February in Review

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

Despite what any objective observer would describe as plain awful weather (coldest Feb in Chi in recorded history, 14.6F average temperature, 3rdsnowiest Feb) we ended just $1300 short of February 2014 sales.  

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

This must have been due to the consistent, delicious pace of the kitchen, the friendly, engaged attention by the servers, the deliveries ordered on Xocotogo.com, and the amazing creativity of our chefs.  

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

If the February weather was the toughest of punches, we’re only down $1300.  

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

Xoco is still standing and we have all of that going for us AND some new tricks up our sleeve. 

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

I can’t wait to see what this team does with even a slight increase in temperature:  March, I’m looking at you.

Trompo

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Richard Gustave Stracke, one of our all-time best regulars, wrote in, “The Pambazo is incredibly high in the running for my all time favorite Xoco torta.”

xoco chicago tacos al pastor trompo

“If I paired that with some al pastor on a Wednesday night I could almost close my eyes and conjure up the D.F.”

Zagat Rating

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We are up 2 points in food and 2 points in service in the 2015 Zagat guide for Chicago.

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I have no way of knowing when we got those extra points though. It was sometime between now and 2009.

That’s Why I Don’t Eat Shrimp

Chicago west town noble square erie street 3rdarm sunset February roly poly cat maine coon Arthur Mullen

The last time I quit eating shrimp it was because I crammed so many in my mouth that I got weirded out. As the closing manager I had been inspecting the main walk-in refrigerator, in particular the sheet trays housing the mise en place for the ceviche station. Those first few weeks closing the restaurant I played a dangerous game called how many shrimp can I fit in my mouth. Open access to unlimited shrimp had turned me into a walking whale: nothing got my baleen salivating like a late night shrimp snack. And then one night, alone in the dark restaurant, I reached my limit. Mouth crammed with textures of shrimp, I panicked. And that’s when I switched to slurfing sweet treats at the end of my closing shifts.

Chicago west town noble square erie street 3rdarm sunset February roly poly cat maine coon Arthur Mullen

Two tangentially related stories:

The first time I remember experiencing a freakish panic over food was when my age was somewhere in the low single digits. My family was having lunch at Kathy John’s, an old school ice cream parlour just outside the rural campus of the University of Connecticut. At Kathy John’s they served the famous “kitchen sink” to college students and other boneheads, a humongous disgusting salad bowl with 1000 scoops of every kind of ice cream and topping. The waitresses rang a bell when you ordered it. Anyway, I was just a little kid having a hamburger, and when I had eaten my hamburger down to a crescent half-moon shape, I was suddenly overtaken by the feeling that this hamburger could be anything, a sandworm from an alien planet. This was way before any drugs, by the way. I remember looking at the remains of my hamburger, bell ringing wildly as a bunch of cheering college boneheads were presented with a tub of frozen goo, totally weirded out thinking, “What the hell is this thing?”

Chicago west town noble square erie street 3rdarm sunset February roly poly cat maine coon Arthur Mullen

The other story is the first time I got food poisoning. Again it’s my early childhood. It was the year I unsuccessfully tried out as an altar boy at the local Catholic church. Come to find out I just wasn’t cut from the right cloth. My older cousin was getting confirmed at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, CT. Perhaps as an harbinger of my growing agnosticism, I lost interest completely in the ceremony. Bored out of my mind, I hung out in the cathedral’s basement, where the buffet was already set for the post-confirmation fiesta. The Bishop was on hand to personally bestow the sacrament, and it was a big deal. Evidently the Bishop considered himself a big deal as well, because he was the first one to come down to the basement, before the local priests had even finished up. From out of site, I watched him go down the buffet line. The Bishop took a chocolate milk. The Bishop took potato chips. The Bishop took iceberg lettuce salad. He came to the platter of sandwiches: the Bishop picked up a tuna boat sandwich, put it down, and chose roast beef instead. The Bishop took his meal to-go. Alone again in the cathedral basement, I ran over to the sandwiches and scarfed down the tuna boat that sucker the Bishop had passed up. It was delicious, and it bestowed on me a full day of traumatic, harrowing food poisoning. I remember my cousins’ hunting dogs trailing me around the yard, chowing on my piles of barf.

