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Gastronomic Fight Club SM

Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

FOOD NEWS: June 28, 2008 - National News

posted by snekse
It's been an insanely long time since I've written a news update, so a lot of this is old news, but if you haven't heard it yet, it's still news to you. We're keeping this one limited to national news. We might post more local news this week if we get time.

Let's start with pork, shall we?

If you've noticed the price for prosciutto has jumped up over the past couple of weeks, don't blame it solely on the price of gas. The Italian Farmers' Association went on strike June 1. I haven't been able to find any news about a possible end to the strike, so start looking for domestic sources. (Maybe we'll blog about our secret domestic source shortly)

Or do what Sen. Barack Obama did and look to Spain. He thinks pata negra Jamón ibérico is "delicious".

Is Mangalitsa the new Berkshire? Read more at woolypigs.com. If you've had this, please share by commenting below!

Bacon Salt. Nuff said.

Wine news

Unfortunately we have to start with a bit of sad news. Legendary winemaker and benefactor Robert Mondavi died in May. He was 94 years old. I encourage everyone to read the article to learn about the extraordinary legacy he left behind.

Some unusual "art" in the form of 7 deadly wine glasses.

From the maker's of Wine Library TV...Gary Vaynerchuk's 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World

Now for some science...

If you've ever disagreed with the reviews here on GFC, especially our Wine Reviews, Alder at Vinography, along with our good buddy Harold McGee might have some insight into the reason why.

Double dip and die. Well maybe not die, but at least put yourself in possible harms way from shared saliva. Don't believe me? I have the numbers to back it up.

Ted Allen has a new show on Food Network. It looks like Myth Busters for food - and honestly, I think a lot of the examples given in his promo video already *have* been answered. Odd choice in host I think. Anyone have a really tough question you think should be asked?

Speed Links for the producers to steal show ideas from:
* The science behind diet coke and mentos
* The Myth About Marinades: A Flavor Bath, In a Flash
* To Cook an Octopus: Forget the Cork, Add Science
* Be patient when sautéeing -- and don't shake the pan

In other food television news...

Kick ass. I've been waiting for one particular episode of A Cook's Tour to air forever and a day. "The French Laundry Experience" episode will be on this week! If you're impatient, you can watch The French Laundry section here.

Food blogging celebrity Pim was a guest judge on Iron Chef America. How cool is that!?

She was also on one of my favorite shows, Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie. Missed that episode? You can watch full episodes on their website.

And one of my other favorite shows, After Hours with Daniel Boulud, is now available online as well.

Burger King gets a whole section

Got $200 burning a hole in your pocket? Why not head to Burger King for "The Burger". A gourmet burger consisting of "wagyu beef, white truffle, pata negra ham slices, cristal onion straws, modena balsamic vinegar, lambs lettuce, seasoned with pink Himalayan rock salt, and garnished with an organic white wine and shallot-infused mayonnaise on an Iranian saffron and white truffle-dusted bun." Proceeds will go to the Help A London Child charity.

Seems a bit at odds with a recent marketing campaign:
* Veg City Red-light district and Veg City sniper
* An onion getting a cavity search

Speaking of fast food marketing...
Fast Food: Ads vs. Reality

Food photography articles

So you bought your dad a Rebel Xsi for father's day. Now send him this link so he can start taking great food photography and maybe bring some truth in advertising to those fast food ads.

Don't forget to check out this article by ulterior epicure done for Popular Photography

And one more to make sure we covered it all. Once you have it down, share some links with us of your work.

Odds and Ends food news

Black watermelon sold for a record $6,100

Deep Fried White Castle Sliders

Who knew cupcakes were so cool? Cupcakes!

Coffee maker is network security risk

Taste Test: 7 Healthy Ice Creams and Frozen Desserts

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

FOOD NEWS: March 13, 2008

posted by snekse
We hope to get back to doing more restaurant reviews shortly, but until then, we'll keep the news coming. In the not-quite-news department, we'll be moving to our new design in a couple of weeks, so get your monitors ready! And now for the news...

I didn't get a chance to watch Top Chef last night, so shhhhhh.....la la la...don't tell me what happened.

If you want to get a glimpse of what has already happened and what's going to happen, I have some teasers for you.
Off camera, Top Chef villain from season one, Stephen Asprinio, finally opened his restaurant, Forte, in trendy Palm Beach.

Anyone pre-order the Top Chef Cookbook?

Speaking of Chicago, Schwa is now re-open with an awesome article from the Chicago Tribune that discusses their abrupt closing and their eventual rebirth. This makes me extremely happy since it was on my short list of places to hit the next time I'm in Chicago.

I love the internet.

Cheeseburger in a Can

How To Make Sushi Rice

And just this morning I found this little gem...

Cornell Wine Cellar Optimizer:
What Wine To Buy And When To Drink It.

Executive Summary: This report takes what we believe to be the first scientific approach to optimizing a personal wine cellar. We identify the key factors related to optimizing a personal cellar: performance metrics, such as drinking the best possible wine; constraints, such as budget and cellar capacity; and decisions, specifically what to buy and when to consume the purchased wines. We describe the Personal Wine Cellar Optimizer, which is a tool designed to identify the optimum cellar management plan. Using scenarios differing in cellar capacity, cellar life, and wine budget, we examine how the constraints affect the optimal cellar management plan. Using an example of a real cellar, we also illustrate how the recommendations can be used to improve the cellar management. This report is cosponsored by The Vance A. Christian Beverage Management Center, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
Registration (free) is required to get the document, but it's interesting enough that I think it's worth it - granted I was already registered.

