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Sunday, November 23

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Interview Fri Nov 21 2014

Free 3-Course Dinner at Bolat African Cuisine

IMG_20141119_181704.jpgIn honor of the holidays, Bolat African Cuisine, a sub-Saharan restaurant in Lakeview, is hosting a dinner giveaway every Wednesday through December 24. Bolat will provide a standard, three-course dinner to the first 20 people who make a reservation. Though subject to change, the prix fixe menu includes Cilantro Veggie Soup with Honey Bread, Caramelized Jerk Wings with Jollof Rice, and Coconut Tabu. I had an opportunity to chat with Chef Emmanuel Abidemi, owner and chef of Bolat, about his dinner giveaway.

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Nov 21 2014

Friday Foodpic: Manny's

15813604275_37eb4a6310_z.jpgPicture by Adrienne Cragnotti from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Thu Nov 20 2014

The Dinner Party: Where It's Okay to Talk at the Dinner Table

Dinnerpartychicago.jpeg"The best conversations happen over dinner," or so started the night at last month's Dinner Party, the monthly show at City Winery hosted by Fear No Art's Elysabeth Alfano.

Every month, vibrant host Alfano invites three local notable names to join her at the dinner table to share conversation and dinner from a known chef. Past appearances have included SNL writer Katie Rich, Wilco percussionist Glenn Kotche, Rick Bayless, famed talk show host Jerry Springer and "Chicago Fire" actor David Eigenberg.

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Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (0)

Restaurant Wed Nov 19 2014

$200 for a Year of Ramen: Furious Spoon's Kickstarter Campaign

ramen.jpg"Free" ramen for a year for only $200? Yes, read that again. The math is startling: assuming a ramen bowl costs $8, one can break even within a month, leaving 11 more months of free-ramen bliss.

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Event Wed Nov 19 2014

Chicago Food Film Fest Kicks Off Tonight, Buffalo-Style

Kendall College will be the site of this year's Chicago Food Film Fest, an annual, four-day merging of the screen and plate. Short films and documentaries will be aired while theatergoers feast on themed plates. Tonight's opening party, "The Great Chicken Wing Hunt," will show the new documentary of the same name; you'll get wings, wings and wings alongside milkshakes from Edzo's (a short doc about Edzo himself will also be shown tonight) and pie from Hoosier Mama; tickets $65-85, event begins 6:30pm. Additional events tomorrow through Saturday include homages to sriracha, seafood and beer. It's better than $10 popcorn, am I right?

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Bar Tue Nov 18 2014

Cider Pop-Up Dinner: Preview of The Northman

dsc_1207.jpgSynonymous with the sugar-saturated, brownish liquid one sips on a cold winter's day, cider is a seriously understated beverage. Cider is essentially fermented fruit juice, with the same complexities and diversity as wine. It was actually extremely popular in the U.S. during the late 1700s, but German beer and Prohibition quickly stymied its growth. Spain and England are the world's primary producers of cider, though France and the U.S. are burgeoning markets. Today, cider accounts for roughly 1% of the total U.S. beer market, although some experts believe that projection will increase to 5% within the next five years.

Cider presence in Chicago is decent, though obviously minuscule compared to the craft beer scene. One restaurant team is trying to change that by opening Chicago's first cider-oriented bistro-pub. From the group behind Fountainhead in Ravenswood, The Northman will offer 100+ ciders in bottles, draft, and cask. Located in Lincoln Square, The Northman will open its doors in Spring 2015, but I attended a recent pop-up showcasing its cider and food menu:

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Nov 14 2014

Friday Foodpic: Buddha's Hand

15549347510_d2139b7d11_z.jpgPicture by Seth Anderson from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Beer Thu Nov 13 2014

Get a Share of Moody Tongue's Black Truffle Pilsner

moody tongue truffle
Jared Rouben's Moody Tongue Brewing has created something very rare and special indeed: a beer loaded with black truffles.

The Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner is brewed with Austrialian black truffles from Truffle & Wine Co.

"We used more truffle than I have ever had the opportunity to use before -- or, for that matter, more than I have ever seen in a kitchen," Rouben said in an email. "The truffle was not just 'infused' per se, and there are no truffle oils in the beer. I used several different techniques throughout the brewing process to incorporate and showcase the truffle flavor and aromatics."

Five hundred 22-ounce bottles will be sold via an online lottery this Friday, Nov. 14. From 10am to 3pm, enter your name and email address on the site. Names will then be chosen at random and offered the opportunity to buy one bottle for $120. A few additional bottles will be made available in December at a few area restaurants, including Grace, GT Fish & Oyster, RPM Italian and RPM Steak.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Nov 07 2014

Friday Foodpic: White Truffles

15546145329_fa022ddf50_z.jpgPicture by Mel Hill Photography from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Gardening Thu Nov 06 2014

Autism Finds A New Solution in Local Urban Garden

JMTF Growing Solutions Farm.jpg On a movie theater project he oversaw years ago, Alan Lake experienced first-hand what the kitchen could do to someone with autism and other developmental disorders.

