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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Archive for March, 2007

03.30.07

Suds Master

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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photo: Serena Stucke

Beer, Chicago, Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall. Enough said.

Enjoy this month’s podcast interview over a glass of suds. If you’re enjoying the pod during your commute as some of you like to do, you might hold off on the beer ’til you get home. On the other hand, we have no idea how bad your job really is.

If you have Adobe Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Greg Hall Interview

03.28.07

Requiem for a Restaurant

Bites: News and Miscellany


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The tables are now empty at Del Toro

When Del Toro opened in December 2005, it was a modest affair, devoid of the auspicious pomp surrounding most restaurant launches.

There was some buzz because local impresario Terry Alexander was reinventing his popular Wicker Park spot MOD. But when I first met chef Andrew Zimmerman, he spoke of the inspiration of a simple grilled monkfish that he had on a recent trip to Spain. He hoped to bring a similar quiet grace to Del Toro.

Early critics seemed conflicted, but by the time I visited last July I’d felt Zimmerman transcended the party culture and assembly-line inauthenticity of other local tapas bars. More »

03.26.07

North by Northwest

Food Memoir, Restaurant Reviews


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Arancini from Pasta Fresh

Riunite is kind of like the Italian Boone’s Farm, which is to say, it’s usually drunk by college kids, boozy moms and the homeless. For a proud Italian to have to sell these wines as a traveling salesman is akin to a Parisian butcher turning to sell Spam door to door. More »

03.20.07

Eh, What’s Up, Doc?

Food History


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In the summer, few wild flowers appear to be more common than Queen Anne’s lace. Small explosions of tiny white blossoms top slender green stalks of these delicate plants named for England’s Anne, who reigned from 1702 to 1714. The name suits the delicate appearance—and certainly sounds better than what the plant really is, which is simply a wild carrot. And not just a wild carrot, but a domestic carrot gone feral, because the Americas had no carrots before the first colonists brought along their cultivated varieties. So these are escapees and aliens. But that means that, while a few seeds snuck out of the garden and reverted to an original wild type, even our domestic carrots are introduced plants. More »

03.19.07

James Beard Nominations

Bites: News and Miscellany


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James Beard Award nominations, the culinary version of the Oscars, have been announced. Chicago fared well. We’ve recorded podcasts with a lot of the nominees including Grant Achatz, Bruce Sherman, Graham Elliot Bowles, and Paul Kahan. See our podcast section for some good listening. The astounding number of local nominees include:

Newspaper Section: Carol Mighton Haddix and The Chicago Tribune

Multi-Media Writing on Food,Beverage, Restaurant, and Nutrition: Bill Daley vs his Trib colleagues Monica Eng, Chris Brown, and Geng Wang

Best Television Food Segment, National or Local: CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole

Best Webcast: Olivia and Isabella Gerasole of Spatulatta.com

Outstanding Restaurateur:Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You

Outstanding Chef: Paul Kahan of Blackbird

Outstanding Restaurant: Spiaggia

Rising Star Chef: Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues

Pastry Chef: Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate

Outstanding Wine Service: Brian Duncan of Bin 36

Outstanding Service: TRU

Best Chef Great Lakes: Grant Achatz of Alinea, Carrie Nahabedian of Naha, and Bruce Sherman of North Pond

03.16.07

Get in the Ring

Bites: News and Miscellany


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If you haven’t heard by now, Del Toro, Wicker Park’s Spanish spot featuring Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s small plates cuisine is closing on Sunday. I wrote a pretty long story on the restaurant and we also produced a podcast with Chef Zimmerman last year.

Restaurants close for a variety of reasons including running out of cash, bad locations, poor management, horrible food and clumsy service. One thing I can vouch for is that Del Toro was not a case of horrible food and clumsy service. In fact I went for dinner tonight to get one last meal, because I’m genuinely going to miss Zimmerman’s food.

I’m working on a larger story about the closing of the restaurant for Newcity for next week, but I wanted to take advantage of the power of the web and instant publishing and urge anyone who hasn’t been, or even those that have, to get there for one last meal.

Chef Zimmerman is blowing it out this weekend. Unfettered by economic pressure and faced with having to unload a larder of ingredients, he’s featuring six specials including incredibly good house cured versions of Serrano style ham and Morcilla, or Spanish blood sausage. For dessert, there’s an excellent white wine infused french toast with bacon ice cream. That may sound weird, but the bacon ice cream features just a touch of smoke and salt. When paired with the french toast, it’s like the best bacon and french toast breakfast you’ve ever had.

Del Toro is located at 1520 N. Damen Ave.

03.14.07

Smuggler’s Blues

Restaurant Reviews


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Some people smuggle drugs. I smuggle muffuletta.

