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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Archive for June, 2007

06.28.07

Dates

Food History


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While a coconut palm may be the quintessential image of hot, humid, tropical landscapes, the inescapable image in hot, dry, desert landscapes is the date palm. (Have you ever seen a picture of a desert oasis that didn’t include a date palm?) In arid parts of the Old World, the fruit of the date palm is sufficiently important to actually be categorized as a staple. Desert Arabs often have little else to eat besides milk and dried dates. More »

06.27.07

Burnt Crust

Bites: News and Miscellany


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According to Chicago magazine’s Dish newsletter:

Rebecca Charles, the owner of Pearl Oyster Bar, a popular seafood joint in New York’s West Village, has sued her former sous-chef Ed McFarland over intellectual property rights, and the juicy story made the front page of The New York Times Wednesday. Charles accuses McFarland of copying “each and every element” of Pearl in his Ed’s Lobster Bar (in SoHo). Her grievances include design elements, but the heart of the case swirls around McFarland’s caesar salad, which Charles insists came from her own recipe. At the same time, Charles admits that Pearl was inspired by a low-key spot in San Francisco and that the salad recipe in dispute came from her mother, who got it from a defunct Los Angeles restaurant. The outcome of the case remains to be seen, but we called a few local chefs to get their reactions to the controversy—as it turned out, none were particularly sympathetic to Ms. Charles.

Here is what Crust chef/owner Michael Altenberg said:

“Look at all the people who worked under Jean Banchet [founder of the recently closed legendary Le Français]. A lot of what we do when cooking straightforward French is stuff we learned from Jean Banchet. He could say we stole his intellectual property. But instead I think it makes him feel as though he’s got a lineage. Banchet in turn learned from Fernand Point.”

I guess it’s no surprise Altenberg would be liberal with his idea of other people’s intellectual property, considering there is some dispute as to where he got the name for his new organic pizza parlor. According to this reader story by Mike Sula, Charles Foulkes who was an early partner (though not legally) in Altenberg’s pizza venture said that he and Altenberg had a “gentleman’s agreement” that Foulkes would receive something for Altenberg’s use of the name Crust. In a letter he sent to his customers that was later posted on a friend’s blog, Foulkes wrote, “Michael refuses to formalize the agreement and offer promised compensation for the name Crust. Michael gave us his word that he would not use the name Crust without our blessing, and now he has.”

There’s a lot more to the story (read Sula’s piece), but if you ask me, it sounds like there’s a character pattern here.

06.26.07

Covert Cuisine

Bites: News and Miscellany


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This might seem like an exercise in self-loathing, but I hate most modern food writing. Culinary writing was once a rich, sensual and intellectual exploration performed by talents such as MFK Fisher or Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin. Deemed food writers, because their conceit was to center their observations around edible subjects, they were as much cultural critics, philosophers, ethnologists and historians. More »

06.22.07

Provenance: The art of marketing

Bites: News and Miscellany


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The cheese selection at Provenance

Back in February 2006, Tracy Kellner opened the doors of Provenance Food and Wine, her tiny grocery store in Logan Square. The name – “place or source of origin” — had a double meaning for Kellner. First, she envisioned the shop as a new start and beginning for herself. After spending some seven years working for a big corporation, what she really wanted to do was find a way to make a living out of her love for cooking. Previously, Kellner has worked in restaurants for nine years and was itching to put her food knowledge to good use. Second, “provenance” is also a term often associated with wine, another subject close to Kellner’s heart. After getting frustrated with not being able to find a store in her Logan Square hood to buy ingredients for a home-cooked meal to satisfy her foodie taste buds, Kellner had a light-bulb moment and the plans for Provenance started to form. More »

06.20.07

Big Shrimpin

Food History


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In the 1500s, the largely Catholic Portuguese were sailing about and claiming large parts of the world for king and country. While away from home, many of them still observed the holidays and fast days of their religion. Four times a year, they celebrated Ember days, fast days when they were not allowed to eat meat. During these particular holidays (known as quatuor tempora or “four seasons”), a favorite dish was battered and fried shrimp. Japan did not have a lot of fried foods at the time the Portuguese arrived, and the Japanese were intrigued by these fried shrimps and adopted the technique of preparing foods this way. And, it is reasonably argued, this (the eating of fried shrimp during the quatuor tempora) is the most likely origin of both the Japanese cooking method and word tempura. More »

06.14.07

Schwa

Restaurant Reviews


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The many plates of Schwa

Turning onto Ashland from North Avenue, my first reaction was, the directions must be wrong. Granted, we were a little early, but there were no cars—well, except for the cars at the huge auto repair shop across the street, one with tall, multi-colored, plastic palm trees. There was a tiny Thai noodle shop, a Hispanic grocery store, and a small, dark bar. It didn’t look like a bad neighborhood, just kind of utilitarian—not the sort of place one would look for a high-end dining opportunity. We stopped in front of a building with a crumbling concrete stoop and an unretrieved morning paper. But the small, yellow building next door had the word “Schwa” over the black-fabric door, and that was the word we were looking for. More »

06.12.07

Certified in the City

Bites: News and Miscellany


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The sausage panino at Vella Café

“I don’t care if my tomato was raised in a lab or some hippie’s backyard. I don’t even care if it causes the occasional tumor in lab rats. I only care that it’s the best-tasting damn tomato available.”—Anthony Bourdain, Travel Channel TV host and bad boy foodie

You expect hyperbole from a guy whose personal logo is a toque-clad skull biting down on a chef’s knife dripping with blood. While I usually dig Bourdain’s brutal observations, my first instinct was to write this quote off as typical bobblehead claptrap to fuel television ratings. In the last few weeks though the quote’s essential truth has been haunting me a bit. More »

06.07.07

Chewing on Crust

Restaurant Reviews


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The Flammkuchen at Crust

Visiting a promising restaurant on opening night is probably a lot like scouting high-school and college-basketball phenoms for the NBA. It’s just too early to tell. For every fifty-point whiz like Kobe Bryant, there’s a two-point bust like Darko Milicic riding the bench. Likewise, opening night for a restaurant isn’t usually a fair gauge of future success. Sure, there’s been soft openings for friends and family to fine-tune things, but when’s the last time your best friend told you that you were ugly? More »


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