Best Week

Friday, June 22, 2012

A recipe for Allium's 32-calorie dark chocolate sorbet

Posted By on 06.22.12 at 02:41 PM

Thats chocolate sorbet lurking in the background.
  • That's chocolate sorbet lurking in the background at right.
If you don't have $35 to plunk down for Allium chef Kevin Hickey's 500-calorie, three-course "brown bag lunch," one of our what-the-hell Best of Chicago picks, you can still make the sorbet that started it all. After the jump: pastry chef Scott Gerken's recipe for the confection, which weighs in at about 32 calories per scoop.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reconsidering sunblock

Posted By on 06.21.12 at 06:15 AM

That damn dog
  • That damn dog
I used to find the scent and feel of sunblock repulsive. Growing up in the often unbearable heat and humidity of southwest Ohio, I was forced to slather high concentrations of oily, pungent SPF on my pallid Scottish complexion each time I ventured out into the natural suburban terrain. It was not by choice. I wanted to be tan—just like an early-90s Richard Grieco—but the idea of having a son covered with bubbling boils eventually perish on the overheated tar-based blacktop parking lot of our local supermarket didn't much appeal to my mother at the time. So a few coats of sunblock were a requirement almost anytime we set foot outside the house.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Instagrammer?! Hardly know 'er!

Posted on 06.20.12 at 05:32 PM

Back in May, we asked you to show us the best of Chicago through your eyes. . . and your Instagram filters. With almost 600 submissions to our Instagram photo contest, it was pretty tough to select a single favorite image—so can we choose 30? Good. Because that’s what we did. Check out this slide show of our staff’s faves; for even more photos of the best this city has to offer, go to #bestofchi on Instagram.


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The best of our readers' hilarious Best of Chicago votes

Posted By on 06.20.12 at 04:29 PM

Best food truck ever
  • Best food truck ever
In our annual Best of Chicago issue, we not only offer our pithy observations of the obscure and the underground—we also look to you, our readers, to define the best . . . everything. Over 100,000 opinions were voiced. Your responses captured the pulse of the city.

And then there were the outliers.

As we tallied the votes, we delighted in those of you who pushed the boundaries of the ballot and offered responses that, intentionally or not, toyed with the concept of a Best of Chicago poll. Some of you were brutally honest (Best 4 AM Bar: I don’t remember), while others were just brutally literal (Best Alternative to the Lakefront Path: Boat).

Others showed real wisdom. Ever wondered how to truly spruce up your apartment for cheap? At least one of you is already in the know: the alley behind apartments on the first of the month. Can’t argue with that. What about Best Apartment Finder? My flashlight when the lights are broken. (Clearly.)

There were some classic mix-ups, too.

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Best Christmas Eve tumble down a flight of stairs

Posted By on 06.20.12 at 09:34 AM

Dont look now
  • Don't look now

I don't know why my mother turned to wave at the former church organist, still under a cloud after his arrest for possession of child pornography. My mom says she does: "I stopped to say hello, and then the Lord pushed me." Still in her choir robe, she tumbled down the wrought-iron steps from the church balcony. It was late on Christmas Eve 2006, and my sister sounded weary when she called to tell me mom was in the ER with a broken hip.

"Broken pelvis," my mom would correct, then and now.

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Where in the world is Best of Chicago?

Posted By on 06.20.12 at 06:30 AM

Best of Chicago comes out Wednesday on social media, Thursday on chicagoreader.com
  • Best of Chicago's A Side cover was the joint effort of Reader art director Paul Higgins and Chicago photographer Paul Octavious
"It's the perfect tonic for a chilly night, a lingering cold, a heavy heart." —the inimitable Sam Worley in a particularly beautiful Best of Chicago passage. I just can't say what he's talking about yet.

This is the best week of the year in Chicago. Summer is officially upon us and pot is soon to be decriminalized (if only in small amounts), but what makes this week so special is that, as of today, Chicago is an open book. We've assembled everything you need to know about a city you already know so well, from the best eastern European afternoon snack to the alderman most likely to crowd-surf to the rap DJ who literally illustrates those conspiracy theories about Kanye and Jay-Z being in the Illuminati. It's become a tradition around here to put together our Best of Chicago in the third week of June, and, as always, there's a near overload of quality material in the 2012 edition.

