Return

Posted on May 17, 2011

I’m back in Mankato, and despite good intentions, never found time to post again from the road.

Perhaps it’s for the best, as a little time to reflect can often help. I had a great weekend, half work, half pleasure.

The work, and I use the term loosely, continued on Saturday with a drive down to Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, Illinois, the city of Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright. I started sampling around 11, and stayed until 2:30. I met the owner, Eric, and several great workers: Charlie, Marcus and Eva, thanks for your help! We paired the cheese with both wine and beer selections; I had to check each a couple of times to be sure we had it right. And great thanks to Lydia, theCheesemonger, who brokered the visit and had the good fortune to be in Europe on a cheese tour.

The Market is very well appointed, and has a restaurant all under the same roof. Definitely worth a drive if you’re anywhere in the Chicago area.

On my drive into Chicago, I learned that the Cubs were playing the San Francisco Giants, my boyhood, and still, heroes. After 50 years in San Francisco, they finally won the World Series last year. So, though the weather forecast was gloomy, I went.

I scalped a ticket along the first base line, normally a great place to watch a game. However, in this instance, the rain and the wind combined to make it a most inhospitable position. I toughed it out a few innings, thrilled to see the team in the flesh. After that, I retreated to covered ground and stuck it out until the seventh inning. Shorty after my departure, the game was called. The Giants won, though the game was much more about the weather than good play. No matter, I was glad I made the effort.

One of my first posts mention Nick and Nora Weir, who put me up when I attended the American Cheese Society Conference in 2008. They lived in the suburbs then, but are now empty-nesters and have a condominium in the heart of the city.

They were kind enough to loan me a bedroom for the weekend. Nick’s brother John, my dear friend, flew down on Sunday to gild the lilly of the weekend: Elvis Costello, my favorite, was in town. John and I went The Purple Pig mid-afternoon and held court there for a long while. The food there is spectacular (thanks for the recommendation, Meg from Pigtale Twist!); if you are anywhere near downtown Chicago, go there, now. Order everything, but especially the “neck-bone gravy”. This was Nick’s recommendation, and it was an incredible winner. The kind of dish that drives you to plot an imminent return.

The show was amazing. It should be noted that I would yell “bravo” if Costello came out and sang show tunes. in this case, he reprised the spinning songbook, a tour he did in the mid-Eighties. A large Price is Right wheel with 40 songs, with guests invited to spin. Elvis plays whatever the arrow points to, and it is a laugh; was then and was now.

What a great blend of commerce and culture. This was what I had in mind when I started this venture.

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