September 27, 2007

Roundabout to the local

So it figures that I stumble on an interesting locally-written blog by reading about it in a Chicago-based magazine that FoodNerd gets delivered to the house. One of the more recent issues of Time Out Chicago makes mention of a blog on U.S. Food Policy (aptly named, U.S. Food Policy) written by a Tufts University professor.

FoodNerd is concerned that reading it is just going to make her depressed about how bad the policy in the U. S. currently is, but it seems like there's also a lot of good stuff in the form of local info, resources, and news of good things that can be done and/or are being done.

Hopefully there's enough balance so she won't be upset that I posted it. I've found it a good read so far, but I've haven't had the chance to dig through the archive yet and I've got to get back to work.

Posted by tallasiandude at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2007

Sabur: Balkan yummies

Several years ago, a restaurant opened in Teele Square in Somerville called Sabur. It had the cheesiest looking sign, with the worst sort of self-conscious faux-ethnic font, and claimed to be "mediterranean cuisine." All of which added up in my mind to an overpriced mediocrity catering to trend-happy yuppies with timid palates. I never went in.

But then over the last year or so, I've heard from several people that the food is delicious. And today, we met up for brunch there to celebrate a friend's birthday -- she lives in the neighborhood and also vouched for the place. And i am thrilled to report that the food is indeed yummy, and though it has flashes of various mediterranean flavors, it is primarily a Balkan restaurant with lots of yogurt, fried breads, ajvar and sausages.

Online reviews mention crappy service, and i will say that our server, though pleasant, was a little spacy -- but certainly not rude, and we didn't wait overlong for anything. The decor is not entirely my cup of tea, but it is warm, richly colored, faintly exotic and has lots of pillows, and suits the place. The patio is rather nice too, if it happens to be warm.

But the reason I will go back is the food. Perfectly crunchy potato pancakes with sour cream and spiced pears. French toast with fresh-fig jam and maple syrup and lots of butter. Spiced meat patties on puffy flatbread with ajvar and feta. Stubby little grilled sausages with yogurt sauce and onions. Flaky tender borek stuffed with crumbly creamy farmer cheese. This food hews closely to the traditional flavor profiles, but busts out a few surprises like the pear compote with the potato pancakes (unless that's a traditional thing i just don't know about). And everything is well executed, if perhaps a little overzealously dusted with chopped parsley. (A pox on THAT particular restaurant trend.)

It wasn't seriously busy despite our arrival at 11am on a Sunday, prime brunching hour on a gorgeous sunny weekend. They are reputed to have very good cocktails in their lounge. Someone might need to have a word with management about the Gypsy Kings CD on perpetual repeat... but I am willing to overlook that for a steady supply of delicious potato pancakes and farmer cheese pastries.

Posted by foodnerd at 04:13 PM | Comments (1)

September 21, 2007

point proven

in order to find a Chicago deep dish pizza that they could say nice things about, Saveur had to a) leave Chicago -- the pizza in question is in the suburb of Morton Grove -- and b) choose a pie that varies significantly from the norm in style and quality. HA!

I quote: "in recent years, a number of pizza purists have forsaken the belly bombs served in many downtown pizza parlors in favor of the leaner and fresher-tasting pies proffered at a pizzeria called Burt's Place..." And even so, i would have to taste them myself before I'd be willing to grant them a special dispensation.

Posted by foodnerd at 09:33 AM | Comments (1)

September 20, 2007

ahem, i told you so

The newest issue of Saveur just arrived, trumpeting an entire issue about how great a food town Chicago is.

Well, DUH. Been saying that for years now. :-)

I haven't even read it yet, but I was appalled to see that they put a deep-dish pizza on the cover. Oh, please. Have an original thought, already, willya? And on top of that, deep-dish pizza is nothing but a dowdy, doughy, unappealing mess. Why could they not choose one of the many, many other things emblematic of Chicago that DO taste good?

For starters, the Italian Beef. Found nowhere but Chicago, as far as I can tell, outrageously delicious, and varying widely enough in style and execution to trigger religious disputes among the citizenry.

Sigh. Perhaps they will redeem themselves when i get down to the reading of the articles... but i fear not. I still slobber over this particular slice of food porn whenever it arrives, but the caliber of the magazine has been declining the last couple of years. Much of the original staff has moved on, the redesign of the graphics was dreadful, making it just as pedestrian as all the other food mags, and the articles have started feeling a little too rote a little too often. Eh, I kvetch. I'm still gonna read every damn word of it except the wine articles.

Posted by foodnerd at 03:37 PM | Comments (9)

September 13, 2007

a simple need

ok, sorry, i STILL haven't had time for posting. I SUCK.

but here is my thing at present: i need to buy a new folder/folio for work, because the cheap-but-highly-useful one i've used for the last umpteen years has cracked a bit and now catches on my sweaters when i hold it on my hip -- and pulls in my work sweaters, which are actually attractive and mildly expensive, are Not Okay.

Googling has been distinctly unhelpful. I am willing to invest in a nice thing if necessary and justified. Suggestions from the peanut gallery, please, as to where I can find an object meeting these criteria:

- holds standard 8.5x11 pad of lined paper on one side

- has simple flap on opposite side to hold random bits of paper, printouts, notes, etc. No fancy-ass special compartments, slots, mutliple tabs, etc. need apply -- just a doohickey that I can easily and quickly slide my papers into.

- attractive. ideally, fabulous retro-modern or brightly colored (orange? green? red?) but i am flexible on this subject. simple black will do.

- not made of plastic. plastic splits and causes snags in sweaters: Not Okay, see above.

- simple and slender and lightweight

- durable. this object is going to get carted around all over, shoved in bags, taken to client sites, whipped out in airports, dropped on the floor, etc. and it needs to remain presentable and professional looking.

- not thick, padded, zippered, "executive" or otherwise fugly

Can you help me, Internet?

Posted by foodnerd at 06:13 PM | Comments (1)