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Friday, May 27, 2016

Ten lessons from the first Chicago Cocktail Summit

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 12:17 PM

Cocktail Summit presenter Camper English talks ice - CHRIS DILTS
  • Chris Dilts
  • Cocktail Summit presenter Camper English talks ice

The first-ever Chicago Cocktail Summit, which took place recently at the Logan Theatre, offered so much information that my head's still spinning (the drinks that accompanied each session probably contributed). It lasted two days: Sunday was devoted to home mixology, while Monday was aimed at bar and restaurant professionals. Each day was made up of four session blocks of several one-hour talks, with the starting times staggered so that you could stay for part of one lecture and then pop into another. (I'm not sure that's what the organizers intended, but it's how I approached it.)

Even so, I couldn't get to everything, and I'm still wondering what I missed in the sessions on creating cocktails with eggs, making punch, and food and cocktail pairing. I took notes on what I did learn, though— and I was even able to decipher some of them. Below is a list of the most interesting things I heard over the course of the Cocktail Summit. (Other than the first item, I haven't personally fact-checked these factoids.) 

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Sweden's Scorched Tundra metal festival debuts in Chicago in September—and tickets go on sale today

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 12:00 PM

Bongripper are among the headliners of Scorched Tundra VI - JOHN STURDY
  • John Sturdy
  • Bongripper are among the headliners of Scorched Tundra VI

Local Option brand ambassador Alexi Front has been into heavy metal for a long time. In 2001—when he was just 15—he and some friends started the zine Pivotal Rage, writing about all types of extreme music but focusing on death metal from Sweden. By 2004 Pivotal Rage had evolved into the label Pivotal Rockordings, releasing records by Swedish bands such as Sonic Syndicate and Blinded Colony. (Fun fact: former Blinded Colony vocalist Karl Johan Schuster, now better known as producer Shellback, has worked on songs by the likes of Taylor Swift, Kesha, Usher, and Carly Rae Jepsen.) As Front's label grew, he began traveling from Chicago to Sweden to throw his bands a party.

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The Gelato World Tour hits Millennium Park this weekend

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 07:21 AM

  • Dino Buffagni (courtesy Gelato World Tour)

In order to promote gelato—and encourage the Americas to catch up to Italy's 39,000 gelaterias (the U.S. has only 900)—the Gelato World Tour is stopping in Millennium Park today through Sunday. Just don't call it ice cream; the organizers would be quick to tell you how gelato is different (it has less fat, less incorporated air, and is served at a slightly higher temperature). They'd also tell you that gelato is good for you, which seems like a bit of a stretch. But if you can swallow that half-truth, it'll help justify eating your way through 16 gelatos from across North America (and one from Colombia). Participants were selected through an essay contest; the top three winners will go on to compete in the Gelato World Tour Grand Finale in Italy in September 2017.

The lineup includes two local contestants: Jessica Oloroso of Black Dog Gelato, and Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee & Gelato (inside Mariano's stores in Chicagoland). Oloroso will be serving a flavor called 606, with roasted peanuts, sweet coconut, saffron, honey, curry powder, vanilla, ginger, and caramelized cashews. Lollino and Hung have created Chicago Pothole with cocoa, chocolate sauce, roasted and caramelized pecans, dark chocolate chunks, and marshmallow-inspired meringue. Other flavors also pay tribute to Chicago, like Windy City S'mores (which uses marshmallows from the local Katherine Anne Confections). An Ottawa gelateria will be serving a concoction made with pecans candied in Quebec maple syrup and Koval bourbon.

Admission is free, but if you want to try the gelatos (and really, why else would you be there?) you'll need to buy tasting tickets. Ten bucks gets you eight tastes and proceeds go to the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. There are also talks, demos, and workshops on topics including gelato history and how to design a successful gelato shop.

Fri 5/27-Sun 5/29, noon-8 PM, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade, between Randolph and Monroe,, free admission, sample ticket $10.

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Uber and Lyft are threatening to leave Chicago, and other news

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 06:00 AM

An Uber driver in his car - AP PHOTO/JEFF CHIU, FILE
  • AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File
  • An Uber driver in his car

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, May 27, 2016. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

  • Weather: Thunderstorms possible

Friday will be mostly beautiful, with sunshine, a high of 78 and a low of 65. Thunderstorms are possible early in the morning and during the evening—bad news for anyone heading to the Beyonce concert at Soldier Field. The chance of occasional storms continues Saturday and Sunday. [AccuWeather]

  • Uber, Lyft worried that proposed requirements for drivers would upset business model

A proposed city ordinance requiring ride-sharing drivers to go through a background check and earn a chauffeur's license has Uber and Lyft threatening to leave Chicago. Taxi drivers are already required to get the license and pass the background check; Uber and Lyft are afraid that the requirements would deter their part-time drivers. "Our experience very clearly shows that if you cannot get the part-time, casual driver on board, the model fails," Lyft vice president Joseph Okpaku told the City Council. [Tribune]

  • Details of City Hall meeting on Laquan McDonald shooting revealed

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his aides gathered Chicago Police Department bigwigs, Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot, and Independent Police Review Authority members to get their stories straight on the controversial Laquan McDonald shooting before they were questioned by the City Council in December, according to e-mails obtained by DNAinfo Chicago through a Freedom of Information Act request. The e-mails reveal scriptlike suggested answers to questions aldermen were likely to ask, which were sent by Emanuel press secretary Adam Collins to then-acting police chief John Escalante. [DNAinfo Chicago]

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

This week's Reader cover captures the Cambodian generation gap

Posted on 05.26.16 at 06:24 PM

click image On the cover: A Cambodian girl looks at the skulls of Khmer Rouge victims on display in Choeung Ek near Phnom Penh in 2005. - AP PHOTO/ANDY EAMES
  • AP Photo/Andy Eames
  • On the cover: A Cambodian girl looks at the skulls of Khmer Rouge victims on display in Choeung Ek near Phnom Penh in 2005.

