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August 05, 2010

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White, milk, or dark chocolate? Smoked-applewood, smoked, or just plain bacon? Inquiring minds want to know.

Also, if you have the keys to the blog, Charles Bird is still not on the Alumni list on the left sidebar.

When you are in Milwaukee at the fair (or anywhere else) skip the chocolate bacon and all other novelties and go for the brats and french fried cheese curds.

Sometimes tradition is a good thing.

See, if the whole exercise had been approached with a bit more of a "milk, or dark? applewood, or smoked?" attitude, as opposed to "BACON!!!! COVERED IN CHOCOLATE!! ON A STICK!!!!", it might have been more successful. 10/10 for enthusiasm though.

And no, I don't have the keys to the whole blog, just enough to bother you with this sort of nonsense, sorry.

nous, I ate a pretty good brat. Certain parts of the Midwest are kind of like a strange part of Germany where everybody mysteriously speaks English.

I never understood anchovies on pizza either ...

Oh, well. I have a weird question for you, Jacob: did you see any exhibits relating to anaerobic digestion of cow manure for biogas generation?

--TP

Skip the fried pickles, too.

Not specifically, but I did see a large energy exhibit (presumably put on by Wisconsin Energy). I was interested, because I am a nerd, but certain persons were more concerned with the acquisition & consumption of a deep-fried pickle. Mission accomplished, in case you were wondering.

Certain parts of the Midwest are kind of like a strange part of Germany where everybody mysteriously speaks English.

Quite so.

In 1795, the US Congress considered publishing federal laws in both English and German, in order to accomodate the large number of Americans whose native, and often only, language was German.

"It was this: chocolate-covered bacon on a stick is a lot better in theory than in practice."

You have never written a sentence I disagree with more, but my wife regularly tells me I never developed adult taste buds.

Thanks, Jacob, this is bringing up a raft of memories for me. I lived in a suburb of Milwaukee from 1981 to 1985. My son was born there; I took him away on a plane when he was 50 days old. He slept the whole way.

I have wonderful memories of the festivals at the lakefront -- when I was there, there was one just about every weekend in the summer, starting with Summerfest (10 days or so, late June/early July). A quick google tells me that you're too early for Irish Fest (the best music, of course :) and too late for Italian Fest (the best food). If it's Polish Fest this weekend and you get a chance to go, I suggest careful thought before eating the duck's blood soup (czarnina or something like that). It wasn't the blood (I've had blood sausage and don't mind it), it was the blood+noodles+raisins....... Raisins? Aiy.

I'm sure your inlaws can guide you to all the best stuff. I don't remember chocolate on bacon but I remember the brats, the gorgeous cheeses, the cherry tomato salad at the Three Brothers restaurant.

Heh. Never been back. Maybe it's time.

Also of interest, Milwaukee had socialist mayors for, I believe, decades (long in the past when I was there). Those horrible socialists with their clean well-ordered streets and safe neighborhoods -- you could just about tell the difference between Milwaukee politics and Boston politics (I lived in the Boston area both before and after Milwaukee) just by taking a deep breath.

Funnel cake! The obligatory State Fair Food. At least at the ones we used to go to in New York, by my grandmother's. Might have just been County Fairs though. I was a kid, then.

Chocolate covered bacon is one of those things that just makes my stomach go "no" at the idea of it. Not quite as bad as deep fried Oreos/Snickers/Twinkies here in the South.

TP: They had a Dirty Jobs episode about that once, with the guys who were making Cow Pots from the dried sludge left over.

I've had several times in Milwaukee for various reasons, as my dad went to school in Madison, and then, I had a best friend who moved there. Tons of great memories, but one that might ring a bell with others was driving into Milwaukee as a kid and smelling that malted hops and barley smell, which then went into yeast and bread and then into chocolate. I had to google to see if I was just making this up, but apparently, the Ambrosia chocolate factory was located downtown until 1992.

I saw "hops" and I thought "beer", and then I remembered an ancient joke: the Brewers once had a pitcher named Mel Famey. One hot summer's day, he managed to walk 4 batters in a row. One of the opposing players pointed to several empty bottles of Schlitz in the Brewers' dugout and observed:

"Ah! The beer that made Mel Famey walk us."

Sorry. Carry on.

--TP

I'm having a hard time imagining how anything could be worse in practice than chocolate-covered bacon sounds in theory.

