Sunday, November 30, 2008

MONDAY SPECIAL- December 1st

ITALIAN BEEF! 
The first Monday of every month we bring to you the rarely seen other speciality of Chicago, Da Beef!  Slow wet-roasted sirloin cooked with Italian seasoning is thin slice and served in thick Italian Bread dripping with its flavorful aus jus that makes Philly Cheese Steaks seem pale in comparison (sorry you guys).  Add some roasted green peppers and/or spicy giardinara (pickled peppers with vegetables) and you got one damn good and BIG sandwich.  These will make any Windy City person drool so better grab one while they last, it'll be worth the trip.  Oh, and boyz, save one for me please, dipped!

Friday, November 28, 2008

FLAME ON!

Although a day later, I still like to do some specials that are seasonally inspired so today wez got 

PUMPKIN CREME BRULEE
$3.95 while they last.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Day, let linger on!  (Remember, we're open late until 9 pm tonite)



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AND FINALLY THERE'S... PIZZA?

OK, we waded through thick and thin to arrive on another plane, the virtual world of pizza. So in contemplating the experience of eating further, I immediately thought of a dish we served at Trio in the days of Chef Achatz, "Pizza".  This takes some concentration, here's what you're looking at.... a wafer smaller than a postage stamp made from vegetable starch is coated with the extracted oils of mozzarella cheese, dusted with dehydrated tomato, fennel pollen, garlic and a few other spices.  It is being presented on the tip of a needle stuck in wax.  Carefully removed, one places it on the tongue to be totally immersed in the flavors of a sausage pizza!  Crazy yes but as part of a serious 24 course tasting menu, it becomes humorously entertaining.  Satisfying? Not terribly, intriguing, most definitely, like taking the breath mint strips in a u-turn.  

So will food evolve further to end up here?  Someone is bound to discover ways to induce mouth feel, texture and perhaps even the sensation of fullness.   Hell, I guess food manufacturers have been doing this for years, producing stuff that tasted like something else but really only a fabricated sense of it.  isn't.  Somethings are marketed so well that it has redefined what is "real" to point where the masses prefer the artificial over the original. 

A new reality, it seems inevitable that each generation develops their own definition of what is real  Good reason to eat in the past sometimes... what'll you like on your hot dog please...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

MORE ZA!

So after lamenting about the lack of good New York style pizza in Honolulu, voolah, Jay, a good ole boy from Jersey throws his hat into the arena at JJ Dolans on Bethel in Chinatown. Now this ain’t no Ray’s, Joe’s or Fred’s (whoever he is), this is Jay’s and it is all about him, this guy loves his Za and if you evah meet him you’ll know what I mean.  This is happy pizza!  I had the cheese, my gauge for judgement, it’s very thin crust and a good balance of tomato sauce and cheese.  I also tasted the buffalo wing za and it was oh so good especially with the ice cold pint of beer.  Solid and delicious stuff, thanks Jay, you the man!

SACRE BLEU!

Leave it to a Frenchman to charm the diapers off my granddaughter Audrey. Chef Mavro proud new recipient of the AAA five diamond award stopped into hank's the other day for  a dose of goodness while flirting with my girlfriend for life.
(photo compliments of Melissa Chang)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FOR THE LOVE OF PIZZA


Oh there is such a need for great pizza in Honolulu! So Bill decided to show us his Chicago Deep Dish talents last week at hank's.  Nice job!  Spot on pie that would have made wonder if he stole the recipe from Lou Malnati's back home.  Start drooling!

SPEAKING OF KETCHUP, THERE'S A TRAITOR IN THE MIDST!


Mike's rat terrier Rufus throws his two biscuits in on the issue of ketchup n dogs.  Yikes and he can bite!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

KETCHUP- THE SEQUEL

So as promised I went ahead to challenge my fears in the forbidden land of ketchup on a hot dog (don’t tell a soul in Chicago).  Although I felt as though I might be struck by lightning, I didn’t die and actually found that combined with mustard it wasn’t half-bad.   Still it is not to my own particular taste (chalk it up to Chi-town brainwashing) but I do understand why people like it, why once upon a time I liked it.  Ketchup has a predominantly fruity sweet quality that especially as kids we all came to love.

