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Rugby, Piano Bars and Short Ribs

It’s Saturday and that means running around after the children.  This morning we took Alfie to his rugby game and watched him be defeated again.  That’s seven losses and no wins this season and the margin of defeat seems to be widening.  We parents stand on the side-line hoping to be put out of our misery with an early blow of the whistle and try not to look at the parents of the winning team because they are on a high and visibly gloating.

The good thing is, Alfie is quite oblivious to his losing streak and enthusiastically turns up each week and does his thing until the whistle blows and any sting of defeat is quickly forgotten by handing him a few dollars to spend at the canteen where he returns with a can of soft drink (only allowed on rugby days) and a few lollies.  He thinks rugby is fantastic.

Beef Short Ribs with Polenta and Steamed Beans

Tonight Archie has his first professional, paid gig.  He’s formed a band with a girl who plays the double bass while he plays guitar, harmonica and a beat-box, and they will perform a 20-minute set at 8pm tonight at the Piano Bar in Kings Cross.  So Carl and I are heading in there to be supportive parents and to swell the numbers because for every person who goes through the turnstiles, Archie will be paid a few coins.  I’ll probably have to go in and out a few times just to make this event lucrative for him.

Of course this morning he told me he needed another lead.  How could that be possible?  I can’t get into his room for all the cords and leads and wires and cables.  So it was off to the music store to buy the new lead with yet another promise of, ‘And I’ll pay you back, mum’ but for the sake of my own sanity I’ve mentally kissed that money goodbye.  Just before he left the house for his sound-check and final rehearsal he realised his harmonica was broken.  Panic erupted.  It was back to that music store again for a replacement.  And he gave me that look like he does when he’s cashed out and I knew what he was about to say so I said, ‘ Think of my sanity.  Say nothing so you don’t say things that won’t come true.  I don’t want to be told you will pay me back’.

He’s now in rehearsal and going from there to the venue for a sound check.  I won’t see him until tonight.  It’s just occurred to me that he left the house without me checking what he’ll be wearing on stage.  I know he didn’t iron anything or polish shoes and did he shower?

Naughty rib wouldn't stand up for the photo

The recipe I’ve chosen to share with you comes from a blogger I’ve grown to love and admire.  He is John from the blog, From the Bartolini Kitchens.  John was born and raised and still lives in Chicago but his heritage is Italian.  He grew up in a home not only nurtured with love but filled with great cooks, his mother and his mother’s sister.  On his blog John shares stories of his childhood and his family’s ‘secret’ recipes and how these recipes became part of his family’s ‘unwritten cookbook’.

A recipe he posted recently was these short ribs.  They looked so good, not only to me but also to other bloggers and since John’s post Eva from Kitchen Inspirations over in Canada has cooked them and highly recommended the recipe.

I had friends for dinner and served these beef short ribs.  We sat around the table enjoying them and the only thing we talked about during the entire meal was how good they were.  The ribs cook for three hours so the meat falls off the bone and they cook in a sauce containing red wine and balsamic vinegar and a few other things that you later strain and reduce and serve on the ribs.  I served the ribs on a bed of wet polenta cooked in chicken stock with some butter and some steamed green beans on the side.  John makes a horseradish cream to go with the ribs but served the ribs without the cream.  The ribs seemed fine without it.

This is not a light dish!  We were very full with just one rib each and I’m sure this is also not a low-calorie meal.  But, when special friends come for dinner why not indulge a little!

I received a text message this morning from one of my guests who said, ‘Those ribs were so good.  I can still taste that sauce’.

It’s a testament to a good recipe if those who enjoy it wake up thinking about it.

John’s recipe can be found here.  Do give these a try.  They are the perfect comfort food for the cooler nights we are now experiencing.

And now I had better slip into some supportive-parent attire and head into Kings Cross to watch Archie and his friend perform at The Piano Bar.

Enjoy your weekend!

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  1. Juliet Batten says:

    What a busy life – supporting your kids in such diverse activities. Even if Alfie doesn’t win the rugby, I’m sure he wins when he comes home to a good meal.

  2. You know, I have never actually tried short ribs. I kind of wish I’d had these before giving up meat because I sense they would be good!

    What a hectic Saturday, and with such different activities – but nice to think that both boys are happy even if games weren’t won and harmonicas needed last minute replacing!

  3. What a magnificent looking dish, Charlie! Thanks for the pointer to the recipe! I hope the gig goes well for Archie tonight! xx

  4. Poor Alfie, been there done that, it will get better, maybe next season

  5. Rachel - Executive Beader says:

    Good luck Archie! Take him some spare clothes. Those ribs look yummy. I can imagine them with mashed potatoes. 

  6. Hope Archie’s performance goes/went well.  As for Alfie, the losing streak reminds me of when our son was in gymnastics.  The parents on our team used to joke that our kids had the graceful loser part down, if only they could get a chance to be graceful winners!

  7. Alfie will always be a winner with a Mom like you!  I love the way these naughty ribs look.  Perhaps I’ll ask Jeff to make them this weekend.  I agree – mashed potatoes will work very nicely.

  8. Hope you enjoy Archie’s performance. And I love that Alfie doesn’t take rugby all that seriously, not caring whether the team wins or loses. That’s the attitude I like to see in kids’ sports.

