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The Friday Buffet

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Aug 3, 2007 2:00PM

2007_08_funnel_cakes_night.jpgThis week, just for "guest", Chicagoist decided to tie this installment of the "Buffet" into Lollapalooza. We also have an update on Bell's, some other newsworthy items, and the usual complement of events.

- A forum thread started at Beer Advocate earlier this week asked the million-dollar question: When is Bell's coming back to Illinois? Standing out among the speculation was a reply from Larry Bell himself. Bell told the forum that he's been talking to other wholesalers about a return to Illinois, but nothing is concrete unless a settlement with Union Beverage, Bell's former wholesaler, is reached. The Park Ridge native also said that Union has threatened him and any new distributor carrying his beer with legal action "at the point of reentry." In short, we're gonna have to keep going over the border into Indiana and Wisconsin for the foreseeable future.

- You're gonna see Goose Island "312" all over Grant Park this weekend at Lollapalooza. "312" is also sponsoring VIP after-parties this weekend at Hideout and the Hard Rock Hotel.

- If you haven't read David Hammond's account of eating Jain cuisine at Drive-Thru, or listened to the companion piece from 848, please do yourself a favor and do so. We've been fascinated by this staunchly vegetarian religion for years, ever since we picked up a signed copy of Food for the Gods by noted vegetarian food writer Rynn Berry at Printer's Row Book Fair. Jain cuisine is noted for not only its adherence to strict vegetarianism, but its textures and creative flavors given its strictness. Jain cuisine was also responsible for the worst pizza experience we've ever had, on Manhattan's Upper West Side five years ago. "Naturally Italian," our ass.

- Hammond and other indiscriminate omnivores at LTHForum also sampled balut for the first time earlier this week. This mainly Filipino delicacy - a fertilized duck egg with a partially formed embryo contained within - is truly an acquired taste. Most of the sailors we saw eating balut during our Navy days did so while blind stinking drunk. We didn't have that luxury when we tried it, a decision we still regret sometimes. Anyway, to Hammond, Gary Wiviott, and all the other folks brave enough to try balut, welcome to the club.

Events after the jump.

- The Culinary Historians of Chicago are sponsoring a workshop on wild mushroom foraging, 9 a.m. Saturday at Kendall College. The featured speaker for "Exploring the Wild Mushroom... Myths, Flavors and Facts" is Outdoor Illinois Magazine writer Joe McFarland. Cost is $3, free for Kendall students and faculty with ID.

- Bin 36 hosts a "BBQ and Bingo" night Tuesday. For $50 diners can sample from some wonderful grilled treats, select Australian wines, and yeah, play some bingo. The event runs from 6-10 p.m.

- We forgot to include this in the past two "Buffet" installments, but it's an ongoing event and one of the best dinner deals in the city hands-down. For $18.75, we were simply astounded with both the amount and quality of food at West Town Tavern's Barbecue Sparerib Dinner. Chef Susan Goss prepares some of the softest ribs in the city. The bones just slide from the meat and we dare diners to find fat on these ribs. Served with Chef Goss' signature fried potato salad, this meal is not to be missed.

- Congratulations to Heaven on Seven's Jimmy Bannos on his upcoming induction into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame. Bannos will be inducted this Wednesday at a $175-per-person event at the Hancock Building's Signature Room at the 95th, with Chef Paul Prudhomme slated to attend. The event starts at 6 p.m.