And of course all that optimization assumes you can actually buy the wine you want without getting caught in red and yellow tape weaved the archaic distribution laws.
Help stop the madness.

In other booze news...

Empyrean Ales is expanding outside of Nebraska

And The Nebraska Brewing Co. gives us a peak at their brewing process.
Brewing with NBC

Brent Udron covers Omaha's craft brew scene in this week's OCW.

All this beer talk makes me ask: Where's Omaha's curry pub?
Like Kennedy's Irish Pub & Curry House: San Francisco

In local restaurant news...

The Famous Dave’s Restaurants in Omaha got the smack down from the U.S. Department of Labor. The area restaurants were ordered to pay $92,516 in back wages for violations of the FLSA which states workers are to be paid overtime in the amount of 1 1/2 times their regular wages for time worked over 40 hours. Naughty, naughty Famous Dave's. I wonder what the corporate office had to say about the situation.

The last remaining Ted’s Montana Grill was rebranded Ted’s Nebraska Grill. Ted Turner even came to town for the reopening event. I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on why this franchise struggled so much in this market.

Harry & David is opening it's first Omaha location at Village Pointe Shopping Center. It only took them 145 stores to do so. For those not familiar with Harry & David, they sell gourmet fruit (and what exactly is that?), jams, candy, etc... Personally I've never understood what the big fuss was about.

The rumors have been confirmed. Blue Sushi will be opening a location in the Old Market. They will be taking over the Jobber's Canyon location. The owners plan on making a substantial investment in the renovation and hope to be open in June.

Too much good stuff in the Feb 29th OWH dining notes for me to rehash.

Lincoln Landmark To Close. PO Pears To Sell Off Memorabilia

The Omaha Restaurant Association gave out some awards. Restaurateur of the year: Katie O'Connor, owner of O'Connor's Irish Pub. Purveyor of the year: ConAgra Foods. Nicole Jessie, of La Casa Pizzaria, is now the association's president.

When Paul Urban said he was going to revamp the Lucky's 1001 menu, he wasn't kidding. Not only has he reprised his award winning Mac & Cheese recipe, but he's also added liver and onions to the menu. And by liver and onions, I mean seared foie gras, house brioche, glazed cipollini onions and a shallot-lemon micro green salad. Yum. Then April 14th to the 16th they're featuring "three days, 34 courses."
  • Monday: A 14 course over-the-top dinner with wine pairings. Think hyper-modern, molecular gastronomy type dishes.
  • Tuesday: A 14 course 110% local product dinner. The kitchen will be visiting local farms to not only hand select their product, but they will also be doing the butchering.
  • Wednesday: A 6 course kids tasting menu (no wine pairing :). Not sure what this will include, but probably something along the lines of fried PB&J or a Cherry Coke Amuse.
And last, but certainly least, the "Best" of Omaha "winners" were announced. What a joke. I'll comment more on this in the future.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

FOOD NEWS: January 25, 2008

posted by snekse
It's been awhile, so I have lots of news to catch up on. Some is old by now, but I swear it was breaking news when I added it to my TODO list :-)

The rumor is, Season 4 of Top Chef is set to premiere on March 19th 12th, 2008. This upcoming season of Top Chef will take place in Chicago.

To coincide with the airing, Bravo is also publishing a Top Chef Cookbook. It sounds like the book will mostly be republishing the recipes that already appear on the Bravo website, just made juicier with tidbits of what else went on behind the scenes.

If you're looking for some other foodie stuff to watch on TV, Gourmet's "Diary of a Foodie" is back with a new season. And then of course there's "Chowder" ["Pepper spray? That sounds delicious!" ].

Chef Grant Achatz, of Alinea in Chicago announced that his Stage 4 oral cancer is now in remission. We also learned he will be releasing an Alinea book this fall along with a companion site, Alinea-Mosaic.

Is the Food Network starting to listen to the hard core foodies of the world? Or fallen off their rocker? Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" is back on Food Network and Emeril Live ends it's 11 year run. If I was Rachel Ray, I'd be a bit nervous, except for the fact that she just signed a new deal for YARRS. No matter - now I'll finally get to see "The French Laundry Experience" episode of "A Cook's Tour" where Thomas Keller server Anthony coffee and "cigarettes" for dessert.

Random cool/interesting/odd stuff

Bacon cookies

Pizza Romana. Best frozen pizza ever?

Google's unofficial food critic. Double cool.


Omaha Chef Shuffle
Paul Urban, formerly of Darwin Bistro, will be staying in Omaha a little longer. He's been named the new of executive chef at Lucky's 1001. He'll be on Judy a la carte this weekend discussing the new position and who knows what else. He'll be starting February 4th and will try to squeeze in a stage at Bluestem before then.

Alfred "Fredy" Hiltbrunner, formerly of Café de Paris, did a OWH Chef's Chat and discusses his move to Confluence Bookstore & Bistro.

Michael Rhoades, who left Holiday Inn in November and is now executive sous chef at the Omaha Country Club. He will eventually take over for Omaha legend, Lionel Havé, who plans to eventually retire.

I'm not sure if Paul Kulik is still at La Buvette, but I have been told construction at The Boiler Room is moving full ahead and it should hopefully be open in late March.

