Tag Archives: Roly Poly

Cheesy Pork Era

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According to Tom Skilling, December 1 marks the start of climatological winter. If that’s true, why not escape to the warmer flavors of Mexico? From earthy, aromatic chipotles to bright, fiery habanero, the fire in the wood burning oven is roaring!

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Everyone loves ‘telera,’ the sandal-shaped Mexican bread we griddle our cubana and milanesa tortas on. The chefs are using this bread for the Cheesy Pork Loin Torta, a comforting combination of grilled Gunthorp pork loin and melted jack cheese, with spicy habanero crema and caramelized onions. It’s a warming hug for your mouth!

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This month we thank Chef Alonso and wish him all the best as he opens his new restaurant in Pilsen, 5 Rabinitos.  As one year ends and another begins, the team at Xoco gives thanks to our amazing guests, who get as excited as we do for new flavors and experiences. We call this time of year “hot chocolate weather”.

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I’m on what Ghostface Killah named, “The Hustler’s Diet,” which in my case is actually a mostly vegetarian pre-Columbian diet based on what the Indians called jitomate roasted with mushrooms, and nixtamalized maize.  Pictured above is stuffing made with cornbread, which Chef Richard calls “dressing”.

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Exercising the mind is scientifically proven
To increase your life line, strengthen your heart
Eat fish, that brain food will get you smart
Yoga, deep medicational tactics
You no good then just practice

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November Clouds

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Tom Skilling Forecast: Historic twelve inch snowfall sets Chicagoland’s all-time record for a single storm in November!

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Kitchen: Big news today… welcome Chef Julio De Leon to the Xoco family! We have been fortunate to have Chef Alonso leading us the past 2 years.  Chef Alonso made Xoco amazing beyond where I thought was possible… I will miss you very much chef, thank you for everything!

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Moment of Zen: Today I got handed a fortune cookie, which I saved until just now for my “end of the night snack.” The fortune inside reads, “You will reach high levels of intelligence.” !!! When???

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Rose Rose

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Tom Skilling Forecast: Showers continue through Wednesday.

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Door: New Xoco breakfast menu is in effect! It was a lot of fun getting feedback from the AM eagles and Chef Alonso – so far, so good! With the weather and the lower baseline for this time of year we still had a great Tuesday, exceeding the 2014 number by several hundred dollars. The door was never technically challenging, but we are always challenging ourselves to give our guests the best Xoco experience. Great job by Nayeli and Felipe.

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Mood Scale: A tough cookie (but very nice) guest with over 30 emails to set up this delivery for office lunch (and then 10 more emails with Caviar assisting), and here is the short but sweet feedback we just received this evening:

“Paul and Arthur, Thanks for your help on our lunch today. Everything worked out perfectly, on time and delicious! Very best, Rose Rose.”

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Loving Heart

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My amazing vegan sister Kate visited from vegan LA, the mecca of US veganism. I had to impress, but also make it look like I wasn’t trying that hard. Loving Heart was an amazing choice.

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This is vegan food as made by true believers. One of the chefs was also manning the tablet POS, and she practically sang a vegan song that only my sister could hear when our food was ready. It my sister, me and my chef from NYC, who had joked about sneaking in a little jerky and hiding it for me in the bathroom.

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For a non-vegan, I found the vegan nachos delicious, and the vegan Happy Burger also delicious. The happy burger was juiced up with vegannaise, a kind of vegan special sauce that really appealed to me. The homemade potato side was well seasoned and crisp.

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The artwork here is also amazing. I felt like the abstract subtly spiritual nature of some of the artwork rekindled mystical journeys I have taken in the past (this is called a “flashback”) and my own (almost) year of veganism. In particular, I had a trippy thought that meat eaters would probably have more bad trips, because of the superior karma of animallessness.

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This vegan food was very tasty, in an underground cafe near the bird sanctuary, it was a treat to visit with my sister and chef, during this actual Chicago fall aka “the non-polar non-vortex.”

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Roy’s Food Repair

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Enter customer with pretzels.

Roy: Hi, how are you?
Customer: Hi.

Roy: Can I help you?

