Nov 13, 2017

A second serving of things discussed at the Round Bar

The bar family of George Ranks, my favorite local watering hole, lost one of its best last week when John Brillhart passed away far too soon. 

If you followed local music in Springfield, Ill., chances are you knew John, and he knew you.  John was a very talented musician who could easily hold court with just a guitar and a microphone, or share the spotlight as lead of various bands throughout his many years on the Springfield music scene.  For the past couple of years, John hosted an open mic every Tuesday at Ranks.  But much more importantly, he was just a genuinely good soul – unassuming, kind, funny and supportive to all who knew him.  I’m blessed to have had him as a friend.

From the old Brewhaus days to today’s George Ranks family, John was no stranger to partaking in some of our more curious conversations throughout the years which I’ve tried to compile in various blog posts.  As I switch to a much more lighthearted tone, I can’t help but look at some of the subjects discussed in the recent past at Ranks and think of John’s wit and his contributions to our silliness. 

Perhaps one of these topics will come up during your next round of drinks:
·         The skill required to hunt turtle with a pellet gun.
·         The unique microclimate surrounding Wrigley Field.
·         Why the man bun hairstyle only looks good on chefs and sumo wrestlers.
·         The aphrodisiac powers of Vicks Vap-o-rub.
·         Can vampires use tanning beds?
·         Are koalas actually sadder than pandas?
·         Drink creations based on the “Golden Girls” characters (e.g., the “Bea Arthur” must involve scotch).
·         Drinking a shot of Malort alone – a sure sign of depression, and likely a cry for help.
·         Should falling asleep during the national anthem be considered a form of protest or merely a sign of apathy?
·         Great pitching duels of the 1960s and 1970s between the St. Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson and the Chicago Cubs’ Ferguson Jenkins.
·         Interpreting the various grunts made by the toy rat terrier.
·         A brief and comprehensive history of black NASCAR drivers.
·         Television theme songs that are fun to cover.

Thanks for the memories, John.  I’m sure you’ll be listening in on future conversations from time to time.   

Nov 11, 2017

Seafood and sausage paired perfectly at Rudie’s in Nashville

Even for a commoner with a travelling bug like myself, breaking the monotony of dinner destinations that all look, feel and taste the same can be a challenge.  A catchy name, positive reviews and good word of mouth can go a long way to getting on my radar.  When I first started working in Nashville, Tenn., a while back, Rudie’s Seafood, Sausage and Taproom won me over with all three.

Rudie’s was, if not the first, among the first destinations I visited in the trendy revived East Nashville section of the city.  And why not, really?  The Louisiana side of me obviously loves seafood.  The Midwest side of me loves sausage.  Add a taproom to it, and I’m sold.  As is turns out, the folks at Rudie’s take all three very seriously, and it’s apparent they share a passion for food and drink with their customers. 

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...