Posts for May 1, 2012

New Blog Eat and Stage Goes Inside Chicago Kitchens

Philip Foss as captured by the new blog Eat and Stage.Photo: courtesy Eat And Stage

We read an article recently about what blogs chefs read that confirmed for us mainly that still, no one gets what a blog is— it was more about food news sites like this one, or discussion sites like LTHForum, than actual blogger blogs. But we don't blame chefs for this confusion, at least not as long as there are journalists failing to grasp the same distinction— which there are all the time. For us, a real food blog is something that comes from one person who wants to bring a personal perspective to the subject that hasn't been represented in the mainstream. Contrary to the dismissive notion that this is usually for the purpose of self-glorification and cadging free meals, what we admire is that so many of them labor out of the view of the mainstream, bringing to the subject a depth of engagement that is rare in conventional media... and doing it regardless of whether they have many readers or not. Which brings us to a new blog by our friend Charlotte Tan: Eat And Stage.

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The Eleven Most Shockingly Gross Food-Industry Settlements

This week KFC's parent company was ordered to pay over $8 million in a settlement to the family of an Australian girl who suffered brain damage after eating the chain's chicken. The case is completely disturbing, but the scarier news is that it's hardly an isolated incident in the annals of fast food. In fact, it seems like every month we've got another good citizen falling prey to the industry's safety lapses and plain old stupidity. Here now, a look back at eleven such cases where food companies were pressed to settle with their victims customers, each one more disgusting and disconcerting than the one that came before.

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One Xiao Long Bao Fades, Another Rises in Chinatown

Classic Xiao Long Bao, from Australia.Photo: mmmsedap via Flickr

We just posed the question on Twitter a couple of weeks ago— was the soup dumpling place in Chinatown, much talked about on LTHForum, gone? We didn't recall its precise location but a recent visit to another restaurant along the same side of Wentworth suggested that wherever it was, it wasn't any more. Mike Sula confirms that, and adds far more about the present state of soup dumplings or xiao long bao in Chinatown in a blog post at the Reader. As he notes, "Soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, are the holy grail of dumplings in Chicago. When they're prepared correctly—and nobody really does them correctly—they're parcels of delicate pleated dough containing meatballs suspended in piping hot broth." By nobody, he means nobody in Chicago— xiao long bao, like ramen, are another of those things that prompt the kind of foodie discussion where no local example ever compares to the one you had in Los Angeles/Vancouver/Hong Kong/that little place with the grandma making them by hand that doesn't exist any more.

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Ground Up Farmer's Market at Browntrout Tonight, 5 to 8

Remember Ground Up, the new organization of chefs and farmers trying to expand markets and farmer participation? It's time for their first farmer's market, which will be tonight at Browntrout from 5 to 8 p.m. Stop by, shop, enjoy a specialty cocktail, and find out more about this new organization.

Fall Into Line: The Case for the ‘Buffet Rule’

Total chaos.Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Like many Americans, I follow political news for the sole purpose of not being embarrassed during telephone civics surveys. I scan the headlines grudgingly and am easily distracted by things like college football and food. This practice has caused me confusion regarding the so-called Buffett Rule. In reality, the rule has something to do with taxes. But "Buffett Rule" is easily misread as "Buffet Rule," i.e., a reference to the method of distributing food that combines eating old scrambled eggs with the convenience of having to get them yourself. (The buffet proprietor's motto: "We're barely trying.") But during one misreading, it hit me: The buffet industry, currently regulated only by informal etiquette, could use some more substantive oversight of its own.

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Small Bar To Sell Fullerton Location To Beer Bistro, Focus on Division

Justin White, chef of Small Bar.

When we shot a Key Ingredient at Small Bar on Fullerton, they had recently hired Justin White, a veteran of Green Zebra and The Bristol, to upgrade the bar food at both of their locations (the third Small Bar, in Logan Square, has other owners). Shortly after Time Out Chicago named White one of its 20 young chefs to watch. But now, apparently, we know how that worked out: it worked at Division but it didn't at the Fullerton location. As Chicagoist reported yesterday, the Fullerton location is being sold to the owners of West Loop tavern The Beer Bistro.

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Fig Newtons Sounded Too Laxative-y, Now Just ‘Newtons’

The Puff Daddy/Diddy of snacks.

Who knew? Fig Newtons have dropped the "Fig" and now go exclusively by the name "Newtons." “We needed to let fruit be the core of the brand as opposed to the fig,” said a spokesperson, alluding to various fig-killers like chewy strawberry and pomegranate. Also, the word fig is associated with "prune," which is associated with IBS and old people, “and that’s not good.” [NYT]

New Mercadito Restaurant? Yes, But First, a Mercadito Pop-Up, PT

So we had just posted the blurb in a preceding item that Mercadito Hospitality would be opening a new restaurant in the Talbott Hotel (10 E. Delaware) this fall— but that it would be a little while before we knew what it was. That is all still true, but moments later we got word that something much more fun will be happening in the meantime— next Monday, they plan to open a temporary pop-up restaurant in some of the space while the remodeling for the permanent restaurant is going on. It will be called PT at the Talbott, with food by Mercadito chef Patricio Sandoval (the P in PT) and a beverage program by the Tippling Bros. (the T), and it will be open, inside and patio, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Rick Bayless Isn’t Feeling the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List

"I'm studying Pellegrino list of World's 50 Best Restaurants 2012. Does anyone else think it's an odd collection&wonder how it's arrived at?" —Rick Bayless on yesterday's announcement, with Noma yet again being named best restaurant in the world. [Rick Bayless/Twitter]

Pecking Order Chicken's Dose Debut, Bongo Room Opens 3rd, Talbottito

We wrote last week about former Wave chef Kristine Subido's Filipino chicken house Pecking Order, which is set to open in late May. But you'll have a chance to taste it before then at— where else, the May edition of Dose Market, which is becoming the debutante ball for new restaurant concepts. We'll have more about that market closer to its date, which is May 13.

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KFC Ordered to Pay Millions After Customer Gets Chicken-Related Brain Damage

Don't lick those fingers just yet.

And you probably thought the Double Down was the most dangerous thing on KFC's menu: A judge ordered the chain's parent company to pay one Australian family $8 million AUD ($8.3 million USD) after one of its Twister chicken wraps gave a girl permanent brain damage.

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