Posts for December 6, 2012

Jack Daniel's Ribs for the End of the World: T.G.I. Friday’s Hosting Apocalypse Parties

We can think of a couple of places where we'd like to spend our last moments on Earth, but not one of those spots is a T.G.I. Friday's. Even still, the Mayan calendar comes to an end on December 21, and that happens to be a Friday, so T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants in a half dozen U.S. cities (Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Los Angeles, Chicago, and D.C.) are throwing "Last Friday" parties featuring Mayan decor, photo booths, music, and a Mayan Margarita. Also they'll be raffling off an 'End of the World Survival Kit,' which is just like a cocktail shaker, bottle opener, and an energy drink. Shouldn't the booze at least be free during the end times? [Zagat]

Baconfest VIP Tickets Go On Sale Monday

It must be VIP day because this is the third time we've used it today. It has a specific meaning in this case, certainly: VIP tickets for Baconfest Chicago 2013 next April will go on sale just in holiday-gift-giving time on Monday at 9:00 a.m. sharp right here. Why do you want to give Dad or Hubby the gift of Baconfest as a VIP? Because $200 gets you a less-crowded VIP hour prior to the general admission 2-1/2 hour session. (There are two sessions, lunch and dinner.) To get the full details, go here.

Western Hemisphere’s Largest Cheese, and Its Dancing Team, Arrive in Boston

A scene from last year's cheese ceremony.Photo: Lyons PR

Be jealous: Boston is now home to one of the world's largest hunks of cheese. The 400-pound Crucolo from northern Italy, which we told you last month is as tall as a typical 4-year-old child and is rather mild, lands at the Concord Cheese Shop this afternoon — the only place in the country to carry this, the Western Hemisphere's largest fromage. As befits such an occasion, there will be a parade involving cheese-wielding teens.

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Slideshow: See The Clout Dripping From These Pictures of the Del Frisco's VIP Party

Oh yeah, you and your precious little farm to table restaurant with 22 seats made from an old barn. Chicago wasn't built by artisanal sunchokes. It was built by men who wrestled steaks the size of an entire Guatemalan village out of cattle and ate them, raw, on the spot, or something like that. We don't even know what we're talking about here but these pictures we were sent of a VIP party Del Frisco's, the massive (bigger than Smith & Wollensky's and III Forks combined) steakhouse in the old Esquire Theater building, threw just ooze power, and clout, and skyscrapers and patronage jobs and all the things that built Chicago and made it great. The party was on November 29th, in part it benefited the Big Shoulders Fund, and it drew a very exclusive list of just enough people to fill a 23,000-square foot restaurant, 1,100 to be precise. Some of the most notable people are shown in posed shots, and though we haven't actually heard of any of them, we can just tell they could buy and sell us in two seconds flat. This is the real world, people, and the real world eats steak. Check it out below.

Top Chef Seattle Recap: David Rees on Vegan Sushi and Artisanally Candied Salmon

Don't get any ideas, Photoshoppers of the world.Photo: Bravo

According to Padma, there are fourteen “cheftestants” remaining. (My count was closer to 15,619, but what do I know?) Josh broods over his inconsistent performance thus far — is his cartoon-undertaker’s mustache sapping his power? Meanwhile, Tyler, ever doleful, steels himself for future disappointment. He vows to “continue to do the best I can.” I’ve seen a fair amount of reality TV and am pretty familiar with the standard “types” of characters — Tyler’s self-hating, hangdog persona feels unusually sincere and fragile. He’s my favorite cheftestant.

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Ryan Poli Makes Us Lunch and Talks His Plans For European Conquest

We're invited to sample one of the dishes from Chef Ryan Poli and Mercadito Group's upcoming Little Market Brasserie in the Gold Coast's Talbot Hotel. But the actual room is still under construction— it was full of freshly-delivered banquettes that morning— and so we are invited instead to the Mercadito Test Kitchen. Which looks more like a swingin' bachelor loft than the usual spare closet, until it's explained to us that it actually is somebody's apartment— it's Mercadito managing partner Alfredo Sandoval's Chicago home, several floors above Mercadito the restaurant (and a couple of floors above an office full of staffers at desktop computers, running the multi-city Mercadito empire from Chicago). There is also high security in the form of two tiny, yipping dogs, who have to be pacified with treats and an audience for their few tricks before we can talk.

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Apparently Someone Found a Black Widow Spider in Her Bag of Organic Whole Foods Grapes

Someone get this spider a book deal.

This 27-year-old yoga instructor was about to start snacking on some organic grapes purchased from a Whole Foods in Fairfield, Connecticut, when she noticed a little Charlotte's Web action happening within. It turns out that a potentially deadly black widow spider had stowed away inside the bag, perhaps in Mexico, where the grapes were grown. Nora Weiss reacted by calmly posting a Facebook message that read: "Attention all Fairfield Whole Foods Customers!!!! I just found a black widow spider in my Sunview Organic Table Grapes bag!!!! If you just bought or will be buying these grapes or any other produce from them, carefully inspect and wash them with rubber gloves!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!! Totally freaked me out!" A day later, Weiss says no harm, no foul, and wishes the spider the safest of travels and the best of luck. "My boyfriend let it go outside,'' she tells the Connecticut Post. "That's how we live. It's a living animal and we have no hard feelings.'' [CT Post]

Chicago's Most Colorful Pastry Shop Owners? They're Baaaaack

One of them was literally colorful— in terms of tattoos and punk rock hair. The other tended to be more colorful in terms of language in tweets— especially when referring to other pastry chefs. But either way, the world of pastry was a wilder, edgier place when we had Michelle Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery and Natalie Zarzour of Pasticceria Natalina feuding with other people in the business and expressing no-holds-barred opinions at the drop of a hat. Then, for one reason or another, their businesses were no more. But Dish reports this week that, in a nice example of serendipity, both have returned to the scene. Garcia actually left town briefly— she spent three months as pastry chef of The Four Seasons in San Francisco— but she tells Dish she missed the customer interaction of retail, and she's now at E.Leaven in the Gold Coast. While Zarzour spent time in Italy working on farms before coming back to make pastries at David Schneider's Greek-Turkish restaurant Taxim in Wicker Park. Zarzour sounded burned out about Chicago when her shop closed, but as she explains to Dish... well, you just need to go read it for yourself. It's pure Natalie being herself. [Dish]

Grace Opens Next Tuesday, But Who Were Those VIPs Dining There Last Night?

Curtis Duffy during Grace's first night of service.Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

Curtis Duffy's Grace, one of the most highly anticipated restaurants of the year because of the chef's Alinea, two-Michelin-star pedigree, will open next Tuesday, December 11— a date, we are told, that was widely reported before it was quite firm enough to be true. In any case it's true now and though Tuesday was instantly booked, other dates are open between now and the end of the year. But last night, six days before that official opening, a party took place in the private dining room of the otherwise empty restaurant, and nine guests became the first people to eat there. Who were these VIPs? What immense pull did they have to get into one of the hottest restaurants on earth before it was even open? Was it Mayor Emanuel? Michelle Obama? Michael Jordan? Naah, none of that, says Michael Muser, general manager of the restaurant. It was just some regular guests who really lucked out.

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