Sky Full of Bacon

The challenge came out a little differently this time but still interesting… instead of using the ingredient, Ariel Bagadiong of Aja makes it. It’s the legendary Scottish offal food, haggis, and the article is here.

Meanwhile, I’ll have two films in the 2nd Chicago Food Film Festival this weekend; here the festival director and producer talk about it (and show a clip from one of my two) on Ch. 7. Dolinsky, I’m invading your turf!

Honestly, this is the first one where I ever left my grossest shot out, just because I couldn’t take it. I did eat it though; it wasn’t that bad. The ingredient is balut, and if you don’t know what that is, well, you’re about to find out. The article is here.

Not that all of these aren’t interesting to do, but I always especially enjoy when it gets me into the kitchen of a place I’ve liked but don’t know anybody at and wouldn’t normally get a chance to see. And that’s what this week’s Key Ingredient did, as we shot with Edward Kim of Ruxbin (which I reviewed here and here).

Meanwhile, look what’s in CS (Chicago Social) this month:

Yikes! There’s a first. I might have felt a little abashed about making such a claim (which, if I did exactly, is somewhere in this) before going to Next, but now that I’ve been, as admirable as it was as an experience, I’m sticking with Virant, who continues to be the guy who makes the food that hits me closest to dead center.

Well, she could be; she’ll be on it when the new season begins next week. Her name is Beverly Kim, she’s chef de cuisine, I think, some no. 2 position anyway, at Aria in the Fairmont Hotel, and she made a cool Halloween dessert with black cardamom. The story’s here.

And kudos to anyone who gets that obscure movie reference. Key Ingredient returns after a two-week vacation with Kevin Hickey of the posh Four Seasons restaurant Seasons. The ingredient is Mountain Ash Berries, but the revelation for me was the squab you’ll see in the video, which was easily the best I’ve ever tasted. The article is here.

I’m doing so many little video clips at Grub Street now, many of them short one-take interviews, that I’m not going to link and embed all of them, but I will call attention to ones that are a little more artful and here’s one: Mark and Liz Mendez, shortly before the opening of Vera. Mark, of course, was in Sky Full of Bacon #15 as well as this Key Ingredient (back when Vera was going to be called Uva).

Sugarcane! Dirk Flanigan of Henri and The Gage really goes to town on sugarcane, trying to use it a bunch of different ways. Not all of them worked but we were pretty dazzled by all the thinking he put into it. The piece is here. Note that Key Ingredient will be taking a two-week hiatus after this episode.

Too bad I wasn’t out of town and couldn’t pass this one to Hammond… he eats bugs all the time. The Seth Rogenesque Luke Creagan, of Pops For Champagne, makes short and funny work of a can of bamboo worms, marked “Not For Human Consumption.” The whole piece is here.

This week at Key Ingredient: Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree cooks with burdock root. Read the piece here.

Longtime SFOB watchers will recall that burdock root was seen in the wild in this classic SFOB video.

This being episode #40, time to recap the last ten as dishes, as I last did here:

• Shawn McClain/Blood: although seeing it in its brownie-batter state was pretty appalling, by the time it had all that savory stuff around it, it was just like a pate, and quite tasty.
• Nick Lacasse/Whelk: much the same is true of this one, though I can’t see why anyone much wants to eat the decidedly rubbery, not very flavorful whelk.
• Justin White/Ostrich egg: in the end, it’s an egg. A lot of egg. It was good, if overabundant.
• Jeffrey Hedin/Rabbit Lungs: just another thing in a pate. Good country pate, I liked the balance of sweet and tart things around it, which made it more sophisticated.
• David Dworshak/Milkweed: I loved the cocktail, the cured beef bacon, and the ice cream. Anything that had a higher concentration of the green pods was harder to take; they really don’t have much flavor.
• Mark Mendez/Tomato leaves: super-simple (like the video) and clean. Probably my favorite in this series, although it was so plain it was hardly more than drinking after a squeezed tomato. But just enough more.
• Rob Levitt/Abalone: as Rob said, he kind of overwhelmed the subtle abalone with the (certainly tasty) other things going on. Abalone at least more rewarding than whelk.
• Jason Vincent/Duck tongues: the duck tongues themselves were fine, just crispy fatty friedness. The sandwich was ridiculously overstuffed, but enjoyable. I wanted one the next day.
• B.K. Park/Chufa: I loved the idea of replacing the sushi rice with something else; I thought chufa was kind of dry and chewy for the role, though. Don’t quit your day job, chufa.
• Shin Thompson/Burdock root: I really liked this soup a lot, although I think it’s too rich and savory-sweet for a whole bowl. But for a small shooter or whatever, a really interesting and complex flavor.

Now here’s something nobody’s done yet in a Key Ingredient: made sushi. Four courses of it, in fact, each one tasted after it’s made in a break from our usual format. The chef is B.K. Park of Arami, the ingredient is chufa, and the article is here.

And if you haven’t seen it, watch the trailer for upcoming Sky Full of Bacon videos here.

P.S. Not that anyone comes here for a 9/11 remembrance. But I do have a small story, which has something to do with how 9/11 led to LTHForum, that has to do with my son Liam. I told it in this interview between Michael Nagrant and myself and some of the other founders of LTHForum, several years ago. Jump ahead to about 17:50, where we’re talking about how we became foodies…

Liam eating a pickle in front of Baltic Bakery on the 47th-a-Thon, 2006.

Duck Season! Chef Season! The chef is Jason Vincent of Nightwood, the story is here.

I got nothin’ to post this week, not that I expect anyone’s sitting waiting for it, because I have been so deep in the first real Sky Full of Bacon video in a year (the South Side BBQ one). There is light at the end of that tunnel! It’s pretty cool. See you next week.