Posts for February 5, 2013

One Restaurant. One Ingredient. At Tesori Starting February 15.

Andrew Deuel at Tesori.

No, we don't mean that Tesori (the new Italian spot in the old Rhapsody spot) has suddenly become an all-chickpea restaurant or something. This is actually a pretty cool idea for a party or business dinner theme. If you have a group of 10 or more people, you can book the private dining room at Tesori, and chef Andrew Deuel will make you a dinner built around a current seasonal ingredient— every course will, in some way, feature the use of that ingredient. The opening one is the highly versatile and seasonal blood orange, and it will turn up in dishes ranging from blood range rosemary marmalade to go with berkshire pork tenderloin, to blood orange butter sauce with olives on pan seared striped sea bass, to a frozen mascarpone blood orange parfait. So, you get a group dinner that's creative and out of the ordinary, and... you don't have to deal with everyone trying to figure out what to order for themselves. Blood orange will be the One Ingredient beginning February 15 and running through the end of March; it's $65 per person for the five-course meal, with $20 for wine pairings, and reservations must be made in advance at 312-786-9911.

‘But I’m Huge in Flavortown!’

The Superdome wasn't the only thing to lose power this weekend: Guy Fieri was rejected from the VIP section of a New Orleans Super Bowl party, according to the always-trustworthy sources at Us Weekly. The social anthropologists at Us note that Fieri, perhaps still smarting from his New York Times beatdown, "caused a total scene" when he was denied access to the exclusive area. Apparently he "didn't have the right bracelet, and nobody in New Orleans knows who anyone is." Emeril totally would've gotten in. [Us, Earlier]

Lots of High People Are Taking Advantage of Free Pancake Day at IHOP

A nation stops counting calories for a moment of unity.Photo: Corbis

When it comes down to it, would you rather spend your afternoon plugging away at Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities, or just read a lot of tweets written by people who are really high and/or psyched about Free Pancake Day at IHOP? Because, you know, the chain is trending on Twitter, and buttered short-stacks loom large in the collective unconscious of our social media. Carry on, then.

"Back from my high-atus to remind you all its free pancake day at IHOP." »

Want To Study Midwestern Foods? Apply For These Grants

Been thinking about the hermaneutics of Jell-O desserts? Ready to tackle a diegesis of gender roles in coffee cakes? If there's a topic on midwestern food that fascinates you (and is hopefully less woolly than our made-up examples), the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance wants to hear about it from you. The non-profit food group (and its allied organization, Culinary Historians of Chicago), with the financial backing of the Julia Child Foundation For Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, has announced three American Midwest Foodways Scholar's Grants, ranging from $500 to $3000, to underwrite research on midwestern foods. The awards are admirably open-ended— open to academics and casual researchers, and to a wide range of possible end products, from books to articles to videos or other media. If there's something you've thought about researching and writing about (or collecting oral histories of, or whatever), go here to find out more about the requirements and the deadline for applications (April 1— but it's no joke).

A Woman Pulled Out a Gun at a Chuck E. Cheese Last Night

Not a kid's toy.Photo: Cabela's

This isn't good: A Connecticut woman was arrested last night for pulling a semi-automatic handgun on another woman at Chuck E. Cheese, according to NBC. It's hardly the first time parents have brawled at Chuck's: Over the summer, a woman crashed a Chuck E. Cheese kids' party to slice off a romantic rival's ear. Who needs farm-to-table when there's buffet-to-jail?

Read more »

High-School Students Arrested for Starting Food Fight


Clearly the principal of Georgia's Ola High School is not an Animal House fan. He got nine students jailed for staging a food fight in the cafeteria, and they're facing charges of disruption of public school, inciting a riot, failure to disperse, obstruction, and possession of marijuana (that last one's an oops). Since five of the pranksters are adults, this could go on their record. School officials found out about the shenanigans ahead of time and asked the students to halt their plans. Now they're on a witch hunt, looking at surveillance cameras to try to identify more food-throwers. Relax: Sloppy Joes and spaghetti never hurt anyone. [11 Alive]

Bar Roundup: Marie's Riptide Lounge Lives; Watch Lottie's On TV at Lottie's

Lottie's Pub will be on Chicago Fire this week— under a pseudonym.Photo: courtesy Lottie's Pub

According to our friend David Hammond, embattled Marie's Riptide Lounge was saved at the last minute by new investors, who promptly changed its ineffable Algrenesque character forever/brought the dive bar into the 21st century by putting in flat screen TVs and adding a new sign. What exactly was the deal for the ownership-disputed bar and who is or is not still involved with it, we don't know, but given the level of obsession toward this dive bar in the food media last week (you'd think it was Chief Keef or somethin'), we're sure someone will be adding to the details soon.

