Friday, October 1, 2010

An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert

Last night, after much anticipation (I seriously have been excited since I found about about this almost a year ago), we went to see Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert speak at Clowes Hall. It was part of the Indiana Humanities Council's Food for Thought. It was a great event---completely sold out---kudos to Indianapolis for bring them here.

They ended up talking for about two hours (which, according to this blog, is an hour longer than they agreed to-awesome!). The chemistry between the two is great---they obviously enjoy spending time together. They both seem like genuinely good-hearted people. Also of note, they were drinking local beer Sun King while on stage (which was set up not unlike Between Two Ferns).

The format was great. First, the two chefs took turns grilling each other with tough questions. Bourdain asked Ripert why he voted off likable Tiffany from Top Chef when Kevin only cooked a sirloin steak. He also grilled him about his negative comments about Gordan Ramsey. Eric Ripert, who seems ridiculously nice, was definitely squirming. But when it was his time, he made sure to make Bourdain sweat some too, asking him how he felt like he could judge chefs when he really didn't have much great chef experience.

Next up, the two just chatted about various topics like sustainable seafood, traveling, and the local, organic movement. Anthony Bourdain didn't pull any punches with negative comments about Alice Waters no less. His points were very valid---mainly that although she's had a positive influence and is important, really she is too extreme. He told a couple stories about interviews with her where she was asked how people could afford organic food...her responses were...well, maybe they could just buy fewer cell phone minutes or one less pair of nikes. With kids eating chicken nuggets and fries all the time, maybe we can move towards move fruits and vegetables in general and then work on the local and organic part. He also pointed out that it's hard to eat local foods in winter on the upper peninsula of Michigan for example.

For the second hour or so, they took questions from the audience. My favorite response came when someone asked what things bother them when they eat out. Ripert doesn't like being served spoiled food (can't really argue with that). Bourdain had more complaints. First on his list, the existence of Olive Garden. He shares my hatred of the "Italian" chain restaurant and suggested that it would be a lovely sight if they were all on fire. There was some great commentary about McDonalds too. Ripert kept referring to Ronald McDonald as "that evil clown," and Bourdain shared his favorite ways to trick kids into hating McDonalds (to counteract all those ads). One option is to convince them that Ronald is a child abductor. Also during this Q&A session, we learned that if Eric Ripert weren't a chef (of one of the best restaurants in the world), he wouldn't mind being a park ranger.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Best of Indy (part 2)

I'll keep this one short and sweet but had an entry to add to my list.

Best Sandwich
The Goose from Goose the Market. The sandwich has prosciutto di parma, basil, fresh mozzarella, and extra virgin olive oil. I keep craving's so simple but so perfect. The store itself is outstanding with lots of local products (meat, dairy, produce, etc.) as well as imported cured meats and cheeses. Also, they have a nice beer and wine selection and gelato and espresso drinks. Oh yeah, they have a bacon of the month club (hint to Andy: my birthday is in July...).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Best of Indy (part 1)

This very well may end up being an ongoing post subject, but I thought I'd take the time to post a few of my favorite things in Indy. This list is subject to change as I try new restaurants (yea!).

Best Coffee
Hubbard and Cravens: The atmosphere of the Monon Coffee Company is better, but H&C's coffee is definitely the best in the city. They are a little snobby about it but with good reason. I've never actually been to their Pennsylvania Street location, but the Broad Ripple one seems like a good place to hang out and get some work done. For whole bean coffee, I also like Harvest Cafe Coffee (Farm Fresh Delivery brings it to my door!).

Best Mediterranean
This category has a number of entries because Indy has a lot of good mediterranean food. Best hummus: Khoury's for sure. Best spanakopita (perhaps my favorite Greek item): Hella's Cafe (watch out for belly dancers on weekends). Best gyros: definitely Sam's Gyros. The best buffet goes to Mediterrano (seriously this place is awesome). Great all-around: Santorini (Greek) and The Bosphorus (Turkish, we just ate their last night, and their zucchini pancake appetizer is super yummy).

Best Sushi
I think the nod goes to the relatively new Tomo. It's in a shopping center that includes a Walmart and is located right next to a tanning establishment, but somehow they overcome that. After you walk through the door, you instantly forget that they are located in a cheesy shopping center. Their presentation is amazing, and the volcano roll is like sushi crack. Honorable Mention: H20.

Best Indian
Most definitely Shalimar.

Best Italian
Ambrosia is my pick for the tastiest and most authentic Italian in the city.

Best Burger
Boogie Burger has the tastiest burger in the city (their onion rings kick ass too). Also worth mentioning 96th Street Steakburgers (also available in the Indy airport), Traders Point Creamery (Zionsville) and Bub's (Carmel).

