From a Tribune article on a place in Wheeling that sells cannabis, booze and sweets:

Okay Cannabis is unlike any other business in the state, hosting licensed cannabis sales under the same roof with West Town Bakery, which serves beer, wine and liquor as well as bakery goods and other food.

The majority owner is Charles Mayfield, who is interim chief operating officer for Chicago Public Schools, while former Chicago 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and others are minority owners.

So make sure your kids buy their weed from CPS insiders! The location was formerly a Twin Peaks, weed replacing boobs. All this, says the Tribune with a straight face, is in the name of social equity in weed selling.


Michael Nagrant manages to write about Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining—and the Super Bowl. Well, see, there’s always the guy who brings a lousy raw vegetable platter from Jewel:

This can all be avoided because there’s an alternative called Tuk Kroeung, a creamy dip infused with fiery chili, the bright acidic punch of lemongrass and galangal, tender slivers of cat fish fillet and the sweet cooling finish of palm sugar.

I know this because it’s an incredible dish served at Khmai, a Cambodian restaurant located in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. There is no plastic tub here, just a beautiful woven basket stuffed with verdant green beans, thick cukes, peppers, cabbage wedges, and radishes which have been mercifully ridge-cut thin. The vegetables surround a bowl of the dip which has a baba ghanoush like velvety heft. It is in many ways the supreme crudite tray on earth.


Poutine had its moment, and I have to admit that I had forgotten that I’d gone to try a poutine place in Naperville last fall with John Kessler—nothing against the place (which seemed pretty good—for poutine) but there’s a non-food-related side that seems more interesting about it. Anyway, Kessler on Chez Francois Poutinerie:

Montreal native Thi Tram Nguyen thought the Chicago area (specifically Naperville, where she lives) was ready for such a spot… Yet Nguyen has more on her mind than potatoes. She named the restaurant for her autistic son and set it up as a training program for special-needs adults.


WTTW talks to Tim Lacey, owner, and Christian Hunter, incoming chef, of Atelier, the replacement for Elizabeth:

Whereas Regan’s food is thoroughly Midwestern—she grew up in Indiana before cooking in Chicago and now Michigan—Hunter has spent much of his burgeoning career in the eastern United States. He attended culinary school in upstate New York before cooking at a couple “luxury boutique hotels” in the Northeast. Wanting to “see the other side of food, that wasn’t necessarily luxury, but more accessible,” he moved to Charleston, where he became devoted to working with local farmers and using their produce at the height of its season, especially at the proudly local Sorghum & Salt.

He took that approach to Community Table in Connecticut as executive chef. His work there just led to being included as a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast.


Steve Dolinsky kicks off Black History Month by going to talk barbecue at one of the newer places on the south side, Slab BBQ:`

For the last five years, the Trice family – James and Tonya, along with their kids, James Junior and Miranda – have been putting in long hours at Slab BBQ in South Shore, directly across the street from the train line. It’s a labor of love, with roots near the Ohio River, more than five hours south of Chicago.

“My father is from the South – from Paducah, Kentucky – and I just brought the tradition to Chicago,” said James Trice Sr.


Who’s the nicest guy in Chicago food? Impossible to answer, but Bill Kim would sure make my short list—maybe it was working for Charlie Trotter that made him that way. Anyway, Anthony Todd talks to him about the growth and expansion of UrbanBelly, why that was what he wanted to do even while he was working for Trotter, and, well, being a nice guy.


I’ve never actually been to New Haven to eat pizza (or to pull the ivy from the walls of Yale) but Dennis Lee calls attention to a new New Haven-style pizza place (besides, of course, Piece): Deleite’s, near Addison and Milwaukee. Unlike, I suspect, any pizza place in New Haven, it also has tacos.


Titus Ruscitti took January off, but he returns with a timely guide to a logical winter getaway for Chicagoans, South Florida:

As a kid I loved going to Miami Subs, the locally born fast food chain that’s still around. But as I got older and started to become more interested in food and regional food in particular, it opened up a whole new world to me. Over the last decade I’ve explored the area through food and let me tell you, anyone that says there’s not much to eat down here must not leave their gated community too often. The South Florida area is home to ten million people and it’s one of the country’s most diverse regions and with that comes diversity in the food. You just have to venture away from the beach to find most of it’s riches. Lucky for my readers I’ve done that for them over the years, exploring everywhere from West Palm Beach to Miami and then some. The region is rich with options and I’m going to show you that here today.

Interesting coincidence: one of the things he eats is acarajé, from a West African popup inb Boca Raton (not a phrase I ever expected to type). Keep reading for more acarajé news…


A million years ago, Ari Bendersky had a blog called Something Glorious, about whatever he was in to at the moment. Well, it now it comes back on Substack, and to judge by the inaugural dispatch, what he’s into is wine. Well, sort of, since the piece is called “Stop Drinking Cabernet”:

Let’s look at Italian wine, for example. In a country that has 350 approved grape varieties (and reportedly more than 3,000 different varieties planted around the country), you could easily step into sangiovese, another noble grape variety. Hailing from Tuscany, you may know sangiovese as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. But whatever sub-region it comes from sangiovese is generally a medium-bodied red with notes of cherry, leather, smoke, plum, dried herbs and more. It has a rustic quality, great acid and good tannic structure. All that is to say it shares a lot of qualities with cab, so you won’t veer too far off your palate course.


