Sky Full of Bacon

I liked the idea of Vie more than I liked the reality when I ate there in early 2008. I went in the dead of winter, hoping to taste deeply of the bounty of their closet full of preserved things (above, as seen in Sky Full of Bacon #5; it’s actually been moved upstairs now, though). I liked the idea of a place so devoted to local eating that it was doing all this canning and building a cuisine around those tastes. That said, I found it nice, well-prepared and skillful, but kind of tamed down for the good burghers of suburban Western Springs, certainly not as adventurous in terms of nose-to-tail eating as John Bubala’s short-lived Baccala or the wonderful spot that would open a few months later, Mado.

But I kept having tastes from Vie, and they kept suggesting a much better place than I felt I had been to. Mike Sula and I had the secret hamburger (made from the sides of artisanal Dietzler beef they were getting in house) and the superbly well-balanced Vie salad, and even though I found the toppings on the burger eccentric, there was no denying that it had a purity of beef flavor that left other hamburgers in the dust. The cotechino (a kind of peasanty fresh sausage with bits of organ meat and skin it) Vie provided to the mulefoot dinner was unquestionably one of my top two dishes from that dinner. And Vie’s take on Southern food for the Green City Market BBQ was maybe my favorite thing there, too, smoked turkey with pickled greens on it that reminded you of a big bowl of collard greens, but dialed up to 11.

Along the way, Vie chef-owner Paul Virant proved to be a friend of, or at least willing participant in, Sky Full of Bacon, in fact he’s appeared in half the videos so far (one accidentally— he was at Green City Market and literally walked through a shot as I was shooting). And cooking things up at the Shedd event-slash-Sky Full of Bacon premiere recently, he put the squeeze on me to come out and eat at his place again. So we invited a couple of other couples and went out there Saturday night.

I don’t know if it’s my perception or the restaurant that has changed more, but there’s nothing timid or suburbanite-safe about Vie as it exists in September 2009. In fact it might be the most radically whole animal-oriented restaurant in the Chicago area, even moreso than Mado, the Bristol, the Publican, anybody. The menu has item after item which takes a turn into organ meats, offal, once-ignored cuts like pork belly— and an older suburban crowd had packed the place and was eating the weird stuff happily (believe me, you know when the table behind you gets a plate of pork belly and smoked pork loin).

It’s easy to see why they trust his kitchen with such stuff— because Virant and his crew are preternaturally good at mining deep flavors from a dish. They can get away with offal because they use it to add complexity and depth to dishes— you don’t taste aggressive liver, you taste an orchestra which includes some earthy bass notes. A lamb “bolognese” had all the brightness of lamb, the funkiness of offal, the comfiness of a warm, nurturing pasta dish with housemade pasta— it was as deeply satisfying as anything I’ve had in years. Yet they do delicate just as well— sturgeon was topped with a fruity root-vegetable slaw that sang of the simple virtues of well-chosen in-season produce. And taste after taste seemed sharpened to its best possible result— earthy cotechino with crisped edges, a supple, eye-opening slice of cured goat loin (!) on “Nathan’s charcuterie plate” (sous chef/charcuterie whiz Nathan Sears, who’s also been in my videos with Paul), the flavor of smoke trailing off a wood-smoked pork loin, a melt in your mouth blue cheese served with local honey, a smooth and concentrated strawberry sorbet (I saw their new ice cream machine, which Nathan said costs as much as a car— “But a car can’t make ice cream.”)

I don’t know enough about the tippy-top of the dining scene to say what the best restaurant in Chicago is; even when I’ve been to such places, I haven’t been enough and recently enough to make a remotely fair judgement. But I do know that as much as I admire what’s happening at the very high end, my soul likes a little funk in the mix, and I find the precious arrangement of things into little cubes to get sterile sometimes, however exquisite it may be. For me, then, in my experience there’s no Chicago restaurant at work right now better than the meal I had last Saturday night, for its dedication to getting the best, richest, most purely satisfying flavor out of the best ingredients. And if you can think of other things a restaurant should be doing first, well, we just have different priorities, I guess.

