My kids, on location with me during a recent Sky Full of Bacon shoot.
I’m trying to get ahead on Key Ingredients so I can work on other things— like actually making a Sky Full of Bacon video this year— so no time for lengthy disquisitions; just to have something posted this week, I’m going to lay a bunch of links on you. Enjoy!
1. At Archive.org,a corporate brochurein lofty language from 1909, for a Chicago wholesaler called Sprague, Warner & Co., which started around the Civil War as a grocery store. Many fascinating pictures of its state of the art plant along the Chicago river, where everything from storing cigars to roasting coffee was done. If you don’t recognize the name, later Sprague, Warner & Co. formed the core of a conglomerate called Consolidated Foods, which would ultimately rename itself for its best-known brand: Sara Lee. 2. ThisEater interview with Nick Kokonasgives some interesting behind the scenes stuff about Next.The second partis the most interesting to me because it talks about the reaction to the Thai menu. As behooves the most lavishly praised restaurant in the history of the universe, he doesn’t bitch too much about what minuscule criticism that menu has received from certain corners (cough) amid the general lovefest, and he diplomatically covers his tracks a little so you can’t ID anyone too easily (other than perennial critical punching bag Pat Bruno). Too bad; I’d love to know what criticism at LTHForum, say, he finds informed, and which he finds absurd. 3. Speaking of Next et al.,this very interesting NY Times pieceabout Hollywood’s maitre’d to the stars (who was laboring in obscurity in some fading ethnic restaurant until a power broker spotted his old world manners and gave him his big break) raises the same question I had about Grant Achatz’s ultra-exclusive bar The Office— did such things ever really exist, or did we only think they did because of the movies? 4. Okay, so there are tons of “funny” themed cooking shows on YouTube. That aren’t that funny. The food isn’t that funny in this one. But the theme is… (h/t Michael Morowitz)
5. After belatedly watching the New Orleans episode of No Reservations, I wanted to look up some New Orleans food blogs.Lookahas been around since 1999 (1999! On what, Compuserve?) and is actually mostly about cocktails of late. Along with a post about Teen Wolf. 6. My friend Cathy Lambrecht’s tireless searching out of obscure midwestern tastes—like fried turtle— gotsome attentionat WBEZ, when they linked to a talk she gave to Culinary Historians. 7. I’m guessing, from the unusually high quality, that this is raw footage from a commercial. Anyway, it’s for a sort of Chinese-Polynesian restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta, and it’s a real time machine piece back to Don Draper times:
Haven’t done one of these in a while so some of these links are kind of old but still, I think, interesting.
1. I mentionedKevin’s BBQ Jointsthe other day when he linked to my old Texas BBQ video, but I really want to call it out further, because barbecue is the food that seems to inspire the most secondary literature, and Kevin is out to link every last bit of it he can find, apparently. Some highlights scrolling down: an interview withJohn T. Edgepicking his favorite BBQ joints (I’ve been to three!), a video from whenSmoque first opened,a video about the Texas sensationSnow’s(more or less invented by Texas Monthly), and tons more.
2. Robyn Lee of Serious Eatsrages in multiple artistic mediaagainst the crappiness of a sandwich. We’ve been there. 3. Michael Nagrant hasa really nice pieceabout a Mexican family who make barbacoa. That’s right, barbacoa, not birria, yes there are other good family Mexican restaurants besides Birrieria Zaragoza. 4. Let private enterprise into space andlook what happens:they get silly with cheese in space. 5. Saucisson Mac (who I finally met at Three Floyds) says it all in his title:2010, The Year in Sausage. 6. Best things from pals at LTHForum in recent weeks: Hammond hasan extraterrestrial encounterwith cheese, Cathy Lambrecht admiresan unknown artistin Dwight, Illinois, and Sharon Bautista had already been to my first suggestions for a new coffee shop, so I foundthis ringerfor her. 7. Cool Korean street vendor making some kind of dessert by spinning honey into thousands of strands by hand (h/t Michael Morowitz):
1. The second series of my friend David Hammond’s wonderful SoundBites, about the use of sound in cooking, is complete. Unfortunately, WBEZ seems to have lost the page that listed them all, but start here; I especially like the first two, one in the predictably futuristic sound environment of Moto, the other in which Mark Mendez (of Sky Full of Bacon #15) explains how you can tell where a chef is in his life by looking at his menu. (Check out his new gig as the Sun-Times’ Food Detective, too.) 2. I’ve linked Hugh Amano’s Food on the Dole before, and it’s in my blogroll, but it’s worth doing so again for this tribute to line cooks. 3. Emily Nunn has a sweet piece about baking bread for her stepdaughter before she goes away for two weeks. (The stepdaughter, incidentally, is a classmate of my son’s. It took both of us an embarrassingly long time to realize the connection.) 4. Tuscan Foodie announces his intention to rediscover the lost world of the Beefsteak, which was an event, not just a food. 5. I met the couple who do Driftless Appetite, a Wisconsin blog, on my cheese tour, and linked to their posts about that. But I really liked this post about a smoked fish shop near the Mississippi, and can’t wait to check it out sometime. 6. Even better than Halloween cookies, it’s Dio de los Muertos cookies, with cool black and white photos. 7. I wish the image was better, and the sound may or may not work, but this is still really cool: Slow Motion Japanese Food Fight.