The Infatuation tries Brasserie by C&C, the latest incarnation of Cookies and Carnitas:

Brasserie by C&C’s menu reads a little bit like a potluck—tacos, pasta, croquettes, and pork belly crispy rice. But unlike your last office potluck, the food at this upscale Edgewater spot is actually good. The French onion soup is rich and cheesy without being too salty, the short rib pappardelle has al dente pasta, and the foie gras croquettes have a fantastic chicharron crust.

If they knew Cookies & Carnitas’ past incarnations, or its stand at the Green City Market, none of this would be surprising. They also went to Ragadan—people keep trying the burger there, as if there’s nowhere else to get such a thing, when the point is the falafel on ka’ak sandwich:

Everything on the menu is well-made and balanced. The juicy burgers are topped with tangy za’atar mayo and sweet caramelized onions that complement their smoky char. Crispy-yet-pillowy falafel pulls off a balancing act that’s worthy of Cirque Du Soleil. And that falafel makes for one of the best sandwiches in Chicago when it’s tucked between pieces of soft ka’ak with tahini and hummus.


Looks like it’s Resy that still doesn’t get that the James Beard long-listers aren’t nominees… yet.


Back in the prehistoric days of podcasting, Michael Nagrant first launched his Hungry mag podcast by interviewing a chef at a place called Butter—Ryan Poli. Poli has been many places since then (notably The Catbird Seat in Nashville and, oh, a little place called El Bulli) but now he’s back where it started—not the long-gone Butter, but podcasting! It’s called How Did I Get Here? The Ryan Poli Podcast, the idea seems to be a chef talking with other chefs about the kitchen life, and his latest guest is Mindy Segal, while the one before her was Meg Galus. Here it is on Spotify, or you can watch on YouTube.


I don’t think my mom ever owned a copy of Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book, but we had similar things—a caustic Phyllis Diller book on being a housewife, later books of Erma Bombeck columns—and Bracken’s bestseller was certainly in the air well into the 1970s. More than that, the kind of cooking it advocated—a lot of recipes with a can of condensed soup in them, often topped with canned fried onions—was everywhere, and honestly it made total sense in an age when housewives no longer had servants but were expected to maintain a reasonably high level of cooking, so if you had no one to prep for you but the Campbell’s Soup company, of course you’d pop open a can of condensed flavor to make your thrown-together casserole seem like it had depth.

Anyway, Aimee Levitt digs into the history of this book, which probably was read by ten times as many people as Betty Friedan’s near-contemporaneous The Feminine Mystique. We didn’t have Wine Moms then, because we barely had wine yet, but they’ll recognize these housewives:

Condensed soups figure heavily in I Hate to Cook. So do canned and frozen vegetables, as well as Parmesan cheese, paprika, and parsley because, according to Bracken, “even if you hate to cook, you don’t always want this fact to show.” Using garnishes, she reasoned, “still shows you’re trying.” All of the recipes could be prepped in 15 minutes or less, something they had in common with the dozens of other convenience recipes popular at the time.

What distinguishes I Hate to Cook — and makes it such an absolute delight, even 60 years later — is Bracken herself (the drawings by Hilary Knight, best-known as the illustrator and co-creator of Eloise, also help). From that memorable opening line onward, she is sardonic and funny, issuing instructions like “let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink,” or “just shut your eyes and go on opening those cans.” She’s the friend who suggests “the girls” go out for cocktails instead of having a sedate Ladies’ Luncheon at home, who cheerfully dismantles food-world pretensions (never say “hot,” she advises, when you can say “piping hot”), and whose Hootenholler Whisky Cake recipe begins, “First, take the whisky out of the cupboard, and have a small snort for medicinal purposes.”

In other words, she understands that the best way to fight the despair of domestic servitude is to laugh about it and get other women to join you (and to take a snort of whiskey when you need it).


It looks like a Brazilian version of a jibarito—it puts the sandwich on a bean fritter. Sandwich Tribunal explains the acarajé sandwich:

This bean fritter came to Brazil with the Yoruba people of West Africa, where the fritters are known as Akara. Brazil was the single largest importer of African slaves during the centuries when the African slave trade was active. Brazil was also the last country in the West to formally end slavery in 1888, though the practice had been in decline for decades and many slaves had been manumitted before slavery was formally outlawed. Bahia, a state in Northeastern Brazil, had a particularly high concentration of sugar plantations, and the conditions for the slaves working these plantations were quite harsh, leading to multiple slave revolts in the early 19th Century. Despite the heavy-handedness of the Portuguese plantation owners, the Africans in Bahia were able to preserve much of their cultures of origin, and that African influence is still seen in the area today.