Dept. of Disclosure: We paid for our meal but the kitchen knew we were there and sent out a couple of extra things, which we enjoyed happily.

I did a CSA for the first time this year, and while some of it was just ready supply (I made a lot of zucchini bread), I can think of a couple of things I got in my CSA, or grew in my Earthbox, or bought at the farmer’s markets which really surprised me with how much better they were than what I’d been buying, or avoiding buying, for years. Despite all the arguments about whether organic or farmer’s market or whatever produce does or does not contain more Flavora-6 or Nutritia-9, this stuff blew me away with its more concentrated flavor and, I am convinced as a result, concentrations of many other good things compared to watery supermarket versions of the same species. Here’s what surprised and delighted me this year:

1) French breakfast radishes. I’ve spent a happy life not eating radishes, but I had radishes with butter and dark rye bread at the Bristol last year, and after staring at it with a definite WTF? expression, suddenly I had an epiphany and not only wanted more radishes, I wanted to grow radishes. And so I did, as I described here. They were a hit through much of the summer, I’m now a committed radishophile.

2) Kale. Another vegetable I think I’d managed to live several decades without eating, but what started to sell me on it was having the cavolo nero, black kale, at various fancy dinners (such as the mulefoot dinner; you can see it in process at Vie in my video on that dinner). Kale soaks up porky flavor beautifully, as well as any collard green-type southern green, but it keeps more of its own texture than those greens, which get a little seaweedy by comparison. Not that they aren’t glorious, but I like the sturdier kale best.

3) Celery. This one really surprised me. I got celery in my CSA box a couple of times and it’s just amazingly more flavorful than watery, styrofoamy supermarket celery— small, dark green, packed with peppery flavor. A little of it adds a lot of vegetable depth to a soup or other use. I’ll never look at this often rather mediocre and forgettable utility player the same way.

After my scathingly nasty letter to the Apple Store about this, I got a call from the manager of the Woodfield store. I learned:

1. He never saw the letter addressed directly to “Manager, Apple Store, Woodfield.” I copied corporate and they sent a copy of their copy to him.

2. “You’re not the first one this has happened to.” This is not as consoling as you might think. Is anything being done about the obviously confusing process on their website? “I sure hope so!”

3. He apologized and said they probably should have taken care of me (ya think? Ya think a store should take care of its customer standing there with steam coming out of his ears? Is that like, a 70-30 thing, or a 51-49 thing?)

4. And he hoped the next time I was in the store, they’d have the opportunity to give me the great service he knows they’re capable of. I pressed and said, how, what’s changed that would make that more likely to happen? Uh, well, he just hoped next time they’d rise to the occasion.

In other words, he got told to apologize, but they’re not really changing anything to be more likely to not treat a customer like crap next time. They’re just really, really hoping that next time, they won’t treat me like dirt. Or if they do, maybe the next time after that they won’t. Or the next time.

Still got a lot to learn, Apple Store. But you’re going to learn it on somebody besides me.

Rob Gardner says over at the Local Beet that Oriana Kruszewski will be selling Asian pears and who knows what else at tomorrow’s Green City Market. This is my sign that fall is truly here— when Oriana, who specializes in fall fruit, starts selling at the market. Who is Oriana you ask? Why, I just happen to have a video about her:

Sky Full of Bacon 08: Pear Shaped World from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

Watch it, then go at least sample her Asian pears. Odds are you’ll come home with a bunch.

1. is a fascinating site devoted to old photographs (mostly 1900-1930) reproduced in extremely large scans so you can pore over every detail of ancient scenes. There’s all kinds of stuff, but I love studying food ones for quotidian details of ancient life; check out a 1910 square meal; a 1916 box lunch joint (shot by Lewis Hine) frequented by two 15-year-old factory workers, and a railworker lunch break from 1943; the Happy News Cafe; a 1950 bar with lunch menuboard visible; a 1939 country store (by Dorothea Lange); a black cook shack—in the middle of 1916 D.C.; Blue Bell Hamburgers, 1948; groceries in 1900, 1910, and 1950 (oh man, that’s the world I want to live in), and so much more.
2. You can get food for $10.80, but food plus sex for that price? Food+Sex is the name of an arty 20-page magazine published by one of those new magazine-printing-on-demand sites; you can preview it, sort of, here, and there’s a blog post here that tells you a little more about it and its accompanying art exhibit. And who should turn up but Nance Klehm (star of SFOB #7) contributing an article on… urm… “Human-Incubated Yogurt.”
3. I really don’t know what the hell this is. It’s a vaguely food-related song from some British musical about an antique store, apparently making fun of the cozy-little-50s-drama genre, since it’s filthy. The energetic star is Julie Walters, who you may recall from Educating Rita 20 years ago:

