Posts for January 17, 2013

Making the Case For Eating in the Burbs

Our friend David Hammond has a new series in association with one of his many gigs, the Oak Park-based Wednesday Journal, in which he talks about a particular food to be found in the area. Up first: a look at a retro specialty somewhat out of fashion these days, corned beef hash, which he eats at George's, a classic Greek diner in the area. The series is called You Really Should Eat This; check out the first two-minute episode below.

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The Bocuse d’Or Will Be Live-Streamed From Lyon

There are twelve more days until Richard Rosendale, the executive chef from West Virginia's Greenbrier resort, will channel the full range of his culinary faculties at the prestigious culinary competition. He and commis Corey Siegel have trained for a year and will try for the top slot, a feat that has not yet been accomplished by the American team. If you're able to get up at 3 a.m., you'll be able to julienne along at home by tuning into team USA's official website, where they'll live-stream the whole contest. #NoSleepTillLyon [Bocuse d'Or USA, Earlier]

Crabs Have Feelings, Too, Scientists Report

"Ouch! Quit it!"

A team of researchers from Queen's University in Belfast devised an experiment to determine whether the shore crabs they were shocking with electrical currents were just twitchy or if they were perhaps reacting to pain. All signs point to the latter, says lead author Robert Elwood. Of course, none of this should come as a surprise, since it's already established that fish and lobsters are more sensitive than previously thought; moreover, a crackerjack team of scientists and philosophers announced last year that all kinds of animals, including cephalopods, are conscious, and that more research into non-human consciousness needs to be carried out. So, hell yeah, crabs feel pain. Perhaps they're even capable of feeling your pain. [MSNBC]

Top Chef Seattle Recap: David Rees on Restaurant Wars and Understanding Coconut Flavors

Time for Restaurant WarsPhoto: David Moir/Bravo

Mark my words: This week’s installment of Restaurant Wars will be remembered as one of the most controversial battles in Top Chef history. Not since Napoleon lost the tussle at Waterloo have we been so whiplashed, gobsmacked, and just plain ol’ cornhusked by a military outcome. Read on for the gory details ... if you dare!

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Honey Butter Fried Chicken's Tour of The Scary Basements of Chicago

Honey Butter Fried Chicken at Dose Market long ago.

We were talking with a restaurant owner the other night about the line between restaurant news and sheer gossip, and said we often find the most mundane-seeming stories the most fascinating... that so and so got canned for being a drunk is a yawn, but how a particular food gets onto everybody's menu at once is often a great, Byzantine story. As if to satisfy our interest in nitty gritty inside stories, Anthony Todd pops up today at Chicagoist with the thrilling saga of... Honey Butter Fried Chicken looking for a space. Think nothing could be less interesting than someone else's year and a half of shopping with a realtor? Think again, as owners Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski talk about all the things you see and learn when you're scouting the city for the right space...

There was one place that we looked at that shall remain unnamed. We went down into the basement and there was a bathtub waterline three feet off the ground. It was the second time we'd looked at it, and it wasn't there the first time. So it had flooded three feet in that time. I think the person just tried to pretend it didn't happen. The furnace and water heater had been sitting in it.

You can tell that, like online dating, seeing what was really out there only made them more cynical over time. But in the end, it worked out happily— they're opening soon in the former La Finca space on Elston, and have a good relationship with the family who sold it to them. [Chicagoist]

Dishcrawl Returns to Wicker Park January 29

We mentioned Dishcrawl a while back as one of several social-food outfits which have launched in recent times to help people meet other food-interested folks and explore the Chicago dining scene. We're always happy when the first event of such startups is actually followed by more, and Dishcrawl will be back in a couple of weeks for its third event in Wicker Park (we're also told that they're hard at work on an itinerary for another neighborhood soon). $45 gets you a tour that will take you to tastings at four different restaurants, all food included; the restaurants are secret until you meet up, though we are informed that one of them is a place putting a new, artisanal spin on one of Chicago's classic foods (rhymes with Novo Spiros). And for a limited time, you can knock $5 off the already modest price with the offer code "grubstreet." To find out more and get tickets, go here.

