By Nolan Feeney
If a global bacon shortage strikes in 2013 and your favorite pig product goes scarce, now you know where to find your emergency fix: the annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest.
The competition, which celebrated its eighth year on a recent Sunday, is the largest apple-pie contest in the country. Put on as a fundraiser by the Friends of Holstein Park neighborhood organization, it’s also home to pies with plenty of creative license. Bacon showed up in multiple entries, and past ingredients have included bourbon, basil, pine nuts, maple syrup, cheddar cheese and even a crust with a henna ink drawing topping off the flakes. The contest rules weren’t always so open-minded—bacon was originally outlawed—but now the only limitations are a top and bottom crust, no uncooked eggs, and no other fruit. Read the rest of this entry »
Boasting a company small enough to “roast on demand,” Bow Truss Coffee Roasters call themselves a “collective of veteran coffee professionals.” The crew at Bow Truss seeks to simplify the coffee experience. They roast in-house, allowing customers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how a raw bean turns into a pour-over masterpiece that quells even the most discerning of coffee drinkers. Read the rest of this entry »
Leah Wilcox thought pancakes were boring, so she decided to make them more interesting. Pancakes with red wine, salted caramel, strawberry margarita, birthday cake, white-chocolate macadamia… Wilcox realized the floppy, flat breakfast food had potential, and launched Babycakes, a pancake food truck.
Every morning, Wilcox rises and goes to the Kitchen Chicago shared commercial kitchen on the West Side. She maps out her menu ideas the day before, choosing about six varieties from dozens of options that rotate daily. Since she began a food-truck business with her pancakes in March, she has come up with nearly eighty recipes.
Wilcox never had a particular fascination with flapjacks; in fact, her idea sprang from how boring she found them. ”I don’t really like regular old-fashioned pancakes that much, which is part of the reason I started playing around with the recipe to make it something new and different. I am excited about doing something with pancakes that has never been done before. Plain buttermilk pancakes to me are just a little bit boring and way too filling. Since my pancakes are relatively small, about three inches in diameter, and a stack of three in each, you can get the delicious flavor without going into carb overload, and you can try a couple of them without feeling too stuffed,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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“This business would be a fairy-tale story if I said that I grew up on a Nicaraguan coffee farm and I always had this deep passion for it, but it just wouldn’t be true. We just don’t have that dream story, where I was a surfer and discovered a delicious new fruit that I could bottle. I kind of wish that was my lifestyle, but at the same time, it has been a really fantastic journey. It might not be as romantic, but certainly the integrity is there, you know?” Ben Heins, cofounder of Bean & Body, told me over the phone as he drove to Wisconsin.
“When I met Erik Lucas, we had both just been through all four years of college, and he was just one of those guys you meet through other people in your life, and you want to hang out. We had taken a class together. Usually when I had presented an idea in the past, it was to my dad, and the questions after I pitched always resulted in from him, ‘Well, where’s the business plan in this?’” Read the rest of this entry »
Fear No Art’s “The Dinner Party” at the Mayne Stage Theatre is a meshing of theater, art and a tasting event—all rolled into a delicious dinner party. Three artists stand on stage with the event organizer who moderates as the artists and audience partake–in the food and conversation, at least via Twitter. The event is streamed live, so anyone can participate on Twitter.
Event organizer Elysabeth Alfano’s impetus for creating the event was a dinner party she hosted a year ago for ten artists. The conversations were so evocative and stimulating that she wanted to replicate it for more than just a small group of people. Alfano curates her guests, choosing three artists who don’t know each other but have something in common. Read the rest of this entry »
Illustration: Elena Rodina
By Elena Rodina
The stretch of Devon Avenue in the Rogers Park area is mostly known for its Indian stores, and my friends head there if they want to buy ingredients for tandoori chicken, a bright sari or some golden bangle bracelets. However, in the late eighties and throughout the nineties, the area was densely populated by immigrants from the Soviet Union. By now, most of them have left the neighborhood, having moved to the greener suburbs. But there are still a couple of places that are full of hidden Slavophile treasures.
One such place is a Russian supermarket named Three Sisters, after the famous Chekhov play. When I walked in there for the first time, I immediately felt at home. Not just because the place was stuffed with nesting dolls, dark bread, sour cabbage and other things that are dear to my heart, but also because the sales clerks there project a traditional Russian attitude toward clients: grimness and neglect. It’s the perfect place for misanthropes tired of the broad smiles and unavoidable enthusiasm of American customer service. At Three Sisters, you will be greeted by silence and suspicious looks, at least at first. It’s a matter of style, though; the clerks are nice and helpful once you start talking to them. Read the rest of this entry »
Walking into the basement of Butcher & the Burger feels like walking into any other restaurant prep area. Except for the half of a hog lying on its side on the table and the well-dressed twenty- and thirtysomethings drinking beer, wine and tea while staring in a half-stunned half-anticipatory silence. Chef Al Sternweiler positions himself behind the carcass, slapping a hand down on it as he begins to address the crowd. After a short introduction, he grabs a knife and starts slicing away at the inside of the pig. While he cuts chunks of meat off the bone, strips off long chunks of fat and mentions how the less-desirable parts are great for grinding into sausage, co-owner and designer Josh Woodward launches into a lengthy explanation of this particular pig’s origin. Read the rest of this entry »
Top 5 New Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants
Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur
Soul Vegetarian Express
Top 5 Cookbooks Featuring Recipes from Chicagoans
”Willie’s Wildcat Cookbook” by Northwestern University alumni (Northwestern University)
“Homemade Memories” by Home Instead Senior Care and friends (Home Instead Senior Care)
“The Chicago Homegrown Cookbook: Local Food, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes” by Heather Lalley with photos by Brendan Lekan (Voyageur Press)
“beta cocktails” Includes cocktail recipes from Chicago bartenders like Stephen Cole, Paul McGee and Mike Ryan (self-published)
“Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drinks” by Stephanie Izard and Heather Shouse (Chronicle)
—Veronica Hinke Read the rest of this entry »
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 »