Restaurants

iNG Closed

May 23 2014 - 3:55 PM

iNG, the flavor-bending restaurant from Chef Homaro Cantu will be closing tomorrow after service according to Derrek Hull. With upcoming projects on top of Moto, his flagship restaurant, Cantu needed more bandwith. Having had the pleasure of spending some time with Chef Cantu and Nate Park in the kitchen and Trevor Rose-Hamblin at the bar, I will have to say that I’ll miss the special blend of approachability and intensity which was unique to iNG. It was an environment where there was room for creativity.
A statement from the iNG website reads:`

“After a great run, iNG Restaurant will be closing after service on Saturday, May 24th. We want to thank our employees and diners, who we consider part of our family, for their support and the many great memories we shared over the years. iNG employees did receive advance notice of the closing, allowing them time to find new jobs which was my main priority. We remain committed to the great city of Chicago, the culinary community and our guests at Michelin-starred Moto. In addition to Moto, I am busy working on my next new concepts, including Berrista Coffee in Chicago’s Old Irving Park neighborhood, which is scheduled to open in early fall 2014, as well as other exciting projects to be announced in the near future,” said Chef/Owner Homaro Cantu.

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Restaurants

Q&A w/Richie Farina from Moto

May 22 2014 - 8:50 AM

The Chicago Foodies Unique Dinner Series is a chance for chefs to push boundaries. And at Moto there’s no shortage of pushing, whether it was adding the scent of leather to the dessert course entitled “Smell the Glove” or popping on a black light to get a proper introduction to the 16 Courses of Black menu. So in advance of our upcoming Unique Dinner Series at Moto, 13 Courses of White, we asked a few questions of Chef Richie Farina to better understand where he finds inspiration and what makes things memorable.

How do you and the Moto team come up with new ideas?
We come up with new ideas by taking inspiration from everywhere. Seasonality is always a big player. I try to make my courses multi-sensory. It needs to be more than just food on a plate.

When you think of innovative dining, what experiences come to mind?
When I think of innovative cooking, it has to wow me. It has to me more than food on a plate. There are many factors though. I think the atmosphere and the company can make a night memorable. If you get a chance to try something rare or an unknown food product, that’s innovation.

CIGAR_IMAGEWhat was the craziest thing you have created at Moto?
I would say that out of sheer visual appeal, it would have to be the cigar. At certain times, when everything was perfect, it looked almost too real.

What Thursday’s 13 Courses of White will become is anyone’s guess but with ingredients like rabbit, mahi mahi, cauliflower, buttered popcorn, coconut and more, it’s sure to be exciting. The best part is that there’s still availability– One seating only!
Thursday, May 29th at 7pm. For reservations email your request to: RSVP@chicagofoodies.com or book now.

What would be your most creative dish in “White?” I would do something with water chestnuts… guess it’s a good thing I’m not cooking!

Libations

Eat Al Fresco: Elle on the River

May 20 2014 - 1:00 PM

Opening this week, Elle on the River is the offshoot of Chef Tim Graham’s Travelle. Weather permitting, a very reasonable, stripped down menu of four “Mediterranean tacos” is served on the lovely patio at the Langham Hotel. The unique taco shells are made with chickpea flour and fall somewhere between socca (the chickpea pancakes that you find in Nice, France) and a flatbread, such as roti. They hold up well to the various fillings, tearing less than traditional corn tortilla.

Out of the four, my favorite is the piri piri chicken (pictured above) with pickles, cheese, and pepper aioli. The most interesting, though, is the vegetarian option, filled with crispy chickpeas, tabouli, and red cabbage. Maybe it’s just me, but the crunchy chickpeas remind me of unsweetened Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch cereal. It is unexpected and addicting. Other options include a tasty mahi mahi taco with lemon, quinoa, and avocado, and a more decadent one with pork shoulder, radish and, interestingly, tzatziki sauce.

Beer and wine is available, as are three punch bowls that can be ordered in various sizes. I find punches are often too sweet, but The Better Than a Bradford (gin with watermelon, lemon, and basil) was delightful. It would be easy to crush one too many of these on a warm evening after work.

