I had some bites of the chocolate cake from The Bear the other day at Loaf Lounge but didn’t even remember that it was famous TV cake—I was busy being impressed by the house-baked bread which lifted pretty good sandwiches to exceptional. Louisa Chu tells about  the new Avondale sandwich shop from married couple Ben Lustbader (Giant) and Sarah Mispagel (pastry chef at Sepia):

While the cake has become famous, Lustbader’s breakfast sandwiches have quietly become just as popular in their own right.

“There are days when we’re neck and neck,” Mispagel said about her husband. “He’ll sell 120 sausage muffins, and I’ll sell 119 slices of the cake.”

Despite appearances, it is no simple sandwich.

“We make the English muffins, griddle them in clarified butter, then smear this herby mayo on,” Lustbader said. “And we sear the sausage, flip over a medium egg and melt on American cheese.”

The chef forgets to mention he makes his own sausage.


You know what sums me up? The first thing I did upon seeing that Titus Ruscitti had been to Kim’s Uncle Pizza was check to see if there were any pictures of their Faulds oven. Anyway, here’s what he thinks of the new vintage pizza place in Westmont from people involved with Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream:

The business came with a once locally made Faulds Pizza Oven which was the pizza oven of choice for local pizzerias back in the 50’s and onward. They’re no longer made today but many are still in use at spots like Pat’s Pizza in Lincoln Park and Lino’s Pizza in Rockford… I got my classic sausage pizza which is what I judge all others by and this one is indeed as delicious and desirable as they said it was going to be. All aspects of it were way above average with the sturdiness of the squares being the most impressive thing about it, aside from the taste which is all that matters.

I’d seen the painted signage in the window at Kunafa Nabulsia from my car, and was meaning to check out what it was. Well, here’s what Titus says about this Moroccan sandwich shop.


You may or may not know where Bloomingdale is (west suburbs, just west of O’Hare) but thanks to Steve Dolinsky, now you know somewhere to eat therePholicious:

You’d think with a name like Pholicious, the emphasis of this restaurant – tucked into a Bloomingdale strip mall – would be the beefy bowl of pho, jammed with rice stick noodles, cilantro and onions. You’d be partly right, and more on that in a minute. But it’s the banh mi that’ll spin your head, thanks to the owner’s commitment to doing everything herself.

“I decided to invest my time and study on it and make it better for myself,” said Jeine Tran, the co-owner of Pholicious.

(Sorry, link for this one was missing in the newsletter version.)


Speaking of Titus, Dennis Lee went on his advice to Bia’s Cafe Marianao, a sort of revival of one-time-famous Cafe Marianao, a slice of Cuban Miami in Logan Square:

What you really want at Bia’s is the steak sandwich with cheese ($8 for a single, $10 for a double).

It’s a simple concoction comprised of thin grilled steak with marinated onions, tomatoes, white processed cheese, all on a pressed and toasted Cuban roll. I’m used to steak this thin being pretty dry after it’s been cooked, but dear God, is this stuff juicy.


Not in the same series as the Calumet Fisheries video I linked last week, but Eater pays a video visit to the kitchen of a spot that is widely liked but little talked about: Chiu Quon Bakery and the old Chinese pros who make 10,000 bao a week there.


Michael Nagrant eventually gets to a couple of things to eat at restaurants, but mostly it’s a sweet piece about expecting your kids to be foodies (I may resemble this remark):

Grayson loved everything. He hoovered up chili-spiked squash. He gummed the eggplant and cried for more (he couldn’t use sign language to ask, because it turned out that as crazy as I was, even I had limits on my oppressive first-time dad sociopathy).

It was a miracle! Except that it wasn’t. The thing no one tells you is that most kids will eat almost anything you put in front of them until they’re about one to one and a half years old, at which point they turn in to Jay Leno and never eat a vegetable for the next fifty years.


When I’ve had something alleged to be what native Americans eat (or ate), it’s usually been something like a fry bread taco served at carnival-like event to which I had taken my kids, supposedly to show them what native American life was like. In short, as David Hammond says:

It is virtually impossible for us to capture an entirely “authentic” rendition of native food. Many native recipes were transmitted word-of-mouth, as were native histories, and sadly with the loss of Native lives, over time we also lost the recipes. Moreover, individual culinary traditions differed significantly, conditioned by the availability of raw materials and ingredients. At the Indian Pueblo Kitchen in Albuquerque last summer, we ate foods—including Pueblo-style oven bread and tacos—that would be viewed as unusual by native cultures in other parts of North America.

But there are places like “Sioux Chef” Sean Sherman’s Owamni in Minneapolis making more serious efforts at reconstructing native American cuisine, and Hammond explores some of that:

Indigenous People’s Day was first instituted in 1992 in Berkeley. Earlier this year, in neighboring Oakland, we enjoyed a lunch in the shadow of the Fruitvale BART station at Wahpepah’s Kitchen. We started with deer sticks, skewers of charbroiled venison, served on a wooden platter with Anaheim chilies and chokecherry sauce. To drink, prickly pear limeade. With the savory gaminess of the deer, the gentle heat of the chili and the tart sweetness of the chokecherry and prickly pear, there was a lot to like about lunch.


Anthony Todd on where to get the good stuff for Turkey Day.


David Rodriguez of Xocome Antojeria will cook for an event for SACRED (Lou Bank’s organization supporting traditional agave cultivation and culture benefiting the Kohl Children’s Museum. There will be a five-course tasting menu, each course paired with a beverage. It’s Thursday, December 1; go here for tickets and more info.

Before the unpleasantness, I served soup at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport. It was a great event, lots of chefs as well as some slouches like me. Well, it’s happening again this Thursday—unlimited bowls for $20 which goes to various good places. I can’t find a specific link for it, but you just have to be at 3219 S. Morgan between 5 and 9 pm.


Whenever I’ve needed to link an obituary for someone’s passing, I’ve tended to check the Sun-Times first, to see if Maureen O’Donnell had written one—she was very good at talking to families and finding good quotes or anecdotes that brought the story of the dead to life. Now she’s—no, just retiring! And she’s got a lovely goodbye column:

I’ve spent most of my life in Chicago or on its fringes. I love her Cleopatran, infinite variety. And being an obituary writer gave me the luxury of being a student of her history and learning something every day. It’s been a privilege to hear your stories and share them.

They have given me a hint of what it would be like to live in a different place and time. They have taught me about the power of the human spirit to overcome.

They’ve made me feel I’ve carried on the Irish tradition of being a seanchaí — a storyteller. Or, in the words of a gamer I once interviewed, “You’re a psychopomp!” I loved being likened to mythological figures who help guide souls to the afterlife.


Michael Muser’s podcast Amuzed talks to a guy named Dave Dravenack—you don’t know him, he’s a theater/comedy buddy of co-host Pat Kiely’s, but here’s the good part: he tells tales of working at a place that attracted many aspiring performers—Ed Debevic’s.