Chicago west town noble square erie street 3rdarm sunset February roly poly cat maine coon Arthur Mullen

This past Friday, I worked my first manager shift at the new restaurant. The restaurant opened last summer, but I don’t really have the stomach for restaurant openings. I’m a person who likes my routines. Six months in, I was finally there to lend a hand. With my fresh eyes (and nose) I identified a key issue: the host podium was topped with unsealed metal that reeked like blood and stained the hostesses blouses. I uploaded a fun photo of the wood-burning oven onto all the Micros POS screens. Just before the kitchen closed at 11PM, I asked the chef if the shrimp in garlic mojo would be a good dish to try, and he said yes. I’d actually had shrimp for lunch as well. “What can I say, I’m like a walking whale,” I joked. I put my food order in. I followed up by going up to the Latino cook working the wood-burning oven. I pointed at my ticket, the last on the line. “Bien Preparado,” I said. The cook was nonplussed. “Hecho en Mexico,” “Estilo Sinaloa,” I goaded him, getting no response, “Trabajo Para Chapo Guzman.”

“I’m from Ecuador,” the cook replied, as he reluctantly got out the shrimp bucket and added more shrimp to the wood-burning oven.

My body knew instantly that something was wrong. Right away my stomach bloated up and garlic started sweating from all my pores. Five to eight hours later, the diarrhea faucet switched on. That morning, in agony, I emailed work, described the situation and conveyed my hope I would be well enough to work in the afternoon. Around noon, I crapped the bed. Needless to say, I called out sick from work. Without the care of Etta and Roly Poly, I may not have made it through that one. As NBA great Charles Barkley once said in a T-Mobile commercial, “And that’s why I don’t eat shrimp.”

I’m taking a short break from small friends with swimmerets. Upon receipt of an email detailing my condition, Aunt Judy’s reply was classic. “Not the first time [you crapped the bed], Arthur.”

Foot Biter

february erie st sunset winter chicago 3rdarm roly poly cat maine coon arthur mullen

I had trouble sleeping last night. I got up to read my book in the living room while the sun came up.

february erie st sunset winter chicago 3rdarm roly poly cat maine coon arthur mullen

I’m reading Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Roly Poly is still a foot biter.

Goofy Green Sweater

erie st goofy chihuahua roly poly cat maine coon cat arthur mullen chicago 3rdarm

We are in the dog days of winter. It snowed again on Sunday and the temperature is in the single digits in Chicago.

erie st goofy chihuahua roly poly cat maine coon cat arthur mullen chicago 3rdarm

I watched my elderly neighbor sweep snow from the sidewalk. His 20 year old chihuahua Goofy emerged from the house, alive, and wearing a small green sweater.

Yo͞onək

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One night after work we were all talking about the new trailer for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. The talk turned to who would be which character. To be honest, there are not any characters I would want to be in the brutal fantasy world where it’s kill or be killed. Brie, the training manager, said that because I am crafty, always trying to manipulate the action behind-the-scenes, that I would be Varys, the eunuch. “Storms come and go, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling,” is a typical Varys quote. That would be fine, I shouted at her, except that I have it where it counts. I’m not a eunuch!

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Over the weekend, I overheard Shane talking about Game of Thrones in the dishroom. Shane is a person I respect immensely: multi-instrumentalist, college professor of music, has played drums for Steely Dan. He was born in Germany to American parents with roots in the South, and his voice has a kind of stoner twang that wouldn’t be out of place on The Simpsons. “What character would you be?” I asked him.

“The badass with the fucked up face… what’s his name… The Hound!” he answered.

