When I first heard this week’s BotW, I thought there was some Star Wars connection. But when The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper told me it was connected to the Firestone family – yes, the same one that produce tires – I thought, how good could this possibly be? Turns out, if you like your beers deep and dark, with more than a hint of rye, you’re going to love this week’s pick. Cheers.
Every time I drive by La Unica Food Mart, in Rogers Park, I’m struck by how hidden away this gem truly is. I bet 99.9% of the people who cruise down Devon Avenue – either on their way to the Indian/Pakistani restaurants, or to the Lake – think it’s just another Hispanic grocery store. But of course, all of us devotees know that in the back, past the frozen cases stuffed with arepas and tropical fruit pulp, is a cozy cafe with some of the best Cuban food in Chicago. One of my favorites here has always been the flan, which is as creamy and smooth and luscious as any version I’ve ever had. Buen Provecho.
One would think recipes – at least in the beer brewing world – would be secret. But The Hopleaf‘s Mike Roper says there have been a lot of collaborations lately. Today’s BotW is no exception. It’s a team effort between Grand Rapids brewery Vivant and Colorado’s New Belgium. They’ve produced a lovely (and high alcohol) biere de garde, a French style that is absolutely perfect with the cheese course you might be serving at your next party. Cheers.
This week, The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper is looking all the way east, to Portland, Maine, where the Allagash Brewery is producing a series of beers in honor of some of their heroes of sustainability. They begin with Hugh Malone, whom I’ve never heard of, but who fronts a rather fresh-tasting Belgian style IPA this week. Cheers.
We’re off to Morocco this week, sort of. At least on West Irving Park Road. I guarantee you’ve probably whizzed by Shokran on the way to Smoque BBQ or at the very least, were probably focusing more on the exit/on ramp for the Kennedy Expressway than you were on the storefront here. It’s easy to miss. But do yourself a favor and stop in for the spice-laden tagines and the hearty bisteeya. The former are fragrant stews served in conical clay vessels; the latter, a sweet-savory mashup that’s harder than ever to find in Chicago. Thanks to Todd Rosenberg (@toddrphoto) for the fine videography work as always.
For our final BotW for 2012 (can’t believe we started this feature almost a year ago), The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper is thinking seasonal, harvest ales. These are beers that are ready to drink. Right now. So go grab one, and tell a friend to join you for a taste of the season, as in fresh hops. Cheers to a happy new year.