But where is it? Well, we thought we'd hold out on you a wee bit longer. Look, we already know you're the best audience in Chicago—you read the Reader—and since the paper won't hit the streets till tonight, we thought we'd keep you captive while we could. So we locked our content up for one more day.

Call it the city's best bait and switch if you must, but we want to offer you a taste of BOC—and hear a bit more from you—over on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. That's where you'll find links to select BOC winners, and some conversation, too. We'll be talking about our rather, er, eccentric BOC critics' choice categories, what really is the best restaurant in Chicago (if one exists), and more. Once you're in, you can get to all the incisive writing and beautiful art (by the illustrious Paul Octavious) we have to offer, and, since you're already on social media, maybe you can do us a favor and share what we're doing. You will? Well, you're the best friend a newspaper could have.

Again, that's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Punch-Drunk Love and a film's usefulness

Posted By on 06.19.12 at 06:18 AM

Adam Sandler as Barry Egan
  • Adam Sandler as Barry Egan
Though it seems to be many a cinephile's favorite pastime, I find the concept of naming a "best film" tricky. Usually the word "best" is meant to denote something that's at the top of its class, an unparalleled component among other, lesser components. But sometimes, "best" can mean "most beneficial," as in, "We're your parents—we know what's best for you." It's one thing to label a film as the "best" in terms of its supposed quality, though quite another to label a film the "best" in terms of its usefulness.

While I won't dole out the entire list, the prospect of naming the film I consider the most useful is an intriguing task. I've long considered the practice of cinephilia—and, by extension, film criticism—to be a sort of ongoing conversation between oneself and the form. Any criticism worth reading is, in essence, an elaboration of that unique relationship. Consequently, certain films one person finds useful may very well be the exact opposite for someone else. It's within this framework that one can truly learn about another’s relationship with cinema, more so than the nebulous basis of labeling a film the so-called "best."

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Monday, June 18, 2012

What does it mean to be the best?

Posted By on 06.18.12 at 11:15 AM

Youre the best, around, nothings ever going to keep you down.
  • You're the best, around, nothing's ever going to keep you down
On Wednesday the Reader will publish its annual Best of Chicago issue. Therefore, it's fitting that this week's edition of Variations on a Theme is an exploration of the meaning of "best."

Over the past few months, we dug into the deepest pockets of the city to put together a Best of Chicago issue that gives a comprehensive yet unusual map of Chicago. But in our microscopic quest to cover all the ground we could, we didn't always have the opportunity, as a staff, to survey the Best of Chicago in a big-picture way. This week will be all about exploring what "best" really means, a wide-screen view of a specific term.

Also, starting Wednesday at 6:30 AM, we'll be rolling out select Best of Chicago winners throughout the day on Twitter, in anticipation of the full issue going live online at midnight. But we're letting you decide what winners you want to see. Go to Twitter, our Facebook page, or right here in the comments section and let us know which winners you'd like to see before the issue comes out.

And we're not just focused on the best . . . stay tuned for Worst Week.

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Alphabet Town

Posted By on 06.18.12 at 07:30 AM

From K-Town to the western limits, Chicagos streets are sensibly named
  • Kyknoord
  • From K-Town to the western limits, Chicago's streets are sensibly named
I grew up in Alphabet Town, the part of Chicago where the north-south streets are organized by initial—the best street-name plan in the city.

Those of you who think the city ends at Halsted may be surprised to learn about Alphabet Town. It begins just west of Pulaski, where the streets start with K. The K streets are succeeded after Cicero by the L streets; after Central come the M streets; and Narragansett leads off the Ns. On the north side, where Chicago extends farther west, there are even O and P streets.

It's not clear who came up with the initial idea, but the plan at one time was to have all our north-south streets ("avenues," formally) alphabetized: a mile of A streets, followed by a mile of B streets, and so on. It's also not clear why the plan was only partially implemented, and why it started with the Ks. A speck of a similar intelligent design exists on the southeast side, where for a mile the north-south street names run from Avenue A to O.

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March 25
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