Outside-time in the warmth and breezes is essential, soul-saving freedom during this strange Chicago summer. To help you enjoy that in the easiest-breeziest way, we asked Chef Tommy Van Lente of TVL Culinary what he’d put in his perfect picnic basket for two.
“First off,” Van Lente says, “with so many great restaurants switching to grab-and-go this summer, that’s all going to be elevated like never before, so check those options. But when you get the chance to play in the day outside, you want to keep it simple. So, if it were me, I’d go with good bread, cured meats, good wine, some nice soft cheeses and fruits. That’s simplicity at its finest.
“For the wine, I’m going rosé, all day, with something from Red & White Wines on Milwaukee, or Craig Perman from Perman Wine Selections. I’d get a baguette, or any bread they have available, from Floriole Café and Bakery. For some good, soft cheeses, I’d go to the French Market, or any of Chicago’s great farmers markets. When you’re walking through any one of those markets, pick up good pickles and a handful of fresh fruit. And for the cured meats, pâtés and charcuterie—anything from Salumi Chicago or whatever Rob Levitt’s doing at Publican Quality Meats. We are spoiled rotten with the offerings all of these people give the city every day!”
Monica Kass Rogers writes, photographs and makes LittleBlue letterpress prints from her homebase in Evanston and studio at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative in Chicago. She started writing as a national food magazine editor after degrees at Texas Woman’s University and photo studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her editorial work as a photographer has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Chicago, Newcity, the Chicago Tribune among others. Her fine-art photography can be viewed at Dreambox Gallery in Chicago. Writing, she delves into photography for Communication Arts magazine, and has done columns and cover stories for six sections of the Chicago Tribune, plus many magazines. She thinks she was a crappy food critic for the Suburban Sun-Times (knew too much about the difficulties of running a restaurant to be tough on the operators). She gravitates topically to art, architecture, literature, women’s issues, food & spirits. Her first collaborative cookbook project, “Risotto and Beyond” written and photographed for chef John Coletta, is being published by Rizzoli NY March, 2018. Her vintage-recipe-revival blog is http://lostrecipesfound.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://monicakassrogers.com