Watch the ‘Honest’ Version of Coca Cola’s Anti-Obesity Commercial

If Coca-Cola's big new marketing push to reinvent itself as a company that takes the health of consumers very seriously has left you fatigued, or perhaps the soda company's flashy new anti-obesity ad left you feeling a little sad and bewildered, here's the "honest" version of that flashy commercial. Someone's cheekily taken the original's and hijacked the audio. "If you choose to live a healthy lifestyle," the new narrator intones, "you should not be drinking any of our products." Of note is that the purported uploader here is John "Doc" Pemberton, otherwise known as the man who invented Coke. Check it out now, before the corporate lawyers check their in-boxes and snap into action.

"You'll get fatter, and fatter." »

Harry the Hot Dog Man Dies at 103, Still Working

The Sun-Times' Neil Steinberg has a lovely obituary for Harry Heftman, the owner of Harry's Hot Dogs, a downtown hot dog stand in the Showmen's League building which he operated for six decades until closing in 2009— when he was 100. At the time, he retired... for two weeks before going to work at East of Eden's in Skokie as a greeter. A Hungarian immigrant— he was 12 before he met his father, who had moved to Chicago to earn money to bring the rest of the family over— Heftman opened the Little Snack Shop in the building owned by the guild of circus and carnival workers in 1954 (according to Steinberg, though other sources say 1946), changed its name to Harry's in the 1980's, and had to close when the building at Randolph and Franklin was demolished in 2009; the space is now a park in front of a high-rise. Peter Spyropolous, who owns East of Eden's, remembers him to Steinberg:

“Oh, he was a good man,” said Spyropoulos. “Nobody can replace Harry. They don’t make them like him any more. Positive attitude. Belief in work. People like that don’t exist any more. He loved life, and he loved people. He was full of life until the last minute. Part of our life is missing.”


Energy Drinks Cause Even More Trips to the ER

Just don't.

Back in October, Grub presented you with a sinister history of energy-drink-related deaths and illnesses. Only one month later, 5-Hour Energy was cited in reports of thirteen deaths. It's unfortunate that we're not surprised to now learn that ER visits tied to energy drinks have doubled since 2007. Most of the cases involve teens and young adults, who are often mixing energy drinks with alcohol, and sometimes stimulant drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. The toxic combinations can cause insomnia, seizures, dehydration, kidney failure, heart attacks ― the list goes on and on. It's a problem that's far deadlier and more concentrated than your usual bout of binge-drinking or dangerous-eating, and legislative change is needed.

The FDA is waiting until spring. »

Lettuce Entertain You Bluntly Denies Collaborating With Controversial Restaurant/Lounge Owner (As Reported Elsewhere)

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has no relationship and no plans to work with the controversial owner of an Avondale restaurant and lounge, a corporate spokesperson told Grub Street Chicago. In response to our query about a report by news startup DNAInfo on Tuesday which was picked up yesterday by Eater, in which the owner of the shuttered Eclipse Restaurant and Lounge at 2554 W. Diversey claimed that he would reopen next month in partnership with the widely-admired restaurant company, Lettuce's statement was firm and more than a little pointed: "It is NOT true, there is NO partnership, and there was NO fact checking done by the reporter."

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Yelp Is Adding Health Department Grades to Restaurant Listings

The social-networking site Yelp will begin implementing its LIVES standard in New York and San Francisco over the next couple of weeks, which will give the company the ability to import and integrate restaurant-inspection results directly into its listings, Bloomberg reports. Users will soon be able to look up a restaurant's information and click through to linked reports for more details about its most recent food-safety violations, the hygiene of its workers, and so on. The new standard, which relies on a new data entry standard, is particularly notable because San Francisco restaurants are not currently required to display inspection results, and in New York, restaurant grades must be posted on site, but there's no way to hyperlink to an establishment's inspection reports. According to the Verge, Yelp will add inspection data to its Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia listings in the upcoming months. [Bloomberg, Verge]

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