Tribune + Sun-Times: Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Etc.

The requisite articles this week on V-Day and Chinese New Year are what they are, but the sections also contain some hidden gems (a term we never again want to see in a restaurant review, BTW).

Bill Daley starts things off with an exegesis on Asian noodles in their various forms, and how to cook them. And then, a story about the 80-year-old Hong Kong Noodle Co., based in Chinatown. And then, he provides a glossary of Asian noodle species. And THEN, a piece on paring salami with barbera, an Italian red wine varietal. Bill mentions that he prefers his salami sliced super-thin but isn’t sure why it tastes better that way; we think it’s probably the higher surface-to-volume ratio. Razor-thin salumi melts on your tongue like Listerine strips, only stinkier! But seriously, Mr. Daley is earning his keep this week.

Speaking of salumi (n.b. salami is a subset of salumi), big plates of cured meat are hot right now, according to Jennifer Olvera. It is basically just a fancy version of the classic appetizer platter, but instead of everything being fried and yellow, it’s all cured and purplish. This is an improvement. And now you know what kind of wine to order with it!

Remember how Lisa Donovan was spending the month of January eating a new food item every day and reporting on it? Well, here’s her preliminary report, in which she names Peruvian corn as her favorite new thing (we also like Peruvian corn!) Props, too, to runsa (beef and cabbage-stuffed pastry) and bureks (a meat-stuffed savory pastry), and not to be left out, hot Calabrese salami. Dislikes include Sichuan pig ear, goat milk, and Swedish egg coffee. This last beverage is “a mix of coffee grounds, cold water and an egg poured into a pot of boiling water,” to which one adds eggshells and “after it has boiled a bit, let it cool down and ladle the coffee off the top.” Good for the Swedes!

We like that Denise O’Neal steps…outside the box?…in this week’s “Outta the box” section by choosing an Indonesian rice dish, nasi goreng. Although we’re more partial to nasi lemak, which is Malaysian a set plate of stewed chicken, hard-boiled egg, peanuts, sambal, and white rice. Such a thing is not conducive to coming in a box, unfortunately.

Robin Mather Jenkins has uncovered the food web application of the day:’s text message nutritional information service. It seems to be mostly chain restaurants (Dear Diet, how many calories are in my Transparency of raspberry, rose petal and yogurt? Love, Alinea Tourer), but is still kind of sweet. Eventually, all this stuff will be supplanted by full internet on our cell phones though.

As for the rest…

• Good ideas for V-Day, including Spiaggia’s $25k dinner (!) [Sun-Times]

• And a few more [Tribune]

• “Oxford Companion to Italian Food” as good as its predecessors [Tribune]

• Ditto Michael Ruhlman’s new book, “The Elements of Style” [Tribune]

• Paul Virant of Vie wins dubious Chicago’s Top Celebrity Chef award [Sun-Times]

• Horseradish burgers with sauteed mushrooms on pumpernickel! [Tribune]

[Photo: is this thin enough? (Sarah .K/flickr)]


Tribune + Sun-Times: Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Etc.