Posts Tagged ‘meals’


What’s on the Menu?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 by Andrea

Ox Tail with Barley, Burnham’s Boston Clam Chowder, Boiled Haddock with Lobster Sauce, Goose Stuffed with Apples, Leg of Mutton with Currant Jelly, Chicago Ice Cream. Interesting menu, isn’t it? It’s Chicago’s Union Hotel & Restaurant’s dinner menu from February 26, 1900. It’s also part of a project the New York Public Library has taken on with the help of the public.

The library’s restaurant menu collection, housed in the Rare Book Division, is one of the largest in the world with approximately 40,000 menus dating from the 1840s to the present. But unfortunately for historians, chefs, novelists and everyday food enthusiasts, those menus aren’t searchable. Their greatest treasure: information about dishes, prices, the organization of meals, and the history of food and culture is still hidden in the digital images of the menus.

So, the library has enlisted the public’s help in transcribing the menus dish by dish so that the collection can be researched and accessed.

The process is simple. Go to the project’s website, choose a menu that needs to be transcribed (as of Saturday October 22, 2011, there have been 595,137 dishes transcribed from 10,244 menus), choose a page of the menu, click on the menu, click on the dish you want to transcribe and enter the name of the dish and price. Once you’ve entered the dish, you’ll submit for review and move on the next dish. The library’s tool is easy to use, plus you can jump around from menu to menu. I tried it over the weekend, experimenting with different dates, restaurants, inns, ocean lines, even Pan Am’s transatlantic service on Flight 119 in 1973. You can transcribe menus in different languages if you possess those skills. I found it amazingly interesting and somewhat addicting.

Did you notice the prices on The Union’s menu? Those numbers are in cents, not dollars. The most expensive item on the menu is a Dry Picked, Milk Fattened Whole Spring Chicken for $1.25. But even back then, restaurants charged a split fee: “Single portions served for two or more charged accordingly.” Some things never change.

As of Saturday October 22, 2011, there have been 595,137 dishes transcribed from 10,244 menus.

Andrea has been with The Chopping Block for over 12 years in every role from Chef Assistant to General Manager to Private Event Coordinator and now Public Relations. Her journalism background and culinary school education from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago give her the know-how to spread the word about The Chopping Block's mission to get people to cook. She'll never shy away from a music festival, hot yoga class, beach read, dinner out with friends or a good glass of Pinot Noir, especially when cuddling on the couch with her terrier, Bosworth.


Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

Monday, March 21st, 2011 by Janet

This is a rather timely blog entry, as I just returned from a fabulous dining trip in New York City, a SURPRISE 40th birthday gift from my husband.  We lived there twelve years ago, and this, amazingly, was the first time we had been back.  Of course, we returned to a couple of places where we had eaten memorable meals, but we also just pounded the pavement in search of what was new and hot.

Here is a little rundown of what we accomplished in three days and two nights:  pizza at Two Boots (a casual “date” favorite of ours); martinis and appetizers at Gramercy Tavern (our first date over twelve years ago – we didn’t plan this stop, but we were ready for a cocktail and it was right around the corner – great snacks and excellent service); Prune for dinner; DBGB Kitchen and Bar for wine and late-night snacks (Daniel Boulud’s brasserie-meets-American-tavern concept); Red Egg (tasty dim sum that was awarded a Bib Gourmand award by Michelin); Les Halles; Eataly (Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali Italian Emporium); Momofuku Noodle Bar; Pastis; Magnolia Bakery; and Balthazar.

Wow.  How all of that happened in such a short amount of time is amazing.  I think what made it all possible (beside our curiosity and determination) was the fact that we walked the entire time we were there.  Block after block we traveled, making room for more calories.  In some ways it was a fun trip down memory lane, but it was also a reminder for both of us of how much we love the art of eating!

Check out some of the photos from our trip:

Steak Tartare from DBGB Kitchen and Bar

Dim Sum at Red Egg

Brussels Sprouts with Apple, Bacon and Bonito Flakes at Momofuku Noodle Bar

Ramen with Pork Belly, Pork Shoulder, and Poached Egg

Poulet Grand-Mère at Pastis





Janet Kirker is the Executive Chef of The Chopping Block. She oversees the culinary staff at both of The Chopping Block locations, manages the curriculum and menu development teams, and works with the Event Sales team to organize private events. Cooking is still her favorite hobby, whether it be a simple dinner for two or a huge family gathering. Wine is a major interest, and it often dictates where she and her husband choose to vacation.