Elle on the River (at the Langham Hotel)
330 N. Wabash Ave
312-923-7705

Farm & Garden

Market-Inspired Cocktail Book Roundup

May 19 2014 - 1:00 PM

As we told you last week, it’s farmers market season as booths open around the city. And while you may be looking forward to snagging some vegetables for a spring risotto, we’d like to suggest you grab an extra bundle to make some cocktails.

Yep, we want you to add a little beet to your tequila or spruce up those kale smoothies with a good slug of botanical gin. And sprigs of fresh herbs? Garnish everything.

Home bartenders are squeezing fresh lemons and limes for their cocktails and buying quality-made spirits, but it’s time to step up the game. Seasonality and freshness know no bounds.

For inspiration, Chicago Foodies presents three of this year’s best books for putting a little spring in your sip. And make sure to check back tomorrow for an interview with author and bartender Bridget Albert and to find the recipe for one of her favorite spring cocktails!

Market-Fresh Mixology cover

Market-Fresh Mixology: Cocktails for Every Season, Bridget Albert with Mary Barranco

Market-Fresh Mixology (now in its second edition) is a great book for the casual mixer looking to spruce up their porch drinking. Far from intimidating, the recipes are simple to follow and anyone–regardless of experience–can pick up a copy and have cocktails by dinner. There’s no need for rare or expensive spirits or liqueurs, and the flavors of each season enter through easy-to-make simple syrups or juices.

That’s not to say that the ideas are simple, though. Those who know their way around the bar will still find plenty of inspiration. As the Cocktails for Every Season subtitle says, the book is divided into four sections – one for each time of the year. The first page of every group begins with a list of flavors to focus on and follows with dozens of recipes and gorgeous pictures. (Photography was done by James Bear award-winner Tim Turner.)

Whether you bring together fennel and añejo tequila for the spicy autumn “Refrescante” or start your spring off right with the carrot and ginger-laced “Carrot Chic,” this book has a use for your market bounty.

Savory Cocktails coverSavory Cocktails, Greg Henry

The days of sticky-sweet, artificial cocktails are gone. Long live savory!

Whether your love skews toward spicy and smoky or bitter and funky, there’s a drink that’s perfect for you in Savory Cocktails. Divided into categories like “umami”, “herbal” and “strong”, the more than 100 drink recipes draw on common market-inspired cocktail staples like cucumbers and herbs as well as more unusual mixers like tomatoes, chilies, and mushrooms. Some drinks are originals, but most are pulled from bar menus around the world and feature interesting back stories and explanations.

Like Market-Fresh Mixology, this book is full of eye-catching, beautifully photographed cocktails. The recipes are a little more challenging and might require a deeper liquor cabinet, but the results are stunning. Recipes for homemade syrups, shrubs and even bitters are presented, and the cocktails make frequent use of complex liqueurs, amari and even beers.

Sip decadent Truffle-infused Cognac, whip up refreshing lemon-dill meringue, or simply let the recipes stimulate your own creativity. Embrace bold flavors!

The Drunken Botanist coverThe Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart

Geeky science, playful histories, hand-drawn sketches, and encyclopedic breadth come together in The Drunken Botanist to deliver a surprisingly easy read.

This book is less a recipe collection (though plenty of cocktails are scattered throughout) as it is a reference. There are short entries on nearly every plant with a mixological application–be it distilled into a spirit, steeped to make a liqueur, or thrown into a cocktail as a garnish – that touch on biology, history and taste. Culture plays a big role for some–the sugarcane entry, for example, is weighty with a discussion of both the slave trade and the role of rum in the American Revolution–while others are just plain strange–cohineal scales, a type of insect that feeds off the prickly pear cactus, are crushed to make the vivid red dye which formerly colored Campari.

This is a book for all stripes — the gardener and the forager, the gin lover and the mezcal adventurer, or the homebrewer and the DIY infusion crafter.

Libations

A Chat with Bridget Albert

May 19 2014 - 10:41 AM

Spiced Beet CocktailDid this week’s book review convince you to grab a few ingredients for your bar on your next trip to the farmers market?

If you’re still holding out, maybe today’s interview will convince you to get in on the fun. Chicago Foodies recently chatted with Bridget Albert – Chicago-based bartender and co-author of Market Fresh Mixology: Cocktails for Every Season – to get her thoughts on seasonal cocktail crafting.

