Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, May 19

Gapers Block

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Event Wed Dec 23 2015

Mark Your Calendars: Supper Club Doc at Siskel

Fun fact I learned about the Old-Fashioned while watching Holly DeRuyter's documentary "OId-Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club": Korbel set up a booth at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 to introduce the world to their brandy, which became popular with the Fair's many German customers, who brought it north to Wisconsin. The state is still the top buyer of brandy today, because hey, an Old-Fashioned with whiskey is downright heresy.

DeRuyter's documentary, which was crowdfunded (we enthusiastically covered it back in 2011), makes its Chicago debut on Jan. 23rd at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State) for two screenings. The film does a great job of tracing the origins and distinctive style of the (mostly) Wisconsin-based restaurant phenomenon known for its relish trays, ice cream drinks and fried perch, as well as the role the supper club plays in their community for being a beloved meeting spot for locals and tourists (even the Chicago gangsters of the 1930s liked them). It's hard to watch this on an empty stomach, so if you have a car, you can be at the Wisconsin border in an hour.

Robyn Nisi

Beer Thu Dec 10 2015

Some Like It Dark

Three big stout events this week, beer fans.

Tonight at Fischman Liquors, 4776 N. Milwaukee Ave., Lake Effect Brewing and Superdawg celebrate the release of SuperShake, a chocolate malt milkshake-inspired stout that joins the line of collaborations between the brewery and hot dog stand. Starting at 6pm, stop by to sample SuperShake as well as SuperBier and WhoopskiBier. There will be Superdawg and Whoopskidawg samples to pair with their respective beers, ice cream to make SuperShake floats, and a raffle for branded glassware and other stuff.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Event Mon Dec 07 2015

Because We Could Use a Treat Right Now

Bertha Palmer 1.jpgBeginning at 11:30am tomorrow, the Palmer House Hilton (17 E. Monroe) will be giving out free brownies to celebrate National Brownie Day from its real, actual birthplace. Fun fact: in 1893, Bertha Honore Palmer (pictured), wife of dry goods merchant and hotelier Potter Palmer, commissioned a simple, transportable "ladies' dessert" from the Palmer House chef to be served in box lunches at the Women's Building at the Columbian Exposition. Even more fun of a fact: brownies are easy to make and schlep to a holiday potluck. Bertha was a genius.

Robyn Nisi

Event Thu Dec 03 2015

Get German Foodstuffs at Christkindlmarket!

Roasted_Almonds_Vendor_by_True_Shot_Studios.jpgStrudel and pretzels, yah?? Yah. If you're in the Loop this December, stop by Christkindlmarket in the Daley Plaza. More than half of the vendors at the market travel from Germany to Chicago to share their traditional offerings, including hand-made holiday ornaments and wooden toys.

For the food-inclined, there is schnitzel, pretzels, potato pancakes, bratwurst, freshly-roasted nuts, and sweet candies. Also look forward to imported German beer (because let's face it, Germans do beer really well) or Glühwein (hot spiced wine)!

Chicago Location: Daley Plaza in the Loop (There's also a market in Oakbrook)
Dates & Times: Friday, November 20 - Wednesday, December 23
Sundays - Thursdays 11am - 8pm
Fridays & Saturdays 11am - 9pm

Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Eve
11am - 4pm

Judy Wu

Event Mon Nov 16 2015

Thanksgiving Dining Round-Up in Chicago

Chix & Waffles.jpgHash House A Go Go
Hash House A Go Go on the Gold Coast will be offering a buffet of their brunch items from 3 to 9pm on Thursday, Nov. 26, for $29.95 a person. Dishes include turkey with rosemary gravy, their famous sage-fried chicken and waffles, mashed potatoes, house-made biscuits, and a pie assortment.

Dolce Italian
Dolce Italian in River North will be offering a $60/person prix fixe menu on Thursday from 2 to 9pm. Diners begin the meal with antipasti starters (chestnut soup or salad), followed by pasta, including butternut squash ravioli. The main course will include roasted turkey, plus additional meat-centric dishes. Desserts include an apple tart with vanilla ice cream. If their Thanksgiving menu is anything as good as their regular menu, I would strongly suggest this.

Frontier will be roasting a relatively tame meat for diners next week. $75 will get you a 15-pound turkey or $95 for a 20-pound turkey. Orders must be placed by Monday, Nov. 23, and turkeys can be picked up at the restaurant from 9am to noon on Thanksgiving day. Sides include mac and cheese, string beans, potato salad and sweet potato puree. Book your turkey at 773-772-4322.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu

Event Tue Oct 27 2015

Old Town Restaurant Week from Oct 26-31

rsz_javi_omar_2.jpgFollowing the footsteps of adjacent neighborhoods, Old Town will be hosting its own Restaurant Week starting Monday, October 26 to Saturday, October 31. 15 restaurants in this artsy but yet affluent community will be offering special menu options, cooking demonstrations and fantastic dining deals. See below for additional details:

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu

Event Wed Oct 21 2015

Crawl into Sugar Shock in Andersonville Sunday

Aville_DessertCrawl2015.jpgThe Andersonville Dessert Crawl is back this Sunday, Oct. 25, ready to tempt your sweet tooth with two routes that take you through the neighborhood's many restaurants, shops and cafes.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 day-of at the Swedish-American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St. The museum is also where to register and pick up your passport for the crawl. Pick a route -- "Caramel Apple" Route or "Candy Corn" -- and graze your way up and down Clark Street and beyond, enjoying sweet treats from 2pm to 5pm.

Highlights from the Caramel Apple route include a flan-stuffed concha at Cantina 1910, coconut custard with brownie brittle and hot cider at Vincent, and Swedish Bakery cookies at Andersonville Antiques. On the Candy Corn route, look for apple streusel pie bites at First Slice, lemon creme pie with seins du chocolat at M.Henry and pumpkin cheesecake with caramelized walnuts at Andies.

Andrew Huff

Event Fri Sep 25 2015

Underground Indonesian Feast on October 4th

Rijsttafel_Den_Haag_Javastraat.jpgRooted in Dutch colonial tradition, an Indonesian "Rijsttafel" (literally "rice table") is a feast of massive proportion. The sheer variety and number of dishes is meant to astound with extravagance. The Rice Table team in Chicago will be holding their own rijsttafel on October 4th in a secret location in Bucktown. The 15-dish, family-style meal will include classics, such as pork sates, sambal tempeh, gado gado, and 1000 layer spice cake.

Doors open at 6:30pm with dinner service beginning 7:00pm. BYOB. Tickets are $50.00 per person (tax included but without gratuity) and can be purchase by emailing

See below for menu.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu

Event Thu Sep 24 2015

The Whistler Celebrates 7 Years Tonight

whistler anniversary party.png
If The Whistler owners Billy Helmkamp and Rob Brenner had set out to open one of the best cocktail bars in America, an accolade among others awarded to them by GQ, they likely wouldn't have achieved it; the world doesn't seem to align that way. If fact, The Whistler was never actually intended to be a bar when Brenner first purchased it in 2008 and called upon Helmkamp to join him. The two had previously met at NYU and had collaborated in the Chicago artists collective scene, hosting live underground events in various warehouses across the city.

After tossing around several ideas, they eventually landed on a music venue on the first floor. This led to the idea of beer. "We thought, if we're going to have a music venue then it would be awesome to sell beer," says Helmkamp. Easy enough, but neither had experience in the bar business. What they did have were industry relationships with OG's at places like Empty Bottle and The Hideout who helped answer any questions their "How to Start a Bar" Amazon-bought books couldn't.

With every intention of running the bar program themselves, a serendipitous chain of events that would introduce them to industry vet Paul McGee would take The Whistler in a direction Helmkamp and Brenner likely never imagined. "We had never been to Violet Hour and didn't know there was even a cocktail scene to be a part of," says Helmkamp. "McGee had just landed in Chicago off of being Wolfgang Puck's right-hand man in Las Vegas. "I've always been a big proponent of surrounding yourself with people who know more than you. I think McGee thought doing something on the mom-pop scale was very attractive." The three collaborated on the vision with McGee becoming the face while Helmkamp and Brenner took the much-preferred backstage. "When we opened we were getting so many press inquiries. If Paul wasn't around, we may not have done all the media we did."

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin

Event Mon Sep 21 2015

Heritage Pig BBQ Competition & Tasting this Weekend

cochon 555.jpgFor those without tickets to Chicago Gourmet this weekend, there is another event worth attending: Cochon 555's Heritage BBQ competition. Pork lovers will indulge in culinary creations from 15 esteemed chefs, five of whom will each have to create six dishes from an entire pig to earn the crown of "BBQ King or Queen."

Hosted at Morgan Manufacturing, this year's five competing chefs include Alfredo Nogueira (Analogue), Ed Sura (Perennial Virant), Scott Manley (Table, Donkey & Stick), Chris Curren (Seven Lions), and Jonathan Meyer (Freehand Chicago). Non-competing chefs include Chrissy Camba (Maddy's Dumpling House), John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina), Mitch Cavanah (GT Fish and Oyster), and Dylan Lipe (Blackwood BBQ).

The tasting event not only features lots of porky goodness, but also premium wines, artisan cheeses, and first-class liquor. General admission tickets can be purchased online for $100, or $200 for VIP tickets (both of which feature endless libations). The event starts at 5PM this Sunday, September 27, at Morgan Manufacturing (401 N Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60642).

Judy Wu

Event Mon Sep 21 2015

30 Chefs Compete in Culinary Face-off Next Thursday

rsz_common_threads_poster.jpg30 chefs from Chicago's best restaurants will gather next Thursday in the Loop to compete in a culinary challenge benefitting the fight against childhood obesity. Hosted by Common Threads, this 5th annual charity event will feature restaurants like Bar Siena, Sable, Perennial Virant, and Yusho, all vying for the best dish in four different categories: the garden, the pasture, the seed, or the barrel. The event will take place Thursday, October 1st from 6:30 - 9:30pm at Revel Downtown (440 W. Randolph). Tickets cost $85 online.

Common Threads is a non-profit dedicated to educating underprivileged communities on healthy food choices through hands-on cooking. The organization has served more than 40,000 kids across eight major cities in the US, including Chicago. 100% of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Common Threads.

Judy Wu

Event Sat Sep 19 2015

The Foodseum Joins Chicago's Museum Scene

foodseum hotdog"What begins with an M and ends with an M?" my father asks 6-year-old me while driving in our '57 green and silver Pontiac (with fins). I've hated riddles ever since, but that ride down Lake Shore Drive to a captured German U-boat coupled with a coal mine turned me into a lifelong museum geek. Besides obligatory visits to the Smithsonian and Louvre, there's been Medieval torture in Tuscany, erotica in Paris and Vinny Van Gogh in Amsterdam, to name a few.

Chicago boasts an illustrious history of fine museums both small and large. A cultural Mecca of sorts took root with the Columbian Exposition of 1893 -- the alluded to above Museum of Science and Industry being a remnant of it. So it is with great interest that a three-month pop-up Foodseum is opening with a Chicagocentric exhibit titled "The Hot Dog and Encased Meats of the World."

Interactive exhibits that will stimulate the senses via touch, smell and taste are planned. Unfortunately, none were in tact on the press preview visit the night prior to opening and additional info requested was not available. While there's plenty of potential and some interesting factoids to be gleaned, I couldn't help but wish there was quite a bit more to "drag through the garden."

Sept. 19-Dec. 20, 2015
Block 37 (2nd Floor)
109 N. Dearborn St. Chicago
Wednesday-Sunday 11am-7pm

Alan Lake

Event Thu Sep 17 2015

Celebrate Mid-Autumn with Mooncakes

The Peninsula Chicago Moon Mooncakes.JPG

While the end of September marks the the beginning of fall, it is also the celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, a historic holiday second to the Chinese New Year celebrating harvest time and the brightest moon of the year.

Dating backing to the Shang Dynasty, the festival falls on either the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Han calendar or on the night of the full moon between September and October. This year's celebration happens to fall on Sept. 27. Regions and families celebrate it differently, but one elemental part of the festival is the eating of the mooncake -- a traditional, palm-sized baked sweetcake with a dense filling -- usually accompanied by tea.

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin

Event Wed Sep 02 2015

BBQ Bonanza Next Weekend at Soldier Field

bbqz.jpgBarbecue is actually an amalgamation of cooking techniques, including smoking, baking, braising, and grilling. Such level of complexity, combined with sauce preferences, makes BBQ a deeply sensitive subject. Kansas City, Memphis, Central Texas, or the Carolinas? Cow, pig, or chicken? Sour sauce or sweet sauce? Blood has literally been spilt over the matter.

Chicago is no exception to this intense competition. For the fourth year in a row, 70 BBQ teams will compete in the Windy City BBQ Classic, the only BBQ competition in Chicago to be sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), the largest competitive organization in the world. The winner will be automatically qualified to compete in the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, the Oscars of the BBQ community.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu

Event Thu Aug 06 2015

Chicago Hot Dog Fest Takes Over Lincoln Park this Weekend

hotdogfest.pngFinally, a weekend combining learning and eating. The Chicago History Museum puts on a three-day lovefest for the hot dog starting this Friday in Lincoln Park (Clark and LaSalle), featuring the stylings of local joints such as Fatso's Last Stand and Chubby Wieners, music from a very long list of tribute and cover bands (Led Zeppelin!) and other rockers. But the real draw will be the lecture series on the history and cultural significance of the hot dog--especially in a city that takes them so seriously that certain places won't even serve ketchup to keep their integrity intact--with historians like NU prof Bill Savage, Bruce Kraig and Rich Bowen speaking. Admission free; event runs 11am-9pm Friday and Saturday, 11am-8am Sunday.

Robyn Nisi

Event Fri Jul 24 2015

The Ultimate Dinner Party


The appeal of most underground supper clubs is that they are secret-- sexy, slightly illicit dining for the in-the-know crowd. But the new pop up dinner series Filigree Suppers goes beyond the supper club model, elevating the best parts of an intimate dinner party without the exclusivity.

Continue reading this entry »

Annie Conway

Event Thu Jul 23 2015

CoffeeCon Not Just for Coffee Pros

ccin.jpgCoffeeCon Chicago is coming to town this Saturday at Morgan Manufacturing (401 N. Morgan St.) from 9 am to 4 pm. This festival differs from other national coffee conventions in that it's largely designed for coffee consumers and home brewers, not coffee professionals. Whether you're simply looking to cut ties with your Keurig or you're a manual-method master, there will likely be something here for you.

General admission grants attendees access to unlimited coffee tastings from twenty different roasters, panel discussions led by top industry experts, prize giveaways, and interactive classes on topics ranging from how to use a Chemex or Areopress to latte art and grind technique.

Continue reading this entry »

Jessica Easto

Beer Tue Jul 21 2015

Beer Briefs: Barrelhouses, Festivals & Home Brews

micro brew reviewUne Annee is building a barrelhouse and tap room, expected to be open in early 2016. Following in the footsteps of many other small breweries, including Begyle and Breakroom, Une Annee is implementing a membership program to help bootstrap the project. Join Le Grand Monde for $100 and you'll get a t-shirt, six 750ml bottles of the brewery's sour beers throughout the year, a bottle each of the special Quad and Airing of Grievances brews, and a 10 percent discount at the barrelhouse. A "platinum" option is available for $300 that includes quite a bit more swag, double the beer and an invitation to the soft opening.

Tickets are on sale now for the eighth annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review in downtown Oak Park on Aug. 15. More than 70 breweries will offer over 200 different beers, and there will also be food from local restaurants and live music on four stages. $50 gets you 40 beer samples and a souvenir tasting glass. Tickets for the Replicale Project, in which breweries create their own interpretations of a specific beer style (this year it's saison) are $60.

Mash Tun Journal has announced the call for entries for the 2015 Homebrewer's Ball, which will be held Aug. 23 at the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Only 25 beers will compete, and the grand prize will be brewed and distributed by Marz Community Brewing.

Andrew Huff

Event Fri Jul 10 2015

Table, Back to Farm

For those who don't plan their summers in early March, when the ground is frozen, the world is dreary and gray and people begin reserving the best Air BNB rentals in Michigan for a warm weekend several months away, farm dinners are an affordable alternative for getting out of the city for a few hours. Here are a few good Illinois-based places for your temporary vacation, by distance:

farm_dinners_table.jpg25 Miles
Chicago Botanical Garden (1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe) starts their farm dinner series this Wednesday, with Cleetus Friedman (Fountainhead, Bar on Buena) at the grill for the season. Tour their Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, with members of the talented the Windy City Harvey Youth Farm discussing their work (your $220 ticket cost benefits their fine program). Dine under the grape arbor (pictured), but get out before the concert at nearby Ravinia lets out. You may have to sleep there. Other dinners are Aug. 12th and Sept. 5th.

50 Miles
Heritage Prairie Farm (Elburn) is located four miles from the second-to-last stop on the Union Pacific West Metra line; bring a bike for the trip to their weekly Wednesday pizza nights (5pm) from their onsite wood-fired oven, topped with freshly picked ingredients. Other events include dinners featuring drink collaborations with Fox River Distilling Company (July 16th), Penrose Brewing (Aug. 6th), Bell's (Oct. 15th), and a Friendsgiving dinner (Nov 5th).Tickets $90.

75+ Miles
Angelic Organics (Caledonia) holds its annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner July 25th. A team of local talent (from Lula Cafe, The Kitchen, Reno, Octane and Bang Bang) will make a five-course meal. Tickets start at $175.

100+ Miles
Slagel Family Farms (Fairbury) offers monthly Saturday dinners, with a smattering of their Chicago customers concocting a multi-course meal with drinks for guests. The $125 ticket (children $25) includes a chartered bus to and from the city, livestock tours, and a butchering demo. Upcoming dinners are July 18th ( Three Aces, Bedford and Carriage House), Aug. 15th (Oak & Char), Sept. 26th (the former Nightwood/Lula & Rootstock), Oct. 3rd (Osteria Via Stato & White Oak Tavern).

Mint Creek Farm (Stelle) offers monthly Saturday dinners that begin with a trolley pickup at the nearby Greenhouse Bed and Breakfast (make a weekend of it!) , followed by an interactive farm tour, and an onsite meal also prepared by several of Mint Creek's Chicago customers. The next dinner will be July 18th (Lula Cafe), Sept. 19th (Cellar Door Provisions), and Oct. 10th (Honey Butter Fried Chicken & Sunday Dinner Club). Tickets for adults $67-79; children $23-27.

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery (Champaign) mixes up their farm dinner with series with chefs from the city as well as the country. Their first farm dinner is tomorrow (tickets still available!), with Cleetus Friedman (the man loves farms!) pairing dishes with beers from New Holland Brewery (which is a great trip in itself, by the way). A backyard BBQ, Mexican, and squash/pumpkin dinners are also on the schedule, but if you want to keep it Chicago-connected, future dinners (they have many!) include a visit from chefs from Sunday Dinner Club and Honey Butter Fried Chicken (Sept. 12th), Perennial Virant (Oct. 12th), and The Radler (Nov. 7th). Tickets $85-125.

Robyn Nisi

Event Wed Jul 08 2015

A Taste Away from the Taste

taste of chicago chef du jourThe Taste of Chicago, which kicks off at noon today for five days of a lot of turkey legs and such, is also offering a separate Celebrity Chef du Jour series featuring prix fixe meals from some very impressive names. prepared with help from students at Washburne Culinary Institute.

Tickets ($45 per person) are still available for tonight's collaboration of The Boarding House's Tanya Baker with sommelier Alpana Singh; spaces are also left for Sunday's dinner with Philip Foss of EL Ideas.

Robyn Nisi

Chef Mon Jul 06 2015

Intro Shows Off Chef Erik Anderson

intro13.jpgThe kitchen of Lincoln Park-based Intro is more of an artist's atelier than a service-battered workhorse: pristine surfaces, stately appliances, a buzz of focus and dedication. As part of Pepcid's second annual Tastemakers series, guests were given a privileged glimpse behind the scenes of a four-course French-inspired tasting menu.


As a restaurant cook myself, the idea of people wandering through the kitchen during service rattled me. There is always a distinct division between front of house and back of house-- at least in my world. However, the cooks at Intro were unfazed: crowd of curious strangers or no, the appetizers still needed to be impeccable. Not to mention the desire to impress Chef, looming watchfully over your shoulder.

intro11.JPGChef Erik Anderson, to be specific-- the current chef-in-residence at Intro's rotating roster of chefs who transform the space into their own vision for a few months at a time before moving on and making room for the next. His impressive resume includes time at The French Laundry and Nashville's the Catbird Seat, not to mention a James Beard award nomination. His upcoming project is to open a Minneapolis-based modern French restaurant called Brut. In the meantime, Chicago gets a slice of the action.

Created in collaboration with former L2O chef Matthew Kirkley, the meal was stunning. Highly technical but never sacrificing flavor, their combined talents shone through especially with seafood: a bite of fresh oyster with cucumber and buttermilk pearls, coins of smoked salmon that dissolved on the tongue.

intro01.JPGChef Anderson's tasting menu is still available through July 25. Visit Intro's website for further information on reservations.

Danielle Snow

Event Wed Jul 01 2015

Gapers Block Hosts Third Annual Hot Dog Cookoff for Charity August 1

Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff 2015
Join Gapers Block for the third annual Hot Dog Cookoff on Saturday, Aug. 1 from noon to 5pm in the parking lot at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., to taste new interpretations of the classic red hot by chefs from Harmony Grill, Wiener and Still Champion, Monti's, and two-time defending champions ManBQue.

Participating chefs will start with Vienna Beef hot dogs, but may use them in any way they'd like. Last year's dishes included tacos, Hong Kong-style buns, "Chicago style" dumplings, Buffalo cheese dogs, barbecue and even minty hot dog "chewing gum." We have no idea what they'll come up with this year, but we have a feeling it will go way beyond mustard and relish.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Event Thu Jun 25 2015

Preview: Taste of Chicago in Grant Park July 8-12

rsz_img_0031.jpgThe Taste of Chicago is like the Stannis Baratheon of the Chicago food scene -- it plays a major role but somehow manages to leave no impression at all. It serves consistently lukewarm food, which among other things like obnoxious crowds, means it's never going beat Chicago Gourmet.

And yet, the Taste of Chicago can be a fun event if you find the right things to do -- aka, don't eat Mariano's new line of frozen pizza. Every year, the event expands with more vendors, sponsors, food trucks, entertainment acts, and celebrity chefs, so I suggest researching beforehand to lay out your plan of attack. This year, there are going to be "celebrity dinners" featuring James Beard winners and pop-up stalls featuring first-time vendors.

Taste of Chicago will take place July 8-12 at Grant Park. Visitors enjoy free admission, but a strip of 12 food tickets costs $8.50 and "taste of" portions will cost $2.50 or less.

Judy Wu / Comments (1)

Bar Mon Jun 15 2015

Gone South at Hideout's "A Day in the Country"

hideout1.jpgSunday's "A Day in the Country" at the Hideout looked like it was plucked straight out of a summery, smoky day in the south and dropped right in the middle of an otherwise gloomy Chicago--warm weather, lawn chairs, and plenty of dancing late into the night.

The music, of course, was the main event. A wide array of country-rooted styles including the punk rock-tinged jams of the Siderunners and the velvety crooning of Sarah Potenza drew a devoted crowd. Event organizer and local musician Lawrence Peters played one of the liveliest sets of the night, transforming the Hideout into a swirling dance floor.

htbbq.jpgThe food included Honky Tonk BBQ's pulled pork sandwiches and corn on the cob, and Bang Bang Pie provided dessert (which disappeared very quickly). Lagunitas Brewery was featured on tap.

If you were unable to make the event, or simply looking to find out more about the music you heard, check out the following links to transport you back to A Day in the Country.

The Lawrence Peters Outift

Derek Hoke
Chuck Mead and his Grassy Knoll Boys
Sarah Potenza

For upcoming events at the Hideout, click here.

Danielle Snow

Event Wed Jun 10 2015

Escape to A Day in the Country at the Hideout

ADITC_poster.jpgIt'll be a pie-eatin', beer-guzzlin' good time at the eighth annual "A Day in the Country" music extravaganza, this upcoming Sunday at the Hideout.

Presented by Chicago-based musician Lawrence Peters, the all-day event will feature brews from Lagunitas Brewing Company, pies from Bang Bang, and barbecue from Honky Tonk BBQ-- representing the best of Chicago's picnic-ready food and drink.

Peters has also invited an array of bands representing a wide spectrum of country music genres, including bluegrass and honky tonk. Artists such as headliner Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys, Derek Hoke, Sarah Potenza, and Peters' own The Lawrence Peters Outfit perform throughout the day across two different stages.

ADINTC.jpgStop by the Hideout on Sunday, June 14 to be a part of the action. Doors open at 1 pm and performances continue until 11 pm. Click here to see the full lineup. Tickets are $10 and the Hideout is located at 1354 W. Wabansia.

Danielle Snow

Beer Mon Jun 01 2015

Get 'Cha Drink On at Twisted Spoke This Thursday

Twisted Spoke.png
Twisted Spoke often gets overlooked as just a biker bar, but for over the past two decades it has been offering Chicago good food, arguably one of the largest brown liquor selections and an attention to craft beer that goes way beyond what has emerged in the past few years.

And they are inviting you this Thursday, June 4 as they tap 20 rare beers in celebration of their 20th birthday. Beers include New Belgium Twisted Spoke 15th Anniversary Collaboration, Three Floyds Alpha Kong, Bells Le Contrebassiste, Surly Pentagram, Sierra Bourbon Barrel Aged Bigfoot, Arcadia Bourbon Barrel Aged Cereal Killer and others. Additional specialty beers and exclusive whiskeys can be found, along with bites from the menu like The Fatboy, Twisted Spoke's signature burger.

The boozing starts at 6pm and goes into 2am. There is no cover charge and drink prices vary.

Twisted Spoke
501 N. Ogden Ave.

Brandy Gonsoulin

Event Mon May 18 2015

Farmers Markets Opening for Business

I don't think it's going to snow anymore, so it's time to look forward to the opening of the city's many farmers markets this month and next.

Already Open:

  • Green City Market (Clark & Lincoln), Wednesdays and Saturdays 7am-1pm

  • Daley Plaza Farmers Market (50 W. Washington), Thursdays 7am-2pm

  • Division Street Market (Division & Dearborn), Saturdays 7am-1pm

  • Lincoln Park Farmers Market (2001 N. Orchard), Saturdays 7am-1pm

  • Beverly Farmers Market (95th and Longwood), Sundays 7am-1pm

  • 61st Street Farmers Market (6100 S. Blackstone), Saturdays 9am-2pm

  • Logan Square Farmers Market (3107 W. Logan Blvd), Sundays 10am-3pm
  • May:

  • Federal Plaza Farmers Market (Adams & Dearborn), Tuesdays 7am-3pm (starting tomorrow)

  • Andersonville Farmers Market (1500 W. Berwyn), Wednesdays 3-8pm (starting May 20th)

  • Edison Park Farmers Market (6730 N. Olmsted), monthly Wednesdays 4-8pm (starting May 27th; June 24th, August 26th, September 30th, October date TBD)

  • Pilsen Community Market (1800 S. Halsted St.), Sundays 9am-2pm (starting May 31st)
  • June:

  • Lincoln Square Farmers Market (Lincoln, Leland & Western), Tuesdays 7am-1pm (starting June 3rd)

  • Low Line Farmers Market (Southport Brown Line Station), Thursdays 3-8pm (starting June 4th)

  • El Conuco Farmers Market at Humboldt Park (California & Division), Saturdays 10am-3pm (starting June 6th)

  • Horner Park Farmers Market (2741 W. Montrose Ave.), Saturdays 9am-1pm (starting June 6th)

  • Portage Park Farmers Market (Berteau & Central), Sundays 10am-2pm (starting June 7th)

  • Glenwood Farmers Market (6950 N. Morse Ave.), Sundays 9am-2pm (starting June 7th)

  • Loyola Farmers Market (6550 N. Sheridan), Mondays 3-7pm (starting June 8th)

  • Fulton Market Farmers Market (Fulton, between Peoria & Green), Wednesdays 4-8pm (starting June 10th)

  • Northcenter Farmers Market (Belle Plaine, Damen & Lincoln), Saturdays 7am-1pm (starting June 13th)

  • Garfield Park Community Market (200 N. Kedzie Ave.), monthly Saturdays 10am-1pm (starting June 13th) and monthly Thursdays 10am-1pm (starting June 18th)

  • Edgewater Farmers Market (1200 W. Norwood Ave.) Saturdays 8am-1pm (starting June 13th)

  • Jefferson Park Sunday Market (Lawrence & Long), Saturdays 9:30am-1:30pm (starting June 14th)

  • Wicker Park Farmers Market (1425 N. Damen Ave.), Sundays 8am-2pm (starting June 14th)

  • Bridgeport Art Center Farmers Market (1200 W. 35th St.), Saturdays 7am-1pm (starting June 20th)

  • Printers Row Farmers Market (Dearborn & Polk), Saturdays 7am-1pm (starting June 20th)

  • Southport Farmers Market (1420 W. Grace), Saturdays 8am-2pm (starting June 20th)

  • Garfield Park Conservatory Farmers Market (300 N. Central Park Ave.), Sundays 11am-4pm (starting June 21st)

  • South Shore Farmers Market (Rainbow Beach Park, 3111 E. 77th St.), Sundays 1-5pm (starting June 21st)

  • Willis Tower Farmers Market (233 S. Wacker Dr.), Thursdays 7am-3pm (starting June 25th)

  • South Loop Farmers Market (1936 S. Michigan Ave.), Thursdays 4-8pm (starting June 25th)

  • Englewood/Anchor House Farmers Market (71st St. & Racine Ave.), Saturdays 8am-1pm (starting June 27th)

  • The Back of The Yards Community Market at The Plant (1400 W. 46th St.), Saturdays 11am-3:30pm (starting June 27th)

  • West Humboldt Park Farmers Market (3601 W. Chicago Ave.), Saturdays 10am-2pm (starting June 27th)

  • Perry Avenue Community Farmers Market (5749 S. Perry Ave.), Sundays 10am-2pm (starting June 28th)

  • Columbus Park Farmers Market (Harrison & Central), Tuesdays 2-7pm (starting June 30th)
  • Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Wed May 13 2015

    During Fire Repairs, Baker Miller & The Winchester Pop Up to Benefit

    Winchester Baker Miller Pop-Up.jpg

    Operating a restaurant is no easy task. Fires don't help, either. So is the case of The Winchester in East Village, which closed its doors due to a small fire on May 3.

    According to the official statement:

    "Due to a small electrical fire that took place at The Winchester early Sunday morning (May 3), the restaurant will be closed for an indefinite period of time. We hope to be up and running in the near future and appreciate your patience with us while we undergo repairs. No one was injured in the incident."

    The Chicago restaurant community is known for banning together when one of their own faces trouble, and Baker Miller, the grain-centric sweet and savory bake-house in Lincoln Square (4610 N. Western Ave), has graciously opened its doors for a pop-up benefit this Saturday, May 16 in support of the staff.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Beer Tue May 05 2015

    Rub Shoulders with Brewers at New "Beer Social"

    beer-and-big-shoulders.jpgIf you're passionate about beer, you like to talk about it. But rarely does the opportunity arise to talk directly with the people who make that beer. A new event series at Hopleaf hopes to change that.

    On Tuesay, May 12, bartender Mark Bullock premieres Beers and Big Shoulders, a monthly "beer social" that introduces beer lovers to local craft brewers in an intimate setting. The special guests will be Ed Marszewski, founder and owner of Marz Community Brewing, and his brewers, Eric Olson, Tim Lange, Eli Espinoza and Alex Robertson. Bullock will conduct a brief interview with the brewers about their beers, plans for the future and the local craft beer scene in general, then open it up for audience questions.

    "It'll be a loose interview scenario with a Q&A session to follow -- and then you can hang out afterwards and talk to everybody and drink some more beer," Bullock said.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu Apr 16 2015

    Home Cooks to Square Off at Chicago Taco Takedown

    Taco-ChicagoWEB.jpg"Want to eat a gadgillion tacos?" Now you can if you purchase tickets to the Chicago Taco Takedown this Sunday at Lincoln Hall. From 2-4pm, amateur home cooks will compete against one another for various prizes, including cookware and general bragging rights. Although past takedowns have included soup, ice-cream, and meatballs, the competition this Sunday will focus specifically on the humble taco, a perfect concoction of corn tortillas, meat, and toppings. Tickets can be purchased online for only $20, or if you want to compete--email

    Sunday, April 19
    Lincoln Hall
    2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60614

    Judy Wu

    Event Thu Apr 16 2015

    Your Baconfest Weekend Primer


    If there is one thing I always say, it's that "I just can't get enough of those smoked meats!"

    This is the reason why I've been an attendee at two out of the last three Baconfest Chicago's weekend extravaganzas. I consider myself, as the Baconfest people say, part of the "Bacon Nation." If you're like me, then you are all jazzed up for this weekend's Baconfest Chicago. If you don't have tickets yet, they are still available for Friday night's dinner (and you might be able to score tickets to Saturday's sold-out lunch or dinner on Craigslist. People of the Bacon Nation sometimes can't make it out for the event and prices are generally fair--we did this for one of our tickets in 2013.)

    Never been before? Here are some tips and tricks to surviving your first Baconfest:

    Continue reading this entry »

    Jeanne Newman

    Event Tue Apr 14 2015

    Load Up on Za, Bring Your Friends

    bacino's pizzaLocal First Chicago is sponsoring a pizza tour of Lincoln Park on Saturday, April 25 from 2 to 5:30pm. Attendees will sample pizza from eight featured family-owned restaurants -- plus eight other spots to get beverages and desserts.

    Destinations include Amato's Pizza, Annette's Italian Ice, Bacino's, Elio Pizza on Fire, Homeslice, Jam & Honey, Knife & Tine, La Diosa, Lou Malnati's, McGee's Tavern & Grille, Standard Market Grill, Ten Thousand Villages, Trellis, Via Carducci, Vosges Chocolates and YoBerri. The event is billed as vegetarian friendly but not gluten-free.

    Advance tickets are $25 through April 19, $40 thereafter. Advance tickets for seniors (65+), full-time students and volunteers are $15 and tickets for groups of six or more are $20 per person.

    Photo: Bacino's deep dish pizza, by Steve Moses.

    Andrew Huff

    Beer Tue Mar 31 2015

    Brewery Openings & Other Beer Fun

    Breakroom Brewery officially opens tonight at 4pm at 2925 W. Montrose Ave. It's come a long way since the Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl toured the space back in November -- where there were once bare studs there is now a beautifully finished tap room befitting a brewery run by a bar manufacturing company.

    This Friday, April 3, at noon, Begyle Brewing releases its "Maybe Next Year" barrel-aged imperial brown ale, in 22oz bombers for $15 a bottle. The brewery at 1800 W. Cuyler Ave. will be open from noon to 9pm, and regular hours this weekend.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

    Event Wed Mar 25 2015

    Join Baconfesters this Saturday for Charity

    logojuinimipo.jpgJoin the organizers (and some participating chefs) of Apr. 17-18's Baconfest for an afternoon at the Greater Chicago Food Depository (4100 W. Ann Lurie Pl.) to benefit those in need (and possibly win a big prize). Help separate and repack bulk food donations this Saturday (1-3:45pm); you'll be entered into a drawing for a pair of VIP tickets for Baconfest. Registration required to attend; must be 14 years old or older.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Feb 23 2015

    Your Own Private Whisky Fest at Billy Sunday

    billy sunday silent stillsWhiskyFest Chicago is long sold out, but that's OK -- it's too crowded to really enjoy and contemplate all the fine scotch and bourbon on hand. Have a much more civilized experience at Billy Sunday on March 29 at the debut of the bar's Silent Stills series, a tasting of 10 scotches from distilleries that have been closed or demolished -- although in some cases revived or rebuilt. Among the scotches to be sampled are a 1976 Glen Albyn (closed in 1983 and demolished in 1988), a 1982 Linlithgow (also closed in 1983), a 20 year Littlemill from 1990 (closed and dismantled in 1994), and a 21 year Tamdhu from 1990 (the distillery is back to work after closing in 2010).

    "Last year we focused almost entirely on amari for our tastings due to the large amount of interest in Billy Sunday's inventory," said Alex Bachman, head bartender at Billy Sunday. "This year scotch will be taking center stage as we strive to expose people to wonderful defunct whiskies that have been lost due to the unfortunate trend of consolidation that has been taking place over the past 25-some-odd years."

    Tickets are $125, which is $50 less than WhiskyFest and much rarer an opportunity. Call 773-661-2485 or email to research a seat. There are only 12 seats total and only two remain, so hurry up or this whisky fest will be sold out, too.

    Andrew Huff

    Beer Mon Feb 23 2015

    Vote, Then Drink: Election Night Beer Events

    it might get dark 2015Once you do your civic duty tomorrow, there are a couple of beer events you might be interested in attending -- assuming you can pull yourself away from election coverage.

    Beer and candy go together, as you will find at Katherine Anne Confections, 2745 W. Armitage, tonight from 5:30 to 8:30pm. Caramels, truffles and marshmallows infused with beers, liquors and liqueurs will be out for your enjoyment, such as honey caramel infused with Daisy Cutter and FEW bourbon-infused marshmallow swirled with banana caramel. Your $25 ticket gets you samples, savory bites and drinks.

    The Paramount Room, 415 N. Milwaukee Ave., hosts a Forbidden Root beer dinner from 6 to 9pm. For $65 a person, you'll be treated to a four course meal paired with the brewery's current beers: oak-aged Forbidden Root, Sublime Ginger, Shady Character porter, and Heavy Petal, the first in Forbidden Root's Divine Mud Imperial Stout series, brewed with pecans, magnolia blossoms and single-origin West African chocolate. For reservations, call 312-829-6300 or reserve online.

    Starting at 7p, Fountainhead, 1970 W. Montrose Ave., hosts its fifth annual celebration of dark beer and dark music, It Might Get Dark. More than two dozen dark beers will be on tap, including Half Acre Big Hugs, Goose Island 2013 Bourbon County Stout, Three Floyds Blot Out the Sun, Lake Effect Espresso Gone Stout, Perennial 2013 Abraxas and more. And to match, there'll be heavy metal on the stereo. No cover, pay as you go -- beers will cost $6-12.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Jan 28 2015

    The Best of Restaurant Week

    chicago-restaurant-week-2015njn.pngChicago Restaurant Week, the annual event that kicks off this Friday fot twelve days of specially priced prix-fixe lunch and dinners at over 300 restaurants in the city, was a real novelty when it first began several years ago. I could now eat at restaurants that I normally couldn't afford to even walk past, so I felt pretty classy when I rolled up to Naha for my table for one. I marveled over every course in the exquisite dining room as I ate my lunch surrounded by suits with fancy job titles. I was so charmed by everything that when I mindlessly left my camera in the cab that took me back to work afterwards, I promptly ordered its replacement. Life was too short for bad food and no way to take photos.

    The event has grown in size, but still has good competition. Naha's Restaurant Week menu this year looks as good as ever, with extremely intriguing offerings from Table 52, Balena, West Town's Two, Wicker Park's Trencherman, and River North's Nico Osteria. Even culinary schools are getting into it, with the dining room at Kendall College and the Washburne Culinary Institute-staffed Parrot Cage at the South Shore Cultural Center offering menus. And if all this overwhelms, you can even eat at the grocery store. You can sample some of this year's participating restaurants at Thursday's First Bites Bash at Union Station, which doubles as a benefit for Inspiration Corporation.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Jan 21 2015

    Young Chefs Battle for Regional Winner of Almost Famous Chef Competition

    Food competitions are the best kind of sport--you gain weight instead of losing it, and lethal weapons are allowed. Between "Top Chef," "Knife Fight" and all of Food Network's programming, there's no shortage of TV shows where chefs chop and season away for the culinary crown. In Chicago, local competitions take place throughout the year and don't always require contestants to be established chefs. I recently attended the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Regional Competition, an event dedicated to discovering and promoting young culinary talent across the nation. The VIP dinner took place at Kendall College, judged by a panel of culinary stars, including Chris Duffy (Grace) and Sarah Grueneberg ("Top Chef"). Though every contestant had to use the same set of pre-selected ingredients, the menu showed a diverse array of techniques:

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Tue Jan 20 2015

    Soup, Poutine, Bacon & Beer Vie for Your Stomach

    baconfest poutinefestSo many food festivals these days -- and let's not even mention the endless schedule of beer fests that now litter the calendar. But you know what? They all taste good, so let's keep on having them.

    The Chicago Soup Takedown, an offshoot of the popular Bacon Takedown that also spawned a mac'n'cheese takedown last year, is happening this Sunday, Jan. 25 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. For $20, attendees sample soups from a combination of amateur and professional chefs, and vote on their favorites. Apparently there are still a couple spots open for additional chefs, so if you have a killer soup recipe and a competitive streak, sign up for battle by emailing

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Jan 05 2015

    A New Year, Covered in Soup

    The only way to battle insanely dramatic drops in temperature is with soup. That said, Soup and Bread (pictured) kicks off its new season this Wednesday (5:30-8pm) at the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia). A bevy of volunteer cooks, from such places as Local Foods, Celestial Kitchens, Milk & Honey and Graze Magazine, will be there to ladle up their creations, accompanied by bread donated by Publican Quality Meats and music from DJ Rob Miller of Bloodshot Records. The night's till will be donated to Back of the Yards' Casa Catalina Basic Human Needs Center. The event runs through March 25, with new chefs and a new charity each Wednesday; you can volunteer to cook, or volunteer to eat.

    Also, the Takedowns are back -- and this time, it's soup. Lincoln Hall hosts the Jan. 25 event; volunteers cook for prizes (cooking gear from little-know manufacturers like Le Creuset and Wusthof) and glory; participants ($20 admission) sample and vote for their favorites.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Dec 30 2014

    Your Real New Year's Eve Plan is Brunch

    4566135618_b72f9f65dc_z.jpgEating well is not the goal of tomorrow night's festivities; getting home in one safe piece is, so if you're going out, be mindful of the penny rides on CTA, which start at 10pm and run until 4am. It's safe and easy, and has no massive surge charges (ahem).

    After the ball drops, the best next move is brunch. The wait will be terrible and agonizing, but here are a few of my perennial favorites: Wishbone, Over Easy, m. henry, Birchwood Kitchen, Marmalade, milk and honey, Grandma J's, and Feed.

    Wherever you are tomorrow night, enjoy it and we'll see you on the other side.

    Picture by Punchyy.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Dec 22 2014

    Holiday Dinner Options for Last-Minute Planners

    6a00e553a80e10883401543747bc2a970c-500wi.jpgIf you just remembered that this week is devoted to the love of family, peace and hope food, here are a few suggestions:
    • Big Jones (5347 N. Clark) hosts a Christmas Eve Revellion dinner complete with venison, geese, and Doberge cake. Tickets $49 adults, $20 for kids under 12.

    • Brasserie by LM (800 S. Michigan) offers a $35 prix fixe menu both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    • If you want to go southern Italian, several places offer Feast of the Seven Fishes dinners on Christmas Eve, but you may need to beg for reservations, as it tends to sell out quickly. Nico Osteria, Osteria via Stato, Davanti Enoteca, and Tesori are among the participating restaurants.

    • Chinatown is also a great destination for holiday dining (Go 4 Food and Saint's Alp Teahouse are particular favorites).

    The main aisle of Marshall Field's, 1956.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Dec 11 2014

    George Dickel Trains the Palate at Publican Quality Meats

    rsz_dickel_portfolio.jpgNeat whiskey is a stiff drink for the untrained palate. But practice makes perfect, and I recently attended an intimate whiskey dinner hosted by George Dickel Tennessee Whisky and award-winning BBQ chef Adam Perry Lang. The 25-person event took place at Publican Quality Meats (PQM), where guests began dinner with an extravagant charcuterie spread and Dickel cocktails. The dinner menu consisted of:

    • Persimmon Salad with George Dickel Corn Whisky, avocado, quinoa, creamy lemon & marinated onion
    • Clams & Chorizo with George Dickel Number 12 Sour Mash Whisky, tomatoes, pork belly, potatoes & garlic, marinated kale, parmesan, lemon & chili
    • Slow-Roasted Porchetta with George Dickel Recipe Number 8 Sour Mash Whisky, charred winter white cabbage, apple-rabe pistou & pork jus, roasted root vegetables, apple cider reduction, American spoon mustard & fried sage
    • Chocolate Chestnut Cake with George Dickel Barrel Select, brandied cherries, shaved chestnut & crème fraiche

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Thu Nov 20 2014

    The Dinner Party: Where It's Okay to Talk at the Dinner Table

    Dinnerpartychicago.jpeg"The best conversations happen over dinner," or so started the night at last month's Dinner Party, the monthly show at City Winery hosted by Fear No Art's Elysabeth Alfano.

    Every month, vibrant host Alfano invites three local notable names to join her at the dinner table to share conversation and dinner from a known chef. Past appearances have included SNL writer Katie Rich, Wilco percussionist Glenn Kotche, Rick Bayless, famed talk show host Jerry Springer and "Chicago Fire" actor David Eigenberg.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed Nov 19 2014

    Chicago Food Film Fest Kicks Off Tonight, Buffalo-Style

    Kendall College will be the site of this year's Chicago Food Film Fest, an annual, four-day merging of the screen and plate. Short films and documentaries will be aired while theatergoers feast on themed plates. Tonight's opening party, "The Great Chicken Wing Hunt," will show the new documentary of the same name; you'll get wings, wings and wings alongside milkshakes from Edzo's (a short doc about Edzo himself will also be shown tonight) and pie from Hoosier Mama; tickets $65-85, event begins 6:30pm. Additional events tomorrow through Saturday include homages to sriracha, seafood and beer. It's better than $10 popcorn, am I right?

    Robyn Nisi

    Beer Fri Oct 10 2014

    Your Perfect, Beer-Filled Weekend

    Beer Hoptacular at Aragon BallroomVery rarely do the stars align to offer not one, but two amazing beer festivals in one weekend. But thankfully, there's no need to choose between them-- here's how to do both:


    Head down to the Beer Hoptacular after work and sample more than 150 small-batch beers from 70 breweries from around the country to get a birds eye view of the craft beer movement. While you're taking a break from sampling all 150 beers you can get tips on home brewing, check out the epic facial hair in the BeardHoptacular, and vote on your favorite brew for the 2014 Beer Of The Year.

    Friday 6:30pm - 10pm and Saturday 1pm - 4:30pm or 6:30pm - 10pm at the Aragon Ballroom. Regular tickets $45, VIP $85 and Designated Driver $20.


    Drag yourself out of bed and get some bacon to recover from the many, many beers you tasted last night in the name of thoroughness. Then make it to Lagunitas Brewery by 11 am to start the Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl. This boozy meander across the city will take you on a deeper dive into the Chicago beer scene, including tours of Goose Island's new barrel house, BreakRoom Brewery and Begyle Brewing. GB even tops it off with a beer-friendly dinner from ManBQue.

    Saturday, 11am - 7pm. Tickets $60. Starts at Lagunitas, 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave .

    Annie Conway

    Event Wed Oct 08 2014

    Cooking Demo at Treasure Island with Knife & Tine

    dsc_0022.jpgTreasure Island Foods brands itself as "America's Most European Supermarket," though I think "The Lovechild of Whole Foods and Jewel" or "Mariano's Long-Lost Cousin" are more fitting titles. That being said, the one thing that sets Treasure Island apart from its competitors are its cooking demos, which showcase renowned or emerging chefs from Chicago's culinary scene. Past restaurants have included The Publican, Range Chicago, and Honey Butter Fried Chicken. I recently attended a demo by Nate Park, chef at Knife & Tine in Lincoln Park. A Moto and Iron Chef alum, Chef Nate Park cooked a menu that aptly reflected his corn-brimming Midwestern roots:

    Cheese ball: Delice de Bourgogne Serano with plum jam, pickled pecans and honey
    Braised boneless shortrib with sautéed oyster mushrooms and warm fall marble potato salad
    Panna Cotta with blueberry, ginger and mint

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Mon Sep 29 2014

    Win Tickets to the Beer Hoptacular!

    62427012.jpgThe fifth annual Beer Hoptacular, a celebration of craft beer, craft beer and craft beer, holds court at the Aragon Ballroom (1106 W. Lawrence Ave.) on Fri., Oct. 10th and Sat., Oct. 11th. Over 60 breweries serving 150 craft beers will be in attendance, as well as fun activities (the BeerHop Derby, and the BeardHoptacular, where the best facial hair gets the spotlight).

    Want to be part of the action? We're giving away two tickets to the Friday night session to our beloved Drive-Thru readers. Send us an email by Noon this Friday, Oct. 3rd with your name, phone number, and for funsies, the Name of Your Dream Craft Brew--in an era where the city's best brews have kooky names like T.V. Party, Omega Midnight, and Meat Wave, surely you, dear reader, are equally as talented and creative. The best-named beer wins the tickets. UPDATE: Congrats to Steve, who submitted "So hoppy it made Morrissey smile." He was looking for tickets, and then he found tickets (wink wink).

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

    Event Wed Sep 24 2014

    Food, Music & Libations at Ravinia: Food Network in Concert

    dsc_0870.jpgBy noon, I was already bloated. I'd eaten seven whole hot dogs, at least a dozen fried oddities, and an ugodly sugary block disguised as an ice-cream sandwich. I wandered around Ravinia grounds until I found a suitable shaded area, plopped down, released my pant buttons, and closed my eyes. Only eight and a half hours until John Mayer, and seven until Phillip Phillips (the American Idol star with an unforgivable name but irresistible face).

    Ravinia in Highland Park is one of those suburban places with a curious urban presence. I've driven past the area a few times, nearly running over avid suburbanites on their $4,000 "recreational" bikes. Past concerts and events have included the One Republic, American Authors, Yo Yo Ma, Carrie Underwood, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, John Legend, and Pat Green. One of the biggest events this year was the Food Network in Concert, featuring chefs Sunny Anderson, Jeff Mauro, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian, plus musical guests.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Beer Mon Sep 22 2014

    Announcing the Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl Oct. 11

    Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl Oct. 11 2014In the last couple of years, Chicago's craft brewing scene has exploded. To help acquaint you with the breadth of the industry, we at Gapers Block put together a "microbrewery crawl" showcasing some of the great beers being produced in the city.

    The Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl on Saturday, Oct. 11 kicks off at the new Lagunitas Brewery and travels by bus to Goose Island's brewery and new barrel house on Fulton Street. From there we'll head to the brand new BreakRoom Brewery and finish up at the Begyle Brewing, where we'll learn what "community supported beer" is -- and also enjoy freshly grilled food from Manbque.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

    Wine Mon Sep 15 2014

    Rioja 101: A Tasting

    The last wine at Table #5 was breathing in a glass decanter, one of those that looks like a genie bottle, but with a much wider and flatter bowl. The wine rep gave it a gentle swirl, sloshing the black-plum liquid before pouring a tasting.

    "Ooooh," I said because I'm easily excited. I had only just begun the night's Rioja tasting, that famed Tempranillo-producing region in Spain, and the Maetierra Dominum QP Vintage 2006 was a great way to start. The wine was dark and rich and full. I really wanted something warm and hearty to eat with it.

    "How long could you cellar this?" I asked.

    He consulted another gentleman behind the table who explained, "Maybe 7-10 years. But it's not really necessary to cellar because you can drink the wine now."

    It was true. The wine did not make my face shrivel up or suck all the moisture out of my mouth. Rioja is unique in that the winemakers do all they aging work for you by keeping their wines safely stored in a temperature-consistent cellar and releasing them only when they're ready to drink. Scads of other producers ship wines off to market even if they're too big and tannic and require time to smooth out the rough edges.

    Rioja 101

    rsz_686px-localizacipctc3pctb3n_de_la_riojasvg.pngLocated in north-central Spain, southeast of Bilbao, Rioja produces white, red, and rose (rosado). For reds, Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano, Mazuelo, Matura Tinta, and of course, Tempranillo, are cultivated. For whites, there's Viura, Malvasia, and Tempranillo Blanco. There were 13 total tables at the Rioja 101 tasting, hosted by Homestead on the Roof. Most tables had a minimum of four wines and with 58 total available, the breadth and diversity of the region was represented.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon

    Wine Mon Sep 08 2014

    Wine Tastings Around Town


    A two-week long event for wine lovers is coming to Chicago. Organized by Bottlenotes, Taste Around Town runs September 15-28 and features wines from Wines of France, Napa Valley's Chateau Montelena, and Australia's purveyor of bold, rich Shiraz, Penfolds. Participating restaurants, including Bistrot Zinc, Gilt Bar, and Roka Akor, are preparing select pairing menus and tasting flights and some locations, including Hub 51 and Summer House, are curating by-the-glass lists.

    A launch party, hosted by Hub 51 (51 W Hubbard), kicks off the festivities on Wednesday, September 10 at 6:00 p.m. Wine-lovers can rub elbows while enjoying tastings of the featured wines and bites such as king crab California rolls, braised chicken mini-tacos, prime chuck and sirloin sliders with white cheddar, and beer-battered fish-and-chips. Tickets are $50, but Gapers Block readers get discounted tickets for $25, which can be accessed here.

    Taste Around Town launch party
    Hub 51
    51 W Hubbard

    Photo via JolienS

    Christina Brandon

    Event Wed Aug 27 2014

    Summer is Over, Having Fun is Not

    over-2.jpgIf you're looking for good weekend plans, here are two great ideas: Saturday's Heritage BBQ at Goose Island's New Barrel Warehouse (605 N. Sacramento, 4pm) isn't cheap (tickets start at $125; early access VIP available), but it'll be worth it: five chefs (among them Chrissy Camba of Laughing Bird and Cary Taylor of Big Star) will compete for the heralded title of "BBQ King/Queen of Chicago" using heritage pigs. You vote while enjoying all the food and drink you can stomach.

    Longman and Eagle's Block Party (Sunday, 1-10pm) is an experience to behold; incredible music from Windy City Soul Club, kids activities, buttons from Busy Beaver, and great food--elotes, ceviche, and meatballs!--for your end of summer fete-ing. Event takes place alongside L&E (2657 N. Kedzie) on Schubert from Kedzie to Troy.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Aug 20 2014

    Bacon Takedown Returns Sept. 14th

    4997408325_9f1b997883.jpgYou could do a lot with 15 pounds of Hormel bacon, right? The Bacon Takedown will gladly give you the pork for you to compete Sept. 14 at Lincoln Hall for the top award. Make anything you want with the bacon -- savory or sweet, even jam -- and serve up your creation to attendees (tickets are $20) who will vote for the "People's Choice" at the end of the day, with a separate group of judges awarding a winner. If you are interested in throwing your toque in the ring and competing for the glory (plus a year's supply of bacon from Hormel and cookware), email Bacon Takedown to register.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Aug 14 2014

    Wine Dinner at Geja's Cafe

    rsz_gejacafe.jpgChicago can seem like a craft beer kind of town, but with diligent searching, you can find some excellent wine purveyors throughout the city. Occasionally I'll attend multiple-course wine dinners, where I'll smell and sip the wine and pretend that I can actually discern the subtle hints of oak or raspberry. In any case, I've learned that appreciation for wine takes time and experience, and I cannot reasonably decline attempts to improve my proficiency.

    Last week, I attended the Bodega Piedra Negra winemaker dinner at Geja's Café, a popular fondue restaurant near Lincoln Park. Guests tasted four wines procured from the Andes mountains, beginning with a Rosado, then a Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon, ending with a Malbec. Each was paired with an individual course, beginning with a light salad and bread and ending with a flaming chocolate fondue.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Tue Aug 12 2014

    New Farmer's Market Small, but Packs a Punch

    14700851477_e02d86bf53_z.jpgIf you're tired of elbowing through the crowds at your local farmer's market, I have a very good recommendation for you: the newly opened Horner Park Farmer's Market is a wonderful addition, and located in one of the city's finest (and largest) parks. I stumbled upon it this past weekend and was impressed by the variety of vendors in attendance, among them Mint Creek Farms, M's Organic Farm, Katherine Anne confections, and Albany Park's Global Gardens, a refugee training program. The market is open Saturdays at the corner of Montrose and California (9am-1pm); you won't be disappointed.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Aug 07 2014

    Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame Announces Inductees of 2014

    ChicagoCulinaryMuseumLogo.pngThe Chicago Culinary Museum and Chef Hall of Fame has announced their picks for the top players in the 2014 Chicago culinary scene, to be honored at a gala on Thursday, October 16 in downtown Chicago.

    Chef Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat and Little Goat fame takes away the title of Chef of the Year, proclaiming, "The culinary scene in Chicago is amazing right now and I am happy just to be part of it." Other winners include Chef Gale Gand for Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef Michael Kornick for Legendary Chef, Phil Stefani as Industry Leader, and Larry Levy as Industry Legend.

    The event, now in its 9th year, aims to honor Chicago's preeminent culinary talents as well as promote Chicago as top dining destination. Past inductees to the Chefs Hall of Fame range from the late Chef Charlie Trotter in 2006, Chef Rick Bayless in 2008, Chef Art Smith in 2010, and Chef Graham Elliot in 2012, among multiple others.

    Tickets to the event, held on October 16 from 5:00 - 9:30 pm at the Castle on 632 North Dearborn, can be purchased in advance for $99 through August 31 (after which the price will increase) at Brown Paper Tickets. Look forward to an open bar, silent auction and raffle, awards ceremony, and--last but not least--food prepared by around 25 different local restaurants, including cuisine from past inductees.

    Danielle Snow

    Event Tue Aug 05 2014

    Decent Grubs at Lollapalooza

    img_20140803_194154.jpgLollapalooza, where you wash your feet in a muddy puddle to clean them. Where the souls of crushed Budweiser cans and plastic cups line the pathways and peek from underneath bushes. Where an entire field becomes a frat party.

    Most festival food consists of fried cheesy shit designed to soak up mass quantities of alcohol, but Lolla had a surprisingly good lineup of restaurants this year, including Franks 'n' Dawgs, Edzo's Burger Shop, Star of Siam, and Jeni's Splendid Ice-Cream. Graham Elliot did a fine job curating the roster for Chow Town, and there was even a farmer's market for those special attendees who wanted to rock a fresh zucchini while grooving to Grouplove.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Bar Mon Aug 04 2014

    Three Dots and a Year

    three dots and a dash
    Three Dots and a Dash turned 1 year old on July 31, and, Paul McGee and company are throwing a party tonight to celebrate. Starting at 5pm, the first 150 customers will receive free tote bags and t-shirts, and everyone after that will get temporary tattoos and sunglasses. McGee will be behind the bar, introducing five new cocktails:

    • Aikau Aikau -- light Carribean rum, overproof Guyanese rum, blue curacao, falernum, pineapple, lemon

    • BËSK I Ever Had -- rhum agricole blanc, Letherbee BËSK, pineapple, coconut, creme de menthe

    • Ruby Mae's Surfin' Bird -- dark Bermuda rum, dark Jamaican rum, Campari, ruby port, pineapple, lime, passionfruit

    • Spinning in Infinity -- gin, Jamaican rum, light Carribean rum, navy strength Jamaican rum, pineapple, honey, peach, mint

    • Tic Tac Taxi overproof Jamaican rum, coconut, lime, lemon, passionfruit

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Jul 30 2014

    Lollapalooza Eats

    Allow me to slowly rock back and forth on my lawn chair as I reminisce about outdoor concert food, and how much it sucked in the olden days--commercial food service-grade nachos and hot dogs sold for ten times their actual value to a throng of kids without access to debit cards. It was a heady time.

    lollalogo.jpgThings are better now, as exhibited by the "Chow Town" food court and farmers market (which I imagine will be just as pricey as an actual farmers market these days) at this weekend's Lollapalooza. A very impressive assortment of local restaurants will be in attendance, many of them going down the burger route (Edzo's, BJ's Market and Bakery, MBurger), as well as corndogs (Graham Elliot) and pulled pork (Smoke Daddy). Wow Bao, Tiparo's and Star of Siam will also make appearances. If you're of the root beer persuasion, seek out Gale Gand's inspired version of the drink, which will be sold at the festival in float form in a collaboration with Edzo's. It will be worth the price of admission alone, and make you the envy of every non-attendee (trust me).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jul 21 2014

    A Garden Party at Rick Bayless' House

    dsc_0731.jpgI was using Rick Bayless' restroom, I mused, staring up at the ceiling window that was projecting a heavenly beacon of light upon my less-than-angelic duties. I could barely distinguish Rick's faint murmurs through the orange walls, something about how Spaniards added hard-boiled eggs on top their gazpacho. This was Rick, the host of "Mexico: One Plate at a Time," the winner of "Top Chef Masters," the almost executive chef of Barack Obama, the guy whose chips and salsa you purchase en masse at Whole Foods. The white chef who cooks like a 80-year-old Mexican woman from some Yucatan village. And I was using his bathroom in the middle of his garden party.

    Despite my general disdain for the concept of "celebrity chef," Bayless is an exception. That guy is good. Unlike many chefs, his extraordinary palette doesn't use profligate amounts of butter, salt, and sugar to delight to the senses. His food is the Mexican counterpart of Thai food -- curiously spiced, exceptionally balanced, and traditionally flavored. Bayless' empire speaks to his culinary prowess and business acumen, but behind all the demos and appearances and cookbooks, there is a vibrant streak of genuine passion. Only inherent love for his craft explains why he hasn't completely burnt out yet.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu / Comments (1)

    Beer Fri Jul 18 2014

    Celebrate Belgian Independence with Belgian Beers

    rsz_1rsz_450px-belgian_beer_glass.jpg As Belgium, home of the Red Devils, luscious chocolates, and saison-style beer, observes its independence from the Netherlands on Monday, July 21, Maria's Package Goods & Community Bar (960 W. 31st St.) will celebrate by featuring beers from Belgian-style brewer Brewery Ommegang.

    From 7 to 9pm, Maria's will serve the one-time, limited-release 2014 Belgian IPA along with other selections from the Cooperstown, NY-based brewer, such as Fleur de Houblon and Rare Vos, for $1 off the usual price. Other Belgian-style beers will be on special while Belgian-inspired savory pies from Pleasant House Bakery will be available for noshing.

    Photo via wikimedia

    Christina Brandon

    Event Thu Jul 17 2014

    ManBQue Sweeps the GB Hot Dog Cookoff

    ManBQue team. Photo by Brad Snyder.

    After sampling all five inventive hot dog dishes and consuming many an Old Style tall boy, the consensus is that the second Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff was a delicious success.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Annie Conway

    Event Fri Jul 11 2014

    Countdown To The GB Hot Dog Cookoff

    Thumbnail image for photo 2-4.JPGIt's 24 hours until the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff begins, and the anticipation is killing us! The T shirts are here, the ballots are printed, and the trash talking has begun.

    Get yourself over to Schubas between 2 and 7 tomorrow to taste hot dog creations from the likes of ManBQue, Fat Rice, MakeItFor.Us, Harmony Grill, and more. Tickets are $20 online or at the door, and includes a 5pm concert by Get Up With The Get Downs.

    Weather update: The cook off will go on indoors in case of rain! Don't let a little drizzle keep you away.

    Annie Conway

    Event Wed Jul 09 2014

    Taste of Chicago Returns with Classy Chef Series

    tochlogo.jpgThe Taste of Chicago, which has long been a giant garbage can stuffed with barbecue sauce-smeared paper trays, begins its 34th season today at Grant Park (Jackson and Columbus). It's been scaled down considerably after many years of being a financial drain and a magnet for unfortunate incidents, and while the idea of crowds and heat is still my personal hell, one of the brighter points of this year's offerings is the Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour series, which lets chefs from restaurants that would never be seen at the Taste serve a multi-course menu to a smaller crowd with the help of students from Washburne Culinary Institute. Admission is $45 per person (drinks not included), and the event takes place in a separate, air-conditioned tent. Seats are still available for Friday's event with Paul Virant (Vie, Perennial Virant), Erling Wu-Bower and Amanda Rockman (Nico Osteria) on Saturday, and Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday) on Sunday.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Jul 09 2014

    Get Ready for the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff!

    Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff - July 12, 2014The second annual Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff is coming up this Saturday, July 12 at Schubas, and we're excited to see you all there. Come taste what five Chicago chefs do with Vienna Beef hot dogs, and vote for your favorite!

    This year's lineup includes last year's winner ManBQue, plus home turf heroes Harmony Grill, encased meat specialists Weiner and Still Champion, culinary powerhouse Fat Rice and wild card MakeItFor.Us.

    Last year's entries included an over-the-top, bacon-wrapped Sonoran dog, Asian-inspired hot dog skewers, and one topped with Flamin' Hot Cheeto-crusted onion strips. Who knows what this year will have in store?

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Jul 01 2014

    Ramen Battle at Yusho: Giuseppe Tentori vs. Ryan McCaskey

    During my culinary tour through Japan, I tried desperately to love ramen. I tried with all my might. I slurped every type of noodle and broth, but after my 20th bowl, I admitted defeat and decided to devote the rest of my tragic life to Maruchan. "What!?" some foodies cry indignantly, pointing their foie-fattened fingers at noodle pictures from some quaint Japanese ramen hut. "How can you not love that?" Because like every good American, I believe the best ramen is FREEDOM ramen.

    Ramen is derived from the Chinese term, la mian, which literally translates into pulled noodles. Traditional ramen noodles have spring, chew, and a slight eggy taste. There are four types of ramen broths: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), tonkotsu (pork) and miso. Each region in Japan has their unique variation of ramen, but they're all fairly similar when all is said and slurped. The Japanese don't stray from the fundamentalist tree, so never expect to see duck confit or green curry in your ramen. However, I'd argue that ramen's greatest feature is how customizable it is.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu / Comments (2)

    Event Mon Jun 16 2014

    Meet Your BBQ Life Coach

    wood fireMy mouth was a brisket free zone. Scarred by my mother's recipe - place in glass casserole, top with Lipton's dry onion soup mix with one cup of water and bake until leather — for 40 years, no brisket passed my lips. Then I met Gary Wiviott.

    It started innocently enough. Lunches with the boys at Thai grocers or Pakistani BBQ segued into parties at our respective homes. At one such event, Gary teased me with some brisket he'd cooked low and slow, as is proper.

    "I don't like brisket."

    "Try it."

    "I told you, I don't do brisket."

    "Try it."

    Pushy bastard (and glad for it), it was nothing like I remembered. Gone was the bland, gritty sand like texture seared into my memory, replaced with a spicy bark of glistening smokey beef.

    In short, a revelation.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Alan Lake

    Event Mon Jun 09 2014

    Get Ready For The Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff!


