Posts for December 7, 2012

Are Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Ovens Just for Girls?

How about them (Easy-Baked) apples?Photo: Courtesy of Hasbro

An eighth-grade girl from Garfield, New Jersey, wanted to get her 4-year-old brother an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas but was upset to learn the toy only came in pink and purple and is marketed to girls. McKenna Pope’s little brother Gavyn says he'd be fine playing with a pink oven by himself, but would be "embarrassed to use it in front of his friends." Pope's petition to convince Hasbro to make a "boy's" version was signed by 30,000 people in a week, and even Bobby Flay has weighed in, telling the Associated Press that he got his start on an Easy-Bake when he was just 5 years old. For the record, Flay says the oven's color doesn't matter. [AP/APP]

Hot Dispatch From The Twinkie Desk

Thought the whole Twinkie story had gone away, did you? Ha! An Orland Park restaurant— for people in Lincoln Park, that's a suburb approximately four Comiskey Units (an official measure judging distances on the south side for north siders) to your southwest— packed the house with them. What we mean is, Baby's Cheesesteak & Lemonade snatched up 12,000 Twinkies the moment word went out, and is now giving free Twinkies with every purchase. Has it worked? They're halfway through their stash, that's how it's worked. [Tribune/

Why Has SodaStream Gotten So Aggressive All of a Sudden?

Maybe you've seen this newish SodaStream commercial that was banned in Europe but airs carefree in the U.S.? The one that features attractive people hitting the carbonating button atop their machines to make seltzer, but also thereby remotely detonating bottles of cola and orange soda in warehouses and bodegas, as if they were two-liter bogeymen?

What's up with SodaStream? »

Hey Mortals, Be Fools on New Year's Eve at Acadia and Other Fine Places

We got a rush of New Year's Eve events recently, from cool places like Acadia, Vera and many others, and we don't want to hold off just because we're still full from Thanksgiving (well, St. Nicholas Day, anyway)— because some of them will sell out and you, dear reader, will miss out. So here's the first batch of what will be many, we suspect. Up first and quite possibly coolest: Acadia plans a seven-course meal on the theme of "A Midwinter's Night's Dream." There will be courses with names relating to Shakespeare, but there will be much more than that— like a dining room transformed to reflect the theme, and performers from Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in residence, mingling with the crowd and breaking into performance... and other surprises they don't want to reveal now (though one thing we can promise: they won't be opening a dingy club). There are two seatings, one at 6 p.m. ($150 including wine pairings) and one at 9 p.m. which will include a little more in the way of stroke-of-midnight celebration, and is thus $175 with wine pairings; there is also a vegetarian menu which is $25 less at both seatings. (The lounge will also be open all evening, serving food until midnight.) See the menu here; to make reservations or get more info, call 312-360-9500.

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How Bud Light Platinum Went Platinum

Tasteful.

On Monday, February 6, a vaguely sweeter, higher-proof version of Bud Light went on sale after debuting in an expensive Super Bowl commercial the previous night. Packaged in cobalt-colored bottles and sold at an arbitrarily higher price, Bud Light Platinum seemed like a big joke in the making, says BuzzFeed, but somehow the beer became Anheuser-Busch's biggest success story in recent memory, specifically with a very small subset of millennials: "24 to 27 is really that sweet spot," a Bud VP says, adding that "it's less than a demographic than a mind-set." Further down the trail of hops, BuzzFeed finds a 22-year-old marketing intern with another, more concise understanding of the beer's appeal, who says her friends "decided it was ‘a drink for frat boys who like, grew up a little bit.’’’ [BuzzFeed]

Slideshow: Check Out the Inaugural Fete Chicago

"Every third person has hornrim glasses," said our 14-year-old, who has recently become a sociologist of degrees of hipsterism (and got hornrim glasses a couple of weeks ago). That's as good a summary as any of Fete Chicago's inaugural event, put together with the keen instincts for the urban food enthusiast audience that cofounders Heather Sperling, Emily Fiffer and Jessica Herman honed during their time attracting top-flight artisanal food makers to Dose Market. From Allie Levitt's migas bark ("No one cares about me tonight," Rob Levitt laughed) to a peppermint candy pie from Bang Bang Pie Co., there was a dazzling array of foodstuffs on offer, along with holiday gifts to choose from. And Sperling says the next Fete, in the spring, will expand into the same building's second floor, where food photographer Stephen Hamilton (Who's Hungry? magazine) has his studio with two complete kitchens— so there will be more in the way of pop-up dining next time. But perhaps the coolest thing was a bus out front— the Fresh Moves bus, which basically packs an entire farmer's market into a standard CTA bus to serve food deserts. Part of the proceeds from last night's event went to benefit Fresh Moves; see what was on offer last night, and which of your favorite chefs were there, in our slideshow below.

Tough Times for Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass Beef

Chicago newsman and crime-documentary narrator Bill Kurtis has been a big advocate for grassfed beef, which he's marketed under the Tallgrass Beef label and much of which has come from his own ranch near Sedan, Kansas. But even with the help of a stentorian voice and TV fame, it can be tough being a small producer in the big business of meat, and the company has fallen behind on its payments to some of the livestock producers it has bought from. Now the government is adding to his woes; the USDA has hit Tallgrass with a $403,000 fine for not paying its suppliers properly. (Which should really help him pay those suppliers.) This was a negotiated settlement with the USDA, and Kurtis expresses optimism that he's getting his suppliers paid and can keep Tallgrass afloat. [Crain's]

Vettel Takes Three-Star Reading of Baume & Brix; It's Lao Time Out Chicago This Week

Chef Ben Roche and chef de cuisine Nate Park at Baume & Brix's grand opening party.Photo: courtesy Baume & Brix

Well, Christmas came early for Baume & Brix chefs Thomas Bowman and Ben Roche, who had been suffering under reviews which can fairly be described as excoriating— and the part of Santa Claus is played by Phil Vettel. His three star review says "Great dishes are all about juxtaposing opposing elements and achieving balance, and Baume & Brix, which opened two months ago in River North, revels in this balancing act... Appetizers are tiny and delicate, the sort of things you might find in a tasting menu, while main courses have the heft and richness of supper club entrees. Hypermodern creations such as the "naked lobster" salad (the raw lobster rendered edible via a high-pressure water bath) share menu space with a massive pork chop with Luxardo cherries." He acknowledges that the concept is a work in progress, but he clearly understands that he's coming to the rescue of a place that might have been killed prematurely by bad reviews from elsewhere: "Given its work-in-progress status and its fascination with duality, a two-star rating seems altogether fitting. But you know what? The food's too good for that. Here are three stars, gentlemen; divide them as you wish." [Tribune]

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Jonathan Gold Is Getting His Own Documentary

Coming to a theater near you.

Current Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold will be the subject of a forthcoming documentary directed by Laura Gabbert, who made 2009's No Impact Man, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When he started out 30 years ago, Gold shifted the food conversation away from white tablecloth restaurants by turning attention to a broader array of mom and pop noodle shops, burrito stalls, undersung smokehouses, gas station sandwich shops, and more, giving them the same consideration as the rest of the Los Angeles dining scene, then coming down from a fever dream of spa cuisine and oversteamed snow peas.

He's still sorta anonymous, so how will this work? »

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