Dandelion Wine

Before “Stand By Me”, the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novella “The Body”, there was Ray Bradbury’s novel and play “Dandelion Wine”, a similar, but more aw, shucks rendering of the promise of summer, the companionship of friends, and how a bit of darkness can change a boy into a man. Advertisements


A Boy Named Detroit

Though he’s a native-born Chicagoan, my 8-month-old son’s middle name is Detroit. My wife and I figured if he became a rock star, he could just drop his guttural Slavic surname, and he’d have the perfect pseudonym: Grayson Detroit. We also figured once he got past the elementary school teases, future lovers would be smitten by the cool moniker. At its most basic, the name is a reminder of where he came from—or, more precisely, where I grew up. And by transitive relation, it was also about commemorating the place that launched my love for Chicago.

Italian Beef Stands

Last week I did a few pieces for Newcity for their Italian Beef Issue, below you’ll find my individual write-ups on some favorite places. Al’s #1 Italian Beef Featuring more than thirteen herbs and spices, owner Chris Pacelli likes to joke that his beef has two more flavors than the Colonel’s secret recipe over at KFC. Whatever the other twelve are, one of them is most definitely nutmeg, making this the most distinctive beef in town. Add a thin giardiniera mix studded with paper-thin celery and red pepper and you’ve got a beef with personality that draws a sharp dividing line. Many detractors can’t stand the sweet aromatic they associate with Christmas cookies. Devotees on the other hand consider it the best beef in town. Love it or hate it, there’s nothing better than bellying up to the stainless-steel counters, unwrapping a beef, assuming the “Italian stance” (legs wide apart, elbows akimbo and gut sucked in to avoid dripping juice on your clean clothes) taking a bite and watching the summertime masses jockey like Merc traders for Italian lemonade across the street at Mario’s. 1079 West Taylor, (312)226-4017

Rebel Rum

Rum (a.k.a. Nelson’s blood, kill-devil, demon water) is no longer the exclusive domain of ruthless pirates, drunken sailors and Caribbean magnates.

Where Alice Waters Should Get Her Tacos Next Time She’s In Chicago

The cookbook pimps are out in full force. As is the case every fall, publishers aiming to capitalize on the Christmas shopping season and the subsequent loosening of foodie purse strings, release a trove of culinary related tomes and celebrity driven cookbooks. The authors of said cookbooks get sent on book tours, drop in on big food cities, sign some of their wares, and, depending on their celebrity, get courted in various media outlets and at hot local dining spots. As such, authors return the hospitality by giving a shout out to their hosts and friend’s restaurants in whatever city they are visiting. According to the Chicago Tribune‘s excellent food blog, The Stew: Alice Waters, owner of California’s famed Chez Panisse restaurant, told us her favorite Chicago stops: ” … I always like to go have a taco at Frontera Grill.” and… Fiona Beckett, the British food and wine journalist, at a recent book signing and tasting at The House of Glunz for her latest book “Food, Wine & Friends.” Her top stop in Chicago? “Frontera Grill is pretty special,” she said. God bless Rick Bayless, chef-owner of Frontera Grill. Excepting Diana Kennedy, no one’s done more nationally to bring awareness to regional Mexican cuisine, and get America…

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Grace in Bubbles

While most men of my generation rocked Kurt Cobain and “Pulp Fiction” posters in their college dorm rooms, I had a vintage poster of a Grace Kelly Taittinger champagne ad mounted above my bed at the University of Michigan. At that time, my cinematic interests were mostly of the “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” genre, but on the advice of a stoner/aspiring screenwriter I worked with, I started checking out the Hitchcock canon in my free time.