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evil truffle genius

By on Aug 5, 2013 in dessert, process, sustainability | 4 comments

Candy. Who doesn’t like candy? We have a primeval urge to eat sugar. At its most base form, it brings us energy. At a more complex level, it can bring us joy. Remember being a kid? That moment when your tongue hit a sweet treat? A bite of melty chocolate? A hard sugary candy nubbin? Even bad candy was still pretty good. And as adults, we still love candy, but in some cases… the flatly sugary smack of an artificially flavored sugar eaten by dipping another hard sugary stick into it no longer holds any allure. The artificial flavors have become tinny to our palate, and I know I for one can no longer take the insane sugar hit of my youth. These days I tend to seek out more nuanced sweets, things that hit me in small, deeply complex little doses. Thank the gods for local confectioner, Katherine Anne Confections. I was in a local coffee shop recently and noticed they were...

live long and drink beer

By on Jul 25, 2013 in libations, process | 0 comments

Beer: a not so final frontier. This is the story of the Brewery Metropolitan. It’s five-year mission: to brew delicious beers, to seek out new varieties and flavors, to boldly brew what no one has brewed before. OK, perchance I am slapping some nerdy artistic license onto my interpretation of these fine folk. Perchance. But if you walk into Metropolitan Brewery, a small operation on Chicago’s north side, one of the first things you see is the bigger than life-size stick-on of Bones (Dr. McCoy, people, not the show on Fox, and to be clear… dammit, he is a doctor, not a brewer) adorning one of the giant fermentation tanks. If you take a stroll down the aisle of tanks, you will notice the tank names. If you are in the know, you will see that they are all named after minor Star Trek villains. One row for the original series, one for The Next Generation. Then you spot the...

the angels are lucky

By on Jul 22, 2013 in libations, process | 2 comments

Long ago, when Middle Eastern alchemists worried over their medical elixirs (being apparently a little more noble than the European ones working on transmuting things into gold,) they noted the vapor given off during the distillation of alcohol. They collected it, and called it the spirit of the original material. Now we call the distilled liquid derived from fermented mash that ultimately creates some delicious cocktails… spirits. When these alcohols are aged in barrels, a portion of their liquid evaporates, which is known as the angel’s share. So we have spirits and angels, presumably representatives of the afterlife, coming back to have a nice little restorative tipple. Those lucky bastards. One of the places that offers up a bit of boozy afterlife delight is Few Distillery in Evanston, Illinois. This lovely little suburb of Chicago was actually dry until the 90s. The...

(un)sexy soba

By on Jul 14, 2013 in dinner, experimenting, fail... or not, process, vegetarian | 0 comments

Soba is not inherently sexy, at least not at the home cook level. In the past, I have been accused of describing food in an overly salacious, borderline obscene manner. Who am I to deny the seductive quality of a plump, juicy peach as it explodes under the fervent explorations of eager teeth? But these are noodles. Made of buckwheat flour. Even the sound of it… the hard consonants dropping out of the mouth, clattering about the ear. Buckwheat. (crash) Not sexy. But you see, there is a hidden seductive joy in the noodle. Perhaps it was implanted in my brain by a certain old Disney movie, leaving my brain to still believe that somewhere out there I will meet a scruffy fellow who will give me the last meatball and share a long, slow slurp of a last noodle, ending in a kiss. Perhaps it is simply that fact that one uses the word “slurp” a lot with noodles, and that has a...

of meaty matters

By on Jun 23, 2013 in process, sustainability | 0 comments

L et’s start at the beginning. I am not a vegetarian. To all of my friends who are vegetarians (and you vegans as well,) I will say… this entry is not for you. I absolutely respect your viewpoints, but still… I am not a vegetarian. I am also not an absolute carnivore as well, slavering at the altar of bacon (although I do like bacon.) I try very hard to be a conscious omnivore, trying to be aware of not only where my meat comes from, but also my consumption levels. I do not actually subscribe to the theory that a meal without meat is not a meal. I could keep rolling on in my reasoning about being an omnivore rather than a vegetarian, on the subject of elitism perceived and real in the organic food movement, but that, dear reader, would take a whole other entry. Possibly a book. And I’ve read a lot of books already out there about these very subjects. So today… this is not about me...