Dining and food culture in Chicago

Where You Can Put Your Greens: Placing the Salad Course

French, Produce, Trends & Essays No Comments »


Composed salad at Bistronomic/Photo: Bistronomic

Composed salad at Bistronomic/Photo: Bistronomic

Eating in France in the early seventies, I discovered that French salad, unlike American salad, was usually served near the end of meals, after the main course. This was in contrast to the all-American tradition of having salads first, before the main course. I sort of figured this American salad protocol was developed because American mothers wanted to make sure kids ate their greens before getting to the good stuff.

On recent trips to France, however, I noticed that our salads were being served at the beginning of meals, American-style. Read the rest of this entry »

A Growing Spirit of Cooperation: The Dill Pickle Co-op Expansion Brings Way Bigger Space and Full-Service

News etc., Organics, Produce No Comments »

150924_dill pickle composite rendering-2

By Michael Workman

Those who like to eat good food, as well as those who support the cooperative business model, will be thrilled to learn that the Dill Pickle Food Co-op is planning a major expansion.

We recently sat down with Sharon Hoyer, Dill Pickle’s general manager (and Newcity dance editor) to hear how the currently rather tiny, much beloved Dill Pickle is going to be getting a lot bigger and better. Read the rest of this entry »

Fine Vine: Say No to Tomatoes That Suck

Produce No Comments »
Mighty Vine tomatoes/Photo: Danny Murphy

MightyVine tomatoes/Photo: Danny Murphy

Gary Lazarski loves tomatoes. So he opened MightyVine, a seven and a half-acre greenhouse in Rochelle, Illinois, that’s providing local tomatoes year-round.

“My grandmother was Polish, old world,” remembers Lazarski. “She grew her own tomatoes in the summer. Wonderful. Everybody probably has that iconic summertime tomato memory. Though most of my adult life, working in the city, tomato was on every salad, every sandwich you order, and they’re inevitably these pale imitations of what you want tomatoes to be. And it’s not just me; it’s everybody. They say, ‘Yeah, these tomatoes suck,’ and they just peel them off their sandwich or salad and throw it out. Very wasteful. And it seemed crazy to me that you could be in a food city like Chicago and not have a delicious tomato.” Read the rest of this entry »

Dining Destinations: Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Produce, Road Trips No Comments »
Gary Henschel of Henschel's Indian Museum and Trout Farm/Photo: David Hammond

Gary Henschel of Henschel’s Indian Museum and Trout Farm/Photo: David Hammond

By David Hammond

Elkhart Lake’s spring-fed water, held sacred for centuries by indigenous peoples, is so clean that when it’s tested every year, inspectors dramatize its purity by ceremoniously sipping a cup of untreated lake water.

We didn’t take that taste test, but we ate at three worthy restos in Elkhart Lake (a two-and-a-half hour drive from Chicago), all a short stroll from the three main lakefront hotels: The Osthoff (osthoff.com), Victorian Village (vicvill.com) and Siebkens Resort (siebkens.com). Read the rest of this entry »

Pulp Nonfiction: Putting the Squeeze on Peeled, Chicago’s Juice Bar for the Uninitiated

Lincoln Park, Organics, Produce, Vegetarian No Comments »

Photo: Jenny Yoon

A longtime staple in image-conscious Los Angeles, Chicago has jumped on the juice trend, with new spots like Peeled, just south of Lincoln Park close to the river, popping up around town. A streamlined space with organic, locally sourced produce ripe for consumption, Peeled offers a cold-beverage option that isn’t a tall iced latte or a pint. And it moves away from Jamba Juice’s sugar-loaded “smoothies.” Given the Midwest’s penchant for food that aims to clog arteries (here’s looking at you, ridiculous poutine trend), Peeled also offers a refreshing option that actually incorporates vegetables.

Read the rest of this entry »

Local Feasting: Prep Your Holiday Meals with Green City Market Finds

Farmer's Markets, Organics, Produce No Comments »

Prairie Fruits Cheeses

This past Saturday morning I made a startling discovery. I took a walk to the Green City Market, which, happily, does not close up shop with summer. Jack Frost may be putting a chill in the air, but I can still load up on farmer’s market staples like arugula, funky black kale, broccoli sprouts and “Angel Food” goat cheese to satisfy the restless Anthony Bourdain within.

