This week, we’re off to Bridgeport, just south of downtown Chicago, home to countless mayors and one of the city’s legendary bakeries. At the Bridgeport Bakery (no website, how quaint), they’re gearing up for Paczki Day right about now, but one thing you can always count on are the doughnuts. Both yeast and cake versions exist side-by-side here, and after one bite, you’ll see why this tiny bakery engenders such loyalty among the locals.
If there’s one skill you need to have up your sleeve (if you ever want to be a pastry chef), it’s knowing how to make a proper meringue. At least that’s the gospel according to Keegan Gerhard. The former Executive Pastry Chef at Chicago’s Four Seasons has logged time at Trotter’s, and continues to host a number of Food Network pastry battles, but his day job is owner of d Bar Desserts in Denver (and soon to be San Diego). Clearly, the guy knows how to make a meringue, but more important, he knows it’s a skill any home baker should have in their arsenal. He showed me how it’s done recently, from behind the d Bar itself.
Thank god it’s not BYOW (bring your own Wetnaps), because you’d need a truckload if you were headed to the 13th annual WingFest on February 26th. Problem is, if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you’re out of luck; the 2000 tickets are already gone. Sold out. But you still have a chance to go this month, and score VIP status for you and a friend in the process, if you’re willing to show me why you deserve them. Read More
Merriam-Webster defines a club sandwich as “a sandwich of three slices of bread with two layers of meat (as turkey) and lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.” You can, of course, find these just about anywhere they make standard sandwiches in Chicago, but chefs today are rarely content to simply abide by the textbook definition of anything. They must constantly improvise and adapt. Ironically, some of the city’s private clubs (Women’s Athletic, Tavern, Standard, etc.) make really good ones, but alas, unless you’re a member, you’re out of luck. Read More
This week, Michael introduces us to a mega bottle from Sierra Nevada, called Ovila. It’s a unique, Abbey Quad style beer with a very unique cause behind it. If you like a little bit of caramel flavor with your beer, then this is the one to try (probably better toward the end of the meal). Cheers.
Unlike the dark ages of the early ’00s, you can now find decent fish tacos around Chicago. One of the best Baja-style versions is at La Lagartija on the Near West Side, but for the real deal, you still have to drive out to Glen Ellyn to try Chicks ‘n Salsa. If you’d like to try a more elegant riff on this beachside staple, you should also head to Province, in the West Loop. I love the menu here, and Chef Randy Zweiban still has a knack for combining Latin ingredients and infusing them with some textural contrasts. His fish taco is a winner: spice-seared ahi tuna, pickled vegetables and a masa dough that has just the smallest amount of pork fat in it to enrich the shell, all combine to make one of the best fish tacos I’ve had in awhile.