Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BOKA Chef's Dish a Favorite of Food Network

Giuseppe Tentori, partner/executive chef at BOKA. (Photo: BOKA)

Just watched the season two opener of Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, where celebrity chefs like Tyler Florence and Giada De Laurentiis reminisced over their favorite holiday dishes.

Art Smith of Table Fifty-Two headed over to Chicago's very own BOKA, where exec chef Giuseppe Tentori hooked him up with Bigoli Pasta, an ultra-rich dish made of duck eggs, duck ragout, fresh basil, parmesan, tomato sauce . . . and sprinkled with saffron.

It's on the menu now for $26, but after that Food Network hit, it's certain to sell out every night!

Christmas Cupcake Craze Gone Wrong?!


One of my wackiest 312DD fans, who goes by the handle of The Phantom Diner, sent me his Top 10 ListDavid Letterman style—of possibly the grossest holiday cupcake flavors EVER.

This guy knows his way around Chicago's restaurant scene, but he has a serious bone to pick when it comes to cupcakes. He HATES them, so for everyone else annoyed with the over-the-top cupcake trend of 2009, this list is for you:

10. Burnt Christmas tree topped with melted candy cane.

9. Roasted Partridge covered in truffled Pear Tree sap.

8. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey sprinkled with moldy cranberries and cracked road salt.

7. Eggnog-infused French Hen, bathed in chocolate and dusted with cinnamon.

6. Granny’s homemade gingerbread with a crust of frozen carrot, topped with a ribbon of snow and ice.

5. The "almost" white cupcake: yellow snow covered in gooey marshmallow.

4. Grilled reindeer tongue touched with a delicate wisp of the Ghost of Christmas past.

3. Cookie medley mash drizzled with spoiled milk reduction sauce.

2. Reindeer shit on a shingle.

And the number one holiday cupcake flavor . . .

1. Tender elf loins laced with crispy Santa belly-button lint!

Someone is twisted!

The 12 Beers of Xmas Returns!


You know, I was never really quite clear on when to start celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, but while you ponder that, Beer Bistro is launching an event that you can check out right now.

The West Loop bar's annual 12 Beers of Xmas runs through Dec. 31, giving you an opportunity to sip through a superb selection of seasonal suds.

The list:

Anchor Christmas
Bells Christmas Ale
Delerium Noel
Goose Island Christmas Ale
Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Harpoon Winter Warmer
LaChouffe N'ice Chouffe
Samuel Smith Winter Warmer
Shiner Cheer
Sierra Nevada Celebration
New Holland Cabin Fever
Three Floyd's Alpha Claus

Drink all 12, and you'll be rewarded with a free Beer Bistro tee shirt with logos of all the beers. Just don't do it all in one night!

Who Came Out On Top in 2009?!

New York's Mercadito opened an outpost in River North in the fall. (Photo: Mercadito)

Which new restaurant blew you away in 2009?

Was it one of the Mexican-focused spots Mercadito, Xoco or Big Star?

Or were you all about the burgers at Nightwood or DMK Burger Bar?

Maybe the exotic call of Asian-inspired fare at Sunda or delicious Greek dishes at Taxim had your mouth watering.

Whatever the case, it's time for you to decide in the third-annual 312 Dining Diva Year-End Poll.

You know what to do. Scroll to the bottom of the page and vote. You've got until noon Dec. 21.

iPhone App Hooks You Up with Local Dining Deals


Soooo, what if you could have Chicago Restaurant Week all year long?! You know, daily deals on meals, cocktail specials and the 411 on the hottest restos sent directly to your phone?

You can now get the serious hookup with the new foodie iPhone application, which gets you significant discounts on more than 35 local restaurants and bars. The app launched quietly last week, offering exclusive deals on some pretty sweet, chef-driven spots such as Bluebird, Boka, MK, Province and Spring.

Created by food journo Ari Bendersky and digital strategist Matt Marcus, foodie costs $.99 per reservation and integrates Twitter and Facebook to encourage users to post about their experiences.

How perfect was the timing to launch this thing right in the heat of the holiday dining season!