Baird Brewing Rising Sun Pale Ale – Japanese Ale

March 31 2011 - 3:59 PM

To support a good cause, Japan's economic recovery from the recent disasters that have beset it, I picked up a bottle of Baird Brewing's Rising Sun Pale Ale, crafted by the brewery with a very un-Japanese name that hails from Numazu, Japan.  It stands out from many pale ales in several ways. It's heavily carbonated, pouring a massive white top that takes forever to dissipate and slows down the process of emptying the bottle (and my drinking progress!).  It has an ordinary fruity but refreshing nose. 


Play for Life's Season Opener – Best of the Ballpark

March 30 2011 - 10:42 PM

This Friday is Play for Life International's big fundraiser:

Play for Life International is a nonprofit that uses sports to help at-risk youth develop healthy relationships and learn essential life lessons.  It's not just about winning, it's about empowerment: the power to live a positive lifestyle, the power to treat others with respect, and the power to make responsible choices. Every day, we're reminding these kids that they're not victims of circumstances – they're contenders.

The Fourth Annual Season Opener: The Best of the Ball Park is their largest fundraiser of the year. Competing chefs include: Sean Cunneen from Inspiration Kitchens Uptown, Ryan Pitts from RL, Carlos Gaytan of Mexique, and Jason Petrie of Revolution Brewery face-off in a contest creating their own twist on ball park fare. Guests will be able to sample each chef’s creation, and, at the end of the night, one chef will be crowned The Best of the Ball Park.


Alright Already About Next; What About The Aviary?

March 30 2011 - 12:25 PM

It seems like Next is already the best restaurant in the world even before it opens. While I’d agree that the concept is so good and the potential is sooo there, I think we will be hard pressed to get tickets even on a Tuesday, last minute. Seriously. That said Aviary is the unsung partner, at least as unsung as an Achatz project gets. Check out the “bubble tea G+T” where the micro-encapsulation is a bit more complicated than a regular bubble tea (which means stirring a pot full of tapioca pearls). Check out the video. Props to Chef Achatz and Craig Schoettler and everyone who enjoys doing something more when it’s hard.

Goose Island –  Now Ultra-Premium

March 28 2011 - 10:34 AM

Anheuser-Busch is officially buying Goose Island. Here's a link to the Trib article:

The makers of Budweiser will pay a total of $38.8 million for the brewery on Fulton Street that sends its beers across the globe. Though jarring in an industry that prides itself on independence and creativity, the move isn't completely unexpected. Anheuser-Busch has had a hand in the company since 2006, when the Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brewers Alliance — of which AB has a minority interest — took a minority ownership of Goose. AB has played a role in Goose's distribution ever since.



2005 Becker Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

March 27 2011 - 10:54 PM

Regular readers may find this familiar, but I’ve been vowing for quite some time to drink wine from more New World producers, but for me it’s difficult to do, partially because of my disdain for many over-the-top wines that don’t work well with food (not enough acidity, too much fruit, oak, etc.), so when I go to a wine shop and pick a Napa Cab I don’t know what I’m getting.  Also, the world has so many wine regions that familiarizing yourself with a standard list of producers and subregions takes time.  Most importantly, though the Euro-Dollar exchange rate has been increasingly pricing European wine out of the marketplace.



2005 Royal Tokaji Furmint

March 25 2011 - 11:52 PM

The increasing number of eastern European wines makes it an exciting time to explore and dive into something that Americans seldom explore:  the vast number of native varietals, the breadth of wine regions, and the long standing history of producing wine.

The Tokaji region of Hungary is perhaps the country’s most famous wine region. Known in particular for its sweet wine, aszú, often credited as being the world’s first botrytized wine (and in fact, inspired Sauternes), made from the Furmint grape. Despite the increasing awareness and critical acclaim of aszú, dry Furmint from the Tokaji region has also begun to enter several wine shops.

I picked up a bottle of the 2005 Royal Tokaji Furmint from a producer more well known for its aszú. It has a bracingly dry backbone, with notes of lemon and honeysuckle, with slight hints of cooked lemongrass and thyme. The vineyard’s minerally loess soil crops up in the middle palate. Acidity is good in this medium-bodied white, and it was suitably paired with some pan fried cod that I had cooked up.

Bottles can be picked up at Que Syrah. I did not save my receipt, but I believe it is around the $15 range.


