Sky Full of Bacon

Continued from Part 1 here. Submit your questions/observations/rants in the comments and we’ll do our best to address them on Friday.

MICHAEL GEBERT: Yesterday you brought up what I think are a couple of related trends. As far as the artisanal-named meats and all that goes, if we’ve reached a point where the farmers everybody knows the names of are selling everything they can grow, I think that’s great, because it’s going to draw others into the business.  If there’s one thing I got from the videos that I shot this year, it was Dave Cleverdon of Kinnikinnick Farm’s rousing endorsement of the invisible hand as the better farmer’s best friend.  He absolutely believes in the meritocracy of the free market, that if all these farmers do the things they believe in and chase the little market niches they see, they will continue growing the market, because they will find chefs who will fall in love with what they grow and sustain them.  That’s working like it should.

I’m a little more dubious about the butchery trend— not the motives of the guys going into it for love, but whether that love will be reciprocated.  There’s a big price differential with artisanal meat, you pay a lot not only for flavor and service, but for the much more intangible ethical part.  Will people do that?  I know more than a few foodies, at least so-called, who are almost proudly oblivious to why you’d want to do that.  I’d be curious to know how much pork that little Becker stand at Green City Market sells; you certainly look at those prices and get a little light-headed.  But God bless ‘em for trying it.

But I understand if meat-namedropping feels like this year’s indicator of lack of imagination.  I certainly understand the comment about feeling like the same restaurant opened ten times this year— you could close your eyes at Longman & Eagle and reopen them at The Fountainhead and never realize you’d just teleported, they’re practically the same room laid out in the same way.  Still, I feel like in general, the porkification of the food scene has net lowered the bullshit level on the food scene compared to where it was 8 or 9 years ago when I first started yapping on the internet about food.  Chefs who were hiding behind “Mediterranean” or Asian fusion or other trends where it’s easy to just apply six coats of flavor like Earl Scheib’s have a lot less room to hide when it’s just you and a Slagel pork chop going mano a swino.  So maybe it’s just that we’ve been to different places, but where do you see this focus on decor over food?

MICHAEL NAGRANT: As far as what should be the focus on food over décor, well I don’t know if it’s “over” as much as a lot of the creativity once reserved for food is now being spread all over the business and at some point I wonder if that lessens the food.  I mean it’s good when the cook is truly dedicated to craft and not just motivated by egotism.  But, for every Grant Achatz who will focus on flavor first and be able to reinvent cocktails, there are five chefs who think they can also be mixologists and end up sending out soapy-tasting alchohol bombs.

This is sort of a manifestation of another trend, which is that cooks don’t know how to cook the basics because they’re focused on the fame instead of the craft. I can’t tell you how much bad “handmade” pasta or dried out charcuterie I’ve had this year, because handmade pasta and sausage is hot (which is funny because they’ve both been hot since 1772 really).   Then there’s the money grab.  How many cooks have been ruined by chasing the title, the pay, or greener grass before they were ready, more so these days because there’s so much opportunity?

I mean why did Todd Stein leave a perfect thing at Cibo Matto to cook his food at the glorified airport lounge/faux library/garage sale art gallery that is The Florentine?  I guess I should ask, but you know this an informal exchange on the Internet and I don’t have a lot of time to dig, so I’ll make an assumption it was because of the promise of more in some way or another.  The good news is his pasta is incredible and because I discount everything else in service of the food (see above) I’ll still eat there.

So back to butchers, yeah, no doubt the prime cuts will still cost a lot, but I bet I’ll be able to get some flap meat or some offal from Rob Levitt at a price comparable to commodity filet and I’ll take that at that price and know that what I’m about to cook will have ten times more flavor than that Jewel choice cut.   Then again, as we’ve said – market choice – more demand, more farmers, less differentiation because everything will be higher quality means lower prices in the end. Then again it could go like cable internet and the butchers will continue to charge ridiculous fixed prices to support their coke habits and other restaurants, err cable television infrastructure.

What I do know is that I can’t afford to shop at Dirk’s Fish everyday, but I do buy from them once a month or whenever I need something from the sea that has to be incredible.  I know that I tell anyone who will listen that his soft shell crabs are still moving and foaming at the mouth in the case and the crab just got off a boat from Alaska and I send my friends and family there once a month as well. It adds up.  There may be only one Dirk’s but it means something for our community.  There won’t be a lot of craft butchers either, but a few is all we need.

