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Event Mon Sep 15 2008

Renegade Food

Bite at RenegadeI hadn't planned on staying at Renegade Craft Fair long enough to get hungry, but Bigbite Catering pulled my friend in with a "Vegetarian & Vegan friendly" sign. She's neither veg nor vegan, but she's a big fan of the cuisine. BBQ seitan tacos were in front of us minutes later, under an umbrella on Division Street in the rain watching wellies and flip-flops go by as the moment's predominate choice in footwear. After hours of looking and buying, we were getting great service steps away at Via Carducci La Sorella by a friendly but down-to-business waiter who'd gone to the kitchen to check if the risotto special could be made vegan.

Bigbite, the catering arm of Bite Cafe, had a tempting spinach pie, but since I'm a sucker for anything with Upton's seitan, my choice was obvious. Sadly, neither of these items is on the menu at Bite Cafe, but I hear that they use the seitan in their hash. I seem to have lost some of my taste on account of a slightly sore throat, but the texture of the tacos was pleasingly moist of BBQ sauce while maintaining the seitan's requisite slight chewiness. Renegade for me was hours of running into friends and browsing the adorable paintings of Johanna Wright, temptingly hip vegan belts of Buncombe Buckles, soothing screenprinted fabrics of Maramiki, and industrial look of rings at Mike and Mary Jewelry. And finally, after the declining sun reminded me how long it had been, there was dinner.

A glass of red wine goes very well with Via Carducci La Sorella's crusty, warm and tender bread. The risotto special's rice was par-cooked with a bit of chicken or chicken stock, so my vegan-friendly friend and I went for their Spaghetti alla Napoletana - spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. She added eggplant and I requested spinach and extra garlic - without any cheese if they topped it off with some. I had smelled a deep, warm garlic flavor on the street, and suddenly couldn't imagine dinner without plenty it. I remembered the last time I'd been here, eating in the cozy gangway on the side. Now, after just one glass of well-tannined cabernet, I'd lost my fork in my pasta. I noticed another fork on my side, but I'm sure it wasn't intended as the backup I used it for. The spaghetti was cooked just right. My only complaint: it could have used more veggies on top. I like generous portions, where the spinach and tomatoes hide the pasta, like I remember by the piano at Orso's.

Illinois Master Gardener / September 16, 2008 9:40 AM

Renegade Craft Fair sounds like a great event with delish food; wish we had these going on in the 'burbs! Perhaps some of these veg restaurants could make it out here to Palatine or another northwest suburb! We are a desert when it comes to vegetarian/vegan food. Tofu and seitan are impossible to find unless you are grocery shopping!

More diverse foot coverings in the city, too!

jen / September 16, 2008 2:22 PM

ugh. sore throat. spellcheck?

Andrew / September 18, 2008 10:39 AM

Fixed. Thanks, Jen.

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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