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Saturday, February 28

Gapers Block

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Foodporn Fri Feb 27 2015

Friday Foodpic: Pho from Pasteur

16605945005_92096803fe_z.jpgPicture by deep blue skies from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Mon Feb 23 2015

Your Own Private Whisky Fest at Billy Sunday

billy sunday silent stillsWhiskyFest Chicago is long sold out, but that's OK -- it's too crowded to really enjoy and contemplate all the fine scotch and bourbon on hand. Have a much more civilized experience at Billy Sunday on March 29 at the debut of the bar's Silent Stills series, a tasting of 10 scotches from distilleries that have been closed or demolished -- although in some cases revived or rebuilt. Among the scotches to be sampled are a 1976 Glen Albyn (closed in 1983 and demolished in 1988), a 1982 Linlithgow (also closed in 1983), a 20 year Littlemill from 1990 (closed and dismantled in 1994), and a 21 year Tamdhu from 1990 (the distillery is back to work after closing in 2010).

"Last year we focused almost entirely on amari for our tastings due to the large amount of interest in Billy Sunday's inventory," said Alex Bachman, head bartender at Billy Sunday. "This year scotch will be taking center stage as we strive to expose people to wonderful defunct whiskies that have been lost due to the unfortunate trend of consolidation that has been taking place over the past 25-some-odd years."

Tickets are $125, which is $50 less than WhiskyFest and much rarer an opportunity. Call 773-661-2485 or email to research a seat. There are only 12 seats total and only two remain, so hurry up or this whisky fest will be sold out, too.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Feb 23 2015

Vote, Then Drink: Election Night Beer Events

it might get dark 2015Once you do your civic duty tomorrow, there are a couple of beer events you might be interested in attending -- assuming you can pull yourself away from election coverage.

Beer and candy go together, as you will find at Katherine Anne Confections, 2745 W. Armitage, tonight from 5:30 to 8:30pm. Caramels, truffles and marshmallows infused with beers, liquors and liqueurs will be out for your enjoyment, such as honey caramel infused with Daisy Cutter and FEW bourbon-infused marshmallow swirled with banana caramel. Your $25 ticket gets you samples, savory bites and drinks.

The Paramount Room, 415 N. Milwaukee Ave., hosts a Forbidden Root beer dinner from 6 to 9pm. For $65 a person, you'll be treated to a four course meal paired with the brewery's current beers: oak-aged Forbidden Root, Sublime Ginger, Shady Character porter, and Heavy Petal, the first in Forbidden Root's Divine Mud Imperial Stout series, brewed with pecans, magnolia blossoms and single-origin West African chocolate. For reservations, call 312-829-6300 or reserve online.

Starting at 7p, Fountainhead, 1970 W. Montrose Ave., hosts its fifth annual celebration of dark beer and dark music, It Might Get Dark. More than two dozen dark beers will be on tap, including Half Acre Big Hugs, Goose Island 2013 Bourbon County Stout, Three Floyds Blot Out the Sun, Lake Effect Espresso Gone Stout, Perennial 2013 Abraxas and more. And to match, there'll be heavy metal on the stereo. No cover, pay as you go -- beers will cost $6-12.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Foodporn Thu Feb 19 2015

Friday Foodpic: Romanesco Cauliflower

16335407199_1f9f2c114f_z.jpgPicture by Swankslot from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

Interview Thu Feb 19 2015

Maddy's Dumpling House: A Top Chef Alum's Pop-Up

maddysdumplinghouse.PNG2015 may be the year of the Ram, but it's also the year of the Dumpling. A delectable morsel of meat and veggies, the dumpling is a humble and incredibly dexterous food item. From fried chicken dumplings to lobster vanilla dumplings, there's been a lot of innovation in Chicago from establishments such as The Yum Dum Truck, Mike Sheerin's (upcoming) Packed, and Chrissy Camba's Maddy's Dumpling House pop-up. I recently caught up with "Top Chef" alum Chrissy Camba for an interview on her current dumpling venture.

First, why dumplings?

Have you ever had an idea that just "popped" into your mind? It was kind of like that. I think the idea had been slowly growing in the back of my mind. For years, [my boyfriend] Ashlee and I have eaten dim sum. A lot. It's so consistent in flavor, fun, cute, and interesting. It's my favorite breakfast. Also, I have lots of hobbies -- calligraphy, origami, crocheting. I love the intricacies of all the different dumplings. Different pleats, different wrappers, different fillings, different methods of cooking... Dumplings have the same type of intricacies. It's cool because I like making really different fillings. I did a Reuben Dumpling at the WBEZ Chef Battle, NOLA Dumplings (Red Beans and Rice, Muffuletta, Louisiana BBQ Shrimp) at a past Sauced Night Market, Fried Chicken Dumplings at another event -- you get the idea.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

News Wed Feb 18 2015

Chicago Lights Up Beard Semifinalist List

The semifinalists for the James Beard Awards, which will be held May 4th at the Civic Opera House (the first time the ceremony hasn't been held in New York, by the way), were announced this morning.