One thing I gotta ask is, why did we suddenly get 30 BBQ restaurants this year? Is it the Smoque effect?  And why are almost none of them as good as Smoque, which by the way uses Sysco peaches in their cobbler and a Southern Pride cooker (which is not an indictment as much as a surprising observation).  I mean I guess it’s the Ansel Adams thing – dude had a glorified wood box with a hole in it and he still took pictures better than the kvetching Leica owner in 2010.   It’s not the tool, but how you use it that counts.  I know some will say Smoque is not that good. I will say I ate in Memphis at a handful of hand-smoking pits and no rib was as good as the rib I had at Smoque last week.

GEBERT: Secret to barbecue in Memphis, I finally realized, is that you can’t expect the meat to have that heavy Texas smoke thing, it’s not about the meat— it’s about how the chopped pork goes on cheap white bread with mustard-tinged cole slaw and makes a harmonious dish.  Now, as far as peach cobbler goes, 128-oz. cans of industrial peaches are authentic to soul food…

But anyway, getting back to this originality thing.  You really feel you had bad charcuterie?  I don’t think any charcuterie I ever had was bad, though maybe some of it was not as interesting as it could be, which is probably the inevitable result of a bunch of chefs going gung-ho for something where the feedback loop on even your first try is months.  (The Purple Pig, for instance, I definitely suggest placing the bulk of your interest on the regular dishes.)  Who knows what it takes to become really really good at it, but let’s call it a minimum of five years’ serious effort, how many guys doing it aren’t still in the first third of that learning curve?  So it’s not surprising that our scene in that regard is still behind Seattle, or Italy.  Or behind our own ethnic charcuterie makers, for that matter; the fastest antidote to getting gouged for a few thin slices of uninteresting cured meat at the latest hot joint is to go to a place like Riviera on Harlem and get the real Italian-American, made-in-house deal for a pittance by comparison.

(Incidentally, when I had my first 46-minute-long chance to ask Grant Achatz a few questions, one of them was about whether charcuterie would be part of the first Paris 1906 or whatever it is concept at Next.  I was interested in how Alinea would do charcuterie, to be sure, but also in whether he saw any limit to his ability to just swoop into a cuisine and show everybody who’d been practicing it for 20 years how it’s really done.  And this would be one thing where he’d basically have to get it right the first time, just given the time frame.  His answer was that cured meat wasn’t really part of L’Escoffier’s thing, just forcemeats (i.e. pates and fresh sausages), and that charcuterie was doubtless in their future, but a ways off.  Which struck me as a wisely politic answer, as well as a tantalizing glimpse of what the future may hold.)

It’s revealing to me that you look at it in terms of bold, individual creativity— who’s going to be the next great name brand artist, or whether there will be one at all from this crowd.  Maybe it’s just that we’re focused on different levels of the market, but I hear you saying that this group of ever-faithful aspirant restaurant owners hasn’t really displayed enough creativity, that you don’t see the next mindblower like Alinea or Schwa in the current crop.  And maybe that’s true.  A comfort food, pork-heavy year is probably a safe year.

But I think maybe even more than another mad genius or two, what our scene needs is more top-flight excellence in the classic cuisines.  I mean, there’s “Italian” quote-unquote food all over this city, but how many truly first-rate Italian restaurants would you say there are?  A dozen, optimistically?  Eight?  One or maybe two breadbakers, the jury’s out on charcuterie makers, can we really say we have a great seafood-focused place?  So maybe that’s what we’re seeing this year in these comfort food places— less interest in flashy genius and a little more in doing right by the old great things.  We’re not going to get another subatomic fusion place, but we got an authentic Dutch place, of all things, we get places like Three Aces that should be serving mozzarella sticks like any other bar and instead are making rustic dishes like beef heart spiedini. We seem to have flipped overnight from having Chocolate-Parsnips Subsonic Nasal Spray for dessert to roasting potatoes over a peasant fire with a stick as the hot new thing in Andersonville.  (I don’t mind if the desire for new sensations leads straight to the oldest things on earth, though I do wonder, where does it stop? A grill your own woolly mammoth steakhouse?)

