Posts for February 23, 2012

Slow Food Chicago Meeting Will Also Offer 1st Taste of Virtue Cider

Now this is how you run an annual meeting. Slow Food Chicago will have an annual meeting at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. At that time it will share its plans for the next year, including for its participation in the bi-annual Terra Madre Convivium in Italy, which draws Slow Foodists from all over the world. But that's not all it will be sharing. Greg Hall, ex of Goose Island and now of Virtue Cider, and a past board member of Slow Food Chicago, will be offering the first taste of RedStreak cider, which is described as "a true, English-style draft cider" based on the heirloom apple of the same name, which dates back to 17th century Herefordshire. It's free but you have to register here.

Marc Vetri Plays an ‘Ode to the Publican’ at Alla Spina

Alla SpinaPhoto: Collin Keefe

With a nod to Chicago chef and restaurateur Paul Kahan, Marc Vetri’s gastro-funhouse Alla Spina, which opens Monday, will offer guests a chance to reward the kitchen staff in the noblest and most altruistic of ways: With beer! Vetri and company are calling it “Ode to the Publican” after Kahan’s gastropub where the practice of buying a six-pack for the kitchen originated. Bringing the tradition to Philly, Alla Spina will offer the same feature. For ten bucks the kitchen gets a sixer. And the generous patron who buys it, gets to ring an old farm bell mounted on the pub’s wall to signal that the staff’s been bought a round. “We thought it was really awesome that guests there can buy the kitchen a six-pack,” Vetri told Grub. “It’s a really nice gesture.”

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The James Weird Awards: Totes Amazeballs Cereal and Ski-In Starbucks

The world was a little too busy with shark fin drama, a never-ending season of Top Chef Texas, and 7-Eleven's NYC domination to provide us with much weird food-related goings-on this week. We uncovered some odd gems anyway, which you can read about in the James Weird awards, straight ahead.

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Sula Loves the Hulba With Zhug at Sheeba; Nagrant Says Go, Go Goosefoot

Fahsa with hulba and zhug, and some of the tandoor-baked bread.Photo: courtesy Andrea Bauer/Chicago Reader

We love the middle-eastern restaurant enclave in Bridgeview and Worth in the south suburbs, arguably the most authentic in the area (okay, there isn't even really that much argument), and Mike Sula takes a break from our rash of fine dining openings to introduce a new cuisine, Yemeni, at a restaurant in Bridgeview called Sheeba, which goes far beyond the customary falafel and shawarma. "Hulba (also known as hilbeh and hulbah) is an ethereal fenugreek froth used most often to top simmering stone bowls of salta, a tomato-based vegetable stew (fahsa when it's cooked with lamb or tuna)... Unlike some of the more gratuitous and silly applications of foam that proliferated in the wake of [El Bulli chef Ferran] Adria, hulba contributes flavor and texture to the dish, merging with the tomatoey broth and giving it a buoyancy that endures to the bottom of the bowl. Add a dollop of zhug, a salsalike tomato condiment ground with chile, garlic, and cilantro, and its flavor will resonate with anyone who loves Indian or Pakistani food (or the Three Arrows manhattan at Yusho)." You'll want to make the trek to 90th and Harlem after reading this and watching the attached slideshow by Andrea Bauer. [Reader]

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Why, Yes, There Is a Japanese Horror Movie About Killer Sushi

Yeah, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is really moving and has loads of food porn and is inevitably going to become a classic food movie, but we think we may have just found the superior sushi movie: a trailer for something called Dead Sushi hit the Internet this week, and the movie looks terrible. And by "terrible," we of course mean totally balls-out fantastic. We can imagine the pitch now: It's like Jiro meets The Human Centipede with a kind of Toxic Avenger vibe, directed by the auteur behind such classics as Zombie Ass and, uh, HyperTrophy Genitals Girl. If that sounds like your kind of thing — and it really should be everyone's kind of thing — check out the trailer, straight ahead.

