Summer is in full swing in the Chicago food mediasphere, with the Taste, hot dogs and pure, unadulterated fire dominating the headlines.
• Ice cream plus espresso (a.k.a affogato) is good; ice cream plus espresso plus cognac is better [Tribune]
• But our are there a lot of words on hot dogs today! The issue contains pieces on a bunch of classic hot dog stands around Chicagoland, plus a look under the hood of the dog and the always contentious ketchup conundrum. Is your favorite grease pit included in the roundup? You’ll have to click to find out! [TOC]
• The pull quote from the entire series is: “Despite many complaints from mustard-faced customers, Gene & Jude’s didn’t even offer napkins until the ’70s. ‘People would ask for napkins and Gene would hand them a hot-dog wrapper,’ Joe says.” [TOC]
• We will still never understand the endless, juvenile, largely irrational hatred Chicagoans have toward ketchup on their hot dogs. Does the red stuff really throw the balance of ingredients that far off? Hasn’t anyone ever tried putting ketchup and mustard on their hot dogs? We can’t think of a single analog in, New York, say, where a condiment-food item combination is so reviled that it’s practically embedded in the city’s core DNA. We’re all for purism, but the extreme level of this ketchup thing is kind of a deranged application. We’re not going to win any friends for this, but get over it! [TOC] (Then again, we have trouble being friends with people who order red meat well done. Or put peanut butter on their blueberry bagels)
• Wrapping up the frankfurter files, Hot Doug’s is doing a design-your-own hot dog contest, and the winner gets their dog on the menu for a week. Which is actually not the world’s most impressive prize, but it’s really about the glory, right? [TOC]
• In other news…a scrappy pastry chef-turned-gelato maker…heavy metal vs. R Kelly in the kitchen…more Mexican than French at Mexique, which is not to say the tacos aren’t tasty…progressive-sounding healthy concept Freshii falls flat with confusing ordering practices and mediocre salads
• Finally, in this week’s Omnivorous, Mike Sula talks to the last guy delivering coal in Chicago (really?) and his two remaining customers, D’Amato’s Bakery and Coalfire, the much-ballyhooed New Haven-style pizza place on Grand St. It’s a nice story about the decline of one major Chicago industry that alludes to the rise of another major Chicago industry (restaurants).
Also, this reminds us of one our first targets for hypocrisy, Carbon. The name of the taqueria and their promotional literature imply that they cook with charcoal, and last April, we were appalled to discover that they actually run a gas-based operation. And we just called them again and it’s still gas, and presumably forever more. But, as natural gas prices skyrocket and we remember that we’re sitting on a few hundred years of coal reserves…who knows.
[Photo: an affogato avocado, best, via bigiain/flickr]