I'm having a hard time imagining how anything could be worse in practice than chocolate-covered bacon sounds in theory.

So you think duck's blood with raisins sounds better? ;)

For a quiet and pretty vist, Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park southwest part of the county (Hales Corners?) is very nice. The bike ride beside the lake from South Milwaukee Grant Park Golf Course to Bayview and back is one of my favorites. The Art Museum along the lakefront and the Zoo are very nice as well.

Dude, Milwaukee is home for me, and I'm telling you, don't waste your time on gimmicky stuff like that. Get a brat, corn on the cob, and a cream puff. You won't regret it.

liberal japonicus:

You are correct, it was downtown, near Old World Third*, if I'm not mistaken. It was looking for an excuse to move, and Jeffrey Dahmer provided it.

*Old World Third has its own sordid history. At one time, it was just "3rd Street." When the decision was made to change 3rd to *gasp* Martin Luther King Drive, the businesses on the Southern edge of 3rd banded together, decided to declare themselves a "historical district," and insist that their section of the street should be called "Old World" third street. It's a great section of downtown, sullied by a racist history. Another reminder that institutional racism is far from unique to the South, where I now live. About half a mile North of "Old World Third" and Wisconsin, the street does indeed change to Martin Luther King Drive, and in a nod to progress, the MLK section, once a no-man's land, is experiencing a renaissance. And yes, I realize that my asterisk is way longer than my original comment.

Regarding the lakefront festivals, this weekend is Arab World Fest. You can move several spots up on the DHS watch list and no fly list just by visiting! But seriously, it's a great festival, and worth checking out, if you get the chance.

(I'm a Milwaukee old hand (sort of) after N family visits. Just the first time to the state fair. Or any state fair.)

I like Milwaukee but then I like all the Midwestern industrial cities I've been to.

One of the things I had in mind when I was talking about American Utopianism was Kohler Village up north of here. It was built by Kohler with the overt intention of building an upstanding community for the workers at Kohler.

The other thing I've liked about these Midwest industrial states is their reluctance to buy the Republican pro-business line despite being the home of some of the biggest American industrial businesses.

They need to buy somebody's pro-business line with business and people leaving the area. Milwaukee's population has dropped about 18% since 1960.

I think the problem is chocolate covered BACON. Because I've had DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES with bacon. Which is wonderful. (It also had goat cheese which I never would have guessed would be good in chocolate, but makes it creamier without detracting from the bitterness as much as milk)

Marmite chocolates are delicious. I frequently have to buy them by the half-dozen to convince people of this.

A really good chocolatier can make pretty much anything into a delicious chocolate (probably even duck's blood with raisins) but just dunking something into chocolate and eating it on a stick works only for fresh strawberries. Or crystalized ginger.

Skip the fried pickles, too.

That's something that I found to be surprisingly good (as in: not only edible, but actually something I'd want to try again). My eldest loves them. But I can't for the life of me recall where we got them, that they were any good.

A whole fried pickle would be...not good. Dill pickle slices, though, battered in something that doesn't slither off in a few seconds, and fried crispy, and served hot...well, that was quite acceptable. Once you get over the shock of hot, sour and crispy together.

County fairs are, in Florida at least, where you go to get the worst food and mingle with the betatted and wifebeatered trailer trash.

There's all manner of fair food that I have yet to try: the funnel cake, the smoked turkey drumstick, the haggis, etc.

Certain parts of the Midwest are kind of like a strange part of Germany where everybody mysteriously speaks English.

'Jimminy H. Christmas on a triscuit; fer gosh darn sake' isn't German?

Dill pickle slices, though, battered in something that doesn't slither off in a few seconds, and fried crispy, and served hot...well, that was quite acceptable.

Sorry man, but there are some things that just will not stand.

Pickles come in barrels, and are whole, not sliced. They are new, half-sour, garlic, or dill. OK, maybe garlic *and* dill. But that's it.

I understand that there are folks out there who spend their days thinking up new, unspeakable ways to abuse the lowly cucumber, but I'm not having it.

Here I stand. I can do no other.

Next thing you'll be telling me they make bagels with blueberries in them.

The madness has to stop somewhere, man.

I saw "hops" and I thought "beer", and then I remembered an ancient joke: the Brewers once had a pitcher named Mel Famey. One hot summer's day, he managed to walk 4 batters in a row.

i saw "beer", "batters" and "pitcher" and immediately thought of a pitcher of beer and a big basket of beer-battered fish, chips too.

damn blog is making me hungry

I adore chocolate. And I adore bacon. But chocolate-covered bacon on a stick sounds absolutely revolting.

