Monday, November 23, 2009

Pass the Turkey to the Left Hand Side . . .


Five talented chefs. Five amazing Thanksgiving feasts—for those who love to get down when someone else is cooking.

If you're not getting a good ol' fashioned home-cooked meal this year, don't worry. 312DD's got you covered:

aja chef Josh Linton's hooking up a sumptuous, multi-course menu of all-Asian fare that's meant to share. Instead of traditional turkey, get ready for Chinese roast duck and "red cooked" smoked duroc pork with ginger and garlic. Wild mushroom fried rice with black truffle replaces the usual stuffing, and they've swapped the pumpkin pie for a chocolate hot pot of autumn cakes and cookies. Reservations recommended; 11am-9pm. $55 per person.

Philip Foss of Lockwood should make you smile for the unlimited champagne alone. An all-American buffet includes a carving station of maple honey molasses roasted turkey breast and mustard-glazed and clove-studded country ham; butternut squash ravioli; housemade biscuits; pan-roasted Alaskan halibut; and sweet potato marshmallow gratin. The regular menu will also be offered. 11am-5pm buffet; regular menu 5pm-close. Adults, $55; seniors (older than 65), $45; children (under 12), $25. Reservations required.

Expect a Southern-inspired menu over at Andersonville eatery Big Jones, whose kitchen is overseen by owner/chef Paul Fehribach. He's cooking up a five-course meal with Turducken (turkey stuffed with a boneless chicken that's stuffed with a boneless duck), wild striped bass, New Orleans-style crab cakes, fried green tomatoes and Red Velvet cake. Reservations highly recommended. 11am-8pm. $45.

Mercat a la Planxa's on a serious high this week fresh from its Next Iron Chef win for Jose Garces. Seats are filling up fast for the Spanish-focused, four-course feast created by chef de cuisine Michael Fiorello. Highlights include Serrano ham and fig salad; smoke-roasted turkey with sherry pan gravy and cranberry-orange compote; and chocolate croquettes with banana marshmallows, rosemary caramel and Arbequina olive oil. 11am-7pm. $65 per person. Reservations required.

Caterer/chef Jorgina Pereira spices up traditional Thanksgiving fare with Brazilian flair at Sinhà's. It's buffet style, and you can work all that stuffing and pie off on the dance floor to Latin, Samba and salsa before and after you eat. Three seats: 2, 3:30 and 5:30pm. Reservations required. $30 and BYOB!

Patrick Swayze Tribute at The Tasting Room


Not sure if Patrick Swayze was a big wine fan, but someone over at The Tasting Room is certainly a fan of his because they've dedicated a series of flights to the late legendary screen star's most memorable movies.

Embrace your eccentric side with the To Wong Foo white wine flight (2000 Dom Perignon, Epernay Champagne, Ruinart "Rose" Reims, Champagne and Serveau Fils ‘Blanc de Blancs,’) for $26, head for Spanish reds with Red Dawn (2005 Comenge Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero, Spain; 2005 Lanzaga Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain; and 2007 Pazo de Arribi Mencia, Bierzo, Spain) for $19; or indulge in a number of additional red wine flights Next of Kin ($25), Road House ($30), Point Break ($22), The Outsiders ($16) and the Donnie Darko ($14).

These picks sound like they have legs to me!

Say Hello to the Next Iron Chef!

"Next Iron Chef" winner Jose Garces. (Photo: Mercat a la Planxa)

Chicago-born-and-raised Jose Garces achieved "culinary immortality" Sunday as he was named the second-ever Next Iron Chef!

The executive chef/owner of Mercat a la Planxa pulled a victory over New York pastry chef Jehangir Mehta.

Their final challenge was to work with the secret ingredient of "ribs and racks" to produce a five-course feast exemplifying the ethnic melting pot of American cuisine. They worked with the likes of Baby Back short ribs, beef spare ribs, buffalo ribs and pork ribs, but Garces's approach of connecting Chicago's rich ethnic heritage to his dishes won over the judges. Garces told 312DD exclusively he was inspired by The Berghoff for a German-focused dish as well as Mexican neighborhoods on the Northwest Side and in Pilsen.

Highlights of his menu included a pizza topped with slow-cooked beef short ribs and balsamic bacon marmalade; slow-braised pork spareribs cooked "carnita" style; and a tribute to the South Side's soul food restaurants with baby back ribs drizzled with a spicy barbecue sauce, and served over mustard greens and bacon-infused grits.

Said an elated Garces upon winning: "It's amazing to be known, to be, the Iron Chef. ... This means everything. It puts me on a different level than most other chefs to be an Iron Chef. They're idols. They're gods. People really look up to the Iron Chefs and I'm really looking forward to taking my place alongside the others."

Here's GrubStreet's brief recap of the show and interview with Next Iron Chef Garces at what turned out to be a victory viewing party at his Philly-based restaurant Distrito.

Congrats, Jose!