Oh, and by the way, here’s me on You Me Them Everybody. He’s a really quick mind, I recommend being on the show just as media training if nothing else. I’m lucky I didn’t say “Heck of a job” like Obama did to Jon Stewart, and there are places where I just stall in mid-air, but parts of it are really funny. I think.
1. When Chuck Sudo tweeted that his report on the Great American Beer Fest was getting long, I knew it meant one thing: Multi-Part Series!Yesterday’s was about Goose Island entering his Sai-Shan-Tea in the Fest, today’s will be beer in the farm-to-table movement, and tomorrow’s will be about Chicago’s growing beer community. 2. Chris Cognac is a good guy who had a one-season Food Network show (The Hungry Detective) doing sort of what Guy Fieri does… with less shtick. (Draw your own conclusions about the Food Network’s priorities.) He was also an LA cop working the grimmest beats… and now he’s telling that side of his story on his blog. (h/t Louisa Chu) 3. Even if I’m not convinced that the burgers all look that great (some do, certainly), this LTHForum thread on The Burgers of Wisconsin is worth it for the Americana and the signage. 4. If you haven’t read it, this is just weird. The Goats Who Stare at… Trademark Attorneys 5. I know there is such a thing as the Tet festival among Vietnamese this time of year, but I know nothing about it. This blog talks about it and has other good articles and photos on Vietnamese food. 6. There’s something hypnotic about both this photo of a recursive pizza, and pretentious art-world theoretical language being used to describe a pizza (“My work is typically about the structure of an art environment so pizza was a perfect template to exercise visceral enjoyment mashed with layers of intellect in a way to start talking about the social as material in a shared art experience.”) I think he’s being tongue in cheek in this Serious Eats piece. I pray. 7. This vaguely food-themed clip from a 1940s musical, featuring three singing contortionists, was apparently an internet meme at some point, but I missed it (and I’ve even seen it on screen, since it’s in That’s Entertainment III, but I don’t remember it). Stick with it till they start doing the contortion part and you will be amazed:
1. Don’t play this French animated music video until you’re ready to have its catchy song about having “un café” stuck in your head:
2. Best thing on LTHForum lately: a woman asks how to make better pasta sauce than her husband’s Americanized recipe, and the result is a mostly friendly little symposium on good techniques. 3. I’ve never been a big fan of framboise, the Belgian raspberry lambic beer sold here, along with a similar cherry one, Kriek; they’re a little too much like drinking pancake syrup, in part because they’re usually made not with fruit, but with an industrial extract. The one I did like a lot one summer in Bruges was peche, the peach version, which was much subtler, but it’s harder to find over here. Anyway, Lottie + Doof finds a good use for framboise: sorbet. 4. Good Food has a special short podcast about pie running alongside its regular podcast; the best one so far is this talk about forgotten pie recipes (hmm, seems like I saw a video podcast that touched on the same subject), though I’m not convinced all of these are as lost to modern cooks as they say. Still, it includes mention of the mock apple pie made with Ritz Crackers which Cathy Lambrecht actually made once:
5. Nick Zukin (aka Extramsg) has a post that amusingly explains why granola-y Portland (Oregon) seems so hostile to molecular gastronomy, and how one place might sneak it by them as molecular locavorism. 6. Go have an English countryside zen moment by looking at these pictures of what’s growing there in early summer, at a blog called Nordljus. 7. These two posts at the Vietnam-based blog Noodlepie seem to make an appropriate pair: in one he pleads guilty to being exactly the New York Times’ parody of the obsessed blogger, in this one he rips ex-Timeser Mimi Sheraton for her parachute-journalism piece on the best pho in Hanoi.
ONE MORE: If you haven’t heard about the Speakeasy event at the Palmer House organized by Phillip Foss and featuring top chefs including Mike Sheerin (Blackbird), Koren Grieveson (Avec), Ryan Poli (Perennial) and David Carrier (Kith & Kin) among others, with hooch by all the local distilleries and set in the spectacular vintage Empire Room on August 5, go here to find out why you should attend this benefit for Paramount Room beverage manager Shawn Koch in his fight with a rare form of brain cancer.
