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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Archive for February, 2008

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02.25.08

Japonais: The Lawsuit

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Nightlife impresario Jonathan Segal, one of the partners in Geisha LLC which owns Japonais filed suit against his partners Jeffrey Beers, Miae Lim, and Rick Wahlstedt who formed Geisha NYC, LLC to expand the Japonais concept to New York and Las Vegas, alleging that Lim et al “misappropriated the Japonais name and design”. The US seventh circuit court of appeals dismissed the case on February 22, 2008 on the grounds that proper authorization was given to Geisha NYC for the trademark. You can read all the sordid details here. Even though, the courts dismissed the lawsuit, it sure seems sneaky of your partners to throw a party without inviting you. The fact that there are branches of Japonais in New York and Las Vegas reaffirms our thoughts that the TGI Friday’s like cattle drive service and boring pan asian eats at the Chicago location have always felt like a souless chain.

02.25.08

Looking for a Big Check, Please

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Mark Scheffler and his excellent BusinesssPOV crew sit down with Check Please founder David Manilow to talk about his new web strategies and the quest for millions of dollars of investor capital. Last week I thought Charlie Trotter came off as a smug bastard in his web video at Crains. Manilow makes Trotter looks like Mother Teresa. He seems almost annoyed to have to sit down with the crew and share his “genius” with the rest of the world. It’s funny that such aloofness would breed the supreme venue for real citizen’s dining opinions. Let’s face it, though, if I’d created an empire of highly watched food shows, I’d probably be all Dr. Evil like petting my hairless cat and counting my benjamins.

02.25.08

Earthy and Crunchy

Faster than Rachael Ray: Product Reviews


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Once he stepped off his fuel guzzling private jet, Al Gore’s puffy post political body would probably want to kick my ass. I haven’t replaced my incandescent lightbulbs with compact flourescents yet and I drive a mini-suv, though one that gets relatively good gas mileage. I am definitely not a tree hugger, though I am most definitely a cheap bastard. More »

02.25.08

Vegetarian Graffiti

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Spotted in the West Loop this weekend…

02.22.08

Pollo Campero Trotting Out Grilled Chicken

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Normally we stay away from chain writing, but Pollo Campero has a special place in our heart for their spicy fried chicken, salsa bar, and damn good tostones. We spoke with Andy Florsheim, CEO of Levy/Pollo Campero, the Chicago franchise operator for Pollo Campero restaurants last week, and he revealed that they’ll be rolling out a Peruvian style grilled chicken on March 3rd at both Chicago locations (2730 N. Narragansett and 4830 N. Pulaski Rd.). He says, “I love the fried chicken, but you can’t eat it all the time.” Florsheim also said that Levy’s been looking to open another location in the loop, but that the logistics and real estate prices are making it a bit a bit of a challenge. Here’s hoping.

02.22.08

Pat Bruno’s Trying to Get Fired

Bites: News and Miscellany


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This week, we have Pat Bruno reminiscing about his week of innovative eating at the Original Palace Grill, opened in 1938, and Mike Ditka’s steakhouse in Oakbrook Terrace (which to be fair is slightly topical, because oyster whisperer Mark Mavrantonis is the chef there). There’s nothing wrong with writing about an old place, as long as you’ve got a new and interesting take, but Bruno’s review comes off as some old dude kvetching over his morning coffee about how things just ain’t what they used to be. Most notably he’s wistful about a picture in the grill of the old crotch grabber, Da Coach, Mike Ditka.

C’mon Pat, what about telling us the stories of the legendary countermen or the time Al Gore brought Viktor Chernomyrdin by? Bruno also says the grill is “a jump shot away” from the United Center. While I don’t mind a little hyperbole, even a ‘roided up Michael Jordan with a running start in his Porsche couldn’t hit the wide side of the United Center from 1408 W. Madison. I’ve decided it’s depressing and pointless to write about Bruno anymore. In the spirit of getting a late start on Lent, we are imposing a moratorium on discussing the culinary sage of the Sun Times for at least the next month.

02.22.08

My Real (Culinary) Chicago

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Fun article in the Sun Times about people’s ideas of what places are real Chicago to them. Below is my culinary short list in no particular order (though I’ve intentionally left out upscale spots, which can be true Chicago, but would make this list unbearable). These may or may not be the best, but they are the places I go back to again and again and again…:

1) Gennaro’s - Littly Italy
2) Ramova Grill
3) Khan BBQ
4) Carniceria Leon
5) Mario’s Italian Lemonade
6) Al’s, but only on Taylor
7) Chickies
8 - Margies Candies
9) Old Fashioned Donut
10)Violet Hour
11)Spring World More »

02.22.08

Dreaming of Chocolate Mousse in Epinouze

Food Memoir, Recipes


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We had the fortune of sampling the best chocolate mousse of our lives from Sunday Dinner Catering co-founder Christine Cikowski about a month ago. We asked Christine to share the recipe. She obliged, but, even better, she gave us the story behind the recipe.

