Well, we have to say that we feel lucky to have been among the several hundred people who watched Monica Eng and Kevin Pang tell it like it is on yesterday afternoon’s “first-ever live web video chat.”
It was a half hour of straight dope on the NRA show, dining in Chicago, and occasionally, the personal lives of the hosts. We’ve never live-blogged before (we don’t even know if it takes a dash), so we did stupid things like…not take notes on the exact time things were said. As if that matters in the slightest - this is not a presidential debate, nor America’s Next Top Model. And anyway, we have a clear record on the order in which things were said, and we will present our finding thusly. Except for the first few seconds/minutes, which we missed because we couldn’t find the damn link to the video; why did the Tribune bury it in tiny text way down in the middle of the homepage? No matter - onto the material:
• Where to get wagyu? - The Fish Guy, Mitsuwa, and Fox & Obel. We wonder if wagyu prices are going up along with other prime meats. Probably, but right now, Monica thinks you can get ground wagyu for $10 a pound at F&O.; Sounds like a waste, though.
• At the NRA show, quadruple-size Vienna hot dogs, for restaurants to tart up and serve as an expensive dish. The horror!
• Also at the show, green (environmentally friendly; does that even need to be clarified?) cleaning supplies on display, but in a small booth. Con-Agra, a rich, evil company, had a much bigger booth.
• Hey, a shout out to the blog! Kevin announced, and Monica, answered, our question about Indian mangoes (Monica: they “will blow your mind”), and you can get them at the Patel Brothers stores. Meanwhile, we were hoping they’d answer our other questions about Fred Thompson and the enfeebling of America via consumerism, but we’ll take what we can get. Thanks, guys!
• Memorial Day food on the Southwest Side? Bobak has great meats (more on that later), plus something about tamales that we didn’t quite catch. But evidently, Tio Luis on 35th and Archer has killer tacos, and they use key limes for added deliciousness.
• Burrito Beach has great guacamole. Who knew? It’s only 75 cents as an “extra,” by the way.
• Raw foods - is the movement growing in Chicago? We have some raw restaurants like Karyn’s Raw Vegan Gourmet and Cousin’s Incredible Vitality, and more are slowly opening, but it’s not like all of Chicago is going to suddenly throw up its hands and say, “that’s it! No more cooking.” Raw foods will settle into a “sometimes” thing.
• Another innovation from the NRA show is the eyegiene toilet seat, which rotates and gets treated with alcohol, cleaning and drying the seat before its next encounter. Monica waxed poetic about a restaurant in Taiwan where bathroom attendants clean the commodes after every single use, and spray the area with a lovely jasmine perfume.
• What’s the next big cuisine genre? Monica starts off by discussing mini-desserts, which isn’t really a cuisine genre as much as a general trend. She does recommend the passion fruit souffle at Vong’s Thai Kitchen, though. Then Monica recovered a bit, and forecasted an increase in regional Indian restaurants.
• A question asked about government labeling for local or seasonal. K&M; rightly pointed out that the government can’t even get non-toxic right, or organic for that matter, so nothing doing about local or seasonal. Their recommendation? Make friends with the vendores at your local farmers market.
At this point, Monica really started having a good time, and cracked jokes fast and furious:
• Someone asked where to get guinea pig in Chicago, and Monica launched into this whole thing about a piece she did on guinea pigs from the Trib some years back, and how she wanted them to run this horrifying photo of a splayed guinea pig, and there was this big back and forth with the editors - was it too much for a family paper? Anyway, they ran the photo to minimal hate mail, but the upshot is, guinea pig doesn’t really taste good, and there’s very little meat on it. Monica recommends leaving it as an Andean cultural curiosity, and moving on to bigger and better rodents.
• Monica feeds her 8 year old child intestines and worms!
• Do celebrity chefs ever cook in their own restaurants? If they’re on TV, then no.
• Someone asked what the hosts would change about dining in Chicago, and they did not know what they were in for. Monica went on a diatribe about putting a ban on bad food and bad service. Then she sunk her fangs into the soft underbelly of Cafe Iberico, which she lambasted for resting on its laurels as the quality of their tapas has tanked - old bread, mislabeled “jamon iberico” sliced almost too thin to eat. Take heed, Cafe Iberico: Monica’s got your number.
• Kevin talked about rib tips for a bit (you may recall he won our contest some weeks back for best food article of the day), and Monica waxed poetic about the pork at Sun Wah Bar-B-Q. She was very expressive - we laughed out loud on numerous occasions as Monica described the intensity with which she loves pig products.
• And finally, with an utterly straight face, Monica declared that she’s looking forward to eating the cicadas when they come, which could be as soon as this weekend.
We are definitely looking forward to more of these things in the future.
Interactive chat [Tribune]