4. Martha Bayne has a nice piece on the Pacific Garden Mission, whose gardening program for folks in rehab was designed by… who else, Nance Klehm. You should check Martha’s blog once a month; she doesn’t post a lot but it’s always good. I loved this bit:

I’ve been volunteering here since January, but haven’t written much about it because a) I wanted to respect the privacy of the residents who work with us in the greenhouse program and b) you try writing about working with the homeless without sounding like some smug, self-righteous jerk. Everytime I tried I hated myself.

Yep, that’s why I make videos instead sometimes.
5. Tasting Table, the email newsletter you should go sign up for, found ground cherries at one of the markets—they might still be in season!
6. A weird summer was over before it started. For me, there’s only one thing to do in response to fall’s arrival: make pretty soups, like the author of When I’m Bored I Make Soup. (Ironically, he’s in New Zealand, so it’s not fall there.)
7. Not safe for work (unless you worked anywhere I ever worked in my life): Yes, this Chicago news anchor sure seems to have said on the air what it sounds like he said (h/t Chicagoist):

The co-anchor’s expression when they cut back to both of them is hilarious. They’re claiming he said “flucking.” Riiiiight. A commenter at Chicagoist suggests that this may explain the reference (apparently sampled on a Beastie Boys song).

About a year ago, I decided to see if I could review 50 restaurants that had never been reviewed on LTHForum.  (A tangential mention didn’t count.)  This was largely in response to what I saw as LTHForum having grown a bit moribund as a discoverer of new things on the culinary scene.  It seemed like all anybody wanted to talk about was hamburger franchises like Five Guys and Sonic and the phone-answering deficiencies of Schwa; even the old pros seemed to be bringing us the latest breathless dispatch from their 900th visit to Salam or Patty’s Diner or Myron and Phil’s rather than trying anything new.

Since then, I have to say things have improved somewhat.  The burger chain threads haven’t totally vanished (and Schwa’s telephone habits just flared up again) but there have been good, wide-ranging and new-ground-breaking threads on things like carne asada tacos; and people have actually tried new restaurants like Taxim and Nightwood and Fianco and so on.  You’re just about ready to think it’s getting lively again when, suddenly, there’s a thread like this.

Brief recap: Mike Sula wrote about an illegal taqueria operating out of a garage on weekends.  Gary Wiviott posted about trying it.  Both concealed the address (though made it fairly easy to see how you could get it).  And then… LTHers got all hinky about somebody writing about a place and not telling you how to go there and try it for yourself!

Well, in the words of Brian…

The point isn’t that there’s one taco stand somewhere in somebody’s garage, that G Wiv found out about from Sula who found out about it from Rob Lopata, and now you can find out about it from him. The point is, there’s stuff like this all over if you go looking for it, and any of us can do that if we just make the effort. But you have to make the effort; complaining that a leading LTHer hasn’t spoonfed it to you is, well, as bad as talking about chain hamburgers. Get off your duff, roll down your windows, and start driving around Mexican neighborhoods till you smell something good! Then get out of your car, be friendly, eat something, take some pictures and post about it. It all starts with somebody going out and finding something that nobody had any idea was there until they went out and looked for it. Go out and find something that nobody’s seen before!

Or, like me, you finally could go try a place you’ve been driving by for 15 years.

