This week’s pick has nothing to do with magic, it’s simply an oatmeal stout from one of our favorite breweries – Firestone Walker. “They can do no wrong,” says Hopleaf owner Michael Roper, and with its low alcohol and dark, rich finish, it’s a beer that’s well-suited to the cooler days ahead. Cheers to that.
Much has been made over the past year, regarding the restaurant’s final auction, the high school art show, etc., but I think one of Charlie Trotter’s greatest legacies – at least in terms of his contribution to Chicago’s culinary scene – is all of the great talent he molded, scolded, shaped, sharpened and ultimately sent off into the world. Many of his former employees stayed right here in Chicago, realizing that due to their former boss, the city had suddenly become more welcoming and willing to embrace new talent. You have to remember, Trotter was self-taught. After graduating from UW – Madison (Go Badgers) he traveled around the world, ate in the best restaurants for inspiration, then came home, and after a brief stint working for Gordon Sinclair on the North Shore, opened his eponymous restaurant with help from his father in 1987 – seven years before anyone was talking about the Food Network. He was the first to establish the Chef’s Table, put a premium on wine service (with a vast cellar to boot) and pushed his staff to be the best; that meant better than anything in New York City. I remember covering a dinner at the restaurant when Alain Ducasse was in town, and you would have thought the brigade was cooking for Francois Mitterand. Ducasse didn’t lift a finger the entire night (well, just to apply some gold leaf to the dessert). Everyone else was working so methodically, with such purpose, and yet there was this gentle buzz without anyone screaming. Trotter would “shush” the kitchen if it got too loud. Read More
They’re known for their pies, obviously, but Bang Bang Pie Shop in Logan Square is also rightly beloved for its biscuits. Unlike the pie crusts (which have lard in them) they stick to butter for the biscuits. But oh, how their heft and density boggle the mind. I could eat these everyday for breakfast, with a simple jam or marmalade, or better yet, one of the half-dozen butters or seasonal preserves they make in-house everyday. Bonus: they just started selling breakfast sandwiches featuring their candied bacon, eggs and sausage, so if you’re anywhere near Logan Square in the morning, you’ve got to stop by and try one.
Time again to plan another epic eating and drinking tour. This time, we’re heading in a very different direction. The goal is the same – we need about 20 people to make the trip happen – but this time around, we’ll have a lot more private, exclusive events, featuring some of the city’s best bartenders, chefs and tour guides. We’ll eat and drink more in four days than you’re probably accustomed to, but that’s what separates the boys from the men, so to speak.
So here’s a clue: that women in the picture will play a significant role in our tour – which occurs March 8 – 11 by the way. We’re going to have a private cocktail session with her, before heading off to the countryside, for a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. I can’t wait to tell you all about in a week or so. For now, you’ll have to just guess (and mark your calendars).
SAN DIEGO – This town doesn’t get a lot of love from the national food press, but if there was one dish this perpetually 70 degree city could lay claim to, it would be the fish taco. Like a New Orleans po’boy or a St. Louis toasted ravioli, the fish taco was born here, and it’s executed in more ways, with more specificity and expertise and than any other place in America. Born on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, just a short drive south from here, San Diego cooks have adopted, translated and re-fashioned the handheld snack in their own image. Read More
As we get closer to the holidays (seriously, already?) you’re going to see plenty of options for gift hunting. But I always prefer ones where there’s some high-quality food and drink to boot. The 5th annual Artisan Market Streeterville takes place next weekend – Nov. 9 and 10. Last year, organizers offered some really nice food offerings to enhance the art fair atmosphere.
This year, they’ve recruited another stellar list, including several vendors you may have seen at the NOSH or the Logan Square Farmer’s Market: Antique Taco, Bootleg Batard, Bon Macaron, Jo Snow Syrups, Karl’s Craft Soups, Lucilia’s Homemade (alfajores), Goddess and the Grocer, Metropolis Coffee, Tre Soldi, The Farinata Project, Veruca Chocolate, Rustic Tart and Do-Rite Donuts.
While they won’t be serving cocktails at the event, every attendee will receive a free booklet called “A Toast to Streeterville” featuring specialty recipes from such favorite neighborhood restaurants as RL, Deca, D4, Tre Soldi and The Grill on the Alley.
The fair will be held at the Ryan Family Atrium of Lurie Research Center of Northwestern, 303 East Superior St. Hours are 10-5 p.m. Saturday and 10-4 p.m. Sunday.