Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Kallyope Yell

90 west chicago 3rdarm saturn ion

You are slow to get excited and slow to calm down, and you will harbor a grudge for a long time. You are straightforward, just, inquisitive and shrewd. Very much attached to your own opinions and determined to have your own way at any cost. You have a taste for agriculture, like choice food.

old yellar hot anton kozlik 3rdarm

You will accumulate large amounts of personal property. You will have large endowments left to you. Brothers and sisters will make trouble for you and cause you to take a long journey. You will travel a great deal. Your talents are the fine arts. You have a long life.

One of your lucky numbers is 10.

-Esmerelda tells all

Deer Shelter Rock

infinity room 3rdarm house on the rock alex jordan etta arthur mullen

I found out that December 7, 1941 the day of Pearl Harbor, the largest plane boat in the world, the Hawaii Mars, crash-landed and sank in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. There were other lessons in synchronicity at the House of the Rock. The elderly couple that walked by our car on their way in also hobbled by our car on their way out 4 hours later. I had just told the couple in matching white collared shirts and cowboy hats to take care. “It’s like a struggle you are in with other people,” Etta said of Wisconsin’s number 1 tourist attraction.

view from the glass table 3rdarm infinity room house on the rock

“Eclectic and obsessed. Way too much stuff. What a waste,” said the woman in the white cowboy hat. I had a head ache and my feet and knees ached from walking and my neck and shoulders hurt from hauling the canon camera for 4 hours. In the gift shop I bought Alex Jordan’s biography and a DVD and a magnet. The man died in 1990. The collection of cartoon phones by the exit through the gift shop, including Mickey Mouse and Alf phones, raised the intriguing question of what Alex would add to the house today.

The Winter Room

Living room 3rdarm house on the rock wisconsin

Larry the guy who checks tickets on the way to section one, the actual house on the rock, said, “Just remember Larry said section two and three will be more amazing than section one. What he (Alex Jordan) accomplished with the artistic vision- unbelievable.” I thought section one was the most interesting, a house nested into rock. Section two and three were like going into a manic dream…

angels section three house on the rock wisconsin 3rdarm

Etta said, “It smells like at the Museum of Science (in Boston) what a deer smells like, or a bear. It smells musky.” We stopped between section two and three for pizza in the indoor food court. The musky smell was so thick in the air that I lost my appetite for food. I didn’t want to disturb the (elderly) diners around us, so I typed the following on my phone and showed it to Etta- “I can’t eat anymore of that pizza. I have a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t.”

Prairie du Chien

angel flying 3rdarm house on the rock

Geologists say this lush green valley was once covered by a huge ocean. The waters eroded the stone and left craggy rock formations towering the valley floor. Alex first spied one such unusual outcropping of rock called Deer Shelter Rock, which by then had become a popular picnicking spot, on a family outing when he was a boy and by the early 1940s he was already dreaming of building a house there.

At first Alex picnicked on the rock. It was not long before picnics were not enough. He felt the need to begin building the house of his dreams. And so begin his life-long endeavor. At first he built what he called a “shack” but tore it down because he was not satisfied. He then rebuilt and called his creation The Winter Room which he used as a private retreat where he could pursue his interests in music, books and sculpture. In the years that followed he added more rooms – thirteen in all by the early 1960s. Alex never drew up any plans for the House but built directly from the ideas in his head and was not afraid to tear down, backtrack and re-build if things we not to his liking.

monkey and bear 3rdarm house on the rock

Inevitably, Jordan’s grand project began attracting attention from friends and passersby. As the number of sightseers increased, he built a staircase for them – now a 375-foot ramp through the tree tops. In 1960, he bowed to the inevitable and opened the House on the Rock to the public, charging fifty cents for admission. The revenue was immediately reinvested in expanding the scope of his dream.

The House as it appears today is the same as Alex left it. There have been some technical improvements, maintenance and a few things have been added in the Jordan tradition. What started as a simple “shack,” a sculptor’s retreat, continues to charm and fascinate thousands of visitors from around the world.

