Taste of Chicago
Posted June 29, 2010
In 1980, 36 restaurants participated in the first Taste of Chicago, which was a one-day event. This popular festival has certainly grown over the years. This year’s Taste of Chicago commenced this past Friday in Grant Park and will run through the evening of July 4. Take a look the City of Chicago’s Tourism site for a brief history of the event, an interactive map, an entertainment schedule and participating restaurants.
Chicago is famous for its food, both its fine dining and ballpark fare. Grant Achatz’s restaurant Alinea, which features his creative cuisine in the tradition of molecular gastronomy, was recently ranked seventh (last year it ranked 10th) in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and was also named the Best Restaurant in North America. Want to know what it takes to create some of the world’s best food? Check out Alinea. We recommend that only the very ambitious actually try these recipes; for the rest of us, the beautiful pictures and descriptions will suffice.
But Achatz is a chef among great company in the Windy City. Another Chicago chef and restaurateur, Rick Bayless, has pushed Mexican food into the realm of haute cuisine. Bayless is the author of a number of great cookbooks. His most recent, Fiesta at Rick’s, will be available in July. And Charlie Trotter, who is surprisingly self-taught, founded Charlie Trotter’s, a staple of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, in 1987. Check out some of his cookbooks. Charlie Trotter is not only famous for his food but also for his unappetizing suggestion that fellow Chicago chef Rick Tramonto’s (of Tru) liver might make a nice treat. Intrigued? For a full account, check out The Foie Gras Wars by Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune. Tramonto has authored some excellent cookbooks as well.
If you are more inclined to eat a Chicago hot dog than pâté, we recommend Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog or Street Food Chicago. For those attempting to recreate the taste of Chicago’s Greektown at home, we suggest The Partheon. And fans of the Chicago Diner’s vegetarian and vegan fare should check out The Chicago Diner Cookbook. If you’d like to delve more into Chicago food, check out the WTTW program Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History. Or if you want to create your own Taste of Chicago, here are some additional Chicago-related cookbooks:
Chicago Cooks: 25 Years of Food History with Menus, Recipes and Tips from Les Dames D’escoffier edited by Carol Mighton Haddix
Harry Caray’s Resturant Cookbook by Jane & Michael Stern
The Chicago Tribune Good Eating Cookbook edited by Carol Mighton Haddix
Celebrate Chicago: A Taste of Our Town by Junior League of Chicago
Ethnic Chicago Cookbook edited by Carol Mighton Haddix
A Cook’s Guide to Chicago by Marilyn Pocius
The ¡Salpicion! Cookbook by Priscila Satkoff
Noteworthy: A Collection of Recipies From the Ravinia Festival edited by Joan Freehling
Kitchen Life by Art Smith
New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson
Talk With Your Mouth Full: The Hearty Boys Cookbook by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh
Gale Gand’s Bruch by Gale Gand
Posted June 24, 2010
This season, rather than overwhelm you with lots of long lists of forthcoming titles, we thought we’d just pick some of the most promising and intriguing titles to whet your appetites with. Of course, there will be new books from popular bestselling authors such as Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, Jennifer Weiner, Kathy Reichs and many more. We’re as excited about those books as everyone, but they don’t pose much of a challenge to us as forecasters.
Summer officially started this week, and since we’re well into June it’s clear what this month’s hits are. Justin Cronin’s The Passage, the first book in an exciting post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy, has surely been the most publicized novel of the season. And Aimee Bender’s novel sounded like a hit from the moment we first heard about it. Few surprises remain in June, but predicting the successes of July and August requires a crystal ball we wish we had.
Hilderbrand, Goodman and Roach have strong track records. Gonzales’ Crichton-esque novel and Fortier’s historical puzzler about the real-life Romeo and Juliet both have great advance word of mouth. Racculia’s excitingly reviewed debut sounds like a breakout hit just waiting for the buzz to find it, and Capuzzo’s title alone sounds fascinating. Lastly, we’re burning with curiosity to learn whether Mona Simpson and Jonathan Franzen will succeed again after taking a decade off from publishing fiction. For more leads, as always, check our Coming Soon pages.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Juliet by Anne Fortier
The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
My Hollywood by Mona Simpson
Posted June 22, 2010
Anthony Bourdain’s latest, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, is already climbing the New York Times bestseller list. It’s currently at No. 2. Star of the long-running television series No Reservations, Bourdain first made a splash in the book world with Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
Ten years have passed since that searing expose on the restaurant world thrilled foodies and casual readers alike. Bourdain has not wasted a moment of it. Not only has he been eating his way around the world for his show, he’s also offered up more tales and adventures in print, first in A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal and then in The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps and Bones.
The no-holds-barred chef also cooked up No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, a book that critics agree is more than a companion piece to his hit series. Library Journal notes: “He is right to insist that the book is not merely a companion to the series; through 400 stunning photographs, it does far more … The text accompanying the photos is tinged with all the characteristic Bourdain hallmarks: humor, wit, sarcasm, salty language, innate curiosity and, above all, his intrepid spirit and lust for adventure.”