    Ladies and gentlemen, dust off your roomiest shorts and start honing your mustard palates because it's that time of year again... the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff is back on July 12. Join Gapers Block and fellow hot dog connoisseurs to watch six Chicago chefs battle over charcoal grills, then decide for yourself who should win top dog.

    The lineup includes last year's formidable winner ManBQue, Harmony Grill, Weiner and Still Champion, Fat Rice and MakeItFor.Us.

    Cookoff chefs all start with Vienna Beef hot dogs, but can use them in whatever way they like. And don't expect anyone to just phone it in with relish--last year's entries included an over-the-top, bacon wrapped Sonoran dog, a Chinese five spice chili-topped dog, and a flamin' hot cheeto-laced, bacon-fried, delicious mess of a dog. We even heard a rumor that this year there will be a "contemporary" corn dog in the mix.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Annie Conway

    Beer Thu Jun 05 2014

    Assorted Beer News & Events

    oldchicagobeer.jpgThis Friday, Half Acre will be tapping a firkin of Strawberry Rhubarb Kölsch in the Tap Room. Bang Bang Pie will be on hand selling mini ham biscuits with rhubarb mustard and vanillla bean cheesecake topped with rhubarb compote. Sounds delicious.

    Go on a tour of Metropolitan Brewing this Saturday, June 7, with the Windy City Rollers. Tickets are just $10.

    Local band the Jordan Years collaborated with Gary's 18th Street Brewing to create Homemade Hustler, a session IPA named after the band's 2013 album. Each bottle has a download code for a free copy of the album, and they're celebrating with a release party at the brewery and a concert at Tonic Room on June 14.

    Beermiscuous, a new "craft beer cafe" with a coffeeshop vibe and retail component, is aiming to open in Lakeview at 2812 N. Lincoln Ave. on June 28. They're currently hiring "beeristas."

    Two homebrewing couples are joining forces to launch Rude Hippo Brewing Company, focusing on Belgian-style ales and sours. They're crowd-funding to buy equipment.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu Jun 05 2014

    Back to the Farm

    If you need to get out of the city this summer, consider a short trip to a farm dinner hosted by some of the city's most well-known purveyors. Fairbury's Slagel Farms, which supplies to meats to a long list of local restaurants (Elizabeth, Girl and the Goat) has five dinners planned through October with several of its chef clients (from Three Aces, Endgrain, Owen & Engine, etc.) overseeing the menu.

    farm_dinners_table.jpgBruce Sherman (North Pond Cafe) and Paul Virant (Vie) are among the chefs who will make an appearance this season at the dinners at Prairie Fruits Farm, along with local talent (Jessica Gorin of Champaign's Big Grove Tavern). Additionally, Virant will oversee July 26th's Angelic Organics Peak Harvest Farm Benefit (tickets start at $150; bus service additional).

    Heritage Prairie Farm, which is located four miles from the end of a Metra line (bring bikes!) serves its first dinner next Thursday; the "Pig Gig" is awfully porky, but later ones (July 10th's Bastille Day event) redeem the meatness; tickets $75.

    If you want to stay closer to home (or can only afford to have your car share for a few hours), the Chicago Botanic Garden (pictured) has a short but sweet little series of dinners ($220) starting in July, with participants from their Green Youth Farm giving tours of the gardens; Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead will supply the eats using ingredients from their garden, along with other local suppliers.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed May 21 2014

    Stately Sandwiches Completes its Tour

    Stately SandwichesStately Sandwiches, a foodblog dedicated to making -- and beautifully photographing -- the signature sandwich from every state in the union, is about to make its 50th sandwich.

    The last stop on the tour is Delaware, which will be represented by the Bobbie, a signature sub from the local Capriotti's chain. The Bobbie is basically a Thanksgiving leftover sub, filled with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo. Sounds filling.

    Stately Sandwiches creator Kelly Pratt will be hosting a "50th Sandwich Celebration" on Saturday, June 14, and following it up with a post wrapping up the project.

    Andrew Huff

    Beer Mon May 19 2014

    New Brew in Town: Lagunitas Comes to Chi

    lagunitas.jpgThis past weekend saw Chicago roll out the welcoming committee (i.e., a bunch of beer-guzzling revelers) for Laguintas Brewing Co.'s new Pilsen brewery. Lagunitas' annual Beer Circus, usually held in the Lagunitas home base of Petaluma, California, made its way to Chicago for a weekend-long celebration featuring burlesque acts, carnival rides, live music, and-- of course-- beer.

    Those who were able to snag tickets to the sold-out event were among the first to get a glimpse at the new brewing facility, located in an immense warehouse on Washtenaw that was previously used as set space for a few Chicago-based television shows. Now, with the title of Chicago's largest brewery under their belt, Lagunitas is set to open a taproom sometime over the next few months. In the meantime, check out their website and Facebook for news and upcoming events.

    Danielle Snow

    Event Tue May 13 2014

    Culinary Faceoff: Key Ingredient Cooking Challenge

    dsc_0919.jpg Cook-offs embody two of mankind's most beloved things: food and competition. Chicago Reader recently held its Key Ingredient Cook-Off at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, and a portion of the proceeds went to Common Threads (a.k.a. Art Smith's charity for kids).

    Participating gladiators included Chris Pandel from The Bristol and Balena, Dana Cree from Blackbird, Abraham Conlon from Fat Rice, Jason Hammel from Lula Cafe, Meg Galus from NoMI, and Mark Steuer from Carriage House. These renowned chefs were asked to cook with esoteric products such as chestnut and sheep's milk, and diners voted for their favorite dish in each ingredient category.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Beer Mon May 12 2014

    Chicago Craft Beer Week Kicks Off May 15

    rsz_1rsz_ccbwlogo.pngChicago Craft Beer Week starts Thursday and continues on through May 25 with as many as 300 bars and bottle shops in the city and suburbs celebrating Chicagoland's massive selection of creative, awesome beer. Events range from the Beerfly Alleyfight, which fuses art and beer, to pub crawls to $4 beer specials.

    See the full schedule and the map of events, dinners, tastings, and beer releases. For Chicago pride and beer inspiration, see the We are Illinois Craft Beer video below.

    Christina Brandon / Comments (1)

    Cookbook Mon May 12 2014

    Barefoot Contessa Coming to Chicago

    INAFOUR.jpgIna Garten, the best-selling cookbook author and star of Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa," is coming to Chicago Thursday, Nov. 6, and presale tickets are available today! Ina Garten will share her natural approach to food, entertaining tips, stories, and maybe even some recipes. The Emmy Award-winning host of the "Barefoot Contessa" television show on Food Network and a New York Times best-selling author will be joined on stage at the Auditorium Theatre with special guest host Catherine De Orio, host of WTTW's Emmy award-winning "Check, Please!"

    Garten will deliver a charming insider's view of the hit TV show, now in its eleventh season, and the pleasures of good food, cooked with love and passion, engaging the audience with an interactive Q&A. Garten's eagerly-anticipated ninth cookbook, Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (due out Oct. 28) delivers her top make-ahead recipes and invaluable tips, making meal-planning easier than ever. Ina Garten's Food Network show, "Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics," is now in its 11th season on Food Network and her previous eight cookbooks have all been New York Times bestsellers. Presale tickets for the event are available now by using the code INA.

    Jeremy Owens / Comments (1)

    Restaurant Fri May 09 2014

    Rockit's 9th Annual Burger Fest Returns Next Week

    Rockit Bar & Grill and Rockit Burger Bar are hosting their 9th Annual Burger Fest, May 12 - 16, as part of their celebration of National Burger Month.

    Executive Chef Amanda Downing has created five over-the-top creations paired with fries using flavor profiles from the featured burgers. "For this year's Burger Fest menu, we inspired by recipes that we've worked on throughout the year - including top recipes from our weekly #Burgerlab night, each Saturday, at Rockit Burger Bar," explained Chef Downing.

    Rockit Bar & Grill Burgerfest.jpg

    Continue reading this entry »

    Harvey Morris

    Event Tue Apr 29 2014

    Too Much Bacon at Baconfest? Never.

    dsc_0299.jpgI could smell it before I entered the UIC Forum. The intoxicatingly smoky aroma of cured pork belly, so savory and dense, even the air tasted good. Baconfest is no place for health-conscious vegetarians, nor cholesterol and fat-fearing dieters, nor devout Jews. No, it's where hearty Midwesterners gather to smother their bearded faces with porktacular deliciousness. Baconfest has come a long way since its 2009 inception with only 10 restaurants and 75 attendees -- this year boasted more than 160 restaurants with 4,500 ticketed guests. Like everyone else, I had my categorical favorites.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Wine Tue Apr 29 2014

    Wine Riot Returns May 2-3


    The coolest-sounding wine event returns to Chicago this weekend, May 2-3. Wine Riot, whose mission is to encourage more people to drink wine by celebrating it and educating them in the most non-snooty way possible, will gather wine producers and 250 wines at Union Station's Great Hall for three four-hour riots on Friday and Saturday.

    You can sample wines from around the world (and keep track of those wines on Wine Riot's app), swing by the Bubbly Bar to learn about the numerous styles of sparkling wines, take Wine 101 to learn wine-tasting terms and a 20-minute Crash Course on a specific topic, such as wines from Portugal. Plus, there's a photo booth, temporary tattoos, and a DJ throughout the event. Can't make it this weekend? The Riot will return October 17-18. Tickets for each four-hour riot are $60. Sessions are Friday and Saturday, from 7 p.m.-11 p.m., and Saturday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

    Riesling fans, mark your calendars for Riesling Riot on June 14.

    Christina Brandon

    Event Fri Apr 18 2014

    Baconfest Chicago 2014 Menus Revealed

    BFC-Logo-Feat.jpgCan you ever have enough bacon?

    Over 160 Chicago chefs will be cooking up nearly 8,000 pounds of bacon as they prepare signature dishes for Baconfest Chicago 2014 (April 25 & 26 at UIC Forum). Dishes range from savory to the sublime, including:

    • The Bad Apple's Baconnoli - Bacon, banana, and Bellwether Jersey Cow ricotta-filled canolli with bacon peanut caramel and powdered bacon sugar.
    • Untitled's The All In - Bacon dashi soup dumpling and bacon rabbit sausage with a spicy bacon mustard.
    • Glazed and Infused's Apple Bacon Pineapple Fritter
    • The Dawson's The Featherweight - Bacon maple donut bread pudding sandwich, with allspice confit face bacon and bourbon bacon sabayon.

    Go to the Baconfest Chicago website for the entire menu.

    The Saturday lunch and dinner sessions are sold out, but a limited number of VIP tickets for Friday's session are available via Eventbrite.

    You can also enjoy some of these featured bacon dishes during Bacon Month's Charity Dine-Around; 34 restaurants are putting their bacon dishes on the menu and donating a portion of the proceeds to Baconfest's charity partner, the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

    Harvey Morris

    Event Mon Apr 14 2014

    Lovin' Gluten-Free at Last

    dsc_0022.jpgAfter attending the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo (GAFE) in Schaumburg this weekend, I finally get it. I finally understand why people enjoy being gluten-free. As I strolled through the vendor aisles -- toting my environmentally friendly bag -- a peculiar but delightful emotion coursed through my wheat-intolerant veins. It was a feeling of self-gratifying sanctimony, of clannish indignation -- and boy, did I love it! There is no sensation more pleasant than knowing (and letting others know) that whilst I cannot partake in the joyous wonder that is bread, I do have flax crackers and chocolate-coated quinoa chunks! Who needs hot dogs and Doritos when I can happily indulge in vegan soy sausages and tamari-glazed rice crackers?

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Bar Mon Apr 07 2014

    Home of Chicago's #1 Liquor License Celebrates End of Prohibition

    Berghoff-Liquor Lic 1-1933.jpgOn April 7, 1933, Herman Berghoff, founder of The Berghoff Restaurant, secured the first two liquor licenses issued by the City of Chicago after the repeal of Prohibition. Liquor license #1 was obtained for the Berghoff Bar and license #2 for the Berghoff Restaurant. Those original licenses are still on display inside the Berghoff Bar and have become a popular photo opp for tourists and locals.

    On any Monday during the month of April, Berghoff's is inviting customers to snap a photo with the #1 liquor license and post it to either Facebook or Twitter. The first 30 people will receive a stein of Berghoff Beer for a dime.

    The Berghoff Restaurant
    17 W. Adams St.

    Harvey Morris

    Event Fri Apr 04 2014

    Pour Over to Manual

    manual coffeeshopDesigner Craighton Berman is in the midst of crowdfunding for his latest product, a beautiful glass and bamboo pour-over coffeemaker. To promote it, he's hosting a pop-up coffeebar today and Saturday at Rational Park Gallery, 2557 W. North Ave.

    Today from 8am to 5pm, Berman will be on hand giving demonstrations of the coffeemaker; with complementary donuts and coffee will be provided. On Saturday from 11am to 3pm, Berman teams up with Good Beer Hunting for a studio event that includes samples of Solemn Oath's new coffee milk stout, more coffee and donuts, and the opportunity to get a free "Uppers & Downers" t-shirt if you're one of the first 100 new Kickstarter backers at the event. RSVP is requested, but not required.

    Andrew Huff

    Brunch Mon Mar 24 2014

    Prairie Grass Cafe Hosts Brunch with The Breakfast Queen, Ina Pinkney

    If you're among those who miss having breakfast at Ina's in the West Loop, you have a one-day reprieve. Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook will be hosting a special brunch with Ina Pinkney (aka The Breakfast Queen) on Sunday, March 30 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

    Taste Memories Cover.jpgDiners are invited to come and meet "The Breakfast Queen;" Ina will be signing copies of her new book, Taste Memories.

    Prairie Grass Cafe's Chef Sarah Stegner will make some of her favorite Ina recipes, including Heavenly Hots pancakes, that will be added to a featured brunch menu. Reservations are recommended.

    Prairie Grass Cafe
    601 Skokie Boulevard
    Northbrook, IL 60062
    1-847-205-4433 for reservations

    Harvey Morris

    Event Wed Mar 19 2014

    April is Bacon Month in Chicago

    Proclaiming April as "Bacon Month" in Chicago, Baconfest Chicago announced a month-long series of bacon-related programs and events that culminate in the 6th Annual Baconfest on April 25 & 26 at the UIC Forum.

    Baconfest celebrates all things bacon, and participating Chicago chefs have a reputation of delivering wildly creative bacon concoctions. Baconfest attendees and a judges panel pick their favorite bacon dishes. Last year's winners of the "Golden Rasher" awards included:

    • Most Creative Use of Bacon for Lunch went to Lockwood Restaurant for Slow-Poached Egg with Bacon Ragout

    • Most Creative Use of Bacon for Dinner went to Three Aces for Wake 'n Bacon

    Baconfest Golden Rasher Winner for Most Creative Use of Bacon for Lunch - Slow poached egg with bacon ragout by Lockwood'
    Slow-Poached Egg with Bacon Ragout by Lockwood Restaurant

    Baconfest Golden Rasher Winner for Most Creative Use of Bacon for Dinner - Wake 'n Bacon by Three Aces'
    Wake 'n Bacon by Three Aces

    Continue reading this entry »

    Harvey Morris

    Event Wed Mar 19 2014

    Good Food Culture isn't So Good

    dsc_3332.jpgThe Good Food Festival & Conference (GFFC) resembles a Whole Foods carnival, where instead of funnel cake and decrepit rides, you enjoy organic kale smoothies and baby chicken exhibits. It's a place where vegetarians are the majority, where people drop words like gluten-free, heirloom, and artisan into casual conversation. This multi-day event is organized by, which aims to "expand the production and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities."

    Despite my utter respect for, I'm somewhat ambivalent towards the concept of Good Food, defined as "delicious, healthy food produced as close to home as possible, by family farmers and producers that use sustainable, humane, and fair practices." While its inherent principles merit recognition, the movement's culture is elitist and annoyingly partisan.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu / Comments (3)

    Event Tue Mar 18 2014

    2014 Beard Awards Announced in Chicago

    20120223_james-beard-foundation_33.jpgThe Publican played host to the announcement this morning of the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards nominees.

    As usual, Chicago chefs were well represented in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category. Dave Beran of Next, Curtis Duffy of Grace, Paul Virant of Vie and Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia took four of the five spots. Meanwhile, Jimmy Bannos Jr. of the Purple Pig and David Posey of Blackbird are in the running for Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Dana Cree of Blackbird received a nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Fri Mar 14 2014

    Chicago Flower & Garden Show Returns With Garden Gourmet Series on the Menu

    The Chicago Flower & Garden Show, whose roots can be traced back to 1847, returns to Navy Pier, Saturday, March 15 - Sunday, March 23. Its annual Garden Gourmet Series features some of Chicago's most popular chefs preparing recipes with fresh-from-the-garden ingredients.

    Chef Bill Kim.jpgAs one of Mariano's Chicago Tastemakers chefs, Chef Bill Kim of bellyQ, Belly Shack and urbanbelly will kick off this year's program. Mariano's is the Garden Gourmet sponsor, as well as the presenting sponsor for the entire Chicago Flower & Garden Show.

    Over 2 dozen Chicago chefs will share recipes and cooking tips during live 45- to 60-minute cooking demonstrations, as well as suggestions for growing and using sustainable foods.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Harvey Morris

    Drink Mon Feb 24 2014

    Whiskey Learnin' @ Fountainhead

    rsz_beam_rack_house.jpgSteadfast wino that I am, I don't know a ton about whiskey, except I like it in cocktails and Hot Toddies. Luckily, Fountainhead (1970 W. Montrose) has put together a series of whiskey classes, part of their "School of Spirits," running now through March.

    I missed their first class earlier this month, an Introduction to American Whiskeys. It covered the basics of whiskey tasting and terminology, among other topics, and featured five tastings from different producers, like Knob Creek, Bulleit, and Koval. I did make it to the following week's class, "The Whiskeys of Heaven Hill," which featured four tastings from the Bardstown, Kentucky-based distiller, the third largest producer of American whiskey.

    Over twenty students attended the sold-out class, which was held in Fountainhead's barrel room behind the bar. Sections of old whiskey barrels decorated the space above the seating area, blessing the class. The chatter of the restaurant provided a lively, if at times loud, atmosphere and reminded me of how much fun it can be to hangout at a bar with friends.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon

    Event Tue Feb 18 2014

    1st Annual Kitchen Cook-Off @ Fountainhead

    KitFinal.jpgBehind every great chef is a great team, but the folks that are generally responsible for making sure your citrus glazed pork shank and mushroom sage risotto makes it to your table like the chef intended rarely get the spotlight. Not this week.

    Since Monday, Chef Cleetus Friedman from Fountainhead has stepped aside and is letting his staff take center stage with the 2014 Fountainhead Kitchen Cook-Off. In a round-robin competition, 10 chefs will compete from now until Friday, presenting two different dishes per day under Friedman's tutelage. You decide the winner and the winning dish will be on the official menu for a month. Yesterday's menu included a smoked chicken taco with fried brussels sprouts and a traditional cog au vin so I have a feeling the rest of the week will be delicious. This kind of stuff doesn't happen often in Chicago, so get down there and support these guys.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Beer Tue Feb 04 2014

    Beer Specials: Metal & the Dude

    Two local microbreweries have fun new projects this week.

    First, DryHop Brewers launches Metal Beers & Burgers, its collaboration with Kuma's and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, this Wednesday, Feb. 5 with the release of Reverse Thunder, an 8.0% ABV imperial red, named for a song by the metal band Red Fang. The beer will be tapped at DryHop at 6pm, and will be available at DryHop, Kuma's Corner and Kuma's Too for the next month.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Jan 28 2014

    Polar Bear Lunch on Groundhog Day at South Water Kitchen

    South Water Kitchen Groundhogs-Day-2013

    You may not be up for a polar bear plunge, but you might be willing to try South Water Kitchen's Outdoor Groundhog Day Lunch this Sunday, Feb. 2. The north Loop restaurant will set up tables outside on the sidewalk patio and offer a complimentary two-course lunch to anyone willing to eat it outside.

    You've got your choice of two options -- a grilled tomato focaccia and goat cheese fondue sandwich paired with broccoli cheddar soup or a meatloaf sandwich with whipped potatoes, followed by a warm chocolate fudge brownie topped with salted caramel, pecans and vanilla ice cream. Non-alcoholic beverages are included (may we suggest hot coffee?)

    South Water Kitchen will do three seatings, at 11am, 12:30 and 2pm. Reservations are required; call 312-236-9300. Sunday's forecast is for a high of 14°, but you better call soon anyway -- last year the event quickly sold out. South Water Kitchen is at 225 N. Wabash Ave.

    Andrew Huff

    Restaurant Tue Jan 21 2014

    Wine and Cocktail Bars Joining Chicago Restaurant Week

    rsz_1rsz_20130107-235968-chicago-restaurant-week-picks2.jpg Chicago Restaurant Week launches Friday and for two weeks, nearly 300 restaurants in the Chicago-area will be serving prix-fixe lunch or dinner menus for a mere $22 for lunch or $33 or $44 for dinner. How's a girl to choose?

    Of course, there's the big guys like Blackbird and Carriage House and Embeya and Nightwood and Sepia and on and on. But tucked in this gargantuan list are a handful of (mostly) smaller affairs and wine bars, spots where I've grabbed a cocktail or two or a glass of wine with some friends afterwork. Though Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to check out a restaurant I've been meaning to get to, at a more reasonable price, it's also a chance to explore more of the cuisine served at a place I mostly just drink, a place I know I already like. Again, how's a girl to choose?

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon

    Event Fri Jan 17 2014

    Baconfest Chicago Announces Ticket Date, Lineup

    baconfest_298x144.pngBaconfest Chicago announced today that general admission tickets will go on sale on Feb. 24 for $100 apiece, which gets you in the door for all the bacon goodness, drink tickets to wash it down, and a souvenir tote bag. VIP tickets, which get you in an hour before the general hoi polloi, are already on sale for $200 a pop.

    The organizers also released a lineup of 160 food vendors for this year's festival, which will have three sessions over two days, April 25 and 26.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu Jan 09 2014

    Imbibery and Artwork for a Wintry Afternoon

    Looking for a way to combine your two loves -- beer and art -- this Saturday? Look no further! 4 Hands Brewing Co. presents Artists N' Ales: A Winter Brew Event, an exploration of artwork inspired by the aesthetics of craft beer and how it intersects with food, culture, and society. All attendees will receive a copy of the Mash Tun Journal, the world's only journal about craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, as well as pours of the ales that inspired the work and some tasty culinary delights.

    Enjoy beer and art by: 4 Hands, Half Acre, Pipeworks, Solemn Oath and others. Artists exhibiting work include: Dan Grzeca (3 Floyd's, Surly, Black Keys, Alabama Shakes), Michael Kiser (Good Beer Hunting), Jim Zimmer (3 Floyd's, Une Annee), BJ Olson (Pipeworks), Josh Rowan (4 Hands Brewing), Danielle Spradley (4 Hands Brewing), Peat Eyez Wollaeger (graffiti artist from St. Louis), Kelly Pelka (graffiti artist from Chicago), Phineas X. Jones (Half Acre) and more.

    Artists N' Ales is on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 3 to 7pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S. Morgan St. in Chicago. Tickets are $25.

    Jeanne Newman

    Event Mon Jan 06 2014

    Soup, Not a Moment Too Soon

    logosabd.jpgYesterday, I made a stop on my way home to pick up ingredients for one of my favorite cold winter soups, a simple black bean with a toasted cumin seed fraiche number that is easy to make (it also doubles as a great base for a plate of nachos, as most of my cooking does). If you weren't able to get out for soup makings and still want that warm, good feeling, the annual Soup and Bread series kicks off this Wednesday at the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia, 5:30-8pm). Get your fill of soups made using a theme; this week's is (fittingly) "Fire and Ice," with Mana Food Bar's Jill Barron, WBEZ's Monica Eng and Louisa Chu, and Grind Cafe's Tara Swadley, among others. The soup is free, but donations are encouraged for the food-related charity of Soup and Bread's choice (a new one each week), which will be the Community Dinners program offered through Logan Square's St. Luke's Lutheran Church.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Dec 30 2013

    Ringin' in 2014


    If you want to end this year in style, you still have some fine dining options:

    -Topolombampo and Frontera Grill (445 N. Clark) will be serving a set menu of the year's most popular dishes complete with mariachi music.

    -Girl and the Goat (809 W. Randolph) is offering a "Tour de Goat" in their private dining room ($195; email for reservations); you can also forego the eats for a special open bar with small bites and champagne at midnight (also $195).

    -Red Door (2118 N. Damen) is teaming up with the folks behind Baconfest for Manhattans at Midnight, which doubles as a benefit for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Your $100 tickets gets you appetizers and an open bar from 9pm-2am with special cocktails (and a midnight toast with Manhattans).

    -Dusek's (1227 W. 18th St.) offers a five-course meal with wine pairings ($75); seatings at 8:30pm and 9:30pm, followed by a dance party at Punch House.

    Picture by Lauren from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Dec 02 2013

    Fabio LIVE!: Brunch with a Top Chef

    Chicago has its fair share of "Top Chef" alums with roots planted the Midwest (Stephanie Izard, Beverly Kim, Carlos Gaytan, Dale Levitski), so I was quite cynical when Fabio Viviani -- a non-Chicagoan -- opened up a "tavern" with extremely strong reviews. After all, someone who has partnered with can't possibly make good food. Fabio has ridden the "Top Chef" media hype hard, endorsing, appearing and biting every marketing bait wiggling its sparkling streamers. He holds, or has held, endorsements with multiple companies, including Domino's, Bertolli, San Pellegrino and Dr. Oetker. He owns two restaurants in California and Siena Tavern in Chicago. He's even the private chef for Captain Kirk William Shatner. Let's just respectfully acknowledge that he's now more of a businessman than a chef (which I completely understand).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Wed Nov 27 2013

    An Evening at a Food Porn Party

    Last week, Kendall College (900 N North Branch) hosted the fourth annual Chicago Food Film Festival. Each of the festival's four days had a separate theme (two on Saturday) and Friday's was the Food Porn Party. It was all about pleasure: these films featured extreme, juicy close-ups of food.

    Mark Klebeck's "Old Fashioned Salted Caramels" had me salivating for the featured doughnut drizzled with caramel and sea salt. Matt Checkowski's two films, "Beer Braised Ox Cheek" and "Mixed Berries, Three Ways" were shot against a crisp black background, making the food pop with color. Strawberries shimmered like rubies and hunk of raw ox meat looked elegant.

    FONDUE-300x169.pngSix of the ten films had a food pairing, including the featured food in Checkowski's films. We also tasted the Paloma cocktail from "Paloma," the Mandorlato from "That's Mandorlato!" and beer fondue from "Fondue." My favorite though, was that doughnut from "Old Fashioned Salted Caramels." It tasted like like cake and fried bread had a love child, and then decked out in caramel sauce and sea salt. The whole audience moaned while eating this, or I just did, very loudly.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon

    Event Tue Nov 26 2013

    Thanksgiving is a Time for Sharing

    mealsharing.jpgAt Thanksgiving, families come together to share a feast and, possibly, watch football or plan out Black Friday attack strategies. But for those stuck away from family for the holiday, it can be a lonely time indeed.

    Local startup Mealsharing may have the solution. Its Happy ThanksSharing page lists dozens of people around the world -- and many right here in the city -- who are offering to open their home for people to join them this Thursday. The meal may not be turkey -- barbecue in Argentina and biryani in Hydrabad are among the options -- but hopefully the welcoming environment brings a touch of the holiday to the proceedings. To take part, register with the site and then click "Request Meal" for an invitation to the dinner you want to attend. It's free, but Mealsharing suggests guests bring a gift or offer to help cook.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Sat Nov 23 2013

    Amateurs Reign @ 1st Annual Frontier Gumbo Cook-Off

    Thumbnail image for 1459903_590587467644040_2131013209_n.jpgTorrential rainstorms and a Bears game didn't stop Chicagoans from flocking to Frontier's 1st Annual Gumbo Cook-Off last weekend to taste gumbo from 14 different chefs - eight, professional, six, amateur -- or in other words -- a whole lot of gumbo.

    From alligator gumbo to crawfish and sausage to even a gluten free version, the varieties revealed that Chicago has a sweet spot for the Cajun/Creole cuisine.

    Chef Brian Jupiter from Frontier, and event host took first place by popular vote with his Gumbo "Ya-Ya", which basically stands for a gumbo with everything in it. (I was unable to unearth the recipe so you'll have to head on over to Frontier to try it.) But the amateurs stole the day with Joe Ruesewald taking second place with a smoked duck and Cajun fried pork belly gumbo and I took third with a chicken and sausage gumbo.


    Says Chef Jupiter, "We decided to host this event because I'm from New Orleans. We were already hosting Saints viewing parties, and everyone else does chili cook-offs. It was just a fun event with some great chefs that showcased a dish that I've been eating my entire life."

    The event was a huge success and there are plans for continuing on the healthy competition next year. Congrats to all who participated.

    Images courtesy of Frontier

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Fri Nov 15 2013

    Want to Go to the Chicago Food Film Festival?

    The good folks at the Chicago Food Film Festival (which runs Nov. 21-23) would like to set you and a friend up with tickets to their Thursday night event at Kendall College, which pays tribute to the wines of Michel Chapoutier. Food, drinks and a series of short food-focused films, among them Fac et Spera (above) will be shown. cfff.jpgSend us an email at by Tuesday, Nov. 19 at noon CT to be entered in the drawing. Update: Byron has won the tickets; thanks to all who entered!

    If contests aren't your thing, Drive-Thru readers can get a 10% discount on tickets for any night of the festival. Use the code GapersBlock10 when ordering.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Nov 15 2013

    Turkey Day at Home

    If you are like me and love to take Thanksgiving off from the routine grind--away from waiting out delays at the O'Hare Chili's, and sleeping on leather couches at your relatives' place (nice and cold!)--join me in helping to plan your local meal.

    tgiving13.jpgTHE WHOLE (OR PART) OF THE MEAL
    Order your sides and dessert from L. Woods (7110 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood). If you've ever disappeared into a delicious prime rib-laced fog at this place, you understand that their sides are unreal. Mac and cheese, candied sweet potatoes, salads, and pie are among the offerings; order by 11/25.

    Feast and Imbibe will cook the whole meal for you; order by 11/20 for pre-Thanksgiving (or day-of) pickup in Evanston. Offering three separate menus (including a special Thanksgivingkkuh version to celebrate the rare holiday); $20-35 per person.

    Wicker Park's Smoke Daddy (1804 W. Division) will be offering smoked whole turkeys for pickup on Thanksgiving Eve ($60-85), along with cornbread stuffing and gravy.

    Want something healthier? Karyn's Fresh Corner (1901 N. Halsted) offers a traditional Turkey day meal in both raw and cooked vegan versions. Order by 11/23 for 11/27 pickup;cost $45-50 per person (you can also just pick up a pie for $30).

    The Chicago store is too busy for pre-ordering pies, but Hoosier Mama's new Evanston location (749 N. Chicago) can accommodate your needs (you can order online!).

    Bang Bang Pie (2051 N. California) is taking orders for chocolate pecan, pumpkin and/or key lime pies, as well as apple crumble and those biscuits I like so much. Pickup 11/25-11/27.

    You can order a pie from VK Urban Farms (3228 W. Carroll); for $6, they'll deliver it to you (I would like the Cardamom Cream Pumpkin Pie, please).

    West Town Bakery and Diner (1916 W. Chicago) is taking orders for vegan and non-vegan versions of pie and cake, as well as bread and rolls. Order by 11/23.

    Bring a talented chef into your home via Kitchensurfing to make your meal. They bring the food, prepare it in your kitchen, and present it to you and your guests as if you're dining in an upscale place--even if it's just a two-flat. GB readers get a special $75 discount to use for their first time.

    Offer to host or offer to attend a Thanksgiving meal through Mealsharing, which pairs people interested in mingling with new folks under the guise (and lure) of food.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Nov 14 2013

    "Art and Appetite" Opens at the Art Institute


    The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S Michigan Ave) has combined two of my favorite hobbies, eating and museum-going, in their newest exhibit, Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine.

    From parties and feasts to dining out to Thanksgiving, the food-centric paintings, sculptures and decorative arts make this exhibit accessible in a way you can almost, almost feel, smell, and touch. This isn't the typical one with the Monets or Rembrandts lining the walls, where you, or at least I, am often acutely aware of the historical distance separating the subject(s) of the painting from the viewer. As awe-inspiring as Rembrandt's work is, there can be a struggle at times to relate to his work, to care about the woman in that portrait, or to understand the scene of a bunch of men in puffy shirts loitering with muskets.

    That's not to say people and history aren't part of Art and Appetite. Changing tastes in American culture and cuisine is at the forefront of the exhibit as the artworks stretch from the 18th through the 20th century. Gazing at the incredibly realistic painting by William Michael Harnett of a defeathered chicken hanging upside down by one scaly foot, you can't help but think of a plump, live chicken, or maybe the frozen one from the grocery store. The piece is titled For Sunday's Dinner so you intuitively know our eating habits have changed dramatically over the past one hundred years.

    That's what makes this exhibit compelling: food and drink is a subject we all have some kind of relationship with, regardless of our personal tastes, politics, religion, and dietary restrictions. Looking at William J. McCloskey's Wrapped Oranges you can practically feel the weight of the orange in the in the palm of your hand and the whiff of citrus in the air. And when you spy that photograph-like painting of a dead chicken, you'll have some sort of reaction, regardless of your food preferences.

    Art and Appetite runs now through January 27, 2014

    Christina Brandon

    Beer Wed Nov 13 2013

    Highlights From The Beer Hoptacular


    Judging by the crush of beer lovers in Pilsen last weekend, the third annual Beer Hoptacular was a rousing success. The Hoptacular is a must for in-the-know beer nerds trying to get their hands on unreleased beers and meet the people behind their favorite craft brews, and this year did not disappoint.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Annie Conway

    Event Wed Nov 06 2013

    Underground Dia de los Muertos Dinner at Yo Soy!

    Like St. Patty's Day and Oktoberfest, Dia de los Muertos is one of those international holidays Americans love celebrating as anything legitimizing the dissolute consumption of alcohol merits serious observance. But I celebrate Dia de los Muertos because me encanta todo de México and because I hail from Texas, the best country in the entire world. This year, I spent Dia de los Muertos shadowing Yo Soy!, an underground supper club founded by Mikey Corona and Brian Riggenbach.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Wed Nov 06 2013

    Cooking a Better School Lunch

    Thursday night, 12 teams of Chicago Public School high school students participating in Cooking Up Change will compete to create the best school lunch. Ingenuity is tested as students operate under similar conditions as the actual school lunch program: limited food and a limited budget of $1 per meal.

    So it's no secret that public school lunch programs are sorely lacking in taste and nutrition -- an issue made even more serious because 85% of Chicago public school students get most of their nutrition during the day. Cooking Up Change shines a spotlight not only in the lack of resources in CPS's lunch program, but the nation's as well. The winner of Thursday night's competition will go on to compete nationally in Washington, DC.

    Presented by the non-profit Healthy Schools Campaign, Cooking Up Change will be emceed by Marion Brooks of NBC5. The judges panel is a large, eclectic group of students, chefs (Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead) and professionals (Leslie Fowler, director of the Office of Nutrition Support Services at Chicago Public Schools, and Clare Keating, vice president of marketing for Preferred Meals).

    Tickets are available at the door of Bridgeport Art Center's Skyline Theater, 1200 W. 35th St. Event kicks of at 6pm.

    Photo via Cooking Up Change

    Christina Brandon

    Wine Fri Nov 01 2013

    Celebrate Champagne

    champagne day.jpgTuesday, October 29th was Champagne Day, and I celebrated the perfect way: by tasting a bunch of French bubbly. Champagne Bureau USA gathered 36 Champagne houses with 108 different wines, all from that famed region in France at The Ivy Room, for a huge, extraordinary tasting.

    I (mostly) systematically went from table to table, making it about two-thirds the way through before I was worn out. 72 was a lot of different bubbly to taste, and I didn't actually drink most of it. I spit much of it into a very shiny silver bucket, which was a weird thing to do when a posh Frenchman or woman was standing opposite you. It was either that, or get wasted before trying even a quarter of the wines.

    Champagne is a wine of celebrations and special occasions to be sure, since what's more fun than bubbles at a party, but it also loves food. In fact, "This is a great food wine" was a sentence I heard a lot throughout the tasting. The representative from Besserat de Bellefon suggested asparagus as the perfect food pairing for their NV Brut. One of my favorites, Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage had a bit of sweetness and spice to it that would make it a great companion for Asian cuisine.

    Many wines had toasty aromas; some skewed toward the full-bodied and creamy end of the spectrum, some were more light-bodied and steely but it was easy to picture cheeses to pair, a pastry with a flaky crust, and fried and greasy foods in particular as Champagne's high acidity and bubbles help cut through the fat. Olivia Pope might like a rich Bordeaux with her popcorn, but I prefer a refreshing, crisp sparkler with such a light buttery snack.

    Another favorite, Comte Audoin de Dampierre Grande Cuvée Brut NV struck me with it's croissant and fresh lemon aromas, much like a lemon tart, and Thiénot Cuvée Garance 2006, made completely from Pinot Noir, had a wonderfully delicate, fruit-forward perfume with citrus and melon.

    What is Champagne, anyway?

    Champagne comes from a specific region in France that's east of Paris, and it's usually, though not always, made from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Officially, only wines made there can carry "Champagne" on the label, though there are plenty of producers worldwide who make sparkling wines using the same method, the traditional method (méthode traditionnelle).

    Basically, this means the secondary fermentation that creates the bubbles occurs in each bottle, as opposed to collectively in a tank prior to bottling, like with Prosecco. The traditional method is more time-consuming, which is largely why Champagne carries a higher price tag than your average bottle of wine.

    Often that bottle of bubbly in the fridge was made from grapes harvested in different years because a Champagne house wants to create a specific house style that tastes and smells the same, regardless of the year is was bottled. They can do this by keeping reserve wine and blending different years together. (One rep I spoke with said his house had reserve wine dating back to 1919). These bottles won't have a date on them, or will state NV (non-vintage). A date will be on the bottle when the Champagne house declares a vintage.

    A few more highlights:

    Pascal Doquet Premier Cru Rosé NV: aromas of cherries and watermelon candy
    Mandois Brut Zero: easy drinking and luxurious with a lot of bubbles
    Bollinger La Grande Année 2004: mouth-puckering acidity with surprising notes of spice

    photo via Caitlin Childs

    Christina Brandon

    Event Wed Oct 30 2013

    Cooking Up a Cure: Celebrity Chef Event at Salvage One

    rsz_dsc_2811.jpgFor me, fundraisers kill two birds with one stone: not only can I satiate my perpetually-growling stomach with delicious delectables, but I can also enhance my spiritual wellbeing and social conscience. So naturally, I spent a wonderful evening at the Cooking Up a Cure fundraiser for the Scleroderma Foundation of Chicago (SFC), an organization that provides support programs for patients and their families, funds crucial research endeavors, and educates the public on scleroderma. Affecting one out of every 1,000 people, scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that can damage vital internal organs and cause thickening and tightening of the skin. Although the symptoms and effects of scleroderma vary dramatically, the disease is chronic, and the cure remains elusive.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Fri Oct 25 2013

    Alinea Doc Debuts Today

    Spinning Plates, which documents the life and times of three restaurants spanning the country -- among them our own Alinea -- debuts today; showtimes are at the Landmark Century Centre (2828 N. Clark). The Aviary is throwing a party in the movie's honor tonight; email them for details on a package that includes movie admission followed by special cocktails and appetizers at their bar.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Oct 22 2013

    Sweet! It's the Chicago Fine Chocolate and Dessert Show!

    dsc_2674.jpgCarl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, called the cacao plant Theobroma cacao, or "food of the gods." Aptly named, as chocolate was once considered sacred by Mesoamerican warriors and the privileged elite, who consumed this naturally-bitter substance for power and virility. But we can thank our European ancestors for modern-day chocolate, a sweet combination of cocoa, fat and sugar that American women shove into their mouths by the fistfuls.

    Like many serotonin-loving humans, I cannot resist good chocolate, and last weekend's Chicago Fine Chocolate and Dessert Show was the perfect fix. The public event featured more than 30 artisanal chocolate vendors, as well as culinary presentations, demonstrations and seminars, and art displays.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Oct 15 2013

    Announcing the 3rd Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl

    microbrewery crawl

    Chicago has become one of the centers of the craft brewing scene. We at Gapers Block have put together a "microbrewery crawl" to showcase the great beers being produced in the area and help educate beer lovers about beer and the differences and similarities between breweries.

    The Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl on Saturday, November 2 kicks off at Lake Effect Brewing in Mayfair. We'll tour the brewery and get a little food in our system courtesy of food trucks (TBA), then travel by bus to Finch's Beer Company to see how beer makes it from tank to can. The crawl then heads up for a visit to Andersonville's great Metropolitan Brewery, and finishes at DryHop Brewers in East Lakeview, where we'll find out what makes a brewpub different from a brewery. You'll then be free to stick around and have dinner, keep drinking or make your way to the next pub.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Oct 14 2013

    A Bottle of the City

    rsz_1750539_bottle-whole-small.jpgThe Threadless-sponsored contest to create a fitting, Chicago-centric bottle design for Absolut Vodka has a winner -- and while he may be based in Minneapolis, he certainly served up a vibrant, "stylized cityscape incorporating architectural and iconic elements" such as Navy Pier and the Chicago Theater. The vodka, which is flavored with rosemary, thyme and olives (no sport peppers?) is for sale at Binny's ($20), and Absolut itself is holding a series of promotional events on Oct. 24th, including a brunch event, a scavenger hunt, and a concert headlined by the Hood Internet.

    Robyn Nisi

    Food Trucks Fri Oct 11 2013

    Have Lunch or Dinner at the Chicago Food Truck Rally Today

    City of Chicago Food Truck RallyThe City hasn't been terribly friendly to food trucks, saddling them with onerous location restrictions and expensive certification procedures, but it's holding out an olive branch today in the form of the City of Chicago Food Truck Rally -- and you benefit.

    From 11am to 8pm, eight trucks -- Beavers Coffee and Donuts, Bridgeport Pasty, Chicago Cupcake, Chicago Lunchbox, The Fat Shallot, Jerk 312, Porkchop and The Salsa Truck -- will be gathered on Daley Plaza, along with a tent serving Goose Island beer and wine.

    Mike & Lisa perform live from 11:30am to 1:30pm, and DJ Lisa René spins from 5 to 7:30pm.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu Oct 10 2013

    Fall was in the Air @ The Reader's Cocktail Challenge

    rsz_1rsz_1cocktail_challenge.jpgI attended last Friday's (Oct. 4) Reader Cocktail Challenge, which was a genius idea for a drink event if there ever was one. For only $40, this was the opportunity to see and taste the imaginings of 20 of Chicago's outstanding mixologists. Restaurants and bars represented ranged from Mindy's Hot Chocolate to RM Champagne Salon to The Bristol.

    Echoing The Reader's "Cocktail Challenge" column, participating mixologists were tasked with creating a fall drink, with a winner selected by judges Mike Sula of The Reader, cocktail consultant Todd Appel, and Catherine De Orio, the new host of "Check, Please!" (Spoiler: Jessica Tessendorf of The Barrelhouse Flat won for her sherry/aromatized wines cocktail, Spousal Privilege).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon

    Event Thu Oct 03 2013

    2013 Celebrity Chef Cook-Off for Common Threads

    dsc_2460.jpgAs an evident fan of Art Smith, Chicago chefs, and healthy and happy young children, I was fortunate enough to attend the Common Threads' Cookoff fundraiser this week. Common Threads is a spectacularly-successful nonprofit dedicated to educating communities, especially underprivileged kids, on healthy food choices through cooking. Held at Fulton's on the River, this year's cook-off required chefs and mixologists to create a dish either in a glass, on a bun, in a shell, or on a stick. Attendees then vote for their favorite in each category. Guests could also bid on cool auction items, including a private helicopter tour of Chicago.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Tue Oct 01 2013

    Green City Market's Auction Is A Foodie's Dream Come True

    How would you like to spend a day sipping cider with Paul Kahan (Publican, Avec) and Brewmaster Greg Hall at Virtue Cider Farms, after which Chef Kahan prepares you a private dinner?

    Or maybe you prefer your dinner on a boat...well then, what do you say to Chef Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday, A10) wining and dining you on a private boat ride around Lake Michigan while you discuss the finer points of sous vide?

    These are just a couple of the many unbelievable, star-studded experiences available in an online auction to benefit the Green City Market. You have until October 6th to bid on the foodie fantasy items online, or you can bid in person at the A (Mostly) Veggie Affair Fundraiser this Thursday.

    And if the price of the auction items makes you wince, never fear, tickets to the fundraiser are only $45 and offer a chance to hobnob with many of the same chefs and nosh on their dishes to your heart's content.

    Annie Conway

    Chicago Gourmet Mon Sep 30 2013

    Wine Heaven @ Chicago Gourmet

    mainlawnchicagogourmet.jpgFor me, Chicago Gourmet was all about drinks, mostly wine. With seminars on Bordeaux, Burgundy, and New Zealand plus a cocktail demonstration, plus the Grand Cru, I didn't see how I would have time to eat much at all.

    I did eat, thankfully, arriving early enough that I enjoyed the Great Lawn of Millennium Park before the crowds swooped in. A volunteer suggested I start with the Supreme Lobster & Seafood Company Tasting Pavilion as that would get overrun first. I was thankful for his advice because with all these white tents with dozens upon dozens serving up food or wine, beer, and spirits, I hadn't a clue where to begin.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon / Comments (2)

    Event Fri Sep 27 2013

    "Chicago In White" Redefines Fashion, Culture and Outdoor Dining for an Evening

    Ketchup on hot dogs, drinking wine out of Solo cups and wearing white after Labor Day are things you just don't do. While I'm guilty of the first two and will defend the former any day (don't hate Chicago, don't hate), I can still hear my grandmother's words of wisdom - "Babe, you can't wear that, it's after Labor Day."

    Chicago debunked that -ism this past Sunday with the annual Chicago in White pop-up dinner - a night where people gather at a secret location dressed up in all white for a BYO "redefined foodie flash mob." facebook_1641168878.jpg

    Not to be confused with Diner en Blanc, which is basically the same event, Chicago in White is the original, albeit less French version, that kicked off three years ago. (For backstory, Diner en Blanc stole the trademark from Chicago in White three years ago and has since been trying to bulldoze the real Chicago in White by holding their event right before each Chicago In White event. Scandalous!)

    This is exactly how I found myself in an H&M store at Woodfield Mall, browsing the clearance racks amongst the teenagers looking for a cheap yet cute white shirt to replace my white- and gold-striped shirt. Apparently close to white wasn't white enough. Even while creating a fashion faux pas by wearing white after Labor Day, I surely couldn't create another.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Fri Sep 27 2013

    The SNAP Challenge Recap

    On the week of Sept. 16-22, Drive-Thru writers Christina Brandon and Brandy Gonsoulin took the SNAP Challenge and used only $35 for food. Here's their experience:


    My SNAP strategy was simple: I would take my $35 to a store I normally would visit, and buy food I'd normally buy. This was motivated in part by laziness. With a full-time job, I had little time and no energy to be creative with my meals. I wanted some basic ingredients I liked that could stretch over a couple days and be tossed together quickly and easily.

    For me, that meant produce and pasta, but after suffering through afternoon hunger headaches and this empty-pit feeling in my stomach for two days, it was clear the biggest whole in my strategy was protein. Garbanzo beans (chick peas) were the easiest and cheapest way for me to get more sustenance out of a meal (68¢ per can for the generic brand at Walmart). I managed to stretch one can over three meals of salads made of noodles, a vegetable, and beans.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon / Comments (9)

    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.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Tue Sep 17 2013

    New Documentary Goes Inside Alinea & Others

    Spinning Plates, a documentary premiering in October, takes you into the back of the house at three restaurants -- Chicago's Alinea, 165-year-old family restaurant Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa, and mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant La Cocina de Gabby in Tucson, Arizona -- and explores the similarities between their operations and the various challenges the owners have faced. Entertainment Weekly premiered the trailer today; below is a clip from Alinea.

    Spinning Plates made the rounds at film festivals last year, and will be in theaters nationwide Oct. 25. Alinea's sister restaurant Next announced on Facebook that it will be co-hosting the premiere in Chicago, followed by "a very special few evenings at the Aviary." Stay tuned for news on those events.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Sep 17 2013

    Mod Mex Fundaiser with Bayless, Stupak, Gaytan, & Vallejo at Kendall College

    rsz_dsc_0493.jpgThe average eater of Mexican cuisine in America consumes enchiladas, burritos, or Doritos Locos tacos--with chips and guac, no less. But if you're eating Mexican food cooked by Alex Stupak (Empellón, NYC), Carlos Gaytan (Mexique, Chicago) and Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico City), or Rick Bayless (Frontera, Chicago)--well, that's another Aztecan affair altogether.

    Rarely can one see big-name chefs like Stupak and Bayless in the same room for more than an hour, so it was a real treat to attend Mod Mex, "a two-day program giving food enthusiasts a rare opportunity to explore, taste, and celebrate the evolution of Mexican cuisine." Event proceeds went to the full-tuition Frontera Scholarship, offered by the Kendall College Charitable Trust in partnership with Rick Bayless.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Mon Sep 16 2013

    September Chicago Food Swap

    rsz_1dsc_2169.jpg Thanks to the September Chicago Food Swap, I have officially restocked on canning jars and Tupperware (and lots of delicious pastries). Food swaps are like mini comic-cons for homemade enthusiasts (a.k.a. stay-at-home mamas, grandmothers, & me); each month, we gather to ogle at and exchange hand-crafted creations made with love and care. The silent auction, bartering format can intimidate even the bravest of spirits, as people bid for delicious goat cheese dips or homemade marshmallows. Will she trade these bacon cupcakes for my measly pickles, you wonder with apprehension. But once you breathe, relax, and embody the spirit of Martha Stewart, it's really a piece of cake. Speaking of indulgent desserts, my strategy involves thoroughly perusing/sampling the items, finding those that I would cry without, and locating its owner before the swap begins.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Sun Sep 01 2013

    Ribs 'n More at Windy City BBQ Classic

    rsz_dsc_0298.jpgThere's nothing like the scent of charcoal and burnt meat that makes my inner Texan twitch with involuntary pride. Because you see, modern BBQ has its roots in the South, where people learned to tenderize tough cuts of meat by slowly roasting them over fire. And when you grow up on Jesus and BBQ, the taste of smoky meat trumps sex, friendship, money, and basically anything important in the world. So it was no surprise that I was Person #25 in line for the Windy City BBQ Classic event at Soldier Field, quivering in fervent anticipation for an afternoon of pure bliss.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Wed Aug 28 2013

    A" Magnificent" Taste: Haute Culinary Event

    rsz_dsc_01661.jpgOh, Art Smith, that Southern bananamuffin wrapped in a cheddar bacon biscuit. He can cook for as many Oprahs, Obamas, or Gagas as he wants, but for me, his sweet buttermilk roots will always be in Chicago. So when I was standing only one foot away from him at the Magnificent Taste fundraiser, my little Southern heart just melted into a thousand Paula-Deen butter droplets. (In fact, the only thing that would've made my 10-second encounter better was if it was renamed A "Fabulous" Taste).This year's Magnificent Taste benefited Art's star-studded charity: Common Threads, whose mission is "to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking."

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Mon Aug 26 2013

    Seafood Galore: Seven Seas Charity Feast at Frontier

    rsz_dsc_0102.jpgLet me just preface by saying I'm an avid seafood fan. I've probably eaten everything taught during a marine biology class, and my favorite cocktail is the one with shrimp. I'm admittedly unfamiliar with good seafood places in Chicago, but when I was invited to the Seven Seas Charity Feast at Frontier, I knew my stomach was in for a real treat.

    The charity event benefited the Chicago chapter of a national organization called Meals on Wheels (MoW). MoW Chicago in particular "funds meal deliveries for homebound seniors and Chicagoans with disabilities as well as home modifications for individuals with disabilities" through two unique programs: Home Delivered Meals (HDM) and Home Modification (HomeMod). Before the Seven Seas event, I didn't even realize that senior hunger was an issue, but according to MoW, 1 in 7 seniors are threatened by hunger. That's a lot of old, hungry people.

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    Judy Wu

    Restaurant Tue Aug 20 2013

    Joyeux Anniversaire, Julia Child

    jchild.jpgIt's not too late to pick up a fork in celebration of Julia Child's 101th birthday: Chicago Originals' "Julia Child Restaurant Week" continues through August 31. A dozen restaurants across Chicagoland are featuring attractively-priced menu specials and prix fixe options with a nod towards French classics perfected by Julia. Be a part of the celebration at Mexique, Bistronomic, or one of the other participating restaurants-- find the full listing here. Bon appétit!

    Danielle Snow

    Event Tue Aug 20 2013

    The Windy City BBQ Classic Debuts Labor Day Weekend

    windy-city-bbq.jpgBrisket was dead to me. A staple in my home growing up, my mother routinely destroyed it by putting it in a casserole dish, covering it with Lipton's dry onion soup mix, pouring a cup of cold water over it, putting it in the oven and roasting it to within an inch of shoe leather. No doubt her purse tasted better and was easier to cut. Upon leaving home, decades passed with nary a thought.

    Then I met a few guys here in Chicago that I trusted culinarily. One of them even wrote what I consider to be a BBQ bible of sorts called Low and Slow. So it was with great trepidation that when they reintroduced me to brisket (gently at first) I tried it and loved it.

    Then there were the discussions about soaking your wood (do not -- it drops the temperature and creates an ashy steam) and BBQ sauce. "BBQ is about the meat, not the sauce. If you want some have it on the side."

    They were right.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Alan Lake

    Event Wed Aug 14 2013

    Tuesday Night Dinner Presents: TND Fest @ Hideout

    Opening a restaurant is hard. Opening it in Chicago is even harder. Everything from storefront leasing, space build-out, attorney and architect fees and zoning, application fees, licensing and incorporation (hello Chicago!) can separate passion from reality. 87-atlg.jpg

    And the folks behind Tuesday Night Dinner want to turn their passion into a brick-and-mortar reality.

    TND productions is linking up with The Hideout this Saturday (8/17) to present TND Fest -- a fundraiser to help Tuesday Night Dinner Productions fuel the Kickstarter campaign, which is currently at $10,000, in support of their restaurant, Border Oak Cafe. The fest will include art, music, a made to order screen printing station, and street style food from the TND kitchen (available for purchase on site). For more information visit their website. Tickets are $10.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Tue Aug 13 2013

    A Feast @ Argyle Night Market

    It's just a hop between Kenmore and Sheridan, but some of the best of Argyle's culinary scene having been turning out each Thursday evening this summer to sell a sampling of their food at the Argyle Night Market. And the brilliant thing is, you can find a range of options for just a few bucks each.

    Lesser known spots and mainstays of the neighborhood set up tables on this bedraggled stretch of street, like Tank Noodle, with kabobs and grilled corn and Ba Le with a selection of egg rolls and their famed banh mi sandwiches. You may have trouble figuring out what's being offered where so be prepared to use your elbows to nudge your way forward and you'll discover fresh coconut water, crab rangoon, bao, smoothies, lo mein and other packaged noodles, empanadas, popcorn, pastries, and chocolates.

    Vegetarian options are slim pickings, unless you're content with the aforementioned pastries and corn. But if you come early, try the fried tofu from Sun Wah BBQ. Four thick squares with your choice of sauce costs one whole dollar. When you're all full and tempted to buy more than what you can handle, shop for fresh produce and meat at one of farm stands and linger for the live music.

    Argyle Night Market runs 4-8 pm every Thursday through September 19
    On Argyle between Kenmore and Sheridan

    Christina Brandon

    Drink Fri Aug 09 2013

    A Cocktail Lab with the Emperor

    Cocktail lab.jpgMy primary concern at a cocktail lab is to not out myself as a pleb. I'd like to think I know a thing or two about cocktails, but in the presence of people who know lots of things about cocktails, who create drinks for a living, who can produce a drink with egg whites where the foam is as thick as the head of a Guinness, well, I basically know nothing.

    At least twenty "students" attended the Emperor's Coffee Lab at Mindy's Hot Chocolate this past Sunday. We squeezed into a few tables set with cocktail shakers, strainers, and bar spoons to learn about Mandarine Napoléon (a blend of cognac and mandarins) and how to prepare coffee drinks with it. Our host, Marc de Kuyper presented some information about the liqueur, which had been made for Napoléon Bonaparte. Then Alex McDaniel and Alex Gara (Head Barista and Bar Manager, respectively) launched into the drink-making segment. We'd be using cold-brewed coffee in the cocktails. And the Mandarine Napoleon, a striking, vibrant orange, with spices like cardamom and nutmeg was a natural partner to the coffee.

    The lab began with Gara demonstrating how to prepare the Kitchen Sink cocktail, which sent a few of us nerdy types scribbling the recipe in notebooks, before we were released to make it ourselves. A small chaos broke out. Hands snatched at blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries from the glass pitchers, the stainless steel muddler was passed back and forth, voices called out again and again how much Pimm's, how much gin? Even though he insisted we didn't need to worry about discrete measurements, rather get the proportions roughly correct (3-to-1 Pimm's to gin).

    That's when you realize everyone knows about as much as you do. You're all in this together. You're all in this to create and to drink.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Christina Brandon

    Event Thu Aug 08 2013

    Taste of Andersonville: A Culinary Scavenger Hunt

    2013_DinnerCrawl_Banner_horizontal.jpgIf I could move to any neighborhood in Chicago, it'd be Andersonville. It's a little microcosm of diversity, with its Swedish roots, fabulous LGBT community, 2-kid-n'-dog families, and thriving Middle Eastern population. Where else can I finish a Turkish pide dinner with a few Toska tarts and glögg? Andersonville. Where else can I experience Lakeview without actually having to live there? Andersonville. Where else can I hit up Edgewater elotes and Argyle pho without having to drive more than five minutes? That's fucking right--Andersonville.

    So when I got invited to the Taste of Andersonville, I wept in glorious happiness because not only did it give me an excuse to dine in one of my favorite neighborhoods, but also because the event is an interactive experience. You see, it's like a culinary scavenger hunt, where participants meander up and down North Clark Street for restaurants mapped on their "passports." Diners chose between three "routes": the Salt Route (vegetarian-friendly), the Pepper Route, and the Enchilada Route (a combination of the salt and pepper routes):

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    Judy Wu / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Aug 08 2013

    Get Comfortable at the Logan Square Comfort Food Potluck


    Comfort Crowd at the Comfort Food Potluck

    A great way to get to know someone is through the comfort food they crave. Whether a person reaches for gooey fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies or snacks on pickles straight from the jar, what we crave in food to find a sense of nostalgia and home can reveal a lot about our culture and self. Sharing these food loves are also a great way to break the ice and break bread with strangers, and a group of food loving folks in Logan Square are doing just that with their monthly comfort food potluck series, the third one this Sunday August 11th.

    A collaborative effort between Comfort Station and local chef and food writer Hugh Amano of Food on the Dole, the series was founded on the idea of a neighborhood potluck to bring the community together to share and discuss food and food culture. The idea is simple, you bring a dish that you find comforting, whether it be a family recipe passed down through the years or something that you just love to make. As they put it best, "weʼre not looking for the next great dish. Instead, weʼre looking to meet more people in our community, and learn more about each otherʼs history and traditions."

    Continue reading this entry »

    Lisa White

    Event Thu Aug 01 2013

    Streetfood Artistry Returns in Bridgeport

    Food truck meet art meets marketplace meets street festival at this year's 3rd annual StreetFood Artistry Event being held at the Zhou B. Art Center in Bridgeport on August 11. Booked as an "artist infusion festival," StreetFood Artistry is a nonprofit organization committed to creating opportunities for budding and established artists via fundraising.

    Participating food trucks include Curried (@GetCurriedAway), the Jamaican driven Jerk 312 (@Jerk312) and Getta Polpetta (@GettaPolpetta), where you can find meatballs straight from Anna Caterinicchia's mother's family recipe. For your sweet tooth there will be Baby Cakes (@BabyCakesTruck), Puffs of Doom (@PuffsofDoom) artisanal cream puffs on a tricycle cart, Herby Pop (@HerbyPop) organic gourmet popcorn and Gigi's Bake Shop (@GiGisBakeShop). DJ Violin and M.A.D.D. Rhythms will be providing entertainment.

    This year, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to support the creation of the "Stand Out Creative" Program, which will award a grant and pro bono legal services for a deserving and emergent business. Tickets can be purchased at the event website.

    August 11, 2013
    Zhou B. Art Center
    1029 W. 35th St.
    Admission: $10 for adults; free for children under 6.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed Jul 31 2013

    More Hot Dogs, Please.


    Have you been in withdrawal since the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff? We understand.

    Luckily, on August 11, you can get your red hot on in style at the Chicago History Museum's first Hot Dog Fest. The Fest will celebrate this important part of Chicago history with eight different interpretations of the classic Chicago dog, plus music, games, and booze. Hear Man Bites Dog authors Bruce Kraig and Patty Carroll expound on hot dog culture while you taste the real deal.

    11 am - 3 pm at the Chicago History Museum. Hot dogs are $2 a pop, so bring your appetite.

    Annie Conway

    Event Wed Jul 31 2013

    Taste of the Nation Returns to Fight Hunger

    gybuvgikt.gifPut on your good eating pants on August 14th to benefit Share Our Strength at Taste of the Nation, which takes over Navy Pier's Ballroom for an evening of eating, drinking, chef-gawking, and entertainment. Enjoy small plates and drinks from an army of chefs and mixologists from the city's best places (among them avec, Girl and the Goat, Topolobampo, Trencherman, Balena, Cafe Spiaggia, endgrain, the now-open Three Dots and a Dash, and the forthcoming Honey Butter Fried Chicken and The Radler); a silent auction and DJs. Your $125 admission will go a long way.

    Robyn Nisi

    Bar Sun Jul 28 2013

    Bull & Bear's Dog Days of Summer Event

    DSC_2288 - Copy.JPG In honor of Hot Dog Week, I went to Bull & Bear's Dog Days of Summer event to sample their neighborhood-inspired dogs, and despite my general excitement, I was admittedly apprehensive. You see, I believe Jesus himself invented the classic Chicago-style dog: a beef frankfurter nestled in a soft bun, topped with white onions, relish, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard. No fucking ketchup. There's something delightful (pornographic even) about pushing this bread-enclosed sausage into your mouth, condiments oozing down your chin like nobody's business.

    Nonetheless, I couldn't very well miss an opportunity to eat hot dogs, so I made my way to River North to try Bull & Bear's creations. I ordered the "Frank Plank" (a flight of all five specialty dogs in miniature form) and a side of their Parmesan truffle fries.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Tue Jul 16 2013

    No Ketchup Allowed: The GB Hot Dog Cookoff

    GB Hotdog_4223.jpg

    The ballots are in and the first Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff was a big win! Five teams of chefs fearlessly pushed the boundaries of what the humble red hot can do, while celebrity judges and hundreds of attendees deliciously decided whose was the top dog.

    The cookoff was held on July 13th outside Schuba's, where the crowd sampled hot dogs in between games of corn hole and Old Style tallboys on a perfect summer afternoon. Despite the friendly atmostphere, the competition was fierce and chefs arrived with secret ingredients and plenty of trash talk ready to go. This came as no surprise, though, because in a city of hot dog die-hards, no one is as serious as this crew.

    And now, for the good stuff:

    GB Hotdog_3442.jpg

    Continue reading this entry »

    Annie Conway / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Jul 15 2013

    A Report from the 2013 IFT Food Expo

    2013 IFT Food Expo

    There's something fantastically overwhelming about trade shows--the eager sales pitches, the free samples and goodies, the elaborate booths and displays. So when I was invited to the 2013 IFT Food Expo, my heart nearly collapsed with quivering excitement.

    The IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) Annual Meeting & Food Expo merges the science and business of food into one giant conference, where representatives from industry, academia and the government gather to share scientific developments, innovations and trends on food. So it's not just about food items; it's also about the ingredients, the process, the legality and the engineering of food. In addition to your standard food suppliers (from foreign and domestic), there were plenty of scientists, lawmakers and engineers at the expo.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Mon Jul 15 2013

    CS Mag Bash Pairs Food and Charity

    Thursday night found the penthouse of the century-old Reid Murdoch Building in River North playing host for the kickoff of CS Magazine's slickly styled restaurant issue.

    Riding the ranges were Chef Jacques Torres, aka "Mr. Chocolate"; Mindy Segal (Chicago's own "Ms. Hot Chocolate"); Jared Van Camp; Chris Pandel and a formidable cast of other distinguished chefs. The evening benefited the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, a worthy cause that over the last 30 years has raised and distributed nearly $40 million to hundreds of community based agencies on the battlefront of the AIDS epidemic.

    cocktail bong 2.jpgThe outdoor terrace, with its table of fire, clock tower and panoramic view of the river and beyond was the perfect setting on a beautiful July evening. Best bites of the night included E+O Food & Drink's John Wayne "Duke" Formica's Seared Smoked Scallop with Celery Root Puree and Pickled Cherry Tomato finished with some kick-ass olive oil. A perfect balance of rich and smoky playing against the acid from the tomato and the peppery finishing olive oil; Embeya's Thai Dang's Escargot over Grilled Eggplant with Green Curry and Shiso; Adam Seger's science fiction meets Japanese tea ceremony inspired infused fruit cocktails (apparatus pictured at left); and the Dark Chocolate Peanut Bark and other assorted chocolates by the master himself, Jaques Torres. Quite a coup, this guy is a legend, and the quality of his chocolates, really superlative.

    In all, a better than expected, well done affair. I love when my expectations are exceeded.

    Alan Lake

    Event Fri Jul 12 2013

    Reminder: Gapers Block's Hot Dog Cookoff is this Saturday!

    Gapers Block joins forces with Reach Out and Read Illinois this Saturday, July 13, for a food-filled fundraiser: the Hot Dog Cookoff!

    Come to the parking lot next to Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., anytime between 2 and 7pm to see what creative dishes our competing chefs have come up with -- and vote on your favorite!

    Fat Rice has a General Tso-inspired dish in the works!

    Harmony Grill's dog will include jalapeno bacon jam, fried onions and a Flamin' Hot Cheetos glaze.

    ManBQue is smoking something. It might be hot dogs.

    The Haute & The Dog won't tell us what they have planned, but we know it'll be served from a classic hot dog cart.

