Posts for April 26, 2012

If You Were Ever Stupid Enough to Think Nutella Was Healthy, You Might Be Owed Some Money

Nutcase wins Nutella suit.

It absolutely kills us to turn on Nutella but ... just in case you were ever misled into thinking that the rich, chocolatey, sinful spread had the same calories as a celery stick (what is wrong with you??), then you should know there's a class-action case you can creep into. NPR reports, "Each claim will pay out up to $20 — that's $4 per jar, on up to five jars — or less, depending on the number of claimants." Contact: nutellaclassactionsettlement.com. Conversely, just be cool. [NPR]

Meet 70 Makers of Good Stuff at Pastoral's 2nd Annual Artisan Producer Festival

They make cow cheese and goat cheese and sheep's milk cheese. They make beer, and wine, and vodka. They make crackers and candies and pickles. Who are they? They're the more than 70 artisan producers of good foodstuffs and drink who will be at the French Market Saturday from 11 to 3 p.m., for Pastoral's 2nd Annual Artisan Producers Festival. For the entirely reasonable price of free, you'll be able to sample their wares and talk to producers from all over the U.S. and even beyond— for one thing, there will be representatives from one of our favorite cheese producers anywhere, Britain's Neal's Yard. Scheduled events throughout the day will include a cheese wrapping contest (pros at 12:30, amateurs at 1:30), an avocado tasting for kids (and grown-ups), and a Best of the Fest competition. Just show up at the French Market (131 N. Clinton) unless you want to compete in the cheese wrapping contest, in which case you want to rsvp to social@pastoralartisan.com. We've got a teaser video and the current complete list of vendors below.

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Move Over Pink Slime: Now Granola’s Toxic, Too

Mmm… pesticides

No doubt meat’s been getting a bum rap lately with all this bad news about mad-cow scares, pink slime, and feces-contaminated chickens. But before you get all high and mighty from atop of your tower of tempeh, consider this: Meatless munchies like granola aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, products from Kashi, the seemingly safe brand of “all natural” cereal and snacks, are loaded with residual toxic pesticides and are all too often wrought with genetically modified soy and corn ingredients. PreventDisease reports that an investigation into the validity of all-natural claims made by Kashi, which is actually a subsidiary of Kellogg's, are mostly bunk.

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Pregnancy Be Damned, Drew Barrymore’s New Wine Hits Stores Next Week

Drew aglow in February.Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

A couple of months back we mentioned that actress Drew Barrymore had parlayed her love of wine-drinking into wine-making. Now we learn that the first bottles of Barrymore Pinot Grigio will go on sale in New York on May 3 for $20 a bottle, and Drew might be a little sad about the timing — given that she won't be able to drink at any of the launch events if the rumors about her being pregnant are true.

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Food Detective Salutes Street Food, Danger Be Damned

Food Detective David Hammond on the case in Cambodia.Photo: courtesy David Hammond

In Chicago we not only must be protected from food being prepared on board a truck, but we must protect our immensely delicate restaurants from a food truck parking within 500 feet of their entrance, lest patrons be seduced away. But in most of the world, street food is everyday reality, and Sun-Times' Food Detective David Hammond, fresh from an Asian jaunt, talks about one particularly dodgy street market he went to in Sihanoukville, Cambodia:

...butchered poultry perches on tables and fish splay across the ground in the midday sun, unrefrigerated; flies swirl and dogs walk about brilliantly colored pyramids of tropical fruit and vegetables.
Admittedly, food safety standards in the immense, high-energy street market in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, are different than those in Chicago. This Southeast Asian souk could never get a pass from a Chicago health inspector. Not by a long shot.

Then he eats the grilled fish anyway. And reminds us that if Third World sanitation sometimes makes diners sick, so does First World agribusiness, and street food is important to communities struggling to bring themselves up economically— whether in Asia or on Maxwell Street in Chicago.

Respect for street food [Sun-Times]

Family at Hungry Jack’s Finds Surprise ‘Package’

Hungry Jack or Horny Jack?