Best Pizza
Pizzology in Carmel is the best overall (though I must confess that I haven't tried Napolese yet), but for delivery, WB Pizza wins. They don't do anything too fancy (though they have a nice selection of toppings including sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto, and broccoli), but it's just damn tasty.

Best Milkshake (in the world)
Seriously, the chocolate milkshake at Traders Point Creamery (made with chocolate milk and chocolate ice cream) is not just the best milkshake in Indy or the Midwest, it's the best milkshake in the world.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Culinary Tour of the Willey Family (in one day)

It occurred to me today (while sitting in a mandatory "new hire" training class) that yesterday was an autobiographical day for food in my mom's family. With my parents visiting, we had three meals that are completely dependent on where Willeys lived. [Willey is my mom's maiden name and my middle name....Willey women are occasionally impatient but damn can they cook!]

Breakfast: sourdough pancakes; origin: Newfoundland/Nova Scotia
While chronologically northeastern Canada comes last in our family history, breakfast comes first in a day, so we'll start with sourdough pancakes. While living in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, my aunt and uncle sent some sourdough starter as a Christmas present for my brother (before I was born). The starter has been split numerous times, and I make pancakes (and only pancakes for some reason) with it regularly. Traditionally, blueberries are used, but yesterday we had blackberries and raspberries (Indiana-grown from last summer). Sourdough pancakes differ from traditional pancakes in at least three ways (other than their clear superiority): 1) they are sour (obviously), 2) they are thinner and denser than regular pancakes, and 3) you never ever eat them with imitation maple syrup. These were the only pancakes we ate at home and I had no idea they weren't "normal" pancakes until I spent the night at friends houses. Nova Scotia in particular is very important to our family---check out our blog entry from last summer for a glimpse of why.

Lunch: taylors ham; origin: New Jersey
Both my parents grew up in the Boss's home state (my mom moved at age 12, more on that below), and for the Willeys at least, Taylor ham was a staple. What the heck is it? I am not really sure. Here's what wikipedia has to say. All you really need to know is that it is made of pork and is delicious. While not required, it is recommended that you eat it with mustard. Taylor Ham is not local and fresh (sorry, Jamie Oliver) is processed meat, but it reminds me of summer and my grandparents and the beach, and every bite is just full of happiness. (Indiana folks, it is available at the Fresh Market---or our house---if you ever want to try it).

Dinner: tortellini en brodo; origin: Italy
To put it simply, tortellini en brodo is an Italian beef soup with tortellini. But that doesn't begin to cover it. What can I say about tortellini en brodo? I think it's been my favorite food since I first tasted it. After making the soup, you cook the tortellini in the broth, so the pasta and soup flavors meld together in the perfect blend. I generally only have it once a year (around Christmas), but our farmer's market was selling local oxtails, so my mom and I had to buy them! My mom's family learned to make it while living in Italy in the 1960s (my grandfather worked for Esso and was sent there for 4 years). Those four years in Italy gave my family so much, not the least of which, were recipes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good Poems

So I Run
Will "Da Real One" Bell

As I travel backwards through time I search to rescue all my heroes
And I find myself in the underground railroad
Standing side by side with Harriet Tubman
As she decides to go whether go left or right tonight
As the barking dogs approach from the south
I rub the clothes from a thousand slaves on my body
And I hand her a flashlight
And I run

I run til I get to Jackson Mississippi and it’s June 11 1963
And I ‘m standing in the bushes with this white man in front of me
And so I peak over his shoulders I can see what he sees
“look out!”
And from a distant car I can hear the shouts, “you better run!”
So I run
I run til I get to the spring of 1963
And I’m in Birmingham Alabama
And I’m peeking through a church basement window
4 little girls—4 little worlds
And I notice that I’m standing next to a box
And I can hear the sudden sounds of a tick tock
So I open it up and cut the red wire to the bomb to make it stop
And I can hear them coming from up the block
And they’re screaming: you better run,
So I run
I run til the get to the night of February 21 1965
And I found myself standing backstage at Manhattan’s Autobaugn ballroom
Trying to explain Malcolm that the enemy has sent four of his goons
And I explained that yes,malcom we know change is going to come
But it don’t have to be this soon
So I took a few of Malcolm’s security people and we just cleared the whole room
All of the sudden the CIA showed up screaming
You better run
So I run
I run til I get to April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee
And I’m down in front of the Loraine motel with Dr Martin Luther King
And shots begin to ring
And I just don’t want to lift every voice and sing
So I scoot back
And I cover Dr. King with my own body
As we hit the floor
And I hear the scream across the street again
You better run
So I run
I run til I find myself standing in the middle of an intersection in Las Vegas and it’s September the 7th in 1996
The day TuPac was being followed by an entourage
And eyewitnesses and everybody claimed not to see it
So I ran alongside the passenger side and pulled tupac out
So sug knight was the only one to get hit
Then I heard that scream again
You better run