The list has some nice local talent:

  • Best New Restaurant: 42 Grams and Parachute

  • Outstanding Baker: Bittersweet's Judy Contino and ex-Bang Bang Pie's Dave and Megan Miller (now of Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse)

  • Outstanding Bar Program: The Violet Hour

  • Outstanding Chef: Carrie Nahabedian (Naha)

  • Outstanding Pastry Chef: Blackbird's Dana Cree and Nico Osteria's Amanda Rockman

  • Outstanding Restaurant: Spiaggia

  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of Boka Restaurant Group (Boka, GT Fish & Oyster, Balena, Girl and the Goat); Donnie Madia of One Off Hospitality Group (Blackbird, Big Star, Dove's Luncheonette, Nico Osteria, The Publican)

  • Outstanding Service: North Pond Cafe; Topolobampo

  • Outstanding Wine Program: Sepia

  • Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional: Charles Joly (Crafthouse, formerly of the Aviary)

  • Rising Star of the Year: Tanya Baker (Boarding House); Christopher Teixeira (Homestead on the Roof)

  • Best Chef (Great Lakes):Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice); Curtis Duffy (Grace); Paul Fehribach (Big Jones); Phillip Foss (EL Ideas); Thomas Lents (Sixteen); Ryan McCaskey (Acadia); Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria); Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia)

Outside of Chicago also got some nice attention, with nominations for Paul Virant (Vie, Western Springs), Brian Huston (Evanston's Boltwood), and Eric Heath (Edwardsville's Cleveland-Heath).

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Feb 13 2015

Friday Foodpic: Get Your Plate Ready

8482036602_be4f3c41cc_z.jpgPicture by Renee Rendler-Kaplan from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Openings Thu Feb 12 2015

Seafood Utopia at Fahlstrom's

fahlstroms2.jpgConfession: I've never been to Glenn's Diner, despite my soft spot for both seafood and Guy Fieri. (Bear with me here.) However, although Glenn's Diner lives on in spite of the departure of its namesake leader, Glenn Fahlstrom, I think I've found my new go-to place for seafood and I'm not looking back. Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market, the new Lakeview-based incarnation of Glenn's, is all chalkboard specials and low-key nostalgia -- not to mention, delicious heaping plates of food.

I grew up visiting my grandparents in Cape Cod and have become very familiar with the humble seafood shack over the years: pastel paintings of seashells on the walls, sticky blue tabletops, Styrofoam cups of chowder. And of course, most ubiquitously: the seafood platter. Fahlstrom's may be lacking in paintings of shore-washed sailboats, but the generous plates of flaky fish with salted potatoes have little to apologize for. I tried the Ritz-crusted grouper and found it refreshingly simple: no ceremonious plating, just the chance for the fish to speak for itself.

Continue reading this entry »

Danielle Snow / Comments (2)

Beer Wed Feb 11 2015

New Craft Beer Map Makes Hop Chasing Easy

Craft beer lovers now have another way to satisfy their hop addiction with a new online craft beer map, launched by Guys Drinking Beer earlier this year. The website and media project that started off from -- well -- several guys drinking beer, that has grown to being a definitive source of information on the Chicago and surrounding area's craft beer scene, has recently taken all its local drinking knowledge and put it on a map.

gdb.pngBuilt off of Google maps, it includes a curated selection of breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, tap rooms and bottle shops available in the Chicago-land area. Features include an option to filter your selection between categories and a link back to the venue's website and Google+ page for more information. Question marks signify gypsies (i.e. transient brewers without a home) and contracts (beer that is contracted out to a host brewer) that don't have homes. They live off-shore in Lake Michigan in a futuristic floating craft beer destination (I said it first.)

The project took several months from start to finish, with the majority of the work coming down to figuring out who to include from places that are producing beer and still associated with Chicago.

"The hard part was deciding where to draw the line with the map," said co-founder Karl Klockars. "At the end of the day I asked myself, what is a reasonable amount to ask people to drive or travel to?"