* * *

Mr. V’s Pizza is in a strip mall on Elston, up in the far-northwest Forest Glen neighborhood.  It was the strip mall, I guess, that kept me from following Mike G’s Rule of Pizza (“Always try a pizza that dates back to the 1950s. There is always a small possibility that in the intervening 35+ years, they have NOT screwed it up by trying to make it more like Domino’s or something.”)  It looked like a lame slice place sticking generic toppings on premade crusts.  But somehow, my curiosity was finally piqued, and I went in.

There were a lot of good signs once I went inside.  It may not seem like a good sign that the menu has everything from Italian beef to ice cream, but it suggested to me that there was an old school Italian family restaurant concealed behind a pizza facade.  It was a good sign, too, that the menu mainly offered cheese and sausage pizza— there was a list of alternative toppings, but this was all about the Chicago classics, cheese and sausage.  It was a good sign that the slice rewarmer seemed to not be in use.

I ordered one of each, thin, and was told 20 minutes.  I went to walk around the immediate area, which was nondescript but suggested a thriving family neighborhood.  In the park next door, a family ate pizza while the kids played on the swings, and a little ways over I saw these guys:

There’s a funeral chapel with a 60s mansard roof next door; I peaked inside and saw, inexplicably, a merry-go-round goat:

And what’s up with this?  I started to feel like I was wandering the village in a Lovecraft story, and had stumbled on the portraits of the ancestors the locals don’t like to talk about:

20 minutes were up and I drove home.  I tore the paper cover open and:

Classic Chicago thin crust, not the best I ever had, but not bad at all— the crust is almost certainly prefab, which is a bummer but hardly unusual; but the cheese and sausage were of good quality, the tomato sauce had a little sweetness and a little tang, the whole thing was not too greasy, well-cooked.  A pizza to make you happy on a Friday night, and not make you regret it the next morning.  If I lived in Forest Glen and this was my local pizza, I’d have it on my speed dial.

And so the pace of discovery continues…

Mr. V’s Pizza
5285 N Elston Ave
(at Forest Glen Ave)
Chicago, IL 60630
(773) 736-9434

When my kids were small, we ate at a lot of hamburger joints. It’s not that I wasn’t trying to introduce my kids to new things, but you’re always running errands with little kids and so you find yourself out by some mall, and suddenly your kid has to eat right now, and you can try to convince him that falafel are the yummy yummy good answer to that, or he can eat another damn hot dog. And so, back in the day, I tried a lot of hamburger joints I haven’t been to since. This post is about returning to two of them, for the first time in a long time.

A few weeks ago, I was running around, coming back from around Skokie on Lincoln, and I just wanted a quick bite, and I remembered Hub’s, one of those Greek burger places I’ve railed against, but I figured, it should meet minimal acceptability standards, I went in and ordered a burger and fries…

It was a limp, careless desecration of everything a burger should be. Flavorless frozen patty, then the grilled onions proved to be a sodden mass of cold jellyfish which had immediately soaked the heel of the bun into pulp. It was like eating grilled pasteboard between two wet rags, and the fries were the coated kind like Burger King has now, the fries covered with a crunchy fried-snot crust. It is not often I wish I had gone to McDonald’s or Wendy’s, but both were in my path home and either would have been an infinitely more honorable choice than this crapburger.

Hub’s has some fame due to a series of Saturday Night Live sketches it appeared in, attempting to make the lightning of Billy Goat and “Cheez-borger! No fries, cheeps!” strike again.  The Greek staff leers “You like-a da sauce, ehhh?” over and over, in sketches that last forever. I could find one on Hulu and embed it, I suppose, but they suck so badly, you should just find it for yourself if you really care.  Anyway, as I say the sketch is a lame, unpleasant and shoddy imitation of something that was good once, so it fits Hub’s to a T.

5540 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 784-4228

To demonstrate my point (and, further, to demonstrate that I’m not simply in a scorched-earth mood), I found myself in a similar situation yesterday, at the intersection of Lack of Time and Lack of Imagination, somewhere around Golf and Milwaukee, and popped into another Greek-burger joint, the improbably named Booby’s (who have on the menu, believe it or not, a double-patty burger called the… wait for it… Big Boob).  I’m not saying this was anything great, and it has one oddity— they put cole slaw on their burgers— but you know, at least they knew how to do right the first ten things Hub’s does wrong.  I could actually taste char-grilled meat, the cole slaw was okay and didn’t soak the burger (at least within the normal eating timespan; it was starting to get that way toward the end), the fries were anonymous but acceptable crinkle-cut fries with no goo encrusted upon them.  I still wouldn’t put it anywhere near this top ten, but it’ll do in a pinch, and did.

