Things to do, things to read, and one thing to listen to:
• There are several, but one thing that's cool about Phillip Foss's informal setup at El Ideas is that other chefs like to come play there too. There are a few seats left for the next such dinner, with chef Erik Anderson of Nashville's the Catbird Seat (who actually is from Chicago, but hasn't really worked here since graduating culinary school). A 2012 Food & Wine Best New Chef along with his partner Josh Habiger (an Alinea vet), Anderson will join Foss on November 11; dinner is $185 per person at 312-226-8144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Want to see more chocolate than you'll ever see in any one place short of the Wonka factory? The Chicago Fine Chocolate & Dessert Show is the consumer part of a national dessert trade show taking place at Navy Pier this weekend; your $25 admission lets you see dozens of exhibitors (some of whom will offer samples), demos from the French Pastry School and various TV dessert shows, and a 1,000-pound chocolate sculpture of a blues musician by the irrepressible record setter chef Alain Roby of All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva. Incidentally, a week from Thursday will officially be Chef Alain Roby Day in Chicago, by mayoral decree.
• I was just reading a Facebook post about how offal dishes aren't as popular here as in other gastronomic destinations when Table, Donkey & Stick sent out an announcement about its offal-based Halloween dinner. It's a six-course menu including a first course of fish heads, Pierre Koffmann's pied de cochon aux morilles, blood pudding and dark chocolate tart, and a treat of caramel corn chicharrones—in a bag, of course. It's $60 per person; call 773-486-8525.
• Want to taste a bunch of the beers that chef Cleetus Friedman of the Fountainhead has been collaborating on with local brewers? They'll be on tap Thursday starting at 7 PM, including brews with Greenbush Brewing, Pipeworks, Solemn Oath, and others.
Things to read:
• Ever wondered how Chicago's dining scene looks to an outsider from the UK? Check out this flattering account from the Independent, which does a better job of getting out of touristville and checking out various neighborhoods and their chefs than many American journalists have done. (H/T Patrick Sheerin.)
• Rob Gardner of the Local Beet is trying to follow Breathless Mark Bittman's new diet/health book VB6, the core idea of which is being vegan until dinnertime each day, but he's also arguing with some of the things Bittman glosses over, like the definition of "junk food" and the low-carb diet he espouses.
• Chicago-based blogger of Thai food She Simmers has a terrific in-depth piece on a single-dish (khao man gai, or braised pork hock) Thai restaurant in Portland—and why that's truer to how Thais really cook than any Thai restaurant you've been to. (H/T Ken Zuckerberg.)
• And speaking of Portland, LA's Good Food radio show visits the world's first vegan strip club, Club Diablo. The female reporter can't hide her distaste, but the club owner—Johnny Diablo—makes it all sound perfectly logical in Portland, including why one of the dancers chose that over her pastry degree.