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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Archive for February, 2007

02.28.07

Culinary Mythology

Restaurant Reviews


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Scylla chef Stephanie Izard

As a first-generation American (my mom was born in Poland), I’ve seen the ease and speed in which cultural traditions are lost, and so I’m determined to preserve the meaningful ones. It’s probably why as a secular Catholic, too lazy to attend regular Sunday mass, I still try to adhere to most of the other religious traditions, and not just the ones that include bowing to massive binges of guilt. And so with Lenten season upon us, I and 2.4 million local Catholics are in need of a seafood fix for our Friday meat fasts. More »

02.26.07

The Making of a Chef

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Next Sunday, March 4th, food writer Michael Ruhlman and Alinea chef Grant Achatz are storming the Steppenwolf stage for a discussion on “the place of the “celebrity” chef in America, the Hypermodern food movement, and what defines excellence in an industry increasingly molded by media hype and image-making.” Details here.

Should be nice little throwdown with two thought provoking members of the food community. If you wan’t to pretend like your prepping for a Stones concert, your going to need some rolling papers and….err, we mean, download our podcast interviews with Ruhlman and Achatz to your mp3 player and listen on the way to the show.

02.22.07

Restaurant Michael

Restaurant Reviews


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Chef Michael Lachowicz

Restaurant Michael in Winnetka led me to coin a new phrase: haute comfort food. There was no ponzu sauce, Latin fusion, or edible menu. What they offered was simply expertly prepared French food. That doesn’t mean you don’t find the occasional shiitake mushroom or a bit of fabulously enriched polenta, but the focus is not on absorbing as many international influences as possible. It’s French. And for those of us who grew up in an age when fabulous French food was rare enough that we considered it a treat, sometimes that’s what we want: French food. I love the cutting-edge places, but sometimes it’s good to just sink into a meal of perfectly cooked French classics. Of course, being new to French food won’t preclude you from enjoying this place. It’s just that, for people who want hip and edgy, this isn’t it. It’s comfort food for Francophiles. More »

02.20.07

Magic Beans

Food History


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There really are magic beans. Not the fairytale magic beans that produce giant beanstalks, but beans that produce the very real and often necessary magic of waking us up, getting us going, clarifying our thoughts, helping us work, talk, cope, and get things done. In other words, coffee beans. More »

02.14.07

Sweet Sojourn

Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Mohammad Islam would make a first-rate drug pusher. The executive chef and co-owner of the new River North hot spot Aigre Doux (which means sweet and sour in French) Restaurant and Bakery is standing next to his wife, pastry chef and co-owner Malika Ameen, and Oriana Kruszewski, aka “The Walnut Lady” in the basement pastry kitchen. Islam repeatedly dips his hand in Kruszewski’s zip-locked stash, and gives me handfuls of her black walnuts (they taste like extraordinary dried apples). Kruszewski’s also brought along some homemade preserves, frozen cornelian cherries and raspberries. Islam is handing spoons of the stuff to me as if he were a countercultural shaman bestowing a particularly robust strain of Humboldt County pot. As Islam chews on a cherry, there’s a child-waking-up-on-Christmas-day-like glint in his eyes as he tells Kruszewski he’d like to see her at the back door of Aigre Doux every two weeks. Kruszewski looks at him and tells him he’s crazy, and that if he buys her high-quality-but-pricey products that frequently, he’ll go out of business. More »

02.09.07

The Secrets We Eat

Bites: News and Miscellany


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We all have secrets. Secrets about life, about love, and about others. “Food gives me the most satisfaction and the most guilt in my life.” These words from a stranger are used to ease their mind from one of life’s biggest facets: Food, love it or hate it, you have to deal with it, and it affects you on a very personal level. So it follows that some are forced to keep secrets about it.

Think about your feelings towards food. Maybe you have an eating disorder. Maybe you lie and say your take out was home made. Hungry magazine editor and Chicago food journalist Mike Nagrant secretly digs on Pepperoni Hot Pockets, McGriddles, and White Hen donuts. Maybe you do what I do, and tell people you’re allergic to food that you just don’t want. Now there’s an outlet where you can rid yourself of all those stomach churning food secrets that keep you up at night, PostSecret.com. PostSecret is a website where strangers mail in secrets on postcards and editor/owner Frank Warren posts select ones on the site. Regarding food secrets, Warren says, “Not only can food be very gratifying, but it can also be a cause of great turmoil in life.” Here at Hungry, we’ve selected some of the best food related secret postcard images from the site. As for Warren’s biggest food secret? He steals his daughter’s Halloween candy. What’s your secret?

