• Julia Thiel
  • Somen noodle salad with shrimp, aloe, and tomatillo sauce

In Omnivorous, as part of our spring books issue, Mike Sula offers a roundup of food-related books, among them Time Out Chicago food writer Heather Shouse’s colorful and comprehensive Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes From the Best Kitchens on Wheels; The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats, by 15-year sergeant David J. Haynes; and Rick Tramonto’s Scars of a Chef: The Searing Story of a Top Chef Marked Forever by the Grit and Grace of the Kitchen, every chapter of which begins with scripture and ends with a recipe.

In What’s New, contributor Ted Cox reviews Antico, a refined yet comfortable and friendly new Bucktown neighorhood Italian place from Brad Schlieder, a longtime veteran of A Tavola. Like the latter, it features simple preparations meant to showcase premium seasonal ingredients. (Also like the latter, it dishes up to-die-for cuttlefish fritti and gnocchi with crispy sage and brown butter.) In the day it operates as a cafe, serving house-roasted coffee and pastries. There’s a garden out back where there will be al fresco seating once the weather warms.

In Key Ingredient, Bill Kim of Belly Shack and Urban Belly tackles aloe vera, a bitter, medicinal-tasting plant he eased up by letting it sit overnight in a simple syrup with orange and lime juices. He then used cubes of the aloe in a somen noodle salad with tortillas, shrimp, bean sprouts, jicama, and slices of orange with tomatillo sauce. Next up is Carlos Gaytan of Mexique, challenged by Kim with dried shrimp. “We use it with a lot of stir-fries or rices—it gives it that tingly shellfish flavor that you just cannot get from using 20 pounds of shellfish shell,” Kim said.