Sometimes you just want to throw down about a dish. Thick cut bacon. A dish with healing powers. Thick cut bacon. A dish to thicken the blood, brighten the mood, and get yer mojo working. Thick cut bacon. A dish whose various elements come together in a combination of plain ol' googly-eyed comfort and crispy, primal bliss to satisfy the inner yowling caveman. The Brick Chicken & Brussels Sprout Bacon Hash at the friendly Petaluma outpost Pub Republic is one such dish. Thick cut bacon. Here's how it works: You take a brick, wrap in it some foil, stick it on top of the chicken, and cook the freaking chicken. Behold the result: Crispy, flattened skin of the bird, encasing some juicy white meat so tender a spork can cut it. Thick cut bacon. I'd have taken a picture but for the fear of stealing that dish's soul.
From the menu, it appears that the Brick Chicken is actually a poem, disguised as food:
Give that dish a MacArthur Genius Grant! Make it the poet laureate of well-tendered poultry! Thick cut bacon. And salute the power of the non-boiled Brussels Sprout, which also appears on the menu in a munchy-lunchy taco incarnation. Thick cut bacon. Is it time for lunch yet? And here's a question, for the ages: Why would you not order the jumbo Arugula and Pistachio salad to go with the Brick Chick? The $11 salad with the toasted nuts and juicy bites of luscious grapefruit? The one with a Mt. Tam-size heap of fresh, crisp, musky greens, a little shaved fennel throughout, and those little pebbles of pistachio. Thick cut bacon. Oh yes. And I love a restaurant that doesn't charge ya for seltzer water, and whose bartender doesn't give the stink eye for not ordering a beer with your supper. Did I mention the thick cut bacon? Or the thick cut bacon? They also have some thick cut bacon at Pub Republic.
Watching NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon over the past year or so, I grew to appreciate his sketches like “Thank You Notes,” “Superlatives” and the all-too-rare “Let Us Play With Your Look.” I was excited for the former Saturday Night Live star’s transition to the Tonight Show on NBC, which started last week with a who’s-who of famous guests, not just because it meant Jay Leno was finally off television but because he deserved it after five years on Late Night. Fallon’s a good talk show host and I love me some Justin Timberlake, who had been a frequent guest previously and has already appeared on the Tonight Show. Fallon’s first week was a little awkward, with a lot of blubbering and guests reassuring him of his obvious and multiple talents, but he’s gotten over that and looks to be beginning a long tenure as America’s favorite background noise for nighttime activities (whatever those may be). But Seth Meyers, another SNL alum, who took over Late Night this week, is a different story.
Let’s start with the positive. He has a great bandleader in Fred Armisen. The former Saturday Night Live writer and star is a great fit due to his previous history as a touring rock musician and general musical know-how. Seth Jabour and Syd Butler from Les Saavy Fav on guitar and bass, respectively, Eli Janney from Girls Against Boys on keyboards and Beyoncé’s drummer, Kimberly Thompson make up the 8G Band with Armisen, who is as musically versatile as they come. But those bright spots are not enough to carry the show.
First of all, the set is, well, it looks a little cheap. The Crate and Barrel desk in the middle of the floor with Myers’ dull, gray computer chair behind it brings to mind more of a Wayne’s World public access late night show than the one and only Late Night Show on a major TV network. The backdrop is a boring blue square pattern, like a faux Japanese screen in my great aunt’s guest room. His guests sit on individual chairs, again probably from Crate and Barrel; what happens if he has more than two guests? Or if he interviews a band? Do they sit on the floor? Come on, even I can afford a couch.
It was Friday night and Smiley's in Bolinas was popping hard with the sounds of the Fairfax-based Tom Finch Group. I mean them guys was smoking, throwing off some funk-fusiony originals between California-cool takes on Led Zep and a "Not Fade Away" that you could hear all the way to the Phil Zone over yonder a-ways at Terrapin Crossroads. Got to talking with the bass player, Andius Jent, who played a ferocious, driving solo that went on for six glorious years. I'd have paid the $10 door just to hear "Ramble On" and the bass solo, the end. Punishing! Awesome! A great way to end the week, in a great saloon, in a great town, fully immersed in the glorious mythopoetic freakaliciousness of West Marin. Anyway, we got to talking and Jent says that Fairfax is basically the New Orleans of Marin County, music-wise. That seemed a stretch, given the stark demographic differences between the respective towns, but hey, we're just talking. That bass solo was so freaking epic, I'll give it up for Jent and figure on a Fairfax outing in coming days to check his claim. What the heck, it's Mardi Gras season and nothing says One Love like a spiritualized second-line parade through the redwoods.
Did you hear about the plane that was hijacked the other day? I heard it was headed to the Olympics! Then I heard it was an Ethopian pilot who wanted asylum! Then, the real story unfolded in a Q&A session on the social networking site Reddit from a passenger who says, contrary to news reports, passengers did know the plane was being hijacked for the entire six-hour flight.
There was scant news coverage on this event, considering there were 202 people on board that could have died in an instant. But nobody died, not even the hijacker. He landed safely in Geneva, Switzerland, seeking asylum. The cynic in me thinks this that this didn’t make as big a news splash in the United States because A) it was an Ethopian Airlines plane from Ethiopia to Switzerland and B) nobody died. Why do we watch Nascar? For the crashes. Why do we watch downhill skiing? For the crashes. Why do we watch Football? You get the picture.
Apparently the hijacker acted alone—he was the co-pilot on the flight and locked the door when the pilot took a bathroom break. He dropped air pressure in the cabin and forced passengers to put on their oxygen masks. The crew acted as if everything were normal, serving drinks and allowing passengers to walk freely through the cabin. The hijacker reportedly only said, “Sit down, put on your masks. I’m cutting the oxygen,” repeating it three times. News reports said passengers were unaware of the hijacking, but news reports were wrong.
The pilot negotiated the safe landing and release of all passengers (the definition of hero). The hijacker could face up to 20 years in prison, according to Swiss law. The unspoken crime here is the underreporting of this incident and the faulty information that was printed, but not changed when it was proven false. This is big news. Hopefully, we will see more information reported from this event, like, why was he seeking asylum? How was he able to hijack the plane on his own? What security measures are being taken to ensure this never happens again? Let’s hope the answers are eventually printed correctly.
The annual release of Pliny the Younger by Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company was not dampened by rain today, with hundreds lining up around the block to taste the triple IPA style beer many refer to as “the best beer in the world.”
The four-day festival brought big names like the Black Keys, Flaming Lips, Alabama Shakes, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and others to the Napa County Fairgrounds last year much to the delight of music fans, both local and traveling from abroad. But it was more than just tinnitus left by the fest, with up to $10 million in debts owed to vendors, stagehands, cleanup crews, booking agents and many others totaling 174 debtors. It’s future was in doubt until now, with the announcement today of a new ownership group and new dates: May 30-June 1.
The festival director is Steve Macfadyen, who served most recently as entertainment director at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa near Palm Springs. The ownership group, called Latitude 38 Entertainment, confirmed that the event will be held again at the Napa Valley Expo, but will feature only three days of entertainment as opposed to last year’s five day bonanza.