That cocktail in the picture serves a purpose. Yes, we have something to toast today. We’re just one day away from the launch of “The Feed,” a new podcast I’m launching with Chicago chef Rick Bayless. Rick and I have been talking for months, if not years, lamenting the fact there isn’t really a radio show in the U.S. covering the food and drink scene the way we would like to. I know there’s a show on KCRW in L.A., and there’s also “The Splendid Table” out of Minnesota Public Radio, but neither of them are heard here (only online), and despite my having worked a decade at WBEZ-FM as the Food Contributor, there wasn’t any interest in developing a food show there. I’ll never forget sitting down in former CEO Torey Malatia’s office, after bringing home a James Beard Award for Best Radio Segment: Long Form with my then-producer Justin Kaufmann, and hearing him tell me that “there’s just not enough interest in Chicago for a show dedicated to food. You’d have to include the arts, theater, lots of other things,” he told me then. Well, I haven’t stopped trying to get that show on the air, and so after a long conversation with Rick about what we’d like to hear on the radio (or in a podcast), we decided to just do it ourselves, with some help from Matt Cunningham, a friend and former producer at WBEZ. Read More
You’ve probably seen the River Valley Ranch stand at a number of Farmer’s Markets in the area. You might have even seen their main store and growing facility, if you ever take Highway 50 west toward Lake Geneva. What I had thought to be a quaint little family business selling salsas and jars of mushrooms, is now getting into the restaurant and deli business with a new store along Wilson, where the old City Provisions used to be.
You may have heard about this New Orleans trip I’m organizing in the spring. 22 people are coming, but two of those people haven’t been chosen yet. That’s because we’re holding a contest to give those two tickets away. Here’s how you can win: Read More
Walking out of Ming Hin a few weeks ago in the Chinatown Square mall, I caught sight of him. I hadn’t seen Liu Chang Ming in over a year, when he was smiling broadly for passersby at Hing Kee, just a few doors away. There, he could reliably be seen most days, right up front next to a large window and adjacent to a wok filled with boiling water, hand-stretching, pulling and shaping extra long noodles, destined for bowls of soup or platters of ground pork and chilies. And then, just like that, he was gone. Had he moved back to China? Been lured, perhaps, to a strip mall in Naperville? Apparently, he had been waiting for Sing’s Noodle to open up just across the way from Lao Sze Chuan.
We’re giving away some more cookbooks, as we kick off 2014 with a commitment to learning how to cook. I’m in the midst of Michael Pollan’s Cooking right now, which I highly recommend, even if you haven’t read Omnivore’s Dilemma. It has me yearning to spend more time in the kitchen this year, even with a travel schedule this January that will make your head spin. James Peterson isn’t exactly a household name, and he never became a “celebrity chef” (hate that friggin’ term) but the man can cook, and he was one of the few cookbook authors I interviewed over the years who actually shot all of his own photos as well. Just tell me in a few sentences (or poem/haiku) why you deserve this book. I’ll pick a winner this weekend and notify them on Monday. Good luck, and happy cooking.
Miami, FL – Beware of staff members asking questions. That is, unless you’re ready to open up your wallet. This was the lesson my family and I learned the hard way after a frustrating, weeklong stay at the gloriously refurbished Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel. The 60 year-old landmark underwent a $1 billion renovation a few years ago, single-handedly injecting new life into the Mid Beach area. In the 1950s, the Rat Pack made it a winter retreat; in the 60s, James Bond duped Goldfinger here by the pool. But over the course of our winter break, it was clear you needed to either be a Russian oligarch, a New York City hedge fund manager or Auric Goldfinger himself to keep up with the dizzying array of fees and extras. Need a beach umbrella? That’ll be $35. How about a steam in the locker room? ($35). Want access to the pool chairs or the gym? ($19.95/day); need a rollaway bed? ($45/day). I can see why 007’s nemesis had his manservant Oddjob tag along. No one’s going to argue with him about leaving a $25 deposit for an umbrella. Read More