Our edited conversation follows, but first you may want to fix yourself a drink. One of Albert’s favorites from the book – and one our favorite’s too – is the spiced beet cocktail. Get the full recipe here.

Chicago Foodies: We’re always curious to hear how bartenders create. What’s your process?

Bridget Albert: This depends. Sometimes I find inspiration within a spirit and sometimes it may be a song that I hear on the radio. Many times I am inspired by Mother Nature!

CF: Do you think first about flavor combinations and let the nuts and bolts come later, or do you start with a classic formula, tweaking it to make it unique?

BA: I first start with flavors that play nice together. And then I like to push the taste and see how much I can make each individual flavor pop!

CF: It’s often said we drink our eyes first and your book does a great job of keeping us thirsty with a wide range of appetizing colors that pop. What’s the secret to brightening up drinks that often start with boring brown whiskey or clear gin?

BA: It is fine to drink a brown drink. Many times these are high spirited cocktails or classics. The color then typically comes from the garnish.  With a clear spirit, the world is your oyster! You can make a cocktail both colorful and tasty with fruits such as blood orange, prickly pear or even rhubarb. This just depends on what is in season.

Market-Fresh Mixology coverCF: Farmers markets are opening any day now with the earliest offerings of spring. What’s the first thing you rush out to pick up?

BA: In the spring time I love to grab herbs and berries as we move into summer melons! Watermelons are simply awesome in cocktails and they taste like summertime!

CF: Space in the city can be tight and many like me are limited to growing a few things in pots on the back porch. What do you suggest for essentials of a home garden?

BA: Be practical and start simple. Urban gardening can be fun. Use a strawberry pot for your herbs. And try to grow veggies like tomatoes and onions in pots. Yum!

CF: You’ve managed to make cocktails that use carrot, beet, radish and avocado. Is there an ingredient that, try as you might, just never quite worked?

BA: Not yet! I love my veggies. The key is to trust your taste buds. Use what you like. The worst you can do is make a bad cocktail.

CF: As a Chicagoan in the bartending scene, you know this town. Where do you go for your Cocktails for Every Season?

BA: Scofflaw does an amazing job of seasonal cocktails! Go there and ask for Uby or Dan. Tell them I sent you!

Photo of Bridget Albert courtesy of bridgetalbert.com. Photo of the Spiced Beet Cocktail courtesy of Agate Publishing.

Restaurants

Seats Left for 13 Courses of White at Moto

May 16 2014 - 1:20 PM

There are still a few seats left for a great chance to see what an adventurous chef will do when pushed to another level! Don’t miss out…

What happens when you encourage Chefs who are already risk-takers to push it further? You get the Unique Dinner Series. Moto, Balena, iNG, Trenchermen and now Moto again. This is an extremely limited dinner, just 24 guests!

The series has seen Chef Cantu and Chef Ritchie Farina deliver a 16-course progression of flavors, textures and ingredients – all in achromatic black, Chef Chris Pandel restrict himself to 13th century recipes (no salt!) with Antiquity at Balena, Chef Nate Park at iNG admit to “A Lifetime of Guilty Pleasure” and Trencherman redefine the most important meal of your day, “Breakfast for Dinner.”

Join us for the dinner series that Chef Cantu says is, “as extreme as high-end dining gets.” 13 Courses. Last time everything was black. It went over so well we had to do it again but couldn’t do it exactly the same… Now everything is white! If you are interested please reserve ASAP.

13 courses with wine pairings – $225 plus tax. One seating only– Thursday, May 29th at 7pm. For reservations email your request to: RSVP@chicagofoodies.com or book now.



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Libations

DryHop Brewers Events During Chicago Craft Beer Week

May 14 2014 - 10:32 PM

Greatness starts with attitude.  Living proof of this maxim is forged in DryHop Brewers.  My very first sip, several years ago, of their then-unnamed Shark Meets Hipster wheat IPA foretold of the coming wunderkind.    Shark’s seamless blend of styles, simple freshness, refreshing finish, and overall economy instantly confirmed that DryHop was determined to achieve excellence.   They have more than delivered on the promise.  Over the last several years their efforts have only reaffirmed their status as Chicago’s premier brewpub, and their garden-fresh food rivals the beer in terms of its superb quality.  Try the burger and you’ll see what I mean.  So with the arrival of Chicago Craft Beer Week 2014, it’s an ideal time either to introduce yourself to this outstanding brewery’s works, or to revisit for a taste of their latest innovations.  DryHop is involved in a number of CCBW events during the 10-day festival.  Here is a brief rundown of their schedule:

Beer Under Glass – Thursday, May 15th

Fittingly, DryHop will present at CCBW’s signature event, the Beer Under Glass gala at the Garfield Park Conservatory.  If you are a lucky ticketholder to this sold-out event, you’ll be treated to the aforementioned Shark, plus DryHop’s I’m Not A Raccoon saison, and their Blast of the Underworld, an APA which registers a whopping 100 IBU’s at a devilish 6.66% ABV.  These delightful brews will accompany the mouthwatering small-plate servings to be provided by some of Chicago’s top restaurateurs.

DryHop Meets Goose – Friday, May 16th

One of my primary affinities for DryHop is their brewpub’s basic, unpretentious look.   The lines are simple, and there are no frilly colonnades or cheeky attempts at aping an English pub.  They let their beer’s greatness speak for itself.  You owe yourself a visit.  Friday May 16th is the perfect occasion, as DryHop will be releasing a collaboration sour with Goose Island, and tapping Goose’s “Five Sisters” series of Belgian wild ales.  DryHop and Goose will reconvene on Sunday the 18th for Goose’s party at its barrel warehouse on Sacramento where you’ll find more of the collaboration and also Shark on tap.

DryHop-Brickstone Collaboration Release – Monday, May 19th

Fun arrives from Bourbonnais – summer home to my beloved Chicago Bears – as Brickstone, which hails from there, will be on site at DryHop for the release of the two breweries’ collaboration, a Kaffir Lime Lemongrass IPA.  I honestly have no idea what that is, but I’ll bet it’s delicious.  As you digest that idea, I’ll note that several Brickstone beers will be tapped that evening.  The Brickstone beers I’ve tried have been simple, mildly hoppy affairs.  On Monday several of their Belgian-inspired brews will be available.

Beer and Art, Featuring Won Kim – Tuesday May 20

It’s ladies night at DryHop as the ladies-of-DryHop’s Jupiter Crash, a hibiscus and orangepeel schwarzbier, is loosed upon the public.  This beer will also be available at the Riverview Tavern’s Hail to the Ale event on Thursday, May 22, which will celebrate the women of craft beer.

Solemn Oath Collaboration Release – Wednesday, May 21

DryHop’s brewpub will host Solemn Oath, another local brewer known for concocting unusual brews, as the brewers release their joint effort, a Belgian Black IPA called Moon Tower Kind.   I don’t know where they get these beer names, but Captain Beefheart would be proud.  DryHop’s crew should start a band in their free time.  Chances are, they’d sound awful but the song titles would rule.  Also that night, a number of Solemn Oath beers will be tapped, including a coffee milk stout brewed with sweet orange peel.  Can I get a “hell yes”?

Burnt Hickory Brewery Tap Takeover – Thursday, May 22

Two days before DryHop appears at the May 24 CCBW West Loop Craft Beer Fest block party, it will welcome Burnt Hickory Brewery to the premises for an evening of some Southern-inspired brews.  If this guest brewery’s name isn’t itself enough to make you to high tail it over to DryHop, consider that the Kennesaw, GA brewer will be pouring not one, but two of its double-digit whiskey-soaked barleywines.  And if that’s not enough (I reckon by that point you’ll have had more than enough), they’re also pouring a blood orange IPA.  Tarnation!

All dates and times are detailed at the links provided above.  I hope to see you next week at DryHop.

DryHop Brewers

3155 N. Broadway

Farm & Garden

Montalbano Farms CSA: It’s Not Too Late!

May 13 2014 - 9:00 AM

Farmers markets are opening across the city this month, and after a never-ending winter, such signs of spring life are more than welcome.

For many Chicagoans, these trips to the market aren’t just a chance for some fresh air, but constitute a major part of the week’s grocery shopping. Market stalls stock seasonal, locally-made produce and products, and are manned by the very people who grow and care for the food; there are few better opportunities to talk to – and support – independent farmers and crafters.

Montalbano_Farms_SignBeyond the stalls, though, there is another way to support a farm. Purchasing a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share helps a farm get an infusion of cash early in season – when it’s most needed – and then provides you with a steady supply of produce, week-in and week-out.