Nebraska Brewing Company has started distributing their beers through other venues. Unfortunately that list is not yet on their website, so you'll have to subscribe to their mailing list if you want to find out who else has it. Or you can just visit them in Papillion.

Another craft brewer is also starting to get some attention. Modern Monks has landed their Belgian-style "Brothers' Cup" in 3 Lincoln spots and hopes to be in Omaha soon.

Upstream is looking to market beer outside of Omaha under a new label. Spirits should be out by the end of the year under the name Sólas, which means "happiness" or "joy" in Scottish Gaelic. Sounds like the new beers may be ready this fall as well.

Culinary competition is heating up here in Omaha.

First, the Council Bluffs chapter of the International Wine & Food Society has come up with a fantastic idea by pitting the culinary programs at Metro CC and Iowa Western CC against each other in a unique throw down. Each team will have to create and prepare a menu to be paired with four wines and a pear-infused cognac that have been selected by the IWFS members. Metro will cook for the member in late January and Iowa Western will get their shot in lat February. The teams will be judged on their food-and-wine pairings, creativity, presentation and of course, flavor.

Then, the 3rd Annual ICA High School Culinary Invitational is being held Feb 29, 2008 – Mar 1, 2008 at Metro. Culinary teams from schools within a 100 mile radius will compete in a Culinary Skills Competition and Hospitality Knowledge Bowl. Last year The Doughboys from Papillion LaVista dominated the event. Let's see if the school can bust out a repeat.

A lot of Omaha foodies in the national press lately too.

Former Omaha native, Lindsay Weiss, won the $100,000 Southern Living's 2007 reader cook-off with her roasted banana ice cream with warm peanut butter sauce.

Omaha resident, Melissa Hinrichs, won $5,000 in the Cooking Light reader's recipe contest with her side dish recipe - "oatmeal knots".

Omaha’s own, and the world’s one-and only, The Amazing Pizza Machine has been named the "Top Family Entertainment Center of the World" by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Now time for some self-promotion.

Foodies of Omaha will be meeting at Sage Bistro for a Prime Rib Brunch if you want to join us.

GFC got a brief mention from the Baltimore Sun for our Fun with Frushi post. Unfortunately, almost everyone in our family has been ill at some point in the month of January, so I haven't been able to get to the follow-up post I wanted to do. Maybe later this spring.

A few eagle eyed readers might have noticed that GFC was invited to be part of a critic's panel for the inaugural issue of Food & Spirits Magazine. The panel was comprised of people with a wide range of people, both foodies and non-foodies, to get a balanced opinion of the place we reviewed - Espana Tapas Bar in Benson. The second issue should be hitting the streets about now. This latest issue features a panel review of 7 Monkeys. If you're not patient enough to find a hard copy, you can always read the electronic version[pdf file].

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

FOOD NEWS: December 1st, 2007

posted by snekse
If you don't read all of the news items, make sure you at least read the last one.

It looks like the hippees were right; organic food really is better for you. As explained by Harold McGee, rats preferred organic over conventional food which contain more micronutrients like antioxidants and phytonutrients that fight cancer, slow aging, and maintain cardiac health.

The latest wine library TV
Congratulations to two of my favorite wine sites who both received some great coverage on CNN. Loud mouth Gary Vaynerchuk and his Wine Library TV were the stars of the article, not they he need the press. Vay-ner-chuk has also made appearances on Conan, Nightline and Ellen. Either way, congrats Gary.

The other site mentioned in the article is one I've linked to quite often. If you have more than 2 dozen bottles of wine in your house at this very moment, you owe it to yourself to checkout CellarTracker.com. An online tracking system to keep tabs on your collection, notes of what you drank in the past, drinking windows for aging wine and a strong community of avid wine drinkers looking to help each other. Congrats Eric!

In other national mentions, two Mexican restaurants in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, got special mention in the September issue of Gourmet magazine. Though the article notes that good Mexican food can be found through-out the Nebraska pan-handle, they single out Taco Town and Rosita's as being a notch above the rest.

For those considering a career in the food industry, Creighton University and Metropolitan Community College have teamed up to offer a joint restaurant management certificate. Those who complete the courses at both schools will receive a specialized certificate from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Granted with the Omaha restaurant market what it is these days, you may want to reconsider that decision.

Jobber's Canyon closed to the public and is only open for private parties. Not such a bad fate considering Back to Guangzhao, Darwin Bistro, Scarlet and Cream Letter Club, Aunt Emma's, Tin Star, Planet Sub, China One, all four Caribou Coffee shops and TasTe's 132nd & Dodge location have all completely closed.

Then you also have the constant chef shuffle. Matt Kellie left The Tasting Room to go work at Ameritrade!? Michael Rhoades is no longer at CoCo Key Resort with no immediate plans for his next gig. And Kim McQuillen left Lucky's Ten-O-One right before the Comfort Food Classic Ultimate Mac-n-Cheese competition. Talk about a bumpy industry.

There have been some good articles in the local rags over the past few months. I thought I'd point some of them out in case you missed them.

Nichole Aksamit got an invite to the not so secret "underground" dining club. A good article and a fun read, but I was really disappointed with the club itself. The point of underground dining clubs is to push the boundaries of what you can find in local restaurants. Aside from the absinthe and location, the meal seemed tamed. Where is the offal, the illegal young raw-milk cheeses, the desserts made with a challenging savory ingredients like soy sauce or just an unusual preparation like fried butterscotch pudding? And what's the point of going "underground" if everything is prepared with a catering license? Why not just call it what it is - an invitation only dinner party?

