Posts for February 12, 2013

‘Bitter Barista’ Loses His Job After Wittily Complaining About Customers Online

Cup this, jerks!

Because we greatly value and love giving book deals to service industry employees who secretly jot down all the stupid, pushy, and embarrassing things customers say and then publish them online later, a former barista in Seattle who keeps a blog called Bitter Barista has been fired, Sprudge reports, but will no doubt soon publish a book filled with all sorts of fun observations. After he was outed as the sardonic blogger, the Seattle Times reports, Matt Watson tried to explain to his boss that Bitter Barista — "thoughts from behind the counter (and other reasons why I hate you)" tagline and all — was satire, but to no avail. Now he's determined to keep going, so get ready for more insights like, "Every time someone orders an extra-hot-no-foam latte, an angel rapes a puppy." Also, to be on the safe side, you may want to check that you're ordering your coffee the right way. [Sprudge, Seattle Times, Related]

Robert Parker Protégé Antonio Galloni Leaves The Wine Advocate to Launch New Web Venture


Wine geeks, take note: A major changing of the guard is at hand. Antonio Galloni, who has been a critic for Robert Parker's extremely influential magazine The Wine Advocate since 2006, is busting out on his own next month with a new web-based publication,, aimed at younger wine consumers.

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Lesbian Couple Accepts Duff Goldman’s Wedding Cake; Meanwhile, Business Thrives at Homophobic Baker’s Shop

Equal cake for all.

After Sweet Cakes by Melissa owner Aaron Klein refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman stepped in and offered to bake and deliver one for free. Even though Laurel Bowman and her fiancée had already enlisted another baker in Portland, they said yes, of course — you can never have too much cake. But this story doesn't have a cookie-cutter, happy ending: As the state attorney general's office decides whether Klein violated the Oregon Equality Act, business is booming at Sweet Cakes. Klein is standing by his decision to discriminate, and people are supporting him; he recently sold out of cupcakes. If this leaves you feeling ill (and makes you hate cupcakes), know that you can take action: Bowman and her fiancée are asking anyone who's moved by their story to donate to Pride Northwest on their behalf. Now, that's a good wedding gift. [Earlier, Oregonian, HuffPo]

Bon Appétit Says These 20 Restaurants Are the Country’s Most Influential

Le Bernardin: Still going strong.Photo: Danny Kim

For its March issue, Bon Appétit proffers a nifty and interactive feature on the top twenty restaurants that are at this moment doing significant things for food in America — you'll notice by calling them "important," the magazine avoids the pitfalls of adjectives like "best" or "trendiest" and pretty much opens up a new way of looking at restaurant culture altogether. "Restaurants," writes editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport, "more than movies or music or literature — are this generation's arbiters of taste." So how tasteful is the list? Let's take a look.

Oysters! Chinese food! »

City Provisions' Last Beer (Maybe) To Debut at Lillie's Q February 20

Cleetus Friedman.

One of the cool things about City Provisions, now closed, was the network of collaborations Cleetus Friedman embarked on with other local suppliers of all kinds. That included everything from chef dinners to honey, but one of the most common was Friedman's many collaborations with local breweries. The abrupt closing of City Provisions left at least one of those beers without a place to hold its debut party, however. Now Lillie's Q will host that event a week from tomorrow. The beer is a collaboration with Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall, Michigan, called "I'll Have More"— a chocolate, caramel, and toasted rice stout that’s flavor profile is based off Nestle’s 100 Grand candy bar. (We're guessing that was a favorite of young Cleetus, as it is clearly not local-sustainable.) It will be on draft during the launch party February 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the price of $7 per pint; other Dark Horse beers will be on tap as well.

Yet Another Heart Attack Grill Customer Dies

The Quadruple Bypass Burger.Photo: Heart Attack Grill

John Alleman, a 52-year-old unofficial spokesman for Las Vegas's death-happy Heart Attack Grill, has died after suffering — yup — a heart attack. Alleman reportedly ate at the restaurant nearly every day, despite owner "Doctor Jon" Basso's warnings that Triple Bypass Burgers really weren't everyday food. This follows two similar incidents last year. How long before someone takes action here?

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Our Moderately Mega-Colossal Mardi Gras Roundup

After compiling two days of ten gazillion Valentine's Day roundup items, we need a drink. Too bad today isn't a day devoted to excessive alcohol consumption in every direction... wait a minute... it is! It's Mardi Gras, and we just remembered that we got a bazillion press releases about it, too! Here's stuff you could do tonight and hazily remember tomorrow.

