As Jasira's sexuality and maturity are developing she is surrounded by an unstable environment with adults who are very immature and abusive toward her. She experiences physical and emotional abuse from her father and sexual abuse by another character in the film. She is also trying to figure out where her boundaries are sexually and struggling with hormones that are raging. Since the film focuses on the sex and sexual development of a 13 or 14 year old girl, it is very disturbing and cringe worthy at times. But these cringe worthy moments are what makes this film so strong. It is the struggles of the audience especially as adults who can see where the mistakes are being made and the problems when a child is maturing with few stable adult figures in their lives to help them to navigate through the hormonal rushes of the onset of puberty.

I saw this film with GG, of course, but there was no one else in the theater when we saw it. We were not sure why we were the only ones there. It was the opening weekend for the film and I didn't expect the theater to be packed, but I did think more people might be interested in the film. Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, and Toni Collette all have large parts in the film which I would have thought would have had drawn some people to the film. But I would recommend this film if you are willing to cringe at a film, but like Todd Soldonz, who did not direct Towelheads, films the film feels real because of the cringes not in spite of those moments.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A cheap easy post

I figure since I have posted the other SNL Palin videos, I would post this one too. There are shots taken at all of the debaters, Palin, Biden and they even make fun of Ifel a bit too. If you have seen it, hope you enjoy this one.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Youtube Fridays

This is what I am listening to recently. I really like this band and I have to give most of that credit to my sister-in-law who put them on a CD for me and I found that I really liked them.

Portions for Foxes- Rilo Kiley

Does he love you?- Rilo Kiley

Ripped from the headlines, sorta

Here are some interesting stories that I found in today's papers online.

First, how in the hell do you steal a 450-pound pumpkin? I have no idea, but this man in Flint, MI had just that happen to him. His prize 450-pound gourd was stolen from his front yard.

Second, did you know that Coca Cola is an effective spermicide or that wires will inevitably tangle themselves in knots or that slime mold can find its way through a maze? Well, if followed the Ig Noble Prize winners you would know all of that. These awards are given for odd discoveries or research in legitimate science journals.

Third and this one is dedicated to Mathman, here in Chicago the schools are teaching about math using the baseball playoffs. A school near the White Sox park watch the baseball game on TV and learned about computing batting averages. But it seemed to be an excuse to watch some baseball with not as much learning which I fully endorse at times.