Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Little Getaway

Sometimes I can afford to go on vacation. When I do, I prefer places I don't have to see anyone in a swim suit. I've always wanted to visit Maine and when my plus-one had a summer stock opportunity in Bar Harbor, I tagged along like a cheap groupie. I was told it would be like Dirty Dancing, and it was. I carried a watermelon, had an abortion and became a world class dancer in less than a week. The dancing was coincidental because he was actually doing improv comedy for a theatre in Bar Harbor called ImprovAcadia. It's a charming comedy club that employs and houses Chicago comedians (and comedian hangers-on) for a few weeks at a time. 

In my mind Maine and lobster are inextricably linked. In fact, I have a Pavlovian reaction whenever I so much as hear the word lobster, I start to salivate and wipe away phantom butter dribbles. Maybe my obsession with this delectable crustacean is because I was born in the Midwest and the closest I ever got to a lobster was a chain restaurant by the mall. Since most of the world's lobster comes from the Maine harbor, it's real cheap along the coast. With this in mind, I spent weeks looking forward to seven days of lobster. I mostly succeeded. While it's pretty affordable, the best place to have your basic, no-frills boiled lobster 'n sides are lobster pounds. As cute as it sounds, they're basically lobster concentration camps. As long as you keep in mind shellfish are just seabugs without a central nervous system to feel pain, they're delicious! Personally, I like any place I can demand to have something killed on my account. I can't really take any culinary credit here, but sometimes it's nice to have a dinner party in different part of the country!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Little Pride-tini!

The day you've been starving yourself for months is finally here! Grab your least flattering tank top and assless chaps 'cause it's time to celebrate! Gay Pride in Chicago is that special weekend once a year when Boystown becomes a lawless abyss. Handjobs are offered as a standard greeting and you can walk around with an open container. As tasteless as it sounds, it's actually one of the more casual Chicago street fests. It also happens to be the only one I actually participate in. See photo below. Days of Prides gone-by.

Some of my best and least cohesive memories take place with these Chicagoans. If you're gay or questioning, there's no better place to be than Chicago the last weekend in June.

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Little Sunday Funday

Sunday mornings Chez Toulouse are an occasion worth looking forward to - we grocery shop at our local farmer's Aldi, then come home and clean the apartment to our favorite Judy Garland and Fleetwood Mac records. It's the Lord's day and I intend to do whatever the hell I want with it. Neighbors bedamned! Gin rickeys, holistic toilet bowl cleaner and The Man that Got Away sound like a Sunday-Funday to me. While I scoop the litterbox and work on my vibrato, a homemade marinara sauce usually simmers away on the stove. My hot Italian blood is only good for two things: exaggerated emotional outbursts and one helluva pasta sauce. I don't believe in jarred sauce, but I do believe in spending just as much and working twice as hard on sauce that basically tastes the same. In my poorer years, I lived on pasta and Ragu. Now that I'm a grown man with love handles, I try to consolidate my carb-intake to one night of the week. This ever-romantic weekend tradition is known as Pasta Sunday at my house. When all my chores are done, my plus-one and I slip into our best elastic-waisted bottoms and plop our fatasses down in front of a movie I rented from the lib'ary. That's amore!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Little Steak Dinner

Growing up in the Accrocco house, special occasions were commemorated at an esteemed local bistrot called The Ponderosa. I've included a link in case you were wondering whether this chain is still going strong. At the Ponderosa Buffet & Steakhouse, you could have it all. Nachos commingling with hard boiled eggs, and other loose toppings from the salad bar, including but not limited to: cottage cheese, croutons and at least ten black olives (one for each finger).  No meal was complete without seven or eight plates of over-portioned and half-eaten piles of mac n' cheese, fried chicken skins and other nameless bits of white mush. Dinner was punctuated by a sickening mixture of every sugary confection on the treat bar, smothered in a shapeless avalanche of swirled soft serve. 

A sophisticated ten year old, celebrating his tenth birthday decided as a new adult he would try something a bit more refined from the buffet. It was there he began his short-lived love affair with fried clams. Later that night when he was projectile retching on his way to the bathroom, he wondered whether he had a shellfish allergy. Being able to say he was allergic to something, even as random as shellfish, seemed very grown up. Maybe it was because the clams were on the buffet at the Pondergrosa, or maybe his allergy was real? Sixteen years later, his suspicions were confirmed after about twelve too many steamed mussels on a third date. 

Parents between years 1978 and 2005 loved places like Ponderosa because it was fancy enough that they could enjoy their nice steaks but affordable enough that their brats could bicker two booths over. The day eventually came however, when the once elegant family steak house by the new mall, decayed into that sad little place where a girl in your middle school math class' stepdad hid a body in the meat locker.