If you are looking to get in on the fun, there is still time! One of the best programs in the area is the CSA share run by Montalbano Farms in nearby Sandwich, IL. Farming team Rob Montalbano and Christina Goy have been hitting markets around the city for several years now, but in 2014 are switching to a CSA-only model instead of staffing the stalls. In order to break even, though, the farm needs a few dozen more customers. It’s the CSA share I have subscribed to for the last few years and it offers many great features for everyone from the bachelor studio-dweller to the family of eight.

Custom Shares
First, Montalbano offers custom shares, solving the most common CSA complaint,… “Kale again!?!” Don’t want lettuce? No problem. Got gazpacho on the brain? Pick out eight pounds of tomatoes.

Rather than receiving a fixed box of whatever the farm is trying to get rid of, Montalbano offers up their inventory and lets customers pick. Money in your account can be spent as you see fit — double up on weeks when the offerings look especially good or skip deliveries altogether if you know you’ll be out of town. The indecisive or adventurous need not despair, though; there is always an option to let the farm construct a mixed case for you.

Farmer Rob

Long Season
Second, Montalbano’s CSA shares extend over one of the city’s longest seasons from mid-June to Thanksgiving. Spring greens, summer watermelons, autumn squashes and all-season herbs let you experience the full variety the Midwest has to offer.

Flexible Commitment
As another great feature, Montalbano lets customers buy in at several different levels. For those looking to just augment their normal grocery shopping, the Bronze Level at $325 buys earns you 1/3 of a bushel (about half a grocery bag) for 16 weeks, while those going all in at the Gold Level can get an average of more than a bushel (about two grocery bags) for 24 weeks at $1185. In my house — two folks who try hard but live across the street from a pretty good pizzeria – we get by very well in between at Silver for $645.

And, if you prepay the full amount for the year, Montalbano will add some bonus cash to your account.

Convenient Pick-Up

Finally, there are nearly two dozen pick-up locations across the Chicagoland area, including nine in the city itself. Different days and different times allow you to find a site that works best, and each order is picked and packed fresh before delivery.

Montalbano_Farms_Martha

If you are interested in signing up, check the site for details, or contact Rob and Christina directly to chat. Both are always ready to talk about their passion and the produce!

All photos courtesy of Montalbano Farms Facebook page. From top to bottom: Montalbano at the Logan Square Farmers Market, the Montalbano Farms sign, Farmer Rob tending the fields, and Martha driving the tractor.

Libations

Ten Key Events During Chicago Craft Beer Week

May 13 2014 - 2:30 AM

Each year the month of May brings to Chicago a mixture of tumult and bliss.  The weather oscillates between, on the one hand, violent storms that usher in cold, rainy snaps, and, on the other, warm, resplendent days.  This of course is a perfect backdrop for the annual Chicago Craft Beer Week, itself a cuvee of manic beer-event panoply mixed with periodic moments of beer-drinking tranquility.

The 5th Annual CCBW kicks off Thursday May 15, and between then and the May 25 finale, a blizzard of events across more than 300 venues will unleash the craft beer revolution upon Chicago.  Bars, restaurants, tasting rooms, and even boats will showcase the Windy City’s craft brewing affinity.  This year’s jubilee unofficially launched a couple of weeks ago at the superb DryHop Brewers’ stately, inviting brewpub.  Beer writers, brewers, and other media assembled for the kick-off meeting, which featured a terrific video montage highlighting members of Chicago microbrewing’s  constellation.  You’ve been hibernating for the last five years if you are unaware of craft beer’s local power surge.   But the video crystallized the extent to which craft brewing has interwoven itself in the community fabric.  Sound clips from various local brewers revealed their pride in their output and in its bar-raising impact on brewing quality.

This moving tribute powers us into a Craft Beer Week that’s poised to be the most exciting one yet.  Events will be replete with local, national, and overseas brews and will feature top-quality beers, demonstrate the latest in brewing trends, and offer creative pairings with delicious and innovative food.  There are far too many events to detail, and the constraints of time, money, and not to mention sobriety, will inhibit anyone from attending most of these myriad happenings.  Already the esteemed Beer Under Glass soiree at the Garfield Conservatory is sold out.  But there are hundreds of other events to choose among, whether your goal is to discover great beers, to experience innovative meals, or to simply socialize with fellow beer lovers.  Here are ten events which should give you a representative slice of CCBW, and serve as a platform for your coming away from the week feeling fulfilled (and perhaps downright full).