And lest he be accused of not walking the walk, the bad boy chef showed us his cooking chops with Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking. Les Halles is the famed New York City restaurant where he served as executive chef for many years.
Mr. Bourdain will be at the Harold Washington Library Center on Thursday, June 24 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss and sign his latest ode to food and cooking. Please join us. It’s sure to be a lively event!
Posted June 17, 2010
You’re invited to take part in our annual Summer Reads for Adults! With this year’s art theme, consider checking out a book that will deepen your understanding of art and artists. For suggestions, take a look at the program’s bibliography of both fiction and nonfiction art-related titles. And consider attending one or more of the Summer Reads for Adults events, which include film screenings, gallery talks and other programs.
On that note, there has certainly been much fiction inspired by artists (real and fictional), the creative process, works of art and other art-related themes. The following is list of art-rageous fiction that we recommend:
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
This classic biographical novel of Michelangelo was published in 1961. Stone was known for writing biographical novels, such as one about Vincent Van Gogh; he spent years researching Michelangelo, including his correspondence, and the Renaissance movement in Italy. It is a well-researched and engaging story of an unparalleled artist and the power of creativity.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
Told chronologically, this story follows the history of a Vermeer painting through the lives of the people who are changed by it. Another penetrating novel that revolves around the Dutch painter Vermeer is Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. And Vreeland has written several fictional accounts of art and artists, including The Passion of Artemisia and Luncheon of the Boating Party.
The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd
Kidd makes his living primarily as the creator of book cover art, and he’s arguably prolific. View a sampling of his covers here or check out Chip Kidd. He is also the author of the very funny art school satire The Cheese Monkeys. Set in the 1950s, it follows a budding artist through his first year of college.
Holy Skirts by Rene Steinke
Steinke’s novel is a fictional account of the minor Dadaist poet and performance artist Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven. The German-born artist known for being uninhibited and outrageous ended up in New York as Marcel Duchamp’s model. For those interested in delving more into her unorthodox life, try the biography Baroness Elsa by Irene Gammel.
Theft by Peter Carey
Carey’s Theft is a piercingly funny book about the art world. Michael “Butcher” Boone rose above his working-class roots to become a world-famous Australian painter, but after a series of bad turns he finds his fortunes diminished. There is also the problem of his brother, Hugh, and the mysterious Marlene, who draws the two into an art theft scheme.
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
Many artists have been inspired by muses. Cowell’s recently published Claude and Camille is a fictional account of their love affair and marriage. It offers an escape into the world of the struggling Impressionists and the romance of Monet’s life. If the book inspires you to see some of the work Monet created, check out Monet or head over to the Art Institute to see some of his work in person.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Chabon’s adventurous novel about Sammy and Josef, two cousins writing comic books during the 1930s, incorporates history, the creative process and the art of escape. For an engaging look at the cultural history of comics and the paranoia surrounding them in the 1950s, take a look at The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu.
Reading at the Beach All Summer Long
Posted June 15, 2010
The phrase “beach read” likely makes you think of romances, thrillers or breezy novels, and certainly those types of books are fantastic to pack in your bag for a day in the sun. But we know that some of you prefer an irreverent memoir or a collection of short stories to bring along on a day trip to the lakefront or on your summer vacation. So we’ve perused some of the recent summer books and beach reads recommended by critics and noticed a few excellent titles we never expected to see on a summer reading list. Take a look!
Janet Maslin from the New York Times recently recommended a number of beach-chair-worthy reads, including Arm Candy by Jill Kragman for fans of chick lit and The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer for espionage lovers. Publishers Weekly noted that Steinhauer’s “adept characterization of a morally conflicted spy makes this an emotionally powerful read.”
Teresa Budasi at the Chicago Sun-Times decided to focus on Chicago fiction writers for this summer: those inclined to tote a book of stories to the beach should check out The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff and Other Stories by Joseph Epstein, about which Budasi notes, “Chicago references abound in these stories — so much so that you might recognize the forty-something checkout clerk at the Dominick’s on Broadway, or the fifty-something best friends having lunch at Hamburger Mary’s in Andersonville.” Or, if you like a fast-paced thriller, try Die Twice by Andrew Grant. “Rogue agents, biological weapons and plenty of shoot-’em-up action keep the pages turning,” writes Budasi.
NPR has a number of summer reading lists for fiction. Bookslut’s Michael Schaub recommends Parrot and Oliver in America by Peter Carey for historical fiction, which he notes “is the book version of both a buddy comedy and a road trip movie.” One recommended by Alan Cheuse that we look forward to reading is Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. And a few booksellers chose Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist as a great summer read. It’s “a family drama with stinging turns of dark comedy,” notes Publishers Weekly.
Entertainment Weekly featured some appealing summer reading, including the debut Girl in Translation, a “fresh and new” immigration story by Jean Kwok, and Sebastian Junger’s newest, War, a combat narrative about the war in Afghanistan. Also recommended by EW and others is the much-buzzed The Passage by Justin Cronin, which is likened to Stephen King’s The Stand.
