Posts for March 1, 2013

In The Event Spring Happens, Here's What Will Be Happening

The idea of Spring seems a cruel joke, yet we have reason to believe it will eventually come, and The Local Beet's calendar is already starting to show the first tender shoots of farmer's markets full of events and green stuff. Maintained by Jeannie Boutelle— who you will often find working Tiny Greens' stand at the Green City Market— it's surprising how much activity it already shows, even if much of it is of the "nothing's growing so let's have a chili cook off" variety (see March 3). It's updated every week; here's the current version, but you really want to bookmark The Local Beet and check it every week.

Bordeaux Is So Out It’s Back In Again

This little piggy goes oui oui oui.

Eric Asimov penned an amusing bit in the Times this week about how the "faddish dismissal" of Bordeaux among the American wine cognoscenti — deeming it overpriced and only worthy of douchebags — has begun to turn. Ironically, the grandaddy of big wines, from perhaps the most established wine-growing region in the world, has taken on the role of unsung underdog among American sommeliers after a decade of being largely ignored by everyone but Richard Parker. If you were cool, you didn't recommend Bordeaux. It's been all about Barbaresco, Riesling, obscure Italian or Eastern-European varietals, or even Burgundy, along with lots of talk of acidity and food-friendliness. Asian buyers and collectors may have driven up the price of premier-cru vintages to record highs, but the chateaux finally realized in the last year or two that they'd lost a lot of love from wine professionals and importers, prompting them to launch an unheard-of PR effort. The result: Sommeliers are rediscovering some of the more moderately priced labels and putting them back on lists, and wine writer and sommelier Richard Betts is even producing wines in conjunction with a Bordeaux estate that clock in under $35. They named it Saint Glinglin — a fictional saint of French idiom whose name basically means "when pigs fly." [NYT]

Vettel Says Maison Offers Fresh Take on French Classics; Nagrant Checks Out Cajun Down South (Suburbs)

Looks like pretty classic French onion soup to us.Photo: courtesy Maison via Facebook

"The youthful Maison Brasserie displays a reverence for the past, dishing up French food while managing to feel fresh and vibrant. The dining room, for instance, is devoid of French travel posters, Toulouse-Lautrec lithographs and other obvious touches," says Phil Vettel of the French restaurant from the team behind the recently-closed Custom House, Peter and Sue Kim-Drohomyrecky and Chef Perry Hendrix. He praises Hendrix's take on classics like "a fine steak tartare, served with beautifully thin and crispy fries, and the best escargots dish I've had in quite a while, the supertender snails gamboling with mushrooms in a chartreuse-splashed garlic-butter sauce under a golden pastry-square roof." [Tribune]

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Taco Bell’s U.K. Locations Also Sold Horsemeat

Order the chicken.

More bad news: Less than a week after Birds Eye withdrew tainted chili con carne from institutions throughout Britain, and Ikea announced it recalled Swedish meatballs in the U.K. because they had been contaminated with horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency announced that beef samples taken from Taco Bell's three United Kingdom locations had tested positive for horse DNA in the newest round of lab tests conducted on food, the BBC reports.

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Girl Scouts Bust Honey Boo Boo Over Online Cookie Sales

Impish reality star Honey Boo Boo is warring with the Girl Scouts of America after cutting in on their cookie racket. Ms. Boo Boo recently sold thousands of boxes of Thin Mints and Savannah Smiles through her Facebook page, and now the Scouts are crying foul, objecting that online sales by a celebrity with zillions of fans sort of ruins the important life lessons this first dip into capitalism is supposed to teach the girls. [TMZ, Earlier]

Why Groupon’s Failures Should Be a Wake-up Call to Struggling Restaurants

Andrew Mason, now 100 percent off.Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ouster of Groupon founder-CEO Andrew Mason late yesterday has produced a flood of what-happened-and-how-do-you-turn-this-thing-around pieces — see Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Tribune or John Pletz at Crain's. Yet almost no one has given more than passing mention to the central customer experience of Groupon, at least during its heyday: restaurant and other small business discounts. So we turned to an expert to see what she thinks.

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Watch 42,000 Pounds of Ketchup Spill Onto the Highway

Drivers probably thought they were driving by a bloody murder scene in Reno, but it was actually just ketchup. A trailer truck got into an accident and spilled a massive amount of Heinz, stopping traffic for over an hour. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Except tens of thousands of bottles.

BYO fries. »

How Malört Came To Be... Maybe

Where does the legendarily nasty only-in-Chicago liqueur Malört come from? Here's one theory, courtesy of a monthly short film competition held by Second City. Watch it below. [TOC]

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Whoa: Horse Slaughter Starting Up Again in Two States

Abandoned and aging horses may be turned into meat.Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The Times reports that "several" companies have approached the USDA and asked to resume inspection of horses bound for slaughter, which would lead to the reintroduction of equine meat into foods manufacured for human consumption. In 2011, Congress lifted a five-year-old ban on funding inspections, which was at the time the most significant impediment to the legalized, regulated sale of horsemeat in the United States. Now, the paper reports, at least one slaughterhouse is hot to trot — it's just waiting for the inspectors to show.

Cloudy with a chance of (horse) meatballs? »

Barbara Lynch on Protégée Kristen Kish: Her Top Chef Win Is Amazing for ‘All Women Chefs’

A proud boss.

We checked in with Barbara Lynch, Kristen Kish's boss at Boston's Stir, to get her postshow reactions. Not shockingly, Lynch is delighted for the Top Chef winner: "This is so amazing, not just for Boston but for all women chefs. She totally thinks outside the box and is so creative, which I love. She never does the easy or obvious when cooking," Lynch says. "We couldn’t be prouder of our girl. I knew she had it in her!” Does this mean a promotion?

A Farm To Table Tycoon? Investor Plans Café With His Farm's Food

Did Chicago investor Fred Latsko just look at the warm and fuzzy Chicago farm-to-table scene and think, "vertical integration?" Maybe. Latsko, who among various real estate investments is the backer of Chicago Q and Table 52, is planning a cafe's called Blue Door Farm Stand at 843 W. Armitage, serving sandwiches and salads as well as coffee and pastries. What's interesting, besides the restaurant itself, is the way it dovetails with other aspects of Latsko's business— he's leasing the space back from a realty trust which bought the property in 2012 from... Fred Latsko. And the restaurant will use produce from an Indiana farm... Fred Latsko's. All of which, besides representing an apparent personal interest in farm to table stuff, is undoubtedly pretty smart for making a café with 40 seats a viable concern on a pretty high rent strip which most agree is currently a bit underserved, restaurant-wise. It's set to open in May. [Chicago Real Estate Daily]

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