News & Features

Canibalistic Japanese Genitalia Cookoff…

May 31 2012 - 1:27 PM

News & Features

Your Diet Woe Might Not Be Nutritional

May 31 2012 - 11:42 AM

Sitting at Caribou, looking at my “Daybreaker” breakfast sandwich which consists of a chicken sausage, egg, cheese on a bun with a cup of coffee, I really wonder if some of the bigger problems with our diets are behavioral more than nutritional. Quick meals need to be convenient and healthy, responsible meals as well. However if you’re not making time for meals in the first place I would argue you have a diet problem.

You could zip through a drive-thru, stick to water and oatmeal, fruit and mixed nuts and while that might be good on paper, you’re missing out on the familial aspects of a meal. You’re depriving someone the opportunity to cook for you who in turn, without anyone to cook for, doesn’t enjoy it or do it as much. Even more importantly, you may be depriving someone the opportunity to enjoy your company and cooking.

Because of convenience, we’re missing out on good food. Instead of random veggie quiches using up whatever produce is left, or the eff’d up omelet which becomes a frittata. You end up eating a mass produced though geometrically sound breakfast sandwich. You know more about your ingredients when you are the one cooking them and can choose whole grains, small and local meats and produce, cut down on sugar, butter, fats when you choose to. When you choose convenience you sacrifice almost all of this. Sit think and eat. Don’t rush. Fast is not healthy.

–Josh Brusin

News & Features

Win Free Tickets to Wine Riot Chicago

May 30 2012 - 11:11 AM

Screen Shot 2012-05-30 at 11.08.22 AMWe’re giving away a pair of tickets to this weekend’s wine tasting. Friday or Saturday- winner’s choice. It’s a great way to taste a wide variety of wines and better understand their similarities and differences. All you need to do is “Like” our facebook page and tell us on our wall what your go-to wine (region, varietal, etc) is for BYOB (& for extra points, feel free to mention the restaurant too!).

Wine Riot is a national touring wine tasting that stresses fun, hence the “Riot” part. Another cool part is that they provide you an app to keep track of what you’re sipping and where to get it later. You can leave your pen and notepad at home. Granted I guess we’ll all be on our phones the whole time, but at least it’s related!

The event is in the Great Hall at Union Station and at multiple times over Friday/Saturday.

Tickets are available online HERE.

Home Cooking

Easy Summer Citrus Salad

May 29 2012 - 10:50 AM

CitrussaladFor some reason, there’s a misconception that for something to be called a “salad” it must involve lettuce. Take a trip to your local Whole Foods and you’ll have edible proof that this is not the case. Sometimes when you’re in a pinch but would like a healthy, fresh element in your meal, a lettuce salad just isn’t an option. And aren’t you always digging through the greens to get to the good stuff anyways?

This is a salad I put together with the only ingredients I had. For this type of salad, I like to have at least one fresh ingredient on hand to liven up the flavors. In this case, I chose an orange. Grapefruit would even work too. It’s fast, simple and can accompany anything you throw on the grill.

Easy Summer Citrus Salad
Serves 4 as a side

About 1 8 oz. can beet, sliced
1 8 oz. can chickpeas
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly (I didn’t have any, but if you do throw this in)
1 orange
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper

  1. Drain cans of beets and chickpeas. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  2. Zest your orange onto the canned ingredients. Then, peel the orange and segment it so that all of the skin is removed. Be sure to save any of the juice to pour onto your salad. It’s easiest to remove the skin with a sharp knife.
  3. Add in your sliced red onion, and toss all ingredients together with dressing and seasonings. Chill for at least 15 minutes, and then serve.

What you have is a refreshing and healthy side dish. I used a flavored balsamic, but you’ll have enough flavor from the orange if you just use a regular one.

–Marly Schuman



Craft Beer Week At The Norse Bar: Avery DuganA Imperial IPA

May 28 2012 - 8:30 AM

Chicago Craft Beer Week 2012 has treated me quite well as I’ve gotten to try some stunning offerings from local and out-of-town brewers. There have been quite a few high points, and I hope to touch upon some of them in this blog in the coming days.  Surely, one of the week’s highlights was having Avery DuganA IPA on tap at The Norse Bar in Edgewater.  Norse, a quiet tap room behind a modest storefront in the 6300 block on Clark Street, has become one of Chicago’s hidden craft brew gems.  They consistently offer terrific beers on tap, often pour unusual ones, and maintain clean lines.  Naturally, when I found out that Norse was hosting Avery Week featuring the top tier Boulder, Colorado brewer, I knew that my CBW travels would take me to the outer reaches of Edgewater at least once.  I’m a huge Avery fan and find their beer roster to range from good and solid to spectacular.

