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November 2011 Archives

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Deep-fried turkey testicles. Don't forget the hot sauce. | photo by Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times]

Before you stuff your piehole with stuffing and pie and turkey, why not watch others stuff theirs?

At 7:30 tonight, Chicago police officers will compete in a burger-eating contest at 25 Degrees, 736 N. Clark. You pay $25 for the privilege of watching Chicago's finest eat; proceeds benefit officer Al Porrata, a cancer patient, and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

Less altruistic, but still entertaining, is the turkey testicle eating contest at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Timothy O'Toole's, 622 N. Fairbanks, followed by a pumpkin pie eating challenge at 11 p.m. Prizes are a whole frozen turkey (good luck defrosting that) and a $25 gift certificate, respectively. While we're talking nuts, there's always the Turkey Testicle Festival in Huntley -- no eating contest here, but proceeds are donated to local charities.

If, by Friday, you haven't tired of all things resembling the Thanksgiving meal, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon, will offer a cooking class from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on what to do with those leftovers. The class is free with museum admission ($9 adults, $7 kids).


And the three Michelin stars go to ... Alinea.

Grant Achatz's Lincoln Park restaurant was the lone recipient of the travel guide's highest honor, the tire company announced Tuesday.

Charlie Trotter's and Ria in the Elysian Hotel were awarded two Michelin stars.

L2O, which earned three stars last year along with Alinea in the inaugural Chicago Michelin guide -- just as its chef, Laurent Gras, abruptly left the restaurant -- was downgraded to one star. Seventeen other Chicago area restaurants also earned one star.

Off the list entirely were Crofton on Wells and three swanky hotel restaurants -- Avenues, NoMI and Sixteen. Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel, earned two stars last year; chef Curtis Duffy left the restaurant in September to open his own restaurant, and Avenues is now closed as it regroups. Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel and Tower also saw its chef, Frank Brunacci, leave; he now runs an Australian truffle importing business with his wife. NoMI in the Park Hyatt underwent a makeover earlier this year, reopening as the slightly more casual NoMI Kitchen. Crofton on Wells, NoMI and Sixteen all earned one star last year.

New to the guide this year are moto, the taste bud-bending West Loop restaurant from chef Homaro Cantu, and Courtright's, a 16-year-old Willow Springs restaurant. Both earned one star.

"It's an incredible honor," said Bill Courtright, who runs Courtight's with his wife, Rebecca. "We built this restaurant out there in the middle of nowhere and built it because we loved the Michelin restaurants we visited in Europe. We thought you didn't necessarily have to be in the heart of the city, and if you paid attention to detail and did things right, you could make it happen anywere."

Courtright's was one of only two suburban restaurants to make the starry cut. The other is Vie in Western Springs.

The Michelin Guide got its start in 1900 as a hotel and restaurant guide for visitors to the World's Fair in Paris.

Three Michelin stars denote restaurants with "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey." Two stars represents "excellent cuisine, worth a detour." One star: "a very good restaurant in its category."

In addition, there is a "Bib Gourmand" designation denoting good food and good value. Fifty-six area restaurants made that list.

Inclusion in the guide, whether with stars, a Bib Gourmand or simply as a listing, is viewed as an honor -- and a motivator. "We want two [stars]," Courtright said.

The guide goes on sale Nov. 16 for $18.99.

The full list after the jump.

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[courtesy Next]

If you didn't get to eat the opening menu at Next, you can at least attempt to cook it.

The 126-page digital cookbook, which details every course of the 1906 Paris menu at Grant Achatz's ever-evolving restaurant (which has since served Thai food and is now in "Childhood" mode), will be released on iTunes Tuesday. It includes exacting recipes, down to the gram and tenth of an ounce, for every morsel served in the Escoffier-inspired menu, more than 200 photographs and a video of that famous pressed duck course (see below).

"Paris: 1906" costs $4.99 and is available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Next co-owner Nick Kokonas says it already is ranked second among iBooks' best-selling cookbooks as a pre-order.

Production on the Thai menu iBook is nearly complete, and the Childhood iBook is in the works, he says.


The esteemed Michelin restaurant guide on Wednesday tapped 56 Chicago restaurants as offering the best bang for the buck.

Restaurants with the "Bib Gourmand" distinction -- which according to Michelin offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less -- include the popular Avec and Belly Shack, from chefs Koren Grieveson and Bill Kim; Smak-Tak, a Northwest Side Polish restaurant known for its generous servings of stick-to-the-ribs food, and the Andersonville gastropub Hopleaf.

Michelin inspectors have been eating their way around Chicago for the past year. The first Michelin Chicago guide was released last year.

On Nov. 15, the tire company will release its list of the crème de la crème of Chicago's dining scene -- restaurants who have earned Michelin stars.

For the full list of this year's Bib Gourmand picks, click here.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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