Sunday, February 22, 2009

"I Asked For Two Pillows And They Told Me To Fuck Off."

Now that Sean Penn won Best Actor, we missed the speech Mickey Rourke might have given.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Good Day For Some Soup

Photo Credit: Martha Bayne

Even though the snow kept many away, a good time was had by those of us who showed up at Hideout Wednesday for Soup and Bread. Somehow, most of my mock turtle soup was consumed (and thanks to Martha, Sula and Nagrant for the good words on it; I know it was undersalted). My favorite soup, however, was Joshua Westlund's lamb sausage, chickpea and leek, which was simmering in a roasted pepper stock.

Hideout even raised $130 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. For those of you interested in making mock turtle soup, Martha has posted the recipes for both that and the roasted vegetable stock I made at Soup and Bread.

And I gave propers to LStolpman yesterday for her participation in Texas de Brazil's caipirinha competition, which she won! She was nervous as hell leading up to it, and even shared the recipe in advance with me for review.

Not one to mince words, I told her I thought the recipe bordered on becoming too complicated. At Texas de Brazil she said, "I'm afraid that my version is going to be too traditional." I told her not to fear. Speaking from experience, caipirinha drinkers prefer simplicity (cachaca, muddled lime and sugar, ice and a splash of water). She was trying to perfect crystallized lime peels as a garnish the day of the event.

Before the competition I was looking at the ingredients of the other participants laid out nice and neat. I knew just from looking that Stolps had a good shot at winning. Others were using ingredients like boysenberry-infused honey, Midori and fresh-squeezed blood orange juice with a whipped cream float. Laura kept it simple: muddled lime with agave sweetener, a lime-sugared rim, and club soda.

The judges loved it. Turned out that they were looking for a recipe that adhered very close to tradition. She didn't score points for originality, but Stolpman did rank high for both tradition, presentation and taste. Seeing the look on her face when they announced her the winner was priceless. A close second was the blood orange juice and whipped cream mess prepared by Plate magazine editor Chandra Ram.

Even more inspiring was that Stolps donated the grand prize — a dinner for six at Texas de Brazil — to Meals on Wheels Chicago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Breaking Out the Radio Pipes

Under the guiding hand of Karl Klockars, we launched a podcast over at Chicagoist a few weeks back. This week's installment is all about beer and meat, with me doing my best Jean Shepherd, stretching out the word "exactly" far too often, as Karl and I discuss Chicago Restaurant Week.

The full podcast is embedded on the site, but you can also subscribe to it via iTunes or the far superior and simple RSS feed for those of us who use Winamp or another media player.

Now back to making soup.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thawing Out

Bridgeport, Autumn 001
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

And it's about time, too.

When you ride your bike sporadically over the winter, it takes a while to get back to the fighting health you were at when the combination of snow, wind and lack of plowing forced you to take a breather. But this weather is right up my alley, and I'll be starting much earlier than last year. I need the extra work for this year's Five Boro Bike Tour, which I do every three years like clockwork.

Also, I'll be cooking soup at Hideout next Wednesday as part of Hideout's "Soup and Bread" winter soup kitchen series, with donations to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Martha Bayne, who curates this, wrote in her latest blog entry that the "bread' portion of this is woefully lagging. Since I'm planning a Southern-themed soup, looks like I now have an excuse to make corn bread. And not that Jiffy mix, either.