Dill pickle slices, though, battered in something that doesn't slither off in a few seconds, and fried crispy, and served hot...well, that was quite acceptable. Once you get over the shock of hot, sour and crispy together.

Sorry russell, but as a fellow pickle-lover I can totally grok this. Sounds really good, actually.

There's all manner of fair food that I have yet to try

My favorite siting on my one and only visit to the Minnesota State Fair: "HOT DAGO SANDWICH."

Sounds kind of stodgy, russell. Downright conservative, truth be told.

What are your views on pickled okra? Would you put one in a martini, or a bloody mary? How about a pickled green bean?

Yeah, soon we'll have deep-fried, pickled Snickers bars. That's progress. You can ban it in California if you want.

Oh. Or deep-fried, pickled chocolate-covered bacon. There ya go.

My brother would say, "Next thing you'll be telling me that they make pizza with onions on it."

If someone offered him a slice of pizza with broccoli and walnuts (one of my faves before I quit eating wheat and tomatoes), he would probably call the police. For pineapples he'd just get his gun.

Pizza: pizza dough with tomato sauce spread on top, then sprinkled with salt, pepper, oregano, and freshly grated parmesan (maybe romano) cheese. Tomato sauce: besides the tomato element, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, oregano.

Simple.

HOT DAGO SANDWICH

I just love me some thin-sliced hot dago on (of course) Italian bread, with a little provolone cheese.

My favorite siting on my one and only visit to the Minnesota State Fair: "HOT DAGO SANDWICH."

Uncle K, I love this. On one of my first visits to Maine many years ago, I saw a sign that said, "Pizza and Italians."

I cracked up. The people I was with didn't know what was so funny.

In Maine, where there are almost no Italian-Americans (well, except Governor Baldacci, Mama Baldacci (who has a restaurant), and me), an "Italian" is what we called a submarine sandwich when I was a kid in Ohio. Or variously, now, in various parts of the country, a sub, a grinder, a hogie....

Fried pickles are actually quite good.

This is the rare episode of "russell is completely wrong."

Downright conservative, truth be told.

Conservative, nothing. When it comes to pickles, I am a reactionary.

Although, to be honest, I will eat bread and butter slices on a sandwich. Kind of a walk on the wild side, but there it is.

Pizza's a funny case, because in Italy pizza can have almost anything on it. My favorite is a classic Margerita, but I recognize that others may differ.

I do, however, draw the line at pineapple. "Hawaiian pizza" is an oxymoron.

Pickled okra sounds good, but my wife will draw the line at putting one in a martini.

Quoth she: martinis are gin, not vodka, with a detectable amount of vermouth, and either olives or a twist. If olives, some olive juice can also be included to make it dirty.

If you need more variety than that, you can choose between up or rocks.

You can make the same drink with pickled onion instead of the olive or twist, but that is called a Gibson.

This is what I have learned, and what I will pass on to my children's children's children.

Seriously, you have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise, next thing you know it's lasagna with cottage cheese and raisins.

Fried pickles are actually quite good.

My god, man, where will this end?

Think of the children!

Pizza's a funny case, because in Italy pizza can have almost anything on it. My favorite is a classic Margerita, but I recognize that others may differ.

Well, yes. ;)

If you (Russell) are a reactionary, there is no chart wide enough to hold my brother. (But in real life he doesn't have a gun, btw.)

Despite what I said above, when I was a kid I used to love it when my grandma made "pizza" but without the sauce. I don't remember her name for it, but it was a lot like focaccia. (Her names for things were, I believe, lots of times dialect words. Other Italian-Americans I've met tend to have a different set of names.)

Her names for things were, I believe, lots of times dialect words. Other Italian-Americans I've met tend to have a different set of names

So true. I remember the first time I realized, to my chagrin, that my Italian family's idioms were not universal in Italy when I tried to use them with Italian friends from Italy.

Pickled okra sounds good, but my wife will draw the line at putting one in a martini.

