The Bari Italian

It would seem that a man who wore a Jason (of Friday the 13th) mask for a living and took more than a few discs of frozen rubber to the head during his career isn’t the best person to take food advice from. Advertisements


Wall Street Journal Wine Writers Protest Too Much

The Wall Street Journal wine team of Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher examine what happens in high end restaurants when you request by the glass wine pairings to accompany a tasting menu. What could have been an interesting nuanced exploration turns into the typical crochety affair of a couple of journalists living high on the hog and their expense accounts hoping to be taken care of at high end restaurants. They seem to be more obsessed with rejecting tables they don’t think are good enough and communing with head sommeliers than parsing their pairings.

Polish Buffets

In 1977 Illinois enacted a holiday to commemorate Casimir Pulaski, a Polish folk hero and Revolutionary War officer considered the father of the American cavalry. As a result, every first Monday in March, schoolchildren and city employees have another government-sponsored day off. We figured there’s no better way to honor Pulaski than by throwing down at a generous Polish buffet. Here are the top nine, in ranking order from best to, well, still pretty good.

In Search of Edward Hopper

Chris Borrelli from the Trib goes in search of a real Chicago diner that represents Edward Hopper’s iconic Nighthawks. Do watch the accompanying video, as Borrelli’s economic and vivid narration is even better than the written piece. He doesn’t find exactly what he’s looking for, and frankly we’re not sure it exists anymore. Though, while there’s no plate glass expanse as in the painting, I’d say Chicago’s closest manifestation is the Ramova Grill.

Tru: The Next Generation

A biochemistry major and an actor walk into a restaurant… It may sound like a joke, but it actually describes the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Tim Graham, 31, chef de cuisine, and Chad Ellegood, wine director and sommelier, of TRU restaurant (676 North St. Clair). With Executive Chef Rick Tramonto splitting time on new restaurant projects and sommelier Scott Tyree departing for fine-wine retailer Hart Davis Hart, Graham and Ellegood were given the keys to the culinary kingdom last year.

Fun With Bacon and Marcona Almond Maple Syrup Brittle

I was at Whole Foods last night staring at a Vosges Mo’s Bacon Chocolate Bar, remembering how I’d devoured one in a single sitting the week before. Scared that I’d do the same again if given the chance, I ran away without buying a bar. Then an hour later as I was sitting on my couch, I was thinking I’d been a fool. I started dreaming of salt and sweet variations. With no chocolate on hand, but plenty of bacon and nuts, I though, hmmm bacon pecan brittle….oh wait, I have Marcona almonds, bacon marcona brittle…..of course I’m one of those dudes who drowns his entire breakfast plate in syrup, so if I’m goin’ bacon, I gotta have some syrup…and voila, recipe below. It’s rare that I have such good ideas. Now I’m thinking chorizo marcona brittle, or marcona almond brittle with a touch of smoked paprika…stay tuned!

Stephanie Izard, America’s Sweetheart

In a few weeks when Top Chef 4 launches, Stephanie Izard, former chef/owner of Scylla just might steal America’s heart. We know she stole our stomach last time we ate her cuisine. Plus she’s a fellow Michigan alum, go blue! We interviewed her last year for Sun Times Centerstage….an excerpt from the Q and A… What do you wish you could change/pickle about the Chicago restaurant scene? More places to eat late night than the usual suspects of fast food and Mexican joints. What would your last meal be? Sushi and French fries. Where do you eat before/after a shift? Arturo’s Tacos at Western and Armitage—I usually get the tostado carnitas. Finally, the Stamford Times, Izard’s old neighborhood newspaper has a profile. Though they regretably call Julia Child, Julia “Childs” in the article and refer to the palate as the “Pallet”.

Really Love Your Peaches, Wanna Shake Your Tree

Some of you may remember I interviewed Cameron Hughes about a year and a half ago. Hughes owns no vineyards, makes no wine, but he has an inside connection to some of the best wineries that do. The way the model works is many top wineries produce wine that either doesn’t fit in to their profile or they make too much of a wine. That’s where Hughes steps in. He buys up the excess lots and then markets them under his own label and sells them direct on his website or through Costco. Because Hughes bypasses traditional middle men and marketing fees, he’s able to offer incredible wines for a value.

The Trouble With Takashi

It’s probably not a good sign when your restaurant’s banquettes look like they’re covered with spermatozoa. I know the interior designer for Takashi (1952 North Damen) thought the fabric pattern they chose, thousands of long, subtle, flaggelating lines punctuated by random ovals, seemed modern, harmless and organic, but unfortunately, it’s too organic. During my entire meal I had flashbacks of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and eighth grade “PBS NOVA” health videos.

Tim Graham & Chad Ellegood

With sommelier Scott Tyree’s departure for Hart Davis Hart last year and Rick Tramonto splitting time on his Cenitare restaurant projects (though he’s still very much involved at TRU), we wondered how TRU restaurant was faring. Turns out it’s in the able hands of chef de cuisine Tim Graham and wine director and sommelier Chad Ellegood. In this podcast I get to know Ellegood and Graham a bit and we discuss their new paradigm shifting wine service and the future of cooking at TRU.