I was also excited by the CityWeekly's article about signiture dishes in Omaha. That was until I got past the first paragraph. It just seems like they missed so much and included less than worthy items. Granted maybe they've never had the Famous Pork Tenderloin sandwich at Barrett's Barleycorn, but I'm just saying... If you agree with me, let me know. Leave a comment below. If we get enough interest, maybe we'll start up a supplemental list.

Of course every place has to be know for something. Get a glimpse into that through an interesting interview with Tony Gentile, the corporate executive chef of Roja, Bianco and Blue. It changes my perspective on Roja a little bit, but just a little.

For the beer lovers out there, Brent Udron once again provides us with outstanding tips. This time he helps us select the holiday brews that are worth their weight in hops.

Finally we have a great article by Jeff Beals that discusses the national and regional chain restaurants that have flooded Omaha in the past several years.

Looks like I was kind of right about the Omaha Dining Club. This is from their newsletter they emailed out.
Don't forget to tell your friends and business associates about ODC before the end of the year. Everyone who joins the site between now and December 31st will be grand fathered in as a Lifetime Filet Mignon member. Anyone who registers after December 31st will be required to pay a $9.95 monthly membership fee.
That's just lame.

Where's the beef?

Find out December 10th as we reveal our 2 fabulous items that will be raffled off for the 4th Annual Menu for Hope charity event.

And no, it's not going to be some crappy wet aged Omaha Steaks® package you can buy at the mall. I promise this will be a little more interesting.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

NOTW: Monday, October 8th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week Month: Monday, October 8th 2007

Kids are a lot of work. Our new addition combined with my normally hectic fall schedule has wreaked havoc on my posting frequency here. I wish I could say that was going to be changing soon, but at the moment, I'm not seeing it. While I'm trying to get back to a normal posting schedule, get your food blog fix at Omaha Food Critic

The first item is the most important because it's time sensitive. Tuesday, October 9th is the 5th annual Omaha Dine Out Against Hunger. Of course you already knew that because you've been keeping an eye on the Omaha Food Events Calendar. On this day, each of these restaurants has pledged to donate 10% of the day's proceeds to The Omaha Food Bank. So if you were already planning on eating out this week, try to do it tomorrow. Of course if you'd rather just donate to the Omaha Food bank, you can do that too. Please pass this information on.

In television news, my prognostication abilities correctly singled out Hung as the winner of Top Chef: Season 3 - Miami. Keep an eye out for my season 4 predictions.

Until next season, we have The Next Iron Chef to keep us amused. ***SPOILER WARNING*** Caesars Palace agreed with me that Traci Des Jardins should be the favorite to win, however, that will not be the case since she was eliminated last night. Now I think John Besh is the man to beat. I'm extremely disappointed that they chose a single elimination format for this show. I would have actually have liked to see all contestants stay on board until the end and pick the winner from the entire group.

Getting cut from The Next Iron Chef has got to look minor in comparison to the news Grant Achatz got recently. The chef of Alinea in Chicago, released this statement through his publicist:
"I wanted to personally report that I have been very recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. I have consulted several prominent physicians and will likely begin aggressive treatment within the next few weeks. I remain, and will remain, actively and optimistically engaged in operations at Alinea to the largest extent possible. Alinea will continue to perform at the level people have come to expect from us — I insist on that. I have received amazing support from friends, family, and everyone who has thus far been told of the disease, and I look forward to a full, cancer-free, recovery."
We wish him all the best.

Another Chicago chef was recently featured in the Chicago Sun Times. A short, but very interesting read about the opening of Charlie Trotter's, which was 20 years ago this fall. One of the cooler aspects of his past 20 years has been the spawning of great chefs around the world. Check out Charlie trotter's family tree.

This past weekend was his celebration gala that included a real who's who of chefs that took over Chicago. The guest list included chefs Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adria, Daniel Boulud, Wylie Dufresne, Tetsuya Wakuda, and Pierre Herme, along with sommelier Larry Stone and food scientist Harold McGee. And that's just the out-of-towners list! Together they raise over $250,000 for Trotter's culinary education foundation. Check out photos of the event.

Want a glimpse into the future of eating? Maybe try that new vegetarian fast-food at Zen Burger? Or find recipes by the moods and the emotions they invoke. Want some pensive deviled eggs? How about irate gazpacho?

Want a glimpse of the past? This man from Baltimore reportedly invented Tiramisu. Of course you can just jump to what you're really after - the original Tiramisu recipe.

And something I never thought I'd see, the Green Diamond in St. James, NE was featured in the Omaha World-Herald, complete with audio. I spent many of summers buying soda and candy from this place while watching games being played at the ball diamond across the street. The diamond is gone now, as is most of the town. Still nice to see a story about a rural town.

Something I'm really excited about is the fact that Sage Bistro is now open for the semester. In addition, they will be offering Sunday brunch with Prime Rib on October 28th. Oh, and it's only $12!

I'm glad to see the culinary department has been doing really well and has been getting a ton of good press lately, including landing the cover of the Omaha CityWeekly's Fall 2007 Dining & Entertainment guide.

Darwin Bistro won the Ultimate Mac-n-Cheese challenge at the Comfort Food Classic - and we have the winning recipe! Check back tomorrow for the dish on the dish.

Also over this past weekend, Jerry Buma won the World's Championship Chili Cookoff hosted here in Omaha.