Customer: Well, I sure hope so. Bought this bag of pretzels, new, and we were out on a boat, and I don’t know if maybe it was the vibration of the engine, or whatever, but it’s dislodged all of the salt off of the pretzels…

Roy: Oh, yeah.

Customer: …And now it’s all accumulated down at the bottom of the bag.

Roy: Oh, all down there.

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Customer: So, I mean, we’re pretty much a salt-with-our-pretzels family and I don’t…I’m just hoping your expertise can…bail me out.

Roy pauses, thinking, exhales deeply, and looks back at the customer and the bag of pretzels.
  

Roy: I’m gonna be honest with ya. (Pauses again, rubbing his chin.) I’d go buy another bag of pretzels.

Customer: Really?

Roy: I…(shakes head) Look, I’ll tell ya. You see, these pretzels are made by machines. The machines put on the salt. Now, I–I could do the work…but it’s by hand. It’s one grain of salt at a time.

Customer slowly starts nodding
.

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Roy: Now that’s–that’s man hours, that’s a lot of man hours. Even if I gave ya a real good deal. 

Customer (stammering a bit): Well, how much would it be if we–let’s just say we just–we did it. 

Roy: Top of my head, I’m saying $90.

Customer whistles.

Roy: Or 80.

Customer: Oh, wow.

Roy: Eighty, ninety. I don’t know. I don’t know, that’s a lot of work in there. 

Customer (looking at bag): It’s only…

Roy: What is that?

Customer: It’s only
a dollar nine.

-Roy’s Food Repair, John Candy skit, The New Show, 1984

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Reality Used To Be A Friend of Mine

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[Young John Candy, beside Niagara Falls.] I have been struggling with difficult emotions of late. Anger that I don’t know what to do with. Sadness that can swallow me up. Doubt that erodes my self confidence. It’s really the social fabric of my life that is protecting me: Carlos giving me advice (and space) at work, Bluefish’s hilarious story about her pigeon phobia, Jose encouraging my photography (Jose is amazing photographer, the middle photo is his, @aesopcr7 on Instagram) big thank you to my friends.

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“I appreciate Arthur’s humor. Arthur always asks if you need something. I really appreciate Arthur’s positive attitude even when I’m having a bad day, he can always see the brighter side and put a smile back on my face. I’d like to thank Arthur for all the work he does in Xoco. He works his ass off and it shows. I’m really proud to be working alongside someone so dedicated to our homemade chocolate. Thank you so much for always being there for us and for believing in me and giving me the chance to try new things. Thank you for encouraging me to believe in myself.”

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For my performance review at work, my co-managers and chefs, and those working in my department and related departments, wrote these appreciations for me (this part comes after much “room for improvement” stuff!) It’s embarrassing to share, but re-reading helps me remember my #1 goal to be a positive person. I appreciate the people in my life for the same reasons my coworkers appreciate me, now more than ever. You guys are the ones putting the smile back on my face. Thank you for encouraging me to believe in myself.

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El Alma Y El Cuerpo

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The last folks to dine on the patio were a group of 7 or 8. They had driven into the city from Plainfield to celebrate a birthday, with the big birthday dinner being at Xoco. Unfortunately, the birthday girl’s modified milanesa was not correct (we only got 2 of the 3 requested modifications.) We refired, and while Chef Glenn and Tiffany Ward (TW- one of the all time greats on the wood-burning oven) made sure the replacement was out ASAP, I stayed outside with the table as they were asking all kinds of RB-related questions. It turns out the girl’s parents had come to FG for the first time twenty years ago. They had to wait a few hours for the table, even back in the day. From what I understood of their story, they then ordered one type of fish and received another. To compensate, the manager back then had written on a business card, “Front of the line,” and their next visit to Frontera Grill they impressed the couple dining with them by not having to wait at all for a table.

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I thought it was remarkable because their story was a perfect example of our hospitality mantra, “The guest will not always remember what they ate, drank, etc, but they will never forget how we make them feel.” With that story informing my next actions, I put in a comp2mgr ticket for 7 churros, which Wendy made in the shape of a heart. Chef Jennifer and Abby wrote “happy birthday” in chocolate on one of the long dessert platters, and we plated the heart shaped churros with chocolate and cajeta for dipping. We brought this outside with a candle and sang happy birthday to the young lady. 20 years down the line, I hope her memory is as good as her parents!

