When the word “ramen” comes up, your first thought may be of the ten-for-a-dollar deals your local supermarket had on instant ramen in college. However, there is a lot more to it than that, and the traditional preparations of this Japanese soup dish are catching on in the US. Food and Wine has a profile of Ivan Orkin (with recipes) about how he and other chefs are reclaiming ramen’s good name. There are ramen shops popping up all over NYC and Chicago, and Serious Eats Chicago ranked suburban Mount Prospect’s Misoya as the top ramen in the area.
Filed under Links, Recipes
What did you think of the Opening Ceremony? With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics officially under way, we are in full Russian food mode. We are not experts in Russian food, but we have trying to learn more about the country’s different regional and local specialties. We’ve done a little research in preparation for a Russian dinner party in honor of the Sochi Olympics, to get a little beyond Borscht (Beet soup) and vodka (though of course, those are great, too). Here are some recipes to get your Russian dinner party started. Do you have any favorites you would recommend?
Appetizers and Sides:
While we consumed macarons and mimolette gleefully in France, we never really sought out French coffee… and I guess we weren’t the only ones. Turns out France has never been big on coffee, cafe culture yes, but the actual coffee, not so much. We greatly enjoyed Roads and Kingdoms’ essay, “Why is Coffee in France La Merde?” which discusses the history of coffee in France, and how there has been recent push for more craft roasters and coffee-centric cafes.
Holybelly, part of the new coffee scene in Paris, by Roads and Kingdoms.
Filed under Coffee, Links
When we went to San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of our favorite places to eat was the stalwart La Bombonera, an excellent place to grab a pastry and while away the time. Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that it has recently closed! There was talk of re-opening but it seems unlikely. Sad day for pastry-lovers in San Juan.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take for example, Michelangelo’s handwritten 16th-Century grocery list. The list includes staples like fish and bread, and even comes with illustrations. So, ok maybe that is a bit different since the person buying groceries for Michelangelo was likely illiterate.
Everybody watch out, because we are about to hit a shortage of the famous Huy Fong Sriracha Thai/Vietnamese hot sauce – THE SRIRACHAPOCALYPSE! Due to legal entanglements in the Huy Fong factory in Irwindale, California, bottles are now being held 30 days before shipping, causing a major delay in restocking Sriracha on the shelves. Since the stoppage hit in mid-December, customers may really start to feel the effects of the ban soon. Serious Eats conducts a taste test of other sriracha brands so you can get your hot sauce fix in a pinch.
Now that I (L) am commuting to work, I have been listening to many more podcasts, both in the car and on the train (where I am writing this post). I have definitely tried to broaden my horizons, and listen to as many different subjects as possible, though science and current events appear regularly (I love Radiolab, How to do Everything, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and Quirks and Quarks). However, up until a week or so ago, I had completely neglected food podcasts, and there are some great shows that focus on the food scene right here in the Windy City.
One of my favorite Chicago food podcasts is Louisa Chu and Monica Eng’s Chewing the Fat on NPR. A recent episode I particularly enjoyed talked about the highly-anticipated Eataly and the Italian food scene in Chicago. Another favorite is Michael Gebert’s audio and video podcast Sky Full of Bacon. The audio podcast, with the awesome name, “Airwaves Full of Bacon” has covered such diverse topics as the kitchen at Next restaurant, Michelin stars, charcuterie and Country ham in Kentucky. Let me know if there are any other podcasts you like (on any topic, but especially food!)
Some of our good friends are from Costa Rica and we would love to visit them there in the near future! Now we even have more incentive, Forbes has an article about the hidden foodie side of Costa Rica. Everyone knows that Costa Rica has beautiful nature, but its food is nothing to scoff at.
One of our favorite tasks every couple of months is predicting what the upcoming menus at the ever-changing themed Next Restaurant will be. We went to Next Sicily and Thailand, which we absolutely loved, and the current menu is the French-themed Bocuse d’Or, which is running through the end of the year. This time we guessed there would be a Brazilian menu coming up… and we were wrong. So here’s what’s actually slated for Next in 2014. First, a reinvention (or is it more of a re-creation?) of the classic Chicago steakhouse, next, a Chinese/Modernist themed menu, and last, a menu in homage to the shuttered restaurant Trio in Evanston, where Achatz was executive chef. Sounds pretty great!
We have talked before about one of our favorite Brazilian treats: brigadeiros. However, you can also get brigadeiros in another, slightly more liquid form. Known as doces de colher literally “spoon sweets,” these Brazilian treats come in little cups and are meant to be eaten with a spoon. Technicolor kitchen has recipes for some of the most popular spoon sweets: brigadeiro, beijinho and bicho-de-pé. Warning: these are definitely only for those who have a VERY sweet tooth.