    • We have no idea what Kuma's Corner is working on. Maybe hot dogs topped with mini cheeseburgers?

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Jul 10 2013

    Grass Fed Launches New Guest Chef Series This Sunday

    Grass Fed, the Bucktown restaurant that looks like it could have come out of Martha Stewart Living, is adding another twist to their menu -- a Sunday guest chef series called "Keys to the Kitchen." Every Sunday from 7-8:30 p.m., local chefs (currently unknown but we're hoping to get the scoop soon) will get the "keys" to the Grass Fed kitchen to whip up their $30 per person menus. (Price excludes tax, gratuity and beverages.)


    Grass Fed is kicking off the series this Sunday with a three-course summer dinner -- Goat Cheese Ravioli with pickled cherry, a tasting of local Pork, including belly, shoulder and loin, with local peaches, pickles and onions and Housemade Churros with nutella.

    Supposedly Grass Fed will reveal the chefs and their menus in advance. Don't get your hopes up that Stephanie Izard will be one of the mystery chefs -- this sounds more like an up-and-coming mystery dinner; just more reason to see what the rest of Chicago chefs who don't have restaurateurs to back them are doing.

    Reservations are highly recommended. To schedule, call 773.342.6000 (a 48 hour cancellation policy is required). 1721 N. Damen Ave

    Image courtesy of Grass Fed

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Mon Jul 08 2013

    Eatin' and Thinkin'

    y7byinyh79nmhyu.pngWant to know what is going on in your mind grapes when you're eating? Jealousy? Envy? Science-y stuff? The UC Graham School is offering a seminar this Saturday at the Gleacher Center (10am-4pm, 450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr, admission $115) called "Food on the Brain" that examines the impact that food has on your brain, with neuroradiologist Chris Buckle and food and wine consultant Dawn Welsh at the helm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sun Jun 30 2013

    Get Your Hands Dirty at Fish Bar Tonight

    crawfish.jpgCall it bad timing that Fish Bar (2956 N. Sheffield Ave.) would hold a crawfish boil at the same time that I was heading back to crawfish town. Maybe it was just a reminder that I was overdue for the classic Louisiana style "grill-out" -- 35-80 pounds of crawfish (or two sacks for a large group) boiled with crawfish boil seasoning, usually Zatarains, over a BTU burner in a 50 gallon boiling pot and served with the usual side of "fixings" -- boiled potatoes, corn and even onions and lemons. Not to be forgotten is the necessary dipping sauce (mayo, ketchup, hot sauce and horseradish if you like). And a crawfish boil is definitely not a crawfish boil without a cold beer in a koozie.

    Some apply a boil only method, some steam finish the crawfish in an ice chest. The goal is that they should end up looking bright red and curled. (If the crawfish is flat, don't eat it -- it means it was already dead before it hit the hot water. Same goes if it is mushy, that means it was starting to decay.)

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Sun Jun 23 2013

    The Chicago Food Swap

    DSC02500.jpgI remember the good ol' elementary school days when I used to trade my apple slices (which my mother lovingly packed) for my friend's Snicker bar or peanut butter sandwich. It was barter at its finest; none of the dollar and dime business that characterizes modern-day exchanges. It's not that I don't enjoy farmers markets or local artisan shops, but there's a certain nostalgic charm when you exchange your homemade pie for your neighbor's freshly-picked tomatoes. But with the countless legal and regulatory hurdles one must jump through to sell food products, I had given up on the barter system.

    That is...until I chanced upon the Chicago Food Swap, who meet every other month (in their own words) " exchange homemade creations. No cash is exchanged, and no goods are sold. In a silent auction format, homemade goodies change hands and everyone goes home inspired and happy."

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Jun 10 2013

    Great Chefs Tasting Party

    I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Great Chefs Tasting Party, a fundraising gala for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Chicago (UCP). In case you didn't know, cerebral palsy is a "disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by injury or abnormal development in the immature brain, most often before birth...People with cerebral palsy often have other conditions related to developmental brain abnormalities, such as intellectual disabilities, vision and hearing problems, or seizures." (Mayo Clinic). UCP has been helping CP individuals and their families since 1951, providing a variety of different services including professional development and educational programs:

    "We help a child with cerebral palsy use technology that lets her speak for the first time. We help a man unable to use his hands or arms learn to do his own laundry and prepare his own meals. We help a woman in a wheelchair roll down her new ramp and back into the community." (UCP website)

    The organization does amazing things for the CP community, and their food lineup did not disappoint. There were nearly 40 different participants, and while I could go on and on about each, some of my favorite highlights can be found after the jump...

    Continue reading this entry »

    Judy Wu

    Event Mon Jun 10 2013

    Announcing the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff!

    UPDATE: We had a blast! Here's a recap of the event.

    Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff
    What's better than grilling hot dogs outside on a summer afternoon? Having some of Chicago's best chefs make hot dogs for you, as you and other hot dog enthusiasts consider which one is the most delicious over a few drinks.

    Join Gapers Block for their Hot Dog Cookoff on July 13 from 2 to 7pm in the parking lot at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., and you'll get to taste new interpretations of the classic red hot. Participating chefs will all start with Vienna Beef hot dogs, but can use them in any way imaginable. Perhaps there will be hot dog sushi, or even a smoked BBQ dog. What about a corn dog cake pop? We have no idea what they'll come up with, but we have a feeling it will go beyond mustard and relish and we think you should be there to taste it.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Annie Conway / Comments (2)

    Event Tue Jun 04 2013

    Swap Food with Fellow Cooks

    Chicago Food Swap is an opportunity for cooks, bakers, canners and gardeners to get together and trade their homemade and/or homegrown food. Whether you're professionally trained or just an enthusiastic amateur, you're welcome to come and share what you've made, meet other like-minded foodies and trade your stuff for some of theirs through a bid-based "swapping" process.

    Chicago Food Swap holds its next swap on Sunday, June 23 at Gallery 1028, 1028 N. Hooker St., today from 2:30 to 5pm. Free registration is required.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Fri May 31 2013

    Weekend Drink: The Negroni

    Negroni, by Geoff PetersImbibe magazine declared May 27-June 3 Negroni Week, during which bars across the country are serving variations on that bright red cocktail and donating $1 from each one sold to charity. In Chicago, there are three official participants:

    RM Champagne Salon, 116 N. Green St., donating to Human Rights Campaign

    Red Door, 2118 N. Damen Ave., donating to the Bartender Relief Fund

    Mindy's Hot Chocolate, 1747 N. Damen Ave., donating to Greater Chicago Food Depository

    So, get out there and do a little good while you drink.

    Photo by Geoff Peters

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu May 30 2013

    Alton Brown Goes Broadway?

    Alton_Brown_Tour_Photo_retouch2-179.jpgOur favorite "Iron Chef" host and food science nerd apparently has a flair for the stage in his recently announced newest venture, "Alton Brown Live! The Edible Incredible Tour." What can Alton Brown on Broadway look like, you ask? Stand-up comedy, talk show antics, multimedia lecture, live music and food experimentation... oh, and singing, because you can't call it Broadway, folks, without that.

    The show is slated for one night only on Feb. 8, 2014 (yup, you read that right) at the Oriental Theater, and tickets ranging from $25-$65 go on sale June 7 starting at 10am. A special package featuring premium seating and a pre-show meet and greet with Alton Brown is also available. Visit the tour website or Broadway in Chicago for more information.

    For some reason I'm calling upon old memories of Carrot Top...

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Wine Tue May 28 2013

    A Dinner with Chicago Cooks & Michigan Pours

    For most meals, the booze has always been secondary to the entrée, but not for attendees who attend Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours dinners. Founded by three local food & wine enthusiasts, Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours is currently offering a series of Michigan wine-focused dinners, where the food menu is specifically designed to complement the alcohol, not the other way around. With nearly 103 wineries in the Michigan area (such as Leelanau, Old Mission and Lake Michigan Shore) and the fabulous foodie scene in Chicago, the founders of Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours decided to combine the best of both worlds by hosting a sequence of unique dinners highlighting award-winning wines.

    DSC_1754.JPGI was fortunately enough to be invited to their very first dinner at Uncommon Ground, where we began the evening sipping on Chantal Tonight sparkling wine accompanied by seasonal appetizers, including minted pea soup and tempura asparagus. Guests mingled with one another and the featured winemakers on the Rooftop Farm (where little plots of radishes and lettuces were just sprouting) before heading downstairs to begin the feast. The first entrée of our three course dinner was a delectable roasted beet salad paired with Lake Michigan Shore Semi-dry Riesling from Fenn Valley Vineyards. The salad course was followed by a Mint Creek Lamb Tagine, served with a 2011 Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Noir. The final dessert trio ("Chocolate Spoon," Michigan cherries, and spiced truffles) was complemented by an old fashioned cocktail made with Chateau Chantal Cinq a Sept Grape Brandy.

    DSC_1808.JPGNow I'm not a wine connoisseur, but the wines were purposely and carefully chosen to highlight the fresh flavors of each course. And if you couldn't taste the difference, at least you got cheat sheets of what you were supposed to taste. Guests were provided with lengthy descriptions of each of the featured wines, including the harvest date, aging potential, and potential pairings with food. After discovering that my pinot noir boasted "aromas of violets and plums followed by fruit forward flavors of dark cherries, currants, and complementary oak," I took another sip of my drink to test my taste buds. Alas, I couldn't distinguish each flavor component, but the overall taste seemed worthy of their accolades.

    Ultimately, the wine and food wouldn't have tasted as spectacular without the company. The community-style arrangement of our meal created a comforting sense of camaraderie and as the wine poured, the conversations only got louder. With the rising interest in craft beer, DIY brews, and wine fanatics, I anticipate that wine-focused dinners will quickly gain in popularity.

    Judy Wu

    Event Wed May 22 2013

    Summertime Farm Dining

    City life can sometimes seem like an all-in-one package: everything's right here in Chicago, and just an L ride away there's another neighborhood with some undiscovered funky gelato shop or untapped coffee roastery waiting for you to walk through the doors. But despite the city's abundance, especially in all things food-related, the grass always seems a little greener on the other side--and in the case of local Illinois farm dinners, it actually is.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Danielle Snow

    Event Mon May 20 2013

    The 2013 National Restaurant Show -- and Tell

    Having attended numerous NRA shows (as in restaurants, not rifles) at McCormick Place over the last three decades, for me it's not about seeing the 99% of things you expect to see but more about the 1% you don't expect. My routine is to walk the entire show row by row, booth by booth over the course of two days, looking over the 1,800 exhibitors for ingenious products, new designs or clever ideas that my clients or I may need. This year, however, I did it in one day -- a personal best. Maybe there wasn't as much to grab me or maybe I'm just jaded, but here's what spoke to me this year:

    Winner of the Tackiest Exhibitor Award was Honey Smoked Fish Co. with their show-your-assets, surgically-enhanced-décolletage, take-a-left-turn-at-strippers offering to enrobe you in their shitty t-shirts by helping you put them on, all the while jiggling and pressing themselves very much against you with a big hug just short of a lap dance. It's an honorable old custom to have attractive personnel man or in this case woman your booth, but even for this old horndog, it was a bit much at 10am. The only thing missing was dollar bills.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Alan Lake

    Beer Wed May 15 2013

    Ready for Beer Bingo?

    What with Chicago Craft Beer Week kicking off tomorrow and what looks to be our first string of three 70+ degree days, we didn't think you needed more excuses to find an adult beverage on the patio of your choice, until this popped up in our inbox.

    Yep, you read that title correctly, a game of beer bingo is popping up in Lincoln Square starting today. All you need do is stop into one of the establishments listed below, pick up a card and play on.

    • The Bad Apple, 4300 N. Lincoln Ave.
    • The Grafton, 4530 N. Lincoln Ave.
    • DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave.
    • Fountainhead, 1970 W. Montrose Ave.
    • Brew Camp, 4639 N. Damen Ave.
    • Bottles and Cans, 4109 N. Lincoln Ave.

    Five in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally will win you a custom pint glass with original artwork by Sarah Morton, and bragging rights that you sloshed your way through all of 60625.

    Bonus: they have a handful of other prizes should someone fill out the entire card -- a "blackout" as it were. As always, first come, first served.

    Check out the bingo card and more details online and support one of Chicago's best beer-friendly neighborhoods.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Apr 29 2013

    Foodie's Delight: The Pastoral Artisanal Producer Fest

    Heritage Pig2.jpeg

    Pastoral, the local cathedral of fine wine and cheese, does a huge public service to the City of Chicago by finding the best small, artisanal producers all over the country and making their products available to eager foodies in a well-curated, one stop shop for all things delicious. Last Saturday, Pastoral did us one better by bringing many of their featured cheese, wine, bread, beer, confections, and charcuterie makers to Chicago for a one day tasting extravaganza and love-fest at the French Market. For cheese followers and amateur gourmands, it was a chance to meet favorite culinary superstars and to find a few new ones.

    A few highlights from the event:

    Continue reading this entry »

    Annie Conway

    Event Fri Apr 19 2013

    April Showers Bring Bacon

    Bacon, it's like the bowl of jelly belly's, the leftover Dunkin Donuts box from the morning office meeting, everyone stops when they see it, paused in the eye-brow raised linger--is that bacon you got there?


    Dogs go crazy for it.
    Poems are written about it.
    Vegetarians even do it.

    Whether it's the classic BLT or the smell of a thick slab hitting a black iron skillet, there's something about bacon that can't be denied - it has the power to control. It's no secret, Chicago loves itself some bacon. But how did we get to a place where we write comics about it, make soap out of it, put it in our chocolate?

    I will find out at this weekend's sold-out Baconfest Chicago. The irony or maybe cruelty that a peso-vegetarian will be attending the one event dedicated solely for bacon lovers when the last pork I had was, well, what month is this, might have a few of you reeling. Do I have it in me to devour all that is bacon? Can my hummus and kale loving palate handle the grease? Will I be converted to a baconator? Follow me on twitter @brandygonsoulin to see how this pans out and check back for the recap next week.

    Photo courtesy of the Brandon from the Drive-Thru Flicker Pool

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Mon Apr 08 2013

    Fromageophiles: Get Ready For Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival

    If you're the kind of person who can't walk by the Whole Foods cheese counter without asking for at least twelve samples, then start mentally preparing for the High Holy Day of gourmet tastings. On April 27th, Pastoral is hosting dozens of artisanal cheese, wine, meat, bread, and confection producers from around the world at the French Market from 11-3 pm. Spend a lovely afternoon schmoozing with farmers, distillers, and chefs, sample to your heart's content, and leave with unique, hard to find gourmet treats. And if that weren't enough, it's also free. 131 N. Clinton. More information here.

    Annie Conway

    Recipe Fri Apr 05 2013

    Soup'n'Bread: Chicago vs. Chicago

    beer-cheese-soup.jpgThere's nothing like ending a chilly day with a steaming bowl of homemade soup and a hunk of bread to sop up all of the delicious goodness. It's even better when you can support a good cause.

    On Wednesday, Gapers Block served up two soups at the Hideout's Soup & Bread, Chicago's hipster soup kitchen that benefits local nonprofits. The theme of the night was Chicago vs. Chicago and donations from the volunteer-run event went to Ravenswood Community Services.

    Every single Windy City-themed soup -- from Deep Dish Pizza Soup to Italian Beef Soup (with homemade giardiniera) -- was a hit to the several dozen people who attended. Not to brag, but we exhausted our massive crock of Beer Cheese soup less than 30 minutes after the doors opened.

    After many email threads between Drive-Thru staff, we whipped up soups representing Chicago's immigrants with beer influences: Polish Beer Cheese made with Josephs Brau PLZNR Czech-Style Lager beer (which was the closest we could get to Polish beer at the local liquor store the night we made soup) and Pork Pozole made with 5 Rabbit's 5 Vulture roasted ancho chile ale.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Cinnamon Cooper

    Event Fri Apr 05 2013

    Club Lucky Defends Its 'Lucky' Title

    20130328_201652.jpgLast Thursday, the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce crowned Club Lucky for a second year in a row as the Wicker Park Mixology winner at the 2nd Annual Mixiology Mash-up contest, naming "The Bohemian Tease" the official drink of Wicker Park. The contest, which kicked off last year, pitted 10 bartenders from Red Door, Club Lucky, Fatpour, Prasino and more against each other to make a signature drink that yelled Wicker Park. This year was even bigger and better at Dolphin.

    There was bacon, lavender foam -- there was even a drink in a bag a la Capri Sun. But, just like last year, Club Lucky didn't disappoint both in display and presentation.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed Apr 03 2013

    Tonight! Drive-Thru @ Soup and Bread

    soop.bmpThe Hideout (1354 West Wabansia) holds its Soup and Bread weekly fundraiser tonight from 5:30-8pm (or until the soup runs out). Local chefs and foodies prepare a selection of soups for your casual slurping from the bar's crock pots, with (encouraged) donations going to a local food-related charity; tonight's proceeds benefit the Ravenswood Community Services food pantry. This year each week has a theme, and tonight's is "Chicago vs. Chicago." The Drive-Thru staff will be one of the chefs, alongside the Reader 's food writer Mike Sula, Ravenswood Event Center chef Andy Kalish, Hoosier Mama baker Allison Stout, and Nikki Way and Perry Kim--so you know you'll have to show! The incredible Carrie Weston will DJ. Event is age 21+, but children can be admitted if accompanied by an adult.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Apr 01 2013

    Baconfest to Have Onsite Medical Staff

    imagestgrft.jpgWorried that attendees of April 20th's Baconfest might start to show signs of stroke or heart attack due to the high levels of fat and sodium found in the pork item at the center of the day-long food event, organizers have contracted with nearby Rush and UIC Hospitals to have a full medical staff onsite at the UIC Forum to provide immediate assistance, such as resuscitation, hydration for the food-fatigued, and glucose monitoring. "We're not going to take any chances," a spokesperson commented. The medical tent will accept several types of insurance; their services will not be included in the ticket price.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Mar 28 2013

    Easter for Adults

    EasterBunnyCake.jpgIf you want to wait a few hours this Sunday before having to hightail it to Aunt Margaret's house for ham, highballs and humiliation, might I suggest the following:

    Grass Fed (1721 N. Damen) has a three-course Easter lunch of lamb, salmon, chicken ($25 per person; reservations required).

    Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie) is hosting an adults egg hunt (1pm, $5 admission fee per two-person team) that benefits the Comer Children's Hospital. Bring your own basket; registration required.

    If you want to get all classy, Allium at the Four Seasons (120 East Delaware Place) has a rocking buffet complete with a crudo station, charcuterie, Asian fare, lotsa breakfasty stuff, lotsa other stuff and of course, candy. I want to go to there. Adults $140, kids $55. Runs 10:30am-5pm; reservations required.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Mar 28 2013

    Gapers Block's Microbrewery Crawl is Back April 6

    Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl - April 6, 2013Back in November, Gapers Block put together a "microbrewery crawl" to celebrate the great beers being produced in the area, taking advantage of the close proximity of so many breweries and distilleries to showcase how Chicago has become one of the centers of the craft brewing and distilling scene. It was a big hit with attendees, who clamored for another go. So next Saturday, April 6, we're doing it again.

    The Gapers Block Microbrewery (& Distillery!) Crawl kicks off at noon at Andersonville's great Metropolitan Brewery and travels by foot and bus to three more stops. After learning about Metropolitan's beer and process, we'll head next door to Koval Distillery where we'll get a look at how their liqueurs and whiskey are made. We'll find out what "community supported brewing" is at Begyle Brewing and how a brewery can operate in under 500 square feet from Spiteful Brewing (whose space is so tiny that they're talking to us over at Begyle), then finish up at Atlas Brewing Company in Lincoln Park.

    For $45, participants will get multiple samples at each stop, and get tours of and info about some very unique and different breweries. Capacity is limited to 60 people, and last year it sold out well ahead of time. Be a part of this unique experience -- get your tickets now!

    Questions? Requests? Email or comment below.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Mar 26 2013

    Drinks, Bites & Music with Frank Lloyd Wright

    april-after-hours-2_035.jpgExplore Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style home in Hyde Park MCA style with drinks, bites and acoustic jazz every Friday evening in April at the new "After Hours at Robie House" presented by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.

    Soon to be featured on WTTW's "10 Buildings That Changed America," airing Sunday, May 12, the Frederick C. Robie House, located at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave., is a world-renowned masterpiece, named by The American Association of Architects as one of the 10 most significant buildings of the 20th century. Admission is $30 for Preservation Trust Members and $35 for non-members. Advance reservations are recommended. Visit for tickets and further details.

    Photo credit: Matt Soria

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Mon Mar 25 2013

    Feast and Imbibe to Take Over Jam in April

    254671_444665528934331_880192541_a.jpgMake your reservations now: the underground dining series Feast and Imbibe will be surfacing to take over the space at Jam (3057 W. Logan) for a weekend in April (12-14) for dinner service ($75 per person, $95 with wine pairings) after the Jam crew (who will be open during their normally scheduled hours, for all you french toast fans) hangs up their aprons and heads home.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Mar 14 2013

    The Art of Food

    The discussion of the arts is normally left to topics that have historically been, well, artistic, but the practice of being a chef as all chefs will argue has become art within itself. Not too long ago, food was a means to an end; it was neither here nor there. Today, chefs don't cook, they craft. No longer are we satisfied if food tastes good; it must also look good. A dish has composition. Dining you might say, is the new opera.

    ctforwardarts078 (1).jpgRick Bayless spoke about this concept of food as art at Wednesday's Chicago Forward: The Future of the Arts, a panel discussion with Chicago creatives such as artist Tony Fitzpatrick, architect Jeanne Gang and cultural commissioner Michelle Boone. Bayless is well known for his craft of Mexican cuisine. He has elevated street food to art. At one point he said the word tamale with the most appropriate authenticity that I briefly wondered if his mouth and tongue had just engaged in a pas de deux. I can try to think street food when I think of tacos, but under his context, I just can't.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Sat Feb 23 2013

    Exhibits and Demos and Bourdain, Oh My!


    Advance registration for Chicago's 2013 National Restaurant Association Show, one of the nation's biggest showcases for all things food, beverage, kitchen, and lodging, is now open!

    Tickets to this extravaganza of cutting-edge industry technology and culinary curiosities are priced at $49 through April 5, and $99 afterwards. The show runs from May 18-21 at the McCormick Place, with over 1,900 exhibitors, education sessions, "cheflebrity" appearances (Rick Bayless, Cat Cora, Marcus Samuelsson, and more) and cooking demos lined up over the course of the four days. Additionally, Anthony Bourdain himself will be hosting "Restaurants Rock," the official after-party on Sunday, May 19 as well as a presentation and book signing on the NRA main stage on May 20.

    Registration is restricted to those directly affiliated with the hospitality industry.

    Danielle Snow

    Event Mon Feb 18 2013

    Nola Comes to Lincoln Park

    B_C_Pitmast11x17_feb.jpgFat Tuesday may have come and gone, but Wednesday's Pitmaster dinner at Barn & Company (950 W. Wrightwood, from 7-9pm) sounds like an indulgence well worth the weight (see what I did there?). Your $40 admission gets you a three-course meal of New Orleans' best dishes (po boys, gumbo, etouffee, fried green tomatoes and pecan pie to finish) paired with Jack Daniels cocktails (sazerac!).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Feb 12 2013

    Coming to a Backyard Near You...

    Odd as it sounds, my chickens moved to the 'burbs last year. They cited reasons similar to many a friend finding themselves in a soon-to-be roosting situation: more family friendly environs, more space... you know you've heard it before, too. My living situation changed such that my three egg-laying gals couldn't squeeze onto the terrace at my boyfriend's apartment, but I still have many a Saturday morning where even the farmers market eggs disappoint.

    The reasons for having livestock in the city are many: self-sustainability, better quality ingredients, an unending supply of perfect hostess gifts and exotic hobby bragging rights. If you are part of the masses who have been tempted to go whole hog (pun intended) on urban agriculture, who have bookmarked Williams-Sonoma's entire agrarian section, head over to the Garfield Park Conservatory this Saturday between 10am and 1pm for Chicago's first ever FREE Urban Livestock Expo. Truth be told, the folks here have a much more realistic (financially and logistically) way of bringing livestock into your very own backyard.

    Check the Advocates for Urban Agriculture's website for more details.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Feb 11 2013

    Barn & Co., Robinson's Top 2nd Annual BBQ Bowl

    Gapers Block BBQ Bowl - Barn and Company ribs
    Rib from Critics' Choice winner Barn & Co. Photo by Moshe Tamssot

    Taste favored the home teams, so to speak, in the second annual Gapers Block BBQ Bowl, with Barn & Company winning the Critics' Choice award and Robinson's No.1 Ribs winning the coveted People's Pick award. Both victors happen to be within easy walking distance of Lincoln Hall, which was redolent with the smell of great barbecue on Saturday.

    The competition was stiff. Rub BBQ came in second place for the Critics' Choice award for the second straight year, and tied with defending champs Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro for second place in the People's Pick, with Harmony Grill close behind. (Nobody enjoyed the ribs from PorkChop -- because they were a no-show for the competition. Hard to win if you don't show up.) With the win coming down to just a handful of votes, no doubt these fierce competitors will be upping their game for next year.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Restaurant Sun Feb 10 2013

    Eat Your Heart Out: Valentine's Day Picks

    valsday1f.jpgV-Day is on the horizon, and there's not better day to romance someone through their stomach. We've selected a few places that are bound to impress that special someone. All you have to do is make a reservation and show up. And don't forget the flowers.

    Our picks

    Grass Fed
    Opt for a romantic candlelight dinner at Bucktown's quaint go-to for delicious beef sourced from Wisconsin grass-fed farms. And what's sexier than steak?

    Grass Fed's $45 prix fixe menu includes salmon tartare that's so soft and buttery it melts in your mouth, crunchy brussels sprouts salad with almonds, a soothing and addictive glazed carrots soup seasoned with cardamom, and sirloin steak worthy of fist-pumps. Other options on the menu: house-made gnocchi, bone in rib eye and skillet chicken served with butternut squash puree and warm kale salad - and three dessert options, including a rum infused bread pudding that sounds orgasmic.

    The menu is also available Friday and Saturday. Call 773-342-6000 for reservations. 1721 N. Damen Ave.

    Lula Café
    You just can't go wrong at Lula Café. It's cozy and intimate, and it always serves up whimsical plates of food so satisfying, you'll wonder why you'd dine anywhere else. This year they're whipping up a three-course ($45) and a five-course ($75) menu, and each come with wine pairings ($25). The three course menu includes a sea scallop and its roe, duck breast and a fruity confection by Mas Brothers Chocolate. The five course menu includes all of the above, and chilled lobster served in a buttermilk or panna cotta or custard (it's still in the works), dry aged beef carpaccio and brin d'amour cheese. The vegetarian menu will be posted on the website soon!

    The two seatings for the evening are at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Call 773-489-9554 for reservations. 2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.

    Le Colonial
    Bit of a Francophile and love Asian food? Do French-Vietnamese at Le Colonial. The ambiance is warm and beautifully decorated in a French colonial theme from the '20s; you'll forget you're in Chicago. The evening's menu ($65) includes pho with oxtail soup and rice noodles, a grilled sea scallop salad with garlic noodles, salad rolls and a seared filet mignon, followed by steamed fillets of Chilean sea bass, sautéed jumbo shrimp, and rice noodles with a choice of beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu.

    Call 312-255-0088 for reservations. 937 N. Rush St.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Clarisa Ramirez

    Event Mon Feb 04 2013

    A Syrup-y Evening

    TPB-DrillingSpile.jpgMaple syrup maker Tim Burton (pictured, of southern Indiana's Maplewood Farm) will be teaming up with Wirtz Beverage and chef Mark Payne of deca (160 E. Pearson) for an evening of eating (a three-course "Bourbon and Burton"-themed meal) and learning about how Indiana's foodstuffs are making a comeback from author David Hoppe, who will be signing copies of his book Food for Thought: an Indiana Harvest. The February 26th meal (which starts at 7:30pm) is $59 per person with cocktail pairings, and it looks delicious: salmon, duck, and banoffee pie to finish. If you can't make this meal, consider heading down to Maplewood Farm for the National Maple Syrup Festival, which runs March 2-3 and 9-10.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jan 28 2013

    Announcing the 2nd Annual Gapers Block BBQ Bowl

    bbq-bowl_2013_300x250.jpgGapers Block is excited to announce our second annual BBQ Bowl barbecue competition. Join us from noon to 3pm on Saturday, Feb. 9 at Lincoln Hall for a barbecue battle featuring some of the city's best barbecue joints and restaurants, including Barn & Company, Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, PorkChop, Robinson's, Rub BBQ and more to come!

    For just $20 you'll get one tasting from each BBQ contestant, plus access to drink specials. We'll also have live music (TBA). Once you've made your way around the competitors, cast your vote for the "People's Pick" award at our polling booth. A panel of esteemed judges -- including Chuck Sudo of Chicagoist, Moshe Tamssot of, Juanna Rumbel of the Windy City Rollers, and Rachael Katz of Weber Grill -- will also vote for the "Critic's Choice" award. The champions will be announced at around 2:30pm.

    Our first BBQ Bowl was held Feb. 4, 2012 to great acclaim -- more than 120 Chicagoans came to the Bucktown's Club Lucky the day before the Super Bowl to sample and vote on ribs from seven worthy contestants. Honky Tonk Barbecue won the first "Critic's Choice" award and Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro took home the "People's Pick." Koval Distillery was on hand to offer tastings of its locally made liquors, and up and coming soul band The Congregation provided the entertainment.

    Tickets to the BBQ Bowl may be purchased in advance on EventBrite or Lincoln Hall's website, or at the door day-of. This is an all-ages event.

    UPDATE: Harmony Grill joins the barbecue lineup, and Marko Casso will be our live entertainment! We'll also have a raffle and drink specials at the bar. All for just $20! Stay tuned for further updates.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Jan 28 2013

    Best Toddler Birthday Ever

    ign9uif rmjepo9.jpgRevolution Brewery celebrates its third birthday this Saturday with a "Crazy Party" at its brewery site (3340 N. Kedzie); your $50 ticket gets a nine-course meal with beer pairings, a souvenir glass, and a 22 oz. bottle of a special beer to take home. The evening session is sold out, but the afternoon (1-4pm) still has a few open seats left.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jan 21 2013

    Celebrating Obama's Second Term

    bolg.jpgEli's is making a cheesecake, natch (pictured), Baltimore's Charm City Cakes is also in on the fun (I hope you like fondant, fondant and fondant), and the post-Inauguration luncheon menu features steamed lobster, bison tenderloin, and apple pie with a sour cream ice cream. Full menu after the jump; Obama Foodorama has the recipes.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jan 17 2013

    Lula Presents a Very Special Monday Night Farm Dinner

    19k.jpgTickets are still available for Monday night's Farm Dinner at Lula (2537 N. Kedzie). While the event is something the Logan Square restaurant has been doing for over a decade, they are bringing on some very exciting talent for this next occasion.

    "Top Chef" and Aria alum Beverly Kim and husband John Clark, who briefly took over (and closed) Bonsoiree last fall, along with some out-of-towners -- Sarah and Evan Rich of San Francisco's Rich Table -- will be contributing "surprise" canapes in addition to parts of the three-course meal (the entree is roast chicken with miso, rutabaga and bacon). Tickets $45 ($25 for wine pairings). Call call 773-489-9554 to reserve.

    Robyn Nisi

    Beer Thu Jan 10 2013

    More Beer to Go with Dinner

    In addition to Cask Night at Small Bar Division next Thursday, there are a couple more beer events you should know about.

    On Monday, Jan. 14, DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave.) and Oskar Blues Brewery are teaming up for a four-course dinner benefiting the Chicago Recycling Coalition. Guests will have a spicy beet soup paired with Ten Fidy Stout; a caraway-scented pork burger, Granny Smith apple sauerkraut and potato pierogi paired with Dale's Pale Ale; an "unstuffed cabbage" burger and fries paired with Mama's Little Yella Pils; and a caramel caraway beer float made with Old Chub Scotch Ale. The dinner is $40 per person; there's an encore on Jan. 28. Reserve a spot by emailing

    Then on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Deschutes Brewery will host beer and food pairings at Bangers & Lace (1670 W. Division St.) and Sheffield's (3258 N. Sheffield Ave.) as part of its series of Chicago launch events. At Sheffield's, you'll be able to meet Deschutes founder Gary Fish while nibbling barbecue.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Jan 09 2013

    Koval Distillery Lends a Hand to Art

    Whiskey joins art at Lillstreet Art Center this winter in an exhibition entitled Neat: The Art of the Whiskey Vessel. The exhibition celebrates the long tradition of ceramic artists who make liquor flasks, cups, bottles and jugs. If you're accustomed to drinking your poison of choice from a Solo cup or liquor store flask this should rock your mind. Chicago-based Koval Distillery will help bring out the warmth of the work with a whiskey sampling at the opening reception on February 1 from 6-9pm. Neat Exhibition.jpg

    More than 14 artists will present new work for this special exhibition. "Neat" is supported in part by Koval Distillery Chicago. The exhibition is free and runs February 1 - March 1. Lillstreet Art Center, 4401 N Ravenswood.

    Photos Courtesy of Lillstreet art center
    Artist credit (from clockwise): Jerome Murphy, Matthew Hyleck, Matthew Long, Jason Hess

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Video Thu Jan 03 2013

    Cantu & iNG Hope a Miracle Will Change American Tastes

    The second episode of Moto and iNG chef/owner Homaro Cantu's online video series, "CookiNG Under Pressure," debuted this week. This episode focuses on Cantu's work with the miracle berry, a West African berry that messes with taste buds and makes sour things taste sweet. Moto and iNG have both featured dishes that showcase the miracle berry, and Cantu has written a new diet book, aptly named The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook, to promote its use as a means of reducing sugar content in the American diet.

    This week Cantu also announced a series of cooking classes featuring the miracle berry, from Jan. 2-12 (except Jan. 4 and 10). For $100 per person, attendees attend the class and receive a signed copy of The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook and a six-course miracle berry-oriented tasting menu at iNG. Each class is limited to 30 people. Call 855-834-6464 to reserve your spot.

    Andrew Huff

    Beer Mon Dec 31 2012

    Half Acre's Champagne of Beers

    champagne_daisycutter.jpgIf you're a beer snob and for some reason you don't have New Year's Eve plans yet, Half Acre Beer Co. has a serious proposition for you.

    Ring in the new year at the Half Acre Tap Room, 4255 N. Lincoln Ave., and enjoy some of the brewery's favorite short-run beers of the year on tap. At midnight, they'll be popping the tops off 48 bottles of Daisy Cutter bottle-conditioned with Champagne yeast -- the only chance you'll get to taste this extreme rarity.

    The only price of admission is a donation of a non-perishable food item to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

    Photo courtesy of Half Acre.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Sat Dec 22 2012

    Do-Gooder Food

    What an amazing season this is. The universe basically gives us carte blanche to eat whatever we want, and I, for one, leave no potential meal untouched. However, as much as this season is about single-minded consumption (I'll admit to it!), it's also a beautiful opportunity to give something back to the community we all love so much--Chicago's food community. Our city's amazing soup kitchens and food depositories are always in need of time and help, but below is a list of other Chicago food-based programs to broaden your altruistic/activist horizons.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Danielle Snow

    Event Thu Dec 06 2012

    Eating One of A Kind

    Should you find yourself wandering the Merchandise Mart in the next few days at the annual One of a Kind art and craft show, don't bother stopping by their over-priced cafe concessions -- make your way to the Gourmet Gallery section of merchants instead. Also known as FREE SAMPLE LAND! Now, proteins will be lacking, as will fresh produce, but if you're into dips on pretzel sticks, artisanal salsas, and sweets, you should still be able to carb up for the hike over to the Etsy section (rustic wood round cake stand on a faux-crystal base, you will be mine this year!) You could even buy gifts of packaged foods for other people...I guess. Gourmet merchants are featured from the Midwest at large, but look for some familiar local faces from the Chopping Block (booth 9036), and the Puffs of Doom team (booth 9044B), who seem to have graduated from the Nite Market in kind of a big way. Good on ya, cream puffs! And of course those sample stalwarts, Brunkow Cheese (booth 9050B) will be there, miniature grill sizzling with cubes of juusto cheese. It'll probably be busy enough no one will notice if you grab seconds. Just try not to wipe your hands on the hand-woven, limited edition screen-printed tablecloths next door.

    Andie Cavedo

    Drink Wed Dec 05 2012

    Boozing it Up, Gangster Style

    al capone.jpgIf you're already sick of holiday-related stuff making its way into stores and your train line, head to the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.) tonight for Cocktails and Capone, which looks back on a time in Chicago when a good drink was hard to come by unless you knew the right guy--in this case, Al Capone, whose "business" reaped an estimated $100 million in its heyday. You'll learn about Prohibition and celebrate the 79th anniversary of its repeal (which happens to be today) with CHM's John Russick, author Deirdre Capone (Al's great niece), and the good people of Iowa-based Templeton Rye, who will be serving up Al's favorite whiskey. You can share your newfound knowledge at your next holiday event. Tickets $30-40; event runs 7:45-9pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Nov 21 2012

    Audition For The Next Food Network Star

    FNS9 CHICAGO FLYER.jpgGot a cool culinary concept? Think that you can do things in the kitchen that rival Graham Elliot? Have a sweet spot for Bobby Flay, Alton Brown or Giada De Laurentiis? Perhaps it's time you join the ranks of Chicago's own, Jeff Mauro, who turned a love for sandwiches into "The Sandwich King," and audition for The Food Network's "Next Food Network Star." Open call casting takes place on Nov. 28 at The Westin, 909 N. Michigan Ave., from 10am to noon

    Can make it on Wednesday? Don't fret, you can still apply by submitting a home video. For more info visit the entry page for details on how to apply.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Tue Nov 20 2012

    Review: Food Film Festival

    Tasting the food you watch on screen = a whimsical, fun and delicious experience.
    The Food Film Festival came through Chicago for a third year in a row, and yours truly was one of 300 people in the audience for Fish Fry Friday and Edible Adventure #006 and the Avocado Takedown at Kendall College on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

    food2.jpgThe films ranged from simple documentaries shot with basic equipment (Fish Fry Night Milwaukee) to more complex psychological films that wove together narration and animation (Bon Appetit). The sequence of movies shown on Friday was served like a full course meal, from appetizer to dessert. We started with Mickle's Pickles, a hysterical documentary about a small town pickle maker who makes national and international news after his pickle decoration goes missing, and ended with Mama Sugar's Sweet Potato Cobbler, a food-porn flick (there were groans in the audience) focused on the decadence of making a decadent double-crusted sweet potato pie.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Clarisa Ramirez

    Chef Fri Nov 16 2012

    Chicago Food Film Festival Adds Meet n' Eat at El Ideas

    Fries and Ice Cream.jpgThe ultimate food porn experience is going down this weekend at the Chicago Food Film Festival. The festival organizers just added an exclusive event to the line-up: Meet n' Eat, a private dinner for 20 hosted by Kitchit at El Ideas, Chef Phillip Foss' micro restaurant.

    Foss is creating an original menu for the occasion, and is serving Fries & Ice Cream, an avant garde dish to go alongside a screening of a film with the same name. Plus, foodies get a chance to have an intimate meal and conversation with George Motz, the festival director and host of Travel Channel's Burger Land.

    Tickets are $165 and can be purchased here. The Meet 'n Eat begins at 6pm at El Ideas (2419 W. 14th St.).

    Clarisa Ramirez

    Event Tue Nov 13 2012

    Food Film Fest Takes the Screen this Weekend

    Food is ready for their close-up this weekend at the Food Film Festival, which will be held at Kendall College (900 North Branch) and offers a nice range of events, starting with a wine and sustainable food dinner Thursday night and followed by a Milwaukee-style Fish Fry on Friday, an avocado-laden competition and tasting Saturday, followed by an awards ceremony and an evening of whisky-centric film and Scottish grub.

    isduo nasdfwdop.pngEach food is carefully paired with a corresponding film--I'm especially looking forward to the Friday night offerings: Ron Faiola's Fish Fry Night Milwaukee, followed by shorts about Mississippi-based Mickle's Pickles, and Perogy! from Canadian filmmaker Tammy Marlowe Johnson. The evening ends with sweet potato cobbler from Hoosier Mama. Magical, am I right?

    Individual event tickets are available ($45-85 range), but your $250 VIP Pass gets you all the fixins.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Nov 09 2012

    Tamale Fest Returns

    It was love at first sight. As love in the wee hours, in a dive bar, after many, many cheap beers so often is. The slender form, the genial and somewhat plain appearance, the intoxicating whiff of something between the familiar and exotic. Just begging to be taken home -- or better yet, undressed right there on the bar, in front of everyone. Aw yeah. The first time I ever tried a Chicago tamale I just knew: it was the start of a lifelong affair. They're as good for breakfast as for bar food, offer endless variations of flavors and fillings, and fit snugly into one of my very favorite categories of edibles: foods stuffed with other foods. And to clinch it, they're just one one little vowel sound away my last name ("tamal-uh"). Tamales and me, we're meant to be.

    So when I learned last year about the Feria del Tamal y el Atole, there was no question I would be in attendance. The fair returns a week from Sunday, moving from the ChiTown Futbol indoor arena to Benito Juarez Community Academy this year -- if it's anything like last year, you'll barely notice you're in a school what with the swirling Mexican dance troupe, the crush of bodies and strollers (so many strollers! It's an emphatically all-ages festival), and tri-folded booth dividers that make the whole thing feel somewhat like the Central and South America section of a Model UN food court. Is there such a thing? (There should be.)

    But I've had late-night dive bar tamales, you might protest, what more could possibly be done to make a festival out of masa and filling? So, so much more, my dear friend -- bright red chipotle chicken, venison, spinach, dessert tamales filled with strawberries and cream, patriotic tamales dosed liberally with red and green food coloring, flat open-faced tamales, tamales steamed in banana leaves rather than corn husks...over 50 variations in all -- and atole, in everything from chocolate to prune-flavored varieties. (The prune atole was particularly good last year -- warming, sweet, rich tempered with a bit of tang.) If you love a tamale anything like I do, you're probably going to want to go, and go hungry.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Fri Nov 09 2012

    What Would The New 007 Eat in Chicago?

    If James Bond were hitting the town tonight he'd probably be heading over to Roof (well, maybe Roof a couple of years ago) or the Four Seasons Hotel. But now that he's trading his classic "shaken, not stirred" for a Heineken (What! $#!@&^!!), Bond just might find it dashing to put down his steak and martini and pick up a craft beer and grass-fed hamburger.

    bond martini 2.jpgBased on his adventures in the new Skyfall released today, you can start by hitting up Owen and Engine (2700 N. Western Ave.) for the honorary fish and chips and English Stout. If the North side and teenagers lingering the sidewalk after watching said 007 is not your thing, head over to the infamous Duke of Perth (2913 N. Clark St.) for your choice of Scottish whiskey and Lincoln Park people- watching. It's no surprise that Bond's path of resurrection leads him to Shanghai so when you're done with all things British, if you've never been to Chinatown or it's been a while, now's a good time to head to the one of many Tony Hu restaurants for some classic Shanghai-inspired cuisine and then to Ming Hin (2168 S. Archer Ave.) for the Macau Pork Belly (because, if James Bond lived in Chicago he would have been eating pork belly way before anyone knew how cool it would be and this pork belly is fried).

    After you've embarked on a semi-dangerous journey of your own called Chicago traffic, end the night at Martini Ranch (311 W. Chicago Ave.) for their 007 Martini and then venture to The Matchbox (770 N. Milwaukee Ave.) for a night that just might have you back in Chinatown, because even if Heineken is trying to steal market share from the most interesting man in the world with this product placement move, introducing yourself by your last name and sipping on a martini still has its place in this town. I wonder how Bond feels about blue cheese olives, though...

    Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Nov 07 2012

    Eating the Blues Away at Rock Your Palate


    What does dirty rice boudin, electric mud, sweet tea-brined quail, Big Bill Broonzy, pimento cheese, lots of bourbon, Howlin' Wolf, shrimp remoulade and Chess Records have in common? If you answered pop up dinner series Rock Your Palate, you are correct. Chef Chris Pandel (The Bristol, Balena) rocked a full on sensory pop up installment of chefs, artists and musicians hosted by Lincoln Park's Floating World Gallery, 1925 N. Halsted St., Nov. 2 and 3. The theme was food and the Blues.

    Pandel rode the range on a homestyle Blues-inspired menu to go with the theme, and live music was provided by the likes of Jimmy Burns and Billy Boy Arnold. There were photographs of blues legends throughout the gallery and a good time was had by all in sweet home Chicago.

    Alan Lake

    Event Mon Nov 05 2012

    Eat the Whole Cow

    hopleaf whole cowOn Sunday, Nov. 11, there will be a whole pasture-raised cow roasting over an open fire, in the style of an Argentinian asado, on the patio at Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St. The beef will be served a variety of ways with an array of sides by Hopleaf's chef Ben Sheagren, City Provision's Cleetus Freeman, Martin Wallner, and Nellcôte's Ray Stanis. It's all paired with Three Floyds beers -- Zombie Dust, Jinx Proof, Robert the Bruce and Alpha Klaus.

    The buffet-style feast starts at noon and is $80 per person, all you can eat and all you can drink.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Nov 05 2012

    Election Night Food Fun

    bdhfbd.jpgAfter you vote (polls open 6am-7pm!), you want to see the returns in style (or forget it even is going on), right? A few ideas for Tuesday night shenanigans: Avec (615 West Randolph) is hosting a five-course meal ($55) complete with wine pairings from Luis Pato, who will be in house to talk vino with diners; showing your voter receipt gets you a free glass of his sparking wine to finish the evening. WBEZ will be holding court at Schuba's, 3159 North Southport, with 312 beer specials and a champagne toast--and your voter receipt earns you a free dessert with dinner. Maria's Packaged Goods (960 West 31st Street) serves up election-themed cocktails (the "Mint Romney" apertif, etc.).

    If you're staying in, you might want to try a menu directly from the White House--a grilled skirt steak with poblano sauce and sauteed spinach, Jill Biden's chicken parmesan or the Obama's chili, washed down with their homebrewed beer and finished off with Michelle's white and dark chocolate chip cookies, which won this year's Family Circle Presidential Cookie Bake-Off. If you want to keep it Romney style, stick to pita, hummus, peanut butter, and honey. Be sure to keep some crow around, in case that's what Mitt's eating Tuesday night.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Oct 31 2012

    Put Your Drinking to Good Use

    Not only does DMK Restaurants know how to make great burgers, oysters and cocktails, they also have a charitable side. With Hurricane Sandy leaving a mess on the east coast, DMK is hosting "Drink Them Dry," a fundraising event to benefit the many people left without power, water, flooded cars and even the loss of a loved one. From today until Friday, DMK is donating 20% of all beverage sales from DMK Burger, Fish Bar and Ada Street to the American Red Cross relief efforts. To add to the pot, each restaurant will be raffling off a $250 gift card good at each location. (Drawing will be held on Monday, Nov. 5).

    Since it is Halloween night, why not kill two birds with one stone and hit up Ada Street; they will be showing the original Halloween at 10pm tonight, and all costumes receive half-off cocktails. Best costume wins a $100 gift card. 50% + 20% = almost 100% awesome.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Tue Oct 30 2012

    More Spooky Disguises

    tumblr_mbnusvsXvg1ru20ulo1_400.jpgIn addition to Lula's transformation into the Violet Hour tomorrow night, Antique Taco will be "dressing up" as The Max (from '90s-era Saturday morning required TV viewing "Saved by the Bell"), and Scofflaw will be showing up to the party as former Logan Square bar Bonny's.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Oct 30 2012

    Beer Hoptacular Returns November 9-10: Want to Go?

    If you forgot to buy tickets for the now sold-out Microbrewery Crawl, I've got a consolation prize for you: Drive-Thru is giving away two tickets to the upcoming Beer Hoptacular, which will be setting up shop Friday and Saturday, November 9-10 at the Riverfront Theatre (650 West Chicago Ave.). Unlimited pours from over 100 brewers (among them Bell's, Half Acre, Central Waters, and Revolution), music, and food await you!

    Send an email to by this Friday, Nov. 2 at 9am CT to enter; your email must have "Beer Hoptacular" in the subject line. The randomly selected winner will receive a pair of tickets for the Friday night (6-9:30pm) session. Good luck!

    (UPDATE, Friday afternoon: congratulations to our winner, Megan--and thanks to the others for entering!)

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Restaurant Fri Oct 26 2012

    If You Don't Want To Wait in Line at Lula's on Halloween...

    pumpkins.jpgPassing out candy on Halloween? Boring! We pulled together this guide of the most fun Halloween activities. Here are a couple more restaurants getting wickedly creative on Wednesday.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Clarisa Ramirez

    Event Thu Oct 25 2012

    It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    A coworker of mine summed it up beautifully: no relatives. No intrusive questions. No shopping. No obligatory visits full of awkward conversations.

    Yes, it's Halloween. The best holiday of them all. Here's a little guide for fun things to do this weekend in celebration:

    Lottie's Pub (1925 W. Cortland Ave.) sponsors a trip to Statesville Haunted Prison (register at 6pm, bus leaves at 7:30pm; $40 includes trip and house admission); Hamburger Mary's (5400 N. Clark St.) hosts the Rocky Horror Picture Show at 10pm; tickets $15.

    Just stay in and watch Dateline NBC. It's scary enough.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Oct 24 2012

    A Little Bit of Bitchin'

    "Who here hasn't had ceviche before?" asked the bubbly blonde behind the kitchen demo counter. A show of hands went up. "Now take that hand and slap yourself with it." So was my introduction to Nadia G, the feisty, three-finger ring wearing, looks-like-she-should-be-in-front-of-a-camera-and-not-behind-a-mixing-bowl Italian chef personality from "Bitchin' Kitchen."

    Following shortly behind Bobby Flay, who was spotted in Uptown in late September, Nadia stopped by Chicago for a food and wine tasting event with Apothic Wines.


    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Thu Oct 11 2012

    Get Tickets Now for Gapers Block's Microbrewery Crawl Nov. 3

    microbrewery_crawl_450.jpgIn the last couple of years, Andersonville, Ravenswood and North Center have become one of the centers of Chicago's craft brewing scene. We at Gapers Block thought it would be fun to put together a "microbrewery crawl" to showcase the great beers being produced in the area, taking advantage of the close proximity of so many breweries and beer-oriented venues.

    The Gapers Block Microbrewery Crawl on Saturday, Nov. 3 kicks off at 1pm at Andersonville's Metropolitan Brewery and travels by bus to Half Acre Beer Co. Along the way, we'll peek in at Koval Distillery to find out what a microdistillery looks like, stop at City Provisions to try their unique collaborations with area brewers, and find out what "community supported beer" is at Begyle Brewing. After Half Acre, we'll head across the street for an afterparty at Gannon's Pub.

    For $60, participants will get samples of at least one beer at each stop, and get a tour of three very different breweries. This is the first tour Metropolitan has offered since May, and we'll get one of the first tours ever at Begyle. Be a part of this unique experience -- get your tickets now!

    Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

    Beer Wed Oct 10 2012

    Bring on the Beer

    BeerFest.jpgLast Saturday Union Station was transformed into Brew Station for Chicago Beer Festival.

    Roughly 4,000 beer enthusiasts united in the Grand Hall for three hours of taste-tasting fall seasonal brews from all across the country and around the world. In total, there were 54 breweries, offering around 200 different brews.

    There were two sessions scheduled for attendants to get their drink on. The first round was from 1 to 4pm and the second round was from 6 to 9pm. Some brave, beer-loving folks opted to do both.

    Tickets were $40 and had to be purchased ahead of time. There was also an option for designated drivers to attend Chicago Beer Festival for $10. I volunteered with Eventbrite, scanning tickets, and was lucky enough to be able to enjoy all of the hoppy glory -- and silly drunken people -- all day long.

    There was plenty of activity to entertain the attendees in between swigs of beer, including a DJ and a free photo booth. There was a lot of tasty bar food available for purchase, through Stefani Catering. I had a very yummy Italian sausage with peppers and onions on top.

    It was easy to tell who was experienced with beer tastings by their level of preparedness. Many people wore pretzel necklaces to munch on in between different brews to cleanse their palate. One lady even adorned hers with jewels to make it fashionable as well as functional.

    Though all of the brews were tasty in my opinion, there were a few that really stood out.

    Destihl's Pumpkin Porter was exceptional! It was full of in your face fall flavor. Destihl is a gastro-brewpub with two locations in Illinois, pairing craft beer and artisan food.

    The Widmer Brothers' SXNW (South by Northwest) brew also made for a very unique kick to my taste buds. It is an interesting combination of pecans, cocoa nibs, spice, and green chilies. It was as dark as black coffee and tasted like a spicy chocolate beverage.

    There were a few different ciders to wet your whistle. I tried out Virtue Cider's Redstreak, which tasted extremely sour after drinking so many dark, rich beers.

    Many familiar breweries, such as Goose Island, Bell's, Summit, Shock Top and Anchor Steam, were also on site.

    Despite the cold, all in all, it was a fabulous day at Union Station -- especially after I got a few beers in me!

    Brianna Kelly

    Bar Thu Sep 27 2012

    10,000 Bottles of Bourbon on the Wall

    On Wednesday night, the sign above the bar at Delilah's, 2771 N. Lincoln Ave., counted 9,996 bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon served. By 9pm, the bar had cracked the red plastic wax on its 10,000th.

    Delilah's 10,000th bottle of Maker's Mark

    Customers were encouraged to run through the four bottles as quickly as possible, earning raffle tickets for prizes and honors like finishing off or opening one of the bottles. Upstairs, patrons could get a free, freshly hand-dipped glass. Maker's Mark Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels, Jr. was on hand, wearing a gold plastic dollar sign "bling" necklace, to open the 10,000th bottle with Delilah's owner Mike Miller. He also presented Miller with a commemorative bottle of Maker's Mark etched with the bar's well-known "Evil Queen" sign.

    Once Samuel's opened the bottle, Miler poured shots from it for everyone in the bar for a big toast, and encouraged everyone to keep drinking so as to make it to 10,001 and beyond that night.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Sep 25 2012

    Chicago's Magnolia Bakery Turns One

    Chicago Cupcake.jpg

    Remember when people who visited New York made sure they bought a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery? It was one of those things you had to do. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's because you never watched Sarah Jessica Parker bite into a pink-frosted Magnolia Bakery cupcake on "Sex and the City." It's been said that cupcakes exploded after that iconic moment on television. While tourists couldn't afford a pair of Manolo Blahniks, they could afford a Magnolia Bakery cupcake, a sweet accessory topped with buttercream frosting.

    Then Magnolia Bakery opened its doors on State Street, and Chicago cupcake fans finally got the chance to try the infamous pastry. Now the bakery is celebrating its first birthday Monday, Oct. 1 by launching a signature Chicago Cupcake: a white chocolate disk with the Chicago skyline floating on a lake of pale blue icing on a vanilla or chocolate cupcake.

    Customers can purchase these cupcakes beginning Saturday. The store is throwing a birthday party that day with a children's icing and decorating table. On Monday it will offer its classic cupcakes for a mere dollar from noon until 2pm. Since cupcakes are still on the cool radar, considered the United States' go-to soothing treat, we predict a long line.

    Clarisa Ramirez

    Event Mon Sep 24 2012

    Make Your Plans: Candy Exhibit Closes Sunday

    Cracker Jack factory.jpgYou have one more week to visit the Elmhurst Historical Museum (120 E Park, Elmhurst) for their Sweet Home Chicago: America's Candy Capital exhibit. Get the background on such sugar superstars as Fannie Mae, Blommer, and Brach's. Free admission, and it's a short walk from the Elmhurst stop on the Metra UP West Line.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Sep 20 2012

    Crawling from Restaurant to Restaurant

    Not one but three restaurant crawls are happening in different parts of the city in the next couple weeks.

    The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce was an early adopter of the crawl concept with the Dessert Crawl, which celebrates its seventh year this Sunday, Sept. 23, and the Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Sep 19 2012

    Taste of Tennessee: A Family Dinner You Should Have

    BarnCo.jpgOver at Barn & Company, pitmaster Gary Wiviott has been churning out seriously delicious barbeque for the past year and earlier this summer, he started a monthly Pitmaster Dinner series. I was invited to attend last month's Low Country Texas-themed evening, but to boast about it, as it was a one time meal, just doesn't seem fair. Instead we're sharing with you the menu for next Wednesday's Taste of Tennessee.

    At $40 per person, this rings in at the deal of the month. We left our evening completely stuffed to the brim, and with take out containers that fed us for two lunches and a dinner. This is one of the rare gems where eating family style with the strangers makes perfect sense. Plus, considering the sugary libations and buckets of beer on the table throughout the meal, those strangers don't stay strangers for long.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Sep 17 2012

    Uncover Missing Recipes Saturday

    530164_10151039623126283_1580710507_n.jpgEver heard of Canasta Cake? In 1950s Chicago, it was a huge hit for accompanying the popular card game, and you could find it at the Fingerhut Bakery at Central and Cermak, which closed in 2000 after 100 years in business. So what do you do when the makers of a favorite food close up shop, or a beloved recipe gets lost and you can't quite figure out its ingredients? Trib columnist Monica Kass Rogers understands your pain; she created Lost Recipes Found to help readers locate the dishes of their past, like that Canasta Cake (pictured), mock apple pie, as well as an impressive archive of recipes from some of Chicago's finest (and now closed) restaurants (Ratatouille from the Bakery restaurant, whitefish from Como Inn, Marshall Fields' chicken salad). Bring your wish list this Saturday to Kendall College (900 N Branch) at 10am to hear Kass Rogers speak; admission $3 (free for Kendall students), parking is free. The event is sponsored by the Culinary Historians of Chicago.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Sep 11 2012

    What's Happening!! Returns to Logan Square

    longman.jpegLast year Longman and Eagle said goodbye to summer by throwing a block party, What's Happening!!, deejayed by Windy City Soul Club. It was a "thank you" to the community, filling Logan Square's air with hipster bait: soul music and the aroma of roasted pig.

    This year "What's Happening" is, uh, happening again. The Michelin-starred restaurant is joining forces with Old Style and Windy City Soul Club to throw another free, outdoor event with beer, tasty grub and groovy tunes from 4 to 10pm on Sunday, Sept. 23 on Schubert and Kedzie avenues, adjacent to the restaurant.

    This year chef Jared Wentworth (who will be the chef at the just-announced Promontory, L&E's new Hyde Park restaurant, bar and concert venue) has created a menu that includes corn pudding, wild boar sloppy and venison sausage with sauerkraut, and a pig plate with lots of barbecue fixings. Where's there's pork, there's bound to be party people.

    Clarisa Ramirez

    Event Tue Sep 11 2012

    The Day of 100 Dishes

    lth-picnic-2012.jpgThe LTH Forum annual picnic took place Sunday -- but to call it a picnic doesn't do it justice. Yes, it was outdoors amongst friends but it was also a most kick-ass potluck extravaganza. Over 100 dishes prepared by some of Chicago's most avid gastronomes.

    Included were the likes of llama sliders, dukkah, Penang Assam Laksa in aspic served in Champagne glasses, puparuol mbuttunat, pork shoulder bo ssam, and made-from-scratch veal bologna, headcheese and assorted charcuterie. With this much intriguing food around (and only so much stomach real estate) one must choose wisely. One of my many memorable moments came from corn bread crusted in a Dutch oven cooked over a wood fire. Score.

    My own contribution was threefold: 1) Inspired by some ripe fennel seeds a farmer friend gifted me with that burst licorice juice when chewed, I went to Green City Market in search for complementary ingredients. The final dish became: ripe fennel seeds, Jen's tomatoes, red torpedo onion, manuri cheese, cinnamon basil, lemon, Le Puy lentils and cut semolina; 2) Gleaned from whatever else called to me while walking the market: dragon tongues, organic beans, grilled portabellas, breakfast radish and shio koji; and 3) grilled asparagus, marai sweet corn, butternut squash, caramelized cauliflower, hatch peppers, lemon verbena and yuzukosho.

    Everyone sated their appetites and more than a good time was had by all.

    Alan Lake

    Event Mon Sep 10 2012

    Sharpen Up Your Pie Skills

    appliepikldbfklbdf.jpgThis past weekend's chilly temperatures got me thinking about fall -- which technically begins September 22 -- and all the lovely apple-based eats it entails. The Bucktown Apple Pie Contest (October 14 at Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley Ave.) is looking for contestants; your $25 entry fee benefits the park, and your two submitted pies could win you bragging rights that last the entire fall.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Sep 06 2012

    Save the Date for Baconfest 2013

    Last year's Baconfest sold out faster than you can say pork belly and if you're one of the baconaholics who missed it or is salivating at the mouth for more bacon, you'll want to mark your calender for the recently announced 5th Annual Baconfest Chicago 2013 coming on Saturday, April 20th at the UIC Forum (725 West Roosevelt). Last year's fest racked in (pun intended) 3,000 guests and over 110 restaurants. A limited number of VIP tickets will be released in December and all general admission tickets will go on sale in mid-February. If you want to be the first to hear about it, sign up for their email list.

    Thumbnail image for 6935363258_b53f025397_n.jpg

    No word on participating sponsors but I think they should vie for Lipitor . . .

    Photo Credit: Ben Collins-Sussman

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed Aug 29 2012

    The Twenty First Century Limited Rolls into Alinea

    The 20th Century Limited ran between New York and Chicago in 16 hours.... in comfort, luxury, and speed -- spanning space and time.

    The 21st Century Limited will run a brief engagement between New York and Chicago in September and October of 2012.

    And with that, Alinea and New York's Eleven Madison Park last week announced "The Twenty First Century Limited," a kitchen trade between the two famed restaurants. The Tribune reports that chef Grant Achatz and the Alinea team will take over Eleven Madison Park for five nights starting Sept. 26, and chef Daniel Humm and the Eleven Madison Park crew will occupy Alinea for five nights starting Oct. 10. The teams will be doing everything possible to recreate the experience of eating at their home restaurants, right down to tableware.

    Tickets to dinners at both restaurants will cost $495 each, not including tax and tip; reservations will be announced on the event's Facebook page in the coming weeks.

    Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Aug 21 2012

    Farmer for a Day

    If you've often sat in your air-conditioned cube, staring at beige walls, and thought how being a farmer sounded dreamy. Well, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is looking for people to volunteer this Saturday, Aug. 25 to help harvest corn in Marengo. You can be a farmer for a day, get out of your beige cube, and help people in need. If you go, take some of this with you. You'll be very popular.

    Cinnamon Cooper

    Event Mon Aug 20 2012

    The Bacon Takedown Returns Sept. 16

    bacontakedown2012.jpgThe third annual Bacon Takedown Chicago returns on Sept. 16, and there are still a few spots left for competitors.

    Twenty contestants are each given 15 pounds of Hormel Black Label bacon to do with whatever they wish, provided it's edible and is brought to Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., at noon on Sept. 16, for judging and sampling by the public.

    Gapers Block took second place in the inaugural contest in 2010 with our bacon jam recipe, while chef Rafael Lopez of Harmony Grill took first with his bacon-gruyere brandad on bacon-fat mini English muffins. In 2011, the top winners were Josh Gutzwiller and Nick Angel with bacon mac'n'cheese bites wrapped in bacon and John Ihns with "spicy belly," spicy and sweet-glazed bacon.

    What will tickle the judges' and audiences' gullets this year? Time will tell -- maybe it'll be your recipe. If it is, you could take home Le Creuset or Analon cookware, Wustoff knives, Microplane graters or even a year's supply of bacon. If you think you have what it takes, email ASAP to sign up.

    And if you'd rather just eat a lot of bacon, keep your eye on the Bacon Takedown website for tickets, which will be $15.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu Aug 16 2012

    Beginning of the End

    sobbq.jpgIf you've spent most of the long, hot summer indoors, make plans for the Sound Opinions End of Summer BBQ, which goes down this Wednesday evening (7-10pm) at WBEZ's studio at Navy Pier (848 E Grand). Food from Honey Butter Fried Chicken, the Butcher and Larder, Hoosier Mama Pie, and Black Dog Gelato will be on hand. Adult beverages will be provided by Virtu Cider and Maker's Mark. Tickets $35; parking $8.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Aug 14 2012

    Old Town Social Celebrates Julia Child's 100th Birthday

    Nary is there a chef nor anyone over the age of 25 who has not heard of Julia Child. This Wednesday, at Old Town Social -- in honor of what would have been the French culinary legend's 100th birthday -- executive chef Jared Van Camp is whipping up a special $30 three-course prix fixe menu* that celebrates Child's tribute to classic French cooking techniques. And what better way to celebrate a culinary legend than to adapt your menu out of their own cookbook; in this case, Child's iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

    1st Course
    "Salade Nicoise"
    Composed Salad of Haricot Verts, Olives, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Anchovies, Bibb Lettuce and Vinaigrette
    (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, page 542)

    2nd Course
    "Poulets Grillés a la Diable"
    --Chicken broiled with Mustard, Herbs and Breadcrumbs
    (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, page 265)
    "Gratin Dauphinois aux Endives"
    --Gratin of Sliced Potatoes and Endive
    (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, page 389)
    "Artichauts Braisé a la Provençalé"
    --Fresh Artichokes Braised with Wine, Garlic and Herbs
    (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, page 426)

    3rd Course
    "La Riposte"
    French Strawberry Shortcake made with Rum-soaked Brioche
    (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, page 448)

    Visit Old Town Social to make reservations or call 312-266-2277.

    And if you can't make it to the celebration, maybe it's time you finally pulled a Julie and Julia and took a crack at it yourself. As Julia would say: "The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit. "

    *tip, tax and drinks not included

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Food Trucks Sat Aug 11 2012

    Food Truck Social Returns with New Location, More Trucks and Expanded Music Line-Up

    The 2nd annual Chicago Food Truck Social presented by Time Out Chicago, West Town Chamber of Commerce and Empty Bottle returns this year on Saturday, Aug. 25 and now Sunday, Aug. 26 from noon to 10pm, moving from its previous location to the up-and-coming Chicago Avenue Corridor between Wood and Wolcott (1800-1899 W. Chicago Ave).

    Food truck social 2011.jpgThere will be 14 featured food trucks per day, a live music stage presented by the Empty Bottle and over 30 retail and sponsor vendors. After the recent ruling and subsequent buzz, the conversation this time around is sure to be different.

    Find complete food truck participants and scheduled music acts on their website and check out our preview of last year's.

    PS. Scott Lucas and the Married Men will be playing one of those days; if you haven't heard them and you heart The National, you owe it to yourself.

