Valentine’s Day might be over, but you now have another excuse to make plans to eat out: the 5th Annual Chicago Restaurant Week. Beginning tomorrow, and running until the 26th, more than 130 local restaurants will be offering a set, prix-fixe, three-course menu for $22 at lunch, and $33 or $44 at dinner.
Participating eateries are as diverse as Chicago’s food scene. Choose from burger joints, taquerias, bistros, chop houses, and a range of classic, modern, ethnic and traditional cuisines. I think these five are particularly noteworthy, and definitely worth stopping in at some point over the next 10 days. Read More
This week, The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper heads to Quebec (where I’ll be eating smoked meat in a few days) for a fantastic beer from one of my favorites – Unibroue. If you’ve heard of Éphémère and Maudite, then you’ll probably adore their Don De Dieu as well. It’s crisp and refreshing, and still a relative bargain. Cheers.
Since we’re talking about love today, I should make a confession: I’ve always been in love with Alsatian food and wine. This tiny sliver of a region within France straddles Germany, so the culture encourages world-class wine production, consumption and hearty cooking influenced by Strasbourg, Lorraine and Germany. I’ve always been a fan of their rieslings and gewurtztraminers, but more recently, I’ve been seeing their beloved tarte flambées in a few places, most notably, inside Pierrot Gourmet, the ground level restaurant and cafe inside of The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago.
In Alsace, they begin with a super-thin dough, which is given a schmear of fromage blanc or crème fraîche as a base. The topping is as simple as a few scattered, thinly-sliced onions and a couple handfuls of lardons, or tiny cubes of rendered bacon. The name tarte flambée is translated, literally, as “pie baked in flames.” At Pierrot, they don’t have a wood burning oven, but they still bake them until slightly blistered; there’s also more than just one flavor – including one with pesto and shrimp – but the Alsatian version is still the best one.
Every Sunday, I look through the New York Times’ Magazine, always making a note to check out the food column. I’ll typically save the issue if it’s something interesting, but I rarely get around to actually making the featured recipe(s). A few weeks ago, however, I hung on to the January 15th issue and made a note to attempt the recipe, since it contained a few things that really resonated with me: kimchi, roast pork and David Chang.
I’ve been to Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York a couple of times, and while the guy probably gets far more press attention than he deserves, I will admit that the idea of making his bo ssam recipe hooked me. I had tried it once, at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen; Chang had been a panelist at the Trade Program, while I was the moderator. At the big shindig for the speakers and their guests that weekend, he assembled a bo ssam spread, complete with roasted pork, raw oysters, a fiery kimchi sauce and lots of steamed rice and lettuce leaves. I never considered how (relatively) easy this could be to make, but after I read through the Times’ adaptation by Sam Sifton, I knew the biggest challenge I would have would be to procure a beautiful, 8 to 10 pound pork shoulder. Read More
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – St. Charles, IL might as well be the boonies when it comes to culinary innovation. A few years ago, Pete Balodimas and his family tried to change all that with Fahrenheit, a cutting edge restaurant some 40 miles from downtown Chicago. But the restaurant didn’t last, and Balodimas soon moved up and over to Evanston, where he was the chef at Quince. Then he just disappeared. But oddly enough, I ran into him two weeks ago in Scottsdale, Arizona, of all places, working for the Jose Garces Restaurant Group. Read More
By Gulnaz Saiyed
Some of my earliest memories are of shopping trips to Devon Avenue. We would travel across town and then across states to get holiday clothes (even my wedding dress last year!), boxes of sweets and most importantly, stock up on ingredients for my mom’s kitchen. We would, of course, stop to eat on these trips, but given that my mother is the best cook on the planet, the restaurants never quite compared. Read More