In our travels we met perhaps the most amazing food cart purveyor in all of Brazil, nay, Latin America! His name is Picoleishion, and he is a one-man show based in the town of Itaparica, on the northern tip of the island of the same name. He sells picole, which is simply Portuguese for “popsicle” but he isn’t a normal popsicle seller. Picoleishion is readily identified by his gigantic sombrero, frenetic dance moves and the fact that his popsicle cart is actually a giant boombox blaring Axé hits like “Billie Jean” by Magary Lord. Check him out in action (and again). The Praia do Forte in Itaparica is idyllic and quiet, and Picoleishion is hard to ignore as he rolls across the beach blaring his tunes. Over the course of one beach day we sampled 4 picoles – Mangabation (Mango), Limation (Lime), Chocolation (Chocolate), and Amendoimshion (“Peanut” was basically a peanut butter popsicle –cool! que legal!). Picoleishion is definitely a charismatic guy – and had beachgoers dancing and posing for pictures, so it is no surprise to us that he is a minor celebrity and has made an appearance on the Jô Soares show, a Letterman-type talk show in Brazil (at the start of the clip below). We love you Picoleishion! Adorei Picoleishon!
The Atlantic has an amazing photo series on Swiss cheese makers, the Murith family, during their seasonal production of Gruyere cheese. The pictures take the term “pastoral” to a whole new level.
Halloween is tomorrow – and maybe you’re still searching for a costume. Here at ETW we are always on the lookout for a clever food costume or two. We came across a vintage costume we had never seen before via the ever-entertaining Retronaut: a side of bacon. This takes love of bacon to a whole new level (and it took home first prize in the 1894 Covent Garden Fancy Dress Ball).
On our trip we have been learning all about local Rhode Island foods. However, every state has a wealth of local options, and many people insist that their state’s food is absolutely the best. Deadspin recently made a non-scientific ranking of the top state foods in order from best to worst. Chicago’s deep dish pizza won the top spot for Illinois (followed by South Carolina’s shrimp and grits) – which we can’t argue with – though the irreverent list has certainly garnered some controversy. What do you think about your state food’s ranking?
I recently came across an article and slideshow about Ahmed Jama, a Somali chef who left London to open a series of restaurants in Mogadishu, and is persevering, even in the face of repeated attacks. The latest attack occurred on September 7th, and killed 15. Chef Jama’s story is pretty amazing, as his mission to bring a friendly communal space to Mogadishu, opening his first restaurant in Mogadishu in 2008 (he now has 5 branches). He is currently in the process of rebuilding after the attacks, and the international community has rallied around him. Check out Chef Jama’s talk at the MAD food conference in Copenhagen below, just a few weeks ago.
Hannah Grant in her mobile kitchen from Velo News
Now here’s an intersection of world cuisine and food trucks we had never considered… being a chef for a cycling team in the Tour de France. The Velo News blog has an interview with Hannah Grant, the official chef for the Danish team Saxo-Tinkoff. Chef Grant hails from Denmark, and has been the team chef since 2011, and has also recently published a cookbook, “The Grand Tour Cookbook” (English translation coming soon). Beyond typical considerations of the kitchen, she also has to deal with stocking days of food without pit-stops (such as when they are in the Alps) and the specific nutritional needs of advanced athletes. In another interview on VeloVoices, chef Grant details a typical day on the road. You can find out where Hannah and the team are on her Twitter or her blog DailyStews.
Pingmag has a fascinating article about mujin hanbai, or “honor stores,” a type of farmstand in Japan that relies on the honor system. The simplest of these just has a locked cashbox, while others more resemble vending machines. They are popular nationwide, even in Tokyo. I’ve seen a few honor roadside farmstands before (one even boasting “self-serve rocks”), but nothing so elaborate as those found in Japan. Have you ever encountered something like an a honor store?
Mujin Hanbai from Pingmag
When we were in Louisiana in the fall, crawfish (aka crayfish, crawdad or mudbug) season was well over. However, if you have the good fortune to be in Cajun country in Spring, crawfish are everywhere. The epicenter for crawfish culture and consumption is the town of Breaux Bridge, “Crawfish Capital of the World,” which is just over the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge (a pretty gigantic bridge) from Baton Rouge. The names of the some of the restaurant in town seem to bear out that distinction: Crawfish Town USA, Crazy Bout Crawfish, etc. The annual Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge occurs in May and includes nearly every crawfish-related event you could dream of. The New Yorker has an interesting old piece about a trip to Breaux Bridge for the Festival. Hopefully we’ll be able to visit Cajun country in Spring one year to get our fill of super-fresh crawfish.
Back in August we talked about the upcoming Global Street food menu at iNG. Well it’s here, and Serious Eats: Chicago got a first look. Judging by their pictures alone, the menu looks pretty impressive. We are especially intrigued by the deconstructed cannoli and churros. The menu is limited time only, so get it while you can.
Falafel at iNG restaurant, via Serious Eats