All in all, though, I’m glad to not have kids so young that I find myself constantly at the Stride Rite store in Golf Mill, and then hunting for somewhere to feed them a hot dog and fries afterwards…

(847) 966-4733
8161 N Milwaukee Ave
Niles, IL 60714

I made a pastrami. More here.

At least, we’ll see if we can earn that title today.  First up: I have a blog post at the Reader, with an outtake of the most entertaining character in my most recent podcast: 75 Years of Gefilte Fish. Please read it!

Some milestones that make me happy: #11/A Better Fish has passed 1000 views at Vimeo (between its two versions— there’s a bleeped version I made for the Shedd, too); and both #10/Prosciutto di Iowa and #1/How Local Can You Go? have passed 2000 views each.  On the other hand, the new one, #12/In The Land of Whitefish, is just sort of sitting there, so if you like it, tell somebody, Tweet it, pass it along, pass somebody famous in the hallway and tell them about it, whatever!

If you liked my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory parody, check this out.

In a move I expect to affect absolutely no one, I’m turning off comments on old posts because the only people who post new comments on anything more than a couple of weeks old are spammers, and they tend to glom onto a few posts and totally assault them with keerap month after month. If you actually want to comment on something old, email me or something.

Actual content to come soon…

Notice posted at Crucial Detail website:

On October 19th chef Grant Achatz, in collaboration with Martin Kastner of Crucial Detail and the Alinea staff, will host an experimental dinner testing concepts, dishes, service methods, and techniques deemed too avante garde for Alinea.
• Seating will be limited to 30 guests.
• Tickets available by lottery only through this website.
• Tickets are non-transferrable and cannot be sold or traded.
• Due to the nature of the event, we regret that we cannot accommodate vegetarian or any other dietary requests.
• There is no charge for the event.

Chapter One

Charlie Bloggert was a boy who had a food blog. Having a food blog did not pay very much, and so he had to live in an old, old house with his Grandpa Jacques and his Grandma Julia and his Grandpa Ferran and his Grandma Alice and his iMac G5 with Snow Leopard. They lived on large pots of chilled beet soup and old episodes of $40 a Day With Rachael Ray, and dreamed of someday getting to eat at famous restaurants like Charlie Prodnose’s and Fickelgruber Laundry and Per Slugworth. But the finest restaurant of all, the one Charlie most dreamed of eating at someday, was Chef Grant Wonkatz’ Alinea.

“Tell me about Alinea, Grandpa Jacques,” Charlie would say, for he was always in desperate need of material for his food blog.

“Why, it’s the most marvelous place on earth!” Grandpa Jacques exclaimed. “And Chef Wonkatz is the most marvelous wizard with food that you’ve ever seen! Why, he has a kind of griddle that, instead of making food hot, fries it up cold! He has drinks that are hot at one end and cold at the other end as you drink them—”

“But how does he do that, Grandpa Jacques?” Charlie asked, furiously pressing “Save” on WordPress.

“Nobody knows! That’s what so wangdoodleficating amazing about it! And most amazing of all, he has a ravioli—oh, you’ve never seen such a ravioli in all your life—you bite into it and it explodes in your mouth with all the most amazing flavors that just go on and on until you feel like you’ll never be able to eat anything again! It’s called Wonkatz’ Everlasting Gobslopper and nobody knows how he does it—oh, wouldn’t old Thomas Ficklegruber or Jöel Slugworth give their right eye to know how he does it!”

“But someone must know how he does it,” Charlie said. “Can’t someone bribe his sous chefs or something? Hasn’t he written a big expensive coffee table book?”