    All proceeds benefit local non-profits: the West Town Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Park Advisory Council, and Share Our Strength, a national non-profit that is attempting to end childhood hunger in America.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed Aug 08 2012

    Taste of the Nation Tonight

    gybuvgikt.gifTonight's Taste of the Nation charity event brings together names from Chicago's culinary top shelves (Balena, Hot Chocolate and Blackbird, to name a few) to benefit anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Event runs 6-10pm at Navy Pier Ballroom, 600 E Grand. Tickets $95.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Jul 31 2012

    Eat Pizza, Drink Beer, Help Ashley Pruneau

    After surviving an absolutely nightmarish attack (previously), Ashley Pruneau -- currently a cook at Mana Food Bar, formerly of Letizia's Fiore -- will face some pretty steep medical bills on her road to recovery. Stop by Letizia's Fiore, 2456 N. California Ave., tonight after 7pm, where a $15 donation will get you all the pizza, beer and wine you'd like; there'll also be a silent auction. More importantly, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Ashley's recovery fund.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Mon Jul 30 2012

    "Butta la pasta!"

    Translation: "Throw in the pasta!"

    If you're one of those who shape their food experiences around good pasta and you also have a little of a history thumb, Chicago Foodways Roundtable's next event, "The Early History of Pasta: Post-Modern Myth and Medieval Reality," might be right up your alley.
    Thought pasta originated from Italy? China? Anthony Buccini wants you to rethink that as he guides you through the long complex history of the well-loved carb this Saturday, Aug. 4, at 10am at Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts (900 N. Branch St., west of Halsted Street, north of Chicago Avenue). Cost: $3, Free to Kendall students and staff. To reserve a spot call (847) 432-8255, or e mail chicago.foodways.roundtable (at) gmail (dot) com.

    The now closed Terragusta, which used to have a front seat window view of their daily pasta making, has a good how-to video:

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Fri Jul 27 2012

    Win Free Tix to Taste of the Nation

    August 8th's Taste of the Nation at Navy Pier is a great fundraiser for anti-hunger charities; tickets are $95, but you can snag yourself a free pair by tweeting a picture of a participating TOTN restaurant to @TasteNationChi using the hashtag #NKHchi. The best five pics win tickets. Contest runs through Tuesday.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jul 26 2012

    Haute Cuisine Avec Bière pas Cher: Vie Holds "Shitty Beer" Dinner

    On the website of chef Paul Virant's Vie, the event is called the "Old Standby Beer Dinner II," but the restaurant's newsletter puts it more bluntly. Vie is holding its second annual "Shitty Beer Dinner" next Tuesday, July 31.

    The $85-per-person dinner brings five Chicagoland chefs -- Johnny Anderes of Telegraph, Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, Leonard Hollander of Marion Street Cheese Market, Tara Lane of the Hull House Kitchen (formerly pastry chef at Blackbird), Justin Large of Big Star and Jared Wentworth of Longman & Eagle -- out to Western Springs to create one course that is paired with the chef's favorite crappy beer.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Jul 24 2012

    Take a Bite Out of Andersonville

    126974-250.gifThe Taste of Andersonville brings many of the neighborhood's best places to eat--Lady Gregory's, Premise, M. Henry and more--for an evening of sampling their eats and exploring the area. At the end, meet at Swedish Bakery for cookies. Sound good? You can pick the Salt or Pepper routes (nine restaurants each, $25), or if you're feeling adventurous and wear good shoes, do the Whole Enchilada ($40). Event is August 15; you can start eating at 4pm, which gives you plenty of time to indulge and then work it off before heading home.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sat Jul 21 2012

    Girl and The Goat Hosts A Sweet Dinner for Local Farm, Seedling Fruit

    Forget about hard economic times, a farmers worst nemesis is strange weather, like in the case of Seedling Fruit, who lost most of their apple production due to a mild winter and earlier than usual hot weather. Luckily, they have Girl and the Goat as a friend. In an effort to aide future production, Girl and the Goat will be hosting a dinner in their private room at 809 W. Randolph St. August 9 at 6:30pm with a menu of berries, stone fruits and peppers from the farm that celebrates the fruits Seedling does have. The dinner costs $195 per person with all food and drinks included.

    To join in and support your local farmers, call 312-602-2588 for tickets.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Thu Jul 12 2012

    First Ever Chicago Food Truck Day and Free Stuff!

    There's National Deep Dish Pizza Day and now there's Chicago Food Truck Day. Yes, today, starting at lunch, Chicago food trucks will be rolling around and handing out free treats to the first 19 people who visit the truck in an effort to rally support for the July 19th hearing at City Hall that will determine whether Chicago food trucks can finally join the rest of the normal world and cook on board. Beyond the somewhat limited rules of the Rahm's proposal to the existing ordinance ($1,000 - $2,000 fines and GPS surveillance - did someone say Big Brother?), this is a big advancement in the back and forth battle between the city and food truck owners. The day ends at Fischman's Liquors at 4780 N Milwaukee Ave. with live music and of course, food trucks, from 5:30-9:00.

    Follow @foodtrucksinchi and @chifoodtruckz for a update on where the food trucks will be via Twitter or visit Chicago Food Truck Finder for a complete map at where the trucks will be at any given time. If you have a certain truck you want to follow, check out this list.

    I mean, really, you didn't want to eat that pathetic ham sandwich anyway. . .

    Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Jul 11 2012

    Vital Bridges Brings Back Chefs and the City

    It's no secret that chefs help raise money, and Vital Bridges knows this well as they return for their eighth annual Chefs and the City on Friday, July 27 at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (160 East Pearson Street) from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

    The evening starts off with a VIP reception followed by a main tasting prepared by twenty-six of Chicago's most sought-after chefs including Ryan Pitts, Heather Terhune, Chris Pandel and Ryan Poli. Tickets are $400 for the VIP reception and main tasting, and if $400 is too much for your wallet, you can get into the main tasting for $250. If that's still too much, you have another opportunity to join the party and help raise funds for $50 for the end of the night dance party. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit the event page.

    PS. Check out this pretty rad video (ok, maybe I just like to see Ryan Pitts doing the worm):

    Proceeds from the event support Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care, which helps people impacted by HIV/AIDS throughout Chicago-land to improve their health and build self-sufficiency by providing food, nutrition counseling, housing, care coordination and prevention services.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Tue Jul 10 2012

    You be the Drunk Judge

    121006-250.gifAndersonville Development Corporation hosts a competition Thursday night at the Neo-Futurists' theater (Ashland and Foster) to celebrate Green Week through the consumption of home-brewed beers submitted by amateur brewers. Fifteen bucks buys you beer, food, and entertainment for a good cause.

    And if you really want to get into the spirit of things, there's more events [pdf]: Big Jones hosts a sustainable seafood demo tomorrow from 3-5pm with folks from the Shedd Aquarium (corner of Berwyn and Clark). Tours of Metropolitan Brewery, Koval Distillery, showings of documentaries about environmental topics that make me super sad (plastic bags, light pollution, etc.) and even crayon recycling.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jul 02 2012

    Chef's Table 2012 - A Journey Through Food Mecca

    Last Thursday, designers, friends and food lovers gathered on the penthouse level of the Murdoch Building together with some of the city's best known chefs in a food and design inspired event presented by Jenn-Air and CS Magazine called Chef's Table to raise money for Diffa/Chicago -- read that as an evening filled with good wine, amazingly crafted signature dishes and beautiful people. I knew that Jared Van Camp of Nelcotte, Tony Quartaro of the Bristol, and Celeste Campise of Spiaggia were among the few featuring some signature specialties -- like most who journey to Mecca, I was sure to have a religious food experience.

    The event was set up similar to a Next Food Network Star tasting -- with chefs claiming a spot in one of the Jenn Air decked out kitchen spaces. I started out at Moderno, a minimal ingredient, Italian-inspired concept located in Highland Park with Chef John des Rosiers and Phil Rubino. John presented a sake-braised guanciale with summer grits and a watermelon garnish. I learned after I was two bites in that guanciale is really pork cheek, traditional to central Italian cooking. The basic texture is more gelatinous than anything, and if you're into gelatinous things you'll love this. I was good after two bites, probably because the pork cheek threw me off (I still have yet to fall in love with bone marrow as well, and there's something about finding out what you're eating after you've already taken a bite that I still haven't gotten over), but the summer grits -- made from milk (and not cream, hence the summer) - took grits to the next level. If I had a piece of crusty French bread and wasn't wearing a cocktail dress, I might have gone Louisiana on it.

    Next, was the soft shell crab "panzanella" from Kevin Hickey of Four Seasons' Allium paired with the Aviation cocktail, their take on the Manhattan.

    The soft shell crab nestled on bed of arugula was like summer on a plate and almost too pretty to eat. The crispy bite of the shell mixed with the tender crab reminded me of an old-school fish fry, only mine were never in a penthouse and this was better. (I would have a Manhattan later that night that paired weakly in comparison).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Mon Jul 02 2012

    BBQ, PDQ

    kiss_the_cook_apron.jpgIf you are planning to sit out the fourth of July holiday in protest of the humidity (or because it's in the middle of the week), you still have some exciting opportunities to sample the fruits of someone else's labors in front of an oppressive grill. Publican Quality Meats (825 W. Fulton Market) starts an outdoor grilling series on Sunday; chefs from PQM will be joined by John Anderes of Telegraph to create dinner (complete with cocktails, sides and dessert--seafood and vegetarian options, too) for you and your crew; event runs 3-8pm, and is expected to be under $17. If you want to go a little higher up on the scale, the Green City Market BBQ (July 12) brings a plethora of chefs together (over 100!) to Lincoln Park to grill up the season's finest; cocktails, beer and soda will be provided. Tickets $125-250; kids eat for $25.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Jun 26 2012

    Food Goes to the Dogs

    FidoToGo_001.jpgChicago Party Animals (1133 W Fulton Market), an indoor play space for dogs, begins its Waggin Wednesdays weekly summer series tomorrow--an opportunity for food lovers with dogs (or dog lovers with food?) to meet, eat, and hang. Food trucks from SamichBox, Two Italians, Bridgeport Pasty, and More Cupcakes will be in attendance; even a truck for the dogs (pictured) will show up. A cash bar (with proceeds going to A Dog's Day Rescue), a raffle, gift bags, and dog items for sale will also be on hand. Your dog is going to have to drive you two home afterward, amirite? Event runs 6-9pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jun 21 2012

    Celebrate Solstice this Saturday

    636002745_4106d1ddd8.jpgLoving the cooler weather today? Interested in going outside again? If you are, Slow Food Chicago and Christy Webber Landscaping are teaming up for a summer solstice potluck event at Webber's headquarters, aka Rancho Verde, at 2900 W Ferdinand on Saturday night from 6-9pm. Bring a dish to share and enjoy the provided wine, cider, bread and salmon. Tickets $10-15 (kids under 12 free).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jun 18 2012

    Vive la France

    etcookies.jpgYou have two opportunities to keep it real French this week. The French Pastry School hosts a three day-long seminar on cakes, cookies and scones beginning Tuesday (for $575, ouch). On a less expensive note, Multilingual Chicago hosts a seminar Wednesday evening on how to navigate French patisseries en francais, along with a pastry tasting from La Boulangerie (6-7:30pm, $30). If you want to continue the love, Alliance Francaise hosts a summer gratin how-to class on Saturday morning ($85-95).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jun 07 2012

    Sunday Sunday Porkday

    loho.jpgAmateur sausage makers will unite and fight for pork supremacy this Sunday at the Chicago Sausage Experiment, which is looking for competitors and an audience. Can you make sausage? Sign up--the winner gets a free trip to NYC to visit event sponsor Brooklyn Brewery, along with other exciting trinkets (and they'll even give you $50 for ingredients!). Can you eat sausage? Then buy a $15 ticket to show up and sample the wares and have a beer. Event runs 1-4pm at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jun 07 2012

    Design and Gourmet Food Collide Penthouse-Style for Charity

    headerdiffalogo.jpgOn June 28, top chefs of Chicago, gourmands, restaurateurs and maybe even you will gather on the rarely seen penthouse level of the Reid Murdoch Building (325 N. LaSalle St.) for Chef's Table -- a culinary charity event to benefit DIFFA/Chicago, a not-for-profit fundraising foundation that distributes funds to Chicago-area HIV/AIDS agencies.

    This exclusive event presented by luxury design company, Jenn-Air , and produced by CS Magazine in celebration of the annual July Restaurant Issue includes some of Chicago's most talked about chefs:

    • Jared Van Camp of Nellcôte
    • Celeste Campise of Spiaggia
    • Jim Kilberg of Coco Pazzo
    • James O'Donnell of Michael Jordan's Steak House
    • Chris Pandel of The Bristol and Balena
    • Kevin Hickey of Allium
    • Ashlee Aubin of Wood
    • John Des Rosiers of Moderno

    There will be specialty wine pairings by Noble Grape and an appearance of several signature cocktails by famed mixologist Adam Seger from Hum Spirits, (which if you've ever had a chance to experience a Seger cocktail you can expect it to include infused tea, flower petals of some sort and things that you never imagined could go into a drink). Word has it that Hickey from Allium will feature a Soft Shell Crab "Panzanella," an ALLIUM Aviation Cocktail and a Wild Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae and that O'Donnell from MJSH with be cooking up his signature Delmonico steak. There's more, but I can't ruin the surprise. The event goes from 6 to 9pm, with 100 percent of ticket proceeds benefiting DIFFA/Chicago. Tickets can be purchased online for $150.

    Be honest, when's the last time you're going to get a chance to party at a penthouse this year with the best chefs in Chicago while benefiting a charity?

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Chef Thu Jun 07 2012

    Check, Please! Farm to Table Festival

    checkplease_farmtotable.pngChicago's restaurant review show "Check Please!" is hosting its first ever festival Sept. 2 at Southwest Michigan's Round Barn Winery. The fest will feature some of the city's best chefs, area farms and wineries. You could also make a weekend of it and check out the local St. Joseph's Farmers Market the day before. Tickets for the event range from $75 to $150; you can learn more about the festival at

    Jennifer Wenger

    Event Thu Jun 07 2012

    Buying Burritos Helps Farmers. No, Seriously.

    This weekend, eating at Chipotle will help the Green City Market in a big way. The fast food chain, a champion of naturally raised meats and local produce, is donating all proceeds from Saturday sales at its 83 Chicagoland stores to the farmers market. Stuffing your face has never been so philanthropic.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Fri Jun 01 2012

    And We Have Liftoff: Farmers Markets Opening this Week

    5801098141_6f9cdbba86.jpgSunday marks the first outdoor day of the Logan Square Farmers Market (Milwaukee and Logan, 10am-3pm); the Glenwood Sunday Market (9am-2pm, Glenwood between Morse and Lunt); the Wicker Park/Bucktown Farmers Market, 8am-2pm; the Pilsen Community Market at 18th and Halsted, 9am-3pm; the Portage Park Farmers Market, which will be held every other Sunday (June 3, 17, etc.) from 10am-2pm at Irving Park and Central; and lastly, the monthly West Humboldt Park Farmer's Market & Bazaar will be held Saturday at 3601 West Chicago.

    The Lincoln Square Farmers Market opens up shop Tuesday at the municipal lot at Western and Leland, 7am-1pm (the Thursday Night Farmers Market begins June 14 in the same space). Also opening Tuesday is the Museum of Contemporary Art Farmers Market, 7am-3pm at Chicago and Mies van der Rohe. The South Loop gets into the game with the Wheeler Mansion Farmers Market, which opens Wednesday evening from 4-8pm, 2020 South Calumet. The Hyde Park Farmers Market at 53rd and Hyde Park Blvd opens Thursday, 7am-1pm.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Jun 01 2012

    Happy National Donut Day!


    Today, June 1, is the 75th annual National Donut Day, the Salvation Army's annual fundraiser. There's a free concert on the plaza in front of Millennium Park Grill today from 10am to 2pm, featuring performances by The Salvation Army Bermuda Divisional Band, Jamie Lono from NBC's "The Voice, "and the jazz group Entourage. Make a donation and you'll get a hangtag that enters you in a contest to win free Entenmann's donuts for a year.

    In addition to special deals at local Dunkin' Donuts, several local bakeries and donut shops are also getting into the spirit. Dinkel's, 3329 N. Lincoln Ave., is giving away one free sour cream donut with every purchase, while supplies last. Do-Rite Donuts, 50 W. Randolph St., will be serving special donuts until 2pm. And at Fritz Pastry, 1408 W. Diversey Pkwy., donuts are just $2.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed May 30 2012

    Slow Food Chicago and Goose Island Bring Back the Pig Roast

    Your father was right, There's always room for pork... and fundraising.

    Thumbnail image for Slow Food Pig Roast.jpg

    Slow Food Chicago is firing up the spit one more time for its annual fundraiser in the name of good for you, comes-from-a-farm- and-not-a-package, food with its 4th Annual Pig Roast on June 10, from 2 to 5pm at Goose Island Beer Company, 1800 W. Fulton St.). In true definition of low and slow, pork happy chefs will be whipping up dishes that you can wash down with beer provided by Goose Island and a whiskey cocktail by Templeton Rye.

    Featured chefs include:
    Adrienne Lo & Abe Conlon - X-marx
    Matt Troost -Three Aces
    Matthew Holmes - Uncommon Ground Devon
    Heather Terhune - Sable Kitchen & Bar
    Mark Mendez - Vera
    Andrew Hroza - Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub

    Vegetarians need not feel excluded, Jon Dubois from Green Zebra will be there preparing a signature vegetarian dish. To top it off, Amy Kelsch, from La Boulangerie will feature a dessert. (Money has it that it will include bacon of some sort).

    General Admission tickets are $60 (through June 8; after that date tickets will be available at the door) and Terra Madre tickets are $80 (includes ticket + $20 donation to send a delegate to Terra Madre). All proceeds benefit Slow Food Chicago, a not-for-profit organization.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Tue May 29 2012

    Where the Taste of Chicago is Not a Waste

    tochi.pngI've never loved the Taste of Chicago. The last time I attended the annual eat-a-thon, I was almost knocked over by a throng of teenagers who looked like they were out for blood; I just wanted a taste portion of Robinson's Ribs. My priorities had to change.

    This year's event (July 11-15) will feature a new, higher-end offering; a three-course meal (lunch and dinner) served by a new celebrity chef each day (among the chefs are Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat, Graham Elliot, and Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia). Each chef will also conduct a cooking demonstration, and one of their items will be prepared and sold by students at the Washburne Culinary Institute. The best part? Each meal will be $40. Tickets will be available soon; the line starts behind me.

    Robyn Nisi

    Chicago Gourmet Wed May 23 2012

    Three Top Chefs Get Inspired

    Ever find yourself daydreaming what a dinner consisting of Koren Grieveson's wrapped dates (avec), Stephanie Izard's signature pork and apple ragu (Girl and the Goat), and Mindy Segal's All American Chocolate Cake (Hot Chocolate) washed down with a 3 Floyds Beer might taste like?

    Wait, you should have that moment. Done? OK.

    Come June 5th you may not have to imagine anymore when these award winning chefs get together for food and charity at Inspiration Kitchen (3504 W. Lake St.) to prepare an ultimate three course culinary experience with beer tastings from 3 Floyds Beer. Inspiration Kitchens assists more than 3,000 people and families affected by homelessness and poverty each year by offering skill-specific job training and employment placement. One hundred percent of the $200 ticket price will go directly to Inspiration Corporation and its programs and each guest will also receive an etching donated by critically acclaimed artist Tony Fitzpatrick.

    The program begins at 7pm. and seats can be reserved by calling Evan Cauble-Johnson at 773-878-0981 x 221 or emailing at

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Restaurant Tue May 22 2012

    Quick Bite Enters the Hot Dog Hall of Fame

    Quick Bite Carry Out (2011-08-13 14-55-13)
    Photo by Gary Sibio

    Quick Bite Carry Outs, the little hot dog stand at the corner of Western and Foster, is being inducted into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame today, and to celebrate it's selling Chicago-style hot dogs for just 99 cents.

    Even on a normal day, Quick Bite is one of the best deals in town. The standing special a hot dog and fries for just $1.95 (raised earlier this year from $1.75); two dogs, fries and a drink will set you back just a fiver. The shop is open from 11am till 9pm Monday through Friday, 11am to 5pm Saturday. Quick Bite is at 5155 N. Western Ave.

    Andrew Huff

    Beer Fri May 18 2012

    Chicago Craft Beer Week Has Begun


    Last night the Garfield Park Conservatory hosted Chicago Craft Beer Week's kickoff event, Beer Under Glass. Dozens of local breweries poured tastes both inside the greenhouses and outside in the crisp evening air, and a handful of local restaurants provided snacks. At the end of the evening, food trucks were lined up outside at the end of the event to top off stomachs.

    Our favorite sips, in no particular order:
    Virtue Cider's Red Streak - Greg Hall's new venture, it's a perfectly crisp and dry cider
    Half Acre's Chocolate Camaro milk stout - like the Left Hand favorite, but local and chocolatey
    Flossmoor Station's Wallonian Saison - we're a sucker for "brewed with ginger"
    5 Rabbit's 5 Lizard - a witbier brewed with spices and passion fruit
    Goose Island's Scarlett - a tart n'n sassy saison/farmhouse ale made with my favorite fruit, raspberries
    Uncommon Brewers' Siamese Twin - a Belgian-style double seasoned with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves

    A brief photo essay on the evening by David R Munson, after the jump.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Jen Bacher

    Event Thu May 17 2012

    Where There's a Convening of International Leaders, There Will Be International Food

    With NATO taking up every ounce of your newsfeed, I'm sure you were thinking as was I, where will all these leaders be eating? Granted, being that we are Chicago, someone's going to try to persuade one of them to forgo the fancy schmansy and get down and dirty with a Maxwell's hot dog or some deep dish pizza. Hopefully, a misguided leader won't end up on the corner of Ohio and Wabash (although it might be funny if Angela Merkel was found throwing back a Goose Island with a slice).

    But not to fret, looks like Chicago is holding up its reputation for being a food mecca with its Chicago's Culinary Crossroads program which is like Restaurant Week all over again only NATO style without the prix fix menu. Earlier this month, acclaimed international chefs paired with local star chefs to kick off the festivities and collaborated on menus that reflected their nation's cuisines. Chef David Colcombe of Opus Restaurant in Birmingham, UK paired with Chef Dirk Flanigan of Henri/The Gage and Chef Jason Bangerter of LUMA in Toronto, Canada paired with Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno to name a few. If you didn't get a chance to hit up this culinary pairing, check out the menus.

    From now until May 25, 200 local restaurants are serving up tasty morsels and libations inspired by the NATO nations. Cleverly enough, diners can also collect "passport" codes at each participating restaurant they visit for a chance to win a VIP weekend for two to Chicago Gourmet in September. (You have to visit three restaurants to participate to win). If you're not busy protesting or avoiding the drama by escaping to Wisconsin or the Cubs vs. Sox games, get out there and eat something different and increase your chance for a gourmet September.

    To learn more about the program visit the Chicago's Culinary Crossroads website.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed May 16 2012

    Slow Food Farm Dinner

    SlowFoodLogo.gifDon't have enough farm to table meals in your life? On May 23, Uncommon Ground on Devon will host a Slow Food farm dinner. Executive Chef Matthew Holmes will prepare a multi-course (including dessert!) spring menu, not to mention passed appetizers at the rooftop farm reception. Each course will feature a seasonal cocktail prepared with Evanston based FEW Spirits small batch liquors. Proteins will be provided by Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, along with organic ingredients supplied by Harvest Moon. Plus, not only will you enjoy a farm fresh meal, but the a portion of the dinner cost will act as a donation to Slow Food Chicago, which will be using the donation as a proceed to help send local farmers to Terra Madre in Torino, Italy.

    To make your reservation, call Uncommon Ground Devon at (773) 465-9801. Reservations are $65 per person. Uncommon Ground Devon is located at 1401 W Devon Ave. Rooftop reception starts at 6pm with dinner served at 7pm.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Wed May 16 2012

    What Do We Want? Peas! When Do We Want 'Em? June!

    Planning has begun for Chicago's inaugural Veggie Pride Parade.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Drink Tue May 15 2012

    Taste Your Way around California, Spain, and France

    Bottlenotes in collaboration with Cheeky Chicago is bringing its love for wine to Chicago this week and next with the Taste Around Town wine tasting event. This is your chance to turn networking into a wine lesson and try wines from different regions in either a flight or 3-course menu pairing. This year's regions are California, France, and Spain with featured wines from the Rhone Valley, Naked Grape, and the Rioja region. The event kicked off Monday and ends on May 25th. Check out the participating restaurants, which include Paris Club, Naha, deca, and Allium to name a few, and book your reservations on OpenTable.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Fri May 11 2012

    Half Acre is Partying on the Beach & Opening a Taproom

    halfacre_thesands.jpgHalf Acre Beer Co. is celebrating Chicago Craft Beer Week with "The Sands," a beach party from 6pm to 10pm on Friday, May 18 at The Dock at Montrose Beach, 200 W. Montrose Harbor Dr. There will be plenty of beer of course, but also food from Big Star and Belly Shack, and unspecified musical entertainment. And, hopefully, lots of heat lamps.

    Tickets are $45 each, and will go on sale at 11am this Sunday, May 13, at the Half Acre brewery store, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. Only 350 tickets will be sold, two per person. Expect a long line.

    Also this week, Half Acre announced plans to open a taproom at the south end of its brewery in North Center. There will be 10 beers on tap, including taproom-only experimental stuff, guest-brewed beers and a rotating cask beer. The taproom is expected to open sometime in August.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu May 10 2012

    Top Ten Highlights at the 2012 NRA Show

    To say that any trip to McCormick place isn't for the faint at heart is an understatement; it can make any well-traveled person feel like they just got out of Kansas. Okay, I may be exaggerating, but after two days at the 2012 NRA show (National Restaurant Association, not National Rifle Association), I found myself wanting to run to the first spa to get a Swedish massage and do Vinyasa yoga while eating kale.

    This was my first NRA Show and the feat of getting there felt like an accomplishment in itself. I rode the coattails of the hotel shuttles even though I didn't stay at any one of them and it worked like a charm. I felt proud for finding a loophole. Once I was there, after spending an hour trying to find my pass and then find the show, I walked into restaurant vendor mania. The NRA show is a vendor carnival of sort, like Costco on steroids and it's widely for those in the food-service industry, i.e. restaurant and food-service owners. There's no logical starting point to it (just like appears to be the case with McCormick Place) so I just walked, and walked ...and walked. I ate samples of cheese, pre-packaged pastas and hot dogs. It took me 30 minutes and a tweet to find the educational sessions. I did a tequila, vodka and whiskey taste test before noon. And while I had hoped that there would be more in the way of culinary invention and presence at the NRA, admittedly, it felt like my first Taste of Chicago experience without the annoying drunk people, and the best I got was pulled pork from Joe's on Weed Street at the IWSB event and cakeballs from Bleeding Heart Bakery (yeah, fudgy, gooey cakeballs).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Drink Wed Apr 18 2012

    Taste Virtue Cider Tonight at Hopleaf

    virtuecider_apple.jpgVirtue Cider, former Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall's new small-batch artisanal cider company, has slowly been releasing its first brew, Red Streak, in Chicagoland bars. Tonight at 7pm, Hall will be at Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., for a tasting party and meet'n'greet.

    I tried Red Streak at Hopleaf last night, and it's a delight. Virtue calls it an English style cider, made with Redstreak bittersharp apples, and it is very dry compared to the typical commercially available hard cider -- even most of the ciders imported from merry old England. The flavor is that of a nice, crisp green apple, with peach and citrus notes and a tart finish. Champagne-like bubbles give it a rich mouthfeel. It paired nicely with my CB&J sandwich, cutting through the rich cashew butter, but was also nice and refreshing on its own.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Apr 16 2012

    Bringing the Adventure Back to Your Restaurant Outings--Only 9 Tickets Left

    Sometimes, the fire just dies, and if the sizzle has gone out of your restaurant adventures lately, or trying to pick up your next love interest in River North just isn't working like it used to, maybe a little scavenger hunt is what you need to bring it back.


    Borrowing on the likes of social networks Foursquare and Pinterest, Dishcrawl, a foodie pub crawl of sorts who's mission is to get people out of their house and socially engaged with each other through their "progressive food adventure's" is rolling out its inaugural Chicago crawl this Saturday starting at 4:00. I'd tell you where, but that's where the progressive adventure thing comes in -- you don't know where the crawl will begin until two days before. For $59 a person you get a guided tour along with 20-100 local foodies through four culinary destinations. And as Dishcrawl has hinted, there may be a special surprise at the end. There are only 9 tickets left so get on it while you can. Who know's, this could be the next best thing since and trolleys. Visit here for more information about Chicago's upcoming Dishcrawls visit and to reserve your ticket or follow on Twitter at @DishcrawlChi.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Mon Apr 16 2012

    Baconfest in the Air

    6935363258_b53f025397.jpgIt was easier to buy that winning Powerball ticket than it was to get tickets to this past Saturday's Baconfest, so all I can leave you to peruse is pictures from Flickr. Swine on, until next time.

    Image by Ben Collins-Sussman.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Apr 13 2012

    Cochon 555 Brings More Pork Battle to Chicago

    cochon555.jpgBacon Fest isn't the only pork-centered foodie event this April. Cochon 555, a gourmet feast that goes way beyond pork belly, returns to Chicago April 29 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Five chefs are each given a whole heritage breed pig so as to cook a nose-to-tail meal that will capture diners' hearts and be crowned Prince or Princess of Porc. Meanwhile, five winemakers offer up wines to match the culinary creations (the third five in the name).

    Returning chef competitors Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat and Michael Sheerin of Three Floyds Brewpub go up against Carlos Gaytan of Mexique, Danny Grant of RIA and Jason Vincent of Nightwood. In addition, Kevin Hickey of Four Seasons' recently opened Allium will serve a whole-hog barbecue to supplement the competition dishes. Buther & Larder's Rob Levitt will do a butchery demonstration, and you can try to win Le Creuset cookware in a tasting contest with Sepia's Andrew Zimmerman.

    Chase Cellars, Elk Cove, Buty, Yorba Wines and Scholium Project are the showcased wineries, but in keeping with the "more is more" theme, there will also be wines from SALDO, Cornerstone and Robert Kacher Selections, and beer from Anchor Brewing and Three Floyd's. A "Perfect Manhattan" ended by Daniel Hyatt of Alembic SF will feature Templeton Rye, Hirsch, Angel's Envy, Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Hudson Whiskey's Baby Bourbon and Luxardo.

    The April 29 event begins at 5pm for general admission; VIPs get in at 4pm. Tickets start at $125 and go to $250 -- and despite the price are likely to sell out. Get yours quickly.

    Andrew Huff

    Dessert Wed Apr 11 2012

    WTF is This, You Ask?

    6809011544_7b8ac798ac.jpgStrangely, it's a cake--specifically, the Caramel Cake, which I first got a good look at over at Lottie and Doof a few years back. This cake makes an impressive potluck contribution with its buttermilk and caramel flavors, but it's not the prettiest-looking car at the dealership, as it were. Is it a cake? A weird meatloaf? Gravy-covered bread? Who knows until you take a bite.

    So if you're looking for opportunities to make a decent-looking cake, World Kitchen sponsors a Luscious Layers baking class this Saturday morning; if cakes are not your bag, Delightful Pastries will be teaching a class on piemaking Saturday afternoon; if you'd rather eat and not do the work, the chefs of the French Pastry School host a tour of the facilities plus how-to demonstrations of candies, sorbets and other baked goods while you scarf down croissants and pastries. And if the bread isn't your thing, the Gluten- and Allergy-Free Expo runs this weekend in Lombard.

    Robyn Nisi

    Dish Tue Apr 10 2012

    Chicago Gets a Little Looser

    Good news for Great Plains-ers living in Chicago: later this summer, Lincoln Park will be home to an outpost of the Iowa-based Maid Rite chain, which is is known for its loose meat sandwiches (think a sloppy joe without the tomato-based sauce; add ketchup at your will). And if you want to continue the love of loose meat, the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance hosts an exploration of regional road food delights, among them the Runza, a fast food chain (for which I've professed my love before). Michael Stern of, a fabulous website for feeding all of your car-based travels, will give a keynote; other programs explore other regional delicacies such as the horseshoe (an open-faced sandwich covered in fries and cheese sauce), culinary tourism, small-town cafe traditions, and supper clubs. In short, it sounds criminal to attend any of the programs on an empty stomach.

    "Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite at a Time" runs April 27-29 at Kendall College; admission packages run $10-85.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Apr 09 2012

    Food: Punk Yes

    Tonight, Revolution Brewery (with the Chicago History Museum) hosts Punk 'n' Brew, an exploration of the connection between the famed Logan Square's brewery and their in-house playlists. A four-course meal with such names as the "Jonny [sic] Rotten Ramen" paired with their Barley Wine will be served. Event starts at 7pm at Revolution, 2323 N. Milwaukee; reservations required.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Apr 04 2012

    Baconfest Pre-Game Fires Up the Grill

    It sold out quickly after tickets went on sale earlier this year, so if you are going be among the lucky ones to attend next Saturday's Baconfest, you can use this handy navigational guide to figure out your menu for the event--I was taken by Hearty's Bacon Rice Krispies with cereal milk and Three Aces' "Shake and Bake" (I loved the commercials as a kid, weren't you?). And for those of who you can't stand the decadence, Veggie Fest Chicago is four short months away.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Mar 28 2012

    Wine For Charity and What You Didn't Know About Robert Mondavi Winery

    Half off wine nights aren't a new tactic in the restaurant industry, but offering a half off wine night and featuring a wine where half of all proceeds benefit charities is something to drink to. Rockit Bar and Grill in River North is doing this with its Monday night TasteIt events which feature tableside tastings of Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Zinfandel from OneHope Wines that benefit breast cancer, autism, and support our troops. This past Monday, Rockit held a beefed up version of its usual TasteIt event, complete with a three-course meal from Chef Amanda Downing paired with One Hope Sauvignon Blanc and the 2009 Continuum Vintage (we'll come back to why that's important later).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (2)

    Event Wed Mar 28 2012

    Good Food Forever

    Last weekend's Good Food Festival (formerly Family Farmed Expo), which was held "[to] celebrate leaders, businesses, and individuals that sustain the burgeoning, locally-driven Good Food Movement," offered sessions and, well, good food!

    Friday night's Localicious party was sponsored by City Provisions, hence the similar logo. The idea behind Localicious was to pair local restaurants with local farms/farmers. The setup was a lot like Baconfest 2011 if you happened to attend that... lots of chef/farm pairings handing out goodies around the perimeter of the room with all adult spirits in the center.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Ryan Frieson

    Food Trucks Tue Mar 27 2012

    Chicago Mobile Food Symposium


    Join entrepreneurs, scholars, advocates, government officials, chefs and foodies on Saturday, April 14 at the University of Chicago Law School for a community symposium on mobile food in Chicago. The event will include a session for food vendors on understanding local legal issues, a panel discussion, and a food truck meetup. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Attendees can register here.

    The event is organized by the My Streets! My Eats! campaign and the Institute for Justice.

    Chicago Mobile Food Symposium
    8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    April 14, 2012
    University of Chicago Law School Auditorium
    1111 East 60th Street

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Thu Mar 15 2012

    Food Based on a Dare Gets its Due Saturday

    If you're willing to take meaty risks--veal cheeks, bone marrow, etc., the Culinary Historians of Chicago have organized a lecture that is up your alley. This Saturday, while loads of amateurs and professionals alike douse themselves with beer, head to Kendall College (900 N. Branch) for "From Haggis to Headcheese: The Fall and Rise of Odd Bits," which will take you through the origins and renaissance of delicacies of an unusual flair. At the helm will be author and chef Jennifer McLagan, whose recent book Odd Bits (Ten Speed Press 2011) is about how to cook with these forgotten corners. McLagan's previous book Fat won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year. Admission $5, $3 for students and no charge for CHC members or Kendall students and faculty. Event runs 10am-noon. Emailed RSVP requested.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Mar 13 2012

    Club Lucky Wins Mixology Bragging Rights and Why I Love Wicker Park

    I was happy I had stuck out trying to find a parking spot on Milwaukee Avenue at 6:30 on a Thursday night as I opened the door to the Jackson Junge Gallery for the Wicker Park Mixologist Mash Up event, a mixology contest hosted by the Wicker Park Chamber of Commerce. The scene was hip and I was met with DJ beats and stylishly dressed people bumping elbows with cute little solo sized cups of cocktails that made a Thursday night Chamber of Commerce event look like a Saturday soiree. If this is what all art gallery and Chamber of Commerce events were like, I thought, I needed to go to more.

    Participating bars Pint, The Boundary, Wicker Park Tavern, Subterranean, and Club Lucky were already busy deucing it out to top drink. I checked in, got my voting ticket, and immediately headed towards the food. In past experiences, vodka mixed with sugar on an empty stomach never quite went down right.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Thu Mar 08 2012

    Anything for the Kids!

    Albany Park-based Asian Youth Services, which provides services to community youth of all ages and backgrounds, will be the recipient of 25% of the food and beverage sales tomorrow evening from 7-10pm at Chief O'Neills, 3471 N Elston. Bulls-Knicks tickets (join the Linsanity), music from Casa de Soul, and entertainment from the kids AYS helps are on the menu.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Mar 06 2012

    Documentary About Templeton Rye Whiskey Makes Chicago Debut

    caponeswhiskey.jpgGapers Block presents the Chicago premiere of the documentary Capone's Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye at the Mayne Stage Theater, 1328 W. Morse Ave., on Thursday, March 22, at 8pm, followed by a Q&A with the director, Kristian Day, and a cocktail reception featuring Templeton Rye.

    Tickets for the screening are $10, or $15 for reserved seating, and are available through the Mayne Stage website.

    Filmmaker Kristian Day's documentary film chronicles the history of the infamous whiskey cookers of Carroll County from their outlaw days of Prohibition to when the liquor became legal in 2006. During the Prohibition Era, west central Iowa farmers cooked whiskey in their barns and machine sheds to supplement their income in the harsh times. The finished product was of such a high quality that it quickly made its way to speakeasies in Chicago, Kansas City, and Omaha through Italian gangster Al Capone. For almost 80 years the product was considered illegal until it was introduced in 2006 as a legal brand of top shelf liquor.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Mar 06 2012

    Good Food Festival Tickets On Sale

    If spending the day drinking copious amounts of green Miller Light doesn't fit into your schedule next weekend, maybe a different kind of green-themed day might? Chicago's Good Food Festival (fka Family Farmed Expo) provides an opportunity to meet Midwest artisans and farmers, attend seminars on growing and making food, and get a big picture look at Chicago's local food scene.

    Just like last year, Thursday and Friday's agenda is targeted for those involved in the commercial side of local food with speakers and activities focused on financing, networking and production of local food.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Mar 05 2012

    Another Week of Chefs

    chicago-chef-week.jpgNow that Restaurant Week has ended, a second event approaches: Chicago Chef Week, which is scheduled for March 18-23. It's not exactly a week, but it packs a punch: a three-course lunch for $22 and three-course dinner for $39 at such places as Yusho, Grange Hall Burger Bar (get the fries!), GT Fish and Oyster, North Pond, and David Burke's Primehouse.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Mar 05 2012

    In Grant's Kitchen

    The WSJ has a nice tour (with pictures) of Grant Achatz's home kitchen, complete with meticulously labeled bottles of spices and a gramophone; however, the best part was his admission that his guilty pleasure foods are Little Caesar's pizza and Potbelly.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Feb 27 2012

    Bee Helpful

    Logan Square Kitchen (2333 N Milwaukee) will be the site of a movie screening and fundraiser for the Chicago Honey Coop, which is looking for a new home. The group's apiary, which has been housed on an abandoned former industrial site in North Lawndale since 2004, must pack up and buzz off by this spring, as the land has been sold. The 2009 documentary Vanishing of the Bees, which chronicles the large impact that bees have on food production, will be shown at this weekend-long event (Friday and Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 1pm and 4pm), with concessions by Lula Cafe and Yusho; admission $20.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Feb 22 2012

    Drink Up

    134.jpgWhat does 20 bucks get you these days anyways? Southport Grocery, 3552 N. Southport Ave., has quite the answer for that. This Friday night, from 7 to 10pm, it will get you a no-reservations good time at this unique eatery, grocer and -- for the night -- art space. Fittingly dubbed, Drink Up Art, the event will feature new creations from local artists as well as the opportunity to partake in an educational wine tasting. Finger foods will be available for purchase (a measly $5 to $8) from the grocery as well. Food, wine, art -- what more could you ask for? Drink it all up! Call 773-665-0100 for more info.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Tue Feb 21 2012

    Dinner and a Movie

    Uncommon Ground Edgewater along with the Good Food Festival present James Beard award wining video producer Michael Gebert's film, The Butcher's Karma! this Thursday night, Feb. 23. The night includes a dinner of four courses prepared by Chef Chris Spear along with drinks, the film, and a discussion to follow. Gebert's film features three local butchers (Rob Levitt of The Butcher & Larder, Paul Kahan of Publican Quality Meats, and Bartlett Durand of Black Earth Meats), and their mission to source locally farmed and sustainably raised meats for their businesses. Here's the preview that was posted on Gebert's blog, Sky Full of Bacon:

    Tickets can be purchased here for $50 a person. Reception starts at 6:30. Uncommon Ground Edgewater is located at 1401 W. Devon Ave. (773) 465-9801

    Katie Johnson

    Event Mon Feb 20 2012

    Tasting Event

    670.jpgUncommon Ground on Clark presents a tasting event this Wednesday featuring local midwestern microbrewery, New Holland Brewing. The tasting will showcase a different brew paired with thoughtfully planned dishes across 3 courses. The first course pairs the 'mad hatter' pale ale with a bartlett pear and baby arugula salad, ancho bbq beef ribs are matched with the 'sundog' amber ale, and rounding out with a sweet serving is 'the poet' oatmeal stout accompanied by a mocha chocolate pot de creme. Are you on the phone yet? Seating is limited, so hop to it. Tasting runs from 6 to 8 pm and reservations are $25 per person. Call (773) 929-3680 to reserve your seat today. Uncommon Ground on Clark is located at 3800 N Clark St.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Wed Feb 15 2012

    ¡Salud! in Wrigleyville

    If you missed Valentine's Day, fear not. On February 20, D.O.C Wine Bar (2602 N. Clark) is featuring a night of Spanish wines from the Rioja region (courtesy of Juan Muga of Bodegas Muga Winery)with a four-course food pairing. A highlight of the evening is Wagyu flank steak, Iberico ham and manchego croquette, and romesco matched with a red blend, Selección Especial. The dinner concludes with a sampling of Muga's Prado Enea, a red grape blend aged for a minimum total of 84 months, paired with lamb ravioli and rosemary jus. Whether you love Riojas or want to learn more about them (like how to say it), this is the event for you. Event begins 7pm; admission is $70 (excluding tip and tax). Reservations can be made at 773-883-5101.

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Tue Feb 14 2012

    Reservations Available for Valentine's Your Kitchen

    If you can't afford a restaurant--or just want to avoid crowds--you can still celebrate V Day at home in style. Here are some simple dishes that will do the trick.

    For starters, I love apple and dill in salads. The fennel in this recipe adds a lot of welcomed kick.

    For the entree, I recommend Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with onion and butter, which I have made many, many times. My poor mother used to make spaghetti nearly every Sunday, which was all-day affair full of chopping and stirring; she would be furious to know that all she needed was a half hour and three ingredients. For reals. This is an amazing recipe that deserves many returns.

    Cap off the evening with chili chocolate-dipped strawberries. I'm not a spice person in general, but I really like it mixed with chocolate--and this recipe takes mere minutes to prepare.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Feb 09 2012

    Dose is Back

    dosefeb.jpgBack again after a break from the mayhem of the holidays, Dose Market is returning. The market will commence at 10am on Feb 12 with complimentary whiskey and rum cocktails from Femme du Coupe. In case that doesn't get you in the door, perhaps the coffee from Ipsento and tea by Senteamental Moods, or even a soda by Jo Snow will help perk you up. This month's market will also debut chef Theo Gilbert's Ripasso -- offering handmade pasta and takeaway meals, for two - and also introducing Pickled, a new concept on the fine art of fermentation from Mark Steuer of The Bedford. Don't forget to save room for something sweet at Bang Bang Pie, Celestial Kitchens, Defloured and Sea + Cane. Pick up a bouquet from Spout Home or a spontaneous message typed on site from the creative wordsmiths at Poems While You Wait for the perfect selection of lovely gifts. And if you aren't in the habit of embracing February's lovey dovey holiday, at least the free cocktails, swoon worthy eats and fresh fashion finds will make it go down easier, now won't it? Dose Market is held from 10am to 4pm at the River East Art Center located at 435 E Illinois. Tickets are $10 at the door or $8 for pre-ordered will-call admission; call 312-321-1001 to order.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Wed Feb 08 2012

    Soup and Bread Gets the Drive-Thru Treatment Tonight

    Several Drive-Thru staffers put in major effort last night--milling our own wheat, growing and harvesting coconut milk--for tonight's Soup and Bread event at the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia). We're joining Cleetus Friedman of City Provisions, Ashley Simone of Foodgasm (along with her mother Etta Worthington), and architect/jewelry designer Helen Tsatsos. Stop by between 5:30 and 7:30pm to eat, meet and greet; this evening's donations are for Teen Living Programs.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Feb 07 2012

    Honky Tonk & Mrs. Murphy & Sons Win First Annual BBQ Bowl

    BBQ Bowl ballots

    The bones have been picked, the ballots counted, and the first annual Gapers Block BBQ Bowl was a success! Honky Tonk BBQ came out on top with the judges to win the Critic's Choice award at Club Lucky on Saturday, Feb. 4, while Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro took home the People's Pick.

    Interestingly, Rub BBQ Company in West Ridge came in second place with both the judges and the public, losing to Honky Tonk by only half a point for Critics' Choice. The other contestants, Honey 1 BBQ, Pork Shoppe, The Piggery and host Club Lucky all saw strong support as well, making it a close contest even with the wide variety of styles on display.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Feb 07 2012

    Psst . . . Restaurant Week is in Nine Days People!

    CRW_5Logo_2012A.jpgChicago Restaurant Week is back!

    Restaurant week is that wonderful time in Chicago where for ten days restaurants across Chicago entice our palettes without hurting our budgets. This year's event starts February 17 and goes until the 26. Over 200 restaurants will be offering specially created prix fixe menus for you to nibble on at a price tag of $22 for lunch and starting at $33 for dinner menus, and you will want to make sure you get your reservations in quick. Some interesting highlights besides the usual this year include:

    Branch 27 - an unassuming spot on Chicago Avenue near the Ukrainian Village. The Goat Cheese Empanadas with chipotle aioli, watermelon radish, and cilantro, and the Polenta with smoked mozzarella, grilled figs, and kale on the $33 prix fixe sound amazing.

    Fiorentino's Cucina - the best Italian this side of Fullerton and 3 words: Butternut Squash Ravioli.

    Mira Sushi - nestled right on Division and the first three star sushi in Chicago. Also has an impressive sake and wine list and the place to go for good sushi during restaurant week when you can't get into Japonais.

    And if you're just trying to just get your money's worth on the northside:

    Halsted's Bar and Grill - because for $33, two people, repeat two people, can chose one starter, one entrée, one dessert, plus a glass of wine or beer. Really, and there's fried green beans in the mix too!

    View the complete listing of restaurants then make your reservations on Open Table or by calling the participating restaurants directly.

    Eat it up!

    Brandy Gonsoulin

    Event Wed Feb 01 2012

    Valentine's Dinner: How Not To F**k It Up

    Want to know how? I'll tell you. It's really easy. I mean, you could sneak into your special person's apartment and spell out your initials in four different kinds of rose petals, careful to avoid yellow, 'cause it means "FRIENDSHIP." Or, instead of breaking and entering--do this, a gift from me to you: expend the least amount of energy (read: make a reservation) and impress your date with a cheesy explanation of what an amuse bouche is, in hopes of scoring that kiss! Nine times out of ten...

    Whether it's in Logan Square or Near North Side, here's a list of talented and savvy restaurants that are sure to impress and are prepared to help you show your significant other that you care about good food just as much as you care about him/her.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Alexandra Moskovich / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Jan 31 2012

    "Slow" Wine is Good Wine

    slowwine.jpgCalling all wine lovers. Slow Food Chicago presents the first ever English publication of the Slow Wine guide, 2012. An event celebrating this release will be appropriately held at one of Chicago's very own hubs of Italian fine wine and dining, Spiaggia. The night will involve a walk-around wine tasting featuring over 100 wines from 45 select Italian producers. The admission price includes a complimentary copy of the Slow Wine 2012 guide along with a commemorative wine glass to take home with you. Light food pairings will be provided and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Slow Food Chicago. This Slow Wine event will be held on Feb 2 from 6pm - 8:30pm. Spiaggia is located at 980 N Michigan Ave. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $30 for Slow food members. Tickets can be purchased here.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Sun Jan 29 2012

    A Very Happy Fourth Birthday to Green Grocery

    green grocer 2 year anniversary window.jpgGreen Grocer Chicago celebrates its fourth year in business today. Doesn't 2008 seem like it was just yesterday? Anyways, stop by today for an open house celebration with food and drink tastings galore! You have just under an hour left to snag some samples from Crumb breads, Faith's Farm meats, Co-Op hot sauce, and Crop to Cup Coffee. From 1pm to 4pm sample Carr Valley cheeses, Nicole's Crackers, Pear Tree preserves, and Seedling's apple cider. Rounding out the night from 4pm - 7pm will be samples from the likes of Pasta Puttana, Honeypie Bakery, BOT Bakery and Candid Wines. The impressive roundup of local vendors alone will give you reason to celebrate. Green Grocer Chicago is located at 1402 W Grand Ave. 312-624-9508

    Katie Johnson

    Deals Wed Jan 25 2012

    Barbecuing the Super Bowl

    Super Bowl Weekend is barbecue weekend, it seems. While Gapers Block is hosting its BBQ Bowl rib competition on Saturday, Barn & Company, 950 W. Wrightwood Ave., is offering two specials for Sunday.

    banrandco.jpgIn the restaurant, $30 gets you a "Four Quarter Meal," with courses showing up each quarter: a cup of chili and pulled pork sliders in the first quarter, nachos and Texas smoked sausage in the second, BBQ ribs and smoked brisket in the third, and smoked hot wings in the fourth. But if you're hosting a party at your house, pitmaster Gary Wiviott has you covered. The $350 Super Bowl To Go package includes:
    • 5 BBQ chickens
    • 10 racks of "Chicago's Best" baby back ribs
    • 60 smoked BBQ wings
    • 25 Texas-style smoked sausage
    • chips and guacamole
    • aked beans
    • mac 'n cheese
    • cole slaw

    "We say feeds 10 to 15, but that's if they are BBQ guys or linebackers," says Wiviott. Reserve yours on no later than Friday, Feb. 3.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Jan 24 2012

    Can a Middle Finger Grip a Fork? Anti-Restaurant Week to Launch

    Grub Street reports that chefs Philip Foss of EL Ideas and Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree will be collaborating on a small but probably insanely tasty Anti-Restaurant Week menu, which will launch February 21.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Jan 24 2012

    Ringing in the Chinese New Year

    Chinese New Year was yesterday, so on the 29th of January, head over to Chinatown to enjoy the parade for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

    While you're there, enjoying the floats, the marching bands and the Miss Friendship Ambassador -- duh. Eat dim sum! Eat dim sum at the Phoenix. Eat dim sum to your heart's content! Dim sum is, by definition, meant to "touch the heart." In this case, it does. With deliciousness. This place is my most favorite dim sum restaurant in all of Chicago and I invite you to try to change my mind.

    Try their regular menu items as well. Want to try jellyfish? They have that. Does that scare you into ordering your old standby, sweet and sour chicken? They have that too.

    The Phoenix has a full bar and is open Monday thru Friday from 9am to 3pm, then 4:30pm to 10pm. They are open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 3pm and 4:30pm to 10pm. Their dim sum is now served all day.

    Alexandra Moskovich

    Event Thu Jan 19 2012

    Ode to the Chicago Style Hot Dog

    hotdghat.jpegLooking for an excuse to get the family out of the house during the chilly days of winter? This Saturday, Uncommon Ground Lakeview, 3800 N. Clark St., will host a free (yes, free) kids show featuring the former Wiggleworms program director (of the Old Town School of Folk Music), Laura Doherty. Sing along, have some food and take on this excuse to get out of the house for good eats and family fun. Laura will make it worth your while - one of her signature songs involves her accessorizing with a hot dog hat and explaining the toppings on a Chicago style hot dog. With lively entertainment and a lengthy kids menu, it just might be worth the trip out into the cold. Call 773-929-3680 for reservations (required).

    Katie Johnson

    Event Thu Jan 19 2012

    History of Midwestern Sweets 101

    1.19baking.jpgThis is one lecture you'll want to pay attention to. Chef Jenny Lewis and former Alliance Bakery owner Heidi Heidecker will be on hand Saturday for some sweet talk at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St. The lecture will cover baking traditions of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan including classic midwestern dessert history on the likes of brownies, whoopie pies and more. Because let's be real, there's no such thing as knowing too much about a good dessert. This two hour talk (10am to noon) is hosted by Culinary Historians. Admission is $5 and you can RSVP to

    Katie Johnson

    Event Wed Jan 18 2012

    Pick a Winner at the First Annual Gapers Block BBQ Bowl

    Gapers Block BBQ Bowl 2012

    Gapers Block is proud to announce our first-ever BBQ-Bowl barbecue competition, co-sponsored by Club Lucky. Join us from noon to 3pm on Saturday, Feb. 4 for a barbecue battle featuring some of the city's best barbecue joints and restaurants, including Honey 1 BBQ, Honky Tonk BBQ, Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, The Piggery, Pork Shoppe, Rub BBQ Company and host Club Lucky.

    $25 at the door or in advance will get you admission, one tasting from each BBQ contestant, and your choice of two Southern-inspired sides prepared by Club Lucky's executive chef, Alfredo Anaya. Additional sides may be purchased for $3. Club Lucky's bar will be mixing up special cocktails and dishing out beers all afternoon. And Koval Distillery will be conducting tastings of several of their best organic whiskeys.

    Once you've made your way around the competitors, cast your vote for the "People's Pick" award at our polling booth. A panel of esteemed judges will also vote for the "Critic's Choice" award. This year's champions will be announced at 2pm, with a special performance by musical guest The Congregation to follow. You'll be able to get seconds of barbecue and sides until 3pm.

    Club Lucky is located at 1824 W. Wabansia Ave. in Bucktown. Contact (or comment below) with any questions, and watch this space for updates. See you there!

    Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Jan 16 2012

    Chicago Restaurant Week Opens for Business

    While the weeklong event of affordable priced prix-fixe menus at restaurants you normally couldn't buy a side salad at begins February 17, the reservation system is open and ready for the fight (because it can be a fight to get in to some of these joints). I've already made a painfully early reservation at Naha, but hope to get a date at fellow participants Blackbird, The Florentine, Perennial, Sable, Boka, and Spiaggia. It's going to be a rough week.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jan 12 2012

    Chicago Foodies Go Black with New "Unique Dinner Series"

    uniquedinnerseries_black.jpgChicago Foodies, one of the city's oldest food blogs, is launching a new Unique Dinner Series on Jan. 28 with an evening in Moto's private dining room, "The Lab."

    "The Unique Dinner series was create to give chefs creative license to take risks that they would not otherwise take at their restaurants," said Chicago Foodies founder and editor-in-chief Josh Brusin in a press release. "We want to push the envelope of the Chicago Food scene. These events will appeal to Chicago food enthusiasts with adventurous palates and a wide appreciation for experimental cuisine."

    For the inaugural event, Moto Chef-owner Homaro Cantu, Executive Pastry Chef Ben Roche and "Top Chef Texas" contestants Chris Jones and Ritchie Farina will create "16 Courses of Black," an extended exploration of how color affects our experience and enjoyment of food. Diners will experience an all-black progression of flavors, textures and ingredients, each with a wine pairing (perhaps a Cahors or Nero d'Avola?).

    The event at Moto, 945 W. Fulton Market, is limited to 24 diners; tickets cost $225 per person. For reservations, email

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Jan 09 2012

    Wine Wednesday

    396704_10150487882547886_213944607885_9020182_1406107295_n.jpgWine + Wednesday = Sold. Not only are they the perfect equation because they share the same lead letter, but the two really do go hand in hand. Let's be honest, by hump day, most of us are hankering for a drink.

    WineChannel TV and Walgreens present Wine Wednesday just in time for happy hour this Wednesday, Jan. 11 from 5:30pm to 6:30pm at Walgreens' newest flagship store, 151 N. State St. WineChannel TV's at Home Dining Sommelier Jessica Altieri and local "MasterChef" Season 2 contestant Suzy Singh will talk wine, food, and perfect pairings. Can't make it "live?" No worries, you can attend from the comfort of your own home and tune in online.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Tue Jan 03 2012

    World Kitchen Reopens

    Start the year off by registering for a cooking class! The World Kitchen learning series returns January 21 with a class led by Soup and Bread founder Martha Bayne; other classes include primers on curries (February 2), the origins of sweets in Chicago (February 29) and cooking with coffee (March 31). Classes are $30 each and will likely fill up fast; registration begins at noon on January 11. All events are held at the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts at 66 East Randolph.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Dec 27 2011

    Cuisiner comme un Français

    Galette des Rois.jpg The Alliance Française de Chicago has just released their Being a Chef Series schedule for 2012. Madelaine Bullwinkel has a variety of classes on food and wine pairing, cooking and baking - among them a lesson on making Galette des Rois, the classic dessert for l'Epiphanie. You'll make both the French version as well as the American version, the Louisiana king cake. Just don't choke on that little plastic baby.

    Laura Sant

    Event Thu Dec 22 2011

    A Quickfire Holiday Gift

    Of all the Top Chef contestants this season, one stands out for me, and it's not out of my love for Chicago and its ilk: Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia. She seems a lot more earnest and unassuming than the other contestants, and while several of them have rolled their eyes at Grueneberg's Texas roots in past episodes, I think it's because she just seems so nice, which basically means people think they can steamroll her. If you feel the same way, you can tell Sarah in person January 21, when she and Spiaggia head chef Tony Mantuano hold a cooking class/demo at the restaurant (980 N Michigan). You'll get your own food and wine to chow while watching the chefs do a little in-kitchen challenge similar to the show, then learn how to make it. Cost $125; call 312-280-2750 to reserve.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Dec 15 2011

    Beer & Booze Tastings This Week

    'Tis the season for sharing rare treats. A couple of upcoming events give you the opportunity to sample beer, bourbon and more.

    fb_dec11_gettogether.jpgTonight: Gapers Block's Holiday Party
    Yes, I'm tooting our own horn. Tonight's GB Holiday Party at the Black Rock, 3614 N. Damen Ave., will feature complementary gin from Evanston-based FEW Spirits, as well as Bluecoat Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe and Q tonic water from 7pm to 10pm. There might also be a bit of FEW whiskey around, if you're lucky. RSVP on Facebook.

    Friday: Big Hugs Release Party
    Half Acre Beer will celebrate the third release of its Big Hugs Imperial Stout with a release party at the Blind Robin, 853 N. Western Ave., Friday night at 8pm. The official release for the beer, available in 20oz. bombers or 64oz. growlers, is Sunday, Dec. 18 from 11am to 6pm at the brewery, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. (You might also enjoy this Chicago magazine Q&A with Half Acre's label designer, Phineas X. Jones, who also does illustration work for us here at GB.)

    Saturday: Bloodshot Records Holiday Whiskey Extravaganza
    OK, this is more of a music event, but there's burgers and whiskey involved. Bloodshot Records' Holiday Whiskey Extravaganza is this Saturday at Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland Ave., at 9pm. Whitey Morgan & the 78s, Kurt of the Deadstring Brothers and Lydia Loveless perform, but from a culinary perspective the big news is that ManBQue will be cooking up "Bloodshot Burgers" served with a Founders beer and and a shot of Jim Beam Devils Cut whiskey. The event is also a benefit for the the Casa Catalina Basic Human Needs Center in Back of the Yards; donate food and receive a special gift from Bloodshot. The event is free with RSVP on Do312. 21+

    Andrew Huff

    Event Thu Dec 15 2011

    Last-Minute: Underground Dinners this Weekend

    Looking for something fun to do before you trudge off to Aunt Millie's for the holiday? S&M's Underground has spots left for meals tomorrow and Saturday; for a $55 suggested fee, you'll get home-brewed beer served with pork, duck, rabbit, and a lemon tart to finish.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Dec 06 2011

    1 City, 1 Food Drive Plays Give and Take

    The Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) kicked off its annual holiday food drive today in hopes of collecting over 1 million pounds of food this holiday season to serve the 650,000 folks who rely on GCFD for meals throughout the year. To help inspire those of us who like a more give and take relationship, GCFD has partnered with a few local spots to encourage you to donate.

    At Custom House, a recently-ish new concept on the space transformed it into a more urban tavern, with upscale precision under the helm of Chef Perry Hendrix. Bring a nonperishable can of food in when you dine and you'll receive a free appetizer or dessert, of your choice to accompany your lunch or dinner. And since their newest pastry chef studied under Mindy Segel, I suggest you opt for dessert. From December 8-December 25.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Sun Dec 04 2011

    Good Eats at Renegade Holiday Fair

    6310187951_acf9fa62ff_o.jpgToday is your last day to attend Renegade Craft Fair's 6th Annual Holiday Market Chicago. Held at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse from 11am-6pm, the free-to-attend market features over 150 vendors selling their handmade goods, which make the perfect gifts for almost anyone on your list. Come for the shopping (and maybe even for the shopping soundtrack from CHIRP Radio, Reckless Records and Dusty Groove), but stay for the food, as a selection of local eateries will be on hand to supply you with some re-energizing noshes while you shop 'til you drop. Mana Food Bar and Flying Saucer provide the savories, while Black Dog Gelato, Puffs of Doom and Cheap Tart Bakery supply the sweets. Coming off a sugar high? Dark Matter Coffee has you covered, supplying you with a caffeine fix to get you through to the end. No sure how to get there? Pick up the free Renegade Holiday Trolley which will be making several stops along the way to and from the fair. The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is located at 1419 W Blackhawk St Chicago, IL 60622. (312) 742-7559

    Katie Johnson

    Event Sun Dec 04 2011


    dosesornamen1-580x300.jpgYou have from now until 5pm today to get yourself over to the River East Art Center for this month's special edition of Dose Market, appropriately deemed by the Dosettes as HoliDose. Find great gifts for you and yours with 70 food and fashion vendors. Plus, make a charitable donation to Inspiration Corporation and get all your gifts perfectly wrapped by the design experts at Greer. For the foodies on your gift list, shop special edition cookies from Floriole's Sandra Holl, chocolate and confections from Truffle Truffle, barware from Dinner Party, Hoosier Mama pies, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and so much more. While you browse, sip complimentary fizzy gin punch from Death's Door. Better hurry. You've only got a few more hours to get your HoliDose on. Tickets available at the door for $10. The River East Art Center is located at 435 E. Illinois St. (312) 321-1001

    Katie Johnson

    Event Mon Nov 21 2011

    For Those Not About to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner, We Salute You

    planes-trains-and-automobiles.pngI think Thanksgiving is a bit of a throwaway holiday--it precedes a national day of shopping or not shopping, and trying to fly home to eat a predictable meal while making predictable conversation with your relatives wreaks havoc on your wallet. So why go through the trouble? Stay here and go out with your (like-minded) friends for a meal instead. Here are some ways to celebrate locally--and without mucking up a single measuring spoon.

    You can find special T-Day menus (price per person) at Longman & Eagle (9pm seating only; $20-65), Fox & Obel (1pm, 3pm and 5pm; $17-30), Chief O'Neill's (seatings run 2-7pm), Prairie Fire (seatings run 2:30-7:30pm; $45), C-House (seatings run 4-9pm; $19-45), and Benny's Chop House (noon-8pm, $30 for turkey, additional for sides). Gobble gobble.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Nov 16 2011

    Big Star Turns 2 Tonight


    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Nov 14 2011

    Learn to Can

    327.jpgJoin Slow Food Chicago at the Logan Square Kitchen tomorrow, Nov. 15 from 6pm to 8:30pm for an apple canning workshop. The second installment of SFC's canning workshop series will teach you to prepare a curry apple chutney made from Earth First Farm organic apples. (You'll be going home with two cans full of your chutney creations - yum!) Learn to make something you can enjoy next week at the Thanksgiving table, or save it for a bright spot on an upcoming dark day of winter. The workshop will be lead by Liz David and Zvi Bar-Chaim of Scratch Homemade, who will walk you through the basics of a variety of home canning projects. Logan Square Kitchen is located at 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave. All ingredients provided by Logan Square Kitchen. Canning workshop is $40 per person ($30 for Slow Food members). Tickets can be purchased here, or email for more information.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Mon Nov 14 2011

    Preview: Chicago Film Food Festival Nov. 18-20

    foodfilmfest.jpgWhen producing a film festival in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation, serving the food seen on screen is a natural. Studies have shown that pictures of beautiful food stimulate hunger and seemingly makes it taste better. Combine this premise and you have the Chicago Film Food Festival. Hosted by and benefiting the Good Food Project (a nonprofit whose mission is to create a food culture amongst school children) the event takes place November 18-20 at Kendall College.

    Besides over 25 food-centric shorts being shown, at certain screenings the food being portrayed will be served at your seat, allowing you to taste what you're viewing. There are before and after parties as well. One features the Great Lowcountry Oyster Roast & "Shuck 'n Suck"; another, a farm to film to table extravaganza with a sustainable whole-hog pig pickin' via Rob Levitt of Butcher & Larder fame (and the subject of one of the shorts). There'll be banana pudding and a Whiskey Bar besides. (A Saturday brunch with Doughnut Vault donuts and coffee is sold out.)

    Tickets range in price from $20 to $159. Participating food sponsors over the course of the festival include Pleasant House Bakery, Hoosier Mama, Frontier, The Southern, The Doughnut Vault, Intelligentsia Coffee and Goose Island Beer (check schedule for specifics).

    A love letter to buttermilk, a redneck roommate making bacon-wrapped turtle burgers, some crazy animation set to Klezmer music and a not quite subliminal plethora of extreme food porn (lotsa closeups) shall be had by all. Bring your wipes.

