Posts for January 28, 2013

Make Your Eggs Look Extra Cutesy

This $12 egg shaper will separate the yolk from the white and elevate your breakfast to Zooey Deschanel–levels of adorable. And with a pinch of salt, your eggs can produce snow. It's so cute that it makes it maybe-almost-still-not-okay for you to photograph your food. [BookOfJoe]

The Revival of the Tap Room

At The Local Beet, Tom Keith talks about the return to prominence of the tap room, that is, the bar attached to the brewery or brewer store. He quotes a 2003 piece from Gapers Block to show the disrepute that the tap room (which differs from a brewpub in that it offers little in the way of food) once stood in in Chicago:

Just as no one ever enters a liquor store with anything but a cold six-pack or a bottle of wine or something harder on their mind, no one picks a tap room for a first date, or to wish a departing office colleague farewell, or to scope out members of the opposite sex. Tap rooms, even the nicest ones, are about drinking and nothing but.

A decade later, Keith sees the tap rooms sprouting up around brewers such as Half Acre and (soon) Lagunitas as having

evolved from a seedy afterthought in a down-and-dirty liquor store to a venue for local brewers to show off their best stuff... If anything, they have more in common with Napa Valley’s tasting rooms than they do with the corner bar.

It's the first of a series on how brewing and beer drinking in Chicago has changed and will change in 2012-2013. [The Local Beet]

Meet the Chicago Pol Behind So Many Food Regulations, Alderman Ed Burke

Alderman Edward M. Burke.

If you've heard of Alderman Ed Burke, it's probably because of one of the ways that aldermen in Chicago seem vaguely quirky, comical figures— his resolution exonerating Mrs. O'Leary and her cow, or the fact that he apparently lives in a Humphrey Bogart movie in his head (he's a gun-licensed private eye with a phalanx of police bodyguards at taxpayer expense, despite the fact that he's never been a target of anything or anybody). But Burke, the longest-serving and perhaps most powerful alderman in modern history, is also a prime example of the kind of politician who, faced with real problems in a city, goes right past them to look for non-problems that can be legislated in the food world. As the libertarian magazine Reason reports, trans fats, the foie gras ban, energy drinks— if there's a hot topic related to people's health, Burke can be counted on to consider it vital that Chicago's City Council act on it. Even if, a few years later, he considers it even more vital to his own health to follow the mayor's orders on overturning it, as happened with the foie gras ban.

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Jolting News: Caffeinated Maple Syrup Is a Real Thing

Put it in your coffee!

"Natural maple flavor," caffeine, butter flavoring, and invert sugar are just four of the ingredients that make up the unholiest of breakfast condiments, Wired Wyatt's Caffeinated Syrup, which retails online for $12.99 per bottle, or essentially, $1.85 per ounce. Sure, you could get by with a few crushed-up Vivarins, a family-size jug of Aunt Jemima Butter Rich, and a balloon whisk, but the whole point of using Wired Wyatt's — with its tweaky label emblazoned with the words "all-natural" and "energy" and Doug Funnie-on-steroids caricature — is to announce to the world that you absolutely adore caffeine. This seems to be something of a trend.

A hell of a drug. »

Could Libertyville Chef Be Chicago's Next Big Name?

Paul Caravelli

The name 545 North Bar & Grill is kind of generic, and it's hard to find reviews (other than at Yelp) for the Libertyville bar and grill, which styles itself an "upscale American bistro." It's the kind of place that every suburb has but that doesn't leap out from the crowd of such places... until suddenly its chef is on TV. Paul Caravelli made it past the crowd on ABC's new Top Chef wannabe The Taste to become one of the 16 initial contestants. The burly 31-year-old won praise from Ludo Lefebvre for his signature crab cake and his boisterous personality, and will serve on Lefebvre's team in upcoming competitions. Caravelli tells Crain's, “I think I have that loose, fun-loving, energetic chef attitude that they were looking for... They didn't want anyone who would be boring.” It remains to be seen if The Taste will be a hit week after week, and if that will translate into name status for the chefs on it— only Top Chef has really succeeded at making culinary stars so far. But at the very least, it's a tip-off that there are some first-rate crab cakes going for a mere $11 up north. [Crain's]

Whopper Lover’s Funeral Procession Takes a Trip Through Burger King’s Drive-through

From Burger King to Kingdom Come

We can thank Taco Bell for giving us “Fourth Meal,” and “First Meal,” but it looks like credit for “Last Meal” goes to Burger King. This past weekend, the funeral procession for 88-year-old Whopper lover David S. Kime Jr. passed through the local Burger King drive-through on the way to the cemetery.

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See the Swankiest, Most-Star-Studded Chef's Party Ever, Last Night at Grace

One of the things about chefs is that while they always know what's going on with their fellows, it can be hard for them to take a night off and actually check out the hot new places as guests. So you can imagine that there was a little excitement at the prospect of Curtis Duffy's newly-opened and extremely hot Grace hosting the Chefs Social in advance of the Jean Banchet Awards, given annually as a benefit for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Upwards of 100 guests including a serious cross-section of the city's top chefs came out to cast secret ballots for the awards, which will be given on February 8; once that duty was out of the way, they were all about catching up and checking out Curtis' new pad and eats. Our man Huge Galdones was there; check out all the culinary stars who came out in his slideshow below.

Want To Be the Next Alpana Singh?

This could be you.

At first the announcement made it sound like Alpana Singh's replacement for the job of hosting Check, Please was already lined up. But word quickly came from producer David Manilow that that wasn't the case— and that the audition process will be opened up to all aspiring TV hosts. More details about how to try out will be released on Wednesday, but he told the Tribune this much about what they're looking for in the person who will replace Singh after ten seasons: "We're looking for knowledge and expertise in the culinary world... Someone who's inclusive and likable and able to keep a conversation."

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