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Posts posted by Darren72

  1. To say that Schwa has been annoying me is the understatement of a lifetime.  Those following this thread have known that I've been trying to get reservations here since like March or April or something.  After being closed for July, I had a reso for the 7th of this month.  I get a call on the morning of the 7th by a dude name Blake who claims that the cooler broke the night before and they would not be opening on that night.

    I explain my situation and how badly I want to eat there and that I'll be leaving Chicago on Friday morning and he offers to fit me in at 9:30 tonight, Thursday.  Not ideal, but I take it.

    I get another call from Blake this morning telling me they're still not able to open today, thus crushing my dreams of eating at Schwa before I leave Chicago.  Sadness.

    Bryan, this is too bad. The first time I had reservations at Schwa, something happened to a gas pipe, cooler, or something and they canceled on me a couple of days ahead of time. I can't help but wonder if this is bad luck on our part, if they have low quality equipment, or what. In any case, it was fun reading your reviews of Chicago restaurants while you were here.

  2. An easy home-made solution would be to get a 1 foot square piece of screen-door screen, make two 1 square foot wood frames out of 1" x 2" lath, put the screen between the two frames and nail it together.  That will let you gently shake out the smaller crumbs.

    Assuming the mesh is fine enough in a particular application, this is a good idea (and certainly cheaper than the sifter linked above), but I worry that the screens are not food-safe.

  3. I just went to Arturos tacos this weekend and was really happy with them.  The tongue tacos were fantastic.  Perfect after throwing down a few drinks.  I think they are on Milwaukee and Armitage.  1.80/taco.

    Arturo's Tacos

    2001 N Western Ave @ Armitage

    (773) 772-4944

  4. One of my favorite places to go when I would visit friends in Chicago was an Argentinian steakhouse called Tango Sur.  It was always really good quality meat at a very reasonable price (once had a special of 12 oz. of fillet for $16).  When I was there last it was BYOB which wasn't a big deal because there was a small wine shop just down the street.

    It's on Southport (3763 N. Southport Ave.) within a short walk to the north of the Southport station on the Brown line.  Oh yeah, the empanadas were great too.  Enjoy your trip!

    The wine shop is Que Syrah.

    3726 N Southport Ave

    Chicago, IL 60613

    (773) 871-8888


    To my recollection, Tango Sur is still BYOB and there is no corkage fee.

  5. The Container Store sells a number of nice French and Italian jars. Their selection is here: http://www.containerstore.com/browse/index.jhtml?CATID=74177

    We use some of these nicer jars for items that are stored in the fridge, i.e. not water processed. We still with the two part lids for water processing.

    Everything that I've read indicates that these types of "one part" lids are considerably less reliable than the two-part lids on mason jars. The earlier advice to use two-part lids if you are going to ship the produce seems wise. More generally, I think the decision comes down to how accepting you are to jars popping open. If you are making four jars of something, I suspect you would want to play it safe and go with two-part lids. If you are making 10-20 jars, you can stand to lose 5 of them if a one-part lid doesn't seal properly.

  6. OK, I apologize in advance for adding yet another post asking the same ole "I will be in chicago and where should I eat" question...but I am doing it anyway.  Here's my story - I am coming in for a conference and will be there for 8 evenings.  I've got evening events already planned for some of the nights.  So...I need to know where to eat on other nights.  I am staying at the Sheraton Chicago, don't have a vehicle. 

    I feel that I am a bit of a restaurant snob.  Not meaning I have to do fine dining all the time, but I don't want to waste my time on going to an average place.  I love local places, hidden gems, and all kinds of cuisine.  Two other things - I have a one-year-old so I very, very, very rarely get to go out to dinner and I live in DC...not exactly the kind of restaurant town Chicago is. 

    so what are your not-to-be missed places?  Also...are there some places that serve food late?  I have a feeling that after some of these receptions I will still be hungry and need to go out to eat at 10pm or later!

    Thanks in advance!


    Ann, one place to start is to read the existing thread called "one month in chicago," started by babern38. Your hotel is quite close to his/hers, and so many of the same recommendations apply.


    You might also check out the thread started by babern38 at LTH Forum:


    Note that many of the very best restaurants that are close to the hotel area were suggested in Babern38's original post (Avec, Avenues, Frontera). I think these three would be near the top of most local's list of recommendations.

    I'd suggest perusing those threads and then letting us know what types of cuisines and/or price points you are most interested in hearing additional recommendations about. As you'll see, it would also be helpful to know how willing your are to travel beyond walking distance.