  9. Alfie is so cute, and it’s great that he forgots quickly, he should just have fun!!!!! I always ask my mom to buy stuff, promise to give the money back and then I never end up doing it… I just tend to forget!!! Hope the rehearsal goes great!!

  10. Niasunset says:

    Good Luck for him, dear Charlie… Wonderful recipe again. Thank you, with my love, nia 

  11. I love how Alfie is so positive and just keeps going for it. Hope Archie’s gig goes well 🙂

  12. I also admire Alfie’s optimism and can imagine you are proud of him.  I hope Archie’s even well too–I have done much the same thing with my own son.  And those beef ribs…so comforting.

  13. Green Dragonette says:


    Hi Charlie,

    Hope all goes well…it
    must be so nerve-wracking!!!

  14. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Alfie is just the cutest – Rugby is fantastic!!!!
    Best of luck to Archie as well, it must have been so nerve racking!
    These ribs look perfect and the fact that you got such a message after people ate them definitely proves how amazing this family recipe is 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  15. Judy Purcell says:

    Music, rugby, art, writing, whatever the label on the dream or aspiration of our kids, it is mom and dad cheering and helping–gotta love it. The ribs look amazing! I agree, beef short ribs are a great cold weather meal. YUM!

  16. It does look like a very lovely recipe Charlie. Will have to keep it going around by making it! You must have done a good job, if everyone loved it so much

  17. oh i miss watching my son’s games, and no matter how many loses they make, you still have to give them a pat in the back and say the  magic words like”good job” … it’s having fun that counts.
    I would love to sit down with  hubs tonight and enjoy the lovely ribs  you’ve prepared.  Hubs will definitely love this…
    happy weekend,

  18. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I love it when a short rib falls off the bone! This is a perfect winter dish Charlie! 😀

  19. Love the polenta side. Such a great alternative to the usual potatoes.

  20. InTolerant Chef says:

    If Archie hasn’t ironed or showered he should fit right in at Kings Cross 🙂
    These ribs look so rich and lovely, perfect for the colder weather, yummo!

  21. Oh gosh we’ve been to a few of our son’s gigs. He plays garage punk. But you’re lucky  double bass and beat box will be much quieter.

    The ribs sound delicious.

  22. ChgoJohn says:

    Sonds to me like your boys are quite normal, albeit at completely different stages. When I think of what I put my Mother through…  This, too shall pass, Charlie.

    Thanks, Charlie for the gracious shout out. I’m so glad that you & your guests enjoyed the short ribs. I hope you had some left-overs. They make a great sandwich! Again, thank you.  🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      You are very welcome. Sadly, there were no leftovers. I’ll have to cook more next time. I also bought the ribs in one piece. Did you buy them individually? I think that would be better because with the meat falling off the bone at the end of the cooking process, they were difficult to cut into individual portions if you wanted good presentation – and I did because I wanted to take a photo! But the recipe is a definite keeper. Thanks again John xx

  23. Hahahaha I love the “did he shower?” statement.. boys will be boys!

  24. Oooh, I hope the concert is wonderful! I’m sure it will be. I’m a fan of any place with Piano in the title 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      There was a really talented piano player that night. She did covers and sang beautifully. xx

  25. Dear Charlie,

    This beef short ribs is perfect for the cooler whether these few days. I can imagine how awesome that gravy would go with the creamy polenta!

  26. Your sons have some big moments in their lives, and as parents, we feel every up and down, don’t we? Chicago John’s short ribs have appeared in other spots, as you acknowledge, and I’m thinking I have just got to make them if they are this celebrated! They do sound great! Debra (www.breathelighter.wordpress.com) 

  27. I’m drooling reading the description of the sauce.  I’m off to check out John’s recipe and his blog.  Your recommendations and recipes are always terrific.  Hope the paid gig went well and that Archie showed up with clothes and shoes on.  He has the rest of his life to take a bath.

  28. I have to admit ribs is one of my favourites and you will know if the dish is good if I start liking on that bone

  29. Justasmidgen says:

    I’ve made John’s ribs as well.. I’m thinking it’s high time he started his own restaurant!!?? We could all fly there for a special grand opening! We’ve been to a few of those agonizing hockey games in our years.. Even after a win, the kids quickly forget as they go on to plan a chance to hang-out with their teammates after the game!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      No, he shouldn’t start a restaurant because I don’t live close enough. But he should definitely put out a cookbook. I’d buy it! xx

  30. CheezyK says:

    Mmmm, slow cooked meat. Thanks for the link, I will definitely be checking John’s recipes out!

  31. A_boleyn says:

    It’s wonderful that Alfie is able to get such pleasure out of just playing regardless of whether they win or not.

    As to the recipe you showcased, this weekend I made an inside blade steak. It took a long time simmering to get it fork tender … but it was worth it. I pureed the braising liquid and thickened it with a flour slurry and it was amazing over mashed potatoes but you’ve inspired me to make some polenta to serve with the leftover sauce and steak.

  32. My new favourite thing to cook is (?are) beef ribs after we bought a side of grass fed beef and I was given a slow cooker for Mother’s Day. Love the timeliness of finding this post.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I would love to have a slow cooker – it seems the possibilities are endless, especially at this time of the year. What a great gift. I hope you create something wonderful with the beef ribs xx

  33. Oh wow these beef ribs look so moist and tender 🙂 YUM! Congrats to Alfie for getting his first paid gig 🙂 WOO HOO! 

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