1.  Cheers to Local Beers – Thursday, May 15, 6:00 p.m. at Monk’s Pub, 205 W. Lake, Chicago

There should be a mandate that anyone participating in CCBW start with a local brew.  One of Chicago’s warmest and most inviting downtown pubs, Monk’s, which has a quaint dinginess about it, will be featuring a smorgasbord of local brewers including Goose Island, Off Color, Begyle, Metropolitan, Local Option, and Half Acre.  This event is a great opportunity to try offerings from these standouts and from the other excellent local brewers.  The roster is deep and the taps are sure to be pouring unique beers across a range of styles.  Everyone will find something appealing on tap.  Several other events that night to consider are Hackney’s Printers’ Row’s tappings of Dogfish Head 120 and World Wide Stout, which are not local but are rare and powerful beers, and Northdown’s Firestone Walker tasting, which will feature several of the California brewer’s singular beers including the devastating and uber-rare Parabola.

2.   Unicornucopia: Deuce, at Star Lounge Coffee Bar, Friday, May 16 at 7 p.m., 2521 W. Chicago Ave.

Friday night is a good beer-dinner night.   So, go big or go home with Pipeworks Brewing.  They make huge, delicious, beers that will blast your senses to smithereens.  Four monstrous Pipeworks brews will be paired with a four-course meal from CO-OP Sauce and Big Fork Bacon that is sure to be memorable and delectable.  I want in on this!  Also look in to DryHop Brewers’ and Goose Island’s Collaboration Release party which is also that night and will feature the new collaboration from the two innovative brewers, along with a lineup of Goose’s sours.  In addition, the Grafton is tapping Founders KBS.  Res ipsa loquitur.

3.  Lagunitas Beer Circus.  Saturday, May 17th, and Sunday May 18th, Noon-5 p.m., 1843 S. Washtenaw.

Are you really going to pass up a circus?  A circus with beer?   With Laguintas beer?   I didn’t think so.  Step right up and welcome Lagunitas, now officially a Chicago brewery, to town with a freakish sideshow certain to blow the lid off the big top.  A music and freakshow spectacle such as this is a perfect way to commemorate Lagunitas’ bringing its star and its increasingly large brewing footprint to its massive, new southside brewhouse during an event which could be frighteningly delicious.  Or deliciously frightening.

4.  Haymarket Mini-FOBAB, Sunday, May 18th, 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. 737 W. Randolph

FOBAB stands for the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers, an annual Chicago affair, apart from CCBW, that features beers that have been steeped in oak, whiskey, and other saturated wood barrels.  This event is a condensed program presenting samplings of primarily whiskey-barreled beers from Revolution, Goose Island, Rock Bottom, Great Divide, and a bunch of other breweries I’ve never heard of.  One thing is for certain: both sessions of this will sell out, so try to get your tickets early – as soon as you read this.  If you like barreled beers, this is for you.  The No. 8 bus is waiting for you.   If you survive until that evening, check out The Green Lady’s “Sweet Home Chicago” craft beer event, featuring beers from Metropolitan, Pipeworks, and 18th Street.

5.  American Craft Beer Tasting at The Chopping Block, Monday, May 19th at 7 p.m., Merchandise Mart, Suite 107

Get a little Beer Ed 101 at this fun little event.  Owner of the revered beer bar, Hopleaf, Michael Roper will conduct a tasting of seminal American beers, including Belgian-styled domestic brews.  Quite a few brews which factored prominently in my beer education will be offered and discussed, including the legendary Anchor Steam, Victory Prima Pils, Bourbon County Stout, and Bruery Saison Rue.  It’s not cheap and there’s a cancellation policy, but the discussion of American beer evolution should be quite insightful.