TAC Quick: A Welcome Variety of Thai Food

March 25 2011 - 12:54 PM

Usually I like picking out restaurants due to word of mouth, but in this case I credit the feedback from food writers for sending me to this place. My big gripe with Thai food is that it’s almost all the same stuff: pad thai, pad see ew, red curry, yellow curry, panang curry, etc. After a while it begins to taste the same, though of course there are variations in quality.

TAC Quick offers a secret menu, which opens a window of eating options unavailable to the consumer accustomed to the “Americanized” menu. We ordered first some chive pot stickers with a sweet soy sauce. Unlike Chinese pot stickers these had a flat shape with the chives concentrated inside the middle of the pot stickers.

I then had the Tom Yam Ka Moo, a delicious soup of pork hocks, fresh and dried chili peppers, cilantro, galangal, lemongrass and tomatoes, among a complex web of sweet and sour spices. My wife had a good peanut curry with noodles, bean sprouts and onions.

Dinner for two was less than $30 without tip, and best of all, it was BYOB .

TAC Quick
3930 N. Sheridan
(773) 327.5253

–Brian Ziegler


News & Features

Is Fox & Obel On The Way Out?

March 24 2011 - 2:26 PM

Chicago lacks really, really good grocery stores. There are a few specialty shops scattered throughout the city that do a decent job of supplying hard-to-find items, but Fox & Obel is really it when it comes to good gourmet food. They have an incredible cheese selection, a good bakery and, in my experience, possibly the widest selection of charcuterie in Chicago in a retail store, save for maybe Paulina Meat Market. You can get  jamón ibérico de bellota, white truffles and caviar, and it also offers a great wine selection, as well as a deli and a restaurant where you can order wine from the supermarket.

Unfortunately the Chicago Real Estate Daily has reported on late rent and vendor payments. Hopefully the store will weather the current economic situation and emerge victorious in a city dominated by Jewel, Dominick’s and Whole Foods.

–Brian Ziegler

Local Option – Beer Lineup: One of The Best Ever?

March 24 2011 - 2:24 PM

Just want to give a quick blurb about a recent beer event I attended on Wednesday, March 16th, at Local Option pub on Webster Avenue.  The Option did a rare beer tasting headlined by rare Founders brews and some other gems from the U.S. and across the pond.  Word got out about the event early enough that the keg tappings, which were to begin at 6, played to an already packed house by that time. 



$275 for Tickets to Dark Lord Day? What the Market Will Bear.

March 22 2011 - 8:00 AM

On Saturday, March 19th, tickets went on sale for $12 a piece for Dark Lord Day, the release of the Dark Lord Imperial Stout beer at Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Indiana. Josh, the Editor/Publisher of Chicago Foodies, was kind enough to send me a text to remind me of the pending ticket purchase. I had my trigger finger ready to press the button at exactly 1:00 Central Daylight Time, down to the second. The part of the website with the ticket selection took about five minutes to load, after having to reload all the links to get there several times, due likely to high traffic volume. It was 1:05 before I was able to have an opportunity select the quantity of tickets, which were divided into admission to one of three sessions and a maximum of two tickets per person:  A, between 10 a.m. and noon; B, between 1:00 and 3:00; and C, which was between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.  These tickets, which gave you the right to enter the festivities, did not include a purchase of the Dark Lord beer, which was separate.

The brewers at Three Floyds had good intentions of keeping this an orderly event and wanted to give consumers a fair shot at getting tickets. It’s also worth mentioning that a portion of ticket sales are to be slated for charity, which again, really says a lot for the folks behind this effort.

What happened when tickets were sold out, however, was a different story. It appeared that scalpers seized the opportunity and posted tickets in the range of $115 to $275 (at this time) on Craigslist and Stubhub, and presumably their technique of procuring tickets was much more sophisticated than the naive attempts I made (as well as that of some of my friends). Unfortunately this also means scalpers make the majority of the money, so perhaps Three Floyds could have charged, say, $50 or even $100 per ticket for the opportunity to attend, which would at least have diminished the arbitrage position and put more money to charity (and even given fans more of an opportunity to buy tickets, despite high prices). Three Floyds is a business and can charge what they want for tickets, but sadly, it was the scalpers that benefitted from this more than anyone.

–Brian Ziegler