A DATE WITH DALE
Ah, the big city. Hands-down, one of the best things about living in Chicago (or New York, or LA) is the ever-looming prospect of seeing a celebrity just around the corner. Word on the street is, when Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn were together, you couldn't go out in Chicago WITHOUT running into them. I, myself, have seen THE John Cusack at BB's (be still my beating heart), and the inimitable Ricki Lake riding the escalator in the NBC building. But a recent evening out topped them all - I saw Dale Levitski, Top Chef Season 3 Finalist and hunky gay Chicagoan, in his element at Sola, working the front of the house with all the grace and finesse you'd expect of someone who has one of the most impressive resumes in Top Chef history.
Upon glimpsing his mohawk-crested visage through Sola's window, I proceeded to jump up and down like a ten-year-old at a New Kids on the Block concert, but contained myself once inside, and of course refused to actually speak to him, choosing instead to gaze across the restaurant as he expertly took down orders, hoping my ridiculously stylish knit newboy cap would catch his eye.
Well, Dale and I have yet to officially meet (and subsequently become inseparable best friends, a la Will & Grace), but I did find a few great interviews with him on Chi-centric sites. He had some pretty interesting stuff to say about the molecular gastronomy trend in gourmet cooking these days (and if you watched Marcel on Season 2, you know what I'm talking about - I mean, does the culinary world really need another FOAM?). Dale says:
"The whole molecular gastronomy fad, or trend ... most of those ingredients and techniques are coming out of how commercial products are made. A lot of the chemicals are just stablilizers, [which is] how candy stays on the shelf forever. Or how things get a certain consistency. And toying around with those with fresh food instead of packaged food ... it's pretty interesting that people haven't commented that. These are the chemicals that people are putting in their body in junk food every day. And now we're making gourmet food with junk-food chemicals."
Read the whole interview here. Or, check out his interview with Metromix.
THE JULIE/JULIA PROJECT
Many of you have probably heard of (or read) the book "Julie & Julia" by Julie Powell. Circa 2002, Powell started a blog where she attempted to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year, in her tiny New York apartment. When I found the book lurking in a lilliputian used bookstore (all the better to up the enchanting and alluring why-can't-this-be-my-life factor), I immediately bought it and devoured it whole. I must say it is supremely entertaining. 10 stars.
I had read the Amazon user reviews awhile ago (which is an activity that I highly recommend to anyone with a few hours of freetime and a laptop), and it had gotten some negative buzz - mostly centered around readers' opinions that Powell talks way too little about cooking and way too much about herself, her friends, her husband, the sex lives of the aforementioned parties, and insists on peppering her speech with colorful four-letter colloquialisms (I, myself, tend toward the pirate-lipped, so none of this really gets under my skin). I think the book is great, and Powell is an excellent writer (I see why her blog achieved relatively stratospheric fame (within the blogosphere) - her "bleaders" even went so far as to send her random gifts! (She was creeped out, but rest assured I would be most appreciative.)
I think it's fair to say that in 2002, there were substantially fewer blogs out there than there are now (I mean, I hardly know anyone who DOESN'T have a blog), which would explain why the New Yorker isn't beating down my door to interview me or give a book/TV/movie/mini-series/line of stylish ceramic-ware deal. Which makes me even more appreciative of my blans!
The actual blog is still out there in cyberspace. The thing that's sort of amazing about it is that it contains no pictures of any kind. I mean this woman succeeded in creating a successful blog with WORDS ALONE. The book is available everywhere.
Go get Julie & Julia. You'll love it.
Oh, and please visit City Bookstore. I couldn't find it online (which makes it even cooler, don't you think?), but it's on Broadway a couple blocks north of Clark and Diversey. You'll see the rolling carts of sale books on the sidewalk. Jess and I went there the day after Thanksgiving and got - are you ready for this? - SEVEN books for $19.99. It was half-off for the holiday, but still. Talk about being rich in knowledge....
Thanks for reading, guys. Seriously! I love you all....