The map isn't the first of Chicago beer maps, but Klockars posits that it is the most up-to-date, curated map out there. Since launched, they did miss a couple of things and say the map will be a living document that changes and updates with the times, which should be often considering how fast the Chicago craft beer scene changes. GDB would eventually like to put this map into a guide that includes more editorial information, a model in-line with their current site. There are currently no plans for building it into an app, but for now, if you want to know what craft beer is available in your neighborhood, you can find it with one click.

"Hopefully the magic of SEO does its work," said Klockars.

Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (0)

Recipe Tue Feb 10 2015

Chinese New Year Recipe: The Tea Egg

tea egg.JPGIt's only nine days until Lunar New Year, which in English, roughly translates into Awesome Chinese Christmasgiving. This 15-day celebration typically entails watching fireworks, receiving lots of monetary gifts, and eating a belligerent amount of food. Steamed fish, dumplings, and long noodles are all delicious traditional recipes, but one underrated dish is the tea-boiled egg. I used to eat one for breakfast every day, and I find that they're a much tastier alternative to plain hard-boiled eggs. Because the following recipe involves a lengthy steeping component, it's best to start the process early.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Feb 06 2015

Friday Foodpic: Cannoli

16347582531_786e9770a1_z.jpgPicture by Adrienne Cragnotti from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

TV Tue Feb 03 2015

Who Wins Top Chef? A Statistical Breakdown

Top Chef ingredient breakdown
With the finale of "Top Chef Boston" airing this week, I decided to cook up some stats on my favorite cooking show. These numbers are more observatory than predictive, though they offer some fairly interesting insights into Bravo's (only watchable) show. I beat up countless data points, sliced and diced the results, and whipped up three different rankings on 1) gender of the participant, 2) his or her home state, and 3) ingredients used in winning elimination challenges. Here are my results, presented on a glistening silver platter.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Brunch Mon Feb 02 2015

Pleasant Brunch at The Winchester

winchester menu.jpgThe Sun Room at The Winchester reminds me of a quaint little writer's attic, small and cordoned off from the tight blocks and noise of West Town. It's minimal, earthy, and feminine, and has, of course--a full-service bar. The open loft space sits above the restaurant, and that's where I dined on an assortment of brunch items such as Anson Mills warm grain salad, house arugula quiche, avocado toast, Brussels sprout salad, and deviled eggs.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Jan 30 2015

Friday Foodpic: Donut Fest 2015

unnamed2.jpgLast Sunday's Donut Fest at Chop Shop was filled to the brim with folks like myself; it was nice to finally be around my fellow donut-lovers in a place where we can let loose and just be ourselves. The panel of judges gave their unanimous approval to a lovely vanilla raised donut from Firecakes; the audience favorite was a doughssant from West Town Bakery (I personally loved the Goddess and Grocer's contribution, a red velvet with lemon cream cheese frosting, pictured atop the plate). Good times.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Review Thu Jan 29 2015

The Promontory Proves That it's On Point

Promontory Restaurant - Bar.jpgIt's both a good and bad thing that The Promontory is in Hyde Park -- good because the latest project from the folks behind Longman & Eagle is helping contribute to the University of Chicago's growing Harper Court project, bad because a majority of Chicagoans will likely not make the trek out there to experience it.

Located weirdly behind an Akira, The Promontory takes a cue from its sister venue Dusek's with a live music hall, continuing what I hope is a growing trend of blending dining with entertainment. The space is visually appealing with floor to ceiling windows and a greenhouse touch, and it's attracting the same in the people visiting it. Don't go there in your Sunday casual, unless your Sunday casual is J. Crew.

The menu, a collaboration of Executive Chef Jared Wentworth and Chef de Cuisine Matt Sliwinski, is driven around the kitchen's open hearth -- think elevated campfire preparation and a kitchen that is not afraid to cook like our ancestors did, straight over an open fire with flames licking at their forearms.

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (1)

Gardening Thu Nov 06 2014

Autism Finds A New Solution in Local Urban Garden

By Brandy Gonsoulin

Developmental disabilities present obvious social and economic challenges, but solutions to problems are sometimes surprisingly found in the most unexpected places -- like on a small urban farm in the middle of Chicago.
Read this feature »



Sat Feb 28 2015
For the Love of Chocolate Fundraiser @ Union League Club

Sat Feb 28 2015
2015 Hashbrown Chili Cook Off @ Spudnik Press Cooperative

Sat Feb 28 2015
Pulaski Day Pub Crawl

Sun Mar 1 2015
Slagel Farm-to-Table Dinner @ White Oak Tavern

Wed Mar 4 2015
Soup & Bread @ the Hideout

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