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Justin Warner’s Dinner Tab at Masa Triggered Credit Card Company Alarms


The country's most expensive restaurant is so pricey that it sends up red flags in credit card company software, apparently: After the Brooklyn-based Food Network star Justin Warner had a meal with his girlfriend at high-, high-end sushi restaurant Masa and paid the bill, he got a text from Chase checking in to confirm the $1284.73 tab was legit. Which, in a way, could be a really good marketing strategy for the restaurant. [Justin Warner/Twitter via Price Hike, Earlier]

Coroner Says Woman’s Massive Coca-Cola Habit Played a Part in Her Death

Stick to the small size.

Three years ago, Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old mother of eight in New Zealand, died of a heart attack. But a coroner says Harris, who allegedly swilled up to ten liters of Coca-Cola per day — "twice the recommended safe limit of caffeine and more than 11 times the recommended sugar intake" — did herself in with soda, reports the BBC. She drank so much, in fact, that her teeth had rotted from decay and she'd go into intense withdrawal symptoms when deprived of her chosen beverage.

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Fabio Viviani Shows Us ‘The Fort Knox of Pasta’ at Siena Tavern in Chicago

Fabio Viviani didn't win Season 5 of Top Chef, but he was clearly one of the show's winners in real life, his madcap Italian charm— part Mastroanni, part Marx Brother— made for TV. (Not surprisingly, he won Fan Favorite at the season's end.) The Los Angeles-based chef and restaurateur (Cafe Firenze, Firenze Osteria) turned it on for us when we visited Siena Tavern, his new Chicago restaurant which opens this Saturday, and it's fun to be told with full Italian braggadocio that his walk-in is "the Fort Knox of Pasta" or that his mother's lasagna recipe is going to lead to America giving "birth to a new concept of lasagna." But the next moment it becomes clear that he's serious, even reverent about Italian food, and that he's very earnest about opening in a city with a serious food rep and measuring up to the caliber of chefs already working here. In the first of two five-minute videos exclusively for Grub Street, Fabio talks about the housemade pasta program at Siena Tavern and invites us into his Fort Knox; on Thursday, he'll talk pizza. Watch the video below.

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The Blame Game: Europe’s Horse Crisis Is Giving a Viable Food Source a Bad Name

Trigger was a friend, a star, and probably some French person's eventual dinner.Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

Who knew something as innocuous as frozen lasagna would ever set off a huge international food scandal? After European officials discovered that lots of meat labeled as "beef" was actually "horse" (or possibly donkey), people are, you know, pissed off. Rightfully so, but the problem here is that horsemeat is getting an even worse reputation than it already had, when it's the world's broken food maufacturing systems that are the real problem.

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Take a Trip Out of Chicago At Your Nearest Paczki-Peddling Polish Bakery

Paczki Day is melancholy for us ever since our favorite Polish bakery period burned a couple of years ago, though it held the title not because we loved the traditional pre-Lent Polish take on doughnuts specifically, so much as because we loved the sweet old ladies, the Warsaw-1954 atmosphere, the way that going into a Polish bakery was stepping out of Chicago entirely for a moment. So what we're saying is, don't necessarily think of Paczki Day as a competitive sport which requires finding the very best; think of it as an excuse to check out your nearest Polish bakery and appreciate the alternate Chicago universe that it represents. That said, of course there are some standout ones, and several local sites have their favorite-paczki roundups today. Chuck Sudo named his at Chicagoist last year (but bumps the post today), starting with his local Bridgeport Bakery (and reminding us that we named Delightful Pastries our favorite paczki once, so it must be true); The Huffington Post has a slideshow of top spots including (again) Delightful Pastries and Oak Mill Bakery, among others; CBS Chicago's list has a lot of suburban spots not otherwise covered; and check out listings at WBEZ and Metromix.

Bloomberg Declares Mission Sort of Accomplished in War on Salt

Reduced sodium!Photo: iStockPhoto, Creative Commons

The mayor who puts salt on Saltine crackers and allegedly chows down on popcorn so sprinkled with sodium that it hurts his guests is nonetheless pleased with a New York City–led initiative that's resulted in several companies reducing the sodium contents of their products. Kraft, Unilever, Heinz, Butterball, Goya, Starbucks, and ConAgra are among the manufacturers who are making the dinner table less salty.

Who's cutting down. »

Amanda Rockman Leaving The Bristol/Balena For New Project

Amanda Rockman at Balena.Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

One of the city's top pastry chefs is moving on. Amanda Rockman, whose basque cake at The Bristol would make anybody's shortlist of the top desserts in town, and who created an unusual sundae-focused dessert program for the same restaurant group's Balena, is leaving after three years as of February 23, according to a release issued by the company yesterday afternoon. She told the Tribune that she will be involved with a new project in Chicago, but isn't saying what it will be, other than "It'll be a lot different." Rockman, who appeared on Top Chef: Just Desserts in 2011, can be seen in her 2012 episode of the Reader's Key Ingredient below. UPDATE: 312 Dining Diva reports that Rockman will go to Lettuce Entertain You as corporate pastry chef. [312DD]

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