Food Chain

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why are burgers delicious? Cook's Science is here to explain.

Posted By on 10.12.16 at 02:06 PM

  • NatashaBreen/Getty

Burgers are about more than just the meat, say Molly Birnbaum and Dan Souza, the people behind Cook's Science. On Thursday, October 13, they'll be at the Athenaeum Theatre for the second stop of Cook's Science Live: The Burger Tour, explaining just what makes the standby such a crowd-pleaser. "We go through each part, everything from the bun to the ketchup to the burger to the onions," Souza says. "There's a lot more going on in each element than you would first imagine. This seemingly simple food is really complex."

It's not just a lecture, though: the pair describe the event as an interactive experience that will include video from America's Test Kitchen (the Cook's Science website launched in July under the umbrella of the popular PBS show and publishing brand), live experiments, and scent piped into the theater (but no food, though there may be food trucks outside afterward). "It's very much theater," Souza says.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Venezuelan spot Bienmesabe is a hit with Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and other expat baseball players

Posted By on 09.30.16 at 04:36 PM

Patacon - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Patacon

There isn't much about the drab interior of the Ravenswood Venezuelan restaurant Bienmesabe that commits itself to memory. At least that's true until you make your way toward the restrooms at the rear of the dining room, where you'll be confronted by a wall of fame bearing the signatures of 18 Venezuelan-born Major League baseball players (and 2013 Miss Venezuela Migbelis Castellanos).

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Talking Taste Talks Chicago with Lula Cafe chef Jason Hammel

Posted By on 09.27.16 at 05:56 PM

  • Courtesy Taste Talks Chicago
  • Jason Hammel of Lula Cafe

Taste Talks, a food-centered conference that launched in Brooklyn in 2013, returns to Chicago this weekend for its third year. A day full of panel discussions and chef demos is bookended by several events dedicated to eating food rather than talking about it—most notably the All-Star Barbecue on Sunday, with chefs including Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe), Brian and Jennifer Enyart (Dos Urban Cantina), Jared Van Camp (Leghorn Chicken), and Chris Pandel (Swift & Sons).

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Don’t sleep on the exceptional chilaquiles at Brother’s Restaurant in Avondale

Posted By on 09.15.16 at 03:16 PM

Chilaquiles verde at Brother's Restaurant - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Chilaquiles verde at Brother's Restaurant

We ask a lot of the diner, and all too often the diner disappoints. How can we expect the all-purpose concept—promising omnicompetence with regard to everything from French toast to Denver omelets to turkey wraps to chili—to execute any of it, beyond basics like eggs and toast, really well? I don't know how Avondale's Brother's Restaurant does with any of that stuff, but I've heard good things about the turkey Reuben, the turkey-bacon club made with real turkey breast, and the ham-bacon-sausage Brother's Skillet with crispy hash browns.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Finch Beer Co. & Kitchen puts a bird on the former Breakroom Brewery

Posted By on 09.09.16 at 02:04 PM

  • Courtesy Finch Beer Co. & Kitchen

Since opening five years ago, Finch's Beer Co. has struggled to find its place in Chicago. Its original lineup failed to impress the local beer-drinking community, the majority of its distribution was outside of Illinois, and plans to build a facility on the river (and then out in the suburbs) fell through. But following a February sale of the brewery—from the Finch family to several of the original investors—the company acquired Hopothesis Brewing and Breakroom Brewery. Shedding an "s" along the way, Finch's Beer has become Finch Beer, emphasis on the bird rather than the founding family.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Worlds collide in the Korean-Polish street food of Kimski

Posted By on 09.08.16 at 05:13 PM

Maria's Standard - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Maria's Standard

One could argue that there are no two cuisines more at odds than Korean and Polish. The former's assertiveness and complexity has well established its adaptive qualities, from Korean-Mexican mashups pioneered by L.A.'s Kogi BBQ trucks to cheffy permutations prepared through a Western culinary lens (see Ruxbin, Parachute, Hanbun). What you don't often see are global collaborations with Polish food (pierogi pizza, zapiekanka, and doner notwithstanding). That's surprising. The stereotypically heavy, starchy, frequently bland qualities of hearty Eastern European chow should be a blank canvas for all sorts of dynamic foods.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Paulie Gee’s Logan Square and Robert’s Pizza: A tale of two very different pizzas

Posted By on 08.15.16 at 12:30 PM

The Logan Square at Paulie Gee's - DENNIS LEE
  • Dennis Lee
  • The Logan Square at Paulie Gee's
For longer than I care to remember Little Caesars (whose headquarters are located in Detroit) was the default cheap pizza of choice among certain unseasoned members of my household. Whenever their chums arrived with little to no notice, this inexpensive affront to Sicilian pizza was a reliable source of feed that could keep the monsters appeased. Then, a little less than two years ago, an outpost of Jet's Pizza—the other Detroit-based pizza chain—opened in the neighborhood and accord was reached. I love the buttery, cheesy, garlicky, caramelized crunch of an eight-corner turbo crust, and though it's far superior, it is suggestive enough of Little Caesars that there's peace in the house.

So I was thrilled, to an extent, by the special Detroit-style pizza at Paulie Gee's, the Chicago outpost of the Brooklyn pizzeria that normally traffics in unusually topped Neapolitan-style pies. The "Logan Square," as it's called, is a major departure from these pizzas, a rectangular six-square pie with a relatively buoyant interior but a densely cheesy, chewy caramelized crust. 

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Friday, August 5, 2016

What’s up with poke, man?

Posted By on 08.05.16 at 06:30 AM

Volcano with marinated tuna at Aloha Poké - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Volcano with marinated tuna at Aloha Poké

While shaking my fist at Wicker Park's lazily nostalgic Mahalo last week, I began wondering how the hell we got here. What's behind the sudden surge in Hawaiian food? Particularly poke, the raw fish salad, piled on any variety of grains and greens, with toppings and garnishes to vary textures and sauces to brighten (or perhaps dampen) the qualities of the protein (typically tuna).

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Elizabeth Tamny’s cookies look too good to eat—but don’t let that stop you

Posted By on 07.28.16 at 02:58 PM

Some of Tamny's creations
  • Some of Tamny's creations

Elizabeth Tamny has been immersed in the world of the cookie arts since December. She's not baking snickerdoodles or Toll House, but rather applying her illustrative and calligraphic skills to sugar and chocolate-mint cookies. The cookies themselves may be fairly simple, but Tamny's designs are anything but. They're intricate, sometimes lacy filigrees and grids of royal icing, piped in thin lines that swirl and intersect, sometimes rising above the surface in elaborate, delicate spires and domes that echo the towering confectionary structures of the Napoleonic-era French chef Marie-Antoine Carême.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

With Cruz Blanca, Empire Bayless adds a taqueria and cervecería

Posted By on 06.29.16 at 06:13 PM

Oaxacan peanuts, Smoke Alley ale, La Guardia Ambar, cucumber salad, and pork cecina tacos - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Oaxacan peanuts, Smoke Alley ale, La Guardia Ambar, cucumber salad, and pork cecina tacos

While the dazzling array of Baja-inspired seafood dishes at Rick Bayless's fantastic Leña Brava can be a bit overwhelming, next door at its sister cervecería/taqueria things couldn't be simpler.  

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