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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Urban Renewal Brewing’s cofounder says the controversial name ‘has nothing to do with urban redevelopment’ policies

Posted By on 08.01.18 at 06:00 AM

URBAN RENEWAL BREWERY
  • Urban Renewal Brewery

The cofounder of Urban Renewal Brewing says he hopes critics "can see the bright side" of the name of his new establishment.

On Monday, Block Club Chicago published a short feature about the brewery under the headline "Small But Mighty Urban Renewal Brewing Plans To Grow In Ravenswood." Some Chicagoans responded by taking to social media to express outrage about the "tone-deaf" name of the brewery and the name of its IPA—"Razed."
James Moriarty, the cofounder and head brewer of the seven-month-old Ravenswood facility (and not to be confused with Sherlock Holmes's fictional rival), says urban renewal wasn't meant to refer to the mid-20th-century public policy in which federal funds were used to raze neighborhoods for redevelopment. About 23,000 families in Chicago—disproportionately poor people and people of color—were displaced by urban renewal programs between 1950 and 1966 according to a study released by the University of Richmond earlier this year.

Moriarty says the term was instead meant to specifically refer to the renewal of the 4,500-square-foot facility at 5121 N. Ravenswood. (Metropolitan Brewing had previously operated out of the space for years before moving to Avondale in 2017.)

"There's the opportunity for the negative side of the term to come out, but people don't need to look at the bad side of our interpretation of [urban renewal]," says Moriarty. "It has nothing to with urban redevelopment, necessarily. Hopefully, people can see the bright side of what we're trying to do, and not harp on the past."  Moriarty, who says he's been living in Chicago full-time for about a year, claims he was unaware of any specific controversy about the name and also notes that the Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce didn't have any problems with it. "Everyone knew the idea was supposed to be we were renewing this old brewing space and the community has been very supportive," he says.

He adds that picking a name was "a challenge" because so many names were already trademarked. His first choice, Wicked River, had been taken by a distillery in Tennesee. "With 6,600 breweries in the U.S., it was a challenge to come up with something." Urban Renewal was the last name on a list of 30 names he submitted for a DBA. "Once it came back clean, we committed to it," Moriarty says.

Urban Renewal Brewing isn't the only brewery whose name has generated controversy recently. Less than a week after a brewery in Lakeville, Indiana, announced it was naming its beers "Flint Michigan Tap Water," "Black Beer Matters," "Mass Graves," and "White Guilt," the Lakeville Brew Crew apologized and in a statement said, "the list of beer names has been wiped clean."

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Eating elsewhere: of cow tongue Reubens and fresh pasta at Raduno, in Traverse City, MI

Posted By on 07.23.18 at 12:00 PM

Tagliatelle, Raduno, Traverse City, MI - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Tagliatelle, Raduno, Traverse City, MI

I headed to Leelanau County in northern Michigan last week for R&R, armed with a list of cideries, wineries, farmers' markets, ice cream stands, and restaurants to check out. That's the little peninsula on the state's greater lower peninsula that sticks out between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay like a pinky finger on a wine stem. Blessed with a glorious maritime climate (in summer, anyway), it has a serious viticulture (relative to the rest of the midwest) and a comparably respectable food scene.

Porchetta sandwich, Raduno, Traverse City, MI - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Porchetta sandwich, Raduno, Traverse City, MI

There's almost too much to take in in a week, but near the top of my list was Raduno, an Italian cafe-deli in Traverse City, founded in part by onetime Chicago butcher Andrea Logan Deibler. Deibler, a Kansas City native, dove into the charcuterie arts at the late, great Mado, studying whole animal butchery with Rob Levitt, then later went on lead the charcuterie program at the late City Provisions, and then set up as the in-house butcher at Hopleaf. In 2014 she moved to Traverse City, where her husband grew up, and bounced around various farm and restaurant kitchens on the peninsula, notably at 9 Beans Row, a beloved farm-to-table situation in Suttons Bay where she met chefs Paul Carlson and Janene Silverman, the latter an accomplished maker of pasta and bread who'd worked in Italy's Piedmont region for nearly two decades.

Rigatoni with pork bolognese, Raduno, Traverse City, MI - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Rigatoni with pork bolognese, Raduno, Traverse City, MI

Last summer, the three struck out on their own, opening in a small neighborhood strip mall well off Traverse City's well-touristed waterfront strip. Inside it's roomy with lots of tables and a good view of the operations, but what's most striking is the display case of the fruits of Logan Deibler's labor: mortadella, prosciutto, coppa, speck, bratwursts and blood sausage, and a striking bowl of fat corned cow tongues, all preserved from local beasts.

