Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2-Bit Review: Jamaican Jerk Pit

One or two visits. A few hundred words. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Over the past couple years, whenever I was in the North U. area I’d swing around the corner onto Thayer to see if the Jamaican Jerk Pit might be open. On the few times I’d managed to catch the eccentric little restaurant open, I’d enjoy the food. But the guys who ran the place were just crazy-erratic with their hours. Not to mention the fact you felt like you might be taking your life into your hands, cleanliness-wise.

But the Jerk Pit is under new management, now owned and operated by Robert Campbell (right), who also owns Irie Caribbean Cuisine over in Canton. Irie is the Accountant’s absolute FAVORITE lunch spot. He’s like Norm from Cheers whenever he walks into that restaurant – staff call out his name in welcome, but with an island accent.

So we popped into Jamaican Jerk Pit for lunch with high expectations. Robert himself was manning the grill, and the first thing I noticed was how tidy everything looked. “Guess how long it took us to get this place clean?” Robert asked. “Two months!”

The menu at the restaurant on Thayer is similar to what Robert offers in Canton, with a few accommodations to student tastes like “Jerk Nachos.” The Accountant ordered his usual Jerk Chicken meal for $8.50, and I had a Jerk Chicken Pita on special for the day at $6.50. The meal comes with Caribbean veggies, plus choice of white rice or “rice and peas.” The “peas” in the latter are actually beans, so the side is pretty close to what we’d call dirty rice. It’s my favorite among the side dishes.

We ordered our chicken at a “medium” spice level, which I found just right. I like my jerk spicy, but not so hot that I have to down five diet cokes to douse the fire. Robert’s jerk sauce is really flavorful – the allspice isn’t overwhelming, so you get a notion of the other spice layers, too. At the store in Canton, I’ve also had the Jerk Pork and the Curried Goat. The pork is yummy, the goat is a bit of an acquired taste – kind of gristly.

Like the restaurant in Canton, Jamaican Jerk Pit offers a towering coconut cake as dessert. It looks pretty, but I found the flavor a little lacking. A better bet is to simply wander over to Stucchi’s or Ben & Jerry’s for a cone. Also, keep in mind that seating is primarily in the basement – the Accountant and I got our meals to go, what I imagine will be our habit as long as the weather is nice.

At the Jamaican Jerk Pit the food unique, tasty, and economical. The place is clean. And Robert is a super-nice guy. What’s not to like?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Riverfolk Festival in Manchester

“Did you hear that Mandy didn’t like the food at the Chicken Broil?” a friend announced loudly as Dan and Pepper settled to our table at the Riverfolk Festival in Manchester.

“I know she didn’t like the Chicken Broil! And CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT SHE LEFT ANN ARBOR AND IS ACTUALLY HERE IN MANCHESTER AGAIN?!” Pepper responded, equally loudly.

“Shut up you guys!” I rasped, leaning in low over the table, “you’re going to get me beat up!”

I’m not a big fan of the seemingly endless drive out to Manchester (I’ve been assured that it’s only 35 minutes, but it always seems longer – I keep watching for an “Ohio Welcomes You” road sign), but given that once again I cadged a ride from a friend we headed out for the Riverfolk Festival’s opening night.It was a Cajun theme - $12 got us admission tickets, and another $10 got us a Louisiana-styled meal. We could choose from pulled pork or jambalaya, cole slaw or corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake or brownie, and a slice of cornbread thrown in for good measure (awesome cornbread - so sweet and moist that it was just shy of yellow cake). Stockwell's Catering provided the food, and it was all perfectly fine, and a good value. Plus I was most impressed that they served the food on aluminum pie pans. No saggy plates, plus recyclable!

There were soft drinks, beer, and wine. The two men dispensing the beverages were jolly, age-appropriate, and wedding-ring-less, so my friend Beth and I brushed off our best flirting reparte:

“Look at those tubes for the keg,” Beth said, “they look like something from a science experiment. Or worse.”

“A hospital,” I mused.

“Like a catheter,” one of the guys chimed in.

“Or like the stomach tube my daughter had to have,” I bantered wittily.

“Oh, yeah, I had to have one of those tubes up my nose once,” Beth nodded.

Sexy. I can’t understand why they didn’t ask for our phone numbers.

Anyway, Cedric Watson and the Bijou Creole Band were the headliners, packing the dance floor. That's Cedric and his friend Jermaine taking a break in the photo at left. Woody Pines also played – they were charming, though their rootsy-bluegrass didn’t lend as well to dancing. Besides the music and the beautiful weather, the best aspect was the small crowd. It seems like lately, every activity in Ann Arbor involves me and about 1,000 of my best friends. It was refreshing to go to an event, to see some new faces, and for there to only be 150 or so people. Very pleasant.

Riverfolk continues all day today (Saturday) – thumbs up, and worth the drive.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bloggers For Reformed Health Care

Word has it that President Obama sent out a call to high-profile progressive bloggers to beat the bushes for health care reform.

The Brou may not have nearly the number of followers as say, the Huffington Post, but I'll do my part.

Take a look at this quote from today's online Washington Post:
"As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate."
Now, regardless of where you fall in the debate, this is just crazy. Max Baucus of California is in my own Democratic party, for god's sake, and it makes me ill. Like Mark Sanford exhibiting stupidly poor judgment by"going hiking on the Appalachian Trail," how can any elected official think it's even remotely acceptable to take this kind of money from Big Medical?

I understand that drug makers, hospitals, and insurers employ thousands of Americans and contribute to hundreds of communities. But there's no way these folks are hoping to create a better health care solution for their employees and neighbors. Their mission is to protect the bottom line, and their shareholders' profits. Period.

And that had better NOT be the mission of any government official - elected or appointed - in this country. Period.