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The octopus and fish go down fighting at Shiroi Sushi

Posted By on 05.26.16 at 04:57 PM

Whole fish at Shiroi Sushi in Glenview - KRISTINA MEYER
  • Kristina Meyer
  • Whole fish at Shiroi Sushi in Glenview

Five years ago when I wrote about the supposed embiggening powers of sannakji (aka "Korean Viagra," aka recently dispatched and dismembered octopus still wriggling and suckering with residual nerve activity), I was mildly disappointed that the pair I purchased at HMart didn't have the same vitality as the ones I'd been served in South Korea. Nothing's ever as good as it is at its source, right? 

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This video recap of the 2016 Key Ingredient Cook-Off will make you ravenous

Posted By on 05.26.16 at 01:49 PM

We came, we saw, we ate. And ate some more.

Sixteen of Chicago's best chefs—from restaurants such as Topolobampo, Dos Urban Cantina, and Analogue—prepared 
16 incredible dishes at last week's Key Ingredient Cook-Off at Venue One in the West Loop. Each one contained one of four chosen ingredients: chorizo, plantains, achiote seeds, and tomatillo. 

Attendees and our panel of experts tried them all—in between plenty of beer and cocktails—and voted on their favorites. In the end, there could be only two winners:

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Maron makes up by making stuff up in season four

Posted By on 05.26.16 at 11:00 AM

Marc Maron's fictional breakdown is bad for the character, but great for the show. - TYLER GOLDEN/IFC
  • Tyler Golden/IFC
  • Marc Maron's fictional breakdown is bad for the character, but great for the show.

Marc Maron overshares. For almost seven years now, an ever-expanding audience has heard him talk about himself twice a week on his groundbreaking podcast, WTF With Marc Maron. These personal updates, which sometimes last up to half an hour, precede recorded interviews (or "conversations," as he prefers) with comics, actors, musicians, and other creative types. In his stand-up shows he favors an improvisational, flying-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach that relies heavily on mining material from his daily life. He's also written several books and is himself a regular guest on talk shows and podcasts. I mention all this to illustrate the fact that not only do people know quite a bit about Maron's life, but that he also likes to talk about his life. A lot.

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Another Tribune Publishing shareholder sides with Gannett

Posted By on 05.26.16 at 09:57 AM

Tribune's new vice chairman, L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong (left) and Tribune chairman Michael Ferro. - ILLUSTRATION: DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS (AP PHOTO/DANNY MOLOSHOK; GETTY/JAMIE MCCARTHY)
  • Illustration: Danielle A. Scruggs (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok; Getty/Jamie McCarthy)
  • Tribune's new vice chairman, L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong (left) and Tribune chairman Michael Ferro.

Another nudgy shareholder just surfaced to complain that the present management of Tribune Publishing isn't up the job of running the company.

"The gut-wrenching transformation of newspapers to the digital age is complex and difficult," says a letter to the Tribune board from Towle & Co., which owns 1.4 million shares, or 3.85 percent of Tribune Publishing's common stock. "Our concerns persist that Tribune's revenue and earnings will decline in coming quarters. . . . Failure of Tribune in its current form is a distinct possibility."

So let someone else have all the headaches. "The gut-wrenching transition of newspapers to the digital age is highly uncertain," Towle's CEO wrote Tribune chairman Michael Ferro in a separate letter. "Let Gannett wrestle with this challenging transition!"

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The Palmer Squares defy the stereotyping of Chicago hip-hop with the new Planet of the Shapes

Posted By on 05.26.16 at 07:00 AM


For this week's Reader music feature, I traveled around the city with Save Money rapper Joey Purp, visiting places that have shaped him and his music. Part of the impulse for that project came from all the writing I've seen from outsiders to Chicago that reduces the city's hip-hop scene to a few bullet points and a handful of easily recognizable names. Though I cover local hip-hop week in and week out, my knowledge will never be complete, and I thought it would be good for me to learn about a local rapper (who's receiving more and more national attention) by listening to him talk about his experiences—otherwise it's distressingly easy to fall into the kind of facile, well-trodden narratives peddled by people who learn about Chicago exclusively from websites based in New York.

Of course, hip-hop history everywhere is polluted with such stereotypes. So many stories about the Chicago scene in the 90s partake of the tired "west side versus south side" trope, but how many mention Uptown native E.C. Illa, who had a long-standing relationship with many of the west-side stars hitting the national hip-hop charts? More recently we've seen an ongoing deluge of writing about drill that clings to the style's breakout in 2012 as a framing device for current Chicago hip-hop, imagining aggressive local street rap as somehow pitted against Chance the Rapper and, to a degree, the rest of Save Money. Artists who don't fit into this sort of narrative often get left out of the "big conversation" about hip-hop, even when they have a commanding presence on their own terms—such as Chicago rappers Acumental and Terminal Knowledge, aka the Palmer Squares.

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