Food & Drink

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The textural pleasures of shaved noodles at Chinatown’s Slurp Slurp

Posted By on 11.29.16 at 03:26 PM

Hand-shaved noodles with pork belly at Slurp Slurp - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Hand-shaved noodles with pork belly at Slurp Slurp

By now, the steeliest of us may by inured to Chinese-style hand-pulled noodles, aka lamian. The absorbing figure eight ballet of arms and dough in the production of tensile wheat soup noodles was, a few years back, a star attraction in Chinatown, where chefs did the dance in full view of their fans at places like Hing Kee and Sing's Noodle House. That's to say nothing of the central Asian variant, lagman, produced less visibly at places like Jibek Jolu and Lazzat (now Chayhana). Then the big boys started getting into it: Imperial Lamian and Duck Duck Goat, mainstreaming the art for the crowd that rarely eats outside of downtown or the Fulton Market district.

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Learn to make a matzo ball that will get you drunk

Posted By on 11.29.16 at 02:46 PM

"It was not a fun developmental process," Best Intentions bartender and co-owner Christopher Marty says of his experiments with matzo. Pito Rodriguez, a bartender at Sable Kitchen & Bar, had challenged him to create a cocktail with the unleavened bread traditionally eaten at Passover. "He just chose the first Jewish thing he could think of, I imagine," Marty says. "He's trolling me, obviously."

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Behind the scenes of Grace with the Disciples d'Escoffier

Posted By on 11.25.16 at 05:18 PM

The kitchen staff remained laser-focused throughout the seven-course meal. - GLENN MCMANUS
  • Glenn McManus
  • The kitchen staff remained laser-focused throughout the seven-course meal.

Over the summer a friend sat me down and had me watch the documentary For Grace. She had just visited Grace, the three-Michelin-star restaurant in the West Loop that's featured in the film, to shoot a video with owner and head chef Curtis Duffy for Escoffier Culinary School's online program and was in awe of the food, the restaurant, and the man behind it all. As someone who's more likely to be found eating pizza at a dive bar than sitting for a multicourse meal at the most expensive restaurant in Chicago, watching the movie was the closest I ever thought I'd get to this experience. But when Duffy was chosen as an inductee into the Disciples d'Escoffier, I joined in on the celebration and got a look at Grace firsthand.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day

Posted By on 11.23.16 at 04:30 PM

This turkey got pardoned, why shouldn't we? - GETTY IMAGES
  • Getty Images
  • This turkey got pardoned, why shouldn't we?


Staying in Chicago for Thanksgiving may be the best decision you made all year. We're less than a month out from election madness, and today is probably the first real test of strength in the face of your extended family. We've rounded up escape plans A-Z for any mention of "locker room talk" or e-mails. Here’s how to make Thanksgiving great again:

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Watch Blackbird chef Ryan Pfeiffer make a dish with a British condiment that ‘looks like shit but tastes good’

Posted By on 11.14.16 at 11:36 AM


British food is famously bad, and British potato chips (or "crisps," as they call them) are famously weird. When Lay's started introducing flavors like cappuccino and southern biscuits and gravy a couple years ago, the company must've known that the Brits don't even blink at chip flavorings such as prawn cocktail, beef and onion, roast chicken, ketchup, oyster and vinegar, and Marmite. So it's not particularly surprising that the UK brand Walkers once introduced a potato chip flavored like Branston Pickle, a pickled chutney first made in Branston, England, in 1922. Blackbird chef de cuisine Ryan Pfeiffer, challenged by the Betty's Rachel Dow to create a dish with the condiment, didn't come across the potato chips (they've been discontinued), but he did track down a couple jars of Branston Pickle on Amazon.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Pulqueria Chicago steams lamb barbacoa in the style of Hidalgo

Posted By on 11.11.16 at 05:09 PM

Lamb barbacoa - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Lamb barbacoa

Berwyn's Pulqueria Chicago has the sort of broad, comprehensive menu that usually makes my eyes glaze over. How good can a Mexican restaurant be that also serves Spanish tapas, fettuccine Alfredo, french fries, and chicken wings? On the other hand, among all that disparate stuff it also serves two things not frequently seen around these parts that prove to be pretty remarkable.

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The amaro craze now has its bible, Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs

Posted By on 11.11.16 at 01:33 PM

pars_amaro_cover_hires.jpg

"I could walk out on the sidewalk outside the bar and do a maceration of the weeds in the cracks and call it a fernet," Billy Sunday partner Alex Bachman is quoted as saying in the new book Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs (Ten Speed Press). Author Brad Thomas Parsons, who also wrote Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, aims to demystify amaro—a difficult task since there's no legal definition of amaro and, while it's most often associated with Italy, it can be made anywhere. Parsons explains in the book, "Generally speaking, amaro refers to the collective class of Italian-made aromatic, herbal, bittersweet liqueurs traditionally served as a digestif after a meal. Amari are created by macerating and/or distilling bitter barks, herbs, seeds, spices, citrus peels, flowers, and other botanicals in a neutral spirit or wine that is then sweetened with a sugar syrup."