To mail Frank your own secret (food or otherwise), decorate one side of a postcard with your secret and mail it to:

PostSecret
13345 Copper Ridge Road
Germantown, Maryland
USA 20874-3454

02.08.07

The Pursuit of Cod

Food History


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Cod is considered by many to be the world’s most important saltwater fish. It was certainly the first fish to become widely popular, consumed in large quantities since the Upper Paleolithic period. Nice flavor, white flesh, and flaky texture aside, cod historically has been valued because it has the wonderful quality of being easy to preserve. Simply by salting, and even by drying alone, cod could last for years. For millennia, salt cod or dried cod was the only fish available inland, away from the coasts, and it was one of the few foods that could be transported by ship during long voyages without getting moldy. It was at one time a nearly universal food, and was a staple in Scandinavia countries, the countries of the Iberian Peninsula, Africa, and North America. More »

02.08.07

Salt Cod Recipes

Recipes


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Because of the importance of salt cod in the world’s economy in centuries past, there are numerous countries that have traditional recipes that use salt cod as an ingredient. These are not archaic recipes that one must search to find, but living recipes that are still a vital part of the cuisines in countries that once traded in cod, from the bacalhao of Portugal to the cod cakes of Newfoundland, the brandade de morue of southern France to the gesmoorde vis of South Africa to the fanesca of Ecuador. Europe, Africa, North America, the Caribbean, and South America all have recipes that use this preserved fish that was once among the most valued commodities in the world. More »

02.06.07

Let the Battle Begin

Bites: News and Miscellany


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No word on whether Chef Bowles will be sporting his Stetson on Iron Chef

It’s Graham Elliot Bowles week in Chicago as he features his Valentine’s Day Floral menu on the “Today” show Wednesday, February 7th at 9:45 a.m. on NBC as part of a cooking segment. According to a press release “Bowles has prepared a unique five-course menu with each course highlighting a different floral element. This prix fixe menu includes courses with Jasmine, Lavender, Hibiscus, Violet and Rose. This special dinner menu will be served exclusively on Saturday, February 13th through February 17th. The dinner is $300 per couple.”

In addition, Bowles takes on the pasty and sweaty Bobby Flay on Iron Chef this Sunday, Feb 11th at 8pm on Food Network. Finally, if you haven’t had enough GEB, Chef Bowles’ experience in preparing for “Iron Chef America” is the cover story for the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine on Feb 11th. For those that are interested in watching the program with Chef Bowles and his team, they’ll be at Rockit Bar & Grill that evening.

If you still can’t get enough, listen to the podcast we did with Chef GEB last year.

02.05.07

Banchet Awards Results

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Celebrity Chef of the Year, Grant Achatz of Alinea

Chicago’s local version of the culinary Oscars, the Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence were held Friday night. The awards are named after the legendary chef Jean Banchet, formerly of Le Francais, a restaurant that was once the Charlie Trotters and Alinea of its day. Here are the results:

Celebrity Chef of the Year - Grant Achatz of Alinea
Best Fine Dining - Alinea
Celebrity Pastry Chef - Elissa Narow of Custom House
Rising Chef - Michael Carlson of Schwa
Rising Pastry Chef - Suzanne Imaz of Nomi
Best Sommelier - Craig Sindelair of Alinea
Best Neighborhood Restaurant - Le Bouchon
Best Catering Company - Designed Cuisine

02.01.07

Big Greek Breakfast

Restaurant Reviews


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Caramelized banana pancakes at Meli Cafe

Those who might bemoan the ebb of old-fashioned Chicago patronage need only look at Greektown to change their mind. The Near West Side neighborhood is one where waiters still beget restaurateurs who beget waiters who beget more restaurateurs, a place where family and immigration isn’t a random mingling of bloodlines, but a concrete strategy in the business plan. Meli Café (301 South Halsted), a fantastic breakfast and lunch spot, and the newest addition to the Halsted strip, serves as the perfect business case. More »


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