Posts for November 28, 2012

Craig Schoettler Takes Over Drumbar; Can Arty Cocktails Go Mass Market?

312 Dining Diva broke the news (in a year-end roundup piece, of a sort) on Monday: Craig Schoettler, former executive chef of The Aviary, had surfaced at Drumbar. Eater then deduced that a photo tweeted by Drumbar of an Aviaryesque device suggested that Schoettler was doing more than just picking up a few shifts to cover the rent, and wondered if an announcement was on its way. And within a few hours it was, as the Tribune reports that Schoettler has taken over the bar program (opening mixologist Benjamin Newby is either consulting or has departed, depending on who you ask) and is transforming the beverage program at the bar atop the Raffaelo Hotel. This is interesting not just as a where-are-they-now story, but because it will be an interesting test case as to whether The Aviary's rarefied style of cocktails, which are as much performance art as mixology and delivered in a very specific atmosphere which eschews many of the traditional comforts of bar tending, can make it in a more traditional Friday-night-singles atmosphere— and make their way in some form across the entire bar scene.

Consumer Reports Says Our Pork Is Full of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

But is it all hogwash?

It was more than a year ago when the USDA relaxed its official pork-cooking guidelines, but hold up! There’s a new pork predicament on the horizon. A recent study conducted by Consumer Reports finds that the majority of pork products in this country are tainted with a rare bacteria strain known as Yersinia enterocolitica. Like garden variety food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, the bug identified in the study causes fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea that can last one to three weeks if ingested. However, unlike those more common disease-causing agents, Yersinia enterocolitica is resistant to most antibiotics. And all signs seem to point toward the widespread factory-farm practice of loading porkers with antibiotics as the blame.

Read more »

Groupon May Be Headed Toward New CEO

Andrew Mason.

It wasn't that long ago that Groupon was the terror of the food world, its deal offerings reshaping the economics of the restaurant business (and not in a sustainable way for many). But you don't hear the buzz about what Groupons are being offered any more, and Groupon has been trying to branch out to use the infrastructure it has in new ways. But it may not be quick enough to save founder-CEO Andrew Mason's reputation as an internet visionary. The Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital reports that board members including fellow founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell are considering bringing in a new CEO, after "urging Mason to be more aggressive and public about the company’s turnaround efforts." The idea is apparently not so much to replace Mason as to add more experienced leadership, as Google did, to focus on immediate needs in the wake of the company's precipitous stock decline (it's now trading around one-sixth of its IPO price). [WSJ]

Anthony Bourdain Is Now Foiling Secret Service Keg Parties

In case you missed the State Department's daily briefing on Monday, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about Anthony Bourdain's weekend tweet that suggested the Secret Service personnel who'd rented the phones previously forgot to delete text messages pertaining to their keg parties. Secret Service agents are only allowed to have keg parties under direct orders from the president. "Anything that you’re aware of on that front?" Nuland was asked. "No," the spokesperson said. "But we will have our Embassy follow up on that one for sure." Bourdain is traveling throughout Southeast Asia filming his new show, which presumably means it's safe for all government agent who aren't stationed there to proceed with their regularly scheduled illicit weekend plans. [State via Daily Caller, Earlier]

Heston Blumenthal May Be Opening in the U.S., Probably in New York

What's he working on now?Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Earlier today, Food and Travel editor Guy Woodward tweeted, "Rumour is that Heston Blumenthal will open a restaurant in one of Mandarin Oriental's US hotels - maybe next year. My money's on New York." The brainy English chef, who currently holds three Michelin stars and first garnered attention with his modernist food at the Fat Duck in Bray, already operates a restaurant called Dinner by Heston in London's Mandarin Oriental, which ranked No. 9 on this year's World's 50 Best list.