    Alan Lake

    Event Sun Nov 13 2011

    A Few Favorites from the Logan Square Pastry Market

    Logan Square Kitchen was packed this weekend with local artisans selling cream puffs, macarons, croissants, chocolates and other treats. Miss your chance to gorge yourself? Here are a few standouts worth tracking down.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Laura Sant

    Event Sat Nov 12 2011

    Grand Ave Fall Crawl

    Green_Grocer-storefront.jpgThis Sunday (11/13), from 12 - 4 p.m., seven independently owned businesses on Grand Avenue will be participating in a fall crawl partnership. What's that, you say? It will be an afternoon of fun, eating, drinking and wandering window shopping. (Well, they hope you do more than just window shop, but still.) Samples will be in abundance and really, what better excuse do you need to meet some neighborhood business owners and test drive the delicious products they have to offer? Participating stores include Green Grocer Chicago, Sip Coffeehouse, Pasta Puttana, Coalfire Pizza, Oggi Trattoria, Grand Noble Wine and Spirits and Kai Sushi. Begin and end at whichever business you please, just make sure you come!

    Katie Johnson

    Event Fri Nov 11 2011

    Fish Fry Friday

    uncommon-ground.jpgLooking for some dinner plans tonight? Uncommon Ground on Devon has you covered for an evening of food and fun. Back by popular demand, the green Edgewater eatery will be hosting a fish fry this Friday night. Enjoy a fish and chips diner featuring great lakes perch. The meal includes fries, soup and salad for only $23 a person. Great Lakes Brewery Dortmunder Gold shorts ($3) and pints ($5) will also be on special. In case that's not enough for you, Uncommon Ground will also provide some entertainment with their honky tonk happy hour featuring Ryan Anderson & Friends. (Honky tonk happy hour runs from 6-8 pm in the bar with new acts every Friday night.) Uncommon Ground on Devon in Edgewater is located at 1401 W. Devon Ave. Call 773-465-9801 for reservations and more information.

    Katie Johnson / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Nov 10 2011

    Abby Mendel's Cookie Cutters For Sale

    After the success of Big Star's "Everything but the Kitchen Sink Sale" more of Chicago's finest chefs are teaming together to host a garage sale/ bake sale this Saturday with proceeds going to Les Dames D'Escoffier and Green City Market.

    Garage sale junkies will find hidden treasures from the kitchens of Achatz, Bayless, and Trotter to name a few. Think chefs' knives, kitchen tools, sautee pans, cookbooks, aprons, and Green City Market founder Abby Mendel's cookie cutter collection. Plus tasty old fashioned baked goods will be available for purchase from Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Vanille Patisserie, Publican's Sam Radov, Mindy Segal, Gale Gand, and others.

    The sale will run from 8am to 2pm at NAHA. Cash only. $5 entrance fee.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Tue Nov 01 2011

    Fall Harvest Dinner

    HMP.jpgJoin the creator of the Honest Meal Project blog, Dana Cox for a Fall Harvest Dinner celebration this Wednesday night (11/2). Dana will be there along with local farms to share their personal farm-to-mouth missions and insights with fellow diners. Tickets are $50 and include appetizers, a 3-course farm-to-table menu and midwestern wine. Poetry and fall inspired art will also round out the evening. Tickets can be purchased online. The dinner will take place at the Experimental Station at 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (773) 931-4905

    Katie Johnson

    Event Tue Nov 01 2011

    Chocolate and Meat Detox this Saturday

    Looking to safely purge the bodily toxins brought on by the 7,000 "fun size" Butterfingers you've eaten over the past month in anticipation of Halloween, or just want to find a way to avoid going to your parents' place for Thanksgiving? Chicago Vegan Mania is well-timed this year--head to Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (1419 W Blackhawk) this Saturday from 10am-5pm to sample vegan eats (Upton's Naturals and Chicago Diner are among the vendors in attendance), buy vegan-friendly goods from a marketplace, see cooking demos, and enjoy live entertainment. Admission is free, just like your mind.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Oct 27 2011

    Baconfest Returns

    Mark your calendar: if you like swine, you'll love Baconfest, which returns to the UIC Forum on April 14 for another year of bacony goodness (take a look at last year's chefs and menu if you don't believe me). Tickets go on sale in February.

    Robyn Nisi

    Cookbook Thu Oct 27 2011

    Soup & Bread Cookbook Publishing Party

    Soupnbread.JPGThe Hideout's very own Wednesday night soup-kitchen-party has got another reason to celebrate. Soup and Bread is hosting a publishing party for the release of Soup and Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Bowl At A Time on Wednesday, November 2nd from 7-9pm.

    If you don't know, Soup & Bread hosts a weekly event where piping hot bowls of soup created by Chicago's top chefs are served to the community every Wednesday throughout the winter, as an enticement to get out of our often dreary apartments and give back to the community via soup. You go, you eat the soup, leave a little donation and the proceeds go to make more soup a la Greater Chicago Food Depository.

    From the S&B website: The Soup & Bread Cookbook, inspired by author Martha Bayne's Soup & Bread series at Chicago's Hideout, aims to explore this social role of soup, in the midst of a collection of terrific, affordable recipes from food activists, chefs, and others, providing a quirky exploration of the cultural history of soup -- and its natural ally, bread -- as a tool for both building community and fostering social justice." Copies of the cookbook will be available and as always, proceeds will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

    Wednesday's party will be feature:

    • Soups from Longman & Eagle, West Town Tavern, Swim Cafe, the Butcher & Larder, Milk & Honey Cafe, Mana Food Bar and others.
    • Brews from Revolution Brewing
    • Bread from La Farine Bakery
    • Music from DJ Treetop Lover

    See you there!

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Oct 24 2011

    Food Day is Today

    Well, most days are food day, but today is a special event across the country to learn more about a range of food-related issues relating to nutrition, politics, and anti-hunger initiatives, among others. The Center for Science in the Public Interest sponsors Food Day; locally, you can find events all over the city and suburbs-- such as a Food Safety Trivia Wheel at the Hancock Building, a Fund-a-Farmer launch party at Uncommon Ground, and a photo exhibit.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Sat Oct 22 2011

    Not Your Average Market

    producebox_small.jpgLooking to hit up the last remaining weeks of markets this weekend? Be sure to include the Old Saint Pat's Solidarity Market on your list for this Sunday. Here you can shop over 20 local, fair-trade and environmentally conscious businesses including Green Grocer, Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks, Sweet Miss Giving's and Mother Butter's Popcorn to name a few favorites. The market will be held at the Old Saint Pat's Church Hall at 700 W. Adams St. and will run from 9am-1pm. (312) 648-1021

    Katie Johnson

    Event Fri Oct 21 2011

    Have a Gourmet Saturday

    10.20gourmet.jpgEver wonder about the beginnings of Gourmet magazine? Well, for starters you should know that it was launched in 1941, during the heart of the Depression and World War II. Kind of amazing when you think about it, right? Learn more this weekend as historian David Strauss discusses the early years and beyond at Kendall College on Saturday. Hosted by Culinary Historians of Chicago, the cost of the lecture/event will be $3. Send an email to to make a reservation. Kendall College is located at 900 N. Branch St. and the discussion will start at 10 a.m.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Wed Oct 19 2011

    Dress Up Like Graham Elliot To Support Green City Market

    jbcarnivale.jpgHas your Halloween costume debate been vacillating between going as a stick of Paula Deen's butter-flavored lip balm, or as Paul Kahan (carrying a food truck and tacos shouting a Palin-esque "I'm going rogue!") or a conglomeration of Next's themes thus far (imagine a 90 year old Parisian, riding a rickshaw, holding carrot sticks)?

    Green City Market's Junior Board has the Sunday night party for you. They're hosting a Masquerade del Mercado at Carnivale on Sunday, October 30, replete with market bites from Carnivale, Old Town Social, Sprout, The Bedford, Cafe des Architectes, Nightwood, Leopold, MK and Vie. Plus, after a couple of practice rounds at Old Town Social, chefs will be playing DJ for the evening while libations flow, poured from Death's Door, Goose Island and Tenzing wines and mixed by the folks at Morso and Henri. All for the sweet price of $65 a person.

    There will be live drawings featuring dinner packages, theater tickets and other locavore friendly finds! An online auction will begin on shortly, details yet to be released.** Proceeds from the fundraiser go to support GCM's educational programming and upcoming winter market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The party runs from 4 until 8 pm.

    ** The auction is open! Bid on brewing with Goose Island's head brewmaster or partying with Stephanie Izard, Jared Van Camp and others all night.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Oct 17 2011

    Faces of Pie


    After serving as a judge and sampling over a dozen pies, I stumbled out of the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest at Holstein Park's fieldhouse like a drunken sailor, hoping the walk home would help me digest the sugary indulgences of the morning. After a long walk, a long nap, and a lot of water, I conclude that the event was lot of fun. If you're jealous that you couldn't participate in this fundraiser for the Friends of Holstein Park, you have roughly a year to perfect your recipe; I'll see you at the starting block.

    Update: we have info on the winners! Dinah Grossman of Cheap Tart Bakery won the professional division, and Alison Summy took top honor among the amateurs.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Oct 13 2011

    Wisconsin Fest Dinner at Floriole

    70998-250.gif Have dinner, at a bakery? Well, why the heck not?! It is a Cafe and Bakery, afterall. As an homage to our state-border neighbors to the north, Floriole Cafe and Bakery has put together a dinner menu with courses built around the culinary influences of Wisconsin and Germany. Chicago's own locally sourced Butcher and Larder will be creating a special bratwurst for the event and there will also be libations on hand from Floriole's new menu of craft brews. Come hungry, leave happy. The menu includes fried cheese curds, beer & onion braised brats, beer-cheese soup (the vegetarian option), and let's not forget dessert of apple strudel with creme fraiche ice cream. The dinner event will take place on Friday, Oct. 14. Floriole Cafe and Bakery is located at 1220 W. Webster Ave. Dinner seatings will be at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The cost of tickets is between $15-$40 (without gratuity), with full priced tickets including one drink - choose from the craft beer selection or Seedling Farm apple cider. Purchase tickets here or call (773) 883-1313 for more details.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Mon Oct 10 2011

    Benefits Galore this Weekend

    Brother/Sister, can you spare a dime (or $200)? Two benefits this weekend may catch your eye: firstly, Meals on Wheels' Celebrity Chef Ball this Friday (Macy's on State, 8pm, tickets start at $125) brings chefs like Paul Virant and Stephanie Izard together to cook in the name of helping others eat consistently and well; a DJ-styled evening of cocktails and dancing, as well as a silent auction, follow.

    On Sunday, Paul Kahan and Blackbird will host chefs from several restaurants (Town House of Chilhowie, VA; Red Medicine of Beverly Hills; and McCrady's and Husk of Charleston, SC) for a benefit dinner event for the James Beard Foundation at Blackbird at 5pm. Admission $175 for JBF members, $200 for everyone else.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Oct 06 2011

    Half Acre Beer-Cheese Pop-Up

    halfacre.jpgThe guys over at Half Acre are hosting a pop-up cheese shop in their tasting room from 3pm to 6pm this Saturday. Check out a variety of cheese from Jasper Hill Cellars (including my personal favorite Cabot Creamery) and bread from Elmore Mountain, both Vermont-based artisans. Half Acre founderGabriel Magliaro says,, "Cheese goodies will be available for purchase -- and available for accompaniment with a complimentary flight of sample sized pours, representing 4 of our particularly cheese friendly brews. In short, you buy the cheese, you get the beers." They'll be sampling:

    Cabot Clothbound Cheddar - butterscotch, tangy, brothy, nutty
    Landaff - bright, grassy, tonicy (best melter for grilled cheeses)
    Bayley Hazen Blue - anisey, raisiny, chocolatey
    Harbison - spoonable bloomy rind wrapped in bark - sweet cream, woodsy, herbal, mustardy

    Plus they will be hosting a second pairing event over at Lush later that evening. Check out Half Acre's blog for more details.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Oct 03 2011

    Shhh, it's a Secret

    header_logo.jpgIt's no secret that their bread pudding pancakes are worth waiting for, but did you know the Southport Grocery & Cafe hosts monthly "secret" suppers? The monthly series will be held this Wednesday and Thursday, featuring a four-course menu of seasonal and local fare. You can reserve your ticket online for Wednesday here, and Thursday here. (Payment required at time of purchase, along with tax and tip.) Space is limited so don't delay! And please, let's keep this just between us. It is a "secret" after all.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Sun Oct 02 2011

    Co-Op Benefit

    cohotsauce.jpegMonday night, Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood favorite brunch spot, Birchwood Kitchen, will host a benefit honoring Co-Op Image. You will often find Co-Op's famous hot sauce for sale at Birchwood, but this event will celebrate what Co-Op has done beyond (and including) the "special sauce". With the success of their hot sauce and countless programs established for community youth, there will be much to celebrate. Get there early to partake in the silent auction, which is promised to include lots of great deals. Not to mention the food. Blending Birchwood classics that will feature Co-Op products, you can be sure there will be some tasty noshes at this event. And all for a good cause to boot!
    Suggested donation of $5. All proceeds will benefit Co-Op's hot glass art programs for youth in Humboldt Park. Birchwood Kitchen is located at 2211 W. North Ave Chicago, IL 60647. 773-276-2100.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Thu Sep 29 2011

    Holidays on the 50/50 Range

    277033_279536418730122_519292193_n.jpgFriday night, the Kenmore 50/50 Range will present an evening with Suzy Singh. The former MasterChef contestant will be giving out her best tips to prep you for making multiple dishes at once over the holidays. Every year your Aunt Sue makes lumpy vegan potatoes and Uncle Joe continues to insist that pizza is a traditional Thanksgiving dish, dating back to the pilgrims of course. Well that's a-okay! Singh encourages us to embrace the fact that every household has their own set of holiday traditions. Including her own. In this Kenmore Live Studio event, she'll demonstrate how to juggle making the "classics" but still give it your own flare. The event will feature Singh's twist on classic recipes, including harissa spiced brie cheese puff pastry, spice rubbed turkey, and ginger and chai spiced creme brulee. You can even start your own tradition of sorts and watch the event online! Event is free. Samples given. Kenmore Live Studio Chicago is located at 678 N. Wells Street. Starts at 7pm. 312-265-0871

    Katie Johnson

    Chicago Gourmet Tue Sep 27 2011

    Things We Saw and Ate at Chicago Gourmet

    The fourth annual Chicago Gourmet treated patrons this past weekend to another slightly damp, but mostly bright and temperate weekend of wine splashes, tiny bites, and of course ubiquitous bright red totes of swag.

    In addition to such memorable morsels as NoMI's cheddar polenta with chard and onions (so creamily sweet and mild it almost could have been a savory dessert) and braised pig tails from the Purple Pig (fall-off-the-vertabrae-tender, topped with shredded hard-boiled egg, bathed in a fennel-dosed sauce), there were logistical improvements this year that really caught my attention. Plywood sheets replaced those perforated rubber sheets to give attendees surer footing on the wet grass; the line structure had been changed so that multiple vendors could be sampled in one trip through a pavilion, rather than a separate queue for each; a plastic plate with a notched space for your glass joined the gratis wine glass everyone received at the gates.

    These seem like small things, but the overall impression I took away was that the event, potentially one of the bigger (and in the past, inflated) line items in the yearly foodie budget, seemed sort of...worth it. Case in point: a cocktail seminar not only introduced guests to the finer points of making a Manhattan, but sent everyone away with a bar set to get them started mixing drinks at home. And for the first time this year, I heard a CG patron say those two magical words that mark the end of a great meal: "I'm full."

    Here are some of the sights and bites that made us feel full this year:

    All photos by Joanna Ericson and Andie Thomalla

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Mon Sep 26 2011

    The Ultimate Sausage Party

    No, it's not a bunch of dudes sitting around playing Settlers of Catan--the Butcher and Larder is hosting chef Michael Ruhlman for a signing of his newest book Ruhlman's Twenty on October 11 (8-9pm), and also holding a Twitter-based contest to privately meet with and watch the chef make sausage and soup with the folks from Butcher and Larder before the booksigning. To win, you need to tweet B&L with an Oprah-esqe "A-Ha" moment gleaned from your cooking explorations as soon as possible (see B&L owner Rob Levitt's own discovery of vinegar in cream-based soups as an example). If you can't make Tuesday, Ruhlman will also appear for a booksigning at the Publican from 5:30-9pm the following night; the restaurant will be serving a special prix-fixe menu in his honor.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Sep 22 2011

    Food And Love, Rick Bayless Style

    Cascabel_WEBSITE.jpg Apparently Rick Bayless is acting now! The Top Chef is going to make his acting debut starting in March at Lookingglass Theatre in the Water Tower Water Works. Grub Street Chicago by way of the Tribune reports that Rick Bayless will star in a circus show "designed for and around him," called Rick Bayless in Cascabel. Lookingglass says attendees will experience a "theatrical adventure while enjoying a sumptuous feast, world-class circus acts, and a tantalizing love story." Tickets will range from $180 to $205--too expensive for my unemployed self, and I have a feeling this will sell out.

    Ryan Frieson

    Event Thu Sep 22 2011

    You Didn't Start the Fire, But You'll Drink to It

    The Chicago History Museum is partnering with Haymarket Pub and Brewery for an October 11 dinner and lecture to commemorate the upcoming 140th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. Haymarket will pair their beers with the food, with presentations in between courses about the fire that changed the city forever. Get your tickets ($50 for CHS members, $55 for everyone else) now!

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Sep 22 2011

    A Beery Good Time

    Beer Hoptacular returns to the Aragon Ballroom (1106 W. Lawrence) on November 5 for two sessions of drinking and loving drinking: Session One runs from 1-5pm; Session Two, 7-11pm. Piece, Five Rabbit, Finch's, Half Acre, Dogfish Head, Great Lakes Brewing Company and Bell's are among the breweries that will be in attendance. You can also compete in their Homebrew Challenge if you're of the homemade beer persuasion. Admission $35 per session in advance, $45 at the door.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Sep 20 2011

    Come One, Come All to the Locavore Supper

    62023-250.gifIt's not too late to join in on the Locavore Picnic Supper tomorrow night (Wed 9/21) hosted by Green City Market Chicago. (You do however, still have fork over the 30 buckaroos for a reservation to be able to attend). Held in the south gallery of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (much like the indoor winter season of the year round market), the menu features local food from the Honest Meal Project, Limelight Catering and other featured GCM vendors (including noshes composed of elements from Mick Klug Farms, Genesis Growers, Green Acres, Three Sisters, Bennison's Bread and Kilgus Farmstead, to name a few). Join in on the food & fun celebration as GCM's annual Locavore Challenge comes to a close for the season.

    The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is located at 2430 N. Cannon Dr. The Locavore Dinner starts at 6pm Wednesday, Sept. 21. For more information, call the Green City Market office at 773-880-1266. Reservation tickets available online for $30.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Tue Sep 20 2011

    Farming Field Trips at Angelic Organics

    angelic-organics-learning-center-logo.jpgWere you at the Cheesemaking workshop at Family Farmed expo last March and felt like you still didn't have the tools to make your own? Were you planning on going apple picking this fall, but the thought of a bushel of apples sitting in your fridge seems slightly overwhelming? Have you felt lackluster about the whole homebrewing movement because you've really wanted to give home winemaking a try?

    Angelic Organics is a farm, a classroom, an advocacy group, a community center and an overall proponent of good living for Chicagoans located in Caledonia, IL just 2 hours north of Chicago. Angelic provides 1200 families in the Chicago area with a weekly box of vegetables (CSA style), partners with local community gardens and hosts field trips for school children to teach them about a healthy food system. So where do you fit in?

    Continue reading this entry »

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Sep 19 2011

    Orchard Roundup

    pics.jpgFall officially begins this Friday, which means weekend excursions turn to thoughts of apple orchard visits, complete with freshly made donuts, fudge, and cider.

    The downside to a lot of these places, as you probably know, is that they're packed to the gills with folks just like yourself--city dwellers looking for some yucks in the country--so plan appropriately, or even better, go on a weekday.

    Here are a few treasured places to get your season on:

    County Line Orchard, Hobart, Indiana

    Jonamac Orchards, Malta, Illinois

    Edwards Orchard, Poplar Grove, Illinois (pictured)

    All Seasons Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

    Apple Barn Orchard, Elkhorn, Wisconsin

    Harvest Time Orchards, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Sep 19 2011

    Chicago Gourmet Dine Around

    logo-chicago-gourmet.pngStill holding on hope for a ticket to Chicago Gourmet this coming weekend? All hope is not lost! You have until Sunday (9/25) to dine at five of the participating Dine Around restaurants to be eligible for a complimentary one-day ticket. Not a bad deal, not a bad deal at all.
    Meal total must equal a minimum of $35 (whether from regular or prix-fixe menus). Not applicable to Hamburger Hop admission. Must present five original qualifying receipts attached to the Dine Around receipt holder - available at participating restaurants. Dine Around offer valid Aug 29 - Sept 25.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Mon Sep 12 2011

    Wednesday Night is a Big Night (for Foodies and Animals)

    In these difficult times, animal shelters are filling up fast with surrendered or homeless pets. The volunteer arm of the city's Animal Care and Control facility is holding its annual Big Night fundraising event this Wednesday at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 East Washington), which will feature vittles from a list of local talent (e.g. Koren Grieveson of Avec, Jill Barron of Mana Food Bar), a silent auction, and entertainment. Event starts at 6pm, and tickets are $90. If you can't attend, consider adopting a pet from CACC instead; they're open daily, and for $65 you can get a new furry friend (vaccinations and neutering/spaying included).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Sep 09 2011

    Calling All CakeSpies

    bheartbakery2011art1.jpgFans of Jessie Oleson, the creative genius behind Cakespy, have a lot to be excited about this weekend. Oleson will be in town not only for the two day Renegade Craft Fair as a featured artist on Division St, but she will also be in town to paint a mural at the Oak Park location of The Bleeding Heart Bakery. As the head dessert detective spy herself would say... "totally sweet!"

    The 9th Annual Renegade Craft Fair Chicago takes place Sept 10 + 11 from 11am-7pm. Free admission.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Thu Sep 08 2011

    Sippin on Small Batch

    ise_logo2.jpgWhat makes the cocktails at In Fine Spirits or Longman & Eagle so good? Having a good base alcohol to work with. If you're looking to take your home bar to the next level, swing by the Independent Spirits Expo at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday, Sept. 28 between 6:30 and 9pm for a tour of artisan spirits made here and the US and a few smatterings of those abroad. Meet the retailers, brand owners, importers and others who make it possible for the little guys to compete in the big market. Check out the whole list of exhibitors here and grab your tickets here.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Tue Sep 06 2011

    Summer Continues at Slow Food Chicago Pig Roast

    Even though it's blustery and Fall-like outside, Slow Food Chicago holds its annual pig roast at Goose Island (1800 W. Fulton) this Sunday. Rob Levitt of the Butcher and Larder and Nicole Pederson of C-House are among the chefs participating -- and there's even going to be vegetarian fare if swine is not your thing. Tickets are $60.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Aug 31 2011

    Meat, Drink and Dance

    Have no plans for this long weekend? Longman and Eagle to the rescue; they're cooking up a pig roast and Windy City Soul Club provides the music for What's Happening!!, an outdoor dance party which will take place this Sunday at 6pm at L&E, 2657 N Kedzie. The event is FREE! Celebrate labor the right way.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Aug 29 2011

    MC 'Rap

    zed.jpgAre you feeling a bit unsure of what to do with your Monday and Tuesday nights now that "MasterChef" is over? Never fear, the MasterChef Wrap Party is here, to tide you over for at least one more night. Local Chicagoan (and top-four "MasterChef" contestant), Suzy Singh, is hosting a "MasterChef" wrap party this Monday at the rooftop of Zed451, 739 N. Clark St.. In collaboration with Chef Patrick Quakenbush, Singh will be creating some special menu items for the night including vegetarian Indian nachos (served with papad, shaved paneer and spiced sour cream) as well as Moroccan lamb and paneer skewers (with Spiced Daal and a Mango Cucumber Relish). And as if you weren't already anxiously awaiting the five-o-clock work bell to ring, there's even a specialty cocktail drink for the night -- a spiked Bourbon Lemonade with a Garam Masala rim. Alright, and Monday night dinner plans are done. The event runs from 6pm to 10pm.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Sat Aug 27 2011

    Food Truck Social

    tocfoodtruckheader.jpgThis Saturday welcomed Time Out Chicago and West Town Chamber of Commerce's Food Truck Social. I got there a little later than I originally planned, but the timing actually turned out rather perfect. It was a cool and breezy night, the ideal atmosphere to squeeze in one last street fare event before the dog days of summer are officially over for the season. Getting there later in the evening meant a surprising amount of vendors were either sold out or had already closed up shop (even though the event was still going strong for another couple of hours). To me, that just meant I had a more selective amount of options. With a playground of food trucks at my disposal, it made the decision of which one to try incredibly easy. If you were open and had a line, I was making a beeline for you.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Katie Johnson / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Aug 26 2011

    Farmageddon Comes to the Siskel this Weekend

    Kristin Canty was mad. Her young son had allergies to everything--food, mold, etc. He was an asthmatic and was often sick. His doctors told Canty that the boy was "allergic to the world" and would be resigned to cautious living. Like any mother, Canty searched for remedies on her own, and came across an interesting solution; switch her son's milk from the standard grocery store brand to the raw variety. That should be an easy product to buy, right?

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Aug 25 2011

    Not So Starving Artists: Interviews with the Chefs

    Chef Koren Grieveson
    Chef Koren Grieveson and her portrait by Tim Anderson
    All photos and video by Andrew Huff

    Last Thursday, Aug. 18, the Chicago Artist's Coalition hosted a fundraiser event called "Starving Artist" -- essentially a benefit for the CAC -- where four of Chicago's top chefs were paired with four of the city's top artists to collaborate on a "unique sensory experience," inspired by each other's work. One sixtyblue pastry chef Hillary Blanchard-Rikower was paired with Lauren Brescia, avec's Koren Grieveson was paired with Tim Anderson, Girl & The Goat's Stephanie Izard was paired with Richard Hull and Province's Randy Zwieban was paired with Judy Ledgerwood.

    Each artist's work was displayed next to the respective chef's station, where guests could sample the appetizer-sized dish prepared for the evening. The artworks and "experiences" at each chef's restaurant were offered in a silent auction, while works by CAC members graced the walls. In addition to the chefs' dishes, desserts from Alliance Bakery were served in the Bolt Gallery in back, and drinks from Koval Distillery, Tito's Vodka, Haymarket Brewery and several wineries were pouring all night. The event showcased the the CAC's new Fulton Market space to its fullest extent, both as a gallery and studio space and as an event venue.

    I spoke with the chefs about what they made and what they thought of the collaboration. Over in A/C, arts editor Kelly Reaves shares interviews with the artists.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Aug 24 2011

    Lagunitas Dinner @ Fork

    A couple spots just opened up for TONIGHT's Lagunitas dinner at Fork. The five course menu features a house-smoked salmon starter; watermelon, tomato, pesto salad; broiled garlic mussels; smoked baby back ribs with mac and cheese; and is finished with bananas foster. Check it out. Talk about well paired. And for 50 bucks, did you honestly have something better to do tonight? Dinner starts at 6pm.

    4600 N Lincoln

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Tue Aug 23 2011

    Oil Drive Party @ Trader Todd's


    You've all seen the big pink truck driving around town in a hula skirt but did you know that it's actually green, not pink? After visiting the oil spill in NOLA, Todd (of Tiki fame) decided he needed to greenify his life a bit. He converted his Tiki Transit to run on used fry oil and now, he needs to replenish his fuel line with your help.

    On Friday, September 9th, Trader Todd's is hosting an oil drive party in their beer garden. If you show up with your own used cooking oil in hand, Todd will swap you for a free basket of fries. They will also have $8.99 all-you-can-eat fish fry and $3 Green Line beer. Steel drums will be ringing and mai thais flowing as Todd demos his oil conversion system from 5-8pm.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon Aug 22 2011

    My Streets! My Eats! Campaign Launches to Raise Food Truck Legislation Issues

    The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship kicked off a new campaign to get residents talking to their lawmakers about the importance of mobile food truck legislation reform.

    Even if you see food trucks roaming around your neighborhood or downtown, their battles with the city's laws are far from over. Current requirements for mobile food trucks (e.g. trucks cannot stop within 200 feet of brick and mortar restaurants, and cannot work before 10am) are downright nonsense; proposed laws are even more baffling, and would make this growing industry obsolete in most places of the city where their business could succeed. Interested in learning more? The IJCE is holding a "strategy session" on Tuesday, August 30 from 7:00-8:30pm at the University of Chicago Law School, 6020 South University, Room V for advocates, chefs, mobile truck owners, foodies, hungry citizens and the like.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

    Event Sat Aug 20 2011

    GGC 3rd Annual Summer BBQ

    In the mood for some grillin' on the barbie? The Green Grocer Chicago will be hosting their 3rd annual Summer BBQ this Sunday (8/21) from 12-4pm. The event will feature pasture raised meats from local farms, as well as River Valley Ranch mushrooms (from WI), Seedling Farms fruit (from MI), and beers from Goose Island, Two Brothers and Bells. Music will be provided by The Congregation band. Green Grocer is located at 1402 W Grand Ave. Event runs from 12pm - 4pm, suggested donation of $7. 312-624-9508.
    ggc banner2.jpg

    Katie Johnson

    Drink Wed Aug 17 2011

    Drinking for the Kids

    Koval Distillery is opening their doors next Thursday, Aug. 25 to host two tours of their facilities for good people like you and me, ending with a whiskey tasting complete with light snacks--all for charity. Rock for Kids will receive 100% of the $20 admission fee. The special tours will begin at 6:15pm and 8:30pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Aug 15 2011

    Make Your Dining Room Look Like Blackbird's

    This Sunday, August 21, Big Star is hosting an "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" sale. Out on their sidewalk at 1531 N. Damen Ave. from noon to 4pm, Big Star and its sister restaurants (Publican, Avec, Blackbird and Violet Hour) will be selling their extra and unused plates, cutlery, beer mugs, chairs and more in order to benefit the Garfield Park Conservatory. Proceeds of the sale will help the Conservatory recover from severe damage due to a massive hail storm.

    So if you've ever walked into the Publican or Blackbird and wished your dining room could look a bit more like theirs, pop by and see what you can find.

    Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Aug 15 2011

    "MasterChef" Finale Week

    MasterChefstory.jpgIt's crunch time folks! Tonight and tomorrow on Fox, 8pm, the "MasterChef" finale week begins. With four contestants remaining, the competition is getting fierce! Want to watch the show with some friends? Stop by Sweetwater Tavern and Grille, 225 N. Michigan Ave., from 6pm to 10pm tonight and tomorrow (Aug. 15 and 16) for the official viewing party. Local Chef Suzy Singh (one of the remaining top four "MasterChef" finalists!) in collaboration with Sweetwater's Chef Jose Serrano, will create some Indian inspired special menu items for the night, including a Bombay Turkey Burger and the Curried Away Veggie Burger (both served with Indian Salad, Tandoori Masala and Curry Ketchup).

    Katie Johnson / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Aug 11 2011

    Food with a Purpose: Taste of the Nation at Navy Pier

    6033296574_0b0c9f09f5.jpgLast night's Taste of the Nation was a great opportunity to sample wares from many of the city's best restaurants for a good cause--supporting anti-hunger charities, which earned $250k from the event. While last year's TOTN at the Aragon was sweltering, this year's venue change to Navy Pier was a cool, relaxed time. Corn was a winning ingredient: of my samplings, highlights include Terzo Piano's corn and duck salad, as well as Hoosier Mama Pie Company's sweet corn pie with roasted tomatoes (which is currently on sale at their shop--get it now). The evening capped off with a prime view of the regular Wednesday night fireworks show and a rousing Journey medley by the resident cover band that rocks the Pier, which entertained guests as they left. Pics after the jump.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Aug 09 2011

    The Art of Food: CAC's Starving Artist Dinner


    The Chicago Artists Coalition is pairing four of Chicago's top chefs with four equally prominent local artists for a unique event on Thursday, Aug. 18, from 7 to 10pm at the CAC's new space at 217 N. Carpenter St. Starving Artist, will showcase both culinary and visual artistry as artists and chefs collaborate to create original work inspired by each other's aesthetic.

    The pairings will be:

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Sat Aug 06 2011

    MasterChef Viewing Party

    203546_172552236133575_2630462_n.jpgIt's crunch time folks. We're down to the final six contestants on Fox's "MasterChef." And one of those contestants is Chicago native Suzy Singh. With the finale fast approaching on August 16th, you'll want to get your "MasterChef" fix in while you still can. Monday and Tuesday night (Aug. 8 and 9), you can catch Singh in person for a viewing party at Benchmark. Singh has collaborated with Benchmark's Chef Geoff Silverwood to create some special menu items for the night including butter chicken tacos and paneer tacos topped with sauteed spinach, both served with apricot chutney and a spicy mango pickle. Is this making you hungry yet? Do yourself a favor, head over to Benchmark on Monday or Tuesday night for some good eats, some nail biting TV, and a chance to meet and mingle with Singh herself. Your taste buds will thank you. Benchmark is located at 1510 N Wells. Event is from 6pm to 9pm -- the show airs at 8pm.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Fri Aug 05 2011

    A Foodie First Friday

    There are plenty of arts events tonight, but this First Friday also includes some culinary artisans. Counter Culture Coffee, 177 N. Ada, hosts an evening coffee (of course) beer from Strange Pelican and 5 Rabbit, and ice cream from Sweet Ape. And OK, also some art by Matthew Gasawy, Bird Wizards, Leanne Bazetta, Tyler Kaschke and Daniel Giles. Swing by between 6:30 and 10:30pm; more details on Facebook.

    Andrew Huff

    Drink Tue Aug 02 2011

    Get Your Drink Tickets: Upcoming Beverage Events

    If you're getting thirsty, there are plenty of events coming up that can help you. Here are just a couple of beverage events during August.

    Espresso & Pulled Pork
    The Chicago Home Barista group is hosting a get-together this Saturday, Aug. 6 at Ipsento, 2035 N. Western Ave., starting at 5pm. There's no cost to attend, but you'll be expected to contribute a side dish or something. Sign up and RSVP here.

    Oak Park Micro Brew Review
    This fourth annual event boasts being the largest zero-waste beer festival in Illinois. I don't know how much competition they have for that title, but with more than 90 beers from more than 30 breweries available to try, it's certainly the largest festival this month. It'll feature the Illinois Craft Brewer's Guild's "Replicale" project, in which 15 or more Illinois brewers all brew the same style beer in order to "showcase the nuances in brewing technique and system design." It's being held in downtown Oak Park on Marion Street between Lake Street and North Boulevard from 3pm to 7pm on Saturday, Aug. 20. Standard tickets are $35 online, $45 at the door; see event website for more details and other ticket options.

    Belgian Fest 2011
    Goose Island hosts its annual festival of locally brewed Belgian-style ales at its Clybourne brewpub, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave., on Sunday, Aug. 28 from noon to 4pm. Sample beers from more than a dozen breweries and talk with the brewers. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefiting Growing Power.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Fri Jul 22 2011

    Keepin' it Kosher

    The Chicago Rabbinical Council hosts a two-part event this Sunday on the more exotic side of Kosher foods, with a morning lecture on the Kosher process, and an evening meal of prepared delicacies of elk, quail, red deer, blue marlin, pacific hamachi, tambaqui, and much, much more. That's some serious meat! Admission is $250 per person for the program and dinner. Contact the CRC at (773) 465-3900 for more information and to RSVP.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jul 21 2011

    Recapping the Green City Market Chefs' BBQ

    chefsbbq.jpgSo we just stumbled home from the Green City Market Chefs' BBQ and read Louisa Chu's lament about not attending tonight because it's just too darn hot out. Too hot? Too hot? Louisa, we have three words for you: you're a wuss.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Carlin / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Jul 19 2011

    Would You Like Sprinkles With That?

    candace-ch-photo.jpgMeet Sprinkles cupcakes founder Candace Nelson. Whether you're a fan of her delicious cupcakes, or a fan of her judging on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars, here's a chance for you to meet the pastry queen in the flesh. She'll be at the Chicago location Thur - Sat this weekend.
    Thursday, July 21 (10am-12pm)
    Friday, July 22 (2-4pm)
    Saturday, July 23 (3-5pm)

    Katie Johnson

    Event Tue Jul 19 2011

    That's Hottt

    Feeling the heat? logo.jpg Cool off with these refreshing tastings at Green Grocer Chicago this week. Tuesday night (7/19, 5pm-7pm) stop by and sip some samples of (FREE) organic beer from Peak Organic Brewing Co, coming to you all the way from Portland, Maine. They have a new Summer Session Ale, along with more classic IPA and Amber ales to choose from. And c'mon, free beer always tastes better too, right? Wednesday night (7/20, 5pm-7pm), my personal favorite, Co-Op Hot Sauce will be in the house. Sample any or all of their varieties and be sure to take home a bottle for yourself. Salsa picante, jalapeno, carrot habanero and poblano will all pack some heat in your mouth to help get your mind off the gruesome heat outside. And your purchase will support a great cause - the very best kind of investment.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Mon Jul 18 2011

    Fight Hunger, Get Stuffed

    totn.jpglogo-sos-taste3.gifTaste of the Nation, which I photographed last year (above) in a sweat-drenched Aragon Ballroom filled with most of the city's best chefs dishing out their wares, comes back Wednesday, August 10 to the Navy Pier Ballroom (600 East Grand, 7-10pm) for an evening of eating and drinking in the name of helping out anti-hunger charities. Admission starts at $95 per person.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jul 14 2011

    Get Your Vegan On

    TCD.jpgNot sure what to eat this weekend while rocking out at Pitchfork? Never fear, The Chicago Diner is near. The "Meat Free since '83" mainstay will be offering meatless gyros, karma burgers, philly steak, corn dogs and refreshing beverages in Union Park all weekend long. Don't forget to save room for their delicious vegan baked goods! Ha. Appetite demolished! You may now commence rocking out. No seriously, because there are scads of people waiting in line after you.

    Katie Johnson

    Event Tue Jul 12 2011

    Friday Night is Alright for Imbibing, Eating

    Gaztro Wagon and Half Acre will be teaming up this Friday night at Logan Square Kitchen (2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.) for an evening of food and brew: Daisy Cutter, paired with beer-battered trout; Gossamer with mussels; and Over Ale with smoked pork shoulder. You're welcome to bring your own home-brewed delicacies if you're of that persuasion; otherwise, a cash bar for more beer will be on standby. Tickets are $30; event runs 7-10pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jul 11 2011

    Fond of Fondant?

    almightys_cropped.jpgThreadcakes, the contest in which Threadless shirt lovers make a cake-y likeness of their favorite shirt design in order to win cash, Threadless gift cards and a year's supply of cake mix, runs until August 15. If you can stand the heat and the kitchen this week, perhaps you should haul out your ingredients from the cupboard--and consider my killer design suggestion.

    Picture is of second place winner last year in the 3D category, Neli Josefsen.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jul 11 2011

    Free Slurpees Today!

    slurpee.jpgTo celebrate their 84th birthday of selling you sodas, candy, porn mags and more candy, the fine folks at 7-11 will be giving away free 7.11oz slurpees at all of their locations ALL DAY TODAY. In fact, it already started, people. A few locations may even be holding special slurpee drinking competitions for even better prizes.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Jul 01 2011

    Looking for 4th of July plans?

    If you're still scrambling for Fourth of July plans and finding out that all of your friends rented a lake house without you, never fear. We've got a few local options that may have your outbound friends changing their plans.

    Longman & Eagle is hosting roasting a whole Slagel Farm hog, Cuban style, on their patio for the stragglers left in the city. They'll be serving corn on the cob, bacon, spring onion potato salad, baked beans & coleslaw for $20 a person, excluding beverages (though I'm sure Jared will have something delightfully patriotic up his sleeve). Begins Monday at 5pm.

    If you're feeling brave to face the crowds at the Lake, Oak Street Beach Restaurant is also roasting a hog and serving sugarcane-melon margaritas, all-you-can style for $30. Monday 2-6pm.

    Bangers & Lace is hosting its own backyard barbeque, all weekend long. Friday through Monday, they'll have horseshoe pits and $1 hot dogs, plus a fine selection of American beers. Come Monday, they will host a horseshoe tournament with prizes including the B&L Beer of the Month Club. Friday through Monday, 12pm-5pm.

    Mucca Pazza, a self-described "circus marching band" will play playing down at Millennium Park as part of the Downtown Sound Series at 6:30pm Monday. But before you hit the bandshell, stop by eno wine room at the Fairmont on Michigan and grab a grownup Popsicle-- a winesicle! They're currently serving Sagiovesicles and Sauvignon Blancsicles for $3.

    And if you need a picnic-to-go for the Mucca Pazza show, stop off first at Fox and Obel for their old-fashioned 3 course 4th of July prix fixe: iceberg wedge salad, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and apple pie. $15.99 per person. Available after 5pm.

    Happy 4th Chicago!

    Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Jun 27 2011

    Afterparty Tonight at Henri/The Gage

    Were you planning on hitting up the Low and Glen Hansard show tonight at Millennium Park? I have two tips for you.

    1. Arrive early cause that Iron & Wine show got a little nuts post 5:30pm.

    2. Stay late and pop over to the newest pop-up in the basement of the Gage and Henri, named "Downstairs." After 9pm, Chef Dirk Flanigan will be cooking up free BBQ bites you and to drink, they'll be serving Death's Door cocktails for $6, and beers for $3. Want to go? RSVP via email.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Wed Jun 22 2011

    Truckin' Thursdays Come to Ethyl's Parking Lot

    OK, this is a development in the food truck universe that I can totally get behind. Starting Thursday June 30th, Ethyl's Beer and Wine Dive will be hosting at least seven (seven!!) area trucks in their West Loop parking lot for what they're calling Truckin' Thursdays a patio smorgasbord collaboration with Chicago Food Trucks. This seems like food truck nirvana to me -- you'll know exactly where they'll be, they're not going anywhere for at least a couple hours, and there are plenty of beverage options available nearby. (If you're not into whatever the trucks of the evening have to offer, Ethyl's full menu will be available as well.) Genius.

    If this isn't enough food truck action for you, a food truck festival is apparently happening this Sunday in Evanston, featuring empanadas, cupcakes, and Zumba (not from a truck).

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Tue Jun 21 2011

    Summer Solstice Kicks Off New Growing Power Center

    isf.jpgIron Street Farm, the new, green-ified headquarters of Growing Power Chicago (3333 S. Iron, near US Cellular Field), hosts an open house and solstice celebration tonight from 5-9pm; for a suggested $20 entry, you'll get tours of the new facility (formerly an abandoned industrial site), which will serve as an educational center, job training site, and an R&D site for entrepreneurs. Food and beer provided by Lakefront Brewery, Piece Pizza, Signature Room, Publican, Blackbird and Bleeding Heart Bakery. RSVP requested.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Jun 08 2011

    Calling Young, Budding Chefs

    If you know a teenager or what to get one out of your house for a few hours, Evanston culinary center, Now We're Cookin' is starting a cooking/science course. Think last week's Top Chef episode. Beginning the last week of June, chefs are teaming up with Nutrition/Science Instructor Dr. S. Peszek and the staff of Northwestern's Equinox program to deliver the first ever culinary science program called Culinary Science: Eat to Live, Live to Eat

    The new 3 week course brings high school students from across the country together to combine classroom and science lab work. There will also be a competitive team cooking challenge!

    To sign your kid or the kid you know up, click here for registration information or call 847-570-4140.

    Ryan Frieson

    Event Thu May 26 2011

    Whiskey Goes All Science-Like

    The Illinois Science Council is hosting a very popular "Chemistry of" series to give you a molecular-level look at your favorite drinks and snacks. The individual beer and chocolate sessions are filled, but a few tickets are left for the Chemistry of Whiskey program, which will be held at the Koval Distillery (5121 N Ravenswood) next Thursday, June 9; tickets are $15.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu May 26 2011

    Food, Gone Local

    So Summer is coming, right? Neither Old Man Winter nor his bratty daughter, Little Lady Spring will ruin farm dinner season for me this year.

    Delicatessen, caterer, and all around sustainable advocate, City Provisions is starting their outdoor dinner season on June 25 at Dietzler Farms in Elkhorn, Wisconsin along with Half Acre Beer Company.

    Visit their farm dinners page on the City Provisions site for more information about how you can take part in this amazing food adventure.

    I took the tour at Dietzler Farms with City Provisions last year and had a fabulous time. If I may, let me set the scene in pictures...

    Continue reading this entry »

    Ryan Frieson

    Event Thu May 19 2011

    Three Craft Brewers, Two Locations, One Night Only

    Chicago Craft Beer Week is finally here (do you have your passport, by the way?) and that means more awesome daily events then your liver can reasonably be expected to handle. One you should save room for though-- remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint-- is Friday's double-event at Co-Prosperity Sphere and Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar, sponsored by a true craft beer trifecta: Three Floyds, Half Acre and Dogfish Head. "Over a dozen styles of beer (4 from Half Acre, 4-5 from Three Floyd's and a few from Dogfish Head) will be available on draft for imbibing at a simultaneous sweet party at the Co-Prosperity Sphere. The event at the Co-Prosperity Sphere takes place from 8pm to 11pm. Admission is $10 which entitles you to complementary beer. There are no online or presale admission tickets." Happy Friday, everyone.

    Andrew Carlin

    Brunch Mon May 16 2011

    Longman & Eagle Peacock Breakfast Auction

    imgres.jpegWhat did you have for breakfast? Hen eggs? Quail eggs, perhaps? Longman & Eagle and Swan Creek Farms are giving two lucky diners the chance to enjoy a very special brunch; a peacock egg omelette made with porcini mushrooms, ground ramp greens, summer truffle, confited duck leg, Rupert raw cows milk cheese, and clover. This main course will be paired with Werp farm green salad, peacock egg-battered cardamom and vanilla French toast, and a cocktail made with peacock egg whites.

    The auction opens May 21st is now open, and the brunch will take place on June 4th. Bidding begins at $250 for two people. All proceeds will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

    Gemma Petrie / Comments (2)

    Event Tue May 10 2011

    Chicago Craft Beer Week Is Coming

    Chicago Craft Beer Week kicks off next Thursday and, based on the schedule, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild who organized the week have outdone themselves this year.

    But first thing's first: you'll need your passport. No, not your actual passport (unless you're, you know, a foreigner). This passport, issued by Beer Week organizers, is a handy dandy, pocket-sized book that contains all the need-to-know info about the week's events, participating venues and other bits of relevant what-have-you. It's also your all-access pass into the actual events, so it's très nécessaire. Yours can be had here for the reasonable sum of $10 starting today on the CCBW website.

    As I said up top, the schedule is insane, featuring anywhere from six to twelve events every day, many of which are free to passport holders. Some of the best are highlighted after the jump.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Carlin / Comments (1)

    Event Tue May 10 2011

    Green City Market BBQ tickets on sale

    Two years ago I attended my first GCM BBQ. It was rainy, but swarms of Chicago foodies headed out to Lincoln Park to be served by their favorite chefs. I have seared in my mind Paul Kahan's blood sausage corn dog paired with a glass of watermelon-jalapeno agua fresca. Since then, I haven't had any meal that has left such an impression as that one little two bite hot dog and swig of juice did.

    Point of the story is, for 100 bucks on July 21st you can get small bites from practically every privately-owned restaurant in Chicago, served by the hard working back of the house folks that we rarely get to see. By the end of the evening, you'll realize that you've sampled over 100 dishes from all over Chicago, while sipping on Koval cocktails, Half Acre, Goose Island and Piece brews, and are adequately smashed and delightfully full. Curious about which chefs you may see? These folks all buy from GCM and are likely to be in their whites that night.

    Tickets for the best outdoor food events just went on sale this week so grab 'em while they're hot folks.

    Green City Market BBQ is July 21st from 5:30-8:00pm.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Mon May 09 2011

    Craft Beer Week On Tap

    CCBWK.jpgThe Chicago History Museum is hosting a week of educational events as a companion for the larger Chicago Craft Beer Week, which begins next Thursday. Tours of dive bars, Irish pubs, German bars, and samplings of IPA--complete with an educational lecture/discussion component, because no one learns better than when they're drunk or buzzed--are on the tab. If you like beer, but like learning more, Admission $25-65.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu May 05 2011

    Get Your Kentucky Derby On Chicago Style

    Not everyone can make it to the Kentucky Derby this year, or any year quite frankly.

    However you can still participate in all the fun and shenanigans by scouring the city looking for good food and a Mint Julep, if you're so inclined.

    This Saturday, May 7 head over to The Southern for Hot Browns, ham biscuits,and chocolate-bourbon pecan pie; Chicago Q serves up Derby pie and deviled eggs; Table 52 will sweeten your heart with Kentucky burgoo and bourbon-pecan pie. You can also stroll, drive or CTA hoof it over to Old Town Social, wear seersucker or a Derby hat will earn you the chance to win a $250 gift card.

    Take that, Kentucky!

    Ryan Frieson

    Wine Thu May 05 2011

    Around the World in 80 Sips returns (with a discount!)

    Your opportunity to drink globally without leaving your back yard happens Friday, May 20th, at the MCA, as Bottlenotes hosts their 3rd annual Around the World in 80 Sips. Wines from heavy-hitters like France, Chile, Italy, and New Zealand will be available, as well as places you might not normally think of like Lebanon and other emerging wine regions. Artisanal cheeses, charcuterie (so hot right now), and other noshes will be available to balance out the vino.

    It starts at 8pm and is $75 for regular and $125 for if-you're-feelin'-fancy VIP tickets, but lucky for you, GB readers get a $15 discount when you enter code GB15.
    Tickets sold out early last year, so get clickin'.

    --Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago IL 60611

    Jen Bacher

    Event Wed May 04 2011

    Green City Market Moves Outdoors

    What may be a dreary sight to some of you raised my spirits immensely this morning on my walk to the bus.

    This picture was taken at 6:05 this morning where Wisconsin Ave dead ends into Clark and despite the bare trees, ominous grey sky and poorly reviving grass, those little tents you see are true signs of spring. Green City Market moved outdoors today, which tells me if the farmers are willing to stand outside come what may, we should be too. These folks know a lot more about weather than I do.

    This week, you should look for radishes, spring greens, possibly asparagus and rhubarb and winter staples of baked goods, local meats and cheeses and preserved goods. GCM will be open every Wednesday and Saturday from May through October, 7 am to 1 pm. At 10:30 GCM has rounded up an all-star cast of chefs for free cooking demos every market. The full schedule is available here.

    Green City Market
    1790 N. Clark (approximately)
    (773) 880-1266

    Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

    Event Mon May 02 2011

    DarkLord Day 2011 - a Recap in Photos

    Despite all of the issues with "golden ticket" sales (along with the usual dose of haterade), this year's DarkLord Day went off with nary an issue and few complaints from the folks over on the Beer Advocate forums.

    Thankfully I was one of the lucky 6000 with a ticket and was able to attend. A few photos from the event below.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Jen Bacher

    Event Thu Apr 28 2011

    Not the *First* Time You've Fallen Asleep at a Wedding

    waitykatie.jpgIf you feel so inclined to see Prince William and Kate Middleton get married live tomorrow at the painful hour of 5am, you can venture out to Lockwood at the Palmer House Hilton, who will air the wedding and serve tea, champagne and breakfast ($45; reservations required); if you can't bring yourself to show, you can find plenty of related events elsewhere (and at more reasonable hours).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Apr 27 2011

    Depressed Food?

    Screen shot 2011-04-27 at 1.17.54 PM.png

    Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance presents Midwest Eats! Foodways of the Great Depression, April 29 through May 1, 2011 at Kendall College in Chicago.

    Their 4th annual symposium, "Foodways of the Great Depression" will teach you first-hand how Midwesterners survived the hard times of the Great Depression with lectures and tastings, including an 8-cent Relief dinner, holiday celebrations, newsreels, Prohibition's end, and many other topics in our culinary history.

    For more information and to see more interesting images like the above Crown of Frankfurters by Catherine Lambrecht or to register, click here.

    Ryan Frieson

    Event Wed Apr 27 2011

    Peter Klein and Gale Gand Taking Over Chalkboard

    Not permanently, of course. Chef Gilbert Langlois isn't giving over the reins to his slate, or North Center's best Southern-style fried chicken (seriously -- how do they do it?!), quite that easily. Chalkboard restaurant is being taken over only for the evening of Tuesday, May 10 (a night when the restaurant is usually closed), with a customized menu built on the combined know-how of guests Peter Klein of Seedling Farms and Gale Gand of Tru. Namely, fruit. The proposed menu includes an apple pie soup (inspired by Schwa, apparently), blueberry pasta with duck ragout, and a cider-brined pork with smoked mustard spaetzle. And, of course, desserts by Gand.

    Despite living only blocks from Chalkboard, I've eaten there just once. The fried chicken really did floor me, as did an Asian-inflected duck with dried plums, and a scallop appetizer that combined olives and vanilla in a way that not only made sense, but made a lot of what I've seen on Top Chef in recent years sort of relatable (not to mention the Vosges d'Oliva bar, which I think has been discontinued in favor of a different white chocolate combo). The service was surprisingly inattentive for an early evening meal in a nearly-empty dining room, though, and while the wall-mounted chalkboard provides a tidy conceptual framework for the restaurant's often-changing menu, it was also incredibly hard to read from where we were sitting and a printed version didn't seem to be available. A takeover evening, which if the Facebook photos (like the one above) are to be believed, are ROCKIN', might be the right way to get off on the right foot with Chalkboard -- or if your experience was similar to mine, get your foot back in the door.

    The price for the takeover menu on May 10 is $65 per person for 6 courses, first seating will be at 6:30 p.m., and reservations can be made online or by phone at 773.477.7144. Chalkboard, 4343 N. Lincoln Avenue.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Tue Apr 26 2011

    Enter the Growing Home Gala Giveaway!

    growing-home.jpgRub elbows and green thumbs with the swells this Thursday night at Growing Home's Ninth Annual Benefit Gala--on us! Gapers Block is giving away tickets for you and a friend (a $250 value!) to attend the event, which will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center (cocktails at 5:30pm; dinner at 6:30pm) and features food from Inspiration Kitchens, Vie and Sweet Miss Givings! Enter today by emailing us with your name and telephone number, along with the name of your favorite CSA or farmers market in Chicago, by 11:59pm tomorrow (Wednesday). We will select a winner and notify you via email. Bon appetit and good luck! UPDATE: We picked a winner! Congrats to John!

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Apr 26 2011

    Get ready for the Wine Riots!

    Wine Lovers rejoice! Hooray! Second Glass is bringing the Wine Riot US tour to Chicago at the Great Hall at Union Station on May 21st, 1-5pm and 7-11pm. Wine Riot is a huge, festive and interactive wine event in five cities across the US, all with the goal of getting people to drink more wine.

    Wine Riot's goal is to get people to discover new wines while participating in a not-so-typical expo style wine tasting. Second Glass has also developed an iPhone app that lets visitors quickly and easily remember every wine they try. The app has every wine name and image pre-loaded so all visitors need to do is mark "like it" or "love it" on their phone and BOOM! It's saved forever. Brilliant!

    The event also features food from local restaurants, DJ, lounge and photo booth with fun props.

    Prices for the Wine Riot are $50. For ticket and more information visit the Chicago event page.

    Ryan Frieson

    Event Sun Apr 24 2011

    Holy Guac-a-what? Get to DMK for this special burger.

    For one week only at DMK Burger Bar: the Holy Guac-aioli Burger.
    Created by C-CAP* student Zorai Arroyo, and perfected in DMK's kitchen with the help of chef Chef Joe Scott, this tongue-twister of a burger features a grass-fed beef patty, chorizo, chipotle aioli, guacamole, pickled onions and Jack cheese. It's only $10, and only available until April 30. All proceeds go to C-CAP. Sorry, no picture of the burger, but aren't the chefs cute?

    Joe and c-cap 1.jpg

    --DMK Burger Bar, 2954 N. Sheffield

    *Oh, you want to know what C-CAP is? It stands for Careers through Culinary Arts Program, and is a national nonprofit that works with public schools across the country to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Like you needed a reason to get a burger at DMK.

    Jen Bacher

    Event Thu Apr 21 2011

    Add This to Your Summer Bucket List

    We all love the feel of sunshine on our backs, the taste of a cold brew on our tongues and the thrill of getting a free State Farm Frisbee, but this summer it's time to try something different.

    In between the Taste of Lincoln, Ribfest and SausageFest (yep, it's really called that) make time to visit a local farm (don't worry, there's beer) with City Provisions.

    Before you decide there's no way you'd ever miss rocking out to Wedding Banned, try this on for size:

    Your day will start out aboard a bio-diesel bus where beer and small bites will be passed around as you learn about the day's selected brewery. Once you arrive at the farm you'll enjoy a full tour by the farmer followed by a five course dinner (see ya, meat on a stick!) paired with more beer from the brewery (see ya, watered down fest sangria!). In true summer fashion, you'll end the day with a bonfire before you head back on the bus with your new friends and a full belly (see ya, Speedo!).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Leah Sallen

    Review Thu Apr 21 2011

    Touring the Nation's Food Trucks & Bringing it Back to Chicago

    Heather Shouse traveled the country eating street food, all so you could know where to go next time you're in the mood for street meat or Korean tacos or trailer-fried doughnuts. Her book, Food Trucks: Dispatches & Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels, surveys the food truck culture in LA, Portland, Austin, New York, DC and other hot spots both well known and less so. Chicago is in there too, of course, with the acknowledgment that current regulations mean that most of our local trucks violate her own rule that all the trucks included in the book make their food on the truck. "Hopefully by the time you read this you can add these to that list," she optimistically writes.

    The book saw its official release Tuesday, and the regulations still stand. But the turnout for Shouse's book signing and "food truck summit" at Goose Island's Clybourn brewpub was strong despite the rain, and the enthusiasm for the clutch of trucks crowded into the parking lot showed that Chicago is ready whenever the City gets around to making it easier to eat curbside.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Apr 19 2011

    Earth Day Dining Deals

    Earth Day formally the day on which we all make "personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably" is this Friday, April 22nd. In the last few years the culinary world has taken huge strides to be leaders in the sustainability movement. From sourcing local ingredients, building energy efficient kitchens and LEED certified restaurants, and focusing on seasonal dishes chefs have in Chicago have been leading the pack and deserve a little celebration for their efforts on Earth Day.

    Thursday, April 21st: uncommon ground on Clark Street is hosting a four course dinner with pairings featuring Michigan's Seedling Fruit Farm and wines from Von Beaumont distributing of Downers Grove. The first course begins with blue point oysters with five citrus mignonette paired with m lawrence "sex" brut rose. Tickets are $40, excluding tax and tip. Reservations required: 773.929.3680. More details here.

    Friday, April 22nd: Province and City Provisions are joining forces to create a soiree in celebration of local foods and spirits. Chef Cleetus Friedman of City Provisions and Chef Randy Zweiban of Province have cooked up a multi-course seasonal, sustainable finger food menu highlighting local farms paired with cocktail creations from Death's Door Spirits. Tickets are $55. Reservations required: or 773.293.2489.

    These are just a few options but this Earth Day, consider supporting your favorite "earth-friendly" restaurant (Chicago Tribune has a helpful list here). You as a consumer hold the power to keep the movement toward sustainability and green-based responsibility. Vote with your dollar.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Fri Apr 15 2011

    "Pig & Swig" Welcomes Patio Season this Sunday at El Cid

    Not that you'd know from yesterday, but it's springtime in Chicago, and I think we can all agree that the warm weather brings a welcome return to one of the best things about this city: outdoor dining. And what better way to enjoy this Sunday's hopeful high of 60 than with some roasted pig at Logan Square's El Cid (#2)?

    Every 3rd Sunday afternoon through September, hit up the patio behind El Cid for pulled pork tortas, tacos and burritos, along with rotating drink specials. Don't feel like pork? Their regular menu of tasty and affordable Mexican favorites will of course be available as well. And as the season progresses, there will be live entertainment. What a way to spend a lazy Sunday.

    --this Sunday from 2-5pm - El Cid #2, 2645 N. Kedzie Blvd.

    Jen Bacher

    Event Sun Apr 10 2011

    For The Love of Bacon

    If you can, imagine a place where you're surrounded by all things pork.

    Well that was reality at the sold-out Baconfest Chicago at UIC Forum yesterday.

    The food, vendors, and all the other Bacon Nation-ers were amazingly hospitable. Kudos to all who attended!

    I didn't get a chance (boohoo) to try all the food (56 restaurants and many vendors in all). But I did sample goodies from 694 Wine & Spirits, Lillie's Q, iNG, Longman & Eagle, and Terzo Piano just to name a few. I also drank, yes you heard right, drank bacon-esque beverages.

    I left the event with a stuffed tummy and stuffed goody bag. I walked away with a Peace, Love, Bacon t-shirt and water bottle courtesy of the Illinois Pork producers.

    IMG_0282.jpg IMG_0284.jpgIMG_0288.jpg IMG_0280.jpg

    For larger image views to salivate over and to get you geared up for next year, I've added my pics to our Flickr pool. If you were there, add yours.

    Ryan Frieson / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Apr 06 2011

    More Sweet Relief this Saturday

    vegbksale.jpgLogan Hardware (2410 W Fullerton) is sponsoring a vegan bakesale benefit for tsunami/earthquake victims in Japan this Saturday, noon-5pm. If you like to bake and want to contribute a treat or two, they have an online signup form.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Apr 05 2011

    Drive-Thru for Soup & Bread

    soupandbread.jpgFor the third time in as many years, Gapers Block Drive-Thru is contributing our talents to Soup & Bread at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.,, along with Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, aka the Hearty Boys; Kathryn Frazier from Biz3 and Matt Yaseko from Billions. Tomorrow, April 5, starting at 5:30pm, you can sample as many of our soups as you'd like for free -- though it'd be nice if you made a donation, since this week we'll be supporting domestic violence agency and food pantry Between Friends. Be sure to come early, the soup often runs out by 7!

    Andrew Huff

    Event Sun Apr 03 2011

    Some Sugar For Japan

    Yesterday, I took part in an awesome bakesale. It was way more sophisticated and elegant than any bakesale I've ever been to.

    It took place at A Perfect Event on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.

    The sales were happening all over the country, but this was the only one in the Midwest. Go Chicago!

    I indulged in goodies from truffle truffle and sipped afternoon tea. 100% of the donation proceeds will go to Peace Winds Japan.

    You can still donate here.

    Ryan Frieson / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Apr 01 2011

    Can the Girl and the Goat Reverse the Curse?

    It's opening day for the Cubs today and Chicago's sweetheart, Stephanie Izard, will be there to cheer on her home team as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. This morning, Izard announced that she's bringing along her pet goat, Padma, who Izard says was the inspiration behind her award-winning restaurant, Girl and the Goat. "I thought today would be the perfect day to introduce Padma to Chicago. And, we're hoping her visit to Wrigley Field will finally reverse the curse," Izard said over the phone as Padma bleated in the background. The game starts at 1:20. Check here for tickets and information.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Thu Mar 31 2011

    Hot Business, Doug

    Dog whisperer Doug Sohn will be talking to the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago this Sunday (10:30am, 7574 Lincoln Avenue in Skokie) about the journey of his business and how he keeps churning out quality food. Maybe he'll bring samples?

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Mar 28 2011

    Make Loads and Loads of Country Baby Applesauce

    I watched Baby Boom, one of my favorite '80s films, this past week. Diane Keaton plays a successful New York businesswoman on the verge of becoming a partner at her firm when she inherits custody of a toddler whose parents died in a car accident. Her white-collar career aspirations fall apart as her investment in parenting increases (the movie is a terrible stereotype about women not being able to balance career aspirations and family, etc.), and in a game-changing moment, Keaton's character moves to Vermont and begins a popular gourmet baby food enterprise using the loads of apple trees growing in her backyard. In the end, Keaton shacks up with Sam Shepard and everything makes sense, so if you need to throw a curve in your life, why not start your home orchard? It could change your life. Slow Food Chicago is hosting an afternoon-long seminar on how to select and graft plants on Saturday, April 9; admission $25-35, and trees will be available onsite for purchase.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Mar 24 2011

    Get Ready For the Fest

    If you're going to Baconfest or even if you're not, Bacon Noir, a short film produced by Chicago Reader and directed by Ky Dickens will whet your pork appetite. The film stars chefs Stephanie Izard, Rick Gresh, Patrick Sheerin, and Chris Pandel, with the larger-than-life Bacon Prophet played by Second City writer and performer Tim Mason! Also featured in this tribute to the grit and belly of Chicago's urban landscape is Hey Champ's Singer/Guitarist, Saam Hagshenas and street artist CZR PRZ. It's based on the principles of the Bacon Manifesto.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Ryan Frieson

    Event Thu Mar 24 2011

    C is for Competition

    cm.jpgIf you like baking cookies and want to take your talents to South Beach, Pastry Chicago is holding its fourth annual Cookie Baking Competition on April 16 at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods; while the prizes haven't been announced, you can bet they'll rock, as Kitchen-Aid is a sponsor. Register by April 11 (only 25 spots to fill!).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sun Mar 20 2011

    Make it a Week of Chicago Chefs

    Can you stomach another week of special prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at some of the city's nicest restaurants? It's like being stuck at Ikea on a Saturday! Avec, Boka, Blackbird, Hearty, and Prairie Fire are among the restaurants participating in Chicago Chefs Week, which runs through Saturday. Lunch menus are at $22; dinner $33.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Mar 17 2011

    Outstanding in the Field 2011 Season Announced

    Outstanding in the Field announced their 2011 season last week and tickets go on sale this coming Sunday.

    My 2010 best meal was at a 100 person long table, perfectly situated under two bent willow trees at Kinnikinnick Farm on a sunny warm evening in August. We made the trek up to Caledonia, Illinois, just 2.5 hours from Chicago smack in the middle of Lollapalooza as the haze from the Lady Gaga concert the night before wore off. After taking the road where the blacktop ended, just like in the country songs, we saw a big chalkboard with an arrow pointing right and took the turn. Parking in a grassy field next to a big red silo, we strolled over to the house where our fellow diners were sipping on Golden Jet (Goose Island/Publican brew) and a Summer Punch by the folks from Death's Door Spirits.

    Outstanding in the Field (OITF) sets off in May on a grand tour of farm dinners across the US. As a guest, you receive a fine meal made from ingredients grown on the soil you're sitting on, composed by a local renowned chef, and paired with local drinks and favorite vineyards of the OITF staff.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Joanna Kanakis / Comments (3)

    Event Tue Mar 15 2011

    It's Only Tuesday, and already...What a Week for the Jews!