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The ‘Big Mac Index,’ Now Extra Well Done

Packed with number-crunching power.

"The Big Mac index was invented by The Economist in 1986," the magazine writes, "as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their 'correct' level." It's since become the benchmark for understanding the relative values of currencies around the world. It may not be constructed on the best foundation of economics, but that's why they call it "burgernomics," and anyhow — fortified with raw GDP as it is — the chart is not without its insights. Check out the new, "interactive" version of the Big Mac Index here, then school yourself in exchange-rate theory by dredging through the comments, and all that special sauce. [Economist]

Video Feed: 18th Floor Cocktail Demo by Craig Schoettler at Drumbar

When Drumbar at the top of the Raffaello opened last summer, the words "rooftop deck" and its spectacular yet human-scaled 18th floor views of Mag Mile skyscrapers were enough to have it packed every night. Come winter, though, and it's a different matter, which is why the hotel recruited Craig Schoettler, formerly of The Aviary, to try to make the bar a hot cocktail destination and a welcoming neighborhood hangout. Which, frankly, it could hardly be better suited for— you'd never think from the space's comfortable old-money feel that it had never been a bar before last year, it feels like it's been around since the Cape Cod Room was hot new dining. Schoettler has upgraded the cocktail program not only with Aviary-level modernist techniques, but also with simply a lot of impeccably sourced product, and in our short video below he shows off some of the rare vintages they've acquired as well as one impressive cocktail he calls "Smoke" (which is on the "Progressive" cocktails menu, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only). Watch our 4-1/2 minute video below, then check out the menu.

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Duff Goldman Offers to Bake for Lesbian Couple That Experienced Discrimination


Last month, an Oregon baker refused to help a same-sex couple who wanted to purchase a wedding cake. The women claim that Sweet Cakes Bakery owner Aaron Klein referred to them as "abominations unto the Lord," and said he'd rather close down his business than "be forced to do something that violates my conscience." That's exactly what may happen; Klein's now under investigation for violating the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As sad and vile as all of these stories of discrimination are, what's inspiring is that people are quick to stand up and defend others.

Enter: Duff Goldman. »

Ombra Names New Chef, Rafael Vargas, Debuts Winter Menu

Rafael Vargas at Ombra.Photo: courtesy Ombra

We liked Ombra (aka Bar Ombra) from the moment we stepped into its Venetian bar meets Martian Old West atmosphere, and we were made happy by the comfy bar snacks which, within their own minigenre, seemed one of the most authentic-to-Italy Italian food experiences to be had in town. We were less happy when we saw the menu never change, and with the departure of Carlos Ysaguirre, chef of the whole Anteprima-Acre-Ombra complex, for Austin last year, we wondered if Ombra would remain a place worth keeping tabs on. Happily, some of our concerns seem to be allayed by the appointment of Rafael Vargas as Chef de Cucina for Ombra. Vargas worked under Ysaguirre to open the Acre side of the business, and has been involved with The Harvest Cafe, a farm to table restaurant in central Illinois. But the other interesting part is that he's tackling changing the menu with the seasons, bringing in some heartier dishes for winter such as Chianti-braised short ribs and duck lasagna. Which means we look forward to what spring and summer will bring, too.

Cookie Monster’s Carbo-Crime Spree Comes to an End in Germany

The shocking crime has rocked the city of Hanover to its very foundations.Photo: Michael Thomas/Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung

You probably heard about last month's theft of an ornamental, gilded bronze biscuit that had been hanging without incident just outside the German bakery Bahlsen's office in Hanover, Germany, for 100 years. Bahlsen's makes Leibniz biscuits, and this 44-pound model is emblematic of the company's history; so naturally, Bahlsen's chair Werner M. Bahlsen appealed to the robber through the press, offering 1,000 euros for any information leading to the gold Leibniz's safe return. But, nothing. But then, just days after the crime, newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung received a really weird ransom note. It was from Cookie Monster.

The outrageous demands. »

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