But it does work in a bloody mary.

martinis are gin, not vodka

Notionally with you here, but some of our friends are not wild about gin. We can call it something else, though, among civilised folk. Plus, good gin is much more expensive than good (read: palatable. tasteless, even) vodka.

with a detectable amount of vermouth

Heresy. An open bottle of vermouth must not come within 100 yards of a gin martini. Closed bottles can come a bit closer. I try not to even think of vermouth when making a martini. Vodka martinis are a different story; they kind of need the vermouth to have some taste at all.

and either olives

Ugh. Vodka you can mix with olives, but olives go with gin like chocolate goes with bacon.

or a twist

There you go.

My favorite martini is:

Tanqueray Ten, kept in the freezer.

Martini glass, well frozen.

About 3" by 1/8" slice of lemon peel, with the oils expressed by twisting. Rub that all over the inside of the glass, and then leave it in for the gin to pick up the rest. You can put a pick through it if you wish.

Shake the gin vigorously over ice. Any thoughts of "bruising" a nonliving fluid; put those right out of your head. Strain into the glass. Decant into your mouth at the desired rate, preferably well before it has warmed to room temperature. Repeat as needed.

Your wife that her and her ilk are destroying the moral fabric of this once-great nation. They must be stopped.

fried pickle chips are awesome.

Quoth she: martinis are gin, not vodka

agreed, but the battle is lost. these days, a "martini" is literally anything served in a long-stemmed conical glass.

Ummm...I have seen Cosmopolitans served in that glass, and not been called a "martini".

/nitpick

More generally, though: agreed.

I will say this, I drink them both ways (vodka and gin) but if gin, no olives, only a twist.

If vodka, always olives (and possibly a bit dirty).

Quoth she: martinis are gin, not vodka, with a detectable amount of vermouth, and either olives or a twist. If olives, some olive juice can also be included to make it dirty.

You're wife sounds like a very smart woman.

A martini is gin, but a vodka martini isn't. It's really quite simple. There's a default. You know what you should put in one of those glasses, though?

A Manhattan, thanks. What could be better than whiskey (and a cherry!)?

I used to love it when my grandma made "pizza" but without the sauce.

Pizza can be anything on dough! My ex-girlfriend was Italian-Italian, and she used to send me to work with apple pizza. She said it was perfectly authentic to put anything we had in the house on dough, and it was 'pizza'. BTW, pineapple and bacon (canadian or otherwise) is just dee-lish (as they say in Wisconsin). What's not to like?

A Manhattan, thanks.

Yes, but Manhattans are cool weather only. Rum and tonics, warm weather only.

Martinis, year round.

And I appreciate all y'all's Martini comments, but there are some topics on which I defer to my wife's judgement.

She wants gin, not too dry, olives, then gin, not too dry, olives is what she will have. Ice on the side.

A happy wife makes a happy man.

When I personally go the clear spirits route, it's a vodka Gibson, very very dry, extra olives, but not too many.

How long until happy hour?

Thinly sliced potatos on pizza is good.

What's not to like?

I hate pineapple. QED.

*********

Of course you can put anything you want on pizza or any other kind of bread. (Like I said, broccoli and walnuts was one of my favorite pizza toppings.) My grandma herself was open-minded about these things. Having made do with that she had (which wasn't much) for her entire life, she expressed her philosophy of cooking thusly: "You use what you got."

It's the later generations that got all picky and canonical.

Maybe it's just the way they were made, but I've not liked either of the martinis I have had. I'm not a huge fan of alcohol anyway, so that might be it. I can't stand whiskey either.

I'm not a huge fan of alcohol anyway, so that might be it.

Well, yeah. Martini's are essentially pure alcohol (either gin or vodka, with some vermouth).* So if you don't like alcohol, these are not the drinks for you.

*(with the exception being that "dirty" martinis contain a little pickled olive juice, and the various flavored martinis can contain fruit juice - but then really aren't martinis according to the purists on this thread, of which I consider myself one)

A happy wife makes a happy man.

russell has the secret to a successful marriage, I think.

Of course you can put anything you want on pizza or any other kind of bread.

To the real old school folks, pizza is "dough with whatever is in the fridge on top, baked in the oven". Hard to argue with that.

I'm not a huge fan of alcohol anyway, so that might be it.

That would definitely explain it.

russell has the secret to a successful marriage, I think.

I hope so. It seems to be working so far. :)

I have seen Cosmopolitans served in that glass, and not been called a "martini".

probably because the Cosmo is a well-known drink which was popularized long before "martini" became a catch-all name for anything in the classic martini glass.

go to any decent bar or restaurant and ask to see their "martini list". there will be dozens of proprietary drinks, most which have gallons of fruit juice, and no gin. all served in a martini glass, of course.

b.t.w., the second hit on that Google Search is "Bistro 64", which a very nice place to grab some fine food... if you're ever on Rt 64 east of Raleigh.