Condiments each have a quality of their own and if you like them individually, there tends to be a chance that you will like it on a lot of things... on anything, even a hot dog.  Then it can become, is it more about the ketchup, the hot dog or that particular combination?  I’ll venture to guess that the first craving is for the hot dog then your preference of condiments comes next. Without the desired condiments though you might run into trouble.  I always crave for fries but if there is no ketchup around (except for a few exceptions, like duck fat fries) I feel shortchanged on the experience. 

I find that if one has a liking for certain seasoning or condiment it will predominate in what they add to their food, be it salt, pepper, soy sauce, hot sauce or…ketchup.  I’m kinda like that with Tabasco, it’s not so much the heat anymore as it is the flavor of it that I have become addicted to.  I put it on a lot of things and even use it as seasoning in a few sophisticated sauces but I must admit that in some ways I use it indiscriminately without regard to how it overpowers what I'm putting it on.   

In serious food composition it becomes the combination of flavors that bring a higher degree of complexity to a food experience.   One of my former chefs, Grant Achatz, who now owns the world acclaimed of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, first introduced me to the concept of the “deconstruction” of flavors.  (funny story:  I once describe it as a “decomposition” technique to a food critic review us, opps!).  So in deconstruction you look at traditional flavor compositions  say like… a hot dog and ketchup and break apart the components of the dish to discover the base flavor/textures that are coming together.  We have bread (flour, yeast), hot dog (seasoned protein/fat) and then a phletora or not of condiments which will represent characters of sweet, picante, sour, bitterness, fruit, salt/brine, spice, pungency, acidity, etc.  How do these qualities all work together really becomes a science of understanding basic taste profiles.   So with a little knowledge one can learn why certain things taste good together and perhaps then expand their taste horizons to explore the high realms of cuisine ala hot dog.

So in my aimless postulations I guessed that since that credit for the hot dog in America is mostly accredited to Europeans immigrants, mustard was their condiment of choice.  Looking at the  composition of hot dogs, the more acidic and picante characteristics of mustard have the ability to cut nicely through the high protein and fat qualities of a hot dog.  Ketchup on the otherhand is more cloying and lays with the flavors without defined contrast.  Howz that for some good food BS!

But enough of that stuff, really, your mouth doesn’t care, it likes what it likes but at least I got to state my case.  So you know, in Chicago, children are given in an indiscriminant age of 9 or 13 to lose their affinity for ketchup on hot dogs.  When that occurs, adulthood is attained in the Windy City food culture.  So before you visit.... grow up!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A MATTER OF TASTE

 I’ve always been curious how personal tastes develop to determine one’s favorite foods.  Are we born with it, weaned into it, what lies at the core of our own particular taste affinities.  How does our upbringing, culture, industry, social standing, education, economy, geography or even our temperament affect our taste?  Why makes it stagnate, evolve or revert as we get older.  I am sure there are a myriad of influences that affect what we like to eat and I for one love the investigative work in understanding the nature of the food experience.

 

So let’s get real, I own a hot dog stand.  Yes, I love it!  So let me look at my own simple pleasures.   I love to eat street food, off carts, stands, markets, concessions, any place where it is an impulsive purchase, one that provides the chance for immediate gratification.  I’m talking about that preemptive smell, the in-your-face production, watching, waiting, the anxious anticipation.  No need to sit down, eat standing up, indulging in the moment of a fluid spontaneous event, almost erotic.  You could be on your way to a meeting, on lunch, in the midst of shopping or just roaming the streets.  You could be dressed in shorts, swimwear or better yet an evening dress or suit.  Perhaps you were hungry but maybe you already just had a meal, perhaps an elegant one that needed to be tempered with a more primal food experience.  In this case it isn’t totally about the food, sometimes for me it can be really nasty stuff, nasty good stuff!  I find the experience is like a portal, a window where time stops and pleasure, momentary pleasure is at hand.  Then you wake up and go along your way. Hours later, the eventual burp brings it all back again flooding you with food emotion and a gluttonous smile.

Wow, that was great just writing about it, whatzup with that!  I think that as a child eating on the go marked many events for me.  I was awarded for doctors appointments with hamburgers from street-side trailer stand, boring shopping trips downtown meant lunch at cafeterias, a visit to the neighborhood candy store was a ritual, the ice cream trucks during summer and hot dogs at the beach  meant summer vacation. The smells, the innocence and maybe the momentary escape from reality all played, play, a part in these food experiences.  Simple impulsive indulgent pleasures, that’s my ticket.  Look, I’m getting hungry again...