Grape Expectations

This last week I’ve been drinking more than Charles Bukowski and Orson Welles at an Arizona State Keg Party. Speaking of which, I found some pretty funny (actually sad) drunken outtakes of the eminent Shakespearian actor and celebrated director slinging Paul Masson plonk. But I digress. I’ve been drinking a lot of wine and I came across a couple of bottles this week worth mentioning… 2005 Muller Catoir Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spatlese (Pfalz) Forget Bogey/Bacall, Brad and Angelina, Jay and Silent Bob, the front end citrusy sweetness and backend acidity on this bottle along with my Thai chili and limey crispy onion topped banana blossom salad from Thalia on Monday was the perfect match. One of the best German rieslings I’ve had in a while. You’ll find it at Sam’s. 2007 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) One sniff of this crisp number is like getting a swirly in a toilet filled with ruby red grapefruit juice. The fruity splash here is atypical of your normally arid Savvy Blanc. At only like $16 bucks a bottle at Binny’s, if your palate agrees with me or not, it ain’t no big thang….nice sipper to wash down some Harold’s fried chicken. Advertisements


On a Wing and a Prayer

For legions of busty women carrying overloaded trays of Buffalo wings while rocking thigh-hugging orange short shorts, October 3, 1964, is a day that will live in infamy. That’s the night Dominic Bellissimo and his college buddies crashed his parents’ business, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, looking for a snack. In return, his mom scrounged up some leftovers, chucked a few chicken wings into the fryer and then tossed them in her husband Frank’s signature Red Hot sauce. Pigskin nation would never go hungry again.

Wingin’ It

Great Sea’s spicy wings I hit nine spots and ate over 100 hot wings with the national chicken wing eating champ, local boy Patrick Bertoletti, to find the best wings in Chicago for Time Out this week. Though this wasn’t a story about Bertoletti, who is now the number #2 ranked competitive eater behind Nathan’s Famous champ Joey Chestnut, it very well could have been. You figure a mohawked competitive eater might be a punky meathead with a chip on his shoulder, but Bertoletti who’s also a culinary school grad, is a thoughtful passionate gourmand. While waiting for wings in the lobby of Harold’s Wicker Park, we watched a WWF battle between a crazy midget leprechaun and Chris Jericho. I was laughing, but Bertoletti remained stoned faced, then turned to me and said, “I can’t laugh. In the hierarchy of sport, competitive eaters are way below professional wrestlers.” That may be so, but there’s nothing fake about what Bertoletti does. He breaks down wings by crushing the joint between the two wing bones and then pushes the meat off the bone with an “umbrella technique” and sweeps it into his mouth before I’d even pick my first wing up. There’s…

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Taking on Theise

Terry Theise, the Lon Chaney of wine Terry Theise is a man of a thousand faces. Well, at last five or six. In the introduction to his 2007 German wine catalog, the legendary importer’s Fu Manchu-ed visage and hands are engaged in a range of poses including rapture, self-strangulation, a Humbert Humbert-style leer, mock-contemplation and a potential gang sign (Austrian Riesling represent.) Theise’s pictorial is accompanied by a “War and Peace”-length manifesto punctuated with quotes from poets and philosophers. Some of his personal tenets: “Harmony is more important than intensity”; “The whole of any wine must always be more than the sum of its parts”; “Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil and artisanality.”

Best of 2007

Mole rojo taco from Manolo’s at the Maxwell St. Market I’ve been a little late getting this up, but I wrote a slew of best of top 5 food lists for Newcity in December. Here’s my take on the best (in no particular order within each group of 5) of 2007… Top 5 Restaurant Openings Sepia Aigre Doux Smoque Old Town Brasserie Nazarlik

First Bite: Crisp

As the window on this Lakeview storefront says, “The Bird is the Word”. Though this mod storefront serves a wide spectrum of Americanized Korean favorites from Buddha bowls (aka BiBimBop) to Korean burritos (aka ssam) to deep fried fish, it’s the chicken that matters.

A Christmas Story

For years, I’ve been telling people Peter Billingsley, the actor who played Ralphie in the movie “A Christmas Story,” was now a porn star. By the time my family was doped up on rum balls and snoring through their third viewing of the movie, I’d whip out the porn nugget and invariably win friends and influence people. In this age of Google, since no one ever called me on it, I thought it must be true.

Phrases, Words, and Things Food Writers and Foodies Should Stop Using

Today, Leah Zeldes has a sort of an amusing article in the Daily Herald about BBQ in a hotel. Though the content is fine, I’m more interested in how she and the editor use the headline, as well of the first two paragraphs, to dub the place “sci-fi” because of it’s sleek modernist decor. I’ve never been to this place, but looking at the pictures accompanying the article, I wonder just when it is that Studio 54 inspired decor became “sci-fi”. The place looks more like a suite in Vegas than an outtake from Bladerunner. It just feels like the writer and the editor used the words “sci-fi” to prey on what they perceive as fears of backwoods suburbanites (i.e. science food and non-mcmansion drywall based decor) in order to sell papers. Furthermore, later in the article, Zeldes writes: “In creating the menu, it’s clear that he triumphed over the room’s designer or, along with restaurants like Moto, Avenues and Alinea, O’H would be serving edible paper sushi, lamb sprinkled with crushed Altoids and foie gras crusted with Pop Rocks from smoking glass test tubes.” Interestingly, Alinea serves none of those things, the first dish is from Moto, the second…

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Parsing the Painted Lady

Like Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna’s late-nineties riot grrl group,Painted Lady Organic Eatery is fierce, provocative, political and touched with a bit of girly girl pink. Though if you’re not the kind of person who enjoys blood-spattered shots of Chicago roller-derby chicks (photos of which adorn almost every flat surface here), then you might not dig this spot