Jason (my business partner and boyfriend) and I lived in the Rhone Valley, in a little town of 900 people called Epinouze, about 1-1/2 hours south of Lyon off the A7 autoroute. For three months we worked for Jean-Jacques Galliffett, the de-facto local celebrity chef since he owned three restaurants in three villages, plus a hotel and a bar. Not that there was much competition- most of those villages had only one restaurant, one bar, and one tobacco shop. But Galliffett was talented- his food was really simple, a unique fruit based cooking style grounded in old world French techniques. Valrhona and Crozes- Hermitage, the wine country was 20 minutes away. We lived in orchard country, so Galliffett cooked with what was grown in town. More »

02.21.08

Fun With Bacon and Marcona Almond Maple Syrup Brittle

Recipes


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I was at Whole Foods last night staring at a Vosges Mo’s Bacon Chocolate Bar, remembering how I’d devoured one in a single sitting the week before. Scared that I’d do the same again if given the chance, I ran away without buying a bar. Then an hour later as I was sitting on my couch, I was thinking I’d been a fool. I started dreaming of salt and sweet variations. With no chocolate on hand, but plenty of bacon and nuts, I though, hmmm bacon pecan brittle….oh wait, I have Marcona almonds, bacon marcona brittle…..of course I’m one of those dudes who drowns his entire breakfast plate in syrup, so if I’m goin’ bacon, I gotta have some syrup…and voila, recipe below. It’s rare that I have such good ideas. Now I’m thinking chorizo marcona brittle, or marcona almond brittle with a touch of smoked paprika…stay tuned! More »

02.21.08

The Cheese Truly Stands Alone

Culinary Obituaries


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Per Mike Sula at the Reader, Lincoln Square’s, The Cheese Stands Alone, is closing. We love the shop, and it’s sad to see someone like Matt Parker, a passionate professional who really did invest himself in the whole venture in a position to “… look for a job and look for a [new] space, and whichever one seems to be more promising I’m gonna probably have to go with.” We wish him the best.

02.21.08

Stephanie Izard, America’s Sweetheart

Bites: News and Miscellany


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In a few weeks when Top Chef 4 launches, Stephanie Izard, former chef/owner of Scylla just might steal America’s heart. We know she stole our stomach last time we ate her cuisine. Plus she’s a fellow Michigan alum, go blue! We interviewed her last year for Sun Times Centerstage….an excerpt from the Q and A…

What do you wish you could change/pickle about the Chicago restaurant scene?

More places to eat late night than the usual suspects of fast food and Mexican joints.

What would your last meal be?

Sushi and French fries.

Where do you eat before/after a shift?

Arturo’s Tacos at Western and Armitage—I usually get the tostado carnitas.

Finally, the Stamford Times, Izard’s old neighborhood newspaper has a profile. Though they regretably call Julia Child, Julia “Childs” in the article and refer to the palate as the “Pallet”.

02.21.08

Charlie Trotter, Smug Genius

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Crain’s has an interesting video interview with Charlie Trotter about management and leadership. The thing I’m most fascinated by is how Trotter sounds like he’s saying these things for the first time. He’s been trotting out the “artists like Miles Davis and Bob Dylan never do anything the same and he aims for the same thing at Trotter’s line” for twenty years. Yet, he delivers those lines with such sincerity. I’ve seen Dylan twice and both times he played Tangled Up In Blue in pretty much the same way, so I’m not sure it’s a great example.

Likewise, Trotter’s whole spiel about interviewing potential new chefs and determining whether they will be successful by engaging in a reductive time worn tradition of asking candidates their three favorite books, the meaning of life, and asking them to wash a pan, doesn’t seem to follow the example of artistic improv he apparently hews to. Any culinary school grad who wants to work at Trotters who’s been paying attention to anything Charlie’s written or said in the last decade should have this down cold by now, and I’d think they could game their way into a job.

02.20.08

Real Food Movies That Should Win An Oscar

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Beverly Levitt explores an interesting idea, i.e what food movies are worth an Oscar? But she totally mails it in. Seriously Juno? Only in Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade world would a movie backdropped by blue slushies, M&M, and licorice rope be considered a food movie. Hell, Last Holiday directed by Wayne Wang and starring Queen Latifah would be a better choice when food enters the equation.

