Oh My God, The Meat:
Here is where the West Side truly shines. Forget what you know about vacuum-sealed steak, wrapped to within an inch of its life to a styrofoam tray, bloody pad in the middle soaking up wayward juices like the most environmentally unfriendly of feminine products. Just 4 blocks from my new house is Frank's Meat Market, where young men wrap my fresh (and freshly cut) sirloin-tri-tips in white paper, and the bacon is house-cured. Ground beef here comes from chuck, not from mystery scraps and goo from the packinghouse floor- which means you can actually eat a burger medium-rare and not wake up in the middle of the night having yet another nightmare about Creuzfeldt-Jacobs liquifying your brain. Note: while you are there, pick up some Country Dairy milk. It is so incredibly delicious, it has ruined me on the supermarket variety.
Parkside Foods looks like just another tiny grocery, but they have a fully functioning butcher in the back. Sure, you can get your homemade kielbasa and bratwurst, bulk breakfast sausage and bacon, but more importantly they make Hot Sticks. These long, skinny, ready-to-eat sausages can be found at just about every West Side meat market (though at Frank's & 20th Century they are called "Hotshots") but Parkside Foods is the only place to get God's Own Hot Sticks. They are a lovely snack with a banana or an apple, and the salt rush really perks up a cold Stroh's.
Ice Cream Trucks
Two of them seem to patrol my neighborhood. I had forgotten how the sound changes after the trucks go by, and what else could be as evocotive of summer? One distressing detail? The number of ice-cream-treats defiled by television characters. Perhaps it was always this way and I am just not used to seeing DoratheExplora/SquarePantsMcSponge in creamsicle form, but what is wrong with the push-pops and chocolate eclairs of yesteryear? Why must everything have a face on it?
And Oh Yeah, More Meat
Sometimes lately, I get home too hungry to cook. This is the perfect time for hors d'oevers hot dogs! The Monarch's Club used to be a speakeasy, and now it is the nicest bar near my house. The room is so sunny and pretty you don't feel bad about spending a daylight hour there with the New Yorker and a Chicago Dog, gathering strength for the culinary endeavor ahead. (The beer doesn't hurt.)
Thanks again to everyone, family and not(!), who helped start writing again- sorry about the move from G-rad, but I just cannot seem to get into my account!