An Australian mum was horrified to find a crude drawing in her hamburger takeout this week. Someone had scribbled a man's private parts — the other, low-hanging fruits — inside her burger box. "If they have drawn that in there, what else have they done to my burger?" the disgusted customer wisely asked. This plus the spitting saga equals a big, fat stay-away-from-fast-food. [The Chronicle]

New Cans Make ‘Shotgunning’ Easier

Down the hatch!Photo: SABMiller

Here’s some good news for folks out there with a propensity for binge drinking: Some genius at SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing (a.k.a. MillerCoors) came up with a way to streamline the consumption of Miller Lite. They’re calling it the “Punch Top Can.” The official word from MillerCoors is that this breakthrough in beer-can technology is designed to increase airflow and reduce “glug” to facilitate a smoother pour. But anyone who’s ever spent time at college fraternity parties, Jets games, or Phish shows will surely recognize it as an air hole that makes shotgunning beers possible. The only difference really is, you no longer need a knife or awl to pierce the can. How’s that for drinking responsibly?

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D'Amato's Bakery Spiffs Up, Now Selling Prepared Foods

D'Amato's Bakery, 1124 W. Grand.Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

And now for some news from the non-press-release-sending-out part of the food world, which is to say, this apparently happened about three months ago, but we're just now hearing about it (h/t Michael Morowitz). D'Amato's Bakery, the original old one at 1124 W. Grand, is one of our favorite old school places (we even have a photo of their bread that we took hanging on our wall, no joke). Part of what we like about it is that nothing ever changes there— heck, it's one of the last businesses still getting coal delivered in this city (as Mike Sula chronicled some years back). Yes, with a simple menu— crusty bread, cookies, Sicilian-style sheet pizza— it's a place where nothing ever changes... WHAT? Actually, quite a bit has changed this year without too much effect on the overall feel of the place. Besides a paint job and some vintage photos on the wall, it now has a chef in the basement making various kinds of prepared foods to go, ranging from lasagna and fettucine bolognese to caprese salad and arancini. The sheet pizzas have also expanded in various (veggie) directions. In this case at least, change is good and hasn't compromised what we've always liked about the place.

Spring Chickens No More: Poultry Has a Retirement Program

Urban chicken farming is all the rage, so it makes sense that urban-chicken retirement homes are cool now, too. The New York Times turns into an episode of Portlandia visits Portland to spotlight "blissful, pastoral" resting places for past-their-prime poultry. At these coops, birds chase one another, jump for Cheerios, and are protected from "cockfighting hooligans." They do not play bingo. [NYT]

First Look Inside Moderno, John des Rosiers' Highland Park Italian Trendsetter

We tell John des Rosiers that when Nellcôte was clearing out every trace of Marché, they kept one little fragment of the wall art like a piece of Roman fresco. "We're not keeping anything of Rosebud here," he says, referring to the location's previous tenant. Everything about Moderno, his sleekly, well, modern Italian bar and restaurant in Highland Park, is designed to change any lingering impression of Italian food as being about limp pastas and acid red sauces, grotesque portions and mamma mia! clichés. Des Rosiers, chef-owner of Inovasi and the Wisma chain of prepared food shops, and executive chef Phil Rubino are out to reinvent Italian food for the north shore with housecured meats from Becker Lane pork, housemade pastas and pizzas, and unexpected seasonal ingredients like blueberries in your linguini. We stopped in before a friends and family dinner this week and checked out the brightly chic space, a few of the dishes, and Rubino and crew hard at work in the shining steel kitchen; see our slideshow below.

OMG Three Floyds To Possibly Maybe Open a Chicago Brewery

Three Floyds staff, beer.

Josh Noel at the Tribune has an excellent piece on Three Floyds and why this, of all the craft breweries giving their beers funny names, has so captured the imagination of beer drinkers (as manifested in its domination of the "best brewer" prize at RateBeer.com over the past seven years, where it's won five years and come in second the other two). He offers various reasons having to do with owner Nick Floyd's heavy metal persona and dedication (he won't open satellite breweries because "I don't want to have 300 employees I can't trust to mash in... One's going to have to get home to his girlfriend, and he's going to cut the brew short.") But deep on page two of the piece, the lede as far as the Twitterverse was concerned got buried:

He acknowledges that the brewery "isn't as big as people think we should be," and said he plans to grow. He is working to open a brew pub in Chicago "in the near future" located "anywhere but the Loop"

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Chris Pratt Has Restaurant-Related Stress Dreams

Anyone who has ever waited tables knows the stress dreams that come with the gig. (If you don't, check out this little roundup of some that servers around the city experience.) Not immune from this phenomenon: Hollywood hotshots. Well, Chris Pratt — Andy on Parks & Recreation, husband of Anna Faris — gets them, anyway. He tells GQ, "They're like the worst nightmare you can have. You're totally in the weeds. You have like six tables. You forgot to put the order in. You're sweating, and you wake up and 'Oh, my God. I'm so glad.'" [GQ, Related]

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