Jonathan Messinger over at Time Out Chicago has a great list of titles. He notes The Long Song is a great summer read: “Every summer, among the blockbuster movies, there’s a more nuanced, quieter Oscar contender slipped in. The Long Song is that for books.” Lovers or even haters of Christopher Hitchens might try his new memoir Hitch-22. And finally a book noted by Messinger, along with nearly every other critic, is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender about a girl who can taste emotions in the food she eats.
Nothing but Respect
Posted June 9, 2010
Between Hawks fever and speculation on the future of the Bulls, Chicago teams are dominating the sports headlines these days. Just this week it was announced that Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau will be the next head coach of the Bulls. That’s certainly good news for us. After all, the Celtics are currently going head-to-head with the Lakers for their second ring in three years. Even better news is all the talk of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James possibly joining the Bulls next season. Chicago fans are certainly enthused about the prospect. Some have gone so far as to launch a campaign. It includes the site sendlebrontochicago.com and a huge billboard at Grand and LaSalle that reads: “Chicago Wants LeBron Unfinished Business…” The local media has also made its case.
Are you pulling for LeBron to join us? You can brush up on Mr. James by checking out the recent documentary More Than A Game, which chronicles the inspiring story of LeBron’s high school team, a team that turned out not one, but five NBA superstars. And you can read more about James by picking up Shooting Stars. Co-written with Buzz Bissinger (of Friday Night Lights fame), the book delves into the same period in James’s budding career.
Not too long ago LeBron had the following kind words to say about our fair city: “They like their basketball here and the way I play… Going back to 1984 when Jordan was doing what he was doing, they’ve seen greatness. For them to respect the way I play the game, I respect that.” Hmm, sounds promising.
If you find you’re among those caught up in the basketball frenzy as the playoffs are heating up, check out the titles below:
The Art of a Beautiful Game: A Thinking fan’s tour of the NBA by Chris Ballard
The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by Bill Simmons
The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
More Than A Game by Phil Jackson and Charley Rosen
When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson with Jackie MacMullan
Go Chicago Blackhawks!
Posted June 8, 2010
The Blackhawks continue to electrify the city of Chicago with their sensational success on the ice. The local television ratings have been sizzling, so we know many of you have been watching along with us. As we gear up for game five of the Stanley Cup finals tomorrow night, we’d like to point out some books from our collections about the team and their sport. Go Blackhawks!
One Goal: Chicago’s Resurgent Blackhawks / forewords by Bobby Hull and Pat Foley
Tales from the Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks / Brian McFarlane
Hockey Chicago Style: the History of the Chicago Blackhawks / by Paul Greenland
The official Rules of Ice Hockey
The Physics of Hockey / Alain Hache
Hockey Plays and Strategies
The ultimate Prize: the Stanley Cup / Dan Diamond, James Duplacey, Eric Zweig
Stanley Cup Fever: More than a Century of Hockey Greatness / Brian McFarlane
The Girl Who Wasn’t Afraid of Subtitles
Posted June 3, 2010The final installment of the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson’s Girl trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, was released last week. The frenzy for this book was so fierce that many devoted American readers went online and bought the book as an import from Britain rather than wait for the U.S. release.
Meanwhile, the original movie adaptation (Hollywood is of course working on a remake) has been distributed in the United States by Chicago’s own Music Box Films, an offshoot of the popular northside theater that’s shown a remarkable knack for importing films made in other countries and languages. Their success has been especially notable at a time when other distributors of arthouse films have been dropping like flies. The DVD for Dragon Tattoo will be out in early July, around the same time that the movie adaptation of The Girl Who Played with Fire (book two of the trilogy) hits theaters, with Hornet’s Nest to follow later this year.
While you’re waiting for those films, why not check out some of the other DVDs Music Box has released? Following is a list of titles already out and in the collection.
Sounds of Summer
Posted June 1, 2010
The hot weather we were treated to this past weekend had us digging through our CD collection to find some classic summer tunes. It also got us wondering what we could add to our rotation for the coming months. We came across this list, The 50 Best Summer Albums compiled by eMusic.com after polling their community. Of course, what constitutes a “great summer album” is fairly subjective. Still, it was fun to look through and see what folks picked.
Interestingly enough there are some bands that made it on the list more than once. It seems there’s a consensus of sorts that The Pixies, The New Pornographers, Belle and Sebastian, Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Arcade Fire and Creedence Clearwater Revival scream summertime.
Below is a sampling of the top 50 titles, by rank, that you can find at the Chicago Public Library.
#1 Doolittle / Pixies
#4 Green River / Creedence Clearwater Revival
#7 Slanted and Enchanted / Pavement
#11 Electric Version / The New Pornographers
#16 If You’re Feeling Sinister / Belle and Sebastian
#18 Gimme Fiction / Spoon
#28 Boys and Girls in America / The Hold Steady
#29 Armchair Apocrypha / Andrew Bird
#35 The Greatest / Cat Power