  7. Quick question. Me and a friend stopped by a Pizzeria Uno out here in Philly in order to gain some perspective on what we might expect from the pies out in Chi town.  On the menu it seemed to point out that the sauce for their deep dish pizza was "chunky style", meaning that there were literally chunks of crushed tomatoes in the sauce.  I was not a fan of this style.  Do all of the other authentic Chicago deep dish places use the "chunky" style sauce as well, or just Uno's?

    My recollection is that many, but certainly not all, of the "big name" Chicago style pizza places have sauce that is chunkier than what you'd find on standard thin pizzas.

    More importantly, though, the pizza served at the national Uno's chain is quite different and much worse than what you'll find at the original Uno's and Due's. I have never met anyone who liked the pizza at the national chain, much less someone who liked it after trying pizzas at any of the main places in Chicago.

    I don't know the Philly market well enough to know if there are decent "Chicago style" pizza places there, but they do exist outside of Chicago.

  8. Always check your chickens for brown/darkened marks on their hocks (the joints you can see protruding towards you if you look at the back of a packed chicken). An extreme example is shown here http://greenfield.fortunecity.com/garden/156/hockburn.jpg

    If present these are ammonia burns from resting in their own faeces and to the live chicken they are like blisters. 99% of standard supermarket birds will have these, they can often be found on so called free range chickens as well, as often while fulfilling the technical definition of free range the standard of the roost and amount they manage to get out means that these also suffer burns.

    A good healthy chicken reared in good condition will not have these marks.

    This link does not seem to work.

  9. thanks for all the recs.  I have yet to explore the the "L", but am looking forward to venturing down to chinatown .  As I've been walking around I've started to find a lot of little spots that will be good to try.  Some look shady, but sometimes those yield the best surprises. 

    I am looking forward to going to fox & obel as I've read good things on egullet.  Be assured I'll keep everyone up to date with my experiences.

    Fox and Obel is very hit or miss. Some things are great (like meat), while others (like produce) are pretty terrible. If you are in Chicago now and interested in produce, you can't do better than one of the local farmer's markets (many of which also sell meat, cheese, bread, prepared foods, and have chef demonstrations, among other things). Here is a list of markets in Chicago.; my personal favorite is the Green City Market in Lincoln Park.

  10. Thanks for the props -- but I don't deserve them. I'm trying to knock off a decent imitation; Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in Manhattan is the Van Gogh to my paint by numbers efforts. :wink:

    Having said that: what rum did you use? Interesting idea. I'd think the rum and the Pernod would bang heads.

    I used the 2-year Cruzan light rum.

  11. Am I the only one who think corn tastes best when it is super fresh, eaten RAW? People always seem to think that it must be cooked...

    Um, no, you aren't. :smile:

    If it's really fresh, try it raw.

  12. either of those will work perfectly.....but my farm stand guy says to microwave it for 2 min over an inch of water


    Really? The farm guy goes with the mic vs. the grill???

    Farmers are not necessarily known for their cooking skills. :)

    I can't imagine why you'd want to microwave farm fresh corn. If it's really fresh, try it raw. Otherwise, either the soak or no-soak methods work great. I used to soak all of the time before grilling, now I hardly ever do because I find that it doesn't make that much of a difference (especially if the corn is fresh).

  13. Cooks Illustrated recently tested a variety of pairing knives. Their full report is only available to subscribers to the website, www.cooksillustrated.com.

    Here is a free summary of their report, via MSNBC

    Pairing knife

    Why you need it: When you need more dexterity and precision than a chef's knife can provide  — such as when you're peeling and coring apples, coring tomatoes, deveining shrimp, or removing patches of fat from a roast.

    What to look for: The blade should be flexible for easy maneuvering in tight spots (such as tomato cores) or for handling curves (when peeling apples).

    Best buy: Forschner Victorinox Fibrox 3.25-Inch Paring Knife ($4.95 at cutleryandmore.com)

    Our testers loved the great flexibility of this knife, which slid under silver skin on a roast easily and turned the curve of an apple nicely. Knife is very lightweight and blade is super-thin and razor-sharp.

    I have a slightly larger version of this knife that also has a wood handle. I love it. I think it was $10.

  14. As JohnnyH said above, by far the easiest thing to do is buy a hinged cooking grate. Here is the link to the grate for Weber's 22 1/2 inch grill:


    They make a smaller one for the 18 inch grill. You can buy these at just about any place that sells Weber accessories. Try the hinged grate before doing anything more complicated.

