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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, October 18

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Event Mon Sep 23 2013

Beyond Takito: Special Tasting Celebration

dsc_2277.jpgApparently, my brain has unconsciously decided to meet as many Top Chef contestants as possible, so when I was invited to spend a Sunday evening at Takito in Wicker Park, I couldn't well refuse. Despite my stubborn attempts to avoid Wicker Park and its brass-balled bicyclists, I was excited to participate in Takito's 6-month celebration, as Chef David Dworshak and Guest Chef Valerie Bolon (personal chef, Top Chef season 4, former Chopping Block School instructor) created a special menu just for the occasion.

Celebrating the end of summer and locally sourced products, this five-course menu was a marked departure from Takito's Mexican-inspired fare:

AMUSE-BOUCHE: Cherry tomato, chorizo, arugula

: Zucchini (zucchini bread, tempura pattypan, Capriole Wabash cannonball, sour cherry, pepitas, parsley)
The zucchini bread and tempura pattypan were pretty tasty, but the components didn't mesh as well as it read. The sour cherries, marinated in bitter alcohol, clashed with the sweet savory pepitas, and I didn't get any taste of parsley in the dish.

dsc_2264.jpgSECOND COURSE: Mohinga Branzino (Rice noodles, tamarind broth, sungold tomato, peanuts, turmeric, basil, and cilantro)
My absolute favorite course of the night. The crispy, peanut-encrusted branzino married perfectly with the sweet-sour tamarind broth, creating an authentic Thai-like dish that reminded me of my Bangkok visit.

dsc_2279.jpgTHIRD COURSE: Quail & Kale (Coconut creamed corn, black garlic agri dolce)
The succulent quail tasted like a gamier chicken, but the creamed corn, bathed in a light coconuty broth, was the real highlight of the dish. The addition of concord grapes in the agri dolce added that extra bite of sweetness.

dsc_2257.jpgFOURTH COURSE: Ol' MacDonald Had a Farm (Lamb sausage, braised kohlrabi, pork belly crisps, beef marrow jus, cucumber escabeche, pea shoots)
This dish was quite a plateload of umami (sausage, pork belly, AND bone marrow) but was executed in a way that didn't make me feel I was eating a plate of impending astherosciolosis. The cucumber and pea shoots added that essential freshness and greenness to the plate.

FIFTH COURSE: Peach Upside Down Cake (Whipped ricotta, macadamia shortbread, anise hyssop)
Magic happens when one combines peaches and cream, and magic happened in this dessert. The sweet little cake finished the tasting menu beautifully, offering that final perfect bite of summer.

dsc_2268.jpgOverall, I found my meal somewhat difficult to categorize as it wasn't quite Asian, Mexican or new American. And perhaps that was the point. As a chef, I'd imagine it's quite difficult always cooking the same dishes, the same cuisine--for that oh so hipster Wicker crowd. It's undoubtedly exciting for both chef and diner to experience new dishes so disparate from the normal menu offerings. In any case, if this special tasting course offers any insight into Takito's regular fare, I will definitely return.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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