One-Star Food

For our anniversary last January, Laura and I visited Chicago for two nights of eating. Night One was an all-out, over-the-top dinner at the kitchen table at Next. It was good, of course, but it also felt very too much. And, ironically, maybe weird in a too-safe kind of way?

Night Two was the tasting menu at Indienne, a newish spot serving refined Indian cuisine with a bit of French flare. It was surprising and delightful, and the best meal I’d had in years.

It should be no surprise it was just awarded its first Michelin star.

Local Coffee Notes

A local note: Daydrink is opening a new, second location, in what was the original location of New Pioneer Coop.

This is just a note about how much I love the aesthetic of the teasers they posted to their Instagram account.

I don’t get coffee from a shop as my daily drink (that’s a subscription to Brass Ring’s rotating single-origin beans), but Daydrink is exactly the kind of approachable coffee snobbery I envision for my imagined post-retirement coffee shop (but I’d go with different hours).

Death of a Pig 15 Years Later

It was 15 years ago today I participated in a pig slaughter.

The bullet had to pierce the pig’s thick skull to stun it. The shot’s angle and position are everything. If you drew an X from each ear to the opposite eye, I was aiming for the small depression that lay in the middle.

Even at point-blank, getting in position to shoot a pig is a dance with an unwilling partner. I had the added trouble of working up the nerve to pull the trigger. You have to shoot the pig with it looking you in the eye.

After the pig murder, I produced a rather morbid multimedia package. In the past couple weeks, I took a little bit of time to put it back online, but, sadly it’s missing some parts, maybe forever, due to the death of a video-hosting service and Flash.

The story of the life, death and rebirth of a pig was about how we’d lost connection with our food and the skills that were once required to eat. Online news has gotten really sophisticated, but when I produced the story, a lot of news organizations were still trying to figure out how to shift from traditional media to the Internet (and many were scrambling as the financial crisis of 2008 was bludgeoning the news industry much as it is again today).

At the time I was writing about the loss of knowledge and skills, I was oddly unaware of how we were on the cusp of the lost of other knowledge and skills in the industry I was training for. So it goes.

It was designed for an internet that was early in the iPhone era, and we didn’t have great non-Flash solutions yet. The web design (Calibri?!) and technology (non-responsive?!) is somewhat antiquated. And in master-of-none form, it’s clear I’m neither a great photographer nor videographer. Nevertheless, the work, I think, holds up pretty well, and I’d invite you to explore The Death of a Pig: a Pig in Three Parts.


Rye bread: No, thanks.

Swiss cheese: Gross.

1,000 island: Gross.

Sauerkraut: Really gross.

Corned beef: Fine, I guess.

Rueben: Hell. Fucking. Yes.

Iowa Beef crowns Coon Rapids bowling alley as state’s hamburger champ

I’m not sure what this says about my state, but this is so Iowa:

The Coon Bowl III, a diner and bowling alley in Coon Rapids, took home this year’s title of Iowa’s Best Burger, which is awarded by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

I have no idea where Coon Rapids is.

I still don’t understand New Yorkers

Jason Kottke loves Shake Shack so much he’s willing to wait in 45-minute-long lines (and so are 45-minute-long-lines worth of other New Yorkers). I’m suspicious.

Pete Wells of The New York Times gives the restaurant a single star (which still suggests it’s a pretty badass burger joint). But I love this writing (take note, food writing students):

How the burger could change lives I never divined, but on occasion it was magnificent, as beefy and flavorful as the outer quarter-inch of a Peter Luger porterhouse.

More often, though, the meat was cooked to the color of wet newsprint, inside and out, and salted so meekly that eating it was as satisfying as hearing a friend talk about a burger his cousin ate.

Starbucks really sucks

Since last fall, I’ve been getting our household coffee beans from which says it offers “the best of the crop while helping to fund next year’s harvest and strengthen small-scale family farms.”

We’ve been really happy with the quality.

It’s easy to loose perspective of how good it is since I drink their coffee every day. Yesterday, for the first time in months, I stopped by a Starbucks for a cup of coffee (I had a gift card).

The drip coffee, which I used to drink somewhat regularly, was amazingly bitter and burnt tasting. Barely palatable. It was a good reminder of how bad most mainstream coffee is, and how much better the coffee I’ve been getting lately is.