Monday, July 20, 2009

Iron Cupcake Challenge!

I'm going to participate, should be fun. I just hope the challenges don't get too esoteric.

This is Chicago, not Communist Russia

In the 3+ years I've lived in Chicago, I've eaten at Hot Doug's ONCE. That's because it's always either CLOSED at the owner's whim, or the line looks like the photo above.

To the unacquainted, Hot Doug's is sort of a Chicago Legend- they serve traditional Chicago style hot dogs, but also fancy stuff like $8 elk sausage topped with port derby cheese or fois gras or whatever, and duck fat fries (which didn't impress me to be honest- they tasted like regular fries to me). The one time I ate there it was pretty good, but the bottom line, for me, is that it's a hot dog, not the second coming of Christ.

I am personally of the opinion that the Chicago food scene is not as great as it thinks it is (certainly not compared to the coasts or New Orleans), comfort food and ethnic hole in the walls tends to be the strong suit here. And so, Hot Doug's has perfected the hot dog, which is fantastic- and I realize that having weird hours and a line around the block keeps the hype hot and helps people feel like they're having an exclusive experience- it's good for business. And Kuma's (the best burgers in town) operates on a similar principal- you wait an hour for your table and another hour for your burger.

The thing than annoys me about this, though, is it's treating hamburgers and hot dogs like this elite privilege- and Just, no. Thank you, Hot Doug's and Kuma's for raising hot dogs and hamburgers to an art form, but would it kill you to have a slightly bigger dining room or a second location? There's a dearth of really good quality, cheap food in this city, so there's no need to contribute to the issue of accessibility.

Confession: I decided not to wait in this line, and got a chicken sandwich at Wendy's instead, which is maybe a once a year indulgence. I'm not proud of this, but on the other hand I didn't have to wait an hour for a hot dog, either.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Having a foodie moment

Todays lupper:

arugula tossed w/ lemon juice and olive oil, pepper, petit basque and parmesan cheeses

goat cheese, fig, pistachio and red onion in phyllo dough

roasted wild caught salmon

chocolate souffle w/ whipped cream (trying the trader joe's kind which comes in an actual ceramic ramekin

Tomorrows breakfast (if I can get up early!)

Italian sausage

Purple potatoes sauteed in duck fat (I have to use it up!) with red onions

more arugula (I got a big bag of it)


Seriously, living in Chicago most of the time I'd rather cook for myself if I have the time and money.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Can't buy me love

Now that I'm no longer writing doing promotional writing about boozing (to my credit, most of the places and things I wrote about I genuinely liked), I feel like I have a greater license to openly mock stuff in the booze industry that I find abhorrent. Wait, I used to do that anyway.

Back when I was working as a journalist I got on a bunch of PR lists, including the mostly annoying but occasionally useful Thrillist and Urban Daddy. (Technically I'm still a freelancer, I'm just busy working a day job and going to the gym and having sex and stuff instead of spending most of my time whoring out my writing for paltry sums that come monthsor even years late). As if the name Urban Daddy wasn't creepy enough on it's own (I've spent too much time in the kink scene, I guess), they brag about how the service is strictly editorial and how you can't buy Daddy's Love (tm), then they go on and send email blasts entitled "Sponsored Love" anyway. Sponsored Love means an advertiser is paying them to shill for their product, but it could easily be a euphemism for the Girlfriend Experience, IMHO.

I digress. UD sent me some Stolichnaya "Sponsored Love" today. I will pre-empt this with saying that I am a rare creature in the world of booze snobbery because I LOVE vodka. Not the way that Patsy from AbFab loves vodka, but my go-to "safe" drink is vodka with seltzer and lime (or a cherry if it's vanilla vodka), because it never makes me sick, and it's impossible to fuck up.

I am exceedingly fond of Stoli in particular because I drank it as a teenager (sweet memories!) and also because their blackberry vodka is quite possibly the best goddam thing on earth (though the vanilla ain't bad either). I like some of their pseudo soviet midcentury design:

However, there are some major flaws to their ad campaign....

1. The "Everybody is somebody's secret" catch phrase. You're trying to use infidelity as a selling point for your vodka? Really? It's like the Ashley Madison of liquor campaigns, and it leaves me feeling equally icky.

2. The impressively WACK cocktail recipes they sent out with the email blast. The recipes on the website are not quite as embarassingly bad, but the ones that UD sent were pure fail:

Stoli Double-O Seven
Ingredients: 1 part Stoli Ohranj, 1 part lemon-lime soda and a splash of orange juice
Directions: Shake and serve over ice.
Best enjoyed at: the after-hours speakeasy

Now, I am not hating on simple recipes. Bridget Albert's jalapeno simple syrup with Absolut Mango and fresh squeezed OJ? Fuck yes. But vodka and sprite is NOT a cocktail, not even if you add a splash of orange juice. If you need a recipe to make this, you are an idiot.

And, um...SPEAKEASY? Bitch please. More like Best enjoyed at: a high school party where someone had a fake ID, and nobody can't stand the taste of alcohol.

Wait, I think it was pepsi and vodka that we drank in highschool. (shudders)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mo' summer eats (and drinks)

I have not been blogging much lately because I have a 9-5 job and a gym membership now. Technically I could take advantage of downtime at work to blog, but I usually don't. But today I am!

I am trying to cut back on my booze consumption since 2008 was sort of a year long fiesta de drunko... Beer in particular. But I couldn't resist an invite to the Louis Glunz summer beer preview. I don't have the list of beers on hand, so I will work from memory.

If you buy one beer this summer, get the Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry Ale. Holy shit, this is the most amazing beer I've had in ages. I know a lot of fruit beers suck, this one does not. It tastes like fresh, wild strawberries. Only boozier. So good.

Also good: Magic Hat Wacko, O'Fallon Wheach (peach beer), Blanche Du Bruxelles (seriously the best belgium beer ever and I am picky about belgians), and well, I will have to check my list to remember the rest I tried and liked.

I also had some amazing Jim Beam cocktails at a pig roast hosted by Lush Wine and Spirits- can't say much for the pig though, the serving was tiny and the fat was tough and undercooked. Bleah. Dying for Puerto Rican lechon now. Though I was deeply disappointed by the thing Sabor Latino called a jibarito at Taste of Chicago this year. Not to mention the thing Blue Bayou (which has awesome creole/cajun food) called a Muffaletta. There's got to be some tactic to having Taste not suck, but apparently hitting up the booths of your favorite restaurants is not it. On the upside, they had the creepy delicious fruit-punch-meets-cream soda blue Mountain Dew. Not that I'm a pop drinker, but it's good. JJ and I made up for the crappy food by getting ice cream at Margies. Drool. (shush, I'm going to the gym everyday!)

I've also ventured into Farmer's Market land again, since I have cash again. I was actually un-wowed and overwhelmed by a recent trip to the sprawling Green City Market but have developed an affinity to the tuesday market in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is close to where I work, and conveniently free on Tuesdays. Every cheese I've gotten from the cheese booth there has been to die for- I have some kind of apricot jam infused brie thing that I am very excited about right now. And it's big enough to have variety but not so big as to overwhelm. And I got a bouquet of flowers for $3! Win, win, win.

More recent food win: Japanese curry topped with fried green tomatoes. Panko fried green tomatoes are the greatest thing on earth. I'm also going to attempt paejon (korean green onion pancakes) with garlic chives. yummm....