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Saturday, April 25

Gapers Block

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Foodporn Fri Apr 24 2015

Friday Foodpic: Cutting Pasta

17224297772_26b278a743_z.jpgPicture by Seth Anderson from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Feature Tue Apr 21 2015

"Cookie Love" Uncovers Dessert's Best-Kept Secret

cookielove.jpgThe first line of the introduction to Mindy Segal's newest cookbook Cookie Love (Ten Speed, $25) is all you need to know for understanding why this is required reading for all bakers: "I am a cookie nerd."

Yes, the celebrated pastry chef, James Beard award recipient and owner of Bucktown's Hot Chocolate knows where the real thunder of desserts rumbles -- the cookie. Why? It's versatile in all ways, from a standard chocolate chip, a shortbread with a delicate layer of sugar, or a delicate macaron. The cookie's flexibility has puzzlingly made it an overlooked item when it comes to fine dining menus, banished to being the backup dancer for panna cotta. Segal clearly has a different perspective, taking cookies all over the sensory and flavor map--a cornmeal shortbread dotted with crushed Corn Nuts, a graham cracker and passionfruit whoopie pie cookie, a strawberry rhubarb rugelach with oatmeal streusel (recipe at the end of this article), even a recipe for pumpkin dog biscuits brushed with meat drippings. The ingredients used in Cookie Love span from the recognizable to the average baker (Folgers crystals, peppermint candies), to ones that require trips to specialty stores for things like an Ateco Pipe #826 or orange blossom water. Each recipe requires work and attention; even the batch of simple snickerdoodles I made last night had me making dough very differently (read: less carelessly) than normal as I followed the instructions to Segal's word. It was work, but the results were delicious. If we're going to heighten the food, we heighten the technique.

Each entry is paired with a thoughtful story about its origins: a family recipe, a request from a bartender for a good oatmeal scotchie, a regular customer whose kids get walked back to the kitchen to pick out their own cookies from the cooling racks -- and is sometimes paired with technical shop talk on how to build on Segal's recipe, like how to chocolate-ify her take on a Fig Newton whose filling consists of figs cooked in port wine and honey. Segal clearly takes her subject matter seriously, and reading through Cookie Love, you'd forget that these cookies are baked daily and served at Hot Chocolate alongside an equally good full menu. Segal intends to release more cookbooks down the line of a single subject, so every item on her table will get their due.

Continue reading this entry »

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Video Tue Apr 21 2015

Don't Try this at Home: the "Big Max"

McDonald's has been rolling out ordering "Create Your Taste" ordering kiosks in some stores that allow you to customize your hamburger. Oddly, the system appears to allow you to only get up to two hamburger patties and one bun, but "10X" everything else. Moshe Tamssot, founder of MakeItFor.Us, decided to see what resulted from maxing out all of the options. The resulting $25 monstrosity weighed 3.8lbs and included what looks to be two whole tomatoes.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Apr 17 2015

Friday Foodpic: Manhattan

16838243709_45b27b7cb8_z.jpgPicture by Seth Anderson from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Event Thu Apr 16 2015

Home Cooks to Square Off at Chicago Taco Takedown

Taco-ChicagoWEB.jpg"Want to eat a gadgillion tacos?" Now you can if you purchase tickets to the Chicago Taco Takedown this Sunday at Lincoln Hall. From 2-4pm, amateur home cooks will compete against one another for various prizes, including cookware and general bragging rights. Although past takedowns have included soup, ice-cream, and meatballs, the competition this Sunday will focus specifically on the humble taco, a perfect concoction of corn tortillas, meat, and toppings. Tickets can be purchased online for only $20, or if you want to compete--email

Sunday, April 19
Lincoln Hall
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Event Thu Apr 16 2015

Your Baconfest Weekend Primer


If there is one thing I always say, it's that "I just can't get enough of those smoked meats!"

This is the reason why I've been an attendee at two out of the last three Baconfest Chicago's weekend extravaganzas. I consider myself, as the Baconfest people say, part of the "Bacon Nation." If you're like me, then you are all jazzed up for this weekend's Baconfest Chicago. If you don't have tickets yet, they are still available for Friday night's dinner (and you might be able to score tickets to Saturday's sold-out lunch or dinner on Craigslist. People of the Bacon Nation sometimes can't make it out for the event and prices are generally fair--we did this for one of our tickets in 2013.)

Never been before? Here are some tips and tricks to surviving your first Baconfest:

Continue reading this entry »

Jeanne Newman / Comments (0)

Chef Tue Apr 14 2015

Legendary Chef Homaro Cantu Has Died

homaro.jpgGastronomy legend, social entrepreneur, and food scientist Homaro Cantu was found dead this morning in a vacant building on the Northwest side that he planned to turn into an organic brewery. According to the Chicago Tribune, Cantu apparently committed suicide by hanging . Author of the Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook, owner of Moto and Berrista (and now-closed iNG), and chef under Charlie Trotter, Cantu was a major force in the Chicago food scene. Though beset with recent legal and financial woes, he was a brazen individual who used food to entertain, enlighten, and transform. In 2013, Cantu described his last meal as his wife (chef Katie McGowan)'s homemade tomato and basil pizza. The 38-year-old chef is also survived by two children.

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Event Tue Apr 14 2015

Load Up on Za, Bring Your Friends

bacino's pizzaLocal First Chicago is sponsoring a pizza tour of Lincoln Park on Saturday, April 25 from 2 to 5:30pm. Attendees will sample pizza from eight featured family-owned restaurants -- plus eight other spots to get beverages and desserts.