And what surprises me is if that’s a phenomenon of conservatism creeping into the scene, nevertheless, the amount of activity on the scene is just gaga-80s. I mean, I hardly talk to anybody, it seems, who isn’t in the process of opening a restaurant right now.  In this economy, it not only means there’s still the money out there that wants to play in this game, but there’s faith on the part of so many people that the world is just waiting out there for their take on stuff.  That this city is still full of unfilled niches. So I see this really paradoxical scene that’s crying out for chefs to be stars and make their names, but encouraging them to cook pretty classic, conservative stuff with just a little filigree of individual style on top.  Again, I’m really not complaining, based on the food, but how did that happen?

NAGRANT: Regarding charcuterie: one’s man’s “uninteresting” is another’s “bad”. But I guess I sort of see it like you do, there are a lot of middling options and very few positive outliers.

As for the next big thing. I don’t think it matters whether a chef becomes a household name or is so bold that they attract some kind of fame or recognition. I’m just most interested in those chefs who ignore the noise and pursue their own voice. As with books or movies, I find the greatest experiences come from those who create their own worlds and then draw people in to them.  Despite the Michelin stars, few people know who Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree is, but he has a certain brand of Noma meets Alinea meets Nobu that no one else is doing.  Likewise, that’s why I also like the Ruxbin folks with their decoupage cookbook page ceiling and their Korean empanadas.

So you ask why is there a restaurant boom given the bad economy? Think of Schwa, Bill Kim’s joints, Mado etc as the Pixies or the Ramones of the culinary world (then again why didn’t Hot Doug Sohn have the same impact years ago?  I mean he’s like the Velvet Underground – the earliest of the influential lo-fi culinarians.)  Carlson, Kim et al, like their band counterparts, created a model of economy that worked that most chefs could relate to. Finally, there was an example that broke down this whole idea of having to serve app, entree, dessert in a stodgy setting that cost a lot to build.

I mean the Pixies weren’t hugely successful in the early days, but they were a cult favorite and they screamed and were dissonant  and tongue-in-cheek in a way that no one else was. Some dude named Kurt Cobain was like, hey that speaks to me, I don’t have to be a sell out or play verse chorus verse to do this.

Now you have chefs who used to think you had to spend a million dollars and a year on build out, who were waiting for princely investors, switch to the idea that, hey, I can totally open a place without linens and build it out in a week because that’s what Rob Levitt did.

Likewise if you’re a smaller investor or minor player it’s easier for you to get in the game now.  The problem of course when people who don’t understand a scene get involved sometimes the only thing they know how to do is ape what was successful and not do their own thing.  So after Nirvana’s huge success, every band in Seattle and some who just moved there got signed to a major label.  Hoping to reproduce the Nirvana success, labels wouldn’t let any of their new signees do anything but watered down grunge, thus leading to a whole lot of boring band failures.

I think in the culinary world the conservatism we’re seeing is similar to that. I.e. investors from outside are like ohh, Pork Belly! Pre-Prohibition Cocktails! Servers Wearing Jeans! Organ Meat!  Yeah, we gotta do that.  If we don’t, we won’t make money. And sure, it’s a good enough formula for a few year’s ride, but how many of these places will be around in five?

TOMORROW: Why everybody’s hating on foodies this week

For the second year in a row (see last year here, here, here, here and here), I’ve invited Michael Nagrant, food writer-bon vivant who hangs his hat at New City and Chicago Social among others, to kick around the past year in the Chicago food scene.  We start this year’s discussion with a roundup of the year, but check back every day this week for whatever farflung topic we’ll have gotten to by then. And note a special feature this year: pose your questions for the rasslin’ reviewers in the comments, and one or both of us will have a crack at them on Friday.

MICHAEL GEBERT: Welcome back, sir, you’re looking tanned, rested and ready.  So what do you think about the year in restaurants? On the one hand, it seemed like the bad economy finally started to take its toll. On the other hand, at the present rate of increase, by the year 2028 every single person in Chicago will be opening a new restaurant using Slagel pork and Dietzler beef. How do you think 2010 was as a food year?

MICHAEL NAGRANT: Well, the Chinese Zodiac says the year of the Goat ain’t till 2015, but it sure felt that way. There was Izard and her drunken goats – great on her flat bread with kale by the way, great goat empanadas last night at Branch 27 from John Manion, the continued rise of Prairie Fruit Farms goat cheese.