"I get whole Durocs from Hampel Farms up here near Buckley, Michigan, and make sausages, patés, smoked meats, and such in house," she told me later. "Whole lamb I get from a farm near Williamsburg. We don't move enough beef for me to get whole steers (and labor is very tough to find up here) ,so I buy odd bits from a great local food distribution company called Cherry Capital Foods. They are getting organic beef tongue from dairy cows at Dekam Dairy near Falmouth."

Smoked turkey sandwich, Raduno, Traverse City, MI - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Smoked turkey sandwich, Raduno, Traverse City, MI

Many of these are put to good use in fat sandwiches like smoked turkey with mozzarella, pickled red onion, pesto, and greens; or porchetta with salsa verde and arugula; or an enormous banh mi with country paté, chicken liver mousse, pickled carrots, and aioli. All come on Silverman's seductively chewy ciabatta. The cow tongues are sliced and used to build Reubens that Logan Deibler reports sell surprisingly well. "People here get really excited for all the bits you can’t find easily. It’s a farming community, and a lot of people grew up eating beef tongue and blood sausage and braunschweiger and can't get that at a lot of places."

The other key component to the operation are the fresh pastas made by Silverman that, along with Carlson's sauces and fillings, stock another display case: tentacular tagliatelle with bright tomato sauce, ruddy rigatoni with lamb ragu, bucatini, gnocchi, sardi, ravioli, each available raw and unsauced to take back to your vacation pad or back home to Chicago. Either way it's an essential stop to or to from the peninsula.

Raduno, Traverse City, MI - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Raduno, Traverse City, MI

Raduno, 545 E. Eighth St., Traverse City, MI

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Monday, July 9, 2018

The sad state of the sandwich at Logan Square deli Rosie’s Sidekick

Posted By on 07.09.18 at 06:00 AM

Italian beef and not-eggplant Parm, Rosie's Sidekick - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Italian beef and not-eggplant Parm, Rosie's Sidekick

Seems like I've been burned by menus a lot lately (more on that in this week's review), so I don't mean to pick on Rosie's Sidekick, a counter-service sandwich shop from the family behind Portage Park's 50-year-old Sicilia Bakery. But in this corner of the galaxy, eggplant Parm refers to battered slices of eggplant rolled in bread crumbs and grated Parmesan, then fried crispy and draped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

I know the history of parmigiana di melanzane traces back to Naples (not Parma), and I know you can cook the eggplant lots of different ways, but regardless, there's no reason not to be very clear about what constitutes an acceptable eggplant Parm. It mostly doesn't mean the eggplant is unadorned and roasted until slippery. You wouldn't do that to a veal or chicken Parm, would you? My colleague Aimee Levitt noticed this very same thing at the late Rosie's West Town Deli, operated by the same family.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

The art of the taco

Posted By on 07.02.18 at 09:05 AM

Yolocone's original piece painted on the wall of El Santo Taqueria. - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Jamie Ramsay
  • Yolocone's original piece painted on the wall of El Santo Taqueria.

We don't know about you, but with last week's taco crawl (the Reader cover story), we've been laser-focused on tacos, not unlike a mural on the wall at one of the featured stop's on the crawl, El Santo Taqueria

Curious about the talent behind the colorful mural?  It was created by Chicago artist Laurynas Yolocone, who goes by the tag Yolocone.  Rumor has it that a second El Santo location is in the works with another unique piece to be done by Yolocone.

Below, find some of his work; for more of his street art and graphic design, visit yolocone.com.



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Monday, June 25, 2018

Troll the Chicago hot dog fascists with this T-shirt

Posted By on 06.25.18 at 06:00 AM

DEREK ERDMAN
  • Derek Erdman
Apart from open defiance, the second-best way to resist Chicagoans' pointless prohibition of ketchup on a hot dog is with mockery.

Artist and ninja-level japester Derek Erdman, who recently returned to town after an extended residency at the Stranger in Seattle, posted a good one on Facebook the other day:

Last night on an airplane to Chicago I overheard some guy talking about how much he loved Chicago-style hotdogs. When there was a lull in his dogsplaining I piped up, "They're great with ketchup!" and he gave me dagger eyes. I wrote down his address from his luggage tag because I'm a total psycho and I'm going to send him one of these very pedestrian joked t-shirts.

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Momotaro chef Mark Hellyar deconstructs the tuna hoagie

Posted By on 06.25.18 at 06:00 AM

"A lot of people hate canned tuna," says chef Mark Hellyar of Momotaro. "It gets a bad rap." He himself hated it growing up, he says, "because tuna casserole, that’s disgusting." He thinks that Jimmy Papadopolous, chef at Bellemore, was trying to trip him up by challenging him to create a dish with canned tuna. "Little does he know that I eat canned tuna a lot—had some yesterday."