Destinations include Amato's Pizza, Annette's Italian Ice, Bacino's, Elio Pizza on Fire, Homeslice, Jam & Honey, Knife & Tine, La Diosa, Lou Malnati's, McGee's Tavern & Grille, Standard Market Grill, Ten Thousand Villages, Trellis, Via Carducci, Vosges Chocolates and YoBerri. The event is billed as vegetarian friendly but not gluten-free.

Advance tickets are $25 through April 19, $40 thereafter. Advance tickets for seniors (65+), full-time students and volunteers are $15 and tickets for groups of six or more are $20 per person.

Photo: Bacino's deep dish pizza, by Steve Moses.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Review Mon Apr 13 2015

Spicy Slurping at Furious Spoon

DSC_0165_resize.jpgFurious Spoon opened about two months ago in Wicker Park after a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $35,000. Spearheaded by Michelin-star chef Shin Thompson, the restaurant has a simple menu--four distinct ramen bowls with a slew of customizable toppings that include pickled mushrooms and apple chili sauce. The sides are minimal--some pickles, beef brisket rice bowl, and harumaki (fried vegetable spring roll). None of the sides were particularly outstanding or memorable, so I'd save your money for the ramen toppings, especially the smoky and delectable chashu pork belly.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Apr 10 2015

Friday Foodpic: Grange Burger Hall

16372451783_dc26821d9d_z.jpgPicture by Adrienne Cragnotti from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Review Mon Apr 06 2015

New American Cuisine with Old Theme at Southport & Irving

rabbit and grits.jpgNestled on the corner of Southport and Irving, somewhere near Wrigley Field, is a low-key neighborhood restaurant with upscale taste. Named directly after the intersection, Southport & Irving (SIP) serves new American cuisine with a whimsical historical theme.

The food has a feel somewhere between upscale and rustic. The offerings are familiar and hearty, but composed and complex enough to remind you that you couldn't make it at home. The menu--ordered from smaller to larger portions-- is succinct, with familiar global flairs like chimmichurri and kimchi. The lack of additional headers and subtitles (small plates, shared plates, large plates, mini plates) was refreshing, as the menu assumed I was perfectly capable to deciding whether to share my food or not.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Foodporn Fri Apr 03 2015

Friday Foodpic: Easter Egg Pregame

17019729561_630fe863cc_z.jpg...and a happy Passover, too. Picture by Mel Hill Photography from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (0)

Restaurant Thu Apr 02 2015

Chicago's Best (Non-Fried) Chicken

jerk_chicken_plate.jpgEveryone and their mother has their favorite fried chicken spot, but chicken doesn't have to be fried in vats of oil to be tasty. Well-cooked chicken is delicious in its own right, and I'm not referring to extra-dry breast cutlets or Hillshire Farm deli cuts. A juicy, moist chicken thigh with crispy skin can be quite scrumptious when perfectly roasted or grilled. I've highlighted some of my favorite non-deep-fried chicken spots in the Chicago area.

Piri Piri Chicken

Fogo's Peri Peri
Native to Africa, piri piri is a bird's eye pepper commonly used in Portuguese cuisine. It's very hot and highly addictive for the taste buds. Fogo's Peri Peri makes their flamed-grilled chicken to order, and the result is spicy bird with a unique citrusy and charred flavor.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (0)

Beer Tue Mar 31 2015

Brewery Openings & Other Beer Fun

Breakroom Brewery officially opens tonight at 4pm at 2925 W. Montrose Ave. It's come a long way since the Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl toured the space back in November -- where there were once bare studs there is now a beautifully finished tap room befitting a brewery run by a bar manufacturing company.

This Friday, April 3, at noon, Begyle Brewing releases its "Maybe Next Year" barrel-aged imperial brown ale, in 22oz bombers for $15 a bottle. The brewery at 1800 W. Cuyler Ave. will be open from noon to 9pm, and regular hours this weekend.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

News Fri Mar 27 2015

LTH Forum Announces 2015 Great Neighborhood Restaurants Awards

LTH forum.jpgLTH Forum, the Chicago food-focused Internet chat community comprised of more than 17,000 foodies, has announced its 2015 Great Neighborhood Restaurants & Resources (GNRs) Awards.

Notable Analogue, Sportsman's Club and Publican Quality Meats (Paul Kahan's third GNR since 2008) made the list next to lesser-known places like Taza Bakery in West Rogers Park and Jimmy Jam Sweet Potato Pies in Beverly.

The awards didn't stop at Chicago city limits. Geneva got a spot with Bien Trucha, and Wells Brothers in Racine became the first Wisconsin restaurant to win. See the full class, replete with food porn, on the LTH website.

Since 2004, LTH Forum has been giving both notable and lesser known places cred with the GNRs in their community-based nomination process. Each member may nominate one place per year, and nominees are then discussed until a consensus is reached. Membership is free and open to anyone.

Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (3)

Feature Tue Apr 21 2015

"Cookie Love" Uncovers Dessert's Best-Kept Secret

By Robyn Nisi

The first line of the introduction to Mindy Segal's newest cookbook Cookie Love (Ten Speed, $25) is all you need to know for understanding why this is required reading for all bakers: "I am a cookie nerd." Yes, the celebrated...
Read this feature »



Sat Apr 25 2015
Graze Magazine Issue 7 Release Party

Sat Apr 25 2015
Lager Beer Riot Reenactment @ Benton House

Mon Apr 27 2015
Dinner & a Flick @ New 400 Theater

Thu Apr 30 2015
Dine Out for Life Fundraiser

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi,
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