Vancouver, BC – In the midst of a dine around last night during the annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival, I had a preview of the next phase in bitters. As you probably know, the cocktail culture in 2014 is all about fresh juices, esoteric (some would say terroir) spirits and of course, bitters. But in the heart of Vancouver, there is a husband-wife team dedicated to new, ground-breaking bitters like I’ve never seen. Fortunately, I had a chance to taste some of their hard work, as a sort of preview of what Chicago drinkers can expect this year, thanks to the fact they’re close to getting a Midwest distributor. Read More
Richmond, BC – Say all you want about the San Gabriel Valley outside of L.A. and Flushing, Queens; for my money, I’m heading back to Vancouver (well, the suburb of Richmond, actually) the next time I’m jones-ing for some xiao long bao. These prized soup dumplings, beloved in Shanghai, are typically supposed to contain juicy broth and a toothsome ball of ground pork with minced ginger and garlic. They’re supposed to be housed in a dumpling wrapper that’s been steamed, and is just thick enough to hold in the broth but isn’t too thick that it overwhelms the filling. Read More
I’m very pleased to announce the launch of a new project. In addition to my work as the Food Reporter (a.k.a. “The Hungry Hound”) at ABC 7, The Chicago Tribune and The Globe and Mail, I’ll now be involved in co-producing, writing and hosting a new podcast, called “The Feed.” It’s a unique collaboration with chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless, whom you may have heard of. Even though we both live and work in Chicago, we tend to travel a lot (just look at our Instagram/Twitter feeds), so this show will reflect those travels, but it will also tap into our vast networks of colleagues and friends we’ve accumulated over the years. For instance, whenever I travel to Toronto, I don’t plan a thing until I talk with Chris Nuttall-Smith, the Food Critic for the Globe and Mail. Rick usually calls or emails a friend or chef before he hits the spice markets of Istanbul or the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, and we’ll hear from those local experts as well. Think of it as a food lover’s sojourn through the labyrinth of enlightened consumption – spirits, chefs, markets, food shops and restaurants – then add a dose of intelligent, informed conversation, and you’re on the right track. Hope you all enjoy this new show, and love to hear your feedback.
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
Very few of our Beers of the Week have had the distinction of being named in a lawsuit at the same time The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper was singing their praises, but such is the situation this week for the talented guys over at 5 Rabbit in Bedford Park. The local brewery – which specializes in creating beers that pair extremely well with Latin food (but are certainly great on their own too) – is probably spending more on attorneys than it would like. But internal issues aside, this week’s pick is a winner. I know where Roper is coming from on this one. The Huitzi is a very special beer, with its hints of chamomile, hibiscus, fresh ginger root and some local Chicago honey. The warm, amber color makes it a perfect mid-winter beer and the aroma is, well, you’ll have to see for yourself. Cheers.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in Chinatown recently, looking for stories for Chinese New Year. Frankly, I hadn’t even thought to stop by Phoenix, the venerable 18 year-old restaurant hidden up on the 2nd floor of a dingy building across the street from the more dynamic Chinatown Square Mall. But the restaurant recently underwent a major facelift and renovation, shutting down for nearly seven weeks to remodel, and like its name, has been reborn with a confidence previously held by places like MingHin Cuisine, which is swallowing adjacent storefronts in the Mall across the street like the mighty Borg. Read More