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In Omnivorous Mike Sula profiles Chicago cop Frank Balestri, who not only keeps the old-world tradition of making soppressata—aka "supersod"—alive, but teaches others to make it and hosts an annual supersod competition now going into its fifth year. "The Sodfather" is so protective of his salami that he has a security camera trained on the scores of sticks hanging in his garage—he's been known to go out and check on them at three in the morning.
Sula also reviews The Florentine, the BLT group’s Italian restaurant in the new luxury JW Marriott Chicago, where the MK vet moved after Cibo Matto; he’s been rejoined at his new berth by his Cibo Matto sous chef Russell Kook, a recent runner-up on the reality show Hell’s Kitchen.
In this week’s Key Ingredient chef challenge Paul Virant of Vie tackles spirulina, a blue-green algae most commonly dehydrated and sold as a dietary supplement (the Aztecs, who used it as a food source, called it tecuitalatl, "stone’s excrement"). Virant encrusted smoked sturgeon with the stuff, serving it with roasted oyster mushrooms, white turnips, and preserved lemon butter. Next up: Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia, tagged by Virant with lamb fat. "That jerk," said Zimmerman. "He knows I hate lamb fat. It tastes terrible." Virant pleaded not guilty: "I thought he was cool like me and liked all fats."
Morsels, our news column, reports on the opening of the Belgian-inspired restaurant Leopold (whose name has caused something of a stir on LTHForum) and a spate of recent closings including Le Passage, Eve, Opera, and the Wicker Park location of Adobo Grill, all of which are slated to replaced by new restaurants.