In addition to the Foodies of Omaha, a new dining club has started recently. It was started by the same people who run Omaha Originals; hopefully it's not just an excuse or vehicle to sell more of their discount books, but only time will tell. If anyone has been to one of their gatherings, please leave your thoughts and impressions of your dinner in our comments section below.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

NOTW: Friday, August 10th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday, July 13th 2007

Really news of the month since it's been about that long since I've posted food news around here. There's been a lot of news in the past month, so this will be a fairly long post. And if you didn't hear, I have a good excuse.

Anthony Bourdain was nominated for an Emmy award for his work in Anthony Bourdain in Beirut on the Travel Channel. The special documented his ill timed travels to Lebanon in 2006 to film an episode of No Reservations only to be caught in the middle of an erupting war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Food TV will be holding a competition to decide the next Iron Chef for Iron Chef America. Some really big names will be competing including Traci des Jardins, who just won the 2007 James Beard award for Best Chef [Pacific].

There was an interesting article in the New York Times recently about the surge in fine dining options in the Midwest. It featured Bluestem and Lidia's in Kansas City, as well as places in St. Louis, Minneapolis and Milwaukee. Just goes to show that the Midwest isn't just meat and potatoes. We want our tasting menus and caviar too.

Far From the Big Cities, and Not Missing Them (via the Boston Globe)

Speaking of Iron Chef's and tasting menus, Darwin Bistro, here in Omaha, has been having it's own Iron Chef competitions every week. Every Wednesday each of the four chefs are given a different ingredient from which to make a nightly special. The winner is who ever sells the most specials. Customers are encouraged to call in at the end of the evening to see who won. The results so far:
Paul Urban: 3 Wins, 1 Tie, 1 Team Win
Brian Young: 1 Win, 1 Tie
Craig Hoffman: 1 Win
Jessica O'Kief: 1 Win, 1 Team Win
Telia Owens: 1 Win
They've also started offering a full fledged tasting menu of 12 to 15 courses.

If you recognize the name Craig Hoffman from the previous item, it might be because you're a fan of V. Mertz. Hoffman was part of a large exodus following a "reorganization" in the V. Mertz kitchen that put Clayton Chapman in the chef de cuisine position.

In some slightly odd news, I just found out Ted & Wally's here in Omaha bought eCreamery.com. What's strange about it is the fact that prices start at $49.95 for a single flavor half-gallon! I'm all about indulgences, but that's a little insane.

For those who want to expand their ice cream palate, why not try some chewy ice cream

Omaha Restaurants in the Press
The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet, seems to know how to pick great steak houses as well as stocks. His favorite steak house in Omaha, Gorat's, got some great press recently being named one of America’s top seven steakhouses by Saveur magazine as well as being named one of the 10 best "traditional" steak houses in the US by USA Today.

The Omaha World-Herald had a sad, but really interesting interview with the Doc of Doc & Eddie's. If you get a chance, I encourage you to read it. It's short, but good. Chef Chat: Success bittersweet for Doc & Eddie's

And fans of Lance Wang's O Casual Dining & Lounge might be excited to learn that he has tentatively found a new home for his popular fusion restaurant. If all goes well, O Casual will move into the space once occupied by the Great Wall restaurant. The Old Market location in downtown Omaha sits next to the Gene Leahy Mall and should prove popular with tourist and local alike. The survival of the mural on the building is still in question.

The Dundee Dell has a new executive chef, Hilary Quinn, who has revamped their menu with the help of a customer feedback party held in July.

Also in the Dundee area, Dario's Brasserie plans to host a Belgian beer garden during this year's Dundee Days which will be held August 25th.

And the last bit of local press, we've updated our Boyd and Charlie's coverage to a full fledge review. It was written by my wife, so if you find it helpful, please leave her a comment with words of encouragement so I can talk her into doing more.

And for those of you eagerly awaiting an announcement regarding our Omaha on $40 a Day contest, you're going to have to wait just a bit longer. With the arrival of our new bundle of joy, I'm a bit behind. What this also means is that if you haven't yet submitted your entry, or you want to submit more than one entry, you have about another week to do so.

I haven't quite decided if I think this is cool or lame. At the moment I'm leaning towards lame.

It's owned by the same group that brought us the Rain Forest Cafe. Currently they have a single location at the Kansas City Speedway with another opening at the Downtown Disney Marketplace in Orlando.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

NOTW: Friday, July 13th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday, July 13th 2007

A crazy busy past couple of weeks. I apologize for the lack of posts, though I imagine this pace will continue for the next couple of months, so bare with me.

The restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer may be out of a job. Not because he's a hack, but because a frivolous lawsuit might reveal his true identity. The best part is the fact that the case hinges on what type of cut of steak he was served. I know my anonymity is pretty much blown by this point, but the other aspects of this case are a little disconcerting. I would hate to think I could be sued because I misidentified exactly what I ate.

Congrats to McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe, one of Omaha's (few/only?) vegetarian centric restaurant(s), for getting a brief mention in the May/June issue of National Geographic Traveler. They specifically liked the date shakes, tempeh Reubens and falafel salads.

Openings, Closings, Changes and Birthdays

A quick closing/opening turn around brought to my attention by the Mai Thai review in the OWH. A drive by confirmed that a new restaurant, Mai Thai, is indeed located where the old Chopstix was. Say goodbye to one of the few Dim Sum options in Omaha.