A happy wife makes a happy man.

russell has the secret to a successful marriage, I think.

He does!

A happy wife makes a happy man.

i once replied to something my wife said with something i heard on a TV show: "happy wife, happy life". she did not like that at all. said it implied that wives are the nagging harpies of sitcoms and Andy Capp strips, and that men are forced to constantly placate them.

now, i keep such thoughts to myself. and that keeps her happy. which makes my life easier.

As cleek suggests, the maxim approaches a tautology. It's the execution that is difficult.

I would suggest that keeping your partner happy is the end, not the means.

It's the execution that is difficult.

Yes. Sometimes you have to studiously not acknowledge that which is obvious.

Sometimes you have to studiously not acknowledge that which is obvious.

LOL.

It's the art of life.

Hmmmmm, I'm willing to believe that pizza has a very very wide range (the fact that New York style pizza and Chicago style pizza are both called 'pizza' is indeed crazy) but I'm not sure I'd go so far as "anything on bread".

I was recently offered a slice of "San Diego's Best Vegan Pizza". Unfortunately I must report that it is more of a case of "best VEGAN pizza" rather than "BEST vegan PIZZA".

If it doesn't have meat or cheese or gluten, it really can't be a good pizza in my world. (You can maybe remove 2 out of those 3 and still call it pizza, but at some point it just isn't.)

I would suggest that keeping your partner happy is the end, not the means.

Indeed. I would go so far as to say that when something is wrong with my baby, something is wrong with me.

Old World Third

Misread as "Old Third World", which has different connotations.

If it doesn't have meat or cheese or gluten, it really can't be a good pizza in my world. (You can maybe remove 2 out of those 3 and still call it pizza, but at some point it just isn't.)

Word.

If it doesn't have meat or cheese or gluten, it really can't be a good pizza...

But I disagree about the meat. No one I knew put meat on pizza when I was a kid -- at least on pizza that we made at home -- and that's in a world made up almost entirely of Italian-Americans, the older ones all born in the old country.

In pizza joints you could get pepperoni pizza, but we didn't bother with any of that stuff at home. As I said: dough, sauce, garlic salt (but there was garlic in the sauce, too), pepper, oregano, parmesan/romano cheese. No gloppy sloppy mozzarella, either. In my heart of hearts, it actually isn't pizza if it has mozzarella on it. Wrong kind of cheese. "Cheese" was a generic word, like "scotch tape" or "kleenex" or "brillo pads" -- it meant grated parmesan or romano. My grandma often kept a chunk of provolone around, but that, like Genoa salami, was more of a special treat. Parmesan was everyday stuff.

Speaking of meat, my sister reminded me recently that my dad had a rule that we weren't allowed to eat Genoa salami without bread. Otherwise we would have eaten it like candy. (My dad was frugal to the point of pathology...whatever his other reasons, he didn't like paying for it.)

Speaking of bread, my dad wouldn't pick up his fork and start eating unless there was bread on the table....

Me: In my heart of hearts, it actually isn't pizza if it has mozzarella on it.

This isn't really true either; I'm not a purist about pizza however much I might have fun nitpicking over vocabulary.

It just isn't as good with mozzarella.

I made a provolone pizza once. It was pretty damned good.

Best pizza ever is at DiFara in NYC, and he uses a blend of cheeses. But mozz is one.

Otherwise we would have eaten it like candy.

Mmmmmmmmmm......

I get a nice sopresada in my stocking every year at Christmas. I always try to make it last until at last New Years, but I pretty much always fail.

I had a surplus of edible flowers in my garden once, and made a pizza by tossing the flowers in a mix of cheese and breadcrumb and filling the pizza pie with the flower / cheese / crumb mix. It tasted fantastic. Sadly not really repeatable: it was just good chance that had so many edible flowers on a day I could bake with them.

I'm having a hard time imagining how anything could be worse in practice than chocolate-covered bacon sounds in theory.

Then come to the Ohio State fair and enjoy the deep-fried butter.

Italics begone?

Here in Indiana, there's deep fried Coca Cola. Kind of like Baked Alaska, but deep friend, and it's cola.

On the other hand, nobody can resist candied bacon.

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