Though I suppose goat is also like the “next Bob Dylan” phenomenon. Every year there’s some singer/songwriter who’s supposed to be the next Bob Dylan and they’re great and what not, but they’re never really going to displace the real Bob Dylan. Every year for the past five or something goat has been lauded as the next pork or whatever. Look at Bayless and his tireless promotion of the Kilgus Farm boys. In the end bacon is still king – and besides, Sky Full of Goat just doesn’t sound as sexy.

Still, this is of course just a long way of saying 2010 was the tipping point year for eating weird shit. I mean Lincoln Park trixies have always been into balls, but now they’re like, ohh, sweetbreads, yum-oh. I mean Fergus Henderson could now pull mad Keith Richard’s numbers of birds if he were to hang out at John Barleycorn on a Friday night.

I think that’s good – it means more places like City Provisions, Butcher and Larder, and Paul Kahan’s butcher concept will likely thrive because they can make a living beyond selling the filet.

And indeed if everyone is able to offer Slagel or Dietzler, then bravo, maybe we can just eat good food and not have to read about it on every inch of the menu. But of course what we know is that the small scale of such farms means not every restaurant can offer this stuff. A great aha moment for me (not to be confused with that other A-Ha moment of the Speed Racer clone “Take on Me” video) was talking to Bayless about the opening of Xoco and hearing about his desire to offer free-range pork, but having to settle for semi-free range, but sustainably raised pigs, from Maple Creek Farm because Gunthorp would have to ramp up production to meet demand and it would take a few years. Still, just as the demand creates more good restaurants, it may also create more local family farms, a bigger Green City Market etc and that’s cool by me.

The problem if there’s any this year which you do get at with your wry aside about all restaurants serving the same thing in 2028 is that indeed it does feel like the same restaurant opened up ten times this year. I mean what was the real outlier or the exciting genre breaker – Ruxbin? And if it was Ruxbin – is that just Schwa with a working phone?

I mean I can forgive Bon Appetit for naming Next or Aviary best new blah blah blah, because the fact is it probably will be. I applaud all the great craft cocktails, but all the cocktail talent we have still has its head stuck up the arse of 1919 while Grant Achatz is about to bend them over with what we should be drinking in 2015.

I think part of the blame is the blog war (and this includes old school pub blogs too – not just the new guys) we got going on. Everyone’s fighting for the last scrap and as a result they feel compelled to cover every two-bit line cook and his or her dream as if they were the next Thomas Keller. Mediocre falafel shacks in the suburbs are given the same pre-opening treatment/gossip as Grahamwich.

If you’re getting coverage by just aping everyone else, why would you ever have to be creative? The creativity once reserved for the plate is now showing up in the dining room instead. Chefs are spending as much or more time deciding which The Clash poster to put on the walls. Folks need to get back to the menu.

As for the economy taking its toll, I’d turn that back on you for more clarity. Who closed that shouldn’t have? I mean Pasticceria Natalina would be a big blow, but it didn’t close yet. I think maybe May Street Market and Aldino’s didn’t deserve to close. I don’t know if Aldino’s was the economy as much as it was an owner who didn’t give it a fighting chance.

GEBERT: Goat as Steve Forbert, I have to admit I hadn’t thought of it quite that way.  Goat certainly seems trendy— though I hardly tasted it in the flurry of tiny bites that constituted dinner at Girl & The Goat recently, which was one of the disappointments looking back on that meal— but I always laugh when I see those “is pork over?” pieces, because to me it’s like saying “is tap water over?”  Pork is one of the elements, it’ll be over when eating is over and the Matrix feeds us through a tube.  I wish goat luck making some inroads as the next Dylan, I’m as interested as anybody to see what can be done with it, but pork is The Beatles.  Which means you can now get it on iTunes, or something.

Anyway, I like your distillation of 2010 into “the tipping point year for weird shit,” and I think that’s very much true on the menu level— nobody seems to be afraid of anything any more.  Pig face is flying off the racks at Girl & The Goat, and pork neck gravy is selling like hotcakes at The Purple Pig, and duck balls are moving at The Bristol, and bull testicles are a hot item on Phillip Foss’s truck.  I was reading something somewhere (I honestly can’t remember where) about some dish that had veal heart in it, and one commenter said sorry, that’s where I draw the line, and I was like— really?  You won’t eat a mere veal heart?  The mere palpitating life-muscle of a tiny, innocent, doe-eyed veal?  You draw the line at that? What’s wrong with you?