Muffuletta is one of New Orleans’ iconic sandwiches, an Italian sesame-seed-studded bread loaf split horizontally and topped with a salad of olives, celery, cauliflower and carrot marinated in olive oil and herbs, and layers of freshly sliced capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler and provolone. You can find the sandwich outside of New Orleans, but as with many regional delicacies, such as the Philly cheesesteak, something gets lost in translation. Thanks to my friends Brian and Sara Gronowski, who fly in a bakery’s load from Central Grocery in New Orleans for their annual Mardi Gras party, I got a shot at the best version before ever stepping foot in the French Quarter. The sandwich might as well have been the president of the New Orleans chamber of commerce, because after my first bite, two months later I was on a plane to Louisiana. More »

03.12.07

To Be Franc

Bites: News and Miscellany


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The many faces of chef Alain Ducasse

Like a geographic Rodney Dangerfield, the Midwest gets no respect. Whether it was the California stylings rooted in locally grown politically vetted food of Chez Panisse or the haute wizardy of Daniel Boulud in New York, for many years, America’s culinary consciousness, much like our artistic one, veered to the coasts. More »

03.09.07

The Devil’s Wine

Grape Pun: All Things Wine


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I had this 2005 Carmenere from Concha y Toro the other night, and went back and bought five bottles this morning at $6.99 a pop at Trader Joes (also available at Sams for a buck more locally here in Chicago). It’s honestly one of the best wines I’ve tasted this year. It reminds me of a $50 Bordeaux. It’s basically way more Salma Hayek (big, spicy, and deep) than it is Penelope Cruz (whispy thin and fruity).

Carmenere is thought by some to be an early genetic pre-cursor to more famous Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet. Vine grafts were preserved in South America, Chile etc, because the grape tasted so much like Merlot. This particular label, Casillero del Diablo has a nice backstory as well. In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, he spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, for a while, but it seems the poor hired help, writers like me, can once again drink the good stuff for a steal.

03.07.07

Achatz Takes the Stage

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Achatz may be destemming less rosemary in the near future to focus on the creative picture at Alinea

As if we needed more proof that chefs truly have become celebrities, along came the recent discussion/lecture between chef Grant Achatz and food writer Michael Ruhlman held this past Sunday at Steppenwolf Theater. Granted, Achatz is no ordinary chef. His Chicago restaurant Alinea did receive Gourmet magazine’s 2006 Best Restaurant in America title among numerous other accolades. And Ruhlman is no ordinary writer, having written seven food-related books, including his most recent The Reach of a Chef: Beyond the Kitchen. But now it seems that actually eating in a restaurant is just a small part of the whole culinary experience. We’re spending a lot of time reading about eating, watching food being made on TV and, as evidenced by the 400-or-so people in attendance in the Steppenwolf’s downstairs theater, listening to chefs talk about food and eating.

If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed: More »

03.04.07

Zen Rabbit Cookies

Faster than Rachael Ray: Product Reviews


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This clear chinese takeout box of cookies arrives at our door the other day, so we pull these plain wafer thin discs out of the box, sniff at them, crack them in half, and stuff them in our gullets.

At first bite, we though, hmmm, vanilla, crunchy, decent, but they’re so plain looking. In fact they’re kind of the Kate Bosworth of cookies, ghostly thin and supertranslucent.

Then we put them down, walked away, with little bits still crunching in our mouth, tasting little bursts of vanilla. Then we think, man these could be like the best tea accessory ever. An hour later, we’ve eaten half the package in an unconscious cookie binge. These damn cookies sneak up on you like cookie cocaine.

Hungry magazine gets lots of things in the mail. Most of those things turn out to be unworthy of review. These cookies are worthy.

If you want to try them for yourself, hop on over here

FULL DISCLOSURE: If you couldn’t figure it out in the review, we got these free in the mail. At Hungry, we will always tell you when we didn’t pay for something ourselves (which is rare, currently of all our restaurant reviews, product reviews, etc, there have been 3 comps written about in a year and a half) That being said, we really do love these cookies, and not because they were free. Our office is littered with free things that will never ever be written about.

03.01.07

Bayless on the Grill, Frontera That Is

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Twenty years ago, one of Frontera Grill’s first customers walked in, perused the menu, slammed it shut, walked up to Rick Bayless, told him “This isn’t Mexican food. You’re never gonna make it.” Nonetheless, with his mother and his mother-in-law’s retirement money on the line, Bayless adhered to his vision of authentic regional Mexican and the good fight against the Chimichanga began. In a city where a restaurant lasting three years is a feat, Frontera charged through the awkward teenage years, and on March 18th, the restaurant celebrates it’s 20th anniversary. In this month’s podcast, you’ll get a chance to hear about those early days, what Chef Bayless thinks about the Nuevo Latino trend, as well as his thoughts on why Latino chefs don’t always make it out front and center in the restaurant world.

If you have Adobe Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Rick Bayless Interview


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