Tanduri Fusion has new owners with 35 years of experience cooking Indian food. All three have also worked at Jaipur, so I'm very interested to go back and see what they have, however, I am disappointed that they will be abandoning their lunch buffet in August. In my opinion, that's one of the best ways to learn about and enjoy Indian food.

And in what seems like an extended amount of time needed to open a restaurant, Quaker Steak and Lube is finally opening this August in Council Bluffs near Star Cinema and the Mid-America Center.

Julio's turned 30 this year. I tried Julio's when I first came to Omaha and thought their food was so bad that it couldn't have been open for more than 3 years. However, I recently went back for lunch (with a BOGO from our Omaha Originals Dining Club Card) and was pleasantly surprised. It's not Frontera Grill, but the food was above average and a decent value. I probably won't be going back soon, but I'll no longer make a disapproving face when I hear the name.

And finally, a reminder that Mr. C's will be closing for good this September. If you haven't been, I highly recommend going before this Omaha institution disappears. When you're there, make sure to check out the beautiful back patio. I'll try to get a review up in August, but no guarantees.

And speaking of discount cards, we're going to be holding a contest to give away an Omaha Prime Card. The basic premise will be based on the $40 a Day - Omaha Edition that the OWH did a couple of weeks ago. So start thinking about where you'd spend your $40 and keep an eye on GFC for the official announcement.

Paul Urban of Darwin Bistro was featured in this week's Chef Chat. He talked a bit about the Slow Food movement we mentioned a couple of weeks back as well as his interests in charcuterie. That last part happens to lead into my next announcement. Paul was agreed to give us a look at how he cures the products they serve including bacon, pancetta, pate en croute, duck prosciutto and more, so we should hopefully have a write up with tons of pictures by mid-August. Also, if you missed it, check out our interview with Darwin's executive chef this past March.

And finally, one last announcement that I'm really excited about. Paul Kavulak, proprietor of the soon to be open Nebraska Brewing Co., has agreed to grant us a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to open a restaurant. This will be a short series of articles from now through late October when they open. We'll be conducting interviews with Mr. Kavulak over this period about the trials and tribulations encountered during the process and posting pictures as the building develops. From the discussions we've had so far, it should be a very interesting glimpse at the headaches and highlights of starting a new business in a notoriously difficult industry. If you're like most foodies and you've always wondered what it would be like to open your own restaurant, this series is just for you.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

NOTW: Friday, June 22nd 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday, June 22nd 2007

Love him or hate him, Top Chef's "Top Sommelier" Stephen Asprinio is back on TV, this time with his own show! Asprinio will host Wine Television’s "Wine Chefs" where he will "feature fine wines and pair them with his extraordinary and avant-garde approach to the culinary arts with the hopes of creating a cultural shift and how people feel about wine & food." And being the marketer that he is, Stephen will be hosting the show from his restaurant, Forte di Asprinio.

The OWH has an interview with Clayton Chapman, from V. Mertz about their new tasting menu and wheather Omaha is ready for a fine dining experience like the restaurant Tru in Chicago.

They also had an interesting interview with Jennifer Shallenberger from the West Omaha Olive Garden about her week long "immersion training" in Tuscany, Italy.

Moving news. Instead of waiting for Children's Hospital to kick them out, El Basha Mediterranean Grill & Wraps and Sakura Bana Japanese Restaurant have both moved to their new locations and are open for business. O Casual Dining & Lounge has not yet moved and plans to remain open in it's current location until at least September.

We've updated some past posts that you might be interested in checking out again.

First we've updated our Taste of Omaha coverage to announce the winners of the Iron Chef Metro competition.

We also updated our review of Liberty Tavern to include a link to
the OWH's review. It's interesting to compare the two, but I think they shared more opinions than not. It's also interesting to see the difference a year makes. In mine I called Liberty Tavern "a new favorite", yet I haven't been back since. I think the competition is definitely heating up in Omaha with restaurants like Darwin and V. Mertz gunning hard for some of that upper echelon limelight. If I can find the time and money, maybe I'll do a Tasting Menu Showdown between the three :-)

Speaking of Darwin, I had a conversation with Executive Chef Paul Urban a little over a week ago. Besides the fact that he's updated their menu to include such things as a foie gras torchon appetizer and house made ricotta gnocchi with quail, he's also decided to join the Slow Food Movement. No this does not mean it will take 3 hours to get your food. In a nutshell...
Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

I also had a chance to speak with Paul Kulik who was one of the judges at the Iron Chef Metro competition. The two pieces of news that I gleaned from him are a) His new restaurant, The Boiler Room, isn't likely to be open until late November/early December, but it sounds like it will be worth the wait. b) In the mean time, he plans to stage in Europe for awhile to pick up some new tricks.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

NOTW: Friday, June 8th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday, June 8th 2007

A reminder that the Taste of Omaha is this weekend. Be sure not to miss the Institute for the Culinary Arts "Iron Chef Metro" competition. If you need help planning, the OWH has two good resources on this weekend's events.

Your guide to the Taste of Omaha

Map and exhibitor information

After many rumors, it looks like the Omaha Chocolate Company will finally be opening a store in Midtown, though not in the Dundee locations that were often talked about. This third location will be located near 40th & Farnam (sale pending).

Wheatfields will be opening a second location in what seems to becoming the new trendy spot - Shadow Lake Towne Center at 72nd & HWY 370. It should be open in mid-July.

Congratulations to Frankie & Phyl's Italian Café who just celebrated their 60th anniversary this year. It's amazing that any restaurant can last over 20 years.

