I guess being Jewish in St. Cloud, Minnesota had something to do with it. Why else would my dad go to such lengths to bring home this odd-smelling fish in the small jar, serve it with Rye Krisps and call it a snack?
When you think about those two factors – Jewish and Minnesota – it’s a little easier to see how the seeds of my herring love affair were sown.
Clear corn whiskey may not have the sex appeal of an aged bourbon or rye, but Chuck Miller is hoping to change some minds. The Master Distiller of Stillhouse Distillery, in Culpeper, Virginia, has been making the rounds as of late, promoting his Original MOONSHINE. It’s an 80-proof whiskey that was developed along with Adam Perry Lang, a well-known barbecue guru who founded Daisy May’s BBQ in New York City, and is now living in London, working with Jamie Oliver on his Barbecoa restaurants (full disclosure: Adam and I were fraternity brothers at UW, but that was 20 years ago, long before he became a chef). Read More
Chicago is experiencing a brewing renaissance. 100 years ago, there were dozens of breweries in the city, but after prohibition, that number dwindled to the point where they were almost extinct. Goose Island helped spur the rebirth in craft brewing within the city in 1988, and over the past few years, a number of other young companies have jumped into the business: 3 Floyds (Munster, IN) and Two Brothers (Warrenville, IL) have been the two best-known, but they operate far from the city center (it’s awfully expensive to get land and permits in Chicago). Yet there have been exceptions: Metropolitan, Half Acre and most recently, Finch Beer Co. The thing that sets Finch apart from the rest is that they are producing exclusively in cans, and while you can’t stop by their Albany Park headquarters for a drink, you can certainly find their big cans in respectable bars all over town now. I stopped by their HQ recently to talk with Founder Ben Finch and Brewmaster Richard Grant about their product line.
I had no idea pisco was so nuanced. The colorless grape brandy produced in Chile and Peru isn’t quite as popular as cachaça, but it’s coming on fast; you can learn more about it at places like ThePiscoBook.com, but you can also learn from the pros behind the bar. I did just that recently, as I chatted up Bruce Hood, the Bartender at Osaka in West Hollywood. Now at first, Osaka sounds like yet another Japanese sushi joint, but much like Sushisamba weds Japanese and Brazilian cultures together, Osaka does the same with Japan and Peru. There’s a good reason, actually. Read More
Jose Garces has been getting a lot of press since he became an “Iron Chef,” but the man with Chicago roots – and a small Philadelphia empire of restaurants – still gets back to town every now and then to fire up the troops at Mercat a la Planxa, inside the Blackstone Hotel on South Michigan Avenue. His menu is vast: large paellas, cured meats, suckling pig for a group (with 48 hours notice), plus tons of beef and seafood cooked on la plancha, or grill. But tucked into the middle of the menu are his flatbreads, and I truly loved the gambas con garbanzos, or shrimp flatbread with chorizo and a garbanzo bean purée; easy enough to share, but certainly tempting to keep all to yourself. Be sure to pair it with one of the excellent cocktails or sangrias from their extensive list.
Garrett Oliver loves to sit down with a good beer. The Brewmaster of the well-known Brooklyn Brewery has been talking a lot about his favorite subject lately: he just completed editing and overseeing the publishing of The Oxford Companion To Beer, a massive tome of nearly 900 pages, including the arcane and the historical, as well as definitions of some commonly used beer production techniques. It’s worth it just to page through this compendium, which took more than four years to compile, with the aid of 166 writers from 24 countries. At the end of the book, there’s a great guide to beer festivals around the world, as well as a complete listing of beer appreciation societies/enthusiast’s clubs. We met for a beer and a chat at The Map Room in Bucktown, where I was curious about what he would choose to drink. Not a surprise, really, when you see the video.