    First, the Chicago Sun Times told us about mother-curated dating site for single Jews. Then, Judd Hirsch turned 76. And now comes word that Chicago will play host to a Downtown Seder at the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday, April 13 at 7pm.

    Ensuring that I won't need to book a last minute ticket back home to New York for Passover this year, the Downtown Seder is an event planned and produced by New York-based CityWinery founder Michael Dorf. The premier Chicago Downtown Seder event will feature performances from Israeli singer/songwriter David Broza with master flamenco guitarist Javier Rubial, New York comedienne Judy Gold (currently appearing in "Love, Loss and What I Wore" Off-Broadway), and renowned Anshe Emet Cantor Alberto Mizrahi aka "The Jewish Pavarotti".

    A reading of the Haggadah will complement a traditional kosher meal. Well, traditional if Executive Chef Laura Frankel for Spertus Kosher Catering, and cuisine by Wolfgang Puck are part of your standard Pesach fare. Only 400 tickets are available, priced at $118 and $500, with tables of eight available for $1800 and $3600. For tickets and more information, please visit All proceeds for the event will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

    Two questions remain:
    Will Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel be asked to read the questions of the Wicked Child?
    Will they leave the Cultural Center's massive doors leading out onto Washington St open for Elijah?

    Ben Schulman

    Event Tue Mar 15 2011

    Buzz Buzz

    mf.pngChicago Honey Coop wants to help you become the beekeeper you always wanted to be. On a dreary day like today, why not start planning for all the awesome gifts of homemade honey you can give to others? Or to yourself? Haul out your Ren Faire garb and get your meade cup cleaned and at the ready; CHC's Beginning Beekeeping Class is Saturday, May 14 (10am-3pm) at Hull House; for $65, you'll learn the ins and outs--hive management and maintenance, and how to keep healthy bees. The second stage of the class ($78) is May 21 at CHC's apiary; you'll get hands-on time with the equipment. Both events culminate with a pot luck lunch. Register soon--before you have to transfer to Grover Cleveland.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Mar 14 2011

    Celebrate Pi(e) Today and this Saturday

    hoosiermama_scavengerhunt2 (2).pngMarch 14 has a lot of spiritual significance for mathematicians--and as it, happens, lovers of food. Pi, a constant represented by 3.14, is the ratio of a circle's area to the square of its radius (I don't know what it means, either)--is a day for science folk and food lovers to rejoice in the coming of spring, donuts in the breakroom, or, even better--special deals on pi(e)-shaped foods.

    Hoosier Mama Pie Company (1618.5 West Chicago) is celebrating its second birthday today--and to show their love of 3.14, they're open 11am-7pm today for walk-in service; in addition, they'll be borrowing the Gaztro-Wagon for a day of mobile pie love all over the city.

    Because no birthday can truly be confined to only one day, Hoosier Mama and Drive-Thru will be teaming up this Saturday, March 19 at noon for a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt! Teams of 1-3 people will be given a list of tasks to complete in the area (which can be reached by foot or quick bus ride) over the course of three hours; all you need is a digital/phone camera and sleuthing skills. The winning team gets a YEAR of free pie (i.e. one pie each month for 12 months)--and HMPC will donate $100 to the charity of the winning team's choice. Think of all the summer barbecues, office gatherings, birthday parties and holidays that you will be the unsung hero over when you roll in with a Hoosier Mama pie. Can you smell the victory? Register by calling HMPC at 312-243-4846.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

    Event Wed Mar 09 2011

    "Old Fashioned" Documentary about WI Supper Clubs

    bar.JPGOne of my favorite things about going up to northern Wisconsin in the summers of my childhood was that my mom, a Chicago south-sider, had made almost identical pilgrimages with her family a generation earlier. Granted, the drive from Chicago was much longer than from central Wisconsin where I grew up, the medical technology for removing an errant fishing lure from someone's face was slightly more primitive, and the drone of Jet-Skis was still a nuisance of the future for my mom -- but there's something decidedly timeless about the Northwoods. Few northern institutions epitomize that time warp more than Wisconsin supper clubs -- many of which were started in the 1930s and '40s, and still exist, still serve ice cream drinks from the bar (Pink Squirrel, what up!) and oyster crackers with the near-mandatory bowl of soup, and still advertise their whereabouts on wooden planks nailed to the trees along windy, pine-shaded roads. And if this description was not romantic enough for you, some dear soul has gone and made a whole documentary film about the phenomena.

    chair.JPGChicago documentary filmmaker Holly De Ruyter is exploring the history and enduring present of Wisconsin supper clubs in her new film, Old Fashioned. (Like the drink! Get it?) And she's fundraising the old-fashioned way as well, by throwing a party this Saturday at Will's Northwoods Inn to kick up some cash and unveil the film's trailer. Full details are in Slowdown and on Facebook, but a $15 suggested donation will get you two drink tickets, plus the cheese, sausage and raffle largess Will's is known for, and ice cream drinks! Do you know how hard it is to get a bartender to make you an ice cream drink these days? Bartenders HATE making ice cream drinks! Haaaaaaaate. But mostly because getting the ice cream and the flavoring are just so far outside the normal orbit of the bar -- so they can't hate on it if it's the focal point of the event, right? Here's hoping... If you're into the supper club nostalgia, or just are dying to know what exactly a Pink Squirrel is, this event is not to be missed.

    Andie Cavedo / Comments (3)

    Event Mon Mar 07 2011

    Glimpse and it's Gone

    Between underground dinners, food trucks, and community kitchens, some chefs can be as elusive as unicorns. Combining all three early next month: Glimpse.

    A collaborative effort between Logan Square Kitchen, Hum Spirits, Gaztro Wagon, and Fritz Pastry, Glimpse is a pop-up restaurant happening April 6-9 only.The menu will be family-style dinner service and is divided into five courses: fish, veggie, meat, cheese, and dessert; diners must choose 5 courses at $10 each, minimum. A drink tasting menu will also be available for $5/course, $10/drink a la carte, or $10/bottle of wine. Take a peek at the menu here.

    In this new age of social media, reservations will be take via Twitter. You follow @Glimpse_Chi, they in turn follow you; you direct message them for reservations and they will confirm. Seating is limited, but if your party is large enough, there will be one chef's table available each night.

    -Logan Square Kitchen, 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    Jen Bacher

    Event Mon Mar 07 2011

    Your Final Shot at Chili Glory

    In a Chicago winter, chili cook-offs are a dime a dozen -- but shouldn't those dimes go to a good cause? The Heat It Up contest (which has got to be the last of the season) is a fundraiser for the Glenwood Sunday Market, an organic, local, sustainable, nonprofit market in Rogers Park.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Mon Mar 07 2011

    Family Farmed Expo 2011

    expo.gifChicago's very own swarming of locavores and farmers unite March 17-19 for the Family Farmed Expo at the UIC Forum to help consumers learn more about good food and where to find it, to help restaurants connect with farmers and to help chefs connect with you. This three day extravaganza is a trade show, conference, and all around local foodie fest open to anyone who may be interested.

    Thursday and Friday's programming is target more towards financiers, producers and purchasers of local products on a commercial level, but Saturday is your best bet for the common folk like us. Starting at 9 am they'll have workshops on how to raise your own bees and chickens, how to preserve local food (think canning, freezing, drying), how and where to get involved in the local food scene and more. Here's the full list.

    Stephanie Izzard kicks off a round of chef demos target to teach us what to do with that beef heart and fennel root that you pick up at your farmers market. These local agriculture-supporting chefs have been paired with a family farm, who will provide the ingredients. Chef's include Bill Kim (Urban Belly/Belly Shack), Paul Virant (Vie), Chris Pandel (the Bristol).

    Tickets for the event are $10 for the exhibits and chef demos only, $25 to gain access to the workshops if you buy your tickets online in advance. Plus, if you're a dedicated locavore and looking for a party to eat, drink, and listen locally on Friday night, Localicious will feature about 20 restaurants, wineries, distilleries and breweries for a mere $75 a ticket.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Sun Mar 06 2011

    Sticky Sweet

    Maple syrup's all the rage these days -- especially the urban kind. Learn about its humble roots (hardy har) and the time-consuming-yet-remarkably-simple syrup-making process at the park district's free Maple Syrup Festival, March 26 and 27.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Fri Mar 04 2011

    Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas book signing at Kendall College

    Friday, March 11, founders of Alinea and all-around culinary superstars, Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, will be on hand at Kendall College for a signing of their book, Life, On the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat. Below is the schedule:

    Wood-Mode Auditorium at Kendall College
    2pm Reception
    2:30pm Presentation/Q&A
    3:30pm Booksigning/Reception

    The event costs $45 to attend and includes beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres and a signed book. RSVP today to or call 312-752-2196.

    Renee Barone

    Event Thu Mar 03 2011

    Get Your Strolling Drink On

    Yeah, a strolling group of beer lovers will be traipsing about Logan Square tomorrow night for a tour of six (oy, six!) the neighborhood's finest draught houses. The free event, organized by the Logan Square Draught Beer Preservation Society, starts at 6pm at Humboldt Liquors (3017 West Armitage) and ends at 10pm at Weegee's (3659 West Armitage). You'll be home in time to watch the 11pm Oprah rebroadcast on TV, so it's really a win-win for you.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Feb 25 2011

    A lot on the plate at Mercadito

    Photo courtesy of Wagstaff PRA week or so ago, Drive Thru got an invitation to try Mercadito's "Tacos for Strength," a promotion where 5% of the taco profits (priced at $12 for three lunch tacos, or $16 for four dinner tacos) goes to support the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. So, it's like eating out, so that others can eat. That's kind of a nice idea, especially at a place, like Mercadito, where the scene otherwise seems to be the main draw. I'd never been to the River North space until today to sample this month's "strength-y" tacos, created by Jimmy Bannoses (Banni?) Sr. and Jr., of Heaven on Seven and The Purple Pig, respectively. If you haven't been, I think it's safe to say that Mercadito is not the kind of restaurant you'd go to for lunch if you have a big, stressful afternoon meeting ahead of you. It's much more the kind of place you might go to for lunch after, perhaps, closing a big deal in the morning and breaking out the margarita mix is all you have scheduled for the rest of the day. The space is colorful and urban, with theater-style colored lighting and graffiti-style wall murals -- but the tacos have a nice, old-school style to them.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andie Cavedo

    Chef Fri Feb 25 2011

    Achatz Everywhere

    achatz_bw.jpgWith his new Next and Aviary opening soon and a memoir out next week, Grant Achatz and his partner, Nick Kokonas, have been very visible lately. The pair appeared onstage at the Tribune's Chicago Live! at the Chicago Theater for a conversation with Rick Kogan and Chris Borelli last night, which you can hear here, and next Thursday, March 3, they'll be doing a book signing and discussion of Life, On the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat at 6pm in the Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library.

    If you're really lucky, you could get into an exclusive event after the talk at the library: Achatz announced on Facebook that 100 lucky people will get the chance to buy $75 tickets to an afterparty at Thomas Masters Gallery, where guests will receive a signed copy of the book, Laurent Perrier champagne, small bites by Curtis Duffy of Avenues "and a few surprises." Proceeds will benefit the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Achatz received treatment for his tongue cancer.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Wed Feb 23 2011

    With Emanuel Comes Improved Food Policy

    Now that the election is behind us, we can start looking ahead at Mayor-elect Emanuel's plans for food-related issues in the city--from resolving the Neanderthal food truck drama to improving access to healthy food in underserved areas. Interested in reading more? We've got the details after the jump.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Feb 21 2011

    86 Hunger This Wednesday

    venison.jpgOn the Groundhog Day Blizzard of February 1, I got home at 5pm from a long commute full of whistling wind and poor visibility only to do one of the dumbest things that I've ever conceived: I voluntarily went out again, back into the hurricane of razor blade-like snow and ice. Why? Oxtail ravioli with wild mushroom, brussels sprouts, and lobster glacage.

    The Greater Chicago Food Depository's 86 Hunger series was happening that night at Boka, and even though everything seemed to be closed or closing because of the weather, the event was still on and ready to serve food from several different chefs (the ravioli's creator, Ryan Poli of Perennial; Stephanie Izard from Girl and the Goat; and Boka's own Giuseppe Tentori). Even though I looked like a shellshocked Yeti when I arrived, I had a wonderful time and ate some incredible dishes. As I ate Tentori's delicious version of a venison loin, I looked outside through the restaurant's large windows at the mess unfolding on Halsted, wondering if CTA's buses were going to abandon ship, leaving me to sleep in a booth in the restaurant. I found the dessert from Boka's Kady Yon, a milk chocolate semifreddo with pistachios and kumquats, to be the perfect way to start another long commute home.

    The event continues on this Wednesday night, with Heaven on Seven at the helm. Tickets $150.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Feb 15 2011

    Andersonville "Taste and See" Farmers Market

    farmsandmeals.jpgWe've seen pop-up restaurants, pop-up dinner parties and now we've got a pop-up farmers market. This Saturday, Feb. 19, Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Andersonville is hosting a farmers market from 9am to 1pm.

    They will be serving free pizza for market-goers, made from seasonal and local ingredients from the participating farm vendors. Amongst them will be Fraternite Notre Dame, Brunkow Cheese, Seedling Fruit, Ruth and Phil's Ice Cream, and C&D Family Farms.

    There will also be free childcare, face painting by Lisa Gillis of My Corner Playroom, cooking demonstrations by René Rich of Learn Cook Eat and more.

    Ebenezer Lutheran Church
    1650 W. Foster Ave.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Wed Feb 02 2011

    Celebrate World Nutella Day this Saturday with Multilingual Chicago

    Did you know? This Saturday, February 5th, is World Nutella Day, and Multilingual Chicago just happens to be throwing a bit of a party to celebrate! There will be Nutella-inspired pastries from local bakeries, crepes from La Boulangerie, hot beverages from Café Mustache and Urban Burger Bar. And for those into learning Nutella's language of origin, there will be free Italian classes for adults and children.

    --This Saturday, 1-5pm, Multilingual Chicago, 2934 N. Milwaukee Ave, Ste. C

    Jen Bacher

    Event Mon Jan 31 2011

    Mapping Restaurant Week

    restaurantweekmap.jpgChicago Restaurant Week is coming up soon -- it runs February 18-27, though at least one restaurant is extending it through the whole month. And there's now a map that should help you plan your discount dining excursion.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Fri Jan 28 2011

    Redmoon Theater to Stage Most Delicious Spectacle Yet

    redmoonspectacle.jpgEvery year, West Town-based Redmoon Theater proves it can throw a party on the grandest scale with its fundraiser, Spectacle Lunatique. The event showcases the company's signature magic and puppetry. And this year on Saturday, March 12th, Redmoon--with the help of some of the city's most respected chefs--will stimulate party-goers' taste buds as well. Schwa's Michael Carlson, Girl and the Goat's Stephanie Izard and Blackbird's Paul Kahan are some of the culinary luminaries contributing food to the event. Expect dessert from Black Dog Gelato's Jessica Oloroso and drinks from The Drawing Room's Charles Joly, among others. Spectacle Lunatique will be held at Redmoon Central (1463 W. Hubbard). Individual tickets for the main program, which includes the food tastings and begins at 6:30pm, start at $175. Or attend the After Party at 10:30pm for drinks, dessert and dancing. Individual After Party tickets are $50.

    Photo by ellenprather95 on Flickr

    Sharon Bautista

    Event Mon Jan 24 2011

    Food on Film

    Looking to start a business selling your homemade cookies? Jam? Lamb roast? Picked herring? If you need some high-end, artful photography of your creations, head to Logan Square Kitchen (2333 N. Milwaukee) tomorrow to meet with Grant Kessler, who will be working there out of a Pop-Up Photo Studio. A 45-minute-long session begins at $125; you'll get 1-4 images of your product for advertisements, websites, etc. To earn money, you need to spend money, right?

    Robyn Nisi

    Resource Thu Jan 20 2011

    A Few Cheese-y Links

    In honor of National Cheese Lovers Day (which, let's be honest, doesn't really need to be a holiday), here are a few links dedicated to that wonderful category of food:

    • This week, Pastoral is hosting "Raclette parties," offering some of the "mild cheese that has flavors of sweet milk and grasses with a slightly sour rind" that's best when melted and then scraped onto a dish or a plate. Friday, 4:30-6:30pm at the French Market (131 N. Clinton St) and Lake Street (53 E. Lake St.) locations; Saturday, 1-4pm at the Broadway store (2945 N. Broadway St.).
    • The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has launched its second annual 30 Days, 30 Ways with Macaroni & Cheese Blog. Today, Day 1: Macaroni and Blue Cheese with Figs and Rosemary.
    • But if you don't want to support the state of Wisconsin this weekend, for whatever reason, Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park (100 S. Marion Street) is right there with you: you can order any of their cheese flights for brunch this Sunday, except their Wisconsin cheese flight.

    Ruthie Kott / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Jan 19 2011

    Beer Dinners and Tappings Galore

    Perhaps to go along with the upcoming bone-chilling temps, there are many beer dinners and events coming up in the next couple of weeks. Here, we present you with some highlights:

    Lincoln Station, 2432 N. Lincoln, 773-472-8100
    January 19 (that's tonight!), 7:30 - Great Lakes Brewing Company dinner, featuring 4 courses (pork belly, smoked salmon, chicken adobo, chocolate mousse) - $40

    The Long Room, 1612 W. Irving Park, 773-455-6500
    January 20, 7pm - 11th Anniversary Celebration featuring Goose Island Brewmaster Gregory Hall, who brings with him Bourbon County Stout Vertical; samplings of 2008, 2009, 2010 Bourbon County Stout also available for purchase (note: I did this last year and it was fantastic)

    Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield, 773-281-4989
    January 20, 7pm - New Belgium / Allagash Collaboration: Vrienden tapping
    January 27, 7pm - Half Acre: Double Daisy Cutter, Thunder & Son tapping
    January 29 - 11:30am - 2nd Annual Two Brothers Brewery Tour - brunch buffet @ Sheffield's, bus leaves 1:30pm, tour starts 3pm, back at Sheffield's 5pm. $45

    Table Fifty-Two, 52 W. Elm, 312-573-4000
    February 2, 8pm - 3 Floyd's Beer Dinner - Art Smith brings you 5 southern-styled courses + dessert, paired with Munster's favorite brews

    Blokes & Birds, 3343 N. Clark, 773-472-5252
    February 9, 7pm - Lagunitas beer dinner with 7 courses (English fare, natch) - $60

    Jen Bacher

    Event Mon Jan 17 2011

    Chicago Originals Begins Today

    The start of the "reasonable prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at normally pricier places" season begins today with the launch of Chicago Originals, which runs through January 29. Participating restaurants (including Kiki's Bistro, Cyrano's and Le Titi de Paris) will offer two to four course-long meals for $29.11.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sun Jan 16 2011

    Ain't No Thing but a Chicken Wing

    Around 25 types of chicken wings to be exact and you can try every single one of them.

    Sound too good to be true? Well thank your lucky stars, because it's not. It's the Chicago WingFest -- now in its twelfth year -- and you're invited.

    This year's event will take place at the Bailey Auditorium, 1340 W. Washington, on Feb. 27 from 1pm to 6pm.

    So, what does this most awesome of events entail?

    Around 25 local eateries will be submitting their best wings into two of four categories: mild, hot, BBQ and exotic. You can check out the ever growing list of participating restaurants here.

    For only $24 a general admission ticket gets you all the wings your heart desires, a raffle ticket and live music from Cadillac Dave and His Chicago Red Hots. Upgrade to the $50 VIP ticket and you'll also enjoy a drink package, parking pass, goody bag and access to the VIP area.

    If you're really lucky you just might get plucked from the crowd to be one of 10 judges per category judging on appearance, aroma and taste in a double blind test.

    The best part of all this (and you thought it couldn't get any better) is that part of the proceeds will go to Chicago Neighbors United, an organization that provides educational scholarships to inner city youth.

    Click here to buy your tickets before they sell out (and make sure you're 21 or older)!

    Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Jan 14 2011

    Lillie's Q Now Offering The Whole Hog

    Since opening in July, Lillie's Q has made quite an impression among Chicagoans as they voted the tri tip sandwich one of the best of 2010, and after trying this past week I can confirm it lives up to the hype. Now Chef Charlie McKenna is kind enough to offer us the whole hog -- competition BBQ style.

    For $325, six to eight people can act as judges, as Chef McKenna will prep and present a 25-30 pound locally sourced hog. He'll start with his 15 ingredient "Carolina Dirt" rub (which should be noted is on the fries) and then smoke the hog for 10 hours.
    Chef McKenna will present everything tableside before returning to the kitchen to cut the different parts of the hog and then re-presenting the cut meat. If you have questions feel free to ask! Chef McKenna will do a little Q&A while presenting.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Renee Barone

    Event Thu Jan 13 2011

    Chilifest at Rockit

    It's officially comfort food season in Chicago, and food that is hot and hearty is in high demand for denizens of the Second City. Next week, starting January 17th, Rockit Bar and Grill in River North will be hosting their third annual Chilifest, a celebration of all things related to the most comforting of comfort foods, chili.

    Chilifest runs the 17th through the 21st, with turkey chili, chili mac, vegan chili, and chili cheese fries offered on the menu every day during the fest. Each day there will be a specialty chili offered in addition to those choices. Those chilis include...

    Continue reading this entry »

    Dyan Flores

    Deals Wed Jan 12 2011

    Restaurant Week Returns

    Mark your calendars and make your reservations now - Chicago Restaurant Week is coming back, February 18-27 (because "Chicago Restaurant 9 Day Period" was too much of a mouthful). As in the past, diners can opt for a prix-fixe lunch ($22) or dinner ($33) at any number of Chicago eating establishments, both new and old. Dining options, including each restaurant's official menu, are available on the website, as well as reservations -- be aware, this is a popular and well-known event at this point, and tables will fill up. So if you really REALLY have you eye on eating at Blackbird, think it and your schedule over now before it's too late.

    This year, the event organizers are sweetening the deal by giving away $100 dining gift cards, one every day until the end of Restaurant Week on February 28 (visit their Facebook site and hit "Like" to be automatically entered), as well as providing menu updates, recipes and interviews on their blog. Eat it up, Chicago, indeed.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Mon Jan 10 2011

    Hunger Goes Off the Menu Tomorrow Night

    32149.pngThe Chicago Food Depository's 86 Hunger Series, which starts tomorrow night, is a great opportunity to sample food from some of the city's finest chefs and benefit a cause so vital in these difficult economic times. Tomorrow night's event at Naha will be a collaboration with Prairie Grass; further events are scheduled for January 27 (at Custom House), February 1 (at Boka) and 23 (at Heaven on Seven). Tickets for all events are $150.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

    Event Mon Jan 03 2011

    It's Raining Soup

    chili.jpgThe third season of Soup and Bread, the wintertime weekly soup eating party at the Hideout, starts this Wednesday (5:30-7:30pm, 1354 West Wabansia) with an all-star lineup of food and and foodertainment: soup from six chefs (among them are from Swim Cafe, Bigbite Catering and Celestial Kitchens), pie from my beloved Hoosier Mama, and music from the finest DJ in all of Chicago, Mary Nisi of Toast and Jam (I'm biased because we have the same parents and she has keys to my house!). This week's proceeds benefit the Casa Catalina Basic Human Needs Center. If you can't make it, fear not; the series runs through April 13.

    Robyn Nisi

    Drink Sun Jan 02 2011

    Hair of the Dog

    The Chicago History Museum is hosting a guided tour of dive bars several times this month. If you'd like to (re)visit these heartwarming and positive places, spaces are still available for the January 30 tour; tickets are $25-30.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Dec 17 2010

    Publican Food Drive this Saturday

    I don't know what they mean by "one amazing prize," but it could be on par with Oprah's VW bugs/bees..if you're planning to visit the Publican this Saturday between 1:30-3:30pm, bring a donation for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and you will be entered into a one prize only drawing. Free food? First choice reservations for a lifetime? The mind boggles.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Recipe Thu Dec 16 2010

    A Lighter Cookie Option

    'Tis the season of Christmas cookies -- at home, in the office, at parties. It's hard to resist them, but sometimes we all just crave something just a little less waist-expanding.

    lemonthymecooke.jpgFor the Healthy Schools Campaign's 2010 Cooking Up Change gala, culinary students at Simeon Career Academy created a cookie that we won't feel guilty about popping in our already-full bellies this holiday season. The event, a cook-off, challenges students to create a healthy lunch or a healthy cookie using using the same nutrition requirements, ingredients, and budget constraints that schools have to contend with. Below is the recipe for Simeon Career Academy's winning dessert, Thyme-Scented Lemon Cookies:

    Continue reading this entry »

    Ruthie Kott

    Chef Wed Dec 15 2010

    Chalkboard Guest Chef Takeover

    Tuesday, December 21, Chalkboard Restaurant will allow Chef Michael Sheerin from Blackbird and soon, The Trenchman, to take over it's kitchen, menu and of course, chalkboard, as part of the second annual chef takeover. Sheerin's menu will feature delectable items such as sweetbread bacon with graham cracker and pickled golden raisin and scotch quail egg with cauliflower and caviar.

    The prix-fixe menu is $70 and reservations can be made now at or by calling 773.477.7144. Last year's event sold out quickly so if you want to attend make that reservation now (see awesome food pic to understand why)! Chalkboard event.jpg

    To see more pictures from last year's event check out Chalkboard's Facebook page.

    Chalkboard Restaurant
    4343 N. Lincoln Ave
    Chicago, IL 60618

    Renee Barone

    Event Wed Dec 08 2010

    Delighting Your Pleasure Center

    "Biologists, physiologists, anatomists think that the pleasure center of the body is...elsewhere. But clearly they have never eaten at Hot Chocolate or Blackbird or had a really good glass of wine. Otherwise they would know that the center of pleasure in the body is between the mandibles -- and not between anything else."

    In November NPR commentator Gwen Macsai introduced three Chicago culinary personalities -- Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate, Paul Kahan of Blackbird, and master sommelier Alpana Singh -- at a Chicago Humanities Festival panel, "The Perfect Meal." Watch them discuss what makes a meal perfect, whether it's food and drink that "satisfies the desire of the moment" or "communicating and connecting with the people you're with" or all of the above.

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Wed Dec 08 2010

    What are You Doing New Year's?

    I'm not sure yet where I'll be watching the ball drop this December 31st, and if you're not either, we've got a round-up of some good options here in the city. Some are nice sit-down dinner affairs with beverage pairings, and others are open bars that happen to have food. Not everyone has announced their parties yet though, so if we missed something or it was announced justnow, feel free to post it in the comments.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Jen Bacher / Comments (3)

    Event Wed Dec 08 2010

    Free Beer! (No, Seriously. Wine, Too.)

    Ever stared at a bottle of wine on a store shelf, wondering if it's worth the money? Or looked longingly at a new beer, wishing you could try before you buy so you're not stuck with five more bottles of something that tastes, well, like college?

    Check out the Holiday Wine and Beer Festival at Whole Foods Market in Lincoln Park on Thursday, December 9, where you can try over 300 wines, beers and spirits. For free. Everything poured at the event will be on sale for at least 10% off, and when you buy six or more bottles (mix or match, even) you'll get an additional 10% off. Plus you can enter raffles for items like a PS3, a serrano ham, large-format wine bottles, and autographed celebrity cookbooks. The event runs from 4 to 8 p.m., and the store's located at 1550 N. Kingsbury. That's right by the North and Clybourn Red Line stop, so -- duh, and please -- use public transportation.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Mon Dec 06 2010

    Wishing You a Healthy Holiday

    Only a handful of seats are available for tomorrow night's free showing of Forks Over Knives, a documentary about healthy eating that features Cook County Chief Medical Officer Terry Mason. You may be still full from the office's holiday fondue and pork skin party, but the screening will be a compelling look at how our nation has become so obese (and what we can do to get out of it). Dr. Mason will be present for a post-film panel discussion. Event starts at 7pm at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Dec 03 2010

    Alpana + Cheese + Charity = Awesome

    Ah, the ever-growing holiday to-do list: Take a crash course in wine, beer and cheese pairing from Chicago's beloved Master Sommelier. Taste artisanal cheese, chocolate and charcuterie items, and meet the people who made them. Sample over 40 different wines, beers and spirits from 12 vendors. Eat a bunch of appetizers. Get discounts on your holiday shopping. Raise money for Aspire of Illinois, a nonprofit that provides services for people with developmental disabilities.

    Now do all of these things at once by attending the Taste of Marion Street Cheese Market on Tuesday, December 14 from 5-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 -- 10%of which goes directly to Aspire -- and include a commemorative tasting glass. For tickets, call (708) 725-7200.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Thu Dec 02 2010

    Bartend For a Good Cause

    Have you been dying to share your drink recipes with a wider audience? Think your Dirty Frenchman (wine and olive juice) or Yeast Infection (rum and milk)* needs to bless the gullets of other Chicagoans? Consider entering Prairie Fire's first-ever bartender contest, where you can submit your drinks and photos for a chance to guest-bartend at the restaurant. The only stipulation: you must use a local ingredient in the beverage. Upload your drinks to the Prairie Fire Facebook page between now and December 10.

    The top two mixologists, chosen by the restaurant and cocktail master Adam Seger, will compete on December 14 for tips, which will be donated to hunger-fighting nonprofit Share Our Strength -- whoever earns the most will appear December 22 with Prairie Fire chefs and co-owners Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris at a Green City Market demonstration.

    *Thanks, Home Movies. I knew my obsessive watching of you would come in handy some day.

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Tue Nov 30 2010

    Ruin a Valued Relationship by Running a Restaurant Together

    BigNight.jpgMaybe I've seen a very telling movie on this topic, but if you're interested in participating in 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, the Food Network reality show that pairs friends, relatives and lovers together to run a restaurant of their own to see what hilarities or disappointments ensue, you're in luck. The show will be casting for fresh meat next Friday, December 10 at the Affinia Hotel (166 East Superior) from 10am-1pm. Bring your completed application from their website.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Nov 30 2010

    Sexy Firemen Want to Give You Hot Dogs

    There's no guarantee of the sexy part, but if you bring two cans of food to the Engine 98 fire station at Chicago and Michigan Avenue today from 11:30am-1:30pm, you'll get one of Vienna Beef's finest in return. Ugh, that sounded so dirty...and yet so accurate.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sun Nov 28 2010

    Cookies Make Pretty Much Everything Better

    Everyone likes care packages full of cookies -- especially soldiers who won't make it home for the holidays. "Baking for the Troops," sponsored by Kenmore Live Studio, will send up to 250,000 cookies to deployed troops this holiday season.

    Food Network personality Sunny Anderson -- who grew up as an Army brat and served in the Air Force for four years -- is the head chef of the program, which kicks off in Chicago on Thursday, December 2. Visit the Kenmore Live Studio kitchen, 678 N. Wells, between 12 and 6 p.m. to sample cookies, decorate holiday ornaments, and write personalized thank-you messages to overseas troops. (Anderson will only be at the kitchen from 12 to 1 p.m., so if you want to meet her, be prompt.)

    If you can't make it to the kickoff event, check out Kenmore's Facebook page any time in December. You can ask the company to bake and ship a dozen cookies on your behalf. Once Kenmore has sent a quarter-million cookies, they'll donate $50,000 to Heroes at Home, an organization that provides support for military families stateside.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Tue Nov 23 2010

    Kings of Pastry Returns

    If you weren't able to get to the screening of Kings of Pastry earlier this year, you have a second chance: the documentary, which features the French Pastry School's Jacquy Pfeiffer, returns to the Siskel for daily showings between December 3-9.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Nov 19 2010

    The Food Drive That Gives Back

    Not that you need kickbacks for contributing to a food drive. But if you bring a non-perishable food item or cash donation to the Merchandise Mart on Tuesday, November 23, you'll be rewarded with a free slice of Eli's Cheesecake and a sample of Argo Tea.

    "Sharing It Day" runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Mart's South Lobby, and benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Items most needed include rice, pasta, pasta sauce and macaroni and cheese; peanut butter and jelly; whole-grain cereal and shelf-stable milk; beans; and canned meat, stew, soup, vegetables and fruit.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Feature Thu Nov 18 2010

    State of the Plate 2010: Things are looking...up?

    State of the Plate, Robert Kenner
    The most important meal I've had this year was a box lunch from Sopraffina. No, it didn't earn a Michelin star or introduce me to sea urchin. Those are fun, exciting moments in eating this year that have been only subtly underscored by something much more serious, something which makes me uncomfortable and is much easier not to think about. So, like most people, I usually don't. But it was something that was staring me in the face in the form of a roast beef and provolone sandwich, nestled in a cardboard box resting on my knees during the lunch break at Wednesday's State of the Plate conference on sustainable meat production, the new (hopefully annual) forum put together by the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-Op: Where does our food come from, and what power can we possibly have over it?

    It's not like these questions are groundbreaking in and of themselves. I've read The Omnivore's Dilemna and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I've skimmed through Fast Food Nation. I've seen clips of Food, Inc. CAFOs bad, local food good, organic labels confusing. It's frightening, and depressing. But there's something very different about encountering this information on my couch or in front of my TV in my spare time, and sitting in a room with people whose daily lives are very much affected by these issues. At State of the Plate, I was literally surrounded, with chefs and culinary students on one side, and sustainable ranchers and food scientists on the other. And through their words, in the form of several panels and a keynote from Robert Kenner, director of Food, Inc. it also seems that there may be a glimmer of hope in the dark night of American eating.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andie Cavedo / Comments (2)

    Event Mon Nov 15 2010

    A Gingerbread Fallingwater?

    fallingwater.jpgPastry Chicago is hosting its annual Gingerbread House Contest on December 4; if you want to be part of the action and compete (winners will be awarded gift certificates and Kitchenaid products), the entry deadline is November 30. This year's theme is Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures, which means I hope you have a lot of graham crackers.

    Robyn Nisi

    Drink Mon Nov 15 2010

    Find Your Drink at McDonald's

    mccafe_mocha.pngMcDonald's has a treat for you, if you've got some free time Tuesday.

    The Oak Brook-based fast food giant is introducing its new McCafe Caramel Mocha with a scavenger hunt. Find one of three special game cups hidden around the city and you'll win a $1000 gift card. Follow @McD_Chicago and/or @McDonalds on Twitter for clues to the cups' whereabouts. Find the cup and and get it back to the finish line by the deadline and you win. (Full details and rules here.)

    Whether you play or not, you can get a free sample of the caramel mocha at the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's, 600 N. Clark St., between 7am and 11am.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Nov 15 2010

    I've Got My Glögg To Keep Me Warm

    gloggfestgoose.jpgHoliday warming is coming early this year. Andersonville Chamber of Commerce will host this years first ever St. Morten's Glöggfest. For those of us with -son, -strom, and -quist suffixes, you know how it goes. As soon as it's cold enough to don a Nordic sweater, suddenly you become overwhelmingly thirsty. You need something warm, soothing, and potent.

    As a Swede who's mother lives far away, Simon's Tavern gladly fills the spot. Their homemade glögg, a Nordic mulled wine, enforced by vodka or aquavit speckled with raisins and almonds, is as authentic as you can get.

    We're getting to sample Simon's early this year at St. Morten's Glöggfest (this Saturday from 7-10pm at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 North Clark). For $30, you get three cups of glögg, Swedish treats from Svea, music by Daphne Willis and a silent auction with wares of the neighborhood. And just in case three glasses won't do the trick, the after party continues across the street at Simon's afterward. Tickets available in advance here, $30 each.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Sat Nov 13 2010

    Preserve Your Holidays

    whole_jam.jpgOkay, my puns are totally stupid. But it's true: my boss, friends and lovers will be getting a gift that I recently rediscovered this summer at the Logan Square Farmers Market: a jar of Rare Bird Preserves. I'm crushing on the Pluot Orange Cardamom and Lemon Apple Cinnamon varieties these days, as it's a nice departure from the normal jellied junk I put on my toast. Rare Bird will be holding a tasting tomorrow at Provenance, 2528 N California, from Noon-3pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Nov 12 2010

    Pre-Thanksgiving Feast at Brand BBQ Market

    Monday, November 22, Brand BBQ Market is teaming up with the organization for men who love to grill, Man B Que, to create a Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. The dinner costs $45 per person and includes a starter, main course and dessert. The menu will feature the "Leftovers" Thanksgiving burger, a sage stuffing stuffed burger, smoked turkey breast and cranberry relish (this sounds ridiculous) and sides that include smoky green bean casserole, green onion mashed potatoes and bourbon smoked candied pecans. Brand BBQ is BYOB so registered guests will get suggested beer pairings for dinner.

    To make a reservation call Brand BBQ at 773.687.8148

    Brand BBQ Market
    2824 W. Armitage Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60647

    Renee Barone

    Blog Fri Nov 12 2010

    Complimentary Evening at the Phoenix Lounge


    Forkable Blog and theWit Hotel's Phoenix Lounge present a complimentary menu sampling on Thursday, November 18 from 6 pm to 8 pm. The new Phoenix Lounge will welcome a limited number of guests to sample a menu of hand crafted cocktails and Mediterranean-inspired small plates while enjoying live musical performances from local and emerging artists. Guests must RSVP through the Forkable Blog to secure a spot.

    The Phoenix Lounge
    201 N.State St. Chicago
    (312) 467-0200

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Wed Nov 10 2010

    Next Week: Papers & Chefs

    With the Michelin Guide Chicago's publication the talk of the town, both the New York Times and Chicago Tribune thought next week would be a good time for a live event with some of the city's most prominent chefs. They're booked on consecutive nights, so if you haven't gotten enough Michelin talk in print, you can fill your evenings with even more, live.

    On Thursday, Nov. 18, the Tribune's "Chicago Live!" stage show at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., will revolve around food. Kevin Pang will interview Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret; chefs Paul Kahan, Stephanie Izard and Graham Elliot talk, no doubt, about the guide's picks in Chicago, and Hot Doug's Doug Sohn will discuss "the state of the hot dog" with Bill Daley. Tickets are $25 through TicketMaster or the Chicago Theatre box office.

    Then on Friday, Nov. 18, the New York Times brings its TimesTalks series to the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St., where chefs Rick Bayless, Art Smith and Charlie Trotter talk with Frank Bruni and wine and food festival organizer Lee Brian Schrager. The Michelin Guide isn't explicitly a topic, but given its timeliness and Bayless' lackluster opinion of the guide, it's hard to imagine it won't be brought up. Tickets for this show are also $25.

    Tickets to both shows will most likely sell out, so get yours soon.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Nov 09 2010

    Take a Half-Day, Meet Your Favorite Chefs

    Starting this Wednesday, if you take a half-day at the office, you can get a late-lunch tour with three local chefs. Between 2:30 and 5:30pm, Flight Chicago will take you to three restaurants where you'll meet the chef, get to scope out the kitchen and all that happens behind the scenes, and end with a bite and some booze, and of course a Q&A with the chef. The tab for your VIP tour? $125. Not bad when you consider where they're taking you: There's the West Town Flight, which features Branch 27, Green Zebra, and Mexique on Wednesdays; the Bucktown Flight, which takes you to the Bristol, Spring, and Feast on Thursdays; and the West Loop Flight, where you check out Sepia, Province, and Carnivale on Tuesdays.

    Book online with Flight Chicago, flights are available through November and December.

    Jen Bacher

    Event Tue Nov 09 2010

    "A Spirited Dinner" Series Starts This Thursday

    Ladies and gentlemen: there's a new dinner series in town. "A Spirited Dinner" series begins this Thursday night at Bridgeport brunch favorite Nana, and is sponsored by local liquor lovers Koval Distillery and Michigan's Seedling Orchard. Nana's executive chef Guy Meikle is designing a special menu featuring the sponsors spirits and fruits, and Leanne Strickler is creating coordinating cocktails. Reservations are recommended and can be made via or 312-929-2486.

    --Nana, 3267 S. Halsted St.

    Jen Bacher

    Event Mon Nov 08 2010

    Dreaming of Bleu Mont?

    For you Bleu Mont cheese fans out there, cheesemakers Willi Lehner and Quitas McKnight will be at all three of Pastoral's stores on November 17 and 18:

    Loop (53 E. Lake St.): Wednesday, November 17 5:30-7pm

    French Market (131 N. Clinton): Thursday, November 18, 12-1:30pm

    Lakeview (2945 N. Broadway): Thursday, November 18, 5:30-7pm

    And, as Pastoral's blog says, "rumor has it that they're bringing a 'new to our shelves' cheese with them." Intriguing...

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Mon Nov 08 2010

    Join Us at a Michelin Guide Preview Party!

    michelinguidechicago.jpgThe first Chicago edition of the famed Michelin Guide will make its debut next Wednesday, Nov. 17. Gapers Block Drive-Thru is joining with Explore Chicago, Eater Chicago, Metromix, Grub Street, and Chicago Bites to celebrate its release with a cocktail reception at the Violet Hour, 1520 N. Damen Ave.

    On Monday, Nov. 15, from 6 to 8pm, we'll have the back two-thirds of the Violet Hour, where complementary food and drinks will be served. Jen-Luc Naret, head of Michelin Guide, will be on hand to answer any questions about the guide -- short of revealing which restaurants received stars, that is. There will also be a way for you to sign up to receive a free copy of the Chicago guide when it comes out.

    Only 150 tickets will be available for this event, and entry will be first come, first served at the door. Get your tickets now! Update: tickets are sold out.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Fri Nov 05 2010

    Beer Art: Terzo Piano and Goose Island Team Up for FairytAle Dinner

    Seeking a beer as rare as an Art Institute piece?

    If so, you'll want to mark down November 11th on your calendar. Tony Mantuano's Terzo Piano in the Art Institute is teaming up with the folks at Goose Island for a reason-for-the-season fete celebrating the release of FairytAle, Goose Island's one-night only pumpkin ale.

    For $70, you'll be treated to a reception featuring FairytAle paired with hors d'oeuvres such as pumpkin soup with toasted almonds, Spaghetti squash flatbread with California burrata, Aleppo pepper, brown butter, kalamatas and basil and Smoked Rushing Waters trout with apple, pickled Michigan ramps and parsley. Stay for the four-course dinner matching some of Mantuano and Chef di Cucina Meg Colleran Sahs' finest creations with Goose Island's best:

    * First course: Seared Taylor bay scallops, Matilda broth, tarragon, hazelnuts paired with Matilda
    * Second course: Braised Pinn Oak Farms lamb shoulder, Anson Mills polenta, salsify and sorrel, lamb sauce paired with Pere Jacques
    * Third course: Zingerman's Lincoln Log goat's milk cheese, Heritage Prairie Farm honey paired with Sofie
    * Fourth course: Beer-imisu paired with Bourbon County Coffee Stout.

    Art indeed. Stuff and then frame yourself.

    Where: Terzo Piano, 159 East Monroe, Chicago , IL . Third-floor of the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.

    When: Thursday, November 11, 2010, reception and hors d'oeuvres begin at 6:30 p.m. and seated dinner begins at 7:15 p.m.

    Cost: $70 per person plus tax and gratuity

    Reservation: Guests may call 312.443.8650 for reservations.

    Ben Schulman

    Event Thu Nov 04 2010

    Lion's Pride Debuts at Delilah's

    Local distillery Koval will be launching their newest whiskey, Lion's Pride, this Saturday at where else but Delilah's. This new spirit is named after the distiller's son, Lion, and is the first legal whiskey distilled in Chicago since Prohibition. The whiskey is aged in new American Oak barrels.

    Four varieties of Lion's Pride will be released: Oat, Rye, Dark Oat, and Dark Rye. The tasting is from 7-9pm, and the first two bottles of whiskey will be auctioned off to benefit local charities.

    --Delilah's, 2771 N. Lincoln Ave. - Saturday, Nov. 6

    Jen Bacher / Comments (1)

    Deals Wed Nov 03 2010

    Do Deals Make the Drinks Taste Sweeter?

    The newest iteration of the daily-deal phenomenon is My Drink On, a group-couponing site offering drink deals for Chicago bars.

    Tomorrow, November 4, MDO hosts its 8pm-1am launch party at Rebel Bar & Grill (3462 N. Clark St.). Rebel is also the location of its very first featured deal: $40 worth of drinks for $20. For celebration's sake, buying the deal is not required for the complimentary cocktail reception (8-10pm).

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Wed Oct 27 2010

    Beer + Truffles = Sold!

    On December 5 The Publican will play host to their first beer and truffle dinner. Paul Kahan teamed up with North Coast Beer Director Michael McAvena, Master Brewer Mark Ruedrich and Owner Doug Moody to create a perfect menu for the evening. The menu will feature beers to compliment American and European black and white truffles (um, yum). A tentative menu has been posted here and I can only hope that the "Brother Thelonious," a dry aged duck breast and sausage, dried apricot and black truffles, will be make it to the final menu. Tickets are $125 and call 312.733.9555 to make reservations.

    Renee Barone / Comments (2)

    Event Tue Oct 26 2010

    World Vegan Week

    This week is the 5th annual World Vegan Week, a campaign started by In Defense of Animals. For the next several days you can eat like Lea Michele and Alicia Silverstone, even if you aren't equipped to cook that way. Local restaurants Drew's Eatery, New York Deli, Clark St Dog and Ian's Pizza have teamed with Mercy for Animals, and are offering special vegan menu items for the week.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Mon Oct 25 2010

    Spooky Treats this Weekend

    I love Halloween. So much that I decorate my house with pumpkins and orange lights, wear socks emblazoned with witches and skulls (it's not because I'm punk rock!), and have already started in on the Brach's Harvest Mix and fun-size candy bars. If you're not like me but still want to celebrate the 'ween, the Logan Square Kitchen will be holding a Halloween Pastry Market this Saturday and Sunday (10am-3pm at 2333 N. Milwaukee) to sell goods made by local talent such as Fritz Pastry, TinyCakes, Nice Cream, and Sweet Miss Givings. Vegan and gluten-free wares, too! Admission $1; kids free. RSVP requested for planning purposes only.

    Robyn Nisi

    Contest Sun Oct 24 2010

    Nothing Scary About This One

    Why wait until October 31st to bust out this year's costume?

    Head on over to Tumans, 2159 W. Chicago Ave., on October 30th and get your Hallow-eve on.

    Don your best costume for the chance to win a $100 cash first place prize, or one of two gift certificates - $50 for second place and $25 for third.

    Not too confident in your disguise? Drink specials include $3.50 select microbrew drafts, $8 PBR pitchers and $3 Jameson and Jagermeister. Everyone's a winner!

    Leah Sallen

    Event Fri Oct 22 2010

    "86 Hunger" Dinners Coming Up

    Colder weather, darker mornings, the return of squash... It's fall, people, which is just a hop, skip and a snow drift away from being holiday season. If you're looking to combine a night out with your annual philanthropy, consider the six upcoming "86 Hunger" dinners coming to the calendar this fall and winter. The Greater Chicago Food Depository's annual dinner series turns over proceeds from each dinner to their network of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters -- all of which have seen an increase in use of 64% over the past three years. Here's the dining schedule:

    West Town Tavern, Susan Goss - October 24, 2010
    Spiaggia, Tony Mantuano - November 16, 2010
    NAHA, Carrie Nahabedian - January 11, 2011
    Custom House, Perry Hendrix - January 27, 2011
    Boka, Giuseppe Tentori - February 1, 2011
    Heaven on Seven, Jimmy Bannos - February 23, 2011

    I mean, if you're going to shell out $150 (the going rate for an individual ticket to any of the dinners) at Spiaggia anyway, may as well make it for a good cause, right? Boka will probably put extra gold leaf on your food for being such a good citizen! (No guarantees...) Information on each dinner, including location, time and menu, as well as tickets are available online. (The menu for Sunday's West Town Tavern dinner is up now! Drool!) For more information about the Greater Chicago Food Depository, call 773-247-FOOD.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Thu Oct 21 2010

    State of the Plate

    Daily, subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics and hormones. Mutilation. Overcrowded, filthy living conditions. Poorly handled waste. Potentially lethal food. No, it's not a prison or work camp. It's the modern meat industry.

    On November 17, the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-Op hosts State of the Plate 2010, a one-day seminar on sustainable meat production in the Midwest that aims to encompass the entire production chain, from producers to distributors to consumers. Featured guests will include Paul Willis of Niman Ranch; Robert Kenner, the director of Food, Inc.; and Fedele Bauccio, the CEO of Bon Appetit Management Company.

    The daylong seminar will include keynote speeches by Kenner and Bauccio, roundtable discussions, Q&As, a screening of Food Inc., and -- most enticingly -- a tasting of local and sustainable meats. Several producers will be in attendance to sample their wares, including Dietzler Farms, American Grassfed, Creekstone, Black Earth Meats and Organic Prairie. Tickets are $50, and include breakfast, a boxed lunch, and the afternoon tasting, as well as access to all events, discussions, panels and screenings.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Thu Oct 14 2010

    Think You Look Like the St. Pauli Girl?

    And by that I mean this:

    Thumbnail image for KatarinaVonDerham.jpg

    Note to self: put down the brownie and pick up a padded bra.

    Anyway, if you think you've got the body and the brains (current St. Pauli Girl Katarina Van Derham speaks five languages and has formal beer training) then head to Tilted Kilt, 17 N. Wabash, at 7pm tomorrow and enter the St. Pauli Girl costume contest. Not only will the winner receive a $250 prize, she'll also have a lot of pride to go home with (seriously, did you see Van Derham?).

    The St. Pauli Girl will also be making additional appearances throughout the night at 8pm at Boss Bar, 420 N. Clark St. and at 9pm at Finley Dunne's, 3458 N. Lincoln.

    And hey, if you don't just happen to have a cute beer maid outfit lying around you can still head over to any one of the locations for a signed Van Derham poster - you know, so you can stare at it everyday and wonder why you never got that beer education (or those damn long legs).

    Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Oct 13 2010

    Bring Your Fooditude

    We are giving away two tickets for next Thursday night's Taste of Fooditude event at Architectural Artifacts (4325 N Ravenswood). If you want to get your tween more interested in nutrition and cooking (or you are a tween interested in nutrition and cooking, in which case why aren't you reading The Hunger Games right now?), this is the event for you. Food, entertainment, cooking demos, and a silent auction are on the menu.

    Email by Saturday, October 16 at 12:00pm CT to enter. Good luck!

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sat Oct 02 2010

    Hunt for Hen of the Woods with Pierogi Goddess

    Iliana Regan, aka the Pierogi Goddess, is adding a new line to her ever-evolving food business, One Sister Inc.: mushroom expeditions.

    On Oct. 16, Regan will take a bus full of guests to her secret mushroom treasure troves to forage for hen of the woods, a type of mushroom available in the fall. Guests will have breakfast at Regan's home in Andersonville, then board the bus to travel to her first hidden location. After a morning of foraging, she'll serve lunch in a garden to fortify everyone for the afternoon hunt, which promises to be fruitful: Last year, she found a 15-pound hen of the woods mushroom in the same spot.

    Check out the menu for the day at One Sister's web site. The entire day's adventure costs $100, and the time to register is now. To do so, e-mail Regan at

    Mandy Burrell Booth

    Drink Thu Sep 30 2010

    October 1 is International Sake Day

    This Friday, October 1, is International Sake Day, and here's a list of some sake hot spots around the city to help you celebrate the Japanese rice beverage (also known as "the drink of the gods"):

    It might be hard to get into Chizakaya, since it just opened a few weeks ago and it's getting a lot of buzz, but, considering izakaya means "sake house," you're going to get a pretty large selection of the stuff.

    If you want sake without the sushi, try Mana Food Bar (1742 W. Division St.). This small-plates vegetarian joint offers a selection of sake cocktails, including the refreshing-sounding coconut water and fresh lime, and the cucumber sakerita.

    Staying on Division, the newly opened Makisu (1725 W. Division St.) has a huge selection of sake on its menu, with more than 20 different kinds and some unfiltered, sweeter sakes like Summer Snow -- which you can also find at Sunda (110 W. Illinois St.) in River North.

    For a total experience of Japan (or at least how I imagine it), go to Murasaki Lounge (211 E. Ontario), which has an extensive sake menu -- and there's a karaoke room in the back.

    Or you could always get a big bottle of sake from Binny's, a six-pack of Sapporo, and a few pairs of chopsticks and sake bomb deep into the night.

    Ruthie Kott

    Drink Wed Sep 29 2010

    Feeling Crafty

    beerKO.jpgWhen I moved to Chicago three years ago I was introduced to the world of craft beer. Living in Minneapolis I didn't have the interest, or funds, to drink good beer and I didn't realize what I had been missing until I moved to Chicago.

    Last weekend I went to the Chicago Food Film Festival and watched a great documentary called "Beer Wars." The movie opened my eyes to the struggles that craft breweries experience. In 2005 the big three breweries (Anheuser Busch, Miller and Coors) controlled 85 percent of the market share, leaving the nearly 1,400 craft breweries to compete for the remaining 15 percent.

    I always love to see the little guys succeed and during the movie I found myself cheering for the craft breweries throughout the country. I left the festival thinking of all the great places to get craft beer in Chicago and immediately made a list of my favorites.

    In an effort to help the little guys come ahead and, hopefully someday, take over the big guys, I'm going to share my favorite places to go for delicious craft beer.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Kaitlin Olson

    Event Tue Sep 28 2010

    Michelin Teams Up with Thomas Keller To Build Buzz for Chicago Guide

    thomaskeller.jpgRenowned chef, restaurateur and author Thomas Keller was in town last week to help demystify the Michelin guide, the respected directory to restaurants around the world, which will publish its first Chicago edition this November. Michelin announced in July that it would be coming to Chicago at a chic reception presided over by Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret and at which Mayor Daley spoke. Naret returned to Chicago on Friday for a private, informal Q & A at Kendall College with Chef Keller and Kendall School of Culinary Arts Dean Christopher Koetke to address the workings of the guide.

    The three men spoke for an hour in front of an audience of about 75 people, mainly culinary students. Keller stole the show, with attendees most interested in hearing from the only American chef with two three-star restaurants, Per Se in New York City and The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California.

    Long before he had any restaurants, Keller explained that he most wanted to emulate restaurants with three Michelin stars. These restaurants, he said, "have set the bar my entire life." The Michelin director calls each chef awarded stars to deliver the news the day before a guide launches, and Keller shared with candor and humor the stories of his first and second three-star calls.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Sharon Bautista

    Event Tue Sep 28 2010

    How Do You Like Them Apples?

    The Good Food Project -- a nonprofit that teaches children to thoughtfully taste and speak critically about food -- will set up shop at the Chicago French Market on Saturday, October 2. Kids who participate in the GFP's signature apple tasting event will be among the first in the Chicagoland area to try the SweeTango, a new apple cultivar in its second year of release (and the subject of some serious controversy). The tasting workshop runs from 11 a.m. to 11:45, and from 11:45 to 1 p.m., kids will learn how to make an apple slinky to take home.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Chicago Gourmet Mon Sep 27 2010

    Chicago Gourmet, Day 2 and Final Thoughts

    Leaving the beastAnother food festival is behind us, and after the double-whammy of food coma and hangover has cleared (and nooooo, it didn't take a full 24 hours, some of us just have day jobs, jeeeez), it's time to look back on some of the highlights (and disappointments) of this year's Chicago Gourmet. The prevailing complaint, echoed in both the fog of overheard conversation as well as in the specific comments of my new coffee-line friends Aaron and Mary Beth: not enough food! As with years past, the booze outweighed the bites, which can get dangerous when we're talking consumption by actual weight. As new friend Mary Beth noted, "A lot of old ladies in the bathroom seemed like they were really having a hard time with that much alcohol." Yikes, not good for the old ladies (a not-insignificant demographic for C.G.), and not particularly more good for the folks who shelled out upwards of $90 for an extended meal. More thoughts on the ups, downs, and possible old-lady pleasing next steps for Chicago Gourmet...

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andie Cavedo / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Sep 27 2010

    Beer Lovers, Your Cup Runneth Over

    October is overflowing with beer-centric events. The Portage hosts a Louis Glunz beer dinner the same day The Fizz features small-batch autumnal beers from Wisconsin and the United Kingdom at its fall beer tasting. Stone Brewing takes over the taps at all three of the city's Smallbars; Hopleaf celebrates Sierra Nevada's 30th anniversary; and Hearty hosts a Two Brothers Brewmaster dinner. Whole Foods Market locations in Lakeview, Lincoln Park and Evanston are offering classes, festivals and tastings throughout the month, and Binny's is holding an autumn beer open house. AlphaBeer features a brew for every letter of the alphabet. And plan ahead for the Chicago Beer Society's Spooky Brew Review Homebrew Competition.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Chef Mon Sep 27 2010

    Dinner at C-House with Top Chef Masters' Marcus Sammuelson and Tony Mantuano

    Tonight C-House will host a private dinner party benefiting Friends of the Fisherman, a Louisiana Fisherman organization. C-House's Marcus Sammuelson and Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano will be cooking up their favorite home cooked dishes from their latest cookbooks and dinner will be served with select craft beers from Goose Island. Both chef's will be available to sign their cookbooks after the event.

    Tickets are $125 and seating is limited. While it's a lot of money, I am sure the food will be amazing. I've personally met both chefs at different events and they are as kind and gracious as can be! To make a reservation for tonight call 312-523-0923.

    Renee Barone

    Chicago Gourmet Sat Sep 25 2010

    Chicago Gourmet, Day 1 Quick Bites

    Chicago Gourmet 2010Proving the old adage that the third time is, indeed, the charm, Chicago Gourmet seems to have finally hit its stride. The balance between food and drink, while still topped towards the latter, feels a bit more equitable this year -- possibly based on the organizing decision to group most of the liquid suppliers in the middle of the festival, and leaving the solid foods on the edges. And for the first time, I left the Pritzker Pavilion well before the end of the day feeling, well, full. This year's Chicago Gourmet feels not unlike a food-themed amusement park: excitement is high, even though lines are long. Twenty minutes of standing around may result in a bite that's consumed in 30 seconds or less. But at least you get to revel in some Goose Island and pork belly at the bottom. Plenty of plush seating has been added this year in various formations so you can ease off your slowly-expanding ankles as your salt intake increases throughout the day. Seriously, it's a nice addition.

    To serve and protectMore thoughts on the highlights on this year's fest as it draws to a close tomorrow. In the meantime, some tips for any attendees venturing out tomorrow:

    • Arrive on time, if not early. Lines stretched all the way down to Michigan Avenue just to enter the event this morning, and formed rapidly in front of the tasting and sipping stations inside. They only got longer as the day went on.
    • It may seem tempting to follow the smell of burning charcoal and dive headlong into the Allen Brothers tasting pavilion that's closest to the entrance. Don't do it -- grab a pour of wine (or an entire bottle of Stella, Leffe or Hoegaarden, with complimentary branded glassware!) first, and sip while you wait to make your way down to the chefs. This is actually a good practice to observe before getting into just about any food line.
    • If you're going in a group, make it work for you. Split up to gather multiple plates for your entire party and halve the time it takes to try two separate dishes. The hunter-nester division also works well, where one member of your group sets up camp at a table or cushy bench and the other reels in the goods. (This seems to be particularly popular with the stroller-pushing set.)
    • If the weather's anything like today, bring along some fingerless gloves. Just in case. You won't feel cold, based on the amount of alcohol available to you. But losing a plate due to stiff fingers would be a darn shame.
    • If you're getting a little wobbly after hitting up the center aisle of the festival, head to the Labriola Bakery station. They've got bread. Lots and lots of bread. Served with meatballs, pasta, or a caprese-style tomato and mozz slice. Or served with...more bread. It's great bread, and a wise idea.

    If you've learned valuable lessons from Day 1, please post them in the comments. (And remember, we want to see your photos in the GB Flickr pool.) See you back there tomorrow!

    Andie Cavedo

    Dessert Sat Sep 25 2010

    Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

    Or sweet teeth. You'd better have more than one if you're going to survive the Andersonville Dessert Crawl, a 24-stop tour of the neighborhood's restaurants, cafes, bakeries and shops on Sunday, October 3. Choose from the Sugar Route, the Spice Route, or hit up both with the Everything Nice Route.

    Pick up your passport at the Swedish American Museum at 2 p.m., then take the next three hours to stuff your face with sweets from Terry's Toffee, In Fine Spirits, Big Jones, Ceres' Table, The Coffee Studio, and more. Advance tickets are $25 for one route, or $40 for both routes; for more info, call (773) 728-7552 or click here for tickets and a full listing of participating venues.

    Sunny McDaniel / Comments (1)

    Chicago Gourmet Thu Sep 23 2010

    Chicago Gourmet Preview

    Chicago's other taste festival returns this weekend to the green pasture of the Prtizker Pavilion, where Chicago Gourmet will be setting up camp for its third annual appearance. Tickets are sold out at this point for everything but the Hamburger Hop event taking place tomorrow night ($75 for beer, wine and many many burgers), although I did notice that the Illinois Restaurant Association's event page allows you the option of transferring tickets -- should, say, your friend with a two-day Grand Cru pass suddenly meet with an unfortunate, unseasonal icy patch on their way down their apartment stairs... Those Dine Around receipts will also get you in, if you had the forethought, appetite and budget to participate.

    The set-up of the event seems to be in keeping with the past two years--attendees will be able to explore culinary groupings (organized this year by category, Mediterranean, Gastropub, French, Asian, Dessert, etc., instead of a randomized association understood only by the event organizers) featuring bites from chefs all over town, watch cooking demonstrations in the stage area that's usually restricted only to the performers and roadies, allow Alpana Singh and lots of other local celebs to discuss everything from wine pairings to sustainable seafood without the pesky distancing effect of your TV screen or an annoyed dining room of hungry people willing you to get out of the damn kitchen, my hollendaise is growing a skin back there. And of course drink lots and lots of booze in tiny cups. Seriously. Lots.

    Attracting a major sponsor in Bon Appetit magazine seems to be helping the festival firm its offerings up across the board, providing a financial as well as physical center for the event (the publication has its own pavilion tent, where the wares of the other sponsors can be sampled, and executive chef Cat Cora will presumably be hanging out between cooking demonstrations). Other major sponsors, Allen Brothers Steaks and the awesomely named Supreme Lobster & Seafood Company will also host dedicated tasting areas where the goods will be, unsurprisingly, steak- and seafood-oriented. And for the first time ever, attendees will be able to purchase food to take home. Not that this will curb the line of guests chugging their last dregs of wine before the security guards will allow them to hobble out towards Michigan Avenue. But it's surely one of the most sensible business evolutions in the Chicago Gourmet model -- extending the experience, building those chef- or brand- (or...chef-brand) relationships, and probably encouraging people to come back for more next year. We'll see. (If it's all floral honeys and dipping sauces, I'll be way less excited to pull out my wallet.)

    Check back for insights and reflections over the next couple days. And if you've already got your ticket in hand and are trying to figure out which pair of eating pants offers the most style, be sure to post any of your photos to the GB Flickr pool.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Wed Sep 22 2010

    Would You Call This 4-D?

    The Chicago Food Film Festival starts Friday, September 24, where audience members not only get to watch movies about food, but they're also served what's being cooked or eaten onscreen.

    One of the films is a homegrown goodie: Sky Full of Bacon's Pie As a Lifestyle, shown as part of Friday night's "Savory & Sweet" program, is a six-minute film about Chicago's Hoosier Mama Pie Company.

    Sky Full of Bacon 13: Pie As a Lifestyle from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Wed Sep 22 2010

    I Scream for Free Ice Cream

    Squeeze another item onto your calendar, and put on the elastic-waist pants: yet another delicious and cheap food-related event on Saturday, Sept. 25: free Capannari's ice cream at the Chicago French Market. Ambassadors from the Cooking Channel's new ice cream truck will be giving away free scoops of the Mount Prospect company's ice cream, along with Cooking Channel apparel, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Flavors include 10-Year Aged Madagascar Vanilla, Chocolate Mint Mousse, Black Forest Licorice, and -- if you're lucky -- the Chocolate-Hazelnut Ganache that earned kudos from Bon Appetit.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Wed Sep 22 2010

    A Cause for a Celebration of Beer

    "I do enjoy a cold one now and then," says Erin Kearns, a chair of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Festiv-ale. The Greater Illinois chapter's fourth annual "celebration of beer" on Friday, September 24, will bring together beer lovers like Kearns and supporters of the foundation (a cross section that probably overlaps quite a bit). This year's Festiv-ale has 11 vendors showcasing their wares, including local breweries Piece, Walter Payton's Roundhouse, Flossmoor Station, Half Acre, and Brickstone.

    For $50, you can get into the main event at the Ravenswood Event Center (4011 N. Ravenswood Ave), which includes unlimited tastes from all 11 breweries and food from Pompei, Wow Bao, and Cabot Creamery. The VIP section, which you can get into for an additional $25, includes a separate tasting area, a gift bag with goodies like Two Brothers beer and Qdoba gift certificates, and private bathrooms--"always a plus at a beer tasting!" says Kearns.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Wed Sep 22 2010

    Say What, Seitan?

    Mark your calendars for Chicago VeganMania: a festival of "vegan culture, commerce, community, couture and cuisine."

    Authors of awesomely named books -- including The Sexual Politics of Meat and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World -- will be in attendance, as will the founder of Mercy for Animals, an acclaimed local raw foods chef, and a doctor who testified as an expert witness on Oprah's behalf at her "meat defamation" trial. Live music will include worldbeat free jazz, countrified punk rock, and modern bluegrass folk, and merch/info booths will feature everything from crafters to outreach groups to spiritual associations to vegan buying clubs.

    Oh, and there'll be food. Lots of food, from vendors like Soul Veg, Upton's Naturals, Raw Creations, and the city's vegan and vegetarian mainstay, Chicago Diner. The mania takes over the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse on October 9.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Wed Sep 22 2010

    No Habla Español? No Problema!

    Many know that Logan Square has, in the recent past, been a heavily Hispanic neighborhood. Tacos, burritos, and enchiladas can be found on every other block. But what about arepas? Pupusas? Jibaritos? Looking to educate and expand cultural horizons, Multilingual Chicago is hosting the Logan Square Latino Culinary Tour this Saturday, September 25, at 11am. On the tour not only will you get to sample these items and more, you'll also get a brief Spanish lesson so you can properly pronounce and order them in their native language.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Jen Bacher

    Event Tue Sep 21 2010

    Check Out Growing Home

    Growing Home, a nonprofit that provides job training for homeless and low-income Chicagoans in organic agriculture, will host an Employment Training Program Showcase on Saturday, September 25.