The Ball, the Rim, and Him
Al Letson

Do you heart that?
That ball (beat)
Bouncing on asphalt
Ringing in the emptiness of a small court somewhere near here
One boy one ball one dream one hoop.
Listen slowly stepping up to foul line
I am metal rim whose orange paint has chipped or faded years ago
I am hoop then bal the ball then hoop
Then aim extend small jump release
And the ball flows through the air defying gravity and the rim innnnn
He scores!
Take it from the top he round his back through his leg without a glance
behind his back
pass it to a man on his side
His man run down the court takes the ball to the left
Takes the ball to the right
Sees him out the corner of his eye
Then pass
Touching the ball like an ancient relic from Africa
He hears voices of legends from before him
Speaking his name saying “join us. Join us from the sky. Like superman does. like a plane does”
One step two step up up up double pump
Hang on the rim
Looking down at mere mortals
Here the rims orgies shiny and new
Here were fallen street ballers
Hiding the drugs they sold or used
Higher than high school A’s or F’s
Here with Jordan, King James, Shaq, and Kidd
Here the complexities of life are all made simple
Here it’s all about the ball the rim and him
And then and then and then and then
with a little bit of reluctance he lets go
Of this small circular piece of Olympia
He lets go
And falls back to us
The un-understanding masters
we don’t know
We don’t know what it feels like to fly with the gods
But wether he’s crossing robbers on the ground
Or killing naysayers in the air
None of that matters man
None of that
Just the ball the rim and him
Do you hear that?
That ball (beat)
Bouncing on asphalt
Ringing in the emptiness of a small court somewhere near here
One boy one ball one dream one hoop.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Let's Go Bulldogs!

We are very excited about Butler playing in the championship game tomorrow! It would be extra special if they won it by beating Dook. Let's go Butler!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

During my recent trip to Austin,* I took an hour or so to check out the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum which is located on the University of Texas campus. As many people know, I was mildly obsessed with LBJ in college. I find him to be fascinating and a tragic hero. [I do admit he was also basically a jerk and that he bears some (but certainly not all) of the responsibility for the Vietnam War].

I had never been to a presidential library and was certainly impressed. The exhibits were interesting (including a 7/8 replica of the oval office as it was when he was there). On the elevator up to the 10th floor to check out said oval office replica, I overheard a man say to his companion: "I never knew that Johnson did so much for the country." His presidency was so completely entangled with the Vietnam War (and perhaps rightly so) that his impressive and lasting accomplishments (the civil rights act and voting rights act, medicare and medicaid, and head start to name a few).

Enough of my soap box, the most entertaining part of the museum was the Humor of LBJ exhibit, which consisted of an animotronic LBJ leaning on a fence telling stories. The youtube version is below or you can check out the official version here.

*If you haven't been to Austin, I definitely recommend a trip, particularly if you like music of any kind.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Smarmy Flowers

I feel like need to share my negative experience with ProFlowers. I ordered flowers from them (actually after having trouble with 1800Flowers not delivering my order....I ordered flowers on one of those peak flower holidays...flag day or something and there was a mixup). Anyway, in the process of ordering from ProFlowers, I inadvertently signed up for some Easy Saver Rewards program. I did not intend to do so and did not realize I had until I noticed a charge for $14.95 on the credit card bill. It had actually been there for a few months before but I hadn't realized it due to the unspecific nature of the charge (I figured it was something related to travel or something...I definitely must inspect my credit card bill more closely).

I called Easy Saver and canceled my account and they refunded my money. Really, they were quite nice. I haven't gotten the refund yet, but assuming it shows up, I have no beef with them.

After doing so, I contacted ProFlowers to tell them that I thought their practice was smarmy. Their response was:

"I would like to apologize for any confusion you may have had over the enrollment process with our partner company." and then "In conjunction with our partner, Easy Saver Rewards, ProFlowers is offering a $15 gift code off your next order as an incentive for signing up in the $1.95 30-day trial to the Rewards Program."

So, to make up for the fact that I was pissed about their reward program that cost $14.95 a month, they offer to RE-ENROLL me in it without ever disclosing that it is $14.95 a month.