"A state agency approached me to employ several candidates. We hired a couple of young adults and the training culminated with a week of having a representative from the agency attending as liaison before leaving anyone on their own," said Lake, a local chef and fellow Drive-Thru writer. "They were very upfront in telling us what we could or could not expect in our new charges, both in behavior and abilities."

Two workers became ticket takers, others answered phones or ran errands around the facility. One with Aspergers Syndrome, whose social skills Lake noted left something to be desired, loved watching the Food Network and wanted to work in the kitchen. Lake put him in the pantry where his job was to take inventory of numerous items on a prep sheet and prep and plate whatever was needed.

"He started slow but blossomed shortly after his minders left," said Lake. "Within months he was cha-chaing to the music I played in the kitchen and even going out with the staff on occasion.  Months later, though not the life of the party, he'd pretty much extracted himself from his shell and was very much a regular guy."

Lake says agency reps came back saying they couldn't believe what progress he'd made, and that he was like the poster boy for the program -- never figuring he'd function as highly as he did.

"I don't know if they were being conservative in estimating his abilities or if he just rose to the occasion because I needed him to, as often happens in a restaurant."

As parents of an autistic son, Chicagoan's Julie and Michael Tracy known the impact of autism and understand the gap in the system between childhood and adulthood.

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Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (0)

Review Thu Nov 06 2014

Seafood-Inspired Tacos: From Streets of Tijuana to Wicker Park

rsz_kraken.jpg"I was attracted to the stove flame, but my grandmother pushed me back. It was dangerous. But how could something so delicious come from such a dangerous thing?" Chef Guillermo Campos Moreno details the origins of his love for cooking, a journey which would later include a peyote-inspired "spiritual" awakening in the desert, a 7-month solo trip through Mexico, a brief stint at Michelin star restaurant Oud Sluis, and elaborate meals for corrupt Mexican politicians.

Now, Chef Guillermo helms the kitchen at Kokopelli, a Wicker Park-based taqueria born from a food truck in Tijuana, San Diego's sister-city. The eclectic food truck was featured on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman, and his concept eventually caught the eye of several investors in Chicago. True to its Tijuana roots, the restaurant specializes in seafood and colorful salsas, though there are plenty of warm-blooded and vegetarian options. Kokopelli's signature chargrilled tortillas are crunchier than the familiar soft shells, and while people like both hard-fried and soft shells, some find pseudo-crisp tortillas morally disconcerting.

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Michelin Guide Wed Nov 05 2014

Parachute and Dusek's Among New Michelin Bib Gourmand Awards

web-m2bg.jpgMichelin, known for tires and dining recommendations, announced their Chicago Bib Gourmand recipients this morning. While it's not the same as receiving the heralded Michelin star, it's an acknowledgement that a restaurant is doing something right and affordable; these are the places where two courses and a glass of wine (or dessert) can be had for $40 or less. Past recipients include Purple Pig, Girl & the Goat, and Nightwood. This year's new class of recipients include:
Hyde Park's A10, Wicker Park's Azzurra EnoTavola and Carriage House, River North's Beatrix and Untitled, West Town's The Dawson, Dusek's in Pilsen, Edgewater's Herb, Avondale's Parachute (see our review), Logan Square's Table, Donkey and Stick, and River West's Two.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Book Tue Nov 04 2014

Dorie Greenspan Takes Over Floriole this Sunday

dorie.jpgThe baking wizard (whose recipe for sables holds a special place in my heart) will be appearing this Sunday at Floriole (1220 W. Webster) to promote her newest book, Baking Chez Moi.

Greenspan and Middlewest's David Tamarkin will discuss her book and work, and attendees will also get champagne and treats from her book (which will be sold and signed by the master herself at the event). Tickets $25.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Oct 31 2014

Friday Foodpic: TONIGHT!

15674742012_03db9d9a95_z.jpgPicture by Mel Hill Photography from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Cookbook Tue Oct 28 2014

All the Holiday Cookies Fit to Print

-9.jpgLike it or not we are a whisper away from the holiday season. It is an exciting time and within the next few weeks anything that sits still long enough will be wrapped in a string of lights and accented with tinsel. Several holiday traditions are about to spring into action, and if you're from a family like mine, the first hints of Christmas mean only one thing: the cookies are coming! The cookies are indeed coming and this year the Chicago Tribune's famed holiday cookie contest has them coming at us like never before.

For the last 25 years, the Good Eating section of the Chicago Tribune has hosted a nationwide holiday cookie contest drawing entries from home bakers looking to share their favorite family recipe--and the story behind it. Only a handful of the very best recipes are selected for publication each year, but this year winning recipes from past have been gathered into a new cookbook: Holiday Cookies: Prize-winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune.

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Jeremy Owens / Comments (0)

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.
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Sun Nov 23 2014
Mac & Cheese Takedown @ Lincoln Hall

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