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Video: See Jared Van Camp Make The First Pizza At Nellcôte

You saw our video Tuesday about Jared Van Camp's backwoods-meets-Naples flour mill, which makes Nellcôte the only restaurant anyone knows of in the country grinding its own flour in-house. Now watch as he shows us what that flour is ground for: pasta and pizza. In today's video, he first makes radiatore, a pasta called that because it, well, looks like a radiator. Then the attention turns to pizza. The first pizza dough using his in-house ground flour was made Monday of last week, but because it has a 48-hour ferment, it wasn't ready for pizza until we arrived to shoot two days later. We're sure he'd rather have shown us one after plenty of practice, but this is how chefs really work, refining a dish through trial and error over time. Watch our six-minute video below.

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Sarah Grueneberg To Guest Bartend at Tickled Pink Tomorrow Night

Whether or not she emerges victorious in the Top Chef finale, Sarah Grueneberg has clearly joined the ranks of local celebrity chefs after years of working in the shadow of her mentor Tony Mantuano. Tickled Pink, a benefit bash for the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization which will be held tomorrow night at the River East Art Center, announced today that Gruneneberg has been added to its ranks of celebrity bartenders. We can't actually find anything that says who any of the other celebrities are who will be mingling with the regular folks or pouring them drinks, but it's been around for seven years, so it must be true. Anyway, as Dale Levitski can tell you, even coming in second raises your stature around town, and it seems safe to say Grueneberg is the main star to have come out of this year's Chicago-centric season.

Top Chef Recap: Getting Warmer ...

Paul get steamy.Photo: Bravo

Things are finally winding down, and we've made it to the penultimate episode, unless, of course, next week's twist is that the never-watched web series "Last Chance Kitchen" is secretly still going on and even more chefs will be brought back. Remember that guy that Tom kicked off, like, one minute into the first episode because he couldn't butcher meat correctly? He's probably just been biding his time.

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Do-Rite Donuts Opens in Loop This Morning

Following the wild success of Doughnut Vault, Scott Harris has been talking up his Glazed and Confused concept (now up to three locations), but another restaurant group has snuck in and opened a spot under the radar first. At 6:30 this morning Francis Brennan, who was chef at L2O after Laurent Gras but subsequently replaced by Matthew Kirkley, and Jeff Mahin, who is chef-partner at Lettuce Entertain You's Stella Rossa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica, opened Do-Rite Donuts with Lettuce backing in a storefront attached to Petterino's at 50 W. Randolph. They'll be offering an interesting assortment of "gourmet" doughnuts including peanut butter and jelly with a peanut butter mousse topping, and the "Old-Fashioned" cake doughnut topped with Tahitian vanilla or Valhrona chocolate. They will also have their own coffee blend from Dark Matters, developed especially to go with doughnuts. (We have yet to meet the coffee that didn't go with doughnuts, or vice versa, but whatever.) [Gaper's Block]

Taste of Chicago Not Attracting Hordes... of Chefs; Ferrara Pan Candy Co. May Sell

• The new, shorter Taste of Chicago hasn't been a hit with restaurateurs: 40 vendor slots drew... 40 applicants. There's at least some interest in the pop-up restaurant idea which has been added this year, though. [Sun-Times]

• Days after the death of its patriarch, Ferrara Pan Candy Co. is talking about selling to the equity firm that already owns the Chicago-based Brach's brand. Salvatore Ferrara II, CEO who was briefly ousted by other family members last summer, would head the combined candy company. [Chicago Business]

• Panda Express cares more than you would think: They chop twenty fresh vegetables in-house daily and test hundreds of recipes that are never used. Now expect the chain to start emerging from mall basements to stand-alone restaurants.[Salt/NPR]

• That pay-what-you-want Panera is not only surviving, but the chain is planning to add more pay-optional locations in more cities. [USAT]

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