Hey guys, it was my birthday! Niles and I spent the evening at Billy Sunday, drinking lovely whiskey cocktails and demolishing a relish tray, which had delicious small bites of all sorts of wonderful things. The tête de moine cheese was amazing, but the guanciale was probably my favorite. Niles wouldn’t let me order any dessert, because he had a giant nutella cheesecake from Bang Bang pie waiting for me at home. If you haven’t had their pies, get on that, because they are absolutely decadent. All in all it was one of the best birthday meals I’ve ever had. There’s still some cheesecake in the fridge, too, and it’s taking all of my willpower to keep from just cold eating it for breakfast.
Ok seriously, I don’t want to eat a flamingo tamale. Or an axolotl tamale, because axolotls are freaking adorable, and I’m super happy that I found an excuse to draw one for the comic. They’re critically endangered, (and wicked cute) so no one eat any axolotl tamales, ok?
But I am pretty fascinated with the idea that humans invented tamales so many thousands of years ago. And the Aztecs made tamales out of so many things – fish, rabbit, turkey and turkey eggs, fruits and honey, gopher and even worms. These are the guys who brought us chocolate and guacamole too, so they’re all right in my book.
…and this concludes the series about the mac and cheese contest that Niles *almost* placed in. His mac was well and truly delicious, though, and the whole experience was super fun. And I’m not kidding either, the three macs that won were fantastic, they were high scorers on my ballot sheet too.
Although I’m glad these contests don’t happen often. You don’t think a few bites of mac and cheese are that much, but two bites each of TWENTY TWO macsandcheeses adds up pretty fast!
But we don’t eat mac & cheese for our health, right? This was Niles’s delicious, decadent entry into the Chi-Town Mac & Cheese cookoff, and it was amazing. It was a perfect blend of salty, smooth, balanced flavors. I helped make it, which is to say I spent a lot of time stirring the sauce, and adding things, and stirring more, and stirring a bit more, and thinking I would be stirring it for the rest of my life. It was high maintenance, but it was absolutely worth it! I only ended up eating three or four bites of it, but they were phenomenal.
Next comic will be about the competition itself.
In the meantime, Saturday, February 1st was Hourly Comics Day! I made a bunch of them, but they’re mostly about how boring I am and how much work I did, punctuated by cute cat moments. You can read them here.
Also! Are you in Texas? In about a month I’ll be exhibiting at STAPLE in Austin. I’ve never done this con before, so I’m pretty excited! I’ll have lots of books and prints and original art, so swing by if you’re nearby! And feel free to recommend awesome Austin-area restaurants, because we’re staying a few extra days to wander the city.
So, this comic makes Niles look a little more manic than he really is, but every single one of these mac & cheese recipes was something he actually dreamed up. I’m pretty sure the Reverse Mac & Cheese would end up being just awful to eat, but it’s still an exciting idea. I’m also pretty sure he got the idea from some dishes we ate at iNG when I did a live drawing night there a few weeks ago. The dessert had a silky sweet sauce made from brioche, and it was amazing.
(PS: at those live drawing nights at iNG, I made little paintings of ladies with food fascinators on their heads, and I’ve put some of the leftover ones for sale here!)
The Poutine mac sounds a little obscene, but I’d love that Buffalo on Steroids one, or the Basque one. The mac that Niles ended up making wasn’t any one of these, but it was amazingly delicious. Tune in next Monday for the recipe!
Guys, Niles knows not to shake babies, I promise. He just really likes saying things that will shock me.
He’s also pretty good at making salad dressings, and I definitely recommend this one. It’s light and savory and really delicious without being overwhelming.
My brother was watching me draw this thing, and he asked which bao was the best bao. I have, unfortunately, not had the opportunity to try all of the delicious buns on this page, but I immediately pointed at the bánh bao anyway. In Chicago, you can get them at Ba Le and at Nhu Lan, and they are a delicious pocket of awesomeness, packed with a filling of ground pork and vegetables and spices, slices of Chinese honey sausage, and a hard boiled quail egg. It’s a soft warm spicy hug that you can eat.