And maybe people have even absorbed the reality of food production enough now that they realize that they’ve actually been eating that stuff all along, only then it was called Oscar Mayer Luncheon Loaf or a Taco Bell Beef Gordita.  But I also think there’s kind of a bigger shift that really became apparent in 2010, in the types of restaurants that made it in a big way, and the types of restaurants that bit the dust.

Last year, I thought the economy hadn’t really hurt the restaurant biz much— the places that closed seemed mostly to be the kinds of places that were ready to retire, like Healthy Foods in my video about it.  But this year we’ve started to have some closings that surprised people, like May Street Market or Eve or Cafe Matou.  Cafe Matou, to me, is the sort of place that you expected to just be around forever— not a great restaurant but a perfectly good neighborhood one, solid and grownup.  Never had a bad meal there, you could take the ‘rents there and feel all sophisticated.  Except it turns out being everybody’s old reliable fallback when they can’t get into hot new places isn’t enough to sustain a restaurant this year, or to sustain an older chef in working on his feet night after night for a much less full room.  You don’t make any money being the second choice that doesn’t get used, funnily enough.  And so we lose one of the last old school French restaurants on the north side.

Meanwhile, and I’m as guilty as the next north side hipster, they’re packing them in at Longman & Eagle.  Which has an English name and a funky meats focus and a Belgian beer list and Charlie Poole or The 1900s on the playlist, and you can go eat some of 2010’s most exciting food in your jeans and your flannel shirt.  And they get a Michelin star for it.  Which was smart of the Michelin folks, not being as stodgy as they were assumed to be and getting out in the neighborhoods and finding where the real action is.  Good for them.

But if the shift is big enough that even the French have to pay attention to it, it must mean something, which to me is that if the most exciting cuisine is moving not merely to kind of casually hip restaurants but outright bars, then what is the future for the middle of the road nice restaurant?  If people today can get the level of cuisine with the atmosphere of a honky tonk and the beverages of a pub in Brussels, are they going to kiss off dressing up and sitting proper at a white tablecloth entirely?  That certainly seems to have been the case with Aldino’s, which got its plug pulled as a standard Italian restaurant very quickly when U of I students didn’t come out for it, apparently, and was replaced by… I don’t know, Scott Harris opens Italian concepts too fast for me to remember.  Something less like Spiaggia and more like a meatball bar or a shots-and-clams joint, anyway.

The high high end will survive, because that’s Disneyland, total escape and fantasy.  But it’s going to get harder to be merely pretty good and merely kind of fancy and make it, if people are just a lot more comfortable in a bar where the dress, the music and the food are all funkier.  That’s part of a big cultural shift away from behaving like grownups that if anything, the world of fine dining has been one of the last holdouts from (see David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise for more), but it seems to have finally landed there, too.

NAGRANT: Cultural shift away from being grown-ups, huh? Well, it’s true Johnny Knoxville, smutty Peter Pan that he is, is the patron saint of a new generation. However, when it comes to dining, I don’t know that I agree or buy that the trend toward restaurants where you can dress how you want and eat what you want is a shift away from being grown-up.

I mean I subscribe to the theory that being grown-up means doing what you think is right or living how you believe you should live even if it’s against public opinion, which is not to say I believe R. Kelly should cavort with 14 year old girls.

But, as they say in Office Space, “The Nazis made the Jews wear flair.” Formal wear, especially say “black tie” is a construct of Saville Row tailors and a class-based differentiator promoted by aristocrats. People often dress up more as an expectation of others than as a choice. The fact that we’re now reclaiming that is pretty exciting to me.

In some ways this adherence to formality almost smacks of American insecurity, our only way to combat the vestigial guilt of having been the dirty rabble that escaped colonial rule. I mean go to Michel Bras or many Michelin 3 Stars in Europe and you’ll see people in jeans in a t-shirt. Does this make the experience any less valid?

Though I hate to side with Charlie Trotter on much, I do appreciate his Libertarian stance on stuff, i.e. I don’t like my actions to infringe on others and so maybe I’d draw the line at personal hygiene, i.e. if your body stink invades my adjoining table atmosphere and competes with the waft from my Epoisses, well then maybe I have an issue. However, if you are wearing a Chanel #5 spritzed burlap sack, it’s not gonna have any bearing on my enjoyment of dining out.

