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Monday, July 28

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Foodporn Fri Jul 25 2014

Friday Foodpic: Tomatoes are Coming

14492036768_a30414f610_z.jpgPicture by Renee Rendler Kaplan from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Mon Jul 21 2014

A Garden Party at Rick Bayless' House

dsc_0731.jpgI was using Rick Bayless' restroom, I mused, staring up at the ceiling window that was projecting a heavenly beacon of light upon my less-than-angelic duties. I could barely distinguish Rick's faint murmurs through the orange walls, something about how Spaniards added hard-boiled eggs on top their gazpacho. This was Rick, the host of "Mexico: One Plate at a Time," the winner of "Top Chef Masters," the almost executive chef of Barack Obama, the guy whose chips and salsa you purchase en masse at Whole Foods. The white chef who cooks like a 80-year-old Mexican woman from some Yucatan village. And I was using his bathroom in the middle of his garden party.

Despite my general disdain for the concept of "celebrity chef," Bayless is an exception. That guy is good. Unlike many chefs, his extraordinary palette doesn't use profligate amounts of butter, salt, and sugar to delight to the senses. His food is the Mexican counterpart of Thai food -- curiously spiced, exceptionally balanced, and traditionally flavored. Bayless' empire speaks to his culinary prowess and business acumen, but behind all the demos and appearances and cookbooks, there is a vibrant streak of genuine passion. Only inherent love for his craft explains why he hasn't completely burnt out yet.

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Judy Wu / Comments (1)

Foodporn Fri Jul 18 2014

Friday Foodpic: Fish!

14440429587_a5fbbd5544_z.jpgPic by Renee Rendler-Kaplan from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Beer Fri Jul 18 2014

Celebrate Belgian Independence with Belgian Beers

rsz_1rsz_450px-belgian_beer_glass.jpg As Belgium, home of the Red Devils, luscious chocolates, and saison-style beer, observes its independence from the Netherlands on Monday, July 21, Maria's Package Goods & Community Bar (960 W. 31st St.) will celebrate by featuring beers from Belgian-style brewer Brewery Ommegang.

From 7 to 9pm, Maria's will serve the one-time, limited-release 2014 Belgian IPA along with other selections from the Cooperstown, NY-based brewer, such as Fleur de Houblon and Rare Vos, for $1 off the usual price. Other Belgian-style beers will be on special while Belgian-inspired savory pies from Pleasant House Bakery will be available for noshing.

Photo via wikimedia

Christina Brandon / Comments (0)

Event Thu Jul 17 2014

ManBQue Sweeps the GB Hot Dog Cookoff

ManBQue
ManBQue team. Photo by Brad Snyder.

After sampling all five inventive hot dog dishes and consuming many an Old Style tall boy, the consensus is that the second Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff was a delicious success.

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Annie Conway / Comments (0)

Review Mon Jul 14 2014

Upscale Comfort Food at Max's Wine Dive

rsz_dsc_2487.jpgThe motto at Max's Wine Dive--"Fried Chicken and Champagne?... Why the Hell Not?!"--can be offputting to a Southerner like me. Fried chicken is spiritually linked to cold beer or Dr. Pepper, not some sparkling wine that one sips during an awkward dinner party.

Nonetheless, I found myself dining at this Wicker Park joint, nestled within a long stretch of restaurants along Milwaukee Ave. The menu geography at Max's Wine Dive is somewhat scattered, with small and large plates alongside "for-sharing" and "main" seasonal dishes crafted by executive chef Jessica Brumleve. The food is marketed as "upscale comfort," which is fairly accurate in the sense that much of the menu is deep-fried but gilded with "heirloom tomato confit" or "black truffle aioli".

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Jul 11 2014

Friday Foodpic: Salad

14344909177_942622b581_z.jpgPicture by Mel Hill Photography from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Fri Jul 11 2014

Countdown To The GB Hot Dog Cookoff

Thumbnail image for photo 2-4.JPGIt's 24 hours until the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff begins, and the anticipation is killing us! The T shirts are here, the ballots are printed, and the trash talking has begun.

Get yourself over to Schubas between 2 and 7 tomorrow to taste hot dog creations from the likes of ManBQue, Fat Rice, MakeItFor.Us, Harmony Grill, and more. Tickets are $20 online or at the door, and includes a 5pm concert by Get Up With The Get Downs.

Weather update: The cook off will go on indoors in case of rain! Don't let a little drizzle keep you away.

Annie Conway / Comments (0)

Event Wed Jul 09 2014

Taste of Chicago Returns with Classy Chef Series

tochlogo.jpgThe Taste of Chicago, which has long been a giant garbage can stuffed with barbecue sauce-smeared paper trays, begins its 34th season today at Grant Park (Jackson and Columbus). It's been scaled down considerably after many years of being a financial drain and a magnet for unfortunate incidents, and while the idea of crowds and heat is still my personal hell, one of the brighter points of this year's offerings is the Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour series, which lets chefs from restaurants that would never be seen at the Taste serve a multi-course menu to a smaller crowd with the help of students from Washburne Culinary Institute. Admission is $45 per person (drinks not included), and the event takes place in a separate, air-conditioned tent. Seats are still available for Friday's event with Paul Virant (Vie, Perennial Virant), Erling Wu-Bower and Amanda Rockman (Nico Osteria) on Saturday, and Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday) on Sunday.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Wed Jul 09 2014

Get Ready for the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff!

Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff - July 12, 2014The second annual Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff is coming up this Saturday, July 12 at Schubas, and we're excited to see you all there. Come taste what five Chicago chefs do with Vienna Beef hot dogs, and vote for your favorite!

This year's lineup includes last year's winner ManBQue, plus home turf heroes Harmony Grill, encased meat specialists Weiner and Still Champion, culinary powerhouse Fat Rice and wild card MakeItFor.Us.

Last year's entries included an over-the-top, bacon-wrapped Sonoran dog, Asian-inspired hot dog skewers, and one topped with Flamin' Hot Cheeto-crusted onion strips. Who knows what this year will have in store?

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Random Mon Jul 07 2014

Chicago's Best Food Challenges

Pie_eating_contest_1923.jpgGluttony in moderation can be a glorious experience. Yes, I just ate that entire pizza all by myself, and I'm going to Instagram my bulging belly for the world to marvel. But when gluttony becomes a competition, food consumption becomes slightly nauseating. Imagine eating five pounds of burgers and fries, guzzled down with enough soda to fill a fishtank.

We've all read skimmed those lists touting Chicago's best burgers, or best steaks. But have you seen a list on Chicago's "best" food challenges? I would pay good price to watch a brave Chicagoan risk stomach ruptures for one of these dares:

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Restaurant Sun Jul 06 2014

Summer at Allium: Sophisticated Seasonality

allium01.jpgHotel dining has always seemed like the pinnacle of luxury to me-- perhaps a direct result of my parents denying a younger me any opportunity to order room service, ever. Therefore, I jumped at the invitation to sample a sneak peak of the new summer menu at the Four Seasons Chicago's flagship restaurant Allium.

Located on the 7th floor of this sweeping hotel, Allium is all luscious elegance and modern refinement-- not to mention delightfully generous with its armchairs and plush carpeting. On the current menu one can find the tried-and-true standards-- a house burger, a roasted chicken for two-- but alongside these favorites are some surprises, such as a Chicago-style hot dog and a cheese lavosh, an Armenian-style flatbread.

allium06.jpgHowever, newcomer Executive Chef Steven Wambach, previously head chef at Epic, is eager to put his own spin on the menu and show off some of the hits of summer. In the sun-drenched private events room, cooks busily garnished bites of tuna with artichoke aioli and shaved truffle, white asparagus gazpacho with cucumber and Marcona almonds, and pork rillette toasts with foie gras and caviar. (See! Pinnacle of luxury. I was not wrong.) I have a soft spot for hors d'oeuvres and the attempt to capture so many different elements in a single perfect bite-- crunch, creaminess, freshness, salt, acid-- and Chef Wambach carried this off exceptionally well. In all of the bites, one could taste the brightness of summer ingredients side-by-side with the comforting familiarity of Midwestern flavors. The Chef himself returned periodically to the dining area to speak with guests and assist with plating.

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Danielle Snow / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Jul 04 2014

Friday Foodpic: Cherries

14342133698_9b04d51fc5_z.jpgPicture by swanksalot from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Tue Jul 01 2014

Ramen Battle at Yusho: Giuseppe Tentori vs. Ryan McCaskey

rsz_dsc_2474.jpg
During my culinary tour through Japan, I tried desperately to love ramen. I tried with all my might. I slurped every type of noodle and broth, but after my 20th bowl, I admitted defeat and decided to devote the rest of my tragic life to Maruchan. "What!?" some foodies cry indignantly, pointing their foie-fattened fingers at noodle pictures from some quaint Japanese ramen hut. "How can you not love that?" Because like every good American, I believe the best ramen is FREEDOM ramen.

Ramen is derived from the Chinese term, la mian, which literally translates into pulled noodles. Traditional ramen noodles have spring, chew, and a slight eggy taste. There are four types of ramen broths: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), tonkotsu (pork) and miso. Each region in Japan has their unique variation of ramen, but they're all fairly similar when all is said and slurped. The Japanese don't stray from the fundamentalist tree, so never expect to see duck confit or green curry in your ramen. However, I'd argue that ramen's greatest feature is how customizable it is.

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Judy Wu / Comments (2)

Brunch Fri Jun 27 2014

Brunch Over Easy at Hubbard Inn

rsz_dsc_0728.jpgPeople seem to either love or despise the concept of brunch, but if you're a Humble Hobbit like me, anytime is a good time to eat (especially in a state of hungover stupor). I don't always want or need an organic arugula salad topped with freshly grated pecorino and pasture-laid eggs. I also tend to avoid junky diner hashbrowns with questionable sausages. Hubbard Inn, located in River North, is a good medium--it offers a generous selection of brunch items, prepared with just enough upscale to remind you that you're eating in River North.

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Apr 28 2014

Craft Beer, Community and Creativity: An Interview with Locally Brewed Author Anna Blessing

By Christina Brandon

In the introduction to Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America's Heartland, author and photographer Anna Blessing writes that she wants "to tell the story of the people behind the beer."
Read this feature »

 

Events

Wed Jul 30 2014
So You Think You're a Foodie @ Frontier

Wed Jul 30 2014
Katherine Anne Confections Preview Party

Thu Jul 31 2014
Choucroute Series @ TÊTE Charcuterie

Thu Jul 31 2014
Choucroute Series @ Tete Charcuterie

Sun Aug 3 2014
From Good Stock Dinner Series with Hunter Moore @ Land and Sea Dept


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About Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
Drive-Thru staff inbox: drivethru@gapersblock.com

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