Category Archives: Restaurants

Places I’ve eaten in, worked in, or read about.

Make ‘em laugh: Caramel sauce

Bruce Springsteen, “I’m on Fire” Give a tribe of mostly twenty-something male misfits access to sharp knives, hot oil, and fire, add a healthy dose of cruel, X-rated humor and you have a restaurant kitchen—what could possibly go wrong. In … Continue reading

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Jon: Lebanese cabbage rolls

  My son Jon was born smiling. He seldom cried; he slept through the night and loved his big sister from the start. As a rambunctious three year old, he delighted in storming in to Ed and Sophie’s house see … Continue reading

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A Christmas Caper: Pumpkin Bars

 Henry Mancini, Pink Panther Dennis gave me a key to Stratton’s back door so I could go in early to prep for Sunday brunch—I hated brunch. You would be hard-pressed to find a restaurant cook who doesn’t hate brunch: the … Continue reading

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Over the River: Gene Stratton’s mother’s cranberry relish

“Cooking up something good,” Matt Demarco Dennis, the Chef at Stratton’s, worked hard to develop and execute a top-quality “Continental” menu, using the best ingredients and CIA-grade culinary techniques, but was not particularly interested in creating new dishes, securing a … Continue reading

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You can run, but you cannot hide: Hickory-smoked black bean soup

Light My Fire, The Doors It was late and I was tired. The dining room was empty, the servers were tipping out at the bar, the floor manager had been fed, the bussers were piling dirty dishes into plastic tubs, … Continue reading

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Living the good life: Lemon Panna Cotta

The Sweetie walks along Pacific Beach, I sit above on the palisades—our old Sunday morning routine. Cliffs crowded at 10:00, I join a French-speaking couple on their concrete banquette under a spiky patch of palm-tree shade.  Below on the white … Continue reading

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Take onions, for example: Mother Hank’s Hot Sauce

Click on the post’s title to see the videos. Once again, the objective reality of this story is fuzzy. Accuracy, personal attributes, and specific details have been swapped around to suit my fancy. So if you’re looking for the absolute … Continue reading

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Seeds, Sprouts, and Steak: Red Snapper Cozumel, French Onion Soup

I took considerable license in the telling of this story. Some (but not all) names have been changed, a few facts may have been exaggerated, several important dates might be wrong, and all memories have faded, but no animals were … Continue reading

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Flow: Chicken breasts with Port

Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain. To watch the video featuring Bourdain at Les Halles, click on the post title to go to my blog’s website. I was watching a TED talk the other day about Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (had to watch … Continue reading

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Fat Tuesday, Paczki Day

  If you were with me in Houston, you may remember kolaches, those fruit and cream filled Czech pastries so popular in East Texas—here in Chicago, it’s paczki. Last Tuesday was Paczki Day—picture, if you will, a plump donut made … Continue reading

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