If the honey sausage and quail egg are too weird for you (and they’re not for everyone), Chicago’s Chiu Quon bakery makes some incredibly delicious Chinese baozi, with a bunch of different fillings to choose from.
When Niles and I were in Japan a few years ago, I was intensely jealous that you could get fresh piping hot nikuman at every convenience store. Even the ones at the 7-11 were delicious!
Anyway, that’s enough of bao for now. I promise next week I’ll have something else to write about.
Hey everyone! Happy New Year! Guess what one of my new year’s resolutions is? It’s to post a comic here ONCE A WEEK AT LEAST.
So I’m back. Hi! And with a history lesson to boot. I never would have thought I’d find myself researching military uniforms in 3rd century China as a part of this comic. Zhuge Liang is a pretty interesting character, with a number of innovations to his name. I think we can be fairly certain he didn’t actually singlehandedly invent steamed buns, but I suppose it’s possible, and it’s a great story nonetheless. Plus, baos are one of my favorite things, with their soft pillowy dough and their delicious savory insides, so I’m happy to write about them regardless.
I’m still as insanely busy as before, juggling 800 projects at a time… but I really missed Sauceome, and I missed having a regular outlet to talk about food and things. So check back here on Mondays, I’ll be back to a regular schedule this time, I swear.
In the meantime, here’s a taste of what I’ve been up to lately:
- I’ll be doing live drawing on Tuesday, January 7th and Thursday, January 9th at iNG restaurant as part of their artist-in-residence series for their Salvador Dali menu. It’s a pretty incredible sounding menu, and I’m going to try my very hardest to make sure that everyone who eats there Tuesday and Thursday will get to take home an original piece of art. This is the kind of thing I’ll be doing, so come and get yours:
- I illustrated and designed these kickass hot sauce labels for Fat Rice, one of my favorite Chicago restaurants. This project was a hell of a lot of fun, and I’m super happy with the results. Plus, I designed a bunch of shirts for them too, so you should 1) go eat there and 2) buy some shirts and hot sauces from them, because they are awesome.
Ok, so full disclosure, I’m definitely biased in favor of pretty much anything Matthias Merges does. But we managed to score a reservation at the soft opening for A10 in Hyde Park, and it was incredible. The chicken liver mousse was sublime, and it came with these delightful pickled mushroom bites and house-made saltines. The scallops were perfectly seared, and the risotto was so rich and complex it almost made my head spin. The carbonara was probably my favorite dish of the whole night, it was topped with a delicate 60 minute egg that we stabbed so the yolk could coat all of the deliciously al dente house-made noodles. We tried both the sausage pizza and the eggplant pizza, and they were both fantastic, but the eggplant blew us out of the water.
We tried so many other dishes too, too many to fit on this page. But the desserts were phenomenal, especially the cannoli soft serve. It’s made with a ricotta base, and it’s amazingly rich and smooth and it has this fantastically tart underlying taste that’s like nothing else. The entire meal was amazing. Hyde Park is a long and complicated commute from where I am in Logan Square, but it’s absolutely, 100% worth the trip.
OTHER NEWS: I’m collaborating with 5th House Ensemble for their spring concert! I’ve been working my tail off for this thing lately. It’s going to be called Luna de Cuernos, and it’ll be great. You can read about it and see the trailer here. The story is inspired by Caribbean creation myths and an old Puerto Rican folk tale, and it involves a fantastic garden, a brave dog, a clever cat, and a demonic goat-ghost-monster thing. The music (I’m just about done finalizing the playlist) will be amazingly beautiful. There will be multiple performances of it, and some of them will be free!
OTHER, OTHER NEWS: I was too busy to do Inktober last month, but things are calming down a wee bit now, so I’ve issued myself my own personal challenge to draw a different picture of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu every day! I’m calling it 30 Days of Kyary. You can follow their progress on my blog or on my facebook!