6.  Half Acre Tap Takeover at Village Tap, Tuesday, May 20 at 5:00 p.m., 2055 W. Roscoe

If it can’t be definitively stated that Half Acre is Chicago’s best brewery, then I can at least offer that their selections are far more attainable than those of Pipeworks.  Plus HA’s ability to blend accessibility, uniquity, and supreme quality is unassailable.  Not many breweries can boast a schedule that includes Daisy Cutter, Vallejo, Galactic Double Daisy Cutter, Akari Shogun, and The Hammer, The Bullet & The Vise.  And that just scratches the surface.  Their brilliance lies in bending common styles into something refreshingly new but at the same time familiar.  But don’t take my word for it.  Go to Village Tap and see for yourself.

7.  Division St. IPA Crawl, Wednesday, May 21 at 6:00 p.m. at Jerry’s, 1938 W. Division

Now we are talking, hopheads.  Three Division Street bars combine efforts in a showdown of IPA styles as Jerry’s taps Midwestern IPA’s, Bangers & Lace taps East Cost IPA’s, and SmallBar taps (you had me at hello!) West Coast IPA’s on a West Division St. IPA crawl.   I don’t yet see any actual West Coast breweries, such as Port or Stone, listed among the brewers, but stay tuned.  Something hoppy this way comes.

8.  Create-Your-Own Tap Takeover at Jerry’s Andersonville, Thursday, May 22 at 6:00 p.m., 5419 N. Clark St.

Pick the 5 epic beers you want on tap on at Jerry’s on the 22nd.  Voting begins on Sunday the 18th and the winners will be on tap on the 22nd.  Candidates include Bruery Tart of Darkness, a 2012 Port Santa’s Little Helper, Goose Island Big John, Revolution Bean Gene, and a 2012 Great Lakes Blackout Stout (which ages exceptionally well).  You won’t need a Harris poll to tell you that one or more of these beers will be among the winners on tap that night.   Also that night, Mystic Blue Cruises’ Craft Beer Cruise will set sail on the lake for an evening of craft-beer nautical fun.  Only $30.  Not bad!

9.  West Loop Craft Beer Fest, Saturday, May 24th, 12-5 p.m., Chicago French Market

This is one of the CCBW highlights, and your trusted beer scribe will be there!  Get a ticket and stop by for Chicago’s biggest craft brewing block party, outdoors at the fabulous French Market. Enjoy some of the terrific food from FM vendors, and try beers from just about every local craft brewer you can think of.  If we get sunshine that day, it could prove to be one of the city’s best events of the year.

10.   Little Goat Rooftop Revolution, May 25 at 2:00 p.m. 820 W. Randolph St.

Wind down an exhausting but thrilling CCBW with a little Revolution tasting on Little Goat’s rooftop.   Besides their delectable, savory diner food, Little Goat will be featuring Revolution beers as well as 16 other tap handles with Chicago-area brews.  This will be a food-and-beer event like no other.  When you have had your fill of that, cruise on up to Green Lady that evening for their Beer School: The Sour Edition event, which will focus on sours, wild ales, and farmhouse ales, hosted by Chris Betts and Christopher Quinn.  Stick around afterwards to watch some Mad Men.

Home Cooking

Foodies Favorite: The Hoosier Mama Pie Book

May 08 2014 - 9:00 AM

If I ever need a quick cookie recipe or a fast frosting, Pinterest is my go-to. I like to try out recipes from new bloggers all the time. For something serious, like a pie, I like to know I can trust the source. Pies are a huge time investment. You need a quality crust recipe and filling instructions that are easy to follow, as there are often multiple layers.

I couldn’t be happier that I bought The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie. Not only is it a great book with tons of variety, but it’s also written by the creators of our local Chicago bakers from Hoosier Mama Pie. In the book, you’ll find classic recipes – think French silk, banana cream (pictured above) and buttermilk. There are also plenty of recipes that really change things up,  including a few memorable ones from the storefront location. I’m thinking the Fat Elvis (peanut butter banana pie with pretzel crust) and s’mores pie. My favorite part is that it’s organized by season, so you can see what fruit is ripe for spring, for example, and try out a new flavor of pie.

You won’t be getting short-changed with this dessert book, either. There are plenty of savory recipes. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I can’t wait to try out the leek, apple and cheddar quiche and the mushroom spinach pie.

We’re voting this book a Chicago Foodies favorite. It’s good for beginners with its step by step instructions (including pictures), and it also has intricate recipes for the seasoned baker. It wouldn’t make a bad last minute Mother’s Day gift either.