May 21, 2012

An eighth edition of things discussed at the Brewhaus

It’s been an unusually busy time for me and my partners at pontification at our favorite watering hole.  Here are some recent topics of discussion:

May 15, 2012

2012 Beale Street Music Festival recap, Day Three

The third and final day of the Beale Street Music Festival at times reminded me of a day at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, given the 90-degree temperatures and elevated humidity that accompanied Sunday’s action.  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself …

Gypsy and I began our Sunday with a quest to quench another craving for a good Bloody Mary and a filling brunch to go with it.  We remembered the Bardog Tavern last year for both, so we decided to stop by.  Unfortunately, by the time we got to Bardog at 12:30 p.m., there wasn’t a single seat left.  I couldn’t even blame Gypsy’s punctuality issues, either, since they don’t even open until noon.  We tried to wait out the crowd with a Bloody Mary along the back rail, but nobody seemed in a hurry to eat fast.  I guess I can’t blame them.  The omelets are very, very good, as are the Bloody Marys (as long as they go easy on the horseradish).     

No sooner had we finished our first drink when our friends Dan, Trish, Jake and Beth walked in.  After a quick assessment of the situation, our search for breakfast turned into a search for lunch.  We eventually settled for a 30-minute wait at Huey’s.  I won’t go into great detail (Huey’s realy deserves its own blog someday), but suffice to say a Bluez 57 Burger and a large Yuengling on tap did the trick.  And if it didn’t, Dan made sure everyone was stuffed with an order of gigantic potato skins for the entire table.  Gypsy passed on the appetizer but did manage to take down most of her Little Miners sliders. 

We then made the long, slow walk to Tom Lee Park and caught Old 97’s already playing at the Horseshoe Casino Stage.  It was mid-afternoon at this point, and the sun was seriously baking the area in front of the stage.  When I forego shyness and take off my shirt to expose my furry gopher body, you know it’s hot.  I even thought at one point that it was too hot to drink.  But the heat did not take away from an outstanding performance. 

Old 97's attempt to beat the heat.

May 13, 2012

2012 Beale Street Music Festival recap, Day Two

The Beale Street Music Festival is the kickoff event for Memphis in May, a month-long celebration in the city that also includes the famous World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.  This is my long-winded way of setting up the popular nickname for Beale Street Music Festival – Memphis in Mud – because as a rule it rains, buckets, during the festival. 

Well, for the first time in four years attending the festival, we were blessed with abundant sunshine every day, and the weather gods replaced the excess rain with excess heat.  But I’ll take it anytime over three days of wading through mud at Tom Lee Park.

So it was a clear blue sky that greeted Gypsy and me when we left our hotel for Day Two of the festival and lunch on Beale Street with our friends Marc and Aissa.  We met them in front of the King’s Palace Café, which I’m pretty sure got its name long before another “king” became synonymous with Memphis.  The neon sign actually boasts of the fact that it’s air conditioned inside.  Despite how tempting that sounded, we sat, and ate, outside to watch the Beale Street zaniness and soak up the sun.

Marc's brother Chuck, Marc and Aissa

May 12, 2012

2012 Beale Street Music Festival recap, Day One

It’s been over a week since the Beale Street Music Festival began in Memphis, and although our extended vacation lasted through Tuesday and work has kept me busy since, I figured I’d better start putting these blogs in the books before it’s too late.

We left at about 8:30 a.m. for the six hour drive to Memphis, despite a Gypsy’s proclivity for punctuality issues.  We wanted to make sure we got checked in early enough to chill out and catch our breath before the festival began. 

See, we’re ready to hit the road!

May 3, 2012

Fine art, crafts, wine and beer at American Harvest

Before I leave for Memphis with a mysterious and exotic Gypsy, I promised myself I’d get a little caught up on my blogging and in particular do a little summary of Gypsy’s most recent exhibition of her jewelry.    

We have become fast fans of American Harvest Eatery here in Springfield, Ill., and as fate would have it they sponsored an art and craft show for their 1st Birthday Extravaganza on April 22.  Gypsy had been working her networking magic at a previous American Harvest show and was invited to participate in this one. 

May 1, 2012

Munching on a muffuletta

I have to be completely honest. 

As much as I’m looking forward to going back to Memphis this weekend for the Beale Street Music Festival, I really hate to miss the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  This year’s Jazz Fest line-up, especially last weekend’s, was especially loaded to suit my musical tastes.  I had toyed with the idea of doing both (Jazz Fest last weekend and Beale this weekend) but gypsy and I had a wedding to go to, and it really wasn’t economically viable anyway.  But I would have loved to have seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Dr. John and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few.

OK, what does this have to do with a muffuletta?  And what is a muffuletta anyway?  It may, in my humble opinion, just be the best sandwich in the world.  And for anyone who is visiting New Orleans for the first time (and I know a few who are during Jazz Fest), getting a muffuletta and the best place to get one in the Big Easy is a must-do.    

The story of the muffuletta begins and ends at Central Grocery, 923 Decatur Street, in the heart of the French Quarter.  It may be an unusual place to find an old-school Italian grocery store and deli counter, but it’s a New Orleans institution.  And as the birthplace of the muffuletta, they’ve been serving their signature sandwich since 1906.  In fact, it’s just about the only thing you can get at their deli.  But what else do you need? 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...