Searching for Tony Bourdain

Foie gras taste on a Big Mac budget

a clean plate

I got to thinking about New Year’s Resolutions earlier today. Normally, I stay away from them, because the point of a resolution is to do something you hadn’t done previously to improve your life. Common thinking goes, why make a resolution for the new year when you can start now?

Money’s tight lately with the holidays, so this is something of a goal-setting session, at least for me. I can’t speak for M on this because she has certain dietary restrictions that I don’t have. ¬†These, therefore, are my Culinary New Years Resolutions for 2012.

1. Become a regular at my favorite restaurant in Chicago. This would obviously be Frontier.

2. Wander south. In other words, embrace that the South Side, or at least most of it, isn’t dangerous, just misunderstood and stigmatized thanks to the gangs and glaring racial divisions. There are at least two restaurants south of 35th Street I want to try:

-Harold’s Chicken Shack on 79th Street, which has been rated the best fried chicken in Chicago.

-Calumet Fisheries, all the way down on 95th Street. If it was any further south, it’d be in Indiana. Supposedly one of the last fish smokehouses in Illinois, and a James Beard Award Winner.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

3. Branch out to new ethnic foods. I’ve wanted Korean, African, Thai, and Polish food for months (that isn’t just pierogi), and I intend to find the best.

4. Find a good sushi bar that isn’t also a Chinese or Asian fusion place. A good sushi bar does one thing, and one thing only. For that matter, that’s what most good restaurants do.

5. Visit a good brewery. I hear Half Acre is fun, as is Metro Brewing, but I met the General Manager at Goose Island a few months ago at work. That may have to be first.

6. Publican. Girl and the Goat. Next/The Aviary.

7. Meet at least one celebrity chef. I met Mark Malnati recently, and you all know Brian Jupiter and I are familiar with each other. But I’ve been here long enough to know that some of these guys just love to socialize and meet eaters like us, who are in it for the experience. I’ve realized through Twitter that a lot of celebrity chefs (like Alinea’s Grant Achatz) love to hang out at Giuseppe Tentori’s latest powerhouse, GT Fish and Oyster.

8. Make more foodie friends. Eating alone sucks no matter where you go or what you eat (though for some of my guiltier pleasures, I prefer it that way). M and I love to go out together, but we’d both enjoy having other food nerds like us to share in the experience.

9. Cook more. I know my way around a kitchen and have literally a whole bookshelf worth of cookbooks. They’ll be entering service more often.

10. Eat in at least one Michelin-starred restaurant. Alinea’s out of my reach, but Longman and Eagle is not.

Finally, enjoy the company of my favorite food nerd, Michonne, more, and worry about the price tag less. A good meal is a shared experience, not what the bill is at the end. The money is temporary. The memories last a lifetime.

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