I finally made it to Norse on Saturday to find their DuganA keg in its prime. I’d had the beer before and was already a fan, having last tried it at the Long Room several years ago. I recalled it as a high quality double IPA of the “earthy/piney” variety as oppposed to the “tropical” West Coast style.  Well, either my palate was way off base before or they changed the hop mix in this one because DuganA is all West Coast now and absolutely devastating.  First off, Norse chose well in the glassware, presenting it in a tall, rather fluted stemmed glass, a nod to this beer’s special status.  This style of glass really stretched it out, elegantly presenting the beer’s thick, foamy white head and delectable pale orange opaque body.  Tropical notes resplendently burst from the nose, matched equally by what Josh described as powdered sugary malt odors.  I’ll buy that.  The sugary malt dimension gave the nose a tantalizing texture.

Hops and citrus flavors dominate the body.  Perhaps on the slightly sweeter end of the double IPA spectrum – but not at all sweet  – tangerines, oranges, orange peel, and mango envelop the palate.  Hop bitterness roars in the back of the tongue but stays contained by those always lurking sugary malts that never quite reach the forefront.  It has a pleasantly juicy mouthfeel on the lighter end of moderate with modest carbonation adding a nice bite to each sip.  This is a spectacular beer and one of the best DIPA’s on the market. I need to engage a bottle of this to determine if it comes close to matching this particular tapping.

Yet the real star of the show might have been The Norse Bar itself.  It’s a pleasant place to go have a drink.  I’ve never found it that crowded, the crowd is easygoing, the bartenders friendly and no-fuss, and you can always get a seat at the bar.  Afternoons are a great time to visit.  They pull back the windows to make it open-air with several window-side tables.  Plenty of light gets in, casting a soft white glow on the bar and your beer glass.  The music’s pretty good and not too loud.  And as I said, they have great beers.  Other Avery Week offerings included the 18th and 19th Anniversary Ales which were terrific.  The 18th had a well-balanced barleywine flavor with a bit of orange and sinewy thickness to it.  The 19th was a lighter golden ale.  Hardly a better place to enjoy some beers.

The Norse Bar
6334 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL

–M. Sheppard


Craft Beer Week Special: Firestone Walker at Northdown

May 26 2012 - 11:59 AM

Chicago Craft Beer Week closes tomorrow but there are still a few highlights left, one being Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout at The Map Room Sunday afternoon.  It’s going to be great, but will also be an absolute zoo, so I’m probably sitting that one out.  Also, an event that I won’t miss will be Firestone Walker at Northdown Cafe & Taproom, starting today at 3:00 p.m.

If you are not familiar, Firestone Walker is a superb brewer out of Paso Robles, California, and they brew an array of excellent everyday and specialty brews across the spectrum of beer styles.  They are an undeniable contender for best U.S. brewer, easily top 5.   Among other things, Northdown will be tapping the Double Jack double IPA, Parabola stout, a rare bourbon Parabola called, ahem, Velvet Merkin, and the Reserve Porter.

I expect a light-to-moderate crowd today, at least early on, with many beer lovers out of town for the weekend, at the beach, at their Dewey Lake, Michigan, houses destroying themselves on wave runners, and lounging at the barbecues, drinking brews, around town.  Bet your bottom dollar I’ll be grillside by day’s end but a stop at Northdown for Firestone Walker is a certainty.  Parabola is spectacular and rare.  When it revists Chicago shelves this year it will stock out immediately.  The bourbon-barreled version, VM – for some reason, I can’t bring myself to type that name again – is needless to say, a rarity.  Double Jack is as silky as a Double IPA gets, sitting at 9.5%.  That’s the beer equivalent of a Justin Verlander fastball, which sits at 95 – sits – and the explosion cannot be smoother.  Sits at 95.  Think about that.  Of course, there will be other FW offerings, too, including the sturdy, excellent Reserve Porter.  At my beer blog, I had this to say about it:

[A] tan foamy head, and a brown, nearly black, body lay underneath.  I detected little discernible material on the nose, maybe a bit of bitter chocolate and some charcoal, and possibly a hint of smoke.  These odors appeared more prominently as flavors, but not so much the smoke.  I found it earthy and grainy with bitter chocolate and a hint of pine from the hops.  It didn’t have the sweetness of Smuttynose Porter or the chocolate of Founders Porter but its flavor combination nicely distinguished itself.  The mouthfeel was moderate with strong carbonation that makes quaffing it a bit challenging.  It’s definitely a sipper.  Like all great porters, it’s robust and a bit rugged due to the roast, hops, and carbonation, all of which easily capture your attention; and it maintains it, with just enough sweetness and chocolate to make for a highly enjoyable drinking experience.

And that’s, perhaps, the “worst” of the beers on tap today, being the least rare.  Please stop in and enjoy some of the greatness of Firestone Walker.

Northdown Cafe and Taproom
3244 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL


News & Features

Do This Today (or tomorrow)– Molé de Mayo

May 26 2012 - 10:27 AM

Screen Shot 2012-05-26 at 10.10.53 AMThere are few things that are better than a good Molé and we have to thank La Oaxaquena for our introduction to that back in 2005. So when there’s a fest in this town focused on Molé, we’re all in.

The lineup seems to showcase molé poblano and molé rojo with DeColores adding in a molé blanco and a molé verde.

It’s on Peoria between 18th and 16th Street.

And there’s music & Mexican wrestling!

Here’s the lineup & sorry for the late notice but go anyway.

Free Admission.

Home Cooking

The Best Way to Use Leftover Beer

May 22 2012 - 10:14 AM

BeerbreadThere’s nothing better than cracking open a cold bottle of locally crafted beer on a warm Chicago day. Well, except eating it. If you can drink your beer and eat it too, why not? If you’re craving a simple savory bread, you can whip up this parmesan honey beer bread in just a few easy steps. It’s hearty, flavorful and has a wonderful crunch on top.

If you like some extra spice, grated pepperjack would make a perfect substitution. I’m sure you would get a much different flavor depending on what type of beer you use. If you want a milder flavor, use a lighter beer. I went seasonal with some of Goose Island’s Summertime beer, and I thought it was the perfect beer for the job. Just be very careful not to overmix this dough at all, or your bread will get heavy and dense.

Parmesan Honey Beer Bread
Adapted from Butter Me Up Brooklyn
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat four
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey (you might want to add a bit more if you like it sweeter)
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 grated parmesan cheese
  •  2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bottle of beer (such as Goose Island Summertime)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the garlic, until mixture starts to foam. Set aside.
  2. Mix together all dry ingredients, including the thyme and red pepper flakes. Then, carefully fold in beer. You don’t want to overmix here.
  3. Pour into a prepared 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Pour butter and garlic mixture over the top and brush to coat evenly. Bake for about 35 minutes.

I found this bread to be a bit bitter from the beer and the wheat flour, but it was much more enjoyable hot. Spread with butter, cheese or just enjoy it plain with a cold beer of your choice.

–Marly Schuman

Home Cooking

Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting for One

May 21 2012 - 9:43 PM

Pretty much every weekend I wake up craving a ridiculous restaurant-style brunch minus the restaurant-style wait and prices. The hottest brunch spots have every flavor pancake and waffle under the sun (red velvet, birthday cake, carrot cake) with some out of this world toppings to boot. My only problem is that I always make too much and never eat the leftovers during the week. Here’s my take on my own restaurant breakfast for one.

To see the waffle recipe, click here.

Home Cooking

Spaghetti Squash, Swiss Chard and White Bean Gratin

May 21 2012 - 9:24 PM

Cooking is a learning experience. This sounds obvious, but the trial and error in the kitchen is especially important if you are a vegetarian. I’ve never been satisfied eating the same things over and over. It’s easy for us to get into that rut of buying the same foods every time we go to the grocery store. In fall, my rut is squash. I could end up eating it for every meal.

I decided to change it up a bit by making something with all of this squash I had on my hands. I had a recipe for a spaghetti squash gratin from awhile back, so I decided to tweak it and then change it into a lasagna. If I had to go back in time, I would’nt have layered the ingredients and would have stuck with the gratin. Plus, the bread crumbs I added on top really were’nt necessary, so I left them out.

To see the revised recipe, click here.