This month I sit down and talk shop with Chicago’s top fishmongers, Dirk Fucik (Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop, 2070 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-404-3475), and Bill Dugan (The Fishguy Market, 4423 N. Elston Ave.; 773-283-7400), who have a combined 60 years of experience in all things aquatic. Advertisements
You’d expect Lush, the wine and spirits store located at 1306 S. Halsted, to look more like a South Side corner liquor store, with flashing neon lights and haphazard rows of sparkling liquor bottles, old bourbon barrels filled with random assortments of wines, and maybe a sprinkle of sawdust for good measure.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve got no problem making them for others. Sure it’s already three weeks into the year, but I’m gonna make a resolution for chefs, and as I’ve learned, they’re not always the most scrupulous bunch. It’s a good bet that whatever personal resolutions many local chefs made for 2007, they’ve already been violated like Ned Beatty’s character in “Deliverance.”
Harvey Milk was one of those historical names always in the back of my consciousness, but one without an associate meaning. Truth be told, and no disrespect intended, the name probably buzzed in my brain because it sounded like a clever moniker for a dairy cow.
Zevro’s new wine bottle opener I’ve got corkscrew envy. For years I’ve settled for the double lever wing style corkscrew, the standard kind you find in the cooking supply aisle in your local grocery store. Sure it takes five minutes and the strength of Vin Diesel to open a bottle, but it’s the style I grew up, and I’ve settled on it precisely out of nostalgia.
Chef Greg Christian of the Organic School Project The pizza served in my elementary-school cafeteria was a chewy rectangle of dough with cloying tomato sauce, a glop of cheese that recalled a semi-dry river of Elmer’s glue and greasy orange-stained pepperonis curled at the edges from the intense baking heat. We learned pretty quickly that the only thing worth eating was the pepperoni, and so my buddies and I started a contest whereby each of us would amble through the lunchroom asking budding vegetarians and unsuspecting friends if we could have their leftover pepperonis. Whoever collected the most also won the pepperonis collected by the others, thus ensuring a lunchtime treasure trove of endless mystery meat.
I’ve had a lot of offal tacos. There’s been lengua or tongue, braised cow cheeks and even the occasional brain taco. But, ultimately it’s the awful tacos whose insipid tomatoes, lifeless lettuces and fiery spices that really warm the soul.
Etouffée and all the trimmings at Lagniappe I’ve eaten about 1,200 meals this year. I know that works out to more than three a day, but in the last month alone, I ate at five different taquerias in one day, I had eleven different bowls of chili over three days and I drank in seven different bars in a span of three hours. That last point probably just makes me a typical Chicagoan, but as a food writer, what most people call sustenance, I call research.
What do Axl Rose, UB40, and Paul McCartney have in common? Debra Sharpe cooked for them all at one time. Sharpe, still a caterer to rock stars, set down roots in Chicago in the early ’90’s, and opened a slew of restaurants, including long running Feast in Bucktown. She currently relaunched her Cru Cafe and Wine Bar and opened up another branch of her successful Goddess and the Grocer store. In this podcast we talk about the secrets of food entrepreneurship, rock star food predilections, and her early career as a journalist working the death beat in Australia’s Coroners Court.
Whenever I interview chefs, I always ask them, “If you stabbed your sous chef and ended up on death row, what would your last meal be?” This might seem fantastic, but endless fourteen-hour days of sweaty labor over a hellfire of steaming pots and sweltering grills will break people.