1. Okay, I have to admit that I was slightly skeptical when Kevin Pang’s first report on the ChiTrib’s Cheap Eats beat was about ramen… at Takashi. I did worry that he might be using Cheap Eats to invade Phil Vettel’s expense-account-exalted turf. But all fears are dispelled by this dish-by-dish account of what to eat in Chinatown and where to find it, the sort of thing which in the pre-iPhone age you would have paid cash money to get laminated and keep in your wallet. 2. From Reason, the actual Pentagon specs for a US government brownie.
3. This represents some kind of perfect convergence of online foodie obsessions: Jonathan Gold writes about a secret menu Thai burger at Jitlada, the LA place first sussed out by Erik M. 4. Fan of geometry? Fan of Subway? This story is for you: Subway To Tesselate Cheese.
5. What happens when smorgasbord meets gastric bypass surgery, from Dinosaurs and Robots. 6. The Old Foodie is a blog devoted to historical (Victorian and Americana, mostly) recipes and foodways. The pseudo-old fashioned writing might be a little tough to take at times, but I enjoyed reading about sweet chicken pie, bitters, the origin of “Pig and Whistle” as a tavern name, and so on. (There was a chain of restaurants in the mid-20th century of that name; my great-uncle Earl worked for them as an accountant, and I have his Pig & Whistle retirement watch. I couldn’t let this go by without mentioning that.)
7. Guess the 100 games which inspired these 100 cupcakes. Your boss won’t mind if you do this instead of work.
1. Chicago charcuterie blogging! Jared van Camp of Old Town Social is the latest chef to pick up the blogging toque; this is a cool post about making boudin after a visit to New Orleans. 2. And more Chicago charcuterie blogging! Low on the Hog is a blog currently making nduja (part 1, part 2). (h/t Art at Pleasant House) 3. Interesting piece on Good Food about whether Los Angelenos appreciate their eclectic and rich culinary bounty, or if they’re too afraid to go east of downtown to check it out, and go to bed too early to have a genuinely lively scene. I’ve wondered that too, or whether it’s just the nature of big cities that people mark off big chunks of territory as no-go (you could certainly make the same claim about Chicago and the south and west sides, for instance— or about the hours at which we roll up downtown’s sidewalks). Anyway, it’s at about 30 minutes in; there’s also rather ironic contrast with the piece right before it, about an oh-so-hiply-green restaurant where they accept your vegetables in trade (but turned up their nose at Jonathan Gold’s kumquats the first time he tried it). 4. Macarons being the hot pastry of the moment (I’m writing something about them for publication right now), here’s an account from a couple of years ago of the new line from, and working in the kitchen of, the golden rock god of Paris macaron-makers, Pierre Herme. 5. How do you pair beer with Vietnamese food? Hell if I know, but I’d love to hang with the guy in these photos for a couple of hours and find out. (h/t Jeff Pikus) 6. A Chinese food blogger talks about how China’s internet censorship affects food blogging, complete with a recipe for cornmeal cakes which played a role in the Boxer Rebellion. 7. Cool video made for the 50th anniversary of the Annecy (France) animated film festival— featuring, naturally, a cake:
1. Reason, a libertarian magazine, has had a bunch of stuff lately about food-nannyism, a rich subject to be sure. This video was inspired by reports of New York cocktail-renaissance hotspot Pegu Bar getting in trouble with the health department for serving a cocktail with a raw egg in it. Actually, the egg was perfectly legal, but apparently the bar didn’t harsh the customer’s mellow sufficiently for bureaucratic tastes before serving it. Here, a Virginia mixologist talks about where his art runs into antiquated regulations:
This one (actually made by another site but picked up by Reason) talks with a pizza chain owner about the practical effects of the menu-calorie-count requirements specified in the health care bill:
But maybe the most interesting piece was this examination of TV-nutrition heartthrob Jamie Oliver; it’s not a slam piece, but it does suggest that Britain’s nutrition policy is being largely driven by a bit of a ditzy celebrity:
…for all his purported expertise in combating obesity—it was his work in this area that won him the TED Prize after all—there exists a very real question whether Oliver really understands healthy eating or even believes his own most basic dietary recommendations.
The current issue of his magazine Jamie (Feb./Mar. 2010) recommends several school lunch recipes the magazine bills as “wholesome meals to take to school.” The magazine’s suggested meal for Thursday is a tuna Waldorf pita with hot vanilla milk, an oaty biscuit, and a banana. According to the nutrition information provided in Jamie, this youngster’s lunch contains an astonishing 1,183 calories, 55 grams of fat (20 of them saturated), and 65 grams of sugar. That’s 73 calories, 12 grams of fat (11.5 saturated), and 3 grams of sugar more than the same student would get from eating both a McDonald’s hamburger Happy Meal (hamburger, fries, Sprite) and a Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal (McNuggets, fries, Sprite)
2. Everybody was talking about Michael Nagrant’s piece on publicist-for-the-new-millenium Ellen Malloy in that Time Out cultural clout issue, including the subject herself, but the one I found equally interesting (and more dispiriting) was the one on the guys who produce those neighborhood street fests in Chicago, and why market logic dictates that they’re all the same and don’t reflect their actual neighborhoods in any way.
