The talk this morning is of Eater NY’s story of sexual harassment allegations against Mario Batali; he has taken leave from his restaurants and is off The Chew, though no word yet on how Eataly plans to deal with someone whose name and face is all over the place. Though as Kennyz observes on Twitter, “Nothing new here. [Bill] Buford’s incredibly popular book [Heat] outed Batali as a horrendous pig, with plenty of detailed evidence. People shrugged.”


“You don’t see caviar on many menus,” Phil Vettel says. Actually I think you see it more and more, as it gets produced in more parts of the world (see this Fooditor story). And that’s probably why a neighborhood spot like Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar can come into being, offering caviar service as well as weekday breakfast and a burger for dinner: “You can add caviar to menu items, such as the seared scallops, which are matched to sweet carrot-caraway puree and funky fermented eggplant. It’s a beautiful dish, but a dollop of caviar wouldn’t taste a bit out of place. At brunch, caviar makes an indulgent add-on to egg dishes.” (Tribune)


Not having been served pre-made pizza puffs in school myself—we had a bespoke sheet pizza at my grade school’s cafeteria, in one flavor, hamburger—I don’t have nostalgia for the things, which exist mainly to allow places like hot dog stands that only have deep fryers to serve “pizza.” But some people love them, and Nick Kindelsperger explores why: “Each bite makes an immediate impact, delivering fat, salt and cheese in a compact, easy-to-eat form. It is not subtle, and grease may as well be an ingredient, but it’s easy to get the appeal of deep-fried pizza.” In pursuit of the treat’s origins, though, he finds a shocking, M. Night Shyamalan level twist—read it all.

Meanwhile in Pizza Puff news, Time Out Chicago looks at a pizza puff-inspired burger at Kimski, and says it could be “the most indulgent Chicago dish ever created.”


Speaking of pizza puffs—where did this come from all of a sudden?—Mike Sula is impressed by the one at Regards to Edith (the work of now-departed chef Jared Wentworth): “There’s also a pizza puff on the menu. Ew, right? Hold on now, this one is nothing like those previously frozen ticking time bombs of molten processed cheese. The thin, flaky pastry shimmers with fat, but it’s crackly and light and barely contains a core of nearly liquid hot burrata. An application of pepperoni oil—simply diced, cured sausage and oregano suspended in olive and Calabrian chile oils—spells true redemption for this wretched snack.”


As Graham Meyer tells it, the ambition of the McCormick Place authority to try to launch a new hot neighborhood in the area, beginning with a restaurant called Woven & Bound (a reference to the old printing companies in the area, and not whatever you were thinking), is more interesting than the restaurant as it turns out: “Woven & Bound is out of sync with its own dipartite mission to appeal both to trapped conventioneers and Chicagoans living in or visiting the neighborhood. While it clears the low bar set by hotel restaurants, it’s nowhere near the splash-maker that would draw you here of its own accord… Rather than pioneering a new neighborhood, it’s more likely to reside in the sort of shadow Chicago like the old Navy Pier or the village of Rosemont—a place where if locals come, they’re visitors, too.” (Crain’s)

5. TIME OUT’S 2017

It’s a mystery I’ve commented on before: Time Out Chicago runs less than one review a week, in fact it sometimes goes 3 or 4 weeks without one… and then at the end of the year, they somehow have a list of 100 things to eat or drink from the past year, from places no critic has otherwise looked at. Looking at the choices, one starts to sense that they fall into two camps—new places people went to on assignment, and comfy old places where they spent their own money… a lot of old reliables on this list, from Boeufhaus to Bruna’s. Anyway, it’s here, whoever wrote it.


Coffee is big business and getting bigger all the time. Seattle-based Caffe Umbria has opened a 9000-square foot roaster facility in Logan Square, as Anthony Todd explains at Chicago mag. Meanwhile friend of Fooditor Sparrow Coffee has a fun video out introducing their first cafe, in Naperville—but not to worry, city folk, one is planned for their West Loop location next year, too.


Congrats to Soup and Bread founder Martha Bayne; the wintertime event at The Hideout, in which folks make and share soup to raise a little money for good causes, has been going for ten years now. Producing two cookbooks along the way (“my” soup was in both, I’m proud to say; I put “my” in quotes because it’s adapted from a Spanish cookbook).


David Hammond, writing about mescal again, takes in an annual festival of agave spirits called Mexico in a Bottle, finding interesting things like a rum called Paranubes: “Paranubes is a rum from Oaxaca made in the Sierra Mazateca mountains, in a misty cloud forest that’s also home to an infamous indigenous psychedelic mushroom. If rum has seemed to taste only like alcohol and sugar to you, try Paranubes, which has many more dimensions of flavor, even some slightly bitter notes. It’s a truly beautiful artisanal expression.” (NewCity)


Along with Time Out’s 100, Zagat kicks off year-end lists with this look at the 13 most important restaurant openings of the year.


The New York version of The Aviary gets a mixed review from Ryan Sutton at Eater—the setting seems charmless and some drinks underwhelm, but a few of the drinks reach the goal of showing off cutting-edge cocktailing: “Just as exhilarating is the gin and tonic. It’s a blend of Bombay Sapphire, apple, almond, and frozen cucumber that looks like a mad scientist’s green beaker, drinks like a slushie, and packs a level of vibrantly fizzy carbonation that almost borders on Alka Seltzer.”


Everyone’s talking about this Vice story in which a guy creates a fake restaurant in London and promotes it to the #1 spot at Trip Advisor. I’m not surprised it’s possible, because I’ve already seen an example of something close to it—when we went to Kyoto, there was a samurai-themed restaurant that was ranked #1 in town… until I read the reviews, at Trip Advisor, that acknowledged that the restaurateur would pay you off for a good review.


The NY Times is getting better at covering Chicago neighborhoods, and this piece on Bridgeport is not only pretty good… it probably has fewer inadvertent insults to the South Side than most homegrown pieces do!


Have the coolest holiday party ever by buying Giant for the night. They’re auctioning it off, benefiting No Kid Hungry and The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Go to Sauced Market, Tuesday night, at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.


I’ve now eaten most of the sandwiches at Tempesta Market, and each one is more of a wow than the last, really composed dishes on bread or a bun more than Italian deli sandwiches (not that we don’t love those here at Fooditor!) Since everyone there worked at Publican Quality Meats, it shouldn’t be surprising how well thought out they are. I loved the St. Gennaro, which I had to be talked into (a sausage sandwich? Yet surprisingly subtle with caramelized onions and fresh mozzarella) and the Dante, which is all their spicy meats plus giardinera. Tried a bunch of their meats, too, and surprisingly, the best thing of all might have been the morcilla, that is, blood sausage. Anyway, great stuff top to bottom, go check it out—and yes, there’s a story coming this week.