-from the guide to the uplands of southwest Wisconsin

Cow, Blue and Goat

door county cherry cobbler merchant madison 3rdarm

We stayed at the ruby marie hotel in madison after driving in from Chicago looked for a good restaurant. Merchant Madison had the menu for that nights dinner up on website and the pledge that they cook local ingredients and map listing the farms. There’s a cocktail program.

manhattan rye whiskey merchant madison 3rdarm

We went and started with 3 Wisconsin cheeses- cow, blue and goat, with honey comb, pecans, dry cherry and toast. I had a cup of root soup, very fall, with lightly grilled fluffy texas toast. Etta had a rye manhattan and it had lemon and orange zest and a cherry and I had ginger limeade.

merchant madison 3rdarm cheese plate

For dinner we split sweet pork belly with red beans and spice pickled chiles and a rare hangar steak with candied onions and spice cream potatoes. It was all rich and I liked it. For dessert I had cherry cobbler with almond streusel and vanilla gelato in an iron skillet- sour juicy door county cherries.

Yam Bean

Etta madison wi 3rdarm

I stopped by the chocolate shoppe on a Sunday afternoon and got two scoops. Oatmeal cookie and heaps of love. The ice cream was rich and super buttery. There was actually a sign on the wall advising those seeking health food to eat carrots.

Arthur Mullen iii madison wi 3rdarm

I found the attitude refreshing. I found the ice cream super buttery. i found the chunks of oatmeal cookie and heaps of love to be treats.

White Sweet Potato

frontera 3rdarm white sweet potato boniato

We have huitlacoche. I saw it growing in a field of corn, the purple fungus busting out. The huitlacoche colors a tamal that tastes like the earth I walked on when I visited Nichols farm. The tamal and confit tomato from the garden above the restaurant with hen of the woods mushrooms from the woods and brown leaves of a mustard green called ruby streaks from the garden the bayless asked us not to step on at the party sunday.

pleasant house bakery toffee banana cream pie 3rdarm

That’s served in a sauce of pasilla chiles, dark and bittersweet. The huitlacoche tamal in dark chile sauce is finished with tuiles of hard salty raw sheeps milk cheese from nearby southern Illinois sheeps. Its vegetarian.

Prairie Air

at chucks southern comforts Burbank 3rdarm

When we went to Paw Paw woods for a hike Etta said she doesn’t mind the smell of horse shit. She says it just smells like hay.

Etta Illinois woods 3rdarm

Chef Rick talked about smoked whitefish at the meeting today. He said because its usually overcooked we only use it in stock.

Ooey Gooey Part 2

Ooey gooey egg sandwich Etta 3rdarm

The last summer dance was Saturday night. I parked around my first Chicago apt and we walked to grant park. Etta set out a blanket and three cheeses. A woman taught a hundred women to belly dance- her partner played bongos.

summer dance elote Chicago pierce 3rdarm

Brooke got lost downtown. Pierce and I got elote and sushi- i drank a coke zero and a honeydew avocado smoothie. Juliana did the sound. Hilary stopped by with her parents Beth and Walter. Fancy tried to sell everybody a breast cancer teeshirt.

Chile Meeting

chile class meeting frontera grill bayless 3rdarm

We had a chile meeting at work today, taught by chef Rick. Making dried chile sauces is the heart of our restaurant- its what we do best. Big chiles like the ancho, pasilla, mulatto, chihuacle, and guajillo are the base for sauces. The dried chiles are cooked twice- first they are toasted which increases the complexity of flavor. Then the toasted chiles are soaked in water blend and cooked down. Boiling out the water and cooking the chiles down to a paste brings out all the sweetness. It’s the single most important part of making a chile sauce. Little ones or hot peppers like arbol, cascabel, morita, chipotle and pequin may also be used in sauces- because of these chiles’ smaller size those sauces usually also contain tomato or tomatillo.

chile meeting notes frontera grill 3rdarm

Chiles mature from green in color to red. The flavor changes accordingly, from grassy to sweet. Some chiles, if left on the vine, will dry naturally. Jalapeños’ flesh is too thick for that- they will rot. Thousands of years ago the native Mexicans pioneered the force drying of chiles. They dug a smoky fire pit, placed a covering over that and put the jalapeños on top. The combined heat from the sun above and the fire below force dried the chile. The word chipotle means dried chile in the Aztec language, Nahuatl- chīlpōctli, from chīlli for chili pepper + pōctli for smoke, something smoked.

roly poly in drawer 3rdarm

We tasted many different chiles and took tasting notes. Some chiles such as the guajillo were bright, bold and tangy, high in acid and reminscent of sun dried tomato. Others like the ancho had the flavors of dark dry fruit and sweet spices, with hints of milk chocolate, raisins and nuts. Chef Rick did not like comparing the chile to the obvious candy, however. “The thing about raisinettes is they don’t have big bold flavor,” he said. “They’re neither really flavorful as chocolate nor as raisins.”