Lost and lucky in the city

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fancy Fast Food at DMK Burger Bar

Mary's Hamburgers, Andersonville, has held supreme as my go-to when nothing will work but a really juicy burger and a beer. Venturing out of the neighborhood, the boyfriend and I tried DMK Burger Bar. 

Entered the dimly lit restaurant and bar, roomy enough to walk with well-made wood furniture complimenting the neat, modern attitude, a calm hum and immediate service showed us to our table.
 The server repeatedly checked-in, explained the menu (a concept all it's own), while we made important decisions regarding beer and burgers.
The boyfriend ordered the #3 NY Pastrami style burger including sauerkraut, gruyere and remoulade sauce.  Me the #5 Bison burger (hell ya, bison!) with blueberry BBQ sauce, goat cheese and pickled red onions.  Split large sweet potato fries with spicy aioli.

Patties were far too thin for any real variation in temperature besides medium too medium well.
The stand out, not in a good way, was the dressing smeared on each burger equivalent to a careless McDonald's style smear that covers an awkward half section of the patty. Buns were thin, fresh and did the job. 

#3 was good, not memorable, good.  Time-tested flavors were balanced as expected.  All parts were well-made with decent flavor.  No surprises.

#5 was a let down (why bison why?).  Excellent concept, poor execution. Parts with goat cheese were overwhelmed and parts without it needed it. Cooks forgot to add the blueberry to the BBQ blueberry sauce apparently. Pickled red onion was scarce.

Best bites, crispy sweet potato fries.  Aioli had a kick, and large portion was truly large.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Book Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma

After finishing my first Michael Pollan book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I have developed somewhat of an obsession as his two other books, Cooked and In Defense of Food, have just arrived in the mail.  Through much self-control I am determined to read them in order, Cooked, will have to wait.

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma Pollan’s ability to bring in and seamlessly synthesize such a wide range of professional opinions and observations across all topics of the book, all while remaining within the narrative of his ambitious discovery of the American food system.  Pollan’s willingness to sample fare from all sources, without bias, supports his journalistic research into the sources of the American food system by introducing the element of personal experience.

Brief sections in the book covering the more scientific matters behind cow health and corn and grass production can be a slow read for some, yet they lend a credibility to the problems presented and to why the system is in need of an overhaul.  Pollan exemplifies the importance of grass by bringing in Joel Salatin, a farmer who raises all his animals on pasture in the most natural and ethical way possible.  After the release of this book I imagine Salatin’s farm was flooded with avid readers curious to visit the farm in person and understand Pollan’s writings from a first person perspective. 

Salatin is able to build a sustainable circle on his farm, through animal by-products and such, that is both unheard of and unsupportable at the massive industrial level with which mainstream American animal products are produced.  Salatan’s genius in farming technique goes beyond the pasture, as Pollan, speaking through Salatin, is able to tie in the political arguments associated and in support of living off the grid.  The advantages being political, economical, environmental and ethical.

Following an in-depth look at both the industrial and community based food systems fighting for a place in the American stomach, Pollan attempts to construct a meal entirely from food he independently gathered, grew, foraged or hunted.  Under the guidance of knowledgeable, food enthusiasts Pollan experiences each of these forms of acquirement before completing his experience, and novel, with a final meal cooked by him for friends and family.  Pollan’s ability to quietly excerpt his opinion through fact and personal experience, while allowing the reader to form an independent opinion, is the magic behind Pollan’s brilliantly laced together chain outlining a very broken American food system. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inspiration on wheels

As I am a sucker for an innovative non-profit, last week I went to Chicago's South side to buy a bike specifically from Working Bikes. And not just the bike, I bought the bad-ass matching helmet and super-bright night lights to match.  I am determined to commute every where by bike at all hours; best to be prepared. 

Why Working Bikes? This non-profit takes used, worn down bikes, repairs them and then either resales them or donates them to people in countries based in South America or Africa (there's a list on the non-profit's website). Beyond the fact that this program offers a mode of transportation to people who seriously need it, this new found transportation allows people to help themselves which is infinitely powerful.

There are so many amazing non-profits out there trying to feed and clothe and whatnot.  However, once the food is gone the stomach will be empty again.  By educating people, giving them access to micro-loans and forms of transportation the giver is essentially giving the tools for one to flourish long-term. 

Working Bikes takes it a step further.  Not only is this non-profit doing good abroad, but here in Chicago they're selling used bikes at an extremely affordable price, as well as offering volunteer opportunities where people can learn to fix bikes while gaining a little work experience.

Cheers to Working Bikes for being innovative both at home and abroad. Check them out at http://www.workingbikes.org/.

Building a following via Twitter

Somewhere along the line I realized that being a social media consultant probably looks a lot more respectable if I put a little time into my own social media pages.  How can I endorse my talents when I haven't even built a personal following?

Now I am backtracking.  My passion for nutrition and food snobbery tumbles down my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline like an unrolled chain of xmas lights. But my professional background in social media - nowhere in sight. So today I put up an extra layer of lights to endorse my growing body of freelance work as a social media consultant.  My blog being a broken bulb will probably need the most work.  At least I kept the Twitter and Facebook up-to-date.

Lessons on Twitter surmised in under 8 hours (Mainly for the novice):

1. Follow influential people in your field and you will seem more influential in that field
2. Read the articles your retweeting aka post content that is engaging
3. Engage in the community versus tweeting your thoughts and feelings to the world
4. Don't be afraid to talk to strangers

Lesson I have yet to learn: Can one Twitter feed share two passions? Can I post a recipe one minute and a how-to guide on using LinkedIn as a marketing platform the next? Will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

First Impressions

It is officially my third day in Chicago.  I know New York, I know San Francisco, but Chicago is different.  First impression, everything is so spread out.  Accomplishing any small errand requires a bus ride, a train ride or very comfy walking shoes at best.  On the bright side, getting to whatever far flung destination does involve passing various ethnic stores and restaurants that represent every continent, all within the same neighborhood.

The diversity of my tight-knit neighborhood, as well as that of the other neighborhoods I've explored, surprised me.  In New York you can find anything, but sometimes you have to go out of your way for it - sometimes you even have to go all the way to Queens. Not that I don't love going Greek in Astoria - but still.  In Andersonville, a neighborhood originally founded by Swedes, I just picked up some much loved Persian tea before checking out the Swedish grocery next store.  Just down the street you can find a soul food restaurant, an Irish pub, a Lebanese bakery and at least three different kinds of Asian food.

So maybe getting from neighborhood to neighborhood is a bit of a marathon, but with each neighborhood having such an interesting array of places to check out - I see why Chicago is the city of neighborhoods.