My off the cuff list of movies where food plays a pivotal role in a memorable sequence or as a key part of the movie in no particular order:

1 -Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (monkey brains anyone…)
2 -Babette’s Feast
3 -Chocolat
4 -Big Night
5 -Diner
6 -Like Water for Chocolate
7 -Marie Antoinette
8 -Age of Innocence
9 -Lady and the Tramp
10 -Moonstruck
11 -Ratatouille (Sills includes this one)
12 -Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
13 -Soylent Green

02.20.08

Really Love Your Peaches, Wanna Shake Your Tree

Grape Pun: All Things Wine


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Some of you may remember I interviewed Cameron Hughes about a year and a half ago. Hughes owns no vineyards, makes no wine, but he has an inside connection to some of the best wineries that do. The way the model works is many top wineries produce wine that either doesn’t fit in to their profile or they make too much of a wine. That’s where Hughes steps in. He buys up the excess lots and then markets them under his own label and sells them direct on his website or through Costco. Because Hughes bypasses traditional middle men and marketing fees, he’s able to offer incredible wines for a value. More »

02.20.08

Southside Soul

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Chuck Sudo has a good profile in today’s Sun Times on BJ’s Market and Bakery in Chatham. It struck me how rare it is to see a profile like this in our newspaper dining pages these days. No matter if you’re working on a service piece or a recipe, good stories will be the currency of the future if the broadsides are to survive the internet onslaught.

02.20.08

Bubbles at the Bar

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Pete Wells has a nice article in the New York Times about how liquor companies are co-opting the cooking processes popularized by Ferran Adria, Wylie Dufresne, Homaro Cantu, and Grant Achatz for the bar. Cointreau bubbles, anyone? What’s really interesting about the article, is that Cointreau’s consultant on the project is Dale DeGroff. DeGroff is a cocktail legend, kind of like say Charlie Trotter in the bar world. I can’t imagine Trotter experimenting with say transglutaminase, especially since he’s basically dubbed post-modern cooking a house on stilts, etc. I wonder if it’s fair to say then that bartenders are more open to experimentation? It may just be that DeGroff is an open minded guy, and he’s still relevent, because he hasn’t stopped learning, while a lot of “old school” chefs let ego get in the way and still rely on their name and past achievement to carry them through.

02.19.08

Albany Park Chicken Crack Coming to Pilsen

Window Shopping: New Restaurant Openings


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Southside represent! Karen Lim is taking her father’s spicy deep fried chicken wing lollipop recipe (maybe the best chicken wings of any style in Chicago) from Great Seas Chinese (3254 W. Lawrence) to her new Pilsen storefront restaurant, Take Me Out, located at 1502 W. 18th St.. More »

02.19.08

Metromix Dining:Unethical and Unoriginal

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Chris LaMorte, dining producer for Metromix piles on the Schwa bandwagon. Considering Sam Zell’s billions of dollars of debt, why is Metromix spending money feature reviewing a spot, when their sister publication and reporter Chris Borrelli already already did a bang up job a few days earlier? RedEye already syndicates Metromix content, so why not syndicate Tribune Stew content in reverse, and spend those dollars reviewing a new spot?

Furthermore LaMorte says:

“On Saturday, however, I went in with a Metromix freelance writer. (Full disclosure: She’d interviewed Carlson and asked if he could squeeze her and two friends in. He obliged. I never introduced myself as a Metromix reviewer.)”

and

“But I’m softening on the BYOB dilemma. Carlson gave us a broad outline of wines to bring: a gruner veltliner, a pinot blanc, a pinot noir. Why we brought an Australian riesling I don’t know, but it was a dud. Carlson took pity on us and allowed us to trade for a livelier German version he had in back.

It’s probably the only time a BYOB restaurant allowed a customer to send back a wine. How punk rock is that?”

I appreciate the full disclosure, but pulling rank like that to get a reservation is blatantly wrong. There’s no way they got a standard meal, as Carlson would have been on his best game just knowing the freelance writer was there. LaMorte does take some shots at the dishes, so you think maybe he’s being even handed, but how can you separate out whether he’s overcompensating by being harder on Carlson, because he knows they know the table is a special one? Furthermore, taking a bottle from the kitchen, even if it’s in trade for something you brought is basically like taking a comp.

02.19.08

The Trouble With Takashi

Restaurant Reviews


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It’s probably not a good sign when your restaurant’s banquettes look like they’re covered with spermatozoa. I know the interior designer for Takashi (1952 North Damen) thought the fabric pattern they chose, thousands of long, subtle, flaggelating lines punctuated by random ovals, seemed modern, harmless and organic, but unfortunately, it’s too organic. During my entire meal I had flashbacks of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and eighth grade “PBS NOVA” health videos. More »

02.19.08

Golden Clog Awards

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Via eater.com Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman have announced the Golden Clog awards nominees. Unbeknownst to me, until I got an email a few minutes agao, I and this website have been nominated for the “Jeffrey Steingarten” award “For the writer or blogger who actually GETS it”.

If they’re talking about makin it with food writer groupies, I definitely don’t “GET” it…seriously when I got in to this, I was doing it in the hopes that like a culinary version of Bret Michaels, I’d be getting lingerie and kitchen implements thrown at me. So far all I have are my dreams of a three way with Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee… More »


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