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29 July 2010

American as July and then, Come the Swedes

After a month of pounding technology headaches culminating in more than a week of true Luddite affirmation hell, Larry was exhausted.  Last night, I drove in from Chicago versus his 24 hours away from the store, so we were able to take in a Coty Miller Wednesday night at The Railside in Nelson, IL.  Nelson is midway between Dixon and Harmon.  Coty was just celebrated as one of Sauk Valley's 40 Under 40, congratulations!  This is a wonderful recognition of Coty's hard work, achievements and aspirations at a young age.  On Wednesday nights at The Railside, Coty serves up meals with an ethnic flare, a different cuisine each month.  She has had Native American, Cajun, Italian, Greek, German, Czech, and probably others I cannot recall right now.

However, July is for celebrating the birthmonth of the USofA.  So, the cuisine is American and the fare is worthy of any New American eatery in Chicago.  We began with beef shish kebabs, the beef marinated in  this month's featured beer Fat Tire ale and Coty's Summer Soup -- made on the premises with all kinds of farmer's-market-fresh vegetables and white beans with pieces of chicken shredded in the long simmering process.  This was followed by entrees -- a spicy glazed pork chop and red snapper cooked in foil on the grill.  The generously-sized fish filet lay between slices of sweet potato on the bottom and onions, other vegetables and flavorable fresh parsley on top.  Entrees come with two sides, so we were able to try all of them:  green beans and red potatoes cooked with bacon (I think it might have been applewood cured), 1/4 cabbage head perfectly seasoned and grilled (on foil, so still moist), corn on the cob with chipotle butter and carrots cooked (grilled?) with a interesting blend of spice and sweet including ginger.  There was a dessert involving a caramel glaze and chocolate sauce, but whose tummy had room?  Move over, Bobby Flay!

Just as the kebabs came, we spied Ken Novak and Jennifer Laesch, just in from a meeting of the Whiteside County Democrats.  Ken, as you know is still attempting yet again to unseat Jerry Mitchell in the State House representing Dixon and environs.  From all reports, local Republican parties have twice begged Mitchell to continue.  Aside from the idea that he wouldn't know what to do with himself if he retired, Mitchell probably wants to see if he can buck the anti-incumbency trend -- which he probably can.  Democratic voter apathy is stifling in this off-year, so it again is up to who the energized base is.  Dixon and environs are simply overwhelmingly Republican.  One customer, when asked why he was a Republican, just shrugged and said something like, "Lack of motivation to be anything different.  My parents were Republicans and it just seemed natural.  At sixty, it's a little late to change now."   With lack of motivation to go to the polls, sheer numbers would have a Republican winning by 300% this year.

Jennifer is better known as John Laesch's campaign manager as he very narrowly lost first to Dennis Hastert in 2006, in a race for the House of Representatives and then, to Bill Foster in the Democratic primary for the special election after Hastert resigned.  Now married to the man whose passion for progressive, responsible government has infected her, Jennifer has been traveling in her capacity as Democratic 14th Congressional District State Central Committeewoman, visiting and meeting with local Democrat Party members and candidates for office, like John Booker running for Sheriff of Whiteside County, no expenses paid but with an earnestness about her which defies cynicism.

They looked at our shish kebabs and decided those were definitely for the two of them.  Ken rounded it out with ordering a couple of vegetable sides.  He is definitely a man after my own heart when it comes to having a late-night craving for vegetables.  Whiteside County appears to be the only local Democratic Party which does not hold its meetings with dinner in a restaurant.

Coty came to talk with us a bit at the end of the evening.  Next month's special Wednesday cuisine will be Swedish, including a sweetbreads dish.  She says it's delicious but a pain to make.  There is also a boiled beef dish which she would like to modify as boiled meat just doesn't sound appetizing (especially in August!).  Lovers of head cheese, though, will be disappointed.  As Coty concluded, someone somewhere is making head cheese and enjoying it, but she'd rather try it somewhere else, not on Wednesdays at The Railside.

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