“What character would I be?” I asked.

Shane’s face scrunched up while he thought over the question. And then it came to him. “Ohhh… man. You’d be that guy in the capitol who is always controlling people… The Eunuch!”

Fierro Viejon

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Today we retired one of the Xoco all-time great’s jersey to the rafters, where it will hang forever beside our 5 championship banners.

Year of Fundamentals Part 2

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I went to see Dr. When last week. The entire time I’m in his office I’m talking, and he is furiously writing prescriptions. I only see him once every 4 months, so Dr. When had a lot of prescritions to write, and I had a lot to say. I said happy new year, and explained my vision for 2015. I told him I was calling this the, “Year of Fundamentals.” Dr. When didn’t seem to interested, so I prodded him. “What will be your major focus this year doctor?”

xoco chicago 3rdarm february polar vortex winter ice snow 3rdarm manager arthur mullen key limes beck grove organic citrus

Dr. When said he would take note of the question and have an answer prepared for when we meet again in May. Dr. When handed me the prescriptions, and I started to talk about how I have been feeling depressed, a little down… The doctor was already up from his chair, and held open the door for me. Dr. When’s version of au revoir: “It’s winter, everybody’s feeling down.”

Stay High

q2ctf quake 2 ctf capture the flag clan rcp h0ps 3some reefer hoes 21 121 91 3rdarm threesome

Back in the day of 1999-2001, I was the captain of clan rcp- Rare Cat Poop. We were a ctf team on the OGL (online gaming league) Quake 2 CTF ladder. I played under the names 91, hoes, Stay High and Reefer. Now it’s 16 years later and I still play every day I can. We use an application called Ventrilo to talk to one another during gameplay. Nobody asked but I thought I would describe everybody’s voice, just in case ventrilo goes down and we forget who’s who:

my voice- everybody hates their own voice, but I especially hate my own voice. it’s like a cartoon, nasally, feminine, trolling me on my own lack of testosterone

harvey- resonant and manly yet full of childish glee. I always look forward to hearing harvey on ventrilo, except when he is talking about battlefield 4 or whatever game he has been playing instead of quake 2, because that makes me sad

fors- soothing, wise, the kind of voice that makes me want to follow his advice

bones- street smart, been around the block, best accent on Acme, Maine-iac

target- target’s great Canadian broadcasting voice speaks to his experience and love of the game, going all the way back to the Grunt worship of his youth

The Cleaner- sarcastic, witty, makes me want to crack jokes

greenz- voice indicates he is more mellow / stoned than me at all times

rusty- woof woof! bark indicates great reservoir of patience- maybe that explains how he has put up with all of us for so long

yoda- smart, great sense of humor, also Canadian. true story, whenever i hear yoda’s in my mind i see Yoda from star wars talking, although i am conscious that’s not really happening

q2ctf quake 2 ctf capture the flag clan rcp h0ps 3some reefer hoes 21 121 91 3rdarm threesome

bonkers- when i hear the sound of his voice, i instinctively protect my nuts

bluefish- claims to be female from Portugual, voice checks out. in addition to great laugh, bluefish wins best ambient noises award. who remembers that garbage truck that one night? I thought it was backing up in my apartment.

h0ps- voice conveys boredom and fatigue, which draws me in to ask more questions. it’s as if endless slaughter and resource domination makes h0ps massively tired, with no noticeable dropoff in slaughter and resource domination

Link- sounds like he hangs out with greenz?

ex- texas twang, good sense of humor, sporadically blurts hate words

SMFJ- i like when h0ps kills him and yells, “Jerry Moon!” I know that’s not really anything about stanley’s voice, but here we are running up against the limits of who I have talked a lot with on vent, that’s why I can’t really even comment on SMFJ, Legend, everybody else…

Rogue- this is what target would sound like if target were from the US

-and last but not least-

angry- gets more or less angry with his Kill-Death-Ratio

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