    The showcase will be at the Wood Street Urban Farm, located at 5814 S. Wood, and will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission includes refreshments made from the farm's seasonal organic produce; access to the farm stand; tours of the farm; and workshops on brewing compost tea, keeping produce fresh, growing garlic, building an urban root cellar, and growing an indoor salad garden.

    Suggested donation is $5, or a big wad of the used plastic grocery bags you've got stuffed under your sink; Growing Home can re-use them at the farm stand.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Mon Sep 20 2010

    Bottles and Brushes: Exactly What it Sounds Like

    Bottles and Brushes.pngI'm not an artist, nor would I ever claim to be. Sober. I would never claim to be an artist, sober. Get a few glasses of wine in me and I may think I'm the next Mondrian. I am assuming this is the basic idea behind Bottles and Brushes, a company that invites you to lose the structure and just paint! With events set up around the city, Bottles and Brushes wants you to gather a group of friends and come paint. Offering different themes for different events, there is something for everyone to enjoy. They even offer private and corporate parties for a fairly reasonable cost (as little as $35 a person). Check out their list of upcoming events here.

    Renee Barone

    Event Thu Sep 16 2010

    Happy Birthday Palmer House!

    The gilded palace on State and Monroe was feted yesterday afternoon in honor of its 140th birthday. A lunchtime celebration blocked off Monroe from State to Wabash, resplendent with a marching band, an enthusiastic crowd and a slew of dignitaries on hand to celebrate. Emcee Bill Kurtis did the honors of overseeing the event, introducing speakers such as Mayor Daley, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, Thor Equities CEO Joseph Sitt, and Palmer House General Manager Dean Lane.

    Mayor Daley speaks at the Palmer House 140th Birthday Celebration

    Although it was the Palmer House's day, Mayor Daley was the focus of most of the attention, drawing immense praise from Sitt for "welcoming this Brooklyn boy into Chicago," and even drawing plaudits from his oft-time City Council nemesis Ald. Reilly. When General Manager Dean Lane unveiled the plaque marking the Palmer House an official City landmark, Monroe St became awash in celebration and confetti.

    palmer celebrate.jpg
    Mayor Daley, Palmer House General Manager Dean Lane, Ald. Brendan Reilly, Ald. Emma Mitts landmark the Palmer House

    Most fun of all though, everyone was invited into the lobby of the grand dame for some champagne and delicious three-layer vanilla and chocolate cake... in the shape of the Palmer House itself!

    new cake.jpg

    Ben Schulman

    Drink Thu Sep 16 2010

    The Happy Margarita Summer Project: Mexico Bicentennial Edition

    Today marks the 200th anniversary of the day Miguel Hidalgo, priest, academic and revolutionary, called on his Mexican compatriots to rise up against their Spanish colonizers. It's a historic day, to be sure, one deserving of serious reflection and oration -- as well as celebration.

    And that's our specialty at The Happy Margarita Summer Project.

    Whether you mix your margaritas using your own recipe or simply order them at your favorite neighborhood restaurant, mark the occasion today by leaving a comment describing your most life-changing margarita experience.

    For those of you who have yet to know the true pleasures of the margarita, make today the day you vow to cast off your sour mix and unfetter yourselves from the inhumanity that is frozen-margaritas-in-a-bucket! Join us in our ongoing quest for the best margarita in Chicago!

    And, though we can't be together, know that today we raise a well-balanced margarita in salute to Mexico's Bicentennial!

    Mandy Burrell Booth

    Event Thu Sep 16 2010

    WingIT at Rockit

    Traditional buffalo wings are a lot of things; they're spicy, they're greasy, they're sloppy, and more often than not they're cheap, so nobody really minds that they're spicy, greasy, and sloppy, especially since they're being soaked in blue cheese dressing. Despite (or perhaps because of) being a no-frills food, people love wings, so one might wonder what would happen if wings were actually prepared with a little more sophistication.

    Enter Rockit Bar & Grill's Second Annual WingIT, a week-long celebration of wings where a different specialty gourmet wing is prepared each night. Rockit's WingIT menu includes sauce and dipping side variations inspired by Executive Chef James Gottwald's favorite taste profiles and pairings, as well as his signature Jumbo Chicken Wings.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Dyan Flores

    Event Wed Sep 15 2010

    Famous Food

    arigold.jpgI love punny sandwich names as much as the next person, but the Happy Bodega food truck has taken it to a...level. Some kind of level. Celebrating Entourage's arrival in syndication (bye-bye, sex scenes), Happy Bodega is giving away free food this Friday, September 17 -- with sandwich names like the "Hug It Out Ham Baguette" (ham and gruyere) and the "The Veg-'E' Baguette"(brie, tomato, and basil) -- oh, it's "E" because there's a character called "E"!

    The truck will be parked in the Loop (Jackson and Wells) from 11am-3pm, and in Wicker Park (Damen and Milwaukee) from 6-10pm. It's probably as close to Jeremy Piven as you're ever gonna get. CORRECTION: The Happy Bodega truck will be in Wicker Park (Damen and Milwaukee) from 6-10pm this Friday, Sept. 17, and in the Loop at Jackson and Wells for lunch from 11am-3pm on Oct. 1.

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Wed Sep 15 2010

    Free Dessert Day from Top Chef is Here!

    As we reported last week, today, restaurants are giving away free desserts from 1-3pm or for every two diners at your table, in honor of the latest addition to the Top Chef family, Just Desserts. You can find the participating restaurants by checking out Open Table, or go to their Facebook page and click around on the interactive map. Either way - find a free dessert and check out Top Chef Just Desserts after the season finale of Top Chef tonight. Oh, and you should probably root for Malika Ameen as she is representing Chicago!

    Renee Barone

    Event Tue Sep 14 2010

    Tickets Available for Tonight's Baconfest Dinner @ Chalkboard

    Some last-minute cancellations means there are a few seats open for the second night of Baconfest Chicago's satellite dinner at Chalkboard, tonight at 6:30pm. The four-course dinner costs $45 per person plus tax and tip, and features bacon in every course -- plus drinks by Templeton Rye and Bisol Jeio. RSVP to if you're interested.

    Andrew Huff

    Contest Fri Sep 10 2010

    Everyone Wins with Sopressata

    Within the last month or so, there have been numerous posters appearing in the windows of various establishments along Taylor St. and its environs, exclaiming that "Frank Balestri's 4th Annual Sopressata Contest" is coming up towards the end of September. A little internet research revealed the full scoop on Balestri's annual event, and maybe even more importantly, came courtesy of a website that should be a requisite bookmark for anyone who ever needs to access the internet at any point in time...ever. That site would be, where the home page states "we support the nationwide homemade sopressata making community." This, folks, is why the internet is a great good thing.

    As it turns out, Chicago cop Balestri is a bit of a sopressata kingmaker, and every fall, he holds a sopressata contest in which people from all over Chicagoland and beyond come to partake in the festivities. It all happens on a Sunday afternoon in the western suburb of Countryside at the Park Place of Countryside Banquet Hall. Beginning at 3pm, entry is just $10 (of which a portion is donated to the Italian American War Veterans Post) and includes dinner, a cash bar, and of course, being present for the awarding of best homemade sopressata. Will Sharon Gilberto maintain the throne? Find out!

    Park Place of Countryside Banquet Hall is located at 6240 Joliet Road, Countryside, IL 60525. Call (708) 588-1756 for further details.

    Ben Schulman / Comments (2)

    Event Thu Sep 09 2010

    Get Your Just Desserts

    OpenTable and the new "Top Chef" spin-off series "Just Desserts" are promo-partnering to give you a free dessert on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Check out OpenTable for the list of 100 eligible Chicagoland restaurants and the fine print (it's actually a dessert to split, and you have to order an entree... but still! Mostly free dessert!) and to set up a reservation. Ironically, or not, Stephanie Izard's restaurant is not on the list. But plenty of others are. Celebrate the "Top Chef" Emmy win, and make Gail Simmons proud!

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Wed Sep 08 2010

    Kegs for Kids

    Well, sort of. The Hopleaf and Metropolis Coffee Company have teamed up to hold a Kegs for Kids fundraiser for Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies. The event, held at the Metropolis Roasting Garage in Andersonville on Saturday, September 25, will feature live music and 30-plus beers -- many of which are one-off brews, concocted just for this event -- from breweries like Dogfish Head, Dark Horse, 3 Floyds, Founders and Half Acre.

    Tickets, which are $40 in advance or $50 at the door, include beer, food, and coffee (natch) -- all unlimited. Come hungry. And thirsty. And bring your wallet: the silent auction will feature limited-edition large format beers, gift certificates, a ski trip, and more.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Wed Sep 08 2010

    Fork Over $18K for Some Boston Cream Pie?

    West Town auction house Wright puts 309 lots up for bidding next Tuesday, September 14 at its Post War + Contemporary Art sale, including a number of food-inspired works that may be of interest to folks with some extra cash.

    One of the sale's big ticket items is a linoleum cut print by Wayne Thiebaud, an artist who has made a distinguished career of painting pastries. Nevermind that this Boston cream pie (that is actually cake) lacks the traditional chocolate frosting; Thiebaud's Boston Cremes (1970) has an estimate of $18,000-$25,000.


    Continue reading this entry »

    Sharon Bautista

    Event Tue Sep 07 2010

    Another Culinary Contest to Throw on the Pile

    Chefs from Frank's Diner (of Kenosha, WI) and Ron's Cajun Connection in Utica are among the finalists for Nightline's People's Platelist competition. The winner gets national airtime to flaunt their talents. Voting ends September 26.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Sep 06 2010

    Chicago Chef Battle 2010

    Cheer on some of your favorite hometown chefs as they go head to head in the Chicago Chef Battle 2010, presented by WBEZ-FM.

    Taking place at the Goose Island Brewery loading dock, 1800 W. Fulton Street, competitors include Chef Sean Sanders (Browntrout), Chef Cody V. Butler (Boiler Room), Chef David Carrier (Kith & Kin), Chef Barry Sorkin (Smoque BBQ), and Chef Ryan Hutmacher (Centered Food Chef Studios).

    The chefs will each be challenged to pair a dish with a selected Goose Island Beer, and they must also use that beer in their recipe.

    The Sep. 23 competition kicks off the station's Off-Air series featuring monthly cultural events throughout the city. Upcoming events can be found on the station's website.

    To purchase tickets to enjoy food, beer, and judging privileges, go here.

    Leah Sallen

    Event Sun Sep 05 2010

    You're Gonna Make it After All

    If you're interested in seeing your favorite locally made product--or selling your own wares--on the shelves of Whole Foods, they want your business. Come to the South Loop store (1101 S Canal) on Thursday, September 23 for Project: Local, a meet-and-greet with WF brass who will give you guidance on how to bring your stuff to their shelves. Event runs 5-8pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Chicago Gourmet Mon Aug 30 2010

    Sometimes It's Good To Get Around.

    Case in point? Chicago Gourmet 2010 taking place Sept. 24-26 in Millennium Park.

    While you could shell out 150 bucks on a one day pass you may want to consider making better use of your hard earned cash by dining out at specified restaurants between Aug. 30 and Sept. 26 to earn a free ticket to the event. All you need to do is order from the prix-fixe menu at any five participating Dine Around restaurants, save the receipts, and present them in a special receipt holder (available at any one of the restaurants) at registration.

    With eateries like Quartino, Sixteen and Branch 27 participating, you'd be a prude to say no.

    Leah Sallen

    Event Wed Aug 25 2010

    Grapes vs. Grains

    boxingring1.jpgSo, we missed the first, August 16 installment of Whole Foods Market's Beer vs. Wine Trilogy, in which sommeliers and cicerones (who knew that was the word for a beer expert? Not me!) bring out the big guns to see which of their chosen beverages tastes the best with food. Part 2, on Sunday, August 29, takes place at the Center on Halsted, above the Halsted & Waveland Whole Foods. Taking advantage of the city's new street-food trend, it pairs beer and wine with grub from local street vendors.

    The third and final, "most epic," according to the release, event happens on Sunday, September 12, at the Whole Foods in Lincoln Park. The two drinks will battle it out over dishes from some of Chicago's top restaurants including Hot Chocolate, DMK Burger Bar, and Kuma's Corner.

    Ultimately, there's no overall winner -- it will depend on what tastes best to you. But still, it would be nice to settle once and for all whether burgers go best with wine or beer. My tastebuds are still unclear.

    Ruthie Kott

    Bar Tue Aug 24 2010

    Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar Grand Opening

    Originally Kaplan's Liquors, Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar (960 W 31st) re-opens in Bridgeport this Friday (27 August).

    Previously run by Maria Marszewski since 1986, and now run by her sons Ed and Mike, Maria's has undergone a bit of a face lift while still keeping that package store charm.

    With some new furnishings (including beer bottle chandeliers and butcher's block tables), a bit of rearrangement, and a dash of local art, Maria's is looking to be less of an "old man dive bar" and more of a community bar.

    The bar will have ten beers on tap, and about 100 other micro and specialty brews available as well.

    Swing by on Friday (27 August) between 7pm and 2am for the grand opening!

    Cliff Etters

    Event Tue Aug 24 2010

    We're Bringing the Bacon for You to Take Down

    Gapers Block's Andrew Huff and Cinnamon Cooper will be turning 15 pounds of Hormel's Black Label bacon into 15 pints of tasty Bacon Jam for the attendees of The Bacon Takedown to sample and vote on. Come join us on Sept. 11 at 1:30pm at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. And while the recipe doesn't appear in Cinnamon's cookbook Everything Cast-Iron Cookbook, we can promise we'll be making this bacon in several cast-iron pans.

    Cinnamon Cooper / Comments (1)

    Openings Mon Aug 23 2010

    Ball Gowns, Tuxedos and Free Burgers Brought to You by the Number Nine.

    1. Tom and Eddie's is a new gourmet cheeseburger joint opening in Lombard with locations set to follow in Deerfield and Geneva.

    2. A concept from Tom Dentice and Ed Rensi, former bigwigs for McDonald's, the restaurant offers up All Natural Angus beef burgers among other menu items like chicken sandwiches, soups and salads.

    3. Doors open to the public on Friday, Aug. 27, at 10am at The Shops on Butterfield at Yorktown Center, 203 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, Ill.

    4. Beginning at 10am, on opening day only, a name will be drawn every nine minutes to win a free burger meal weekly for one year.

    5. At 9pm one winner will be chosen to win a free burger meal weekly for life.

    6. In addition, for the first nine days of operation any guest who is "dressed to the nines" in formal wear (a tuxedo or evening gown) will receive a free meal (entree, side and drink). Business wear is not eligible.

    7. We're not done yet. The restaurant's nine signature burgers will be featured, one a day, for the first nine days the restaurant is open. Trying to watch your waistline? Three of the nine are signature Lean and Green burgers: Islander (Ahi tuna), Yin & Yang (edamame), and Town & Country (turkey).

    8. Wonder how they taste? To make sure their menu is up to par, Tom and Eddie's served entrees to 1,200 taste testers over the course of eight weeks using the kitchens of the Culinary Arts Program at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

    9. Still picky? The "Me, Myself and I" burger allows customers to create their very own sandwich from a menu of 41 different items including cheeses, toppings, sauces and rolls.

    Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Aug 23 2010

    Food and Film Meet the Screen

    images3434343.jpgThe Chicago Food Film Festival, a weekend-long celebration of food on film (September 24-25 at the MCA Warehouse, 1747 W. Hubbard), kicks off with Eat Your Fill, a documentary about a man's mission to eat every deep fried or be-sticked item at the Wisconsin State Fair, to Celeriac, a short-form thriller (no joke). Documentaries about farmstands, soda making, oysters, and raising grass-fed beef are also on the schedule, along with food; each night of the festival features dishes paired with the night's cinematic offerings. Eats from DMK Burger Bar accompanies Saturday night's showing of an abbreviated version of Hamburger America. Tickets for both nights start at $25.

    Robyn Nisi

    Contest Sun Aug 22 2010

    Bacon Cupcakes and Bacon Tacos, Anyone?

    The last time you were presented with 15 pounds of bacon to transform into your own culinary masterpiece you were living on a private island in the middle of the Pacific, your bank account balance was an infinite number not yet in existence, and you had your own crew of miniature robots at your beck and call. And then your roommate rudely woke you up to tell you that you slept past your alarm and were late for work yet again.

    Now is your chance to live out at least some of your dreams when the Bacon Takedown makes it's way to Chicago this September.


    Continue reading this entry »

    Leah Sallen

    Event Sun Aug 22 2010

    BLT Bonanza: Buy a Sandwich, Build a Garden

    Chicago TomatoFest 2010 is in full swing, and starting tomorrow, BLTs will become philanthropic. The Old School BLT Bonanza is a sandwich-based fundraiser for PreSERVE, a collaboration between Slow Food Chicago, NeighborSpace, Chicago Honey Coop, and the North Lawndale Greening Committee that operates a community garden at 12th and Central Park. The once-vacant lot is now producing sweet potatoes, crowder peas and black-eyed peas; organizers are raising funds to purchase tools, build a storage shed, create informational signage, and erect low fences.

    Dine at restaurants like Uncommon Ground, City Provisions, Custom House Tavern, and Osteria Via Stato, and order a BLT made with locally produced heirloom tomatoes and heritage pork. For each sandwich ordered, participating restaurants will donate 50 cents to the PreSERVE garden project. The fundraiser runs through September 19.

    Sunny McDaniel

    Event Thu Aug 19 2010

    Gluttony at Gilt Bar

    Staking their claim in the former Pili Pili and Aigre Doux space, the folks over at Gilt Bar at 230 W. Kinzie are hoping for some staying power with their mix of dark decor, classic drinks, and simple, yet elegant menu.

    Join them Tuesday, August 24th when they team up with local beermasters Goose Island for a 4-course fixed price food-and-beer pairing, all for just $60.

    Reservations are available all evening and are being taken as we speak.

    Ben Schulman

    Bar Wed Aug 18 2010

    Get educated: Pizza & Beer School

    You've been looking longingly at shiny new pencils and today's version of the trapper keeper, but it's time to smarten up, grown up style. Ian's Pizza in Wrigleyville & Sheffield's Bar are hooking up to host their second annual Pizza and Beer School. Your class schedule is as follows:

    • Mac n' Cheese pizza with Lagunitas Czech Style Pils

    • Dimo Florentine pizza (feta, chopped tomato, & spinach) with Ommegang Hennepin Saison

    • Sheffield's BBQ pizza with Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale

    • S'more pizza with New Holland Dragon's Milk and Framboise half & half

    Get schooled Wednesday, August 25th at 7:00 pm ready with $30, an empty stomach and summer-lulled mind.

    Sheffield's Bar
    258 N. Sheffield Ave
    RSVP: or call 773.716.7200.

    Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Aug 16 2010

    Pub Crawls this Thursday

    Sap up the few remaining days before vacations end and the sun goes down after lunchtime (it's coming, folks) with the Chicago History Museum this Thursday (6:45-10pm) for a trolley tour of some of the city's pubs along the lake and river; admission $25-30. If you're looking for something more concrete (heh) the same night, join Sean Parnell of the Chicago Bar Project for a trolley tour of several west side pubs; you'll get a copy of his book along with a primer on local bar history.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Aug 11 2010

    Pig Roast, White Sox, and Reggie's

    South Loop punk rock bastion and bar food standard-bearer Reggie's Rock Club is throwing a Sunday shindig for all White Sox and pork lovers. This coming Sunday, August 15th, Reggie's will be throwing an all-you-can-eat pig roast for only $10. If you love the White Sox- no matter what happens the next two evenings against the Minnesota Twins- and would like to see them play the Detroit Tigers the same afternoon, Reggie's is offering a deal for just $20 where you can chow down on some pig AND get a ticket to the game. Hell, the Reggie's Party Bus will even provide transportation to-and-fro the ballpark. The Party Bus leaves Reggie's at 12:30pm. Pig Roast to follow completion of game. Call the good folks there for more details at (312) 949-0120.

    Ben Schulman

    Event Tue Aug 10 2010

    Green Grocer BBQ

    Organic, locavore neighborhood grocery store Green Grocer, 1402 W. Grand Ave., is hosting a BBQ to share their fare on Sunday, August 15th. Drop by between noon and 4pm and savor Mint Creek lamb and South Pork Ranch burgers and pork chops fresh off the grill, fresh fruit from Seedling Fruits and quench your thirst with Goose Island and Two Brothers.

    Suggested donation of $5 is requested to help GG and their farms cover costs. [via]

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Fri Aug 06 2010

    Pay Your Dinner Forward

    Karma Kitchen Chicago, the local manifestation of a "pay it forward" restaurant concept that began in Berkeley, California in 2007, holds its next meal this Sunday, Aug. 8, at Klay Oven Indian Restaurant, 414 N. Orleans St., from noon to 3pm.

    The menu is a traditional Indian "thali," a selection of vegetarian dishes each in its own bowl, arranged on a tray. The food is prepared by Karma Kitchen's volunteer staff, and is free, but only in a sense -- your meal is paid for by the diners before you. You're then expected to pay for the meal of the people who take your place. From the site:

    Run by volunteers, our meals are cooked and served with love, and offered to the guest as a genuine gift. To complete the full circle of giving and sustain this experiment, guests make contributions in the spirit of pay-it-forward to those who will come after them. In keeping this chain going, the generosity of both guests and volunteers helps to create a future that moves from transaction to trust, from self-oriented isolation to shared commitment, and from fear of scarcity to celebration of abundance.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Fri Aug 06 2010

    Industrial Harvest: a Study on Nourishment, Food Systems & the City of Chicago

    Back in 2008, Sarah Kavage began thinking about her relationship to food, the food's relationship to commodity trading and the commodity trading's relationship to Chicago. As Chicagoans, we're located smack in the middle of the US grain belt and if you stand at Lasalle and Jackson and look up, you'll see a statue of Ceres, the goddess of grain, announcing your arrival the grain world's epicenter. That brought a Seattle-based artist and urban planner Sarah Kavage and her project, "Industrial Harvest" to Chicago. Her goal is to take one unit of financially exchange traded wheat out of the system to 'de-commoditize' the commodity and use it for it's original purpose: feeding people.

    After a busy summer of trading wheat at the CME and learning how futures contracts are exchanged, tracking how the contracts are delivered from grain elevators and then ground into flour, she has had her hands in every bushel (and now bag) along the food chain. In June, Sarah bought 1,000 bushels of commodity wheat from an Indiana grain elevator and had it trucked to a family owned mill to be ground into flour. These days, she has been handing it out at farmers markets, baking breads with culinary school students and giving it away to organizations who focus on providing food to hungry Chicagoans.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Thu Aug 05 2010

    15th Annual Retro on Roscoe to Feature Chili Cook-Off

    Hungry for more than a cold brew and the standard festival band? Along with merchants, local restaurants and live entertainment this year's Retro on Roscoe street festival (2000 - 2300 W. Roscoe) will feature the annual Windy City Chili Cook-Off showcasing the entries of 25 cooks. On both Aug. 7 and 8 a $5 donation lets festival goers sample chili across three entry categories: chili, chili verde and salsa. See a detailed schedule of the cook-off here.

    Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Aug 05 2010

    Thinking and Drinking

    Join drinking enthusiast and author Sean Parnell Thursday, August 19 (6-10pm) for a crawl around historic pubs of the West Side. A former betting parlor, a bar mentioned in a Nelson Algren story, and the city's first beer bar are some of the stops. Trolley transportation is provided and you'll get a copy of Parnell's book Historic Bars of Chicago. Tickets $30 each, $50 for two.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Aug 03 2010

    The Three C's: Cruise, Cupcakes, and Champagne

    Flirty Cupcakes normally cruises the streets of Chicago delivering treats from a van called "Big Blue" and letting customers know where to find 'em by updating their Facebook and Twitter feeds. But on Tuesday, August 10 you won't need to check their Twitter feed to find them, head on over to Shoreline's Navy Pier (Ogden slip) dock and get ready for one sweet night!

    The Flirty Cupcakes Cruise is being held on Tuesday, August 10 at 7 pm and you're invited! For $30 dollars you'll sample Flirty Cupcakes minis, drink champagne (there's also a cash bar), and enjoy a gorgeous cruise on Lake Michigan.

    There are only 80 tickets available, so don't wait to snap up these tickets!

    And if you want something savory prior indulging on the Flirty Cruise, Harry Caray's Tavern on Navy Pier is offering ticket holders a 10% discount on dinner before the cruise!

    I had the "Curious George" last week and it was phe-nom-nom-nom-enal!

    Shanna Quinn

    News Tue Aug 03 2010

    Kings of Pastry Features Jacquy Pfeiffer

    Didn't you read something recently about the Chicago French Pastry School? Oh you did, and you were so so so intrigued, but not quite ready to fork over a pile of dough to go and learn how to make dough at the school? An intermediary experience is now available! Or rather will be, September 15, when the documentary Kings of Pastry opens September 15. The doc, from the production company that brought Stonewall Uprising out earlier this summer, follows Chicago French Pastry School co-founder Jacquy Pfeiffer as he returns to his homeland to vie for a title at the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France -- a never-before-filmed competition to determine the best craftsmen in French pastry. Did someone say "sugar sculpture"? (The LA Times gave the doc a nice review following its showing at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.)

    Andie Cavedo / Comments (2)

    Chef Tue Aug 03 2010

    Chef Challenge at Daley Plaza Farmers Market

    This week is National Farmers Market Week and in Chicago, we're celebrating by hunting for a Master of the Market.
    Three renowned Chicago chefs will compete in the Country Chef Challenge Thursday, August 5th at the Daley Plaza Farmers Market starting at 11 am. Chefs Tony Priolo of Picolo Sogno, Patrick Fahy of Blackbird and Ivan Yuen of Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula Hotel will hit the market, shop for produce and make their winning dish from fine Midwest goods, in hopes of earning the title Master of Market. The chefs will select the goods with agile discretion and then demonstrate their breakneck cooking skills as they are only allowed 30 minutes for drafting and shopping a menu and 30 minutes of prep all in the midst Daley Plaza.

    Matt Maroni, Janet Fuller and Roe Conn have been called on for their judicious palates and will crown Master of the Market.

    Schedule of Events
    11:30 Chefs begin shop the Midwest's finest produce at Daley Plaza Farmers Market
    12:00 Culinary frenzy begins
    12:30 Knives down, plates are presented to judges; judges taste, deliberate, discuss, decide
    1:00 Master of Market is announced

    Country Financial is giving away 500 canvas market bags before and after the event and has further details on their website.

    Joanna Kanakis

    Event Tue Aug 03 2010

    Circling the Gaztro Wagon

    In preparation for next Thursday's Taste of the Nation, Matt Maroni of Gaztro-Wagon will have a participating guest chef from ToTN each day on board with him through next Thursday, selling his naanwich magic, along with a giveaway for free tickets to ToTN! As of a few minutes ago, Gaztro-Wagon (along with today's chef, Philip Foss of Lockwood) was scouting out places near Jackson and LaSalle--when you find the truck, say the code word "Aragon" and perhaps you'll be the lucky winner.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Aug 02 2010

    Taste of Napa Valley

    I don't have a particularly sophisticated wine palate, and I envy those who can taste the subtle differences between a 2002 and a 2006 cabernet sauvignon ("it was a good year!"). So when I walked into the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's July 27 Twilight on the Rooftop event, I was ready to learn. Held at the James Hotel downtown, the dance company's third annual fundraiser offered tastes from 13 Napa and Sonoma wineries--including some wines that are only available in limited amounts.

    Like the 2005 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, for example: the winemaker, Cathy Corison (one of the first female vintners in Napa), only made about 300 cases. Squeezed from 40-year-old vines, the saleswoman at the table explained, it's hard to make much more than that because old vines don't yield a lot of fruit.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Ruthie Kott / Comments (3)

    Event Fri Jul 23 2010

    Eating Around the Arts This Weekend

    The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival kicks off tonight in Logan Square (Gapers Block is a sponsor!). If you head that way, take a moment to celebrate the combined arts of food and entrepreneurship at Logan Square Kitchen's pop-up restaurant. Located in the middle of the action at 2333 N. Milwaukee, LSK's incubator space will host Chef Bill Kim and Chef Jason Hammel for two days only of urban picnic fare and coffee and doughnuts, respectively all priced between $2-5. Follow the menu details (and voluteering needs) over at their Twitter feed. Time Out also has the full menu on hand. The goods will be cash only, served from 11am to 5pm.

    The pop-up food will be designed for optimal portability, since seating is limited. So if you need a place to camp out for a bit, head just to new neighbor Cafe Mustache, which just opened this past Monday and will be featuring both Arts Festival art and music, at 2313 N. Milwaukee.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Thu Jul 22 2010

    Fresh Official Opening at Gene Siskel Film Center

    Have you been bit by the locavore bug? Are you shopping at Green City and scorning avocados at your Dominick's? Or maybe you haven't yet been sipping on the Kool-aid but want to know what all this fuss is about?
    Fresh, the movie, wants to take on the same enemies as Food Inc, but takes a different, breathe-in-the-country-air approach. Champions of the fight are highlighted in their element: you meet the farmers on homesteads and urban agriculturists fighting the good fight day in and day out. Check the NYTimes' sniffoutwhen fresh air blew into the Big Apple.

    Fresh starts a weeklong run at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., July 30; see the full schedule on the film center's website. At the 5:45pm screening on July 31, The Talking Farm will lead a post-film discussion. Tickets available here.

    Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Jul 19 2010

    Green City Market Cocktail Party at Perennial

    Located kitty-corner from the Green City Market at Clark and Lincoln, Perennial has first dibs on the freshest local fare all summer long. To show off this good fortune, the restaurant is hosting a free monthly event through September featuring cocktails made with ingredients purchased at the market.

    I attended the July event last Wednesday, which set up a friendly competition between Benjamin Schiller, head mixologist at Boka Restaurant Group, and Danny Shapiro, head bartender at Perennial. Whose cocktail was the (market) freshest? Find out after the jump.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Mandy Burrell Booth

    Event Fri Jul 16 2010

    Hot Pig on Pig Action

    paddy-pig16.jpgIf eating a slowly roasted pig isn't gluttonous enough for you, try eating one that's basted in beer and bacon fat. Oh, and I forgot to mention the "weave of hickory-smoked bacon on its back." You can stuff yourself and come back for more at Paddy Long's all-you-can-eat pig roast, every Friday and Saturday starting today through the end of the summer. $22 (but plenty of places offer a $10-off deal); no reservations necessary (but to ensure a spot, you can book online); Paddy Long's, 1028 W. Diversey Pkwy, 7-9pm.
    Photo courtesy of

    Ruthie Kott

    Event Fri Jul 16 2010

    Kenmore Live Studio Hosts Free Pre-Ice Cream Fest Event

    No plans for this Saturday night? Why not beat the heat with something chilly, delicious...and free!

    The new Kenmore Live Studio in River North is hosting a preview event for the upcoming Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival. Local ice cream makers ("micro-creameries") will be on hand to show off their flavors, and Chicago baking celeb Michelle Garcia (Bleeding Heart Bakery) will be giving a baking demonstration in the studio. Additionally, live music will be provided by Liquid Soul.

    The event lasts from 7:00-9:00 p.m. this Saturday, July 17. The baking demo will begin at 7:30. For more information, visit or call (312) 265-0871. The Kenmore Live Studio is located at 678 N. Wells.

    Marissa Flaxbart

    Event Tue Jul 13 2010

    Storm the Crepes Table to Honor the Bastille

    To honor the peasants who stormed the Bastille in 1789, the Alliance Francaise will hold a Bastille Day celebration tonight along with the French American Chamber of Commerce. Crepes, raffles, singing, and more crepes are on the menu. Event runs 6-8pm at 54 West Chicago; admission is $15 for members of the sponsoring organizations, $20 for non-members

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Jul 09 2010

    Speed Metal and the Great Outdoors

    Kuma's Corner (2900 W Belmont) hosts its fifth annual Neighborhood Block Party this Saturday starting at 11:30am. A long list of metal and rock bands, food (although none of it from Kuma's regular menu, FYI) and the familiar feeling of standing outside of Kuma's for several hours (although this time it's not for your table to be readied) are on the bill.

    Robyn Nisi

    Drink Thu Jul 08 2010

    AlphaBeer's A-Z Selections Announced

    The Local Tourist has announced the menu for AlphaBeer alphabetical beer tasting this Saturday, July 10 at the Four Points by Sheraton Chicago, 610 N. Rush St.

    Avery New World Porter
    Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
    Cerise by Founder's
    Dark Horse Amber Ale
    Eel River Certified Organic Porter
    Fort Collins Chocolate Stout
    Goose Island Summertime Ale
    Harpoon Summer Beer
    Iron City Lager
    Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam
    Krankshaft by Metropolitan
    Louie's Demise by MKE Brewing Co
    Moose Drool by Big Sky
    New Belgium Springboard
    Ommegang Hennepin Ale
    Pullchain Pale Ale by MKE Brewing Co
    Quilmes Lager
    Red's Rye by Founder's
    Summer Shandy by Leinenkugel
    The Poet by New Holland
    Unibroue La Fin du Monde
    Victory Brewing Golden Monkey Ale
    Widmer Hefeweizen
    Xingu Black Lager
    Young's Double Chocolate Stout
    Ziedler-brau by MKE Brewing Co

    Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door.

    Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Jul 07 2010

    Wanna Play Farmer?

    Last weekend an organic and sustainable farm that provides local CSA shares was hit by a tornado. Genesis Growers is seeking volunteers who are willing to pack a lunch and head to the farm for a half-day of weeding by hand. If you can help volunteers will meet at Southport Grocery and Cafe (3552 N Southport, Chicago) at 8am on Saturday. The only tools you need are two hands and a big heart.

    Cinnamon Cooper / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Jul 06 2010

    A Very Viennese Picnic

    When I think of Austria and picnics, I think of Julie Andrews and the von Trapp children skipping merrily through the Alps with baskets full of, oh, I don't know, sheep's milk cheese, sausages and berries. For whatever reason, my mind doesn't drift to dreamy Vienna. But with its pocket parks and coffee house culture, it's actually no stretch to imagine a perfectly lovely Viennese picnic.

    Perhaps that's the theory behind Julius Meinl's Summer Picnic July 22 at the Southport location, which will feature All-American menu with Viennese touches created by Chef Jeff Adamek, who recently created several new farm-fresh dishes for Meinl's daily menu. For $40 per person ($20 per child), picnic-goers will feast on smoked chicken with sausages, summer vegetable succotash, house made pickles, a sampling of Midwestern cheeses with apricot vanilla jelly, roasted corn with smoked paprika, lime and cilantro, grilled peach salad, potato salad with bacon, mini sandwiches, and something called "bruschetta bowls" that sound so creative, I'm pretty sure I'm going to make a knock-off version for my next potluck.

    Reserve your spot by calling 773-868-1857 ext. 5.

    Mandy Burrell Booth / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Jun 30 2010

    The Power of Love, Doughnuts

    To commemorate tomorrow's five-year anniversary of the passing of weight-challenged (but still totally suave) R&B crooner Luther Vandross, Wiener and Still Champion (802 Dempster, Evanston) will be offering their rendition of his favorite treat, the Luther Burger--a bacon cheeseburger wrapped in a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Rumor has it that Vandross himself invented this delight after running out of hamburger buns.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (3)

    Event Mon Jun 28 2010

    The Birth of Popcorn Malt Liquor

    Rock Bottom Brewery in Warrenville (28256 Diehl Road) will host the unveiling of a malt liquor made from popcorn on Saturday, July 10; they've provided a sneak peak of what's to come. Tickets are $15 and include a souvenir glass and tastings from Goose Island and Flossmoor.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Jun 22 2010

    Taste of...Lollapalooza

    As the city gears up for its annual summer gut-bust at Taste of Chicago, the list of food vendors at this year's Lollapalooza has been revealed to up the ante on Taste. The lineup is being curated by master chef Graham Elliot Bowles, and with numerous local restaurants participating, it's a bit of a foodie's dream. Finally, one can chow down on a Kuma's burger while listening to Soundgarden dig into the back catalog for "Flower." Or nosh on some Trotter's to Go while being whisked away by Grizzly Bear.

    In addition to the aforementioned Trotter's and Kuma's, expect goodies from the likes of Big Star, Graham Elliot, Franks 'n' Dawgs, Smoke Daddy, Bleeding Heart Bakery and many many others.

    Check out the full list of LollaFoods on their Chow Town site.

    Ben Schulman

    Event Wed Jun 16 2010

    The Golden Ticket to Fine Dining

    Mark your calendars for June 29: the Fulton River District and Blommer Chocolate Company will be holding an outdoor showing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the superior Gene Wilder version) at dusk (~8:45pm) at Fulton River Park (601 West Kinzie). The exciting part? They will be giving out 1,000 chocolate bars beforehand, some of which will have Golden Tickets (wow! really!) for gift certificates at restaurants (among them Province, Alinea and Prairie Fire) and other fun prizes. Get there early.

    UPDATE: Alinea will no longer be giving out gift certificates, however Carnivale and the Chicago French Market will be.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Jun 15 2010

    Veggie Bingo is the New Soup and Bread

    Now that one game has ended, a new one emerges: bingo. The creators of the wonderful Soup and Bread series at the Hideout have gone on summer break, but in its place, Veggie Bingo begins tomorrow night. Event begins at 6pm at the Hideout, 1357 West Wabansia; cards are $1 each (or 6 for $5); proceeds benefit local community gardens. Look at these people playing bingo! Join them!

    Robyn Nisi

    Drink Fri Jun 11 2010

    A Festival of Fruity Beers

    The name Beer Hoptacular conjures a carnival of beer -- an apt description of the two-day event that drew several thousand craft brew lovers to the Aragon Ballroom in Uptown last Friday and Saturday. Breweries included local legend Goose Island and new(er) kid on the block Half Acre, as well as Sam Adams, New Belgium, Bell's and 31 others sampling more than 100 beers. The mood was festive, but a crowd of beer-swilling frat boys this was not: As Flossmoor Station's head brewer Bryan Shimkos put it, the crowd was a nice blend of savvy beer drinkers and home brewers, and people who wanted to try more unusual beers "without having to pay $8 a bottle and then not like it."

    I'm the kind of person who handles hard liquor better than beer, so I knew I'd need a strategy to guide my evening, one that didn't include sampling every beer. I decided to focus on fruit-forward beers, skipping roasty stouts and hoppy IPAs in favor of beers that hinted at summer's farmers market bounty.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Mandy Burrell Booth

    Event Thu Jun 10 2010

    First US Foie Gras "Museum" to Debut During Chicago Foie Gras Week

    Regardless which side of the "Foie Gras Wars" you find yourself on, there's no denying its foodie appeal. And after all the controversy a little fatty duck liver caused here in the Windy City, what better place for the first American Foie Gras Museum to make its debut?

    Starting tomorrow, June 11, the Foie Gras Museum will open at Cyrano's Bistrot & Wine Bar as a part of Chicago Foie Gras week, which continues through June 19.

    In addition to the museum display and a variety of available foie gras dishes ($12), the Foie-Fest will play host to guest chefs throughout the week, and to Mark Caro, author of The Foie Gras Wars, on June 15, beginning at 6pm.

    To reserve a spot, call 312-467-0546 or email

    Marissa Flaxbart

    Event Thu Jun 10 2010

    WAIT! Before You Go to Lunch

    Jimmy John's is celebrating its Customer Appreciation Day with $1 subs. I personally don't understand how JJs can sell cold sandwiches with such shamelessness, but at least the smells are free.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Jun 03 2010

    Whiskey for Lunch

    January 22, 2010

    If you are one of the lucky few who won't be chained to a work desk tomorrow afternoon, you might want to consider heading to Logan Square. Longman & Eagle began lunch service this week and they are celebrating on Friday, June 4 with free shots of whiskey and beers from 11 am to 3 pm.

    Longman & Eagle
    2657 North Kedzie Avenue
    (773) 276-7110

    Gemma Petrie

    Bar Thu Jun 03 2010

    Bacon and Beer Tasting @ Paddy Long's

    IMG_0680.JPGRight now, I am sitting at Paddy Long's, eating curry chips and watching the Blackhawks game (they just tied the game up, 2-2). I found myself here because it's close to my apartment, they serve Kilkenny (hello, memories from Dublin 2008) and they have TVs. What I didn't expect, however, was the great food and the big sign telling me that on Saturdays (6 p.m.) and Sundays (2 p.m.) they have beer and bacon tastings.

    It looks like you have to reserve your spot, so stop in or call if you're planning on coming. I know I'll be spending a Sunday afternoon here soon.

    Paddy Long's claims to be the "home of beer and bacon." They've sold me on the beer, I'll let you know about the bacon.

    Kaitlin Olson / Comments (1)

    Event Mon May 31 2010

    Take the Tequila Express to New Orleans

    Figuratively, at least. Patrón Tequila is sponsoring a culinary tour to benefit the St. Bernard Project which is still helping people rebuild their homes near New Orleans 5 years after Katrina hit. For $15,000 and some volunteer labor, they're able to rebuild and repair homes. To help them rebuild more homes, Patrón helped them create the Patrón Tequila Epicurean Express. They're arriving in a handful of cities for two nights. The first night is a cocktail party that takes place in a refurbished 1920's rail car. There are unlimited Patrón cocktails, a presentation about the St. Bernard Project from one of the founders, a silent auction, and more. The minimum donation is $50 for what stands to be a feel-good evening, in more ways than one.

    The second evening is a sit-down four-course dinner for 20 people. There will be cocktails, dinner, dessert, and a presentation by the founders of the St. Bernard Project and you'll have the opportunity to meet the celebrity chefs who will be cooking your food. The pricetag is $500, but all of the funds are going to fund the organization's efforts to rebuild homes and in the wake of the oil spill in the gulf provide assistance and mental health services to fishermen.

    The Chicago events take place June 2-3 and the celebrity chefs are Chef Mark Sparacino of Prosecco and Chef Charlie Trotter, which makes your $500 price tag seem like not such a bad deal after all, eh?

    Cinnamon Cooper / Comments (1)

    Event Wed May 26 2010

    Chocolate Outside of the Box

    This year the Sweets and Snacks Expo featured hundreds of booths dedicated to chocolate, with over thirty exhibits dedicated to natural and/or organic chocolate. Luckily for me, there were plenty of samples to go around.

    IMG_0822.jpgChuao (Chew-Wow) Chocolatier makes bonbons, truffles, hot chocolate and chocolate bars. Everything is made with Venezuelan chocolate and blended natural ingredients. I tried the new Honeycomb bar and was pleasantly surprised by the smooth finish with the snap of the caramelized honey layered throughout. The bars are widely available everywhere from Dean & Deluca to Walmart.

    IMG_0824.JPGDove Chocolate featured a wine and chocolate pairing. The idea is to be able to pair affordable wines such as Red Rock Merlot, Mirassou Pinot Noir, Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvigion and McWilliams Shiraz with Dove's Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Smooth Peanut Butter any night of the week. The best part of the tasting was how fruit forward the Red Rock Merlot tasted when paired with the Dark Chocolate, and the idea of entertaining without having to visit numerous specialty shops.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Stef Piermattei

    Event Tue May 25 2010

    Sweets & Snacks Expo Arrives in Chicago

    sweetsandsnackslogo.jpgThis week, Chicago is a one-stop shop for folks in food-related industries. On Saturday, the National Restaurant Assocation, Hotel-Motel (NRA) Show, the restaurant and hotel industry's largest trade show, opened at McCormick Place. It was joined today by the National Confectioners Associaton's Sweets & Snacks Expo, the largest trade show in the Americas dedicated to candy and snacks.

    Over 480 manufacturers with more than 2,000 new confections and snacks will greet visitors to the Sweets & Snacks Expo in the West Building of McCormick Place until Thursday. Big companies like Mars will reveal new varieties of classic products like Pretzel M&Ms and Truffle Crisp 3 Musketeers, while lesser-known manufacturers like Flamous will try to become, well, famous, with unique products like Falafel Chips.

    Sharon Bautista / Comments (2)

    Event Thu May 20 2010

    If You're Allergic to Rick Bayless this guy says he is, then take your appetite over to Kendall College, whose Dining Room (900 North Branch) has started a monthly dining series to celebrate the Mexican Bicentennial. Kendall's staff is partnering with the Mexican Consulate and tourism bureau to create authentic menus that at Kendall's completely affordable prices (all are way under $100 for a five-course meal) are better than the price of buying that plane ticket to Cozumel. The first event begins May 27 and runs through November.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed May 19 2010

    Get on the Paella Parade

    Add this to your summer social to-dos.

    On Thursday, June 17, 2010 the first annual El Coto De Rioja Chicago Paella Parade will kick off on the rooftop of Whole Foods Market in Lincoln Park. Join the Socialites Network of Chicago and the Lincoln Park Young Professionals as they celebrate the cuisine of Spain with El Coto de Rioja Wines. Watch as Chicago chefs and restaurateurs showcase their Paella-making skills. Live music will be provided by Shana Patrone with Bongo Drums DJ Ray and emceed by Fox- Chicago Sports' own Lou Canellis. Enter to win one of several raffle prizes provided by Paul Stuart, Mike George Fitness System, Blue Star Jets, Pratesi Linens and Natural Beauty Med Spa.

    Tickets are $30 before June 17 and $40 at the door. For more information, contact Lincoln Park Young Professionals at or 312-642-5097.

    Jennifer T. Lacey / Comments (1)

    Event Wed May 12 2010

    Farmers Markets Opening Soon

    Farmer's Market @ MCA, Tuesdays
    Even though they likely needed down coats and mugs of hot coffee to make it through the cold morning, the Green City Market opened outdoors this morning. Other Farmers Markets opening through Sunday (and their forecast):

    Thursday (52/71, Thunderstorms):
    Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, 7am-3pm

    Saturday (48/66, Overcast):
    Lincoln Park, Armitage and Orchard, 7am-1pm
    61st St. Farmers Market, 6100 S. Blackstone , 9am-2pm
    Division Street, 50 W. Division, 7am-1pm
    Beverly, 9500 S. Longwood Dr., 7am-1pm

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

    Event Tue May 11 2010

    Sound Opinions Channel Their Inner Foodie

    24744.jpgGreg Kot and Jim DeRogatis have dominated the music scene in Chicago with their criticism and wit for over twenty years. It's about time they branched off into food. The Sound Opinions duo is co-hosting Eat the Beat, an event that brings two of life's greatest things together - food and music. Eat the Beat will be held at the Blackbird (619 W. Randolph) on Thursday, May 27 to benefit Chicago Public Radio. Blackbird's executive chef Paul Kahan, who also works for the Publican, and Hot Chocolate's Mindy Segal are preparing a multi-course dinner inspired by Kot and DeRogatis's musical choices for the night. Lush Wine and Spirits will be providing excellent wine pairings for each dish. No word on what the menu is yet, but I'll venture a guess that it's going to be heavily influenced by rock and roll.

    Tickets for the event are $175 which covers you and a guest plus gratuity. All proceeds go to benefit Chicago Public Radio and Sound Opinions and a portion of your admission is tax deductible. Music, food, and a tax write-off? What a deal. Tickets can be purchased here. Dinner starts at 7 pm. Bring your opinions and appetite.

    Amy Dittmeier

    Event Wed May 05 2010

    Top Chef: The Tour 3 Rolls into Chicago!

    If you're walking down Michigan Ave on Thursday or Friday, don't be surprised when you see an 18-wheeler semi-truck parked outside the Tribune Tower. This truck belongs to Bravo's Top Chef: The Tour 3, a nationwide event bringing your favorite chef'testants and winners from seasons past to your hometown!

    This year, season 6 chef'testants Mike Isabella and Kevin Gillespie will be coming to Chicago to serve up a good time! As if you needed an excuse to duck out of work early - this Tour comes complete with food samplings, cooking tips, hole-in-one golfing, and a Quickfire Challenge (or two)! The chefs will host three live shows starting each day at 10:30am, noon, and 1:30pm and each show is an hour long. Space is limited, so seating is on a first come, first served basis. For more details about The Tour, visit

    Shanna Quinn

    Wine Tue May 04 2010

    Bonny Doon "Tweet Tasting" at Morton's This Thursday

    RandallGrahm_CD1.jpgThe James Beard Awards recently honored the nation's foodies (including several Chicagoans); now it's you're chance to meet one of the winners: Randall Grahm of Santa Cruz's Bonny Doon Vineyard is hosting a Tweet Tasting this Thursday evening at Morton's on Wacker (65 E. Wacker).

    From 5:30pm to 7pm, guests will get a chance to try several wine and cheese pairings, and hear detailed descriptions of the wines from the celebrated vintner himself. Tickets are $30; if you're more interested in following the event than attending it, tweet will be tagged with "#mortons."

    In addition to his Beard Award in the Beverage Cookbook category (for his book, "Been Doon So Long"), Grahm was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame this year.

    312-201-0464 or email for tickets

    Marissa Flaxbart

    Event Thu Apr 29 2010

    For The Love Of Hops Festival 2010

    Two Brother Brewing Company is at it again. Hosting this year's For The Love of Hops Festival 2010 June 12 at their brewery in Warrenville, they're celebrating that delicious bittering agent during the second annual release of their Hop Juice Double IPA!

    There will be guest beers from around the country. Four bands (TBA) will be playing during the day, admission is free, and 50 percent of sponsorship funds will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. You can find out more at the event website here!

    Cliff Etters

    Drink Mon Apr 26 2010

    Dark Lord Day 2010

    Dark Lord Day 2010

    For the fourth year running, we made a spring pilgrimage to Munster, Indiana to wait in line with thousands of other beer enthusiasts to buy bottles of Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout at the 3 Floyds brewery.

    Every year the crowd grows substantially and the process of securing a limited number of bottles become slightly more complicated. Ticketing servers crash, legal parking is nearly impossible to come by, and finding the end of the mammoth line becomes surprisingly difficult. To be sure, 3 Floyds has created demand for an unnecessarily exclusive product and elicited plenty of complaints along the way, but at the end of the day 3 Floyds makes a damn good beer and throws a damn good party.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Fri Apr 23 2010

    Benefit Dinner for Growing Home

    Growing Home is holding its eighth-annual benefit dinner on June 3rd. The evening will feature local and sustainable treats from area chefs and caterers, including a cocktail hour with an open wine bar and hors d'oeuvres, and then a seated, three-course meal. Frances Moore Lappé, author of the influential and best-selling Diet for a Small Planet, will give the keynote address. The dinner, which costs $125 per person, isn't cheap but it helps fund Growing Home's job training programs for homeless and low-income individuals in its organic-produce business. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the web site.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Thu Apr 22 2010

    31 Cent Scoop Night is Back

    Scrape your change bucket for next Wednesday, April 28. Baskin-Robbins is bringing back its annual 31 Cent Scoop Night. From 5 to 10 p.m., at local Baskin-Robbins, customers can scoop up one (or two or three) 2.5 oz of their favorite flavor for 31 cents. In addition, Baskin-Robbins will be making a $100,000 donation to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and inviting local Chicagoland firehouses to highlight their own fund raising efforts while interacting with their communities.

    Jennifer T. Lacey

    Event Tue Apr 20 2010

    CircaCeramics Open Studio

    Looking for a locally made gift for your Mom this Mother's Day? Or just want to expand your kitchen cabinet past its stock of IKEA & Crate and Barrel wares? Well you are in luck. This weekend from 11AM-5PM, CircaCeramics is opening their studio at 3759 N. Ravenswood to sell off lots and lots of their work. I bought a chicago flag mug from their booth at the Wells Street Art Fair last summer and it was quickly become one of my favorites.

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Tue Apr 20 2010

    Cheese Tasting @ Pastoral Tonight

    Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm will be holding a (free!) cheese tasting at Pastoral's French Market location (131 North Clinton) tonight from 6-7pm. Leslie will also be talking shop about cheesemaking beginning at 5:30pm.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Apr 14 2010

    Vosges and Corzo Team Up for Tasting

    So you've heard of wine and cheese pairings, and maybe even wine and chocolate pairings. But tequila and chocolate? Not so much.

    Until now.

    Chicago's own fine chocolate emporium, Vosges Haut Chocolate, has teamed up with Corzo tequilas to show the world that blue agave and cacao are a match made in heaven.

    Vosges' Armitage flagship has a liquor licencse, and has been offering wine and beer tastings for some time, as well as selling bottles of wine. IMG_4138.JPGThis new relationship with Cruz will bring a tequila pairing to their summer menu, and the shop will offer appropriate chocolate bars along with bottles of each mark of the fine tequila-silver, reposado, and añejo.

    If you'd like to take part in this celebration of two of the New World's greatest culinary treasures, you needn't wait any longer. Tonight, Vosges Lincoln Park hosts a special ticketed event where the public will be able to try lots of delicious confections (along with complementing tequilas) first-hand.

    951 W. Armitage. Tickets are $40; call 773.296.9866 to reserve your spot.

    Marissa Flaxbart

    Event Wed Apr 14 2010

    Soup and Bread Closes Up Shop Tonight

    Before you head home for eleventh hour tax preparation, stop at the Hideout for the final Soup and Bread to close out this winter season. They'll have pie, too--and "Hot" Doug Sohn, the nicest guy in the restaurant biz (IMHO), will be making an appearance. Before you get all weepy about the end of this era, never fear--Soup and Bread will hang up its ladel but will return for Veggie Bingo, which begins this summer.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Apr 13 2010

    Time Out Chicago Hosts 2010 Eat Out Awards

    Last night, Time Out Chicago held their 2010 Eat Out awards ceremony, honoring restaurants in two ways: Critics' Picks, and Readers' Choice. The ceremony was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art and was something of a who's-who of Windy City restauranteurs.

    Erwintimeout.jpgThe Critics' Picks were a melange of special categories honoring restaurants, foods, chefs, and designers that Time Out's restaurant critics felt deserved some celebrating. Erwin Drechsler of Erwin on North Halsted recieved a lifetime achievement award, handed out by Chicago celeb chef Paul Kahan, who had some celebrating of his own to do later in the evening.

    The main event was the Readers' Picks, which were voted on by an estimated 8000 Time Out readers. I present the winners to you below (along with some thoughts of my own and comments on the evening), but I highly enocourage you to check out all the nominees and winners.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Marissa Flaxbart

    Event Tue Apr 13 2010

    Baconfest Chicago 2010

    Smokey, savory, salted debauchery with a couple hundred of my best friends...

    BFC 2010 Crowd.JPG

    That's right, I was fortunate enough to get tickets to BFC2010. That's Baconfest Chicago 2010 for the uninitiated. Taking over the Stan Mansion (2409 N. Kedzie) in Logan Square, even on the approach from the corner of Kedzie and Fullerton, one could smell a hint of smoky pork goodness on the breeze that only became stronger as one grew closer to the Stan Mansion.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Cliff Etters / Comments (2)

    Event Mon Apr 12 2010

    B-I-N-G-O Was His Name-o!

    Join Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control for Ham-Bingo tonight at Hamburger Mary's (5400 North Clark) from 8-10pm for a bingo benefit for the animals at CACC.Drink specials, prizes and the letter O are on the menu--fun, right? Cards are $5 for one or five for $20. Come help out some great animals (and while you're at it, adopt one at the CACC facility, 2741 South Western).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Mar 29 2010

    Passover Eats and Covers

    So I am a bad Catholic--I don't even ascribe to the population that quietly crowds into churches twice a year in exchange for scarfing down a ham/turkey later on at Grandma's house--but I think I would be very good at being Jewish, as I like their philosophies--and their food. Passover, the holiday that celebrates the escape of the Jewish from enslavement in Egypt, is today. Matzoh (unleavened bread that kicks major ass), gefilte fish (similar to a meatloaf--but of fish), and Charoses (a spread of apples, spices and wine) are a few of the dishes that highlight the holiday.

    Cover Lay Down has a nice rundown of Passover-inspired tunes to keep you going today (and for tomorrow's Bedikat Chametz observance).

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sun Mar 28 2010

    Chef Week: Boka

    Throughout Chicago Chef Week, which ends today, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is the dinner menu from Boka, 1729 North Halsted:

    Appetizer choices include pink peppercorn seared bigeye tuna with cauliflower fondant and Asian pear, or diver sea scallops with Buddha's Hand lemon, braised radish, cockscomb and sunchoke sauce.

    Entree selections are Angus tenderloin and short rib with semolina-mushroom galette, saffron-scented cabbage and celery root coulis; and herb-crusted whitefish with lobster agnolotti, trumpet royale mushrooms, boniato and kohlrabi.

    Dessert will be a flourless chocolate-espresso cake with malted meringue, pretzels and Guinness ice cream.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sat Mar 27 2010

    Chef Week: Piccolo Sogno

    Throughout Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Sunday, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is from Piccolo Sogno, 464 North Halsted:


    A first course choice of insalata di pere or the zuppa del giorno. Entrees: battuta di pollo (flattened wood-grilled chicken) or panino di porchetta, followed by biscotti di Piccolo Sogno for dessert.

    Starters: insalata di pere and ravioli Piccolo Sogno. Entrees: Porchetta alla Romana and a wood-grilled polletto alla griglia. Dessert: Tortino di Gianduja (a warm hazelnut-chocolate cake) or panna cotta allo zafferano, a saffron-vanilla custard with fresh berries and caramel sauce.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Mar 26 2010

    Chef Week: Prairie Fire

    Throughout Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Sunday, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is from Prairie Fire, 215 North Clinton:

    Starters: a farm salad of Three Sisters Garden greens, shaved Parmesan, roasted vegetables, apples and herb vinaigrette. Entrees include a local omelette made with farm eggs, cheddar and Slagel Family Farm ham, a sirloin burger topped with mild blue cheese and served with potato wedges and a thick-sliced grilled tomato. Rich double chocolate cookies and double layer spice cake with cream cheese icing are the dessert choices.

    Starters: La Quercia prosciutto and Capriole Farm goat cheese pizza with pea shoot tendrils, crisp apple and sherry-honey vinaigrette, or shrimp rolls with spicy dipping sauce. Entrees: Tallgrass Beef slow-braised barbecue brisket, housemade Italian sausage over creamy local polenta or sautéed Lake Superior whitefish with roasted portobello mushrooms and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Prairie Fire's signature double chocolate cake is for dessert.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Mar 25 2010

    Women Culinary Entrepreneurs

    In honor of Women's History Month, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs hosted a discussion panel of women business owners at the Chicago Downtown Farmstand last night. These purveyors of local products spoke about how they started their businesses and their experiences as women business owners in the Chicago area.

    Culinary 2
    (Nicole Bergere of Nicole's Divine Crackers)

    Nicole Bergere: Nicole's Divine Crackers
    Nicole Bergere started her bakery 25 years ago after working in costume and clothing design. Her first loaves were baked in Rogers Park, and with the help of her friend "Little Grace," she soon landed her first big account -- Neiman Marcus. Bergere's company now produces crackers, breads, sweets and sauces for an international market and supplies some of Chicago's top hotels like the Four Seasons, Trump Towers and the Peninsula. She cautioned artisanal business owners seeking to expand to oversee everything and to be careful not to grow too quickly. "There's nothing like having your own business," said Bergere, who is now in her eighties. "All the headaches and all the awards" are yours. "If you believe in yourself, you'll be a success."

    Continue reading this entry »

    Gemma Petrie / Comments (1)

    Event Thu Mar 25 2010

    Chef Week: Eve

    Throughout Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Sunday, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is the menu from Eve, 840 North Wabash:

    Starters: Baby spinach salad with white asparagus, eggs, almonds and buttermilk-Parmesan dressing or puree of spring pea soup with pickled ginger-whipped ricotta. Entrees: Smoked salmon bucatini with watercress, capers and Meyer lemon brown butter; dukkah-crusted lamb burger with dried apricot, feta, avocado and harissa mayonnaise; or truffled risotto with Grana Padano and celery root salad.

    Starters: Selection of smoked Loch Duart salmon with mushroom conserva and Meyer lemon-caper aïoli; puree of spring pea soup; or warm frisée salad with crispy pork belly, crab fritter, fried egg and rémoulade. Entrees: Cider-brined pork shoulder with mascarpone polenta, crispy kale and peppered maple jus; Rushing Waters trout with caraway-creamed leeks, pickled cauliflower and pumpernickel croutons; or truffled parsnip agnolotti with root vegetable confit and watercress bisque. Desserts are the same as on the lunch menu.

    Desserts for lunch or dinner are a chocolate-peanut butter pot de crème with peanut brittle, or a Meyer lemon basil cake with vanilla bean ice cream and basil anglaise.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Mar 24 2010

    Chef Week: Hearty

    hearty_brd_pudding.jpgThroughout Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Sunday, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is the dinner menu from Hearty, 3819 North Broadway:

    First Course:
    Choice of winter salad with fennel, celery root, Granny Smith apple, red onion, blue cheese and shallot-honey vinaigrette; artichoke fritters with lemon cream; or the soup of the day.

    Main Course:
    Southern fried chicken with bourbon mashed sweet potatoes and creamed collard greens; pulled braised short rib beefaroni with elbow macaroni, oven-roasted butternut squash, grape tomatoes and shallots in Merlot reduction; and foil-wrapped campfire fish with market vegetables, herb butter and housemade potato chips.

    S'mores with chewy graham crackers and chile sauce; cornmeal-based Indian pudding made with molasses and spiced maple sour cream; and caramelized pear upside-down cake with cardamom whipped cream.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Mar 23 2010

    Chef Week: Blackbird

    original_Late_Harvest.jpgThroughout Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Sunday, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is Blackbird, 619 West Randolph:

    A condensed version of the prix fixe lunch deal Blackbird offers regularly, albeit at the reduced price of $20. Dishes TBD.

    Starters: Endive salad with baby lettuces, potato, basil, Dijon, pancetta and a poached egg; Blue Hill Bouchot mussels soup with whitefish, saffron, garlic and basil; and a charcuterie plate of boudin blanc and veal pancetta with almond yogurt, smoked almonds and lobster roe vinaigrette.

    Entrees: crispy black bass with green papaya, dandelion greens, walnuts and charred beef vinaigrette; roasted Colorado lamb saddle with white asparagus, vermouth, fromage blanc and spring pea falafel; and Parmesan pasta with cured egg yolk and crispy radishes.

    Dessert: Satsuma chiboust with Campari, pineapple, semolina and Zingerman's Creamery cream cheese ice cream; and Manjari chocolate pavé with tonka bean ice cream and candied cocoa nibs.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Mar 22 2010

    Chef Week: Big Jones

    Throughout Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Sunday, we will be bringing you a menu from one of the participating restaurants for you to enjoy. Today's spotlight is Big Jones, 5347 North Clark:

    Cheddar-herb croquettes with Green Goddess dressing and fried sage, crawfish boudin fritters with frisée and cayenne mayonnaise. Gumbo ya-ya, blackened Gunthorp Farms chicken and cornbread salad, and egg, corn tortilla, chile and cheese casserole. Crispy rice calas with bitter chocolate sauce, frozen Asian pear and coconut salad, and bourbon-raisin bread pudding with crème anglaise, salted caramel and cinnamon toast croutons.


    Andouille sausage with pimiento cheese, pickled Laughing Bird shrimp and sesame crackers, or Living Waters Farms lettuces with fennel, celery, blood orange and hearts of palm. Mint Creek Farm lamb daube with carrots, roasted shallots and rosehip puree; Anson Mills farro piccolo with roasted parsnips, asparagus, smoked mushrooms and Medjool dates; and blackened Mississippi catfish with coconut sticky rice, radish-pea shoot salad and green curry broth.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Mar 17 2010

    Hoosier Mama Turns One = Lots of Fun

    Hoosier Mama Pie Company celebrates its first birthday this week with a few new changes to their operation--and a scavenger hunt. Firstly, they've extended their operating hours on Fridays to close at 9pm, which will be good news to the huge line of pie-seekers that snaked out the door the last time I visited. They will also be starting pie "flights" on Fridays only, where you can select three mini-pieces from a special menu. And as an added treat, sugar cream pies are on sale this week ( a 9" for $15, and 6" for $5).

    And finally, Saturday's scavenger hunt will put pie lovers to an amazing test. Participants (teams of 1-3) will compete (puzzles, games, and something involving a digital camera) for a year's supply of pie (say it with me!). Must register in advance by phone. Event begins at noon, 1618 West Chicago.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Mar 16 2010

    Toast to Tap Water

    Tap logo 2010 HIRES.pngThe U.S. Fund for UNICEF Tap Project® returns to Chicago next week during World Water Week (March 21-27). To help bring clean drinking water to children around the world, the Tap Project invites diners to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy free at participating restaurants. The project is in its fourth year and has netted almost $1.5 million. Funds raised this year will go mainly to support Haiti, Central African Republic, Guatemala, Togo and Vietnam. Visit the Tap Project web site for a complete list of participating Chicago restaurants.

    The Tap Project kicks off this Friday with a cocktail and four-course dinner party at River North's Sunda (110 W. Illinois St.). Tickets for the dinner are $100 per person and include cocktails and hors d' oeuvres, a four-course family-style menu, open bar including cocktails by Grey Goose Vodka, sake, wine and champagne, tax and gratuity. Cocktail hour starts at at 7:00 pm followed by dinner at 8:00 pm. Festivities continue from 10:00 pm to midnight at Underground (56 W. Illinois St.). For tickets, email

    Sharon Bautista

    Drink Mon Mar 15 2010

    Two Brothers' New Brews

    For the beer lovers in Chicago, today represents a pretty good day. Two Brothers Brewing Company is releasing not just one, but two new beers that have been aged in French oak fermentation tanks (called "foudres"): an IPA and a Session Ale.

    Thumbnail image for foudres.jpg

    According to Two Brothers the Resistance IPA is 6.9% alcohol by volume (abv) and clocks in at a whopping 70 international bitterness units (IBU). For comparison's sake, Budweiser clocks in somewhere around 10-12 IBUs and Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale (a pretty hoppy ale in its own right) charts at 37 IBUs by their own reckoning. According to Two Brothers, the Resistance IPA is:

    "Complex aromas of oak, honeyed malt sweetness, and piney citrus hops leads to a full hoppy middle and a finish that's crisp, oaky and pleasantly lingering."

    Their other offering, the Long Haul Session Ale, is a light 4.2% abv and 27 IBUs, and is described as:

    "An incredibly drinkable ale, light in body but full of flavor. Oaky notes blend with the complex balance of malt and hops. This is a beer you can enjoy for the long haul."

    Both are being released on March 15, 2010, and will be available year round in both six-pack and on draught in and round Chicagoland.

    Photo by Paul Riismandel

    Cliff Etters / Comments (2)

    Event Fri Mar 12 2010

    At the Family Farmed Expo

    Am I in Camelot? Should I click my ruby slippers and chant a mantra? Today's opening panel discussions at the Family Farmed Expo at the UIC Forum make me wonder just that. Smart, innovative, inspirational, common sense, these describe my thoughts listening today. After the last decade who couldn't be accused of being a bit cynical, and it's not as if that's going away anytime soon.

