|« Top Chef Chicago Spoilers||Hooked Up? »|
Feature Fri Feb 15 2008
Valentine's Day gives us all a solid opportunity to take on a box of chocolates. As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we mentally assemble a plate of turkey. But when is a good time to eat gumdrops? Empanadas? Surf and turf? National food holidays, as silly as they seem, serve as an eating schedule of sorts, and can settle the problem of having too many options for dinner. Let's review the upcoming week of food holidays to get some variety in our eating, and take some trips to places in the city to stay on target.
February 16: National Almond Day
What better way to celebrate this low-calorie protein source by throwing it into a dessert? Marche's Gateau cerise aux amandes is a delish sour cherry almond cake with Balaton cherries and cinnamon stick ice cream.
February 17: National Indian Pudding Day
Those of us who flock to the restaurants on Devon Avenue may think their rosewater- and cardamom-infused rice pudding is Indian Pudding, but we would be very wrong. Indian Pudding is a mushy custard made with molasses, spices, and cornmeal (aka "indian meal"). You could make it on your own; however, Crofton on Wells also makes a sleek, modern version of the dessert (Chicago Bites reviewed it as part of a recent visit).
February 18: National Drink Wine Day
I'm sure to a lot of people this holiday is EVERY day. GB contributor Sean Ludford of BevX is the place to go for this resource. Read some of their newest wine reviews to get some suggestions to celebrate.
February 19: National Chocolate Mint Day
Hello, Frangos! I defer to fellow GB Staffer Bobbi Bowers on this one, as she recently reviewed the Frango Cookbook: Simple Recipes and Sweet Ideas, which features such decadent sweets like the Flourless Frango Chocolate Cake. Yum-o!
February 20: National Margarita Day
This is where I get foggy. The last time I drank a margarita was in college at a sports bar called the Pitchers Mound which was located in a strip mall next to a Shopko. Eh, I miss Shopko. Anyway, I turned to Citysearch's Best Margaritas in Chicago list from last year, which hails Old Town's Salpicon as the city's best margarita makers.
February 21: National Sticky Bun Day
I usually stay away from vegan bakeries (I'm more of a Dolly Madison person if you get what I mean), but Bleeding Heart Bakery's pecan sticky bun is out of this world. Go see them at their Damen and Belmont location.
February 22: National Cherry Pie Day
Today is George Washington's 276th birthday, and even though there is no evidence that he chopped down a cherry tree and "could not tell a lie" when asked if he was the culprit, the cherry is symbolic of the country's first president. I know that I cannot tell a lie when it comes to brunch food: I get the savory, eggs and bacony meal but I always want the sweet dish on the menu. This weekend I will be living free (like George wanted!) and celebrating this holiday early by ordering Lula Cafe's vanilla custard stuffed brioche french toast with chocolate, goat's milk creme fraiche, and dried cherry chutney. I will then struggle home to watch old episodes of Arrested Development. Ah, the weekend.
February 23: National Banana Bread Day
I'm a big fan of banana bread, as it is a great way to use dying bananas and seems like a healthy alternative to the sweets I normally want to eat. While I am very happy with my mother's amazing recipe that can move mountains and possibly create peace in the Middle East, I highly recommend the moist, sweet banana bread at Logan Square/Avondale's Golden Rise Bakery, which is a tasty (and much-needed) addition to the neighborhood.