“That’s just it,” Grandpa Jacques said, his voice growing low. “Nobody knows who his sous chefs or cooks are. Nobody’s ever been inside his kitchen. All they see are the waiters bringing dishes out. And the busboys taking dishes back in. But what happens in that kitchen, nobody knows…”

flip the pages…

Chapter Nine

The next day Charlie turned on the internet to find that a girl named Violet Beauregarde in New York had won the second Golden Ticket. Her father, a round little man with his hair combed over his head, was talking to the camera.

“Soon as I saw that ticket, I called this here Alinear up,” Mr. Beauregarde said. “I said you listen here, my girl Violet is a verrah famous food blogger, as you no doubt know, and runs a very important survey of very fine dining. And I said, my Violet expects the chef to cook for her. And the clown at the other end says, sir, the chef cooks for everybody, we don’t send the food out raw. No, no, you nitwit, I said, you listen to me, my girl Violet has been in the finest restaurants in all the world, Paris, Vegas, you name it, and maybe this news hasn’t reached the cornfield town you live in but when a customer says they want the chef to cook for them, it means they expect the chef to prepare a special menu just for them, of the chef’s best, not that junk he serves the hoi pa-low-ee. And they expect the chef to come out and talk to them, see? My Violet has some very specific ideas on cuisine and I think it would do your Chef Wonkatz a lot of good to get the benefits of her insights…”

flip the pages…

Chapter Seventeen

As the golden gate shut behind him with a loud clang, Chef Wonkatz began to speak. “You five lucky children—and your charming parents—are the first people to—”

FLASH! went the bulb on Mike Teevee’s pocket camera.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that right in my eyes as I’m speaking,” Chef Wonkatz said.

“Hold on a second Chef,” Mike said, furiously typing on tiny keys the size of mouse teeth. “There! I’ve just uploaded that picture to YFrog.”

“As I was saying—”

“Hang on there Chef,” Mike said. “My Flip camera isn’t picking up the audio very well. Do you think you could turn off some of those machines?”

“I know just the thing to show you,” Chef Wonkatz said. “You know how people send Tweets during their meal?”

“Do I know—listen, Chef, you’re talking to the first kid ever to live-Tweet from the bathrooms at Ducasse!”

“Well,” continued Chef Wonkatz, “I have found a way to Tweet… food.” And he opened the doors to reveal a gleaming white complex of cubicles and computers, at which dozens of casually-dressed Oompa-Loompas sat, furiously typing and then pressing “Send.” At the front of the room stood a plexiglass booth, and inside it was a plate of food neatly threaded onto a metal skewer, and a computer with a large camera-like device attached to it.

“Watch this,” he said, and suddenly the booth was filled with a brilliant white light. When it faded, the food was gone.

“Where’d it go?” asked Charlie.

Suddenly one of the Oompa-Loompas began jumping up and down in his seat. “There!” cried Chef Wonkatz as the five kids and their parents moved forward to see. “There, on his screen! That’s the food!”

“It’s tiny,” Mrs. Beauregarde said.

“It only has 140 characters to capture everything about the dish,” Chef Wonkatz said.

As they squinted at the tiny skewer with its minuscule food threaded through it, no one noticed that Mike Teevee had slipped out of the group and was now running toward the plexiglass booth at the front of the room…

flip the pages…

Chapter Twenty-Eight

“And this one is an oyster topped with yuzu—” Chef Wonkatz said.

“I don’t eat shellfish,” Veruca Salt said. “Contains too many pollutants.”

“What an adorable rhinoceros your child is,” Chef Wonkatz said. “And over here, is a slice of braised Berkshire pork belly with uni flakes and a salt caramel—”

“I don’t eat salt,” Veruca said. “Ironic, I know. Or pork either. And to tell you the truth, Wonky, I’m not wild about uni. Haven’t you got some food a person could eat in this place, like tofu or seitan?”

“I must admit, at the moment I’m not so sure,” said Chef Wonkatz.

“Well, there’s your pantry,” Veruca said. “I’ll just hop over and take a look-see—”

And in a flash Veruca had bounded the barrier and popped into the kitchen. “Stop, you’re not clean enough to be in the kitchen,” Chef Wonkatz shouted.