And the spread, I must say, is pretty jaw dropping. Vendors display their wares (many with samples) outside near the south entrance, and inside the South Gallery on the second floor. I tasted enough crisp apple butters, creamy cheese spreads and sweet honey to make my head spin with recipe ideas. I discussed the joys of cheese-making with farmhands and contemplated gift ideas amongst the jam jars. Read the rest of this entry »

Fresher Than Ever: Green City Market gets a makeover and a new director

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Photo: Jessica Graves, Feeding the City

By Giovanni Wrobel

It’s hard to keep from smiling at the Green City Market, where every Wednesday and Saturday it feels as though the South Pond section of Lincoln Park is transformed into a French market on the dairy plains, as guitar strings and children’s laughter echo, and the fire-engine red backdrop of the Farm in the Zoo flashes through the trees. Shoppers and samplers exude energy and gush over the sweet and savory flavors of locally grown produce done right.

The yearlong farmers market in Lincoln Park is not a novel phenomenon, but with a newly landscaped location and Dana Benigno’s fresh face in the director’s chair, GCM presents much promise to grow within its community of committed shoppers and diligent farmers. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Easy Being Green

Organics, Produce, Wicker Park 1 Comment »

The idea of an organic, environmentally friendly, eco-footprintless lifestyle is no longer avant-garde. The actuality of people taking the steps to live this lifestyle, however, can be unimpressive. Lauren Yucan’s Real Naked Food, now open at 1909 West Division, makes green living a whole lot easier for Wicker Park.

Real Naked Food is a small grocery with fresh produce, bulk baking and cooking needs, frozen meals, baby food and cleaning supplies. All of the merchandise here is organic and “absolutely 100 percent local,” says Yucan. With the exception of a few frozen and pre-packaged items, this grocer is BYOC—Bring Your Own Container. While this technique reflects the European market approach the store is influenced by, it also allows patrons to decide how much or little of any product they take home. “Buying in bulk is an excellent way to save,” explains Yucan. “You can buy a pound of flour when you only need one cup, or you can get one cup of quality organic flour for cents.” The concept behind BYOC is pre-cycling—avoiding items that will become waste whether they are disposed of in the trash or a recycling bin. Taking the work out of recycling for lazy earth lovers, using your own containers at Real Naked Food is a time, money and effort saver. “The idea is so foreign to bring in your empty spray bottle to refill with our organic cleaner,” says Yucan, “but what are you going to do with it when it’s empty? Throw it away and buy a new one.” While you receive a 25-cent discount with every container you bring in, Real Naked Food has biodegradable containers to purchase for the unprepared shopper. Read the rest of this entry »

The Re-Produce Department: Unpeeling the mating habits of omnivores in Aisle 10

Produce, Trends & Essays 1 Comment »

By Patrick Roberts

“Yesterday there was an attractive man,” says my girlfriend as she wheels her cart into the produce section, “about fortyish, who was ahead of me in the checkout lane. He was buying a box of condoms, K-Y Jelly, artichokes and a bag of chocolate-chip cookies. Isn’t that interesting? Why those things together?”

“Perhaps he really likes artichokes,” I say.

“No. I think it was his first time having her over to his apartment.”


“His new girlfriend,” she says as she picks through the tomatoes. “In fact, last night was the first time he’d slept with a woman since his divorce.”

“His divorce? Did you know this guy?”

“Of course I didn’t know him. Never saw him before in my life.”

“Then how could you possibly have known that he was divorced?”

“First of all, he wasn’t wearing a ring, and he was too good looking never to have been married. Secondly, he wouldn’t have had to buy the condoms otherwise. His girlfriend is recently divorced too, hence the K-Y Jelly.”

“What? Why ‘hence’? How are any of those things possibly related?” Read the rest of this entry »

Really Slow Food: Wintertime, and the living’s easy at the Green City Market

Lincoln Park, Produce No Comments »

Lincoln Park is unruffled this Saturday morning as a gentle snowfall adds another layer of white to the city surface. A handful of weekend runners and dog walkers scamper in all directions, while a steady flow of locavores head toward the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for the Green City Market (GCM). The only consistent year-round farmers’ market in Chicago, GCM has built up a community not only for its customers but also for its farmers.

GCM’s Outdoor Market, held spring through fall at the south end of Lincoln Park, can get pretty wild. Sixty vendors, thousands of patrons, limited produce and six hours of business twice a week make for a hectic day at the office for these farmers. “It’s awesome when it’s nice and we’re outside. It’s fun but it’s way more work,” says Adam Hausman of Seedling Farms. There are just over a dozen vendors alongside Seedling Farms on the second floor of the museum. If the farm representatives aren’t talking product to market goers, they’re casually perusing the scene themselves to see what the competition is offering. Read the rest of this entry »