Posts for November 14, 2012

Testa Produce Wins Governor's Sustainability Award; Zia's, Tango Sur Coming to Lakeview; Bourdain-Ripert Tickets

We've got a few choice cracks to make about what state government in Illinois would know about a sustainable future, but setting that aside, congrats to Testa Produce for winning a Governor's Sustainability Award for their LEED-platinum certified distribution center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. More about them from the last award they won here.

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What Are Your Knives Trying to Say To You?

Matthias Merges, back in Charlie Trotter's days.

In one of Homaro Cantu's autobiographical pieces on Facebook, he talks about watching Matthias Merges break down fish at Charlie Trotter's, which he basically likens to a religious experience. Now the preacher gets the pulpit himself, in a Sun-Times piece in which Merges, now owner of Yusho, explains what he learns from his knives as he works:

As a chef in a high-pressure kitchen where precision is necessary, you can train your ear to hear the knife cutting through a product. I can hear a dull knife crushing through chives rather than silently slicing through each green bundle.

It's a fascinating piece and includes a video and photo gallery on proper knife care. [Sun-Times]

White Gold: A Look at the 2012 Italian Truffle Trade

A humongous Italian truffle in Alba.Photo: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty

For Americans, this time of year means turkeys and pumpkin pies. For Italians, and owners of the world's most expensive restaurants, it means white truffles. From late October until Christmas, the ten-week season is one of the shortest — and most profitable — on the culinary calendar. But this year, a hot, dry summer has left many patches barren, and some are calling it one of the scarcest truffle seasons ever. Even still, restaurants don't seem to be having too much trouble tracking truffles down this year. How so? We tracked truffles from Italy to restaurant tables in the U.S. to find out.

Ever been to a truffle nursery? »

Who's Going To Play The Waffleizer In The Movie?

If it were a Belgian waffle it would be perfect for Jean Claude Van Damme, but... Oh, sorry, we were just idly musing on the news that Daniel Shumski, whose Waffleizer blog a couple of years ago was a droll delight, especially in the category of Brilliantly Goofy Website Ideas, has now sold a Waffleizer cookbook. Shumski, whose day job is as a web editor at the Tribune, is always fun to talk to, his wit as dry as a Costco-sized box of Bisquick, as we found when we did this interview with him two years ago. We catch up with him on his big news below.

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Watch Homaro Cantu's CookING Under Pressure Here

Homaro Cantu, as is his wont, built up the debut of his in-house-produced CookING Under Pressure in a way that suggested a big network TV debut, only for the answer to be that it would actually run— for free, to the people!— on YouTube. But we're all for things being available to everybody on the internets, especially videos about food, and what we're really for is the freedom of getting to tell your own story in your own way without having to retrofit and phony it up into what makes salable network food TV. (Exhibit A of what happens when restaurants and food TV personalities get into bed too incestuously.) So watch the first episode— about the creation of the Nightmare Before Christmas menu at iNG— below, without any network TV executive who came over from Spike telling anybody how they need to change it to attract more 18-34s or any of that babble.

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Papa John’s Sued for Pizza Spam

Fanning the flames of controversy.Illustration: Mary-Louise Price

It's the middle of the night. You've downed a greasy slice or two of pizza and settled in for a peaceful slumber, Adult Swim flickering in the background, when your phone rattles. A text! You sit up, rub your eyes, and wonder if you really did give out your number at the bar last weekend ... and to whom. You grope about in the dark, trepidatious but a touch excited. And then you see it: The text is from Papa John's. And they want to sell you more pizza. You drop the phone and roll over. Until your phone rattles again. And again. And again. Up to sixteen times in a row. Well good news, person who was text-spammed by Peyton Manning's favorite pizza place — you aren't alone.

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Twenty-eight of the Best Twitter Reactions to the New York Times’ Guy Fieri Takedown

How's he doing today?

If you're like us, you were woken up at 2 a.m. by a call from your 80-year-old grandmother in Butte wondering who exactly this Pete Wells person is and what did Guy Fieri ever do to him that would cause the New York Times to publish such a negative review of the Food Network host's sprawling 500-seat restaurant in Times Square. The review — in which Wells compares the house margaritas to radiator fluid and formaldehyde and ruminates, in an all-question format, about the exact origins of Guy's "Donkey Sauce" — has now been tweeted around the world. As should be expected, Wells has some new fans, and Fieri has some staunch supporters here in New York. But the rest of the county? Let's just see what @teenmom4evr has to say about all of this.

Strong language and adult situations ahead. »

Chicagoans in Every Walk of Life Shattered By News of Decline in Michelin Stars


“Bring only what fits in a carry-on bag. Checking your luggage is asking for trouble. Add several travel-size packets of detergent so you don’t fall into the hands of foreign laundries.” This was the kind of advice that the protagonist of Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist gave in his guidebooks, to help the traveling businessman get along in foreign places with the least possible disturbance to his well-settled way of living. And between last week’s Bib Gourmands and this week’s Michelin star announcements, it’s how we’re beginning to think Michelin approaches the job of covering Chicago, too, as our number of starred restaurants falls from 23 restaurants to 19, even with all the high profile openings we’ve had this year (two of whom— Acadia and Goosefoot— did make the list). At a time of immense creativity on our food scene, Michelin finds a lot to sniff at and not much to enjoy. But if Michelin is wedded to a staid manner of dining that Chicago diners have moved past, we think it's Michelin, not Chicago, that suffers as a result— and not just because they don't seem to be enjoying some great food.

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Of Course Someone Involved in the Petraeus Sex Scandal Appeared on Food Network

Jill Kelley, not cooking alligator.Photo: Chris O'Meara/AP/Corbis

Jill Kelley, the Florida woman whose initial complaints about harassing e-mails set the entire Petraeus sex scandal in motion, has apparently been in the spotlight before. Sounds like she and her twin sister appeared in a 2003 episode of a no-longer-in-existence Food Network show called Food Fight. There isn't any footage online (yet — give it like three more hours), but according to an old write-up in the St. Petersburg Times, Kelley and her twin sister took on two brothers in an alligator cook-off.

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