“Who are you saying isn’t clean?” Mrs. Salt, offended, shouted back.

Veruca hunted through the large steel refrigerator for something to her liking.  “Kangaroo meat… filet of snozzcumberous… Wonky, don’t you know you’re killing yourself with all this stuff?” As she went on, tossing packages over her head, Veruca didn’t notice that a group of Oompa-Loompas was sneaking up behind her with a large plastic bag.

“Say, what are those Oompa-Loompas doing?” Mr. Salt said.

“They’re making sure the meat in the kitchen isn’t contaminated,” Chef Wonkatz said.

“Veruca!” screamed Mrs. Salt, but a moment later the bag was over Veruca’s head and six of the Oompa-Loompas were inserting one end into a large silver machine.  A kind of rumbling noise came from the machine, and then suddenly the plastic seemed to stretch tight over Veruca, following her shape perfectly.

“What have they done?” screamed Mrs. Salt.

“They’ve vacuum-sealed her to keep her fresh,” Chef Wonkatz said resignedly.

And then, carrying the plastic-sealed over her head, the Oompa-Loompas began to sing:

For those who eat most heartily
An occasional blocked artery
Is not so high a price to pay
For enjoying pleasures while you may.
But then there are the crabby sort
Who’d never take a glass of port
A good cigar, a hambone joint
Or paté foie. For them the point
Is bringing to a prompt fruition
The optimum in good nutrition
Devoid of butter, fat or lard
Just whole grain bread turned granite-hard
Broccoli, lentils, bitter kale
Brown rice that tastes like last week’s mail.
One of this kind was Veruca Salt
Present her with a chocolate malt
And you’d be greeted with a look
As if you’d deep-fried a phone book
Tofu, seitan, these were her meats
Served raw upon the greens of beets
Which she would chew with jaw askance
(And soon make noises with her pants).
So long poor V. eschewed her treat
Not us! For us, she’s just fresh meat
She suffers now a fate to heed—
We’re cooking this young Salt sous vide.

EXTRA! Before we get to the business at hand… check out and sign up for The Local Beet farm dinner next weekend (but you have to sign up by this weekend). It couldn’t be a more perfect time to eat stuff straight off the farm, on the farm. Check out the details here.

Got a nice fan email from a fellow named Kevin Speck in Japan:

Just a quick note to say I get your podcasts religiously here in Japan and although I watch many food podcasts, in English and local things in Japanese, most of them seem to `miss the point of food as I would like to see it` and that point being,  I really love it when people have that ability to take us back to the origin of the food morsel that we put into our mouths and make us think about that.

Although I work in the metals industry I really love food and although I did a 6 month culinary school night class I don`t have the dedication to detail or the ability to stand on my feet for 15 hours a day non-stop to be a professional in the food industry. So I content myself with night-time baking and bento box preparation and watching your show.

P.S : My partner here in Japan (she is Japanese), doesn`t understand why Westerners would be interested in a show about pigs or fruit farmers. But we live in a country where people order their meals out of tanks of live fish and beef packets in supermarkets have a cartoon image of a smiling cow showing you the part of him/her that you are about to eat. hehe.

O.K … longer than a quick note I know. But thanks for the podcasts. There are people all over the world who appreciate them.


Thanks for the nice words, glad you enjoy them!  But you know, Japan isn’t the only place where cartoon animals happily give themselves for food.  Well, not entirely happily in this case (from Carnitas Uruapan; photo by Gary Wiviott from the long ago Short-Notice-a-Thon):

* * *

Meanwhile… more than a year ago, when I had no idea what I was doing and I was shooting my second podcast in a Chinese restaurant, the woman who was planning to take over the restaurant with her siblings, Kelly Cheng, told me about their plans for moving into a bigger, better space around the corner.

It seemed as far off as, well, 12 completed podcasts, but that eventually happened and now Sun Wah is about to make that move. Their last day in the old space will be the 15th (Tuesday); they should reopen around the end of the month. Then the only place the old Sun Wah will exist will be… in Sky Full of Bacon #2:

Sky Full of Bacon 02: Duck School from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.