Though it was speculated earlier, it now seems official that Aksarben Brewing Co. has closed it's doors. If you would like to shed a tear, you can probably get a shoulder to cry on at The Upstream Brewing Co. who is hosting a American Homebrewers Association Rally on June 16th. The rally will also serve as a tapping party for Upstream's Baltic Porter that was brewed from a recipe created by homebrewer Elliot Spilker.

Some more chef movement as Jams sous chef, John Armour, leaves to replace Reed Empson at M's Pub.

An older article here, but still something worth spotlighting.
In 1967, 168 Catholic nuns from the Omaha area met with Creighton University officials to serve a higher cause. Another 24 joined them ten years later. And, every five years, these women faithfully returned to Creighton’s St. Joseph Hospital (now Creighton University Medical Center) for eight days and nine nights. Find out why.

And last, and probably least, our own Gastronomic Fight Club got a brief mention in this Thursday's Omaha World-Herald article covering tasting menus in Omaha. So now we have street cred :-)

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Friday, May 25, 2007

NOTW: Friday, May 25th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday, May 25th 2007

Top Chef will be back on Bravo on June 13th. This season will be based in Miami, and will be spicing things up with an additional judge. Ted Allen, food guru from Queer Eye, will be joining the panel for the entire season. Hopefully they will also still include the guest judge each episode like they did last season. A 5 person judging panel would be cool.

Also, the hour long "Top Chef: 4-Star All-Stars" (Wednesday, June 6 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT) reunites four of the finalists from season’s one and two - team one’s inaugural winner Harold Dieterle, Stephen Asprinio, Tiffani Faison, and Dave Martin compete against season two’s winner Ilan Hall, Fan Favorite Sam Talbot, Elia Aboumrad, and molecular gastronomist Marcel Vigneron in a $20,000 cook-off for charity. The cook-off concludes with the two teams serving their meals to “Top Chef 3 Miami’s” 15 new chefs.

After looking briefly at the bios, my money for the Top Chef: Miami winner is on Lia, Hung or Tre (giving the advantage to Hung). One of the first to go down: Sara M.

Some quick news about some of the local chefs.

Zac Clemetson is moving to Colorado and will be leaving Marks Bistro in Dundee in just over a month.

Reed Empson, of M's Pub, will be the new chef at Jack Binion's Steak House in Council Bluffs. Empson has been with M's Pub for seven years and previously worked at Vivace and Jams.

Clayton Chapman joins V Mertz. Chapman hails from Tru Restaurant in Chicago. He will be in charge of creating a tasting menu available in mid June. We'll see how much he picked up in his 18 months at Tru.

The Omaha World-Herald had a review on the book "150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken" this past week. Just thought this was interesting because I got my copy the day before this review was published. Cool coincidence. Hopefully I'll get a chance to try out several of the recipes and have my own review up in a couple of months. We'll see how well this book helps me in my quest to cook more often.

Cookbook Showcase: Enjoy roasted chicken, then repeat

Can a city have too many brew pubs? Probably not, and I think Omaha is far from saturated.

A new brew pub should hopefully be opening up in Papillion later this fall. The Nebraska Brewing Co. will tentatively be opening this October in the new Shadow Lake Towne Center at 72nd & Hwy 370. The owners, Kim & Paul Kavulak have been home brewing for about 15 years and have won several awards.

In the mean time, don't forget to visit your local brewpub and share your thoughts for the upcoming Session #4: Local Brews Event.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

NOTW: Friday, May 11th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday, May 11th 2007

I think I'm going to just do these about every other week. Not enough news to justify weekly notes. Also, I'll be computer-less all next week, so no blogging. Now back to the news.

Stokes Grill & Bar is planning on opening a second location in the Old Market. I still haven't been to their West Dodge location despite several lobbying attempts. Hopefully I'll make it there before their second location opens. I'm also hoping to get a chance to interview Stokes executive chef John Ursick one of these days.

Not that I'm complaining, but an odd bit of news here; Because the "Taste of Omaha" isn't good enough or something, there will be a "Taste of West O" held this August. It will include similar attractions to it's downtown counterpart, but focus on West Omaha vendors.

Talk about slow on the uptake. Dairy Queen is going to start offering waffle cones and bowls. I wonder what took them so long?

Giving you some early notice here. Beertopia is having a summer beer festival where they will be sampling a variety of summer beers. If it's anything like their Bockfest, it shouldn't disappoint. See Sunfest Beer Festival 2007 @ Beertopia for more info.

Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks Nichole Aksamit is doing a good job at the Omaha World-Herald. I think she's got some interesting things to say and sometimes, some interesting ways to say it.

It's mushroom season. I might see if I can talk someone into taking us mushroom hunting when I go to visit my mom this weekend if I can get $50 a pound for morels!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

NOTW: Friday April 27th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday March 30th

I was sick the past couple of Fridays, thus the lack of blog posts. Because of that, I actually have a couple of weeks of news items.

Both the Downtown Omaha's Farmers Market and the Rockbrook Village Farmers Market start up next Saturday (May 5th, 2007).

Paul Kulik's new venture, Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob, opened last weekend in Dundee and was so popular, they actually ran out of food and had to close early! You can read more about it at the OHW and the Reader.

Sweet Magnolias is reopening in May under new ownership, but it sounds like the new owners will maintain many of the original recipes.

