business news in context, analysis with attitude

Whenever I go to a food industry trade show, it always is a priority to find the booth with the best food. One-track-mind, I know. But there it is.

This week, at the National Grocers Association (NGA) convention in Las Vegas, everybody seemed to be talking about the same company – Moo & Oink, a Chicago-based barbecue business that had people lining up hot links, chicken fritters, rip tips and even beef patties that were absolutely terrific. And the barbecue sauce….yummm. The sausages were especially good – thick and succulent and spicy. (Needless to say, my stomach was better when I found my way to Moo & Oink.)

The company actually is a South Side retail/wholesale meat business in the Windy City that is looking to help retailers offer authentic Chicago barbecue. And they’ve got a great marketing strategy, telling retailers that Moo & Oink can make a store its town’s barbecue headquarters in just three months. I like that kind of attitude, and think it is exactly the kind of thing that more retailers ought to be doing.

But most of all, the barbecue was wonderful. I wish them luck.

The other interesting meal I’ve eaten over the last eight days was a plate of pasta served with a spicy and delicious tomato sauce. I was in the Paris apartment of a friend of mine, and we were enjoying the evening after the end of last week’s CIES International Food Safety Conference.

Beyond the delicious food and the great conversation, what fascinated me about the meal was what was served as the beverage: champagne. Before the meal, during the meal and after the meal.

Now, if you’d asked me if champagne would be the right match for a plate of pasta and sauce, I’d have said no…but the thing is, drinking champagne to accompany a meal is a very French thing to do. And they’re right – it works. Wonderfully.

I learn something every day.

Last Saturday afternoon, I took a walking tour of Paris themed to “The DaVinci Code.” It was a great way to see the city – while the weather was cold and blustery, this walk – hosted by a delightful guide named Iris, who grew up in Indiana but moved to Paris a number of years ago to go to college and never left – started at the St Sulpice Church, and gnomon and covered the Tuileries Gardens, the rose line, the Carrosel Arch, and the Louvre. And the tour didn’t just cover the material used in the best-selling book by Dan Brown, but used it as a way to see the city and its history in new ways.

If you’re interested, check it out:

Check out the new Robert B. Parker novel, “Sea Change.” This one features one of his newer creations, Jesse Stone (played by Tom Selleck in a series of TV movies). Stone is a functioning alcoholic who is hung up on his ex-wife, trying to make sense of his own life while serving as the police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, a seaside town that seems to have more than its share of crime and punishment. This one gets a little kinky – Stone is trying to figure out who killed a young woman, and it takes him into some pretty dark corners of sex and obsession, forcing him to explore some of his own attitudes and emotions. Stone is every bit the equal of Parker’s famous sleuth Spenser, and in some ways is more interesting because he is more vulnerable. The book is a good read, enough so that I’m glad that Parker writes three books a year.

Actually, I think he may write more…they only publish three a year. He has discipline that I admire – gets up every day and writes 10 pages. He says he never has experienced writer’s cramp, and dismisses it as just an excuse by writers looking for a reason not to work. Writing is a job, just like plumbing, he says, and you never hear of anyone getting plumber’s cramp.

“Sea Change” is just out, and is destined to hit best-seller lists.

One of the remarkable things about getting sick this week – the first that I can remember in almost four years of doing MNB that I can remember getting slowed down by flu for any extended period of time – was how many of you were kind enough to send best well wishes and even some suggestions for remedies to soothe a savage stomach. My favorite one was blueberries – which I had no idea would have that effect. And I love blueberries, which is like an added bonus.

Well, that’s it for this week. Gotta catch a plane and head for home, where I’m going to reintroduce myself to Mrs. Content Guy and the Content Kids, and try to figure out some sort of Valentine’s Day present.

Have a good weekend. Sláinte!!
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