3. You’ll never guess what the latest hot secret ingredient in Chinese food is! 4. Easily the best thing on LTHForum at the moment is this thread about what you would put in a care package from Chicago; forget Pizzeria Uno and check out recommendations for all kinds of ethnic sausage and the like (posts from Habibi, JeffB and Sazerac especially recommended). 5. “It’s the closest you’ll come to holding a fresh dinosaur egg.” And what is it? It is an emu egg, used in an omelet. (H/t Dan “Waffleizer” Shumski) 6. Taste of Beirut is a gorgeous blog about Lebanese food, well worth working your way through; I was fascinated by this Swiss Chard Cake (and the discussion of jarred grape leaves and why Swiss chard can be a better substitute).
7. What to do with your leftover ice cream spoons from a trendy ice cream parlor with chic little spoons (Istria Cafe in Hyde Park comes to mind).
1. I’ll start with things I found by checking out the people who link to me. First, Clever Food Blog has an interesting post on a tasting event featuring only foods with histories and recipes stretching back 1000 years… 2. While Eating Video Games is a blog by a guy who went in (with his brothers) on La Quercia’s Acorn Edition 3. Here he starts telling the story of what he did with the first of his pig parts, mentioning two of my videos along the way (hint: the other one involves a pig’s head). The story continues here. 3. Martha Bayne has a bunch of posts on the Family Farmed Expo last weekend, at the Reader; the most interesting one (to me) is on whole hog cooking, with some tart quotes from Rob Levitt of Mado; she also has some good observations on the panel about shared kitchen licensing, though since the city refused to participate, it doesn’t sound like the discussion itself amounted to much. 4. Paupered Chef goes on an LTH-like Italian sub crawl and identifies two Chicago faves. At least one is no surprise to me. 5. Something’s been done to these photos of a floating market near Bangkok so they’re unnaturally sharp and colorful, but they’re pretty fascinating all the same. 6. Thanks to Serious Eats, I’ve played Sushi Cat way too much lately. Well, it is one of those so-simple-it’s-brilliant games…. 7. Design For Dreaming is a crazily elaborate 50s General Motors promo film from the 1950s; it’s all pretty cool if you like retro stuff, but at least jump to about 3:10 to see the kitchen of the future (and note that that’s where the heroine is taken to recover when the car of the future proves too much for her feminine nerves!)
Cheesemaking video will go up Monday. In the meantime, here are some links of terror to tide you over.
1. This commercial is just so desperate to capture the excitement of Star Wars, and it knows it’s not happening:
2. Questions You Were Unlikely To Ask: Where can I get that Chicago classic Garrett’s Popcorn, or at least a Southeast Asian knockoff, when I’m in the Philippines? Kubiertos answers the question. 3. James Lileks discovers a document revealing what the Heinz 57 Varieties actually are. I bet you never knew. I bet they don’t make 15 of them today. (Heinz Peanut Butter? Heinz Breakfast Wheat? Heinz Cream of Oyster Soup? Those were all real.) 4. Seattle cocktail blogger Cocktail Chronicles recounts what he didn’t blog about in 2009, and why. 5. Here’s a post for a wintry day: an Italian food blogger called Briciole visits Hawaii. 6. What’s the difference between me doing something on sustainable seafood and Steve Dolinsky doing something? I’m not sure, but it involves a ticket to Paris (gotta work on that end of the business model). Anyway, he attended the Seafood Summit and reports at his Vocalo blog herehere and here, and in a podcast in the middle one, all worth checking out. 7. Here’s the kind of Flickr Group that Flickr was invented for: The Sugar Frosted Cereal Museum. There does seem to be a big nostalgia thing in cereal right now— I actually found Quisp at Strack & Van Til a few weeks back. What’s funny to me about this commercial is how Borscht Belt Jewish it is— Quisp talks like Jerry Lewis (it’s actually Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear and many others), while the scientist is right out of old Dr. Krankheit routines from vaudeville. That’s one thing that’s sure changed about TV since the 60s. Bonus points if you can name the announcer who has the last line at the end. Trust me, you’ve heard his voice many, many times (and no, it’s not Orson Welles).
Sky Full of Bacon is the podcasts (video and audio) and blog of Michael Gebert, James Beard Award-winning food video producer and writer, final editor of the late Grub Street Chicago and contributor to the Chicago Reader, Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out Chicago, Serious Eats, Saveur.com and other publications. Click here to Go to Videos. Click here for Airwaves Full of Bacon, my audio podcast.