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Saturday, December 20

Gapers Block

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Foodporn Fri Dec 19 2014

Friday Foodpic: Chanukah Chocolate

15847417530_ed64a7abc4_z.jpgPicture by Renee Rendler Kaplan from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Openings Thu Dec 18 2014

There's No Quackery at the New Duck Inn

Duck Inn Exterior

Kevin Hickey, the Four Seasons Hotel veteran and executive chef behind Bottlefork and Rockit Ranch Productions, likely never imagined as he was playing Atari as a kid at the Gem Tavern in Bridgeport that he'd be re-opening its doors as a chef decades later under the name Duck Inn. And neighborhood residents likely never thought that what was once a casual tavern would house a dining and drinking experience where you could find something that is normally found north of the river.

But that's exactly what happened earlier this month when the pre-Prohibition neighborhood tavern reopened in Bridgeport on the corner of Loomis and Eleanor, across from the Chicago River, featuring New American cuisine, craft beer and cocktails and, well, as you'd might guess, duck.

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Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (3)

Foodporn Fri Dec 12 2014

Friday Foodpic: Stan's Donuts

IMG_1620.jpgIt's delicious, that's what it is. Submit your pics to the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Thu Dec 11 2014

George Dickel Trains the Palate at Publican Quality Meats

rsz_dickel_portfolio.jpgNeat whiskey is a stiff drink for the untrained palate. But practice makes perfect, and I recently attended an intimate whiskey dinner hosted by George Dickel Tennessee Whisky and award-winning BBQ chef Adam Perry Lang. The 25-person event took place at Publican Quality Meats (PQM), where guests began dinner with an extravagant charcuterie spread and Dickel cocktails. The dinner menu consisted of:

• Persimmon Salad with George Dickel Corn Whisky, avocado, quinoa, creamy lemon & marinated onion
• Clams & Chorizo with George Dickel Number 12 Sour Mash Whisky, tomatoes, pork belly, potatoes & garlic, marinated kale, parmesan, lemon & chili
• Slow-Roasted Porchetta with George Dickel Recipe Number 8 Sour Mash Whisky, charred winter white cabbage, apple-rabe pistou & pork jus, roasted root vegetables, apple cider reduction, American spoon mustard & fried sage
• Chocolate Chestnut Cake with George Dickel Barrel Select, brandied cherries, shaved chestnut & crème fraiche

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Review Wed Dec 10 2014

Upscale Food Meets Sport Bar at Commonwealth Tavern

rsz_dsc_0098.jpgDespite being a hodgepodge of concepts, Commonwealth Tavern serves strong dishes with surprisingly delicious flavors. Unlike most sport bars where burgers and fried items dominate the menu, Commonwealth also serves entrees designed to please the sophisticated palate.

The menu is fairly standard for a sports restaurant--wings, nachos, burgers, and other fried delectables. But I suggest bypassing all that and opt for the shared plates, including roasted squash with pickled ricotta and jagerwurst with sauerkraut and sourdough. The smoked chicken--with pumpkin butter and French lentils--isn't a bad place to start. The wood smoke used to infuse the chicken was truly magical--the potent notes of fresh char melded perfectly with the strong sour gastrique that coated the lentils and kale. The crispy pork shank exhibited the same balance and freshness of flavor, though the apple and fennel farro reminded me of an odd cinnamon oatmeal.

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Dec 05 2014

Friday Foodpic: Pasta

15881368176_5637e3aa2e_z.jpgPicture by Mel Hill Photography from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Interview Tue Dec 02 2014

Interview with "MasterChef Junior" Contestant Levi

rsz_dsc_0097.jpgMost teens barely know how to microwave ramen, but Levi Eirinberg's favorite meal to cook is crispy Icelandic salmon with roasted cauliflower and truffle frisee salad. A Highland Park native and only 13 years old, Levi presented similarly complex dishes before being eliminated on episode four of "MasterChef Junior" Season 2. I had a conversation with Levi about his experiences on the show.

How did you get interested in Masterchef Junior, and how did you decide to apply?

When I was 7 or 8 years old, I started watching cooking shows. On YouTube, I watched every Gordon Ramsay video. And then I wanted to be on the cooking shows, and I saw that there was "Master Chef Junior" season 1 and it was like the hardest thing for me to watch because watching all these other young contestants being on the show and meeting Gordon Ramsay and Joe and Graham. And after the finale I kept looking for auditions and saw there were Chicago auditions on a specific date, and I was there 90 minutes before everyone else was. I was so excited. Yeah, and I happened to get on after many many tryouts.

How were the tryouts?

They definitely asked me a lot of questions about cooking. And so I had to show off my knife skills and my cooking skills. And from there, it got more advanced.

Do you remember when you got the call?

Yeah, it was a long process. But I got the call, and it was the most exciting thing. I was actually at an Indian restaurant. We had to leave the restaurant because we knew it was their call.

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Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Beer Mon Dec 01 2014

An Interview with the Barley's Angels


Kylie Snowaert Bunting and Shannan Hofman Bunting became organizers of the two-year old Chicago chapter of Barley's Angels back in June, and have since continued to expand the women-focused craft beer group with educational events and beer tastings, including a field trip to Penrose Brewing in Geneva and a tasting featuring fall-inspired brews. In an email interview, they discussed their goals for Barley's Angels, events, and women and craft beer.

How does the Chicago chapter fit into Barley's Angel's mission to "serve women who seek a comfortable environment to explore and learn about craft beer"? Do you have any specific goals?

Kylie: We try to make every meeting as laid-back as possible while still providing a great, educational, and fun event. Basically, it's craft beer-loving women getting together to talk about beer, the brewing process, food pairings and more. This includes women who have never drank craft beer before and want to dabble to those who consider themselves experts.

One of our other major goals is to be sure all our meetings have an educational component to them. Our meetings have a guided tasting with an industry professional (a brewer, bartender, craft beer expert, etc.) where they discuss the brewing process of the specific beers we've selected and what sets this brewery apart from others. This gives our members a chance to listen, learn, ask questions and then form their own educated opinion about the beer. It's a great opportunity for our members to grow their knowledge of craft beer through conversations with professionals, as well as like-minded beer lovers.

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Christina Brandon / Comments (0)

Book Tue Nov 25 2014

An Indian Thanksgiving?

93284100362000L.jpgThere aren't any statistics to back me up, but I'm going to grab part of a wishbone and declare this to be the most stressful week. Thursday's meal is arguably the most difficult that you'll plan this year. That's somewhat hilarious, since chances are you're organizing the exact same menu that you did last year and maybe even the year before. Isn't it time for a Thanksgiving shake-up? If you've been crying out for change, I have an answer for your Turkey Day woes.

Indian for Everyone by Anupy Singla is full of more than 100 classic and popular Indian recipes. The book really does what the title suggests. It offers Indian recipes for any home cook regardless of dietary restrictions, level of expertise or familiarity with Indian food. Singla includes a guide to Indian spices and how to use them as well as suggestions of how to make any of the recipes vegetarian, vegan or even gluten-free.

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Jeremy Owens / Comments (0)

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)

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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Sat Dec 20 2014
A Holiday Menu of Casual Extravagance @ Alliance Francaise

Sun Dec 21 2014
Graze's All Chili Considered @ Empty Bottle

Wed Dec 24 2014
Creole Reveillon Dinner @ Big Jones

Wed Dec 24 2014
Christmas Eve @ Brasserie by LM

Thu Dec 25 2014
Christmas @ Brasserie by LM

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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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Editor: Robyn Nisi,
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