The DoughBoys, who won this year's Ron Sailors High School Team Culinary Arts Invitational, got some press in the Omaha World-Herald as they prepared for the National ProStart competition.
April 12: The Nebraska state champion Papillion-La Vista culinary team, the DoughBoys, rehearses for the upcoming National ProStart Student Invitational culinary competition in Charlotte, N.C. From left, Jake Newton, Jonathan Hodge, Brent Gray and Evan Gross are busy in the kitchen. (photo)
©The Omaha World-Herald

In a somewhat related announcement, an Annual Czech Dinner fund raiser will be held Sunday April 29, 2007 in Lincoln to support the Nebraska Restaurant Association Hospitality Education Foundation's ProStart Program.

Congrats to Sam at becks & posh who reached a million unique visitors this last week on her little food blog! That number is staggering. To give you an idea of how staggering, GFC had just 14,000 unique visitors since we started in March 2005. Despite our smaller numbers, I wanted to thank our readers who have been spreading the word because well over half of those visitors are just from the beginning of this year!

And in case you don't read everything that gets posted on GFC, we've added a new tool for all the Omaha Foodies with too much time on their hands. The Omaha Food Events Calendar should help keep you busy.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

NOTW: Friday April 6th 2007

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday March 30th

Save some money and help a good cause. The ConAgra Foods Truckload Sale will be held April 21st from 8 am to 11 am. The proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. Discounted items for sale include products from various ConAgra brands, such as Healthy Choice, Kid Cuisine, and Marie Callender's.

As of April 5th, Taco Bell locations in select cities around the nation started offering breakfast and Omaha is one of the test markets. I tried the bean and egg burrito the day they started. My thought - I wouldn't order it again. The consistency of the eggs and beans is too similar and there's nothing to sink your teeth into. Not to mention the pinto bean, scrambled egg and red sauce combo was just not very tasty.

Nichole Aksamit shares my opinion of Darwin Bistro & Catering.
New bistro's a rare find

La Buvette got a brief mention in The New York Times as providing "European bistro sophistication" to the Omaha area. The French Café, M’s Pub and V. Mertz were also referenced in the same article.

People have been trying to grab a piece of history by stealing menus from Mister C's. Knock it off. However, if you did happen to swipe a menu and have access to a scanner, please make a digital copy for the rest of us. I'd be more than happy to host the files so everyone can have access to such an item.

The Bellevue German restaurant, Edelweiss, posted signs that it has closed. I believe this was the last remaining true German restaurant in Omaha. Das Rheinland closed late last year as the owner, Frank Hoover, opened a new restaurant, 1892 German Bier Hall, in Council Bluffs.

Harr’s Restaurant in Waterloo, which has been operating for almost 60 years, will be closing April 30th.

The Metro student culinary team placed 7th, earning a bronze medal in the American Culinary Federation's regional qualifier for the national championships. This is the highest ranking they're achieved in the 4 years since they started participating.

The Omaha World-Herald compiled a list of Easter Brunch spots. Can't believe I missed that considering I had been keeping an eye out for it.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

NOTW: Friday March 30th

posted by snekse

News of the Week: Friday March 30th

After 53 years, the owners of the venerable Mister C's Steakhouse have decided to retire and will be closing the restaurant this fall.  If you've never been, now is the time to go.

In another retirement related closing, Cafe de Paris closed last December as chef Freddy Hiltbrunner retired. Now the owner is also planning to retire and is seeking a buyer. Oddly it had been open since 1969, but I can count on my thumb the number of people I knew who had been there.

Another well known Omaha steakhouse, Angie's, closed in February. The building has been purchased by John Begley, former VP of Upstream Brewing Company, who hopes to open the refurbished location in June. The new name, Lucky's ten-O-one Restaurant and Lounge, is a reference to the building's address at 1001 Pacific St.

Despite weird rumors, Aki Market on 84th Street is NOT closing (we think).

TasTe has opened a 2nd location at 132nd and Dodge in Linden Market shopping mall. They have also started serving brunch at this location.

Darwin Bistro will be offering brunch starting this Sunday. They will also be open for dinner on Sunday starting some time in April.

Chef Paul Kulik of La Buvette is opening two new restaurants. Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob, a middle Eastern fast-food restaurant, will open in Dundee sometime in April. The Boiler Room, a dinner-only bistro with daily menu changes, will open downtown sometime in September.

And if you missed the post earlier in the week, The Omaha World-Herald has a new food writer. John Keenan has changed positions and is now on the business desk and Nichole Aksamit has taken his place.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

NOTW: Friday March 23rd

posted by snekse
Welcome to our first "News of the Week" (NOTW). These posts will focus on food related news in the local area with occasional national news. Since this is a new segment, I've also included some news from past weeks that I thought was interesting. If you have any food related news you think should be posted here, .

News of the Week: Friday March 23rd

Thanks to a recently passed law, Upstream Brewing Company will be opening a distillery in their Legacy location. This will be the first distillery in Nebraska since the Prohibition. Spirits planned include vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, whiskey and possibly brandy.

The small national breakfast & lunch chain, Le Peep, will be opening it's 3rd Omaha location on the Northeast corner of 120th & Blondo, near Starbucks.

Starting in mid-May through June 1, 2007, Sakura Bana will be temporarily closed while they move to their new location at 74th & Dodge.

O Casual Dining may have to find a new home; And owner, Lance Wang, may be out $250,000. After upgrading the space the restaurant is currently in, Wang received notice that Children’s Hospital bought the building as part of an expansion project. It is unclear yet what the future holds for O Casual.

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