I think one of the most interesting things about Alinea is that they challenge most of what a restaurant should be, but they still prefer that their guests wear jackets. I don’t think they turn them away if they don’t, but why is it that one of the most innovative restaurants in America is so 1897 in their dress code policy? They’re smart enough to know that if they don’t enforce a basic standard, many of the patrons will be appalled or not return. It’s a business decision. Then again, they’re cool having a sommelier with a bedhead afro, so who knows what the line is. Then again, as I say, who cares?

GEBERT: Well, God knows I have many archaic tastes which will doubtless die with me, but one of them certainly is that it’s fun to dude up once in a while and be around other people who are dressed to the nines as well.  Alinea wouldn’t be Alinea if everyone was in jeans, though personally I’d love it if one of Next’s concepts was futuristic and we all had to wear turtlenecks with capes like Raymond Massey in Things To Come or Ming the Merciless or somebody.  That said, it does depress me a little when I’m surrounded by people who so obviously work on LaSalle (no offense to my wife, who’s just around the corner), charcoal gray with power ties and master of the universe self-seriousness, there is a distinct lack of a vibe when you’re in a room with people who have more money than God and seem joyless at spending it. All the same, what I’m spending there clearly hurts me a lot more than it hurts them, so they damn well better look nice while I’m eating there.  They kind of owe it to me, really.

But dress is, really, just a minor part of what I’m talking about.  There’s really a whole host of changes being made to the way we dine out— Belgian beer is the new wine, small plates have replaced the entree (on the whole, a big improvement in creativity, given how boring your protein and side dish shaped into a pyramid often proved to be compared to your apps), and everything from Harry Smith-style old-timey folk music to indie rock has replaced the video game soundtrack that seemed to be the only sound you heard while dining for most of the 90s and 2000s.  That, at least, is my big story for 2010, that trend as validated by Michelin and every one else, it seems, and I don’t think it’s going to go away.  I think anyone who follows the market would really have to think hard before opening a traditional restaurant, as opposed to a gastropub, a woodburning pizza oven place, a Bakersfield taco bar, or something else that offers comfier food with higher margins and a crowd that’s planning to knock back a few $9 brews at every meal.

NAGRANT: Don’t get me wrong, pocket watches, fedoras and vinyl records still have a place in my world (ok, well, not pocket watches).  I mean I like to dress up too.  I just don’t like it to be compulsory.

As for the elimination of traditional menu structure, well, again awesome.  Ironically, this has its genesis in fine dining. The prix fixe menu (I guess some credit given to Spain too) is clearly the grandfather of what’s going on. So many of the chefs opening the informal places made their bones at Trotters, Tru, French Laundry, etc.  However, only about 10 restaurants can live on that edge (I mean even Avenues shifted more to a la carte – hopefully the Michelin stars will allow them to shift the other way) and so what to do when you’ve made tiny courses most of your young career and you want to continue to do that?  Well, make small plates of course.  Also, it’s like Thomas Keller once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, the best sip of beer is the first cold one. After that the taste experience diminishes, the palate fatigues.  Who needs 32 oz of ribeye when you can get 2 oz of Kobe, 2 oz of foie, 2 oz of king crab etc.  So, maybe if this trend is indicative of something, maybe it’s our quick-cut movie-Twitter-impaired attention spans coming to roost in our eating habits. Then again, maybe skinny culture is ruling as well. Now all the dieters don’t have to take a bite and push away a meal and risk ridicule, or worse nosh a whole entree and feel like they’ve done the eating equivalent of a John Belushi drug bender.

Opening a super-fine dining spot is exactly where people probably need to go though if they want to stand out.  I mean I think I gave Henri 3 stars out of 5 in CS this year, and that was primarily a function of the gorgeous dining room, the attentive service, and the general Robert Altman-worthy period piece like return to elegance. If the food had matched up (mostly quality control/execution issues, not the theory of the dishes), it would have slid in to four pretty easily.  Which is funny, because I generally don’t care about non-food things. But, I do care about originality and what’s more original than pouring wine out of a magnum in a world of sour or hopped up beer flights?

TOMORROW: Chefs to fame like moths to flame?