I was flabbergasted! (and told them so, no response yet)

If you dislike smarminess, I suggest you avoid ProFlowers

Friday, March 5, 2010

This seems like the best way for the Indiana legislature to spend their time

Every day, I turn to Andy and tell him how unsafe I feel on my way to work because I am not allowed to keep my gun in my car while I am at work. It is just such a hardship for me. It is certainly the most pressing issue for me.

Apparently, that is how the majority of the Indiana legislature felt on their last day of the session because that's what they spent their time on.

Why do people need guns all the frickin' time? If you are heading out to the woods to hunt (overpopulated) deer, by all means bring a rifle, but why do you feel safer with a gun in your locked car while at work?!?

At least Marion County didn't pass that guns in parks plan.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This Just In: The Post-Tribune Covers the Environment!

Okay, this isn't breaking news at's something I've been meaning to share for a while. The Gary Post-Tribune actually pays attention to the environment in Indiana....I recommend you check it out. Here's an editorial by the Porter County editor entitled 'President Daniels' would likely ravage environment. There are frequent stories about environmental issues (often penned by Gitte Laasby) like this one.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Super Bowl

All season long, a group of us have been getting together to watch the Colts games. Although I am not a huge football fan, I think at this point I have switched my loyalty to the Colts (sorry Steelers fan family members). We got together with friends in Seattle to watch some games too, so I've been paying attention to them for a while now plus it's nice to have something that brings the city together so much.

We were definitely disappointed and I must say shocked by the outcome last Sunday, but all in all we had a good time (until the last few minutes of the game at least). Even Oliver hung around the whole game, undeterred by the two toddlers running around. We definitely found the social cat we were hoping for (he's sitting on my lap as I type this). We rearranged the living room for the event to make sure everyone could see the game, and we of course had inappropriate amounts of delicious snack-y food.

An important play no doubt

Who let Kerns hold Ava?

Ramona in her new Colts shirt

The food spread

my horseshoe cookies which were delicious but not lucky

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


We decided on Oliver...Ollie for short. It just seems to fit him. (We're keeping Wayne as his middle name). He's such a love. Today, when I got home, he grabbed my hand with his paws (no claws) and made me pet him (I had stopped temporarily). He seems to be getting used to Ramona...he still growls at her but is willing to hang out in the same room as her. It's only a matter of time until he figures out that she'll play with him.

Name indecision

Update: we're not sure if Harvey suits we are thinking Oliver...what do you think?

If you are so inclined, put your choice in the comments: Harvey, Oliver, or Wayne.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meet the Newest Stuckey-Spalt

We really didn't intend to get another cat so quickly, but then we just kinda sorta ended up at the Indianapolis Humane Society, where we met this adorable little guy. He came with the name Wayne, but we think that Harvey suits him better. He's really sweet and loves to be petted. He's not so sure about Ramona yet, but we think that they will end up being pals. He had actually been adopted twice and returned twice (apparently, he bites when he gets excited and that doesn't go over well with little kids). We are used to feisty cats.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wild Indiana

I've held off posting this because I bought some copies for gifts and hadn't yet distributed them. One of my coworkers recently published his book, Wild Indiana, which is a guide to the best natural areas in Indiana. If you like hiking (or just checking out nice scenery) and you are a Hoosier resident or visitor, you must check out this book. Mike has visited most of the parks, forests, and nature preserves in the state and has chronicled his favorites. He is a great writer (I should know---he frequently peer reviews my work!). His writing is simple and to the point but has enough detail and style to keep you interested. If you like nature and you ever come to Indiana, check it out! It is available on amazon or locally at Big Hat Books in Broad Ripple---buying it here has the double bonus of supporting a local author (and all-around cool guy) and a nice independent bookstore (with a very friendly owner). I also have an inside connection and can get you a little bit of a deal (that still gives Mike a fair cut). For all of you Hoosier natives that live outside the state, spread the word with folks back home!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Good News

I got some good news at work yesterday! I've been invited to sit on a national panel related to risk assessment. I don't want to provide details here on the blog, but I am really excited. It's not a done deal yet because I haven't gotten all of the approvals, but it should be a fantastic opportunity for me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


It sucks to share this news, but since I've blogged about Sydney's lymphoma previously, it seems to make sense to share that we put Sydney to sleep on New Years Eve. She seemed happy to the end. We are both really sad, and I in particular am having a hard time starting out 2010 without my cat of 14 years. We are really glad we decided to take her with us to NC, where she lived out her final week in a queen-like manner, lording over her personal studio apartment (above my parent's carport) with frequent visitors stopping by (including my brother who gave her milk a few times a day). She was a fantastic cat and is missed.