Is it happening? »

Flavor Ammo: New Ways to Use Old Bay

There's a lot going on in that little tin.Photo: Melissa Hom

When you think of Old Bay — the Maryland spice blend in the yellow and blue tin — you probably think of outdoor crab shacks on the Chesapeake Bay, or maybe a lobster bake on a beach. But there's nothing inherently summery or regional about the blend itself, other than how well it goes with a cold pitcher of Natty Boh. Chefs seem to have realized that. Mission Chinese's Danny Bowien has used it in a dish of Sichuan catfish; the Momofuku group famously seasons their fried chicken with it; plenty of places sell Old Bay–dusted fries and burgers with Old Bay–infused aïoli — the list goes on and the reason is obvious: Old Bay's transformative powers extend way beyond crabs.

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$1 Bureks, Burek Demo By The Burek Man at City Fresh Market Thursday

City Fresh Market, up on Devon (near Thillens park), looks and sounds like any neighborhood grocery store from the outside, but inside it's a different story— it's kind of an artisanal Eastern European grocer, with a huge bakery making Slavic and middle eastern baked goods, and various other specialty items (need a whole roasted goat for a party? They have you covered). That earned them a spot inside the French Market as well. One of their areas of particular pride is bureks, the ubiquitous coiled-dough meat, cheese or spinach pies, especially those made by "The Burek Man," master baker Bojan Aleksic. And this Thursday they'll be celebrating this Eastern European classic in two ways. At the main store at 3201 W. Devon, it'll be $1 bureks all day, which is a steal and an excellent reason to finally check out this store. While at the French Market, Aleksic will be doing a demo from 11:30 to 1:30; stop by and see how he throws the phyllo, and even try your hand at it.

Watch This Kid Eat an Ear of Corn in Ten Seconds

We'd hate to think this is the start of a new trend of power-tool-assisted food stunts, because it's only a matter of time before some forlorn teen locks himself in a room with his Lumix, a bunch of bananas, and a band saw. We'll leave it to you to decide if this blé d'Inde à la Home Depot is a cry for help or actually a genius new invention. (That's a trick question, because it's obviously both.) And, as always, don't try this at home.

Cordless corn cobs. »

Slideshow: First Look at the Menu at Alpana Singh's The Boarding House

Alpana Singh's The Boarding House is looking at a mid-December opening— and we've got a first look at the food and drink which you'll be enjoying in any of the multi-leveled restaurant's varied environments. Yes, wine is a major focus, to be sure, but so are cocktails from beverage director Tony Potempa, and we'll show you two of them here. While the food from chef Christian Gosselin is designed to be wine-friendly and, well, just plain friendly, whether it's the noshes and small plates for the more casual bar and cellar, or the bigger plates for the main dining room on the third floor with its spectacular floor to (very high) ceiling views. (We showed you the space, during construction, here.) See what you'll soon be enjoying at this hot ticket in our man Huge Galdones' slideshow, starting below.

Stout Barrel House Partners Plan Neapolitan Pizza/Brewery For West Loop

Chef Chris Curren.

With big spaces being more and more snapped up along the hot Randolph Street corridor, attention turns to the streets to its north and south of it. Now a former gallery space at 840 W. Washington has been announced as the location for a new Neapolitan-style wood burning oven pizzeria and onsite brewery from The LGN Group, who have Stout Barrel House and Galley in River North as well as The Cedar Hotel in the Gold Coast. The as-yet-unnamed restaurant will offer a large outdoor patio with a retractable roof and roll-away doors; the food, from Stout Barrel House chef Chris Curren, will include 18-inch Neapolitan pizzas from the wood-burning oven as well as in-house charcuterie, cheese boards and other noshes. The onsite brewery will produce three year-round beers plus seasonal choices. Opening is planned for June 2013, but don't think Randolph Street is liable to stop being the center of the hot new openings universe— LGN Group partner Michael Bisbee says "We’re also looking forward to announcing an additional new restaurant very soon that will be located on Randolph Street close to Halsted Street.”

Watch Jon Stewart’s Take on the Hostess Closure

On last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart became the latest person to weigh in on the end of Twinkies. Needless to say, he doesn't seem too broken up about the demise of this "diabetes dispensary." Stewart wonders what he'll have to turn to for "stomach aches and self medication" — Arby's? Boxed wine? The options are grim.

The full clip, right this way. »

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