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Plan a pilgrimage to Al-Sufara Grills for live charcoal action

Posted By on 11.07.16 at 01:00 PM

All the meats, Al-Sufara Grills - KRISTINA MEYER
  • Kristina Meyer
  • All the meats, Al-Sufara Grills

Thick smoke billows above a Palos Hills strip mall, and it's only the aroma of sizzling lamb and chicken that silences the reflexive alarms. Friend of the Food Chain Titus Ruscitti recently effused over Al-Sufara Grills, a newcomer to the teeming southwest-suburban Middle Eastern food mecca, an endorsement that put the restaurant right at the top of my priorities. This restaurant/butcher shop is the third in the family of owner Yazan Rashed, which also owns a pair in Amman, Jordan. If you're a north-sider grieving the decline of similar spots in Albany Park, Palos Hills seems just about as far—but it's worth the drive.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Where the founder of Chicago’s Strange Foods Festival loves to eat

Posted By on 10.31.16 at 03:51 PM

Strange Foods Festival coproducers Keng Sisavath and Jed Swartz - KENG SISAVATH
  • Keng Sisavath
  • Strange Foods Festival coproducers Keng Sisavath and Jed Swartz
The upcoming Strange Foods Festival started with an Instagram account. A year and a half ago Keng Sisavath, a 36-year-old dental technician, launched @strangefoodschicago to "introduce the food of my motherland," he says. Sisavath, who was born in a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Laos, came to the U.S. as a toddler and was raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, by Lao relatives. The problem with trying to photograph Lao food in the Chicago area according to Sisavath, is that there isn't much: unlike Green Bay, Chicago doesn't have a significant Lao population. "When a Lao opens up a restaurant [in Chicago] they have to put the name Thai on it because people don't know about Lao food," he says. "The food isn't mainstream. I want to change that."

As Sisavath's Instagram account gained popularity (currently it has more than 37,000 followers), he documented food from ethnic restaurants all over Chicago and into the suburbs, "strange" and not so. Of course, what might be considered strange in North American culture is perfectly normal in others, a fact that Sisavath recognizes and readily admits. The goal of the festival, which he's coproducing with Jed Swartz (who runs the Instagram account @chicagofoodevents), isn't to shock people with weird food—quite the opposite, in fact. "I want people to know that the food isn't that strange, it's actually good," Sisavath says. "And then the next time it can get really crazy, really authentic."

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Northalsted Halloween Parade, Art Spiegelman, and more things to do in Chicago this week

Posted By on 10.31.16 at 12:32 PM

Northhalsted Halloween Parade - CHRIS BENTLEY
  • Chris Bentley
  • Northhalsted Halloween Parade

Is there life after Cubs home World Series games and candy corn? We think yes—in fact, there's plenty to do this week. Here's some of what we recommend:

Mon 10/31: More than 2,000 costumed Chicagoans march through Boystown during the 20th anniversary edition of the Northalsted Halloween Parade (Belmont and Halsted). It's preceded by the Ruby Red Relay, in which local business owners race in drag to raise money for the Legacy Project. 7:30 PM

Mon 10/31: The Chicago Sinfonietta haunts the Chicago Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan) with a Dia de los Muertos concert. They play skeletal classics: including Danse Macabre, Night on Bald Mountain, and Sones de Mariachi alongside screenings of silent films chosen by the Chicago Film Archives. 7:30 PM

  • Mon 10/31: DJ Collective Porn and Chicken hosts its Halloween Banger, a hell and warfare-themed Halloween party with guest DJs Dark Wave Disco, Jaded Lover, and GoodSex. Fried chicken included. 10 PM

    Tue 11/1: Medea Benjamin, the cofounder of the feminist anti-war organization, Codepink: Women for Peace, comes to City Lit Books (2523 N. Kedzie) to discuss her book Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. 6:30 PM

    Tue 11/1: At Tuesday Funk, a reading series held in the Hopleaf upstairs lounge (5148 N. Clark), patrons can wipe away beer foam mustaches while listening to the stories of local writers. This month's edition includes author and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal. 7:30 PM

    NaNoWriMo - THINKSTOCK
    • ThinkStock
    • NaNoWriMo

    Tue 11/1: It's November, and that means it's time to start your novel. Yes, it's NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Volumes Bookcafe (1474 N. Milwaukee) does not want you to perish in alienated despair this month. Twenty-eight patrons will have the opportunity to hang out (with free coffee) all month and write a chapter for a collaborative book.

    Wed 11/2: The Rogers Park Business Alliance (7046 N. Clark) calls their food event, Taste of Clark Street, a kind of "taco crawl on steroids." We'll leave the steroids but we're down for tacos, beignets, injera rolls, and pizza. 5-8 PM

    Composer Philip Glass - FERNANDO ACEVES
    • Fernando Aceves
    • Composer Philip Glass
    Wed 11/2: Minimalist composer Phillip Glass will be in conversation with Tribune critic Howard Reich at the Symphony Center (22o S. Michigan). The event ends with a solo selection played by Glass. 6 PM

    Thu 11/3: After he saw The Parade: A Story in 55 Drawings, Albert Einstein wrote a fan letter to the artist Si Lewen: "Our time needs you and your work!" The celebrated cartoonist Art Spiegelman believes that our time needs Lewen and his work, too. Spiegelman comes to Francis W. Parker School (2233 N. Clark) to discuss the drawings' 50th anniversary. 6 PM

    Thu 11/3: Young Chicago Authors presents Women of Louder Than a Bomb, an edition of the popular poetry slam focusing on issues facing women and girls. They perform at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (9603 Woods) 7 PM


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