| May 30, 2014
| 5:22 PM
It was supposed to be a simple way to update my aging kitchen. Instead, it felt like a commentary on my messy life.
The project was straightforward: Decrepit cabinet fronts would be replaced with stylish wooden doors.
The preparation was not: I had to...
| Nov 26, 2013
Q: I have a bottle of 1993 Bourgogne Blanc by Chartron et Trebuchet. Is it drinkable? It's a bottle I inherited, so I don't know how it's been stored.
—Patty Cooper, Chicago
A: Call me the cockeyed optimist, but I always hope a wine like this...
| Dec 19, 2013
It's getting to be crunch time for holiday shopping, so you can expect massive crowds in our area malls and shop-heavy neighborhoods. Which doesn't concern me, frankly, but dining out after a day of retail madness does.
So I decided to pay a visit to...
| Jul 11, 2013
Le quatorze juillet, also known as La Fete Nationale in France and Bastille Day most other places, commemorates the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille, a fortress famed for holding political prisoners (though at the time of the storming, it housed...
| Dec 26, 2013
| 7:00 AM
New Year's Eve is just six days away. Do you have your dinner reservations yet?
If not, I've got a few extras. More than 130, actually.
As I've done for the last 13 years (and 18 of the last 20), I've made reservations, in my name, at restaurants...
| Jan 7, 2014
Q: I am planning to make Susan Spicer's goat cheese croutons with wild mushrooms and Madeira cream from her "Crescent City Cooking." I don't have any Madeira. Is Marsala an acceptable substitute?
--Andrew Maselli, Chicago
A: "Yes," says Spicer,...
| Jan 18, 2014
| 9:30 AM
The street appears frozen in time. If you stood at 24th Street and stared south down Oakley Avenue, the view probably doesn't look that different from 30 years ago. This is the heart of the Heart of Chicago neighborhood.
On this stretch of Oakley there'...
| Jan 22, 2014
| 2:30 AM
I was attending a party of some sort. Maybe a diplomatic reception. In a large well-appointed room full of people and din. Everyone was talking. In French. There were tables and chairs but all were standing -- over at the bar or picking and choosing off...
| Sep 20, 2013
| 4:00 PM
God's fingerprints are all over this place. You see it in the curl of a grape leaf, the camber of the harvest sun. Even the oak barrels are inviting. I want to cut one in half, fill it with leaves, climb in to read a long, difficult book.
This time of...
| Aug 27, 2013
Q: Could you possibly clear up the notion of Kobe beef? From what I have read it is extremely hard to find the real stuff outside of Japan and that in the U.S. it's all just a big scam.
—Patrick W. Marsden, Marina del Rey, Calif.
| Feb 12, 2014
| 11:19 AM
I don't know when "shareable" became attached to "small" in the dining realm, but waiter patter has included the phrase "small, shareable plates" — spoken without a trace of irony — for some years now.
And even though it makes no sense...