    Or is it?

    To hear the song of solid innovative good old American know how is refreshing music to my ears. Hospitals in the Bronx that write a "prescription" to a fruit stand for an apple that you can go pick up for free. Or funding a micro loan of sorts, $10,000 paid back $1,000 a year over 10 years that allows smaller business' a chance to get off the ground without crippling debt and the lender a guaranteed stipend from the government as reward.

    Searching for and finding available buildings/spaces and incorporating a community renewal model that takes into consideration the total individual. A place to buy wholesome food, work out and get screened for diabetes while your children play in playlots designed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or are minded by daycare personnel. Taking a more preventative stance as opposed to reactionary. Way cheaper too. And a source of jobs.

    Building human capital. Grassroot support and investing in a maybe not quite as bleak future. If this appeals to you, I'd suggest checking out the Expo taking place through Saturday.

    If that's not enough then there's the Localicious party taking place Friday night. Twenty-five of Chicago's most far-thinking food operators, be they restaurant, caterer, farm, dairy, brewer or distiller that have embraced the local sustainable movement.

    Food for the mind and food for the soul.

    Family Farmed Expo and "Localicious"
    UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd.
    March 11-13

    Alan Lake

    Event Thu Mar 11 2010

    Pi Day

    pi.JPGThe Illinois Science Council set up some sweet, Chicago-area, deals to help remind us of an important constant in our lives...pi. Pi (as if you don't remember) is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Pi is normally abbreviated to 3.14 although it continues on indefinitely. Don't worry, you won't have to recite any numbers to celebrate Pi Day on Sunday, March 14, but do bring your appetite to one of the following participating bakeries or restaurants.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Shanna Quinn

    Event Tue Mar 09 2010

    Last chance to celebrate Seuss

    Technically, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2. But if you were too busy last Tuesday to whip up a batch of Green Eggs and Ham, despair not: Julius Meinl on 4363 N. Lincoln Ave. is hosting a whimsical family-style feast to celebrate the Good Doctor this Saturday, March 13, at 6 p.m.

    Get your Green Eggs and Ham in the form of a green deviled egg with prosciutto. Try the Hook Nook Dogs, Nurnberger sausage with house made baked beans and smoked cheddar cheese. Have your fill of Roast Beast, whole roasted chicken stuffed with parmesan risotto. And don't forget to save room for dessert: Pink Yink Ink Drinks, Sneetch Treats, and Valley of Vung's Chocolate Rocks. (Use your imagine, as Dr. Seuss would have it, or be a big snore and visit Meinl's web site.)

    The Lincoln Park/De Paul Neighborhood Choir of Chicago Children's Choir will perform -- and rumor as it the Cat in the Hat might make an appearance! Reserve tickets ($40 for adults, $20 for kids ages 12 and under) by calling 773-868-1876 opt. 5.

    Mandy Burrell Booth

    Bar Sun Mar 07 2010

    Soup and Bread: Extended By Popular Demand

    If you were able to make it to last week's Soup and Bread at The Hideout (and even if you weren't), Martha Bayne has posted the recipe for the West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup the Gapers Block Drive-Thru staff got together to help make, along with two other soups. She describes it as:

    "It has a hearty peanut flavor and a crazy texture, like pumpkin pie filling only ... if, you know, pumpkin pie was made from sweet potato and peanuts

    That may not sound like a comment, but I have to say that after dishing up soup to several people who seemed either confused or intrigued, I was able to watch them take a taste, furrow their brows, and then nod. There were even a couple of people who came up to say they were really impressed with how good it was. (Thank you highly to them!)

    But we're delighted to mention that there has been so much demand (on the part of soup-makers) that they've decided to extend the Soup and Bread event for two more weeks. And it's not just amateur soup-ists any more. Although this week's line-up sounds great. Paul Kahan is going to be making soup on March 17th. A crazy troupe of LTH'ers will be taking over on March 24th. And the world renowned "Hot Doug" Sohn is going to be cranking out something tasty on April 7th (my guess is that it will contain some sort of sausage).

    And we also have to take a moment to thank all the generous eaters who have helped to raise more than $3,000 for area charities and food banks. Your evenings spent eating tasty soups is making it possible for those less fortunate to do so as well.

    Cinnamon Cooper

    Event Fri Mar 05 2010

    Oscar Drinks and Noshes has a nice rundown of best film nominee-inspired drink recipes for this Sunday's Oscar ceremony. If you're looking for some local inspiration, our own Sandy Weisz's blog The Puzzler had a contest going for the best puns of food/film nominees for an Oscar party, coming up with such winners as District 9's Johannesburgers and Avatar's Na'vi Bean Soup.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Mar 03 2010

    One Night Only! We Cook Soup for You!

    The Drive-Thru staff will be showing off their culinary chops (again) at tonight's Soup and Bread fundraiser at the Hideout, 1357 West Wabansia (5:30-8pm).

    Come enjoy the fruits of our labor and support Catholic Charities, the recipient of this week's donations.

    Robyn Nisi

    News Mon Mar 01 2010

    Cooking Up Change

    schoollunch.jpgThis week, the Chicago-based Healthy Schools Campaign launches a national effort to increase awareness of what's served in school cafeterias and to secure more funding for the Child Nutrition Act. The program, called Cooking Up Change, kicks off tomorrow with local students from Tilden Career Community High School going to Washington, DC, to serve a healthy meal to members of Congress. The Tilden students won last year's Cooking Up Change cooking contest with a meal of chicken-vegetable jambalaya with jalapeno cornbread and cucumber salad. You can go to the HSC's web site and click on a button to urge your elected leaders to eat a school lunch on March 2.
    Photo courtesy of Fed Up: School Lunch Project

    If you don't know a school kid who is subjected to the salty, processed foods schools around the country serve up every day, you can get a good glimpse at the meals through the Fed Up: School Lunch Project blog, an anonymous diary by a public school teacher.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Lori Barrett

    Event Mon Feb 22 2010

    Hot Chocolate Celebrates Tonight

    Mindy Segal's Wicker Park eatery Hot Chocolate celebrates its fifth birthday tonight with a benefit fundraiser for Share Our Strength. Segal will be sharing cooking duties with a bevy of fellow chefs, among them Superstar Rick Bayless, mk's Michael Kornick, and Great Lake's Nick Lessins. Craft beers from Piece, the newly opened Revolution Brewery, Half Acre and Three Floyds add to the fun as well. Whoa! Cocktails at 6:30pm, dinner an hour later. Tickets $150.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Fri Feb 19 2010

    Chicago Restaurant Week, Minus the Weak

    As you may know, another week of fine dining at low prices at selected restaurants has begun--Chicago Restaurant Week, which offers prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at places such as Naha, Boka, and the Gage (through February 28). But before you rush off to make reservations, the AV Club has a nice breakdown of which places are worth the scarlet letter of being the discount diner in the joint (The Lobby, Pane Caldo) and which ones are clearly not worth the effort, and in some cases, are actually making money off your visit.

    My recommendation is to hit up Naha; I loved my meal so much that I left my digital camera in the taxi while heading back to work. That's how good it was.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (3)

    Event Wed Feb 17 2010

    Cheese Sculpture Demo in Niles

    World-famous cheese sculptor Sarah Kaufman, who has carved the likenesses of Katie Couric, Jay Leno and Brett Favre, will be in Niles on Saturday and Sunday. As part of an opening celebration for a new Meijer store, Kaufman will carve the Niles city skyline out of two 150-pound Wisconsin cheddar wheels. Shoppers, and cheese-scultpure afficionados, can watch her work from 10am to 5pm both days, at Meijer, 9000 Golf Road.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Wed Feb 17 2010

    Milwaukee's Best

    A film festival in Beloit, Wisconsin (home of my alma mater) is playing Fish Fry Night, a documentary about the culture of, well, what a lot of folks up north eat on Fridays. The screening is scheduled for this Friday at 5pm, just in time to head to any nearby restaurant afterwards for a plate of the fried good stuff. Because taking the afternoon off for a trip up a merciless I-90 sounds awful, viewing the trailer is completely awesome and sufficient for satisfying your fish fry fantasies:

    From what I gather, finding a Sconnie-style fish fry in Chicago is a little difficult. Your thoughts?

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Feb 15 2010

    Beer and Mussels

    IMG_0121.JPGI can think of nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of mussels, a glass of delicious beer and crispy french fries. Fans of Goose Island beer are specifically in luck because Bistro 110 is hosting a Beer and Mussels Tasting event this Thursday from 6:30-8:30PM for only $25 per person. This event includes 6 different Goose Island beers, including my favorites Matilda and Snow Wit paired with 6 different preparation of mussels. Goose Island Brewmaster, Greg Hall will also be on hand at the event. Reservations are recommended but not required.

    Bistro 110
    110 East Pearson

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Fri Feb 12 2010

    Valentine's Day Alternative!

    Tired of garish pink hearts, half-withered red roses and chubby cherubs with odd smiles? Yes, I'm talking about Valentine's Day. You can't win--if you lack a mate, you are bound to feel lonelier (and you just survived Christmas!), and if you do have a mate, you end up being accused of either high degree of predictability (candle-lit dinners, boxed chocolates, the said roses) or offending noncompliance with the expectations.

    Thankfully, this year, it's not just Valentine's Day that falls on the 14th. It's also the Lunar New Year. Why not ditch the V-Day? Head out to Chinatown, watch the lions dance, get your ear drums blown out by hundreds of firecrackers, and of course, have some tasty dim sum? While you are at it, don't forget to pick up some fa gao (steamed cake that brings prosperity) or nian gao (steamed sweet rice cake traditionally eaten on New Year's Day) from one of the many bakeries there.

    Yu Kizawa

    Event Mon Feb 08 2010

    When Your Time is Worth the Unremarkable Savings: Denny's Free Grand Slam Tomorrow

    If you love something for nothing, all Denny's restaurants will be offering a free Grand Slam Breakfast tomorrow from 6am-2pm.

    According to my in-depth research, the closest Denny's are at:

    • 711 North Harlem, Oak Park

    • 4609 North Harlem, Norridge

    • 9217 South Cicero, Oak Lawn

    • 8349 West North, Melrose Park

    Even though Denny's ad campaign calls this event "A Tough Day to be a Chicken," it will be a HORRIBLE day to be a waiter at Denny's. Tip generously.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Jan 25 2010

    Bourbon Becomes Edible

    Although we're in high season of many restaurant weeks, a one-night-stand will be hitting the city tomorrow that is worth considering: Schubas will be hosting a four-course Bourbon Dinner featuring dishes made with Jim Beam (I'm sure you're familiar with his work). The menu looks intriguing (and booze-soaked): braised pork, lentil cassoulet, and osso bucco paired with (naturally) the devil's water. JB's "Bourbon Professor" Steve Cole will be on hand to chat and to grade your assignments. Admission is $60; event begins at 7:30pm.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Sat Jan 23 2010

    National Pie Day

    Did you know today is National Pie Day? Well, it is! Don't worry if you don't have time to bake a pie or run out and buy one, the American Pie Council will be handing out Bonert's pies in downtown Chicago and surrounding areas.

    Shanna Quinn

    Event Tue Jan 19 2010

    Dine Like They Do on the Discovery Channel

    The Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting a couple of breakfasts with the animals this winter. On Valentine's Day, diners can enjoy breakfast with lions and tigers in the Kovler Lion House. The morning is the cats' most active time of day. Diners will get an early peek at the animals as the zoo's manager of carnivores talks about wild cats and answers questions about the behaviors on display. In March, the zoo will open the Regenstein Center for African Apes early, for another breakfast and talk. Like the big cats, the apes are most active early in the day, so the assistant curator of primates will be on hand to offer insight into ape behavior.

    The feast with the felines is on Feb. 14 at 9:30am. Tickets, which must be purchased by Feb. 11, are $65 for zoo members and $75 for nonmembers.
    Breakfast with the apes is on March 14 at 9am. Tickets are $65 for zoo members and $75 for nonmembers.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Sat Jan 16 2010

    Hideout Haiti Benefit & Bake Sale

    Hideout Haiti Benefit this Monday night (January 18th) featuring music from the Waco Brothers and Eleventh Dream Day, a poster sale by Judgeworks, and a bake sale organized by Joanna of My Vegetable Blog and The Kitchn with volunteer contributors: Janine of Rustic Kitchen, Andrea of Forkable, Kathy of Stresscake, Daniel of Fruit Slinger and Waffleizer, and Gemma of Pro Bono Baker.

    The benefit event is $20 and all door and sale proceeds will be donated to Partners in Health. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Show starts at 8 pm.

    Bakers still needed! If you would like to contribute about two dozen baked goods (or another homemade product) to the effort, please contact joannam(at)apartmenttherapy(dot)com.

    The Hideout
    1354 West Wabansia
    (773) 227-4433

    Gemma Petrie / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Jan 15 2010

    Restaurants providing relief for Haiti

    Dine out next week at participating Chicago-area restaurants and help victims of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake.

    From Jan. 18 to 24, a bunch of local restaurants will offer diners the opportunity to contribute to Haitian relief efforts by adding $1 to their check. At the end of the week, the total amount donated will be forwarded to Heartland Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit sending a team to Haiti next week to participate in on-the-ground assessments and in planning emergency responses with governmental, international, and community groups. The group will focus on immediate protection services, short and long-term psychosocial services, and health care.

    Here's a list of current participants. The list is growing, though, so check back for new partners -- and eat up next week!

    Atwood Cafe
    The Bristol
    Chaise Lounge
    Goose Island Clybourn
    Hunt Club
    Old Town Social
    one sixtyblue
    Prairie Grass Cafe
    SUSHIsamba Rio
    The Publican

    UPDATE: Grub Street Chicago has a list of other restaurants raising money for Haiti relief.

    Mandy Burrell Booth

    News Wed Jan 13 2010

    Your Kitchen's Got Talent?

    If you're the type of person who spends hours online reading recipes and then partial hours sniffing produce in Whole Foods before coming home to create complicated, multicourse meals; and you're also the type of person who wouldn't mind a little friendly "encouragement" from Gordon Ramsay (on national TV), then clear your weekend schedule. Ramsay and Fox are searching for amateur chefs, passionate foodies and accomplished dinner party hosts or hostesses for a U.S. version of Ramsay's cooking-competition "MasterChef." And they're bringing their search to Chicago: On Sunday from 11am to 4pm at Sur La Table in Naperville, casting directors will interview hopeful amateur chefs, who must bring a photo of themselves, a dish (which they'll have five minutes to "plate") and a photo of the dish. Applications and information about casting are available here.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Mon Jan 11 2010

    Blue Sky Singles Dinner Party

    bakerylogo.pngI know that it is only January 11th but drugstores and supermarkets have already created a pink and red-filled aisle in anticipation for Valentine's Day. For many singles in the city, this "Hallmark Holiday" is anticipated with dread. However, Blue Sky Inn, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization established to provide educational, cultural and recreational activities to at-risk youth in Chicago, is eager to give you an event to look forward to. Blue Sky Inn is throwing two Singles Dinner Parties. On Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th at 7 pm, Blue Sky will be hosting dinner parties just for single folks.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Thu Jan 07 2010

    Rice is Nice Tonight

    The City's World KItchen learning series kicks off a new year tonight with Rice 101, where you will learn to choose and cook different types of rices. The spring session also boasts a lot of other very cool-sounding classes, such as cooking with cinnamon (January 28), winter greens (February 27) and learning how to make tapas (March 25). All classes are held at the Gallery 37 for the Arts (66 E. Randolph). Tonight's class runs 6-8:30pm and costs $30; pre-registration required.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Jan 06 2010

    City Provisions Offering Discount to Gapers Block Readers

    A couple of months ago, I wrote about the City Provisions monthly Supper Club. I've been to one of these events and I can tell you that it was one of the best meals I've ever had.

    Next Tuesday, January 12 at 7 p.m. City Provisions is hosting its Supper Club at Architectural Artifacts (4325 North Ravenswood). City Provisions is teaming up with Death's Door Spirits and Floriole Bakery to bring you a truly one-of-a-kind cocktail party experience.

    The special guest will be Tim Winkler of Mindful Metropolis to discuss their Mission and commitment to the conscious community

    $75 per person includes all food, drink and entertainment. Head over to the website for more details.

    For this event, City Provisions is offering a special deal for Gapers Block Readers. When you call (773.293.2489) to make your reservation, mention Gapers Block and receive a $10 discount.

    Check out the event, get involved in the conscious community. You won't be disappointed.

    Happy eating!


    Kaitlin Olson / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Dec 18 2009

    Supper Club Season Is Here

    City Provisions, a catering and event company, hosts monthly events designed to showcase local food and beverage providers. During growing season, they're called Farm Dinners, but now that the harvest is over, it's time for their Supper Clubs.

    Because City Provisions is turning their event space into a deli (to open this winter), their monthly gatherings will be held at various venues around the city. Supper Club season kicks off on January 12 with a cocktail party at Architectural Artifacts (4235 N. Ravenswood). Starting at 7 PM, the event will feature Wisconsin's Death Door Spirits, heavy finger foods from City Provisions, and desserts from Floriole Bakery. All Supper Club events cost $75--and that covers everything, including food, drinks, tax, tip, and entertainment.

    For reservations call 773-293-2489 or e-mail

    Jill Jaracz

    Event Tue Dec 15 2009

    Learn How the Wealthy Eat

    Join the Culinary Historians of Chicago this Saturday for a lecture about the culinary travels of Elsie Henderson, a former chef for an uber-wealthy family who owned Frank Lloyd Wright's Pennsylvania masterpiece Fallingwater. Henderson went on to cook for other families, including the Mellons, Shrivers and Heinzes (I imagine ketchup was a key ingredient), and wrote about her experiences in "The Fallingwater Cookbook." Saturday's lecture, hosted by Henderson's co-author Suzanne Martinson, will give background about the book and its recipes. "The View from the Kitchen: an Upstairs-Downstairs Look at Frank Lloyd Wright's Most Famous House" runs 10am-noon at the Chicago History Museum,1600 N. Clark. Admission starts at $3. Brangelina not included.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Dec 09 2009

    Mado Restaurant Announces 2010 Pig Butchering and Charcuterie Classes

    madocharcuteriemed.jpgChefs Rob and Allie Leavitt of Mado Restaurant announced today a series of butchering and charcuterie classes for January. After quickly selling out three pig butchering demonstrations in November and early December, the new pigcentric series includes sessions on creating patés and terrines (January 17), fresh sausages (January 24) and testa (or preparations of pig's head; January 31). The series kicks off with a pig butchering demonstration on January 10. All classes take place on Sundays from noon to 2:00pm. Cost is $50 per person per class to participate, and class size is limited to 12 people. Email or call the restaurant at 773-342-2340 to sign up. Mado is located at 1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    Sharon Bautista

    Event Wed Dec 09 2009

    Rick Bayless Creates Freebie Menu for Late-Night Street Cart

    ketelonecanteen.jpgDon't want to pay Xoco prices for Mexican street food by Rick Bayless? Then visit Mariano Park this Thursday, Friday or Saturday night to enjoy free Bayless-created tortas and tacos. Chef has teamed up with Ketel One Vodka to design the Chicago menu for the Ketel One Canteen, a national project to promote responsible drinking this holiday season.

    Enjoy complimentary Black Bean and Caramelized Onion and Beef Tortas, Black Bean and Chorizo Tortas, Roasted Poblano Potato Tacos and Pork Tinga Tacos. The Canteen will also offer bottles of water and free rides home. Sound too good to be true? Bayless will not be at the Canteen, but there will likely be lines as if he were there. The Ketel One Canteen will be in Mariano Park (Bellevue Pl. and Rush St.) this Thursday-Saturday, December 10-12, from midnight to 2am.

    Sharon Bautista / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Dec 09 2009

    Italian Beef Showdown This Weekend

    Sharp Entertainment, the production company behind the Travel Channel's "Man Vs. Food," will be in town this week working on a new show debuting on the network this spring.

    They'll be taping an episode on the history of Italian beef in Chicago, profiling both Al's and Mr. Beef and and their decades-long rivalry. The show will culminate in a blind taste test by a panel of five guest judges, and a winner will be declared for that day.

    That's where you come in. The producers are looking for as many people as possible to be an Italian beef partisans. They'll be shooting at the original Al's, 1079 W. Taylor St., this Friday, Dec. 11, starting at 11:30am till probably around 1 or 2pm, and at Mr. Beef, 666 N. Orleans St., on Saturday, Dec. 12 starting at 11am. Finally, on Sunday they'll filming the judged showdown at The Green Door Tavern, 678 N. Orleans St., starting around 2pm, and they'll want fans of both places there to support their favorite. If you're passionate about your beef, it looks like your weekend has been planned for you.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Sat Dec 05 2009

    Winter Markets Benefit Illinois Farmers

    Tomorrow kicks off this season's series of winter farmer's markets, held in churches all around the city. A portion of the proceeds go to Faith In Place, an organization that supports farmers who face unexpected crises that limit their ability to work and threaten their well-being. Tomorrow's market will be held in the First Evangelical Free Church at 5255 N. Ashland Ave. Check out the full schedule here.

    Dana Currier / Comments (1)

    Feature Fri Dec 04 2009

    Christkindlmarket, Anyone?

    IMG_5274.JPGI love the holiday season - it's such a happy time of year and there are always so many fun, festive things going on. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is go to the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza. Modeled after the famous Christkindlsmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany (it began in 1545!), the Market features traditional German food, handmade crafts and beautiful lights. You can even go inside a heated tent and watch video from the magical event in Nuremberg.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Kaitlin Olson / Comments (5)

    Event Wed Dec 02 2009

    Forkable Cookie Baking Class

    Join Andrea of the food blog Forkable for a day of holiday cookie baking! The event will take place this Saturday, Dec. 5 from noon 4pm at Andrea's Chicago home. The event is $40 per participant and space is limited. Class fee includes ingredients, instruction, apron and cooking equipment use. All participants will be sent home with a bag of their fresh baked goods. Register through Brown Paper Tickets.

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Wed Dec 02 2009

    Menu for Hope 6

    mmenuforhope.jpg The food blog Chez Pim is hosting the sixth annual Menu for Hope in collaboration with the UN World Food Programme. Over the past three years, Menu for Hope has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars to feed hungry people around the world.

    Food bloggers come together and donate items or services as prizes. On December 14th, the raffle opens and those interested in bidding on prizes can purchase raffle tickets for $10 a piece. All of the money will be donated to the UN World Food Programme.

    For more information on this fundraising event, including how to donate items to the raffle, visit Chez Pim.

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Mon Nov 30 2009

    Holiday Sweets Fest at the Farmstand

    Why be nice when you can be naughty every day of the work week at the Holiday Sweets Fest at the Farmstand. Located at 66 E. Randoph St., the Farmstand is featuring holiday goodies from local bakeries and confectioners starting on Tuesday, December 1 until Wednesday, December 23. Each featured company will showcase their treats from noon to 2pm on a select day.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Shanna Quinn

    Business Sat Nov 28 2009

    Advent Season Begins with Stollen

    Advent begins tomorrow, and nobody knows how to celebrate the countdown to Christmas like the Germans. Chicago's Christkindlmarket opened this past week in Daley Plaza, and, as always, plenty of good food is for sale: typical German fare such as wursts and pretzels as well as roasted nuts and hot chocolate. But for a real traditional Advent treat, try the stollen at the booth run by Dinkel's Bakery. The dough for this rich pastry, which is studded with fruit and nuts, is sometimes folded over from both sides to resemble the swaddling clothes the baby Jesus was wrapped in before he was laid in the manger.

    Dana Currier

    Drink Wed Nov 25 2009

    Don't Forget the Wine!

    Turkey? Check. Trimmings? Check. Wine? Egads!

    If you haven't gotten the wine you'll be serving (or bringing to) Thanksgiving dinner, hit up Randolph Wine Cellars (1415 W. Randolph) this evening. They've extended their daily Happy Hour tasting to 5:30-8 PM, and they'll be showcasing some Thanksgiving-friendly wines in a variety of price ranges. Best of all, the tasting is free.

    Jill Jaracz

    Event Tue Nov 17 2009

    Seafood and Sake @ L2O

    L2O (2300 N. Lincoln) is hosting a three course plus dessert dinner at 6:30pm on Thursday the 19th of November. Presented by ChicaGourmets!, diners can experience James Beard nominee Laurent Gras' offerings paired with fine sake selections.

    Dinner is $112 per person, all inclusive. Reservations can be made here for this and other ChicaGourmets! events.

    Cliff Etters

    Event Thu Nov 12 2009

    Bayless and Burlesque

    Rick Bayless never rests. He just topped several other master chefs on Bravo's competition, then opened a new street-food restaurant. Next up: He's hitting the stage with local ensemble 500 Clown for The Madam Barker Holiday Variety Show at Prop Thtr. The burlesque show, which runs for the three Fridays from November 27th to December 11th, will feature Bayless in the last two shows. Along with the holiday-themed music, dancing, magic and comedy, Bayless will be on stage creating edible concoctions.

    Tickets are $10, available at the door only, so expect the same sorts of lines you find at other Bayless businesses around town--though the 11pm start time might cull the crowd a bit.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Thu Nov 12 2009

    Blue Sky Pie

    bakerylogo.pngAre you looking for a great bakery for your holiday pies? Do you want to sample the goods before you commit? Want to support a great organization for Chicago's homeless and at-risk youth. Well you are in lucky. Blue Sky Bakery & Cafe is hosting a pie tasting on November 21st and 22nd from 10AM-3PM. $5 gets you a sample of pumpkin, apple and chocolate pecan pie with plenty of hot coffee, cider or tea to wash it down with. Orders for whole pies may be placed with 48 hours notice by calling the bakery at (773) 478-2233 or by e-mailing Prices range from $14 (pumpkin) to $20 (apple or chocolate pecan). A pumpkin cheesecake pie with gingersnap crust is also available for $24. Click through to learn more about Blue Sky Inn.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Wed Nov 11 2009

    Drink & Shop for a Cause

    Drinking and shopping goes together like peanut butter and chocolate, right? The Chicago Chapter of the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) certainly thinks so, and to that end, they've paired with twelve boutiques in the West Loop for an evening of shopping and cocktails tomorrow night from 5-9 PM. Each boutique will feature a different classic cocktail (for ages 21+), where you can sip and learn about the drink's history, and shop from unique clothing and accessory lines. LUPEC will also collect donations to benefit Greenhouse Shelter.

    The partnering boutiques include: 2 Sisters Boutique (1167 W. Madison), Spex & Spex Luminaire (1130 W. Madison), Smitten Boutique & Magnificent Milestones (1041 W. Madison), Fig Tree (1037 W. Madison), Tribeca Boutique (1035 W. Madison), Takohl Gallery, (110 N. Peoria), Bess & Loie (1015 W. Lake), Koros Art + Style (1039 W. Lake). Pick up a map from any participating store, and create your own tour of imbibing enjoyment.

    Jill Jaracz

    Event Tue Nov 10 2009

    Big Thai at Big Bowl

    Big Bowl (60 E Ohio) is hosting a Thai Luncheon at 12:30pm on Saturday November 14th. Writer and cook Nancy McDermott will be taking diners through a culinary tour of Thailand focusing on various regions and techniques.

    Presented by ChicaGourmets! and Big Bowl, you can make reservations here for this and other ChicaGourmets! events.

    The luncheon is $39 all inclusive.

    Cliff Etters

    Event Tue Nov 10 2009

    Zombie Doug's

    White Zombie and Cherry Bomb
    Just a few last thoughts on eating Halloween this year, before the candy corn goes totally stale... Intrepid DT Editor Robyn Nisi clued me into dinner at Lula Café for what has become an annual tradition -- dressing up the entire establishment as another restaurant. This year, Lula briefly closed for zombification on Halloween, only to re-open to immediately lengthy lines as a spooky version of Hot Doug's -- real-life Doug Sohn included, chained to a desk at the front of the line to take orders. The illusion was so complete I had to ask our slightly decaying waitress if the entire Hot Doug's crew had been locked in the walk-in and forced to whip up a service of specialty dogs (or pay the price! or something...). But the entire menu was planned and executed in-house, with Doug's approval before he agreed to lend his name and t-shirts to the staff.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Mon Nov 09 2009

    Turkish Feast

    Istanbul Restaurant (3613 N. Broadway) is hosting a Turkish Feast tomorrow night. The reception starts at 6:30pm with dinner served at 7pm.

    Owner-Chef Yasar Demir is presenting each course with a wine pairing. Starters of hummus, baba ghanoush, and ezme are paired with a 2008 Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Reisling, and an entree of chicken shish kebab or beef kebab are being served with 2006 Zwei.1 Zweigelt.

    This dinner is presented by ChicaGourmets!, and you can find a PDF of the event menu and more information here.

    The dinner is $39 all inclusive, and is limited to 40 diners.

    Cliff Etters

    Event Thu Nov 05 2009

    Cob Connection Benefit

    CC-Logo-1.jpgCome out to the LooseLeaf Lounge on Friday, November 20 at 7pm to 9:30pm for the Cob Connection Benefit -- don't miss this opportunity to support urban farming and a locally-owned business! The Cob Connection explores systematic quality of housing and food by integrating community involvement, social responsibility, and environmentalism into training programs in urban agriculture.

    A ticket will give you your choice of sandwich (with a side of chips or veggies), salad, tea or coffee, dessert, plus one raffle ticket. All fresh greens are supplied by Cob Connection and dessert is provided by The Chicago Diner. Additional raffle tickets will be available for purchase.

    Thumbnail image for LLLlogo-1.jpgTickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. To purchase tickets in advance email or call (773) 809-5371. Better yet, why not swing by the LooseLeaf Lounge at 2915 North Broadway in Lakeview to register in person --and grab a cup of tea while you're at it!

    Shanna Quinn

    Event Sun Nov 01 2009

    City Provisions' Supper Club Returns

    City Provisions, Chicago's green, locally-focused catering company, is kicking off the return of its monthly Supper Club on Nov. 16 at 7pm with Koval Distillery, the first boutique distillery located in Chicago.

    The dinner will consist of five courses, paired with cocktails mixed by Ultimate Elixir's mixologist, Anige Jackson, and will be held at West Loop Studio, a historic top-floor loft at 17 N. Elizabeth St.

    The dinner will consist of five courses, paired with cocktails featuring Koval's spirits. The price is an all-inclusive $75 per person.

    I had the opportunity to attend one of the monthly Supper Club events and can assure you it's something you won't want to miss. What more can you want than good drinks, good company and extraordinary food?

    Call 773-293-2489 to make your reservation.

    Kaitlin Olson

    Drink Wed Oct 28 2009

    Applik and Bubbles

    Stoli Gala Applik Launch 001I'm the kind of person that doesn't mind a bit of seasonality in my drinks. A little pumpkin in my beer, a little mulled spice in my wine...but easy on the apple pie, okay Leinenkugels? So I gladly accepted an invitation to Stoli's new Gala Applik launch party, the Moscova Affair, earlier this fall at Manor. I am not generally a vodka-drinker, nor a club-goer, so arrived thirsty, slightly early, and with all the scattered nervousness of a kid on the first day of class. With corset- and leather-clad servers and an Adam and Eve-themed silent circus tableau by San Francisco's Vau de Vire Society that more than lived up to the smoke-swilling lush-lipped ad campaign Stoli has plastered over CTA bus stops for months, I felt appropriately out of my element. At least the place was lousy with vodka, featuring at least five different suggested mixers for the new apple-infused Stoli blend, which I was expecting to taste more like Apple Pucker but has actually a mild, almost perfumey character. Applik and ginger ale was probably the best of the combinations I tried, though the signature "Applik Temptress" featured sour mix and a dash of bitters. Vanity Fair suggests a sangria-like white wine and fruit cocktail called, appropriately or not, the Rio 2016. Ouch. And, mmmmm!

    Jazzin' with Pol RogerI don't know that there's anything particularly seasonal about champagne, unless you feel the end of Daylight Savings Time should be celebrated with bubbles. But I still stopped by Pol Roger's Jazz Celebration last night at Pops for Champagne, an institution that I've been meaning to try for years. The White Foil Reserve Brut was the drink of the night, comprised of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes and fermented early in its life to a precise 46 F degrees, a process apparently distinctive to Pol Roger. A bottle of the White Foil retails for about $60, according to our pourer, though Pops has several other Pol Roger varieties on their menu as well, starting in more like the $115 range and rising steadily from there. The Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1998 is aged in the deepest, coldest cellars in Pol Roger's operation, and has a dense, almost edible quality to it, with bubbles so fine you barely notice them and a mouth-feel much more like wine than champagne. My favorite was the Brut Blanc de Blancs 1999, which was both demi-sec and a bit tart, I thought the most interesting in terms of flavor of the bunch.

    In other drinking news, C-House, in the Affinia Hotel, continues its prix-fixe Goose Island beer menu through the end of this week, and more paper seems to peel back every day from the windows of Lush Wine and Spirits' new location on Chicago Avenue. Whatever causes you to raise a glass this fall, be it circus folks, or grain alcohol, or the pleasing pop of a champagne cork, there are plenty of places and things to drink this time of year.

    Andie Cavedo / Comments (2)

    Event Sat Oct 24 2009

    Watch Three Chic Chicago Chefs Throw Down

    Join Today's Chicago Woman (TCW) magazine at The Chopping Block in the Merchandise Mart on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 6pm to 9pm for "The Taste of TCW" cooking competition. This cuisine and culinary challenge won't only be tasty, all the proceeds will benefit the TCW Foundation, a charity that raises money for varies organizations dedicated to helping women and children.

    The challengers are Radhika Desai, Season 5 contestant on Bravo TV's "Top Chef"; Elaina Vazquez, owner of Boutique Bites; and Jennifer Gavin from Fox TV's "Hell's Kitchen" and owner of Catered Excellence. Rocking the judge's panel will be Shelley Young of the Chopping Block and Chef Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass and Prairie Fire. The emcee for this delightful evening will be Steve Dolinksky, "The Hungry Hound" from ABC 7.

    Tickets are $75, which includes the cuisine and culinary challenge plus hors d'oeuvres from the participating chef's favorite recipes, beer and wine, and signature cocktails from Sundas's mixologist, Sherrie Geslack. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase. Visit Today's Chicago Woman magazine to reserve your tickets.

    Shanna Quinn

    Event Tue Oct 20 2009

    LTHForum 2009 Great Neighborhood Restaurant Awards

    lth_2009gnr.jpgFood chat site LTHForum's annual Great Neighborhood Restaurant awards were presented Monday night in a ceremony at past winner Marie's Pizza & Liquors, adding 23 new venues to its excellent list of winners. For the first time the awards have been expanded to include non-restaurants (referred to as Great Neighborhood Resources), in acknowledgment that there are so many important places in Chicagoland that don't necessarily serve food but provide ingredients, equipment or otherwise support restaurants and home cooks.

    The GNR awards have always been an excellent avenue for recognition of restaurants that aren't necessarily new or trendy, places that are simply making great food and contributing to the culinary wealth of the city. For smaller spots, the awards provide a much-appreciated boost. Winner Juan Zaragoza of Birrieria Zaragoza said, "Sometimes you're about to hang the towel, and somebody comes in and says 'Hey, we like your food.' And we say 'You do?' And that keeps us going."

    Several of the nominees attended the ceremony, including Delightful Pastries owners Dobra Bielinski and Stasia Hawyrszczuk, who took the opportunity to announce that they will soon be opening a new store at 1710 Wells St., in addition to being part of the French Market, which officially opens Nov. 17. "I think it's an excellent idea to have farmers markets like they do in France: all year round, not just three months out of the year," Bielinksi said.

    site_appreciation.jpgAs a surprise, the owners of Marie's Pizza turned the tables on LTHForum and awarded the site its own "Favorite Foodies Award." Said Marie's' Nadine Karavides, "You can pass it amongst yourselves like the Stanley Cup."

    Below are the 2009 award winners, in alphabetical order, with links to either the business' website or the LTH Forum nomination thread.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Oct 19 2009

    Kids Halloween Party at Green City Market

    Chicago Green City Market Looking for something to do with the kiddies during the daylight hours of Halloween? Green City Market is hosting at Halloween Party during their last outdoor market of the season on Saturday, Oct. 31. The market will then move indoors at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum Wednesdays and Saturdays from Nov. 7 through Dec. 23, followed by twice monthly markets during the winter.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Wed Oct 14 2009

    Learn Ribs Right

    Just because it's cold out doesn't mean you can't smoke a mean rack of ribs. Gary Wiviott, LTH Forum founder and author of Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons, is teaching a rib class at Backyard Barbecue Store, 1147 Greenleaf Ave. in Wilmette, this Saturday, Oct. 17 at 1pm. Learn how to do ribs the right way on both a Weber smoker and a Big Green Egg, and how to make his basic Wiviott Rub (which is also now available at the Spice House), Tangy 7-Pepper Barbecue Sauce and Lexington Red Slaw. The class costs $50; call 847-251-2272 to sign up.

    And if you're really ambitious, you can test your newfound skills in the Backyard Barbecue Store's third annual Ribfest on Sunday, Oct. 18.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Oct 12 2009

    Crowning a Mix Master

    On any given day, you never know what you'll find when you open up your inbox. Color me surprised, then, when I opened my e-mail to discover an invitation to represent Gapers Block as a judge in a semi-final for DeKuyper's Mix Master Bartender Contest.

    Not one to say no to the difficult task of judging cocktails, I joined the judges panel, and on September 30th at Martini Park, we sent one lucky bartender on his way to the Chicago final.

    Contestants had to create a shot or drink that had no more than three ingredients, one of which had to be a DeKuyper product. It had to be a drink that was fairly simple to prepare, so no mashing or muddling, and no energy drinks. We judged the entries on taste, appearance, creativity of name, simplicity, and originality.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Jill Jaracz

    Event Sun Oct 11 2009

    86 Hunger: Ending Hunger in Our Community

    This year, 35 percent more Chicagoans are turning to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and its network of pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Now, more than ever, it's important to support this incredible organization so they can help feed those in need.

    Beginning Oct. 21, six local restaurants will play host to the Food Depository's inaugural "86 Hunger" dinner series, an event that will unite chefs and guests together in an effort to ending hunger in out community. Each dinner in the series will provide guests with an intimate dining experience at some of the most prominent restaurants in Chicago.

    Tickets for individual dinners (schedule below) are $150, and all proceeds benefit the Food Depository. Information and tickets are available here.

    • Oct. 21: Frontera Grill, Chef Rick Bayless
    • Oct. 26: Red Light, Chef Jackie Shen
    • Oct. 28: Custom House, Chef Aaron Deal
    • Nov. 8: West Town Tavern, Chef Susan and Drew Goss
    • Nov. 10: BOKA, Chef Giuseppe Tentori
    • Nov. 18: Restaurant Michael, Chef Michael Lachowicz

    The Frontera Grill dinner includes a visit to Chef Rick Bayless' home garden, as well as a live cooking demonstration in the restaurant's test kitchen. VIP tickets for the Frontera Grill dinner are $1,250 and include entry to four other dinners. Chefs and restaurants are donating their time and labor for the dinners, which will include approximately 100 attendees each.

    Kaitlin Olson

    Event Thu Oct 08 2009

    VeganMania this Saturday

    On Saturday Chicago gets an opportunity to look a little deeper into the vegan world. A new festival called VeganMania brings local vegan-friendly restaurants together with animal-free clothing vendors, no-kill animal shelters, live music, and makers of meat and cheese alternatives just in time to help with Thanksgiving plans with any vegan friends. The famed Soul Vegetarian and Chicago Diner will serve food alongside newer restaurants like Delicious Cafe. I'm particularly curious about the high fashion vegan winter coats expected from Vaute Couture. The day also includes live music and speakers, including Dr. Michael Greger of the Human Society of the United States.

    In a prepared statement, organizer John Beske said, "We're excited to prove to the world that Chicago's reputation as Hog Butcher To The World no longer accurately describes our progressive and compassionate city."

    The festival runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m at Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk. Free admission and free samples. El: Blue Line to Division. Bus: Ashland 9, Milwaukee 56, Division 70, North 72.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Chris Brunn

    Blog Wed Oct 07 2009

    Forkable Launch Party

    Andrea, of local food blog Forkable, just launched a redesigned of her site. She is celebrating in style by throwing a launch party this Thursday, October 8 from 7 pm to 10 pm at Archie's Tavern (2600 W. Iowa). Sip a $2 whiskey or beer and enjoy some free, homemade Forkable favorites like jalapeno poppers, cheesy onion casserole and bbq seitan while you meet the author.

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Tue Oct 06 2009

    Club Lago Hosts Grand Re-Opening Party

    Last spring one of Chicago's favorite culinary landmarks, Club Lago, was forced to close after a 50-foot chimney collapsed onto its building. Tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 7 the family-owned restaurant will host a grand re-opening party after being closed for six months.

    The party will begin at 5 p.m., reservations are recommended.

    Club Lago
    331 W. Superior St.
    Chicago, IL 60610

    Kaitlin Olson

    Event Mon Sep 28 2009

    4th Annual Andersonville Dessert Crawl

    dessert-web-banner-09.jpgOn Sunday, October 11th the Andersonville Development Corporation is hosting its 4th Annual Dessert Crawl. Participants will pick up their Dessert Crawl Passport at the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark) and will be allowed to sample tasting portions at over two dozen participating restaurants. Participating restaurants include: Ann Sather, Big Jones, Fireside, La Cocina de Frida and many more. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $25 online for each of the routes (decide between sweet or savory) or $40 for both. For more information call 773-728-7552.

    Whitney Merritt

    Chicago Gourmet Mon Sep 28 2009

    Chicago Gourmet 2009

    Chicago GourmetWhen I first heard about Taste of Chicago many years ago, I envisioned it as big block party where you could just meander from fancy restaurant to restaurant and sample their best dishes. Probably on tiny forks. And that it would all be free. Obviously, neither the real Taste or its younger, more upscale cousin Chicago Gourmet quite achieve that dream. But in its second year, Chicago Gourmet seems to better evoke the feeling of that festival in my head than the Taste has ever managed. With an improved lay-out and better selection of food (even though drink was still more heavily represented), the Pritzker Pavilion was transformed into an open pasture for gourmet grazing, from the tone set by the complimentary wine glass at the door to the security check for pilfered booze on the way out.

    More thoughts on this year's event after the jump.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andie Cavedo / Comments (2)

    Event Mon Sep 28 2009

    Chicago Chef Battle

    The new season of Chicago Public Radio Presents kicked off Saturday night at Catalyst Ranch, a roomy, eclectic space on Randolph filled with 50's collectible kitsch and decorations from as far away as Haiti, Thailand, and Pier 1 Imports. This month's event featured Chef Jill Barron of Mana Food Bar, Chef Ben Sheagren of Hopleaf, and Chef Jared Van Camp of Old Town Social.

    Hosting the event was Studio 312's Jimmy Carrane, whose running commentary kept the evening moving at a fast pace. Goose Island Brewery is sponsoring this year's series, and their 2009 Matilda was used by each of the three competing chefs; if this had been an episode of Iron Chef it would have been the "theme ingredient."

    Continue reading this entry »

    J.H. Palmer

    Event Thu Sep 24 2009

    Gand Cooks for Cancer

    For its Fourth Annual Author Event, the Women's Board of the Chicago Regional Office of the American Cancer Society, has delved into the world of food by presenting an evening with celebrated Chicago pastry chef and Food Network star Gale Gand. Gand will be demonstrating from and signing her latest book Gale Gand's Brunch! at a special event on October 28.

    The event will take place at Macy's Narcissus Room (111 S. State St., 7th floor) beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a reception and book signing. At 6:30 Gand will conduct a demonstration and tasting in Macy's Culinary Studio.

    Tickets for the event cost $95, with a limit of 150 guests. For more information or to make reservations contact, or call at 312-279-7264

    Jill Jaracz

    Drink Tue Sep 22 2009

    You Say Whisky, I Say Whiskey

    Although whisky and whiskey fans may not get a catchy tune like the po-ta-to/po-tah-to people, they do have a chance to debate the proper spelling tomorrow night at The Great Whisk(e)y Debate. This free event (for ages 21+) features whisk(e)y professors from Canadian Club, Knob Creek, and Laphroig who will talk about the merits of each of their whiskies during this interactive (i.e.--tasting) event. Even if you're not the biggest whisky buff, I'd recommend going--these are three really good and varied whiskies, and this is a good opportunity to learn about and taste the differences to see what style (or styles) you like best.

    It takes place on Wednesday at Faith and Whiskey (1365 W. Fullerton) from 7-9 PM. It's free, but you must RSVP to or call (773) 248-9119.

    Jill Jaracz

    Event Mon Sep 21 2009

    Baconfest Pro Cookoff Tickets on Sale

    You can now purchase your tickets for Baconfest Chicago's Pro Bacon Cookoff at Publican next month. The event features 10 chefs, each cooking one bacon-filled dish, each paired with a beer by Chef Paul Kahan and Beverage Director Michael McAvena. Attendees will also receive a bacon gift bag, and a portion of the $75 ticket price goes to charity.

    The event will be held from noon to 2pm Oct. 24 The Publican, 837 W. Fulton Market. Baconfest itself is still on, but is postponed until April... something. Stay tuned for more details about that.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Mon Sep 21 2009

    A Picture from the Luxury Ice Cream Festival

    Black Dog Gelato @ Luxury Ice Cream Festival
    A few weeks ago, I made it over the Chicago Luxury Ice Cream festival. Normally I reserve the word for luxury when it involves Donald Trump and fur rugs, and it seems odd to think of luxurious ice cream, but whatever it was, it was great. The event has plans to return next year as a multi-day event. A range of local and regional ice cream makers, among them Black Dog Gelato (pictured) and Nice Cream (excellent stuff) served up flavors like red pepper, chocolate sheep's milk, and blackberry pie (not together, ech) and to the hundreds of attendees. The lines were long, but spirits and glucose levels were high. Just where they should always be.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Sep 17 2009

    Free Gluten-Free Baking Cooking Class

    Looking for something to do on Saturday afternoon? Have a friend with celiac disease but want to make her a batch of cookies? You are in luck. This Saturday at 1PM, the Whole Foods at Halsted/Waveland is hosting a free gluten-free cookies baking class. Chef Susan of Cardamon Kitchen is going to demonstrate how to bake chocolate chip and sugar cookies, gluten-free. You need to register in advance to reserve your spot by calling 773-472-0400 or online.

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Tue Sep 15 2009


    Any plans for Mexican Independence Day? Head to Pilsen to take part in the second annual Buen Provecho restaurant tour. Over 25 local restaurants, cafes and bakeries will be sharing their favorite dishes as they celebrate the vibrant Pilsen community. Participating restaurants include old favorites like Neuvo Leon, Los Comales and Birreria Reyes de Ocotlan as well as newer additions to the neighborhood like Nightwood, Ristorante al Teatro and Simone's. The event runs from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm and tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event. All proceeds benefit the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, a a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. For a complete list of restaurants and to buy tickets online, visit the ESDC website.

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Thu Sep 10 2009

    Old Town Wine Crush


    The 7th Annual Old Town Wine Crush is this Saturday and Sunday on Wells between North and Schiller. The Wine Crush features live music, the opportunity to sample over 50 wines from around the world, food vendors and a Grape Stomping Competition. The festival runs from 11AM to 10PM on Saturday, 11AM to 6PM on Sunday and tickets are between $30 and $45 depending on the amount of wine that you want to sample.

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Thu Sep 10 2009

    A Sunday Picnic for Foodies

    If you love food and don't have plans this Sunday, whip up your favorite dish and bring it to LTH Forum's Picnic, which will be going on at Labagh Woods (near Foster and Cicero). Eating begins mid-morning and runs until early evening; please RSVP on the LTH site (and indicate your type of dish). You. Should. Go.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Sep 09 2009

    Farmers Markets Still Going Strong

    Farmer's Market vegetables Even though Labor Day has come and gone, marking the (unofficial) end of summer, the stands at many of Chicago's farmers markets are looking more lush than they have all season. Squash and apples are starting to appear, and the peaches and berries are still abundant. The Andersonville Farmer's Market, which started just this year, has been so successful than it has extended its run through October 7th. Today's market will be held, as usual, from 4 to 8 pm. Starting next week, the market will run from 3 to 7 pm. Come on up to Clark & Berwyn to take advantage of the early fall harvest.

    Dana Currier

    Event Tue Sep 01 2009

    Green City Market: 2009 Localvore Challenge

    Chicago Green City Market

    Trying to incorporate more local foods into your diet but you just can't give up avocados, bananas and lemons? Enjoy shopping at the farmer's markets but don't know what to make with that random vegetable you threw in your basket? Have you heard about "eating local" but don't really know what that means? Well, you are in luck. Green City Market's annual localvore challenge is fast approaching. This year's challenge will be from September 9th through the 23rd. Visit GCM's webpage here or go to the informational tent at the market on Wednesday or Saturday to learn more about the challenge and to sign up to participate. GCM has prepared a "localvore kit" to help you with the challenge. There is also a list of the many Chicago area restaurants which will be participating in the challenge.

    Are you participating this year?

    Whitney Merritt / Comments (1)

    Event Tue Sep 01 2009

    Free Gyros Day!

    Free Gyros Day @ Mangi'sMangi's Fast Foods in North Center was one of the 44 Chicagoland restaurants participating in Kronos Foods' Free Gyros Day today. It happens to be the closest one to the Gapers Block office, so I printed out my coupon and headed down.

    I was a little worried about whether I'd score free gyros after reading on Twitter about at least one Loop location running out before noon. Fortunately, Mangi's is remote enough that I needn't worry; I only waited about 20 minutes for my order. Still, at 12:30pm the line stretched out the door and to the alley, prompting more than one person to compare it to Hot Doug's -- probably the only time in Mangi's existence that's happened. I asked the cashier if they'd gotten many orders for anything other than gyros today. "Not much," she replied. "We've sold a lot of fries and drinks!"

    The gyros were as good as ever, though not quite as crispy as I personally like. I figure that's a symptom of how quickly Mangi's was going through cones to gyro meat.

    Did you manage to get a free gyros? What was the scene like where you went?

    Andrew Huff / Comments (3)

    Restaurant Sun Aug 30 2009

    Beyond the Bottle: Explore the Bounty of Honey

    On Thursday evening, the National Honey Board invited a group of writers to look "Beyond the Bottle and Explore the Bounty of Honey" with a honey tasting and specially-created dinner by Chef Randy Zweiban at Province. It was an enjoyable evening that combined education about honey production, varieties and environmental concerns with an interesting and inspiring range of cocktails, appetizers and dinner courses that highlighted the wide range of uses for honey in cooking.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Whitney Merritt

    Event Tue Aug 25 2009

    Re-Thinking Soup Reopens @ UIC with Slow Food's President

    The weekly Re-Thinking Soup series starts up again today (not exactly soup season, but "Late Summer Minestrone" is on the menu) at UIC's Jane Addams Hull-House Dining Hall (800 S. Halsted) from noon to 1:30pm. Kicking off this year's series is a lecture and discussion facilitated by Joshua Viertel, Slow Food USA's newly (and first-ever) elected President.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Mon Aug 24 2009

    Eating and Pedaling: a Winning Combo

    Gingko Organic GardensLast Saturday I participated in the Active Transportation Alliance and Neighbor Space's Veggie Bike and Dine, an all-day ride that took me and 50 other riders through a heap of northside neighborhoods starting from Rogers Park and ending in Old Town and studded with food stops from a range of restaurants and visits to a few community gardens. Along the way I gathered some new restaurant recommendations.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Aug 19 2009

    Pressure Cooker Film Screening

    Earlier this year I had the opportunity to watch 25 talented high school seniors compete in the 16th annual Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Chicago Cooking Competition for Scholarships. C-CAP was founded in 1990 and works with public schools across the country to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

    A new documentary on the C-CAP program will be screening this weekend in Chicago. Pressure Cooker is an award-winning film that follows three seniors at Philadelphia's Frankford High School who find inspiration and professional skills through C-CAP.

    The film screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center starting this weekend:
    Friday, August 21, 6:00 pm
    Saturday, August 22, 3:00 pm
    Tuesday, August 25, 6:15 pm.

    Chicago representatives of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Nicola Copeland and Anthony McPhee -- along with mentor and instructor Wilma Stephenson, featured in the film, will be present on Friday for audience discussion.

    Gemma Petrie

    Event Wed Aug 19 2009

    Top Chef Returns Tonight

    Seventeen new cheftestants roll the dice on culinary fame in Las Vegas as the new season of Top Chef starts tonight (8pm on Bravo). And with the success of our fair city's chefs in recent seasons, as well as in this summer's amuse bouche show Top Chef Masters, one would expect a strong showing from Chicago again this season. In reality, one would be dead wrong. Nary a Chicagoan in sight. Not even an Illinois resident. The closest we get is Eve Aronoff from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She's the sole representative of the entire Midwest region! The hell?!

    If lack of a home team doesn't dissuade you from watching, you might want to check out the weekly viewing party at the Kit Kat Club, hosted by former cheftestant Radhika Desai. No cover, and each week will start with a cocktail demonstration and end with a Q and A session.

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Mon Aug 17 2009

    Get Back into the (World) Kitchen

    Registration starts next Wednesday for the fall session of the city-sponsored World Kitchen cooking class series. Among the lineup are Cardamon Kitchen (Sep 12), which will teach you how to cook with Indian spices; Freeze with Ease (Sep 19), which will help you figure out the best way to not turn your freezer into a graveyard of ice-coated chunks of something-or-another; and Curds and Whey (Oct 3), where you'll learn how to make cheese. All classes are held at the Gallery 37 Center for Arts at 66 East Randolph, admission is $30, and registration is required.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Thu Aug 13 2009

    Taste of the Nation Tonight

    Tonight's Taste of the Nation charity event brings together names from Chicago's culinary top shelf (Shawn McClain, Mindy Segal, Paul Kahan) to benefit anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Event runs 6-10pm at Ravenswood Billboard Factory, 4025 North Ravenswood. Tickets $175-250.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Sat Aug 08 2009

    Show Your Beans

    NeighborSpace, an urban land trust, held an online vote earlier this year to pick out one plant to celebrate for the season. The program, One Seed Chicago, then gave out seeds of the winner, the Blue Lake Pole green bean. Now that the growing season is well under way, One Seed Chicago is asking you for your beanstalk photos - a show and tell, if you will.

    Chris Brunn

    Event Fri Aug 07 2009

    Master of the Market

    masterofmarket_fruit.jpgWhen the cattle call went out soliciting interest in covering this event, it spoke to me. Déjà chef if you will. The comparisons with my professional life were too many to say no to and is how I found myself at the Country Chef's Challenge at Daley Plaza this Thursday, Aug. 6.

    The three chef contestants had 30 minutes and $50 to shop the Farmers Market, with an additional 30 minutes to create a dish with their selected ingredients. The results were scored by a panel of judges, the winner claiming bragging rights as "Master of the Market."

    Having competed in (and won) numerous similar events, I was intrigued by seeing it as an observer instead of a participant. Highly skilled chef's going "mano a mano" in public, preparing mystery food against the clock, "Iron Chef" style. A daunting task under the best of circumstances and these are not the best of circumstances.

    Continue reading this entry »

    Alan Lake / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Aug 07 2009

    Upcoming: Jennifer 8. Lee Booksigning

    NYT writer and food journalist Jennifer 8. Lee will be in town August 16, talking about her new book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles at St. Therese School, 247 W. 23rd St from 1-3pm. Lecture is free but reservations are required; email or call (312) 949-1000.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Wed Aug 05 2009

    Stephanie & Julie & Julia

    With the new Julie & Julia movie coming out this Friday, there's lots of new interest in Julia Child.

    In fact, even Child's alma mater, Le Cordon Bleu, is getting in on the act: tomorrow, Aug. 6, at 1pm Chicago time, "Top Chef" winner and Cordon Bleu grad Stephanie Izard will be demonstrating how to make beef Bourguignon and chocolate chiffon pie on live streaming video. You're invited to follow @LCBSchools on Twitter and use the hashtag #LCBJulia to participate in the conversation.

    Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

    Event Wed Aug 05 2009

    Veggie Fest this Weekend

    Veggie Fest hits Naperville this weekend with live music and a schedule packed full of food demonstrations like those from Karyn's and Chicago Diner. The food court includes Upton's Naturals and Dakshin Indian - among many other veg-friendly vendors. Shuttles ($3) run to and from the Lisle Metra station, paired with two outbound trains and two inbounds later in the day to get those from the city back. Free admission. Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 4S175 N Naperville Wheaton Rd, Naperville.

    Chris Brunn / Comments (1)

    Event Mon Aug 03 2009

    Carrotmob Plans Fox & Obel Invasion

    On Sunday (August 9th), Carrotmob Chicago, a group of consumers who band together to spend money at socially responisble businesses, is putting its buying power behind Fox & Obel. The mob (along with a colossal carrot, according to the web site) plans a "buycott" or reverse boycott from noon until 6pm. They're encouraging local consumers to visit Fox & Obel for their food needs, and the store, in return, will use part of the proceeds to continue to reduce its carbon footprint (going above and beyond the organics, recycling and LED lights they already have in place). If helping the environment doesn't satisfy your good-deed need, the Greater Chicago Food Depository will also be on site collecting food donations.

    Lori Barrett / Comments (4)

    Random Mon Aug 03 2009

    Tunnel of Spuds

    ceilingspuds.jpgLast summer was all about the vertical garden. This summer, vegetables are dancing on the ceiling. Or pretending to. The Lay's Potato Chip "Closer than You Think" campaign, which aims to convince us that Lay's makes chips from potatoes grown on local farms, has hit the streets of Chicago, with a display of spuds growing from the ceiling in the CTA tunnel under Jackson Street. The potato patch will be on display through Sunday.

    Lori Barrett

    Event Tue Jul 28 2009

    City Farm Tour this Sunday

    You may have passed City Farm, the vegetable farm near the edge of Cabrini-Green at Division and Clybourn. This Sunday, August 2, you'll be able to tour the farm and chat with grower Tim Wilson. It is part of an urban agriculture field day promoted by Angelic Organics Learning Center. The event runs 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and also includes a tour of Chicago Honey Co-op, where the tours kick off. You'd provide your own transportation to both locations. Free to members of the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT); $10 for non-members payable the day of. RSVP required to craft (at)

    Chris Brunn / Comments (2)

    Business Tue Jul 28 2009

    Chicago Public Radio on Wal-Mart's "Farmers Market"

    On Chicago Public Radio's eight-forty-eight, South Side reporter Natalie Moore reports on this past weekend's "farmers market," held by Wal-Mart in Chatham. According to her report, the retail giant sold an impressive four days' worth of produce in just three hours. I briefly considered going to the Saturday event to see what it's like, but instead visited my sister-in-law (the allure of their new cats were too big). Thank God CPR was there.

    Moore also interviews Rhymefest, a Chicago-based hiphop musician on the possible role of Wal-Mart in the South Side. His take on the proposed Wal-Mart, as a savior in food desert, is an interesting contrast to that of a woman quoted in the earlier piece, who says the characterization of the neighborhood as food desert is an offensive misnomer.

    Yu Kizawa

    Event Mon Jul 27 2009

    Looky Here! Free Foodie Stuff

    WTTW is sponsoring a free showing of the upcoming movie Julie and Julia on Thursday, August 6 at the AMC Loews Theater, 600 North Michigan. Tickets (obtained from WTTW) are required for admission to avoid the herds of food historians and Meryl Streep fans who will be all over this like lemon on chicken.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (4)

    Drink Sat Jul 25 2009

    Rosangel Chicago Launch

    Rosangel_Seger1Summer drinking usually conjures Pinot Grigios and piña coladas, or mint juleps and margaritas. Good drinks to sip standing on dry grass, or out of plastic cups pintucked after multiple pours. Drinks that might look good sporting thick sprigs of herbs or little paper umbrellas. Throwing its hat into the summer drinking ring this past week is Rosangel, Gran Centenario's venture into flavored tequila. The company unveiled the blend of award-winning Resposado and hibiscus flowers at Nacional 27 last week, accompanied by vegetable empanadas, plantain croquettes, and a watermelon and tuna ceviche that paired wonderfully with the strong, sweet tequila. Rosangel is aged in barrels previously used for port, which gives the liquor the pink hue so nicely accentuated in its packaging, an art deco design that recalls a vintage perfume bottle--an effect heightened by the floral notes of the hisbiscus addition. One whiff of the fumes coming off the drink will dispel any notions that it could be a girly tequila, however. This stuff will put hair on your dainty, effeminate chest.

    On hand to help guide the tasting were Nacional's own Adam Seger and Jane Lopes, sometime bartendress at the Violet Hour. Jane's drink recipe for a Jalisco Blinker is below. Sweet, tart, and flowery, it could be the perfect new addition to your summer drinking palette (and presumably would work with any sweeter tequila as well).

    Continue reading this entry »

    Andie Cavedo

    Event Wed Jul 22 2009

    Getting Fit for Pierogi

    If you're heading to the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, IN this weekend, why not make that 20 mile journey on a bike with fellow food lovers? Meet at Buckingham Fountain Saturday at 9am for a leisurely-paced trek; details here.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

    Event Tue Jul 21 2009

    A Deal of a Tasting at Osteria Via Stato

    alpana.jpgLet's do the food math:

    (20 wine samples/$20) + commentary by Alpana Singh + tray-passed h'ors d'oeuvres = A DEAL

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around this equation, but it seems to be completely valid. Osteria Via Stato's hosting a wine-tasting event called "20 Wines for $20" on Wednesday, August 12, from 5:30-7 PM. During this event, Chicago's well-known Master Sommelier and host of Check Please! Alpana Singh will talk about the 20 fruit-forward Italian wines available for sampling. H'ors d'oeuvres by Executive Chef David DiGregorio will complement the wine, and other wine experts and importers will be on hand to discuss the evening's offerings.

    Not surprisingly, space is limited, so if you want to get in on this deal, call Allison Gallese at 312-642-8450 to make a reservation.

    Jill Jaracz

    Business Tue Jul 21 2009

    Wal-Mart Brings Farmers Market?

    Tribune reports that Wal-Mart is bringing a "farmers market" to Southside neighborhood of Chatham, with the hope that the gesture will create more favorable climate to the recently stalled plan for the second store within the city limits.

    The "farmers market" will be held this Saturday, July 25, from 10 am to 2 pm, at 83rd and Stewart, where the new store is proposed. Interestingly, neither the Trib story nor the chain's flyer for the event lists any details on who is going to be selling what, come Saturday. A "farmers market" without any identifiable farmers??? I briefly tried to get an answer for this, but quickly gave up when the only phone number provided turned out to be a generic customer service phone number. (This is why I'm not making my living as a journalist.)

    Continue reading this entry »

    Yu Kizawa / Comments (2)

    Event Tue Jul 21 2009

    Chicago's in Hell's Kitchen

    Although this show is less about food and more about successfully overcoming Gordon Ramsay's endless stream of verbal abuse, a new season of Hell's Kitchen will premiere tonight at 7pm on Fox, with two contestants hailing from Chicago: Lovely, an executive chef of a children's camp, and Tony, the culinary store manager. Good f**ing luck to you.

    Robyn Nisi

    Event Tue Jul 14 2009

    Free Food (Inc.) this Thursday

    Perhaps milking the PR boost of being crowned one of America's healthiest fast-food restaurants, Chipotle is sponsoring a free showing of Food, Inc. this Thursday at Landmark Century Centre theater (Diversey and Clark) at 7:30pm. Get there early for a seat, and please...skip the popcorn.

    Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

    Event Fri Jul 10 2009

    Get Your Deal On

    Today's Groupon is a treat: $50 for a class and dinner at Cooking Fools (an $84 value). Get in there while the getting's good.

    Robyn Nisi

    Drink Fri Jul 10 2009

    Bastille Day Drinking

    Didn't get your fill of inebriation and nationalism last weekend? Well, thank goodness for France, as you can try again with a couple of Bastille Day celebrations this weekend. On Saturday the 11th, Pops for Champagne is holding their Bastille Day Celebration (details in Slowdown). For members of the Third Estate who don't feel like spending money to celebrate La Fête Nationale, Lush Wine & Spirits will be holding free tastings at both of their locations. On Saturday, they'll be sampling various French wines and cider all day, with more wine tastings from 2-5 on Saturday; on Tuesday the 14th (Bastille Day proper) from 5-8, you can taste French wines from regions other than Bordeaux and Burgundy.

    Leah Williams

    Drink Thu Jul 09 2009

    Beer & Bikes Go Together This Saturday

    This Saturday, July 11, your bicycle is your best drinking buddy. The day kicks off at 9am with the Tour de Fat, New Belgium Brewery's annual Fat Tire-fueled day of bikes and the brewer's art, over in Palmer Square Park. $5 Fat Tires and plenty of bike- and environment-related fun should keep you busy for most of the morning.

    From there, ride north on Kedzie and then east a bit on Belmont to Kuma's Corner, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary with a block party featuring free food and a performance by awesome Baltimore band CLUTCH. It starts at noon, but you may actually want to hold off till after this next stop if you want to catch the band.

    Down at Soldier Field, Alefest gives you the opportunity to sample up to 20 beers from the dozens offered by more than 50 craft breweries for just $40 -- and you get to keep the glass! Afterward you can take a nice, leisurely ride on the Lakefront Path toward wherever home is... or to wherever food to sober you up might be.

    Andrew Huff

    Event Tue Jul 07 2009

    Belgian Feast, Hopleaf Style

    Beer dinners, where restauranteurs bring in a microbrewer to put together a multi-course meal to go especially with a list of beers, have become quite the popular event in Chicacgo--so popular, you might not be able to get a place at the table for some of them.

    However, this is your lucky week. Hopleaf's still got space at their beer dinner taking place tomorrow night. For $75 you can get a 7-course meal designed by Chef Ben Sheagren, which will feature beer from Lost Abbey out of San Marcos, California. Tomme Arthur, brewmaster from Lost Abbey will be on hand to talk you through their Belgian-style beers.

    The event kicks off with a reception at 6:30, followed by dinner at 7:00. E-mail Louise at Hopleaf to reserve your spot.

    Jill Jaracz / Comments (1)

    Drink Wed Jul 01 2009

    40s at the Fifty/50

    Colt45 40s at Fifty/50Many people celebrate Independence Day with cold beers and fireworks... The Fifty/50, for reasons known only to itself and its PR team, has decided to up the ante by celebrating the entire week leadi