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Strange Tools

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It’s a lot of fun getting together to talk with my online friends when we play Quake 2 CTF on Sunday evenings. Everyone has a different approach, whether it’s Yoda’s infectious sense of humor, Fors soothing life coaching, or housefly’s stoicism (no mic.) At the end of many hours of play, it is often just angry, bluefish and me left on the voice server.

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Angry is from Southern California, not far at all from where my sister lives, and like my sister, is a little bit older and wiser than me (and like her, does not smoke the MJ.) His depth of knowledge in subjects that interest him is amazing, whether it be F1 racing, hockey, web design or Quake 2, angry is like a walking encyclopedia. Angry earned his nickname the predictable way, and for the most part avoids sharing his emotions. The exception to this rule is during late night 1v1’s, when I am more “relaxed” (read: stoned, read: easy to kill) when angry LOVES to talk smack.

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Portuguese is bluefish’s first language (of many!), and while her English is amazing, she uses many endearingly quirky expressions and alternate pronunciations. For example, whenever she says “techs,” I am reminded of saxophonist John Tesh, and the she says “middle,” sounds like the extra strength pain reliever, “Midol.” Bluefish is very “chingona” to stay up and play with us all night and we all love having her in the group. With the massive daylight timezone difference between Portugal and North America she is usually the first of us three to go off to sleep.

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My work in the hospitality industry has turned me into a kind of giant human parrot. When h0ps and angry are talking, I parrot back the “bro talk.” When I talk with bluefish, I start pronouncing words the same way she does. Now that all this is out on the table, I present my recollection of how bluefish said goodnight to angry and me last Sunday:

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Bluefish: Alright friends, Mama is tired. Time go to nest.

Reefer: OK Bluefish!!! Awesome playing tonight. Thank you for staying up so late!

Angry: …

Bluefish: Goodnight Reefer! Goodnight Angry! Good games.

Reefer: Good games Bluefish! Goodnight! Take care!

Angry: …

Bluefish: Why don’t you say goodnight to me Angry?

Angry: BYE!

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Doorknobs Exist

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Technologies organize us, but they do so only insofar as they are embedded in our lives. This is a crucial idea. Take a doorknob, for example. A simple bit of technology, yes, but one that presupposes a vast and remarkable social background. Doorknobs exist in the context of a whole form of life, a whole biology — the existence of doors, and buildings, and passages, the human body, the hand, and so on.

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A designer of doorknobs makes a simple artifact but he or she does so with an eye to its mesh with this larger cognitive and anthropological framework. When you walk up to a door, you don’t stop to inspect the doorknob; you just go right through. Doorknobs don’t puzzle us. They do not puzzle us just to the degree that we are able to take everything that they presuppose — the whole background practice — for granted.

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If that cultural practice were strange to us, if we didn’t understand the human body or the fact that human beings live in buildings, if we were aliens from another planet, doorknobs would seem very strange and very puzzling indeed.

-What Art Unveils, by Alva Noe, published on NYTimes’ The Stone Blog, October 5, 2015

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John Boehner: Yes, I do yoga

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BOEHNER: We had left where the balcony where the pope had addressed all the people on the west front of the Capitol. And we came through my office, and the pope went down to the first floor on my elevator. And I took the British steps down to the first floor, and in what we now call Freedom Foyer, I was standing there with the pope and the cardinals and the rest of his entourage were all moving out to their vehicles.

And the pope takes his left arm and grabs my left arm and pulls me near him, and saying really nice words. I would repeat them, except it would really cause me to cry. And then he put his arm around me and pulled me right into him and said: “Please pray for me.”

Well, you can imagine, I was a mess.

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DICKERSON: Yes. Yes.

BOEHNER: Who am I to pray for the pope? But I did.

-excerpt of transcript, CBS Face the Nation with John Dickerson, Sunday, September 27, 2015

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