Eggplant is the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables. Honestly, beyond the occasional baba ganoush, how often do you see this purplish, bulbous ingredient – looking like something from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – star on a menu? Thankfully, the Turks know how to exploit the aubergine, and at Cafe Orchid, in Lake View/Ravenswood, it appears frequently on both the lunch and dinner menus. One of my favorite ways is in the uskudar, a hearty dish containing cubes of sautéed lamb, that have been enveloped in long slices of cooked eggplant. A pool of homemade tomato sauce is there for dipping, and the restaurant’s beautiful, homemade bread is always there for backup.
Want to impress your uncle or cousin who suddenly has a thing for classic cocktails this Thanksgiving? Here it is, complements of Tony Abou-Ganim, author of The Modern Mixologist. Tony was in Chicago last week, and showed me how to make this cocktail, which has just three ingredients (bar spoon optional, but recommended).
Note: I’m taking the holiday off, so I’ll see you back here next Monday. Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and pace yourselves!
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
one piece of orange peel (about an inch or two long)
Add all ingredients to a tall glass filled with ice. Stir it 20 times to the right, then 20 times to the left. Strain into a well-chilled martini glass or coupe. Twist the orange peel over the glass to release the oils, drop it into the glass and serve.
There are Trotter alums everywhere it seems, especially in Chicago. But the two guys running the show at the new 2 Sparrows in Lake View aren’t going for the three-star accolades anymore. They’re firmly fixated on serving “American” dishes with more than a few upscale touches. Pop Tarts with foie? Homemade tater tots? There are even a few “donuts” which, technically, are donut holes (I would skip them). But one item that has caught my attention (and fancy) since they opened a few weeks ago is the shrimp and grits. While most chefs in town stick with Anson Mills, here, they’ve decided to go with Three Sisters Farm grits, and a homemade tasso ham gravy that is sublime when paired with perfectly cooked gulf shrimp. I found myself licking the bowl each time I ordered this, and I’m pretty sure you will too.
I fully realize that it’s getting much colder outside, so why the tease for Hawaii? Because honestly, couldn’t we all use a little dose of extreme sunshine every now and then? This was from a trip I took back in September; just 10 minutes from the airport on Maui, in Kahului, I stopped by Ululani’s, the Homer’s Ice Cream of Shave Ice in Hawaii. When I saw another shop in Lahaina, I demanded we hit it again. As much as I wish this was a treat that was available in Chicago, alas, I have yet to find someone with the proper ice shaving machine and wealth of all-natural flavors that is only achievable on the islands. Enjoy, and mahalo.
I realize not all ciders are equal. While I love nothing more than drinking the unfiltered juice of apples straight off a cider press, sometimes the situation calls for something a bit more, how shall I say, inspired? Fortunately, the guys over at Tenzing – a Chicago-based wine and spirits company – are constantly tinkering around the office. Read More
Sang Yoon initially wanted to be a professional hockey player – he was a goalie at Boston University – but he also wanted to be a cook. He’s worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in Europe, as well as venerable ones in the U.S., like Michael’s in Santa Monica. But for the past decade, he’s been overseeing an impressive beer and burger list at the renovated Father’s Office in Santa Monica, as well as in Culver City (where he also has Lukshon, dedicated to pan-Asian cuisine). I spoke with him recently about how he’s been influenced over the years, and what drives him to keep evolving his business on the West Coast.