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Can a Division Street cocktail bar truly capture the spirit of Nelson Algren?

Posted By on 06.13.18 at 06:00 AM

Algren on Division Street - ART SHAY
  • Art Shay
  • Algren on Division Street

Eater Chicago recently broke the news that, to quote the headline, "A Nelson Algren-Inspired Bar is Coming to Wicker Park from Bar Deville's Team." The story details how the new place, the Neon Wilderness, to be located near the Polish Triangle, the convergence of Division, Milwaukee and Ashland, will serve high-end cocktails such as the Polish Broadway, an old-fashioned with Żubrówka vodka. The mixologists behind the plan are award winners, and Eater Chicago's Ashok Selvam seemed upbeat about this addition to the near northwest side's high-end cocktail possibilities. I imagine it would lend some much-needed balance to the stroller corridor/brunch-spot and bro-sports-bar scene that thoroughly gentrified Wicker Park/Bucktown has degenerated into.

But this Algren scholar could only groan at the thought of an "Algren-inspired bar."

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How a mead that hasn’t yet hit the market exploded in popularity

Posted By on 06.12.18 at 06:00 AM

Boneflower's award-winning Cherry Apple Inception - COURTESY BONEFLOWER MEAD
  • courtesy Boneflower Mead
  • Boneflower's award-winning Cherry Apple Inception

Boneflower Mead, located in northwest Indiana, has a rating of 4.7 out of a possible 5 on Untappd, a social networking app for beer aficionados that allows them to rate what they're drinking. The rating is impressive for a fledgling meadery—but so is the fact that Boneflower, which has yet to sell a single bottle of mead, has more than 150 reviews.

Aaron Schavey, who cofounded the meadery with Geoff Resney, a friend and former colleague in the air pollution testing business, has been making mead for about two years and giving it away for almost as long. After being introduced to what he calls "the first mead that really blew me away" a couple years ago he started looking for quality mead to buy and, finding limited options, decided to make his own. For guidance he bought a book on mead-making by Ken Schramm, whose eponymous Michigan meadery had made that first fermented honey beverage that impressed Schavey, a boysenberry mead called Madeline. Online forums for mead-makers and talking to meadery owners also helped him learn.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Gas station pork rinds and scotch? Watch this week’s Cocktail Challenge

Posted By on 06.04.18 at 06:00 AM

Laura Kelton (Sportsman’s Club) and Carley Gaskin, who co-owns a cocktail catering business called Hospitality 201, are known for their love of snacks and for always carrying some in their purses. A couple years ago they were driving back from a bachelorette party in Nashville, "feeling not so great," Gaskin says. "We stopped at a gas station and got two huge bags of pork rinds. Before we even got back on the interstate, both bags were gone." It’s been a running joke between the two ever since, so when it came time for Kelton to choose an ingredient that Gaskin would need to make a cocktail with, she naturally chose pork rinds—and specified that they had to come from a gas station.

That didn't limit Gaskin's selection: she found 12 different flavors at a gas station not far from her apartment. "I picked a mesquite barbecue that I think will go really well with Dewar’s White Label," she says. "[The whiskey has] some nice citrus and honey notes." She steeped the mesquite pork rinds with the scotch for half an hour before straining out the solids to create pork rind-infused whiskey, which she made into an old-fashioned by adding a little honey syrup and smoked chile bitters.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The return of the great Cafe Marianao to the north side

Posted By on 06.03.18 at 05:00 PM

The Cubano at Bia's Cafe Marianao - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • The Cubano at Bia's Cafe Marianao

When the late, great Logan Square loncheria Cafe Marianao mysteriously  shut down and the property went on the market in the summer of 2016, it was like the unexplained disappearance of a loved one: shocking, brutal, and offering no closure. For decades, stoic countermen at the Milwaukee Avenue sandwich shop plied a steady but disordered scrum of adherents with cafe con leche and Cubano, steak, and medianoche sandwiches. And suddenly, without warning, it was all over. News reports were vague—the owners listed the spot for $1.39 million, and not surprisingly it sold a month later.

But who were the original owners? And why shut down? Was it a cold and calculated abandonment of tradition in the face of gentrified real estate prices?

Don't be so cynical. It was because founder Manuel Basilio "Bia" Santiago had gone to his great reward. That's the word from his grandson Marcos Santiago, who assembled sandwiches in the basement when he was growing up before going on to college and embarking on his own career.

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