    I've been smoking food on my Weber for years using the hinged grate. I've also used Alton Brown's flowerpot smoker, which is fun but much more difficult to use because you have to take the whole thing apart to replace the fuel.

  15. Out of curiosity, I just read through customer reviews on Metromix for a sampling of restaurants. The following seems clear to me:

    1. Only a selection of reviews are on the site. For example, Charlie Trotter's has been open for some 10 to 15 years (and Metromix has been on-line for quite a while) but there are only 6 reviews on Metromix, with the most recent being from September 6. Clearly, older reviews are deleted. You'll find something similar for other restaurants. It is difficult to find any review older than a year old.

    2. They clearly allow bad reviews to be posted. There are some quite bad reviews of Devon Seafood Grill, for example. You're likely to find some bad reviews for most places.

    3. My guess is that they strive to have what they consider to be a diversity of opinions about each restaurant. They want to have 5-10 reviews for each restaurant that basically reflect the, say, 25 reviews posted. Or, more cynically, they want to have a few good reviews and a few mediocre to bad reviews for each restaurant. (Kind of like the front page of the paper that says "Dems say this...Repubs say that...".)

    I suspect we all notice it when we post a bad review that doesn't show up, but fail to notice our good reviews that don't show up.

  16. well your b-day is over at this point but, how did avec not get mentioned? (for a wine bar option) next door to blackbird and owned by the same people.

    Someone suggested Avec in BryanZ's LTH thread with the same question (it gets a little complicated when you have the same query running on two websites). He's since reported on two visits to Avec.

    I agree that Avec belongs in any discussion about wine bars in Chicago. They don't have the diversity of wines that places like Webster Wine Bar or Bin 36 have, but they have a very large selection of affordable, food friendly wines, focusing on southern France and Spain.

  17. I dont like that many (not all)  grocers do not have meat cutters any more and all the meat and seafood  comes into the store prepackaged and not cut to order ..so if you want something special you have to go to another store

    I usually hand choose and weigh my own produce so I did not ever notice this until one time my girlfriend told me to weigh a prepackaged bag of potatoes...the 5lb bag of potatoes only ways 4.5!!!!! There were bags that went over 5lbs as well ... then I put a package of 1 lb of garlic up there and sure enough it weighed 3/4 lb! I put some quart berry baskets up and each one weighed a differing weight while they all looked good it made perfect sense to by the heavier ones!

    eggs are supposed to be standard but for the heck of it I weighed eggs and the prepackaged cheese ..extra large eggs were pretty close but there were some variances in the weight ...cheese was mostly right on but some were off by a good few oz...a lb of butter does not always weigh a lb!!!

    I did not find any meat that was off on the weight until I went to the chickens ..and go figure they were not correct either ..( fyi I put a plastic bag over the meat and one on the scales  to avoid cross contamination)

    I had to stop because I was getting  obsessed and silly with the whole thing wanting to weigh cereal boxes and coffee ..(I did btw try to take into act the wt of the containers and still saw that there was a difference) ..while I not at all a person who obsesses over the cost of things or money in general ...when I realized this it was disconcerting to know how much we pay for that we do not actually get in life ..thinking about people who are on fixed incomes who have to watch every single dime ....a huge cart of food can add up to quite a few dollars of unexpected loss over time...

    kind of sad to me because I thought things were standardized

    I think the implication is that the store is "ripping us off", but I don't think that is the only possible explanation. Scales get out of whack, especially produce scales that are handled by hundreds of different (and not always careful) people every day. Some stores have customers weigh their own produce and print price labels. I suspect these scales are more accurate (and perhaps regulated). But I doubt the ubiquitous hanging-type of scales are recalibrated often. Moreover the error is likely to be larger in absolute value for heavier items, like a 5 lb bag of potatoes.

    Since berries vary in their weight, there's little reason to think that all quart-sized containers of berries would weigh the same. I'm everyone's heard the manta to choose fruits that are "heavy for their size".

    Eggs come in standard sizes, but that doesn't mean each container of a dozen eggs should weigh the same. To be labeled as "large" eggs, a dozen eggs must weigh between 24 and 27 ounces. Moreover, nothing legally stops a producer from selling jumbo eggs as large.

  18. I'm not saying that SS's F&C would knock everyone's socks off if they want a good, overall seafood restaurant.  However, if they're in the mood for deep fried seafood, there's none better anywhere.

    Seriously. You honestly believe the best fish and chips in the world is made in some suburb of Detroit?

    So, where is the best fish and chips? :)

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