Sisterhood Adventures: Highlights from 2013 Chicago Gourmet
If Chicago is Wrong, We don’t Want to be Right!
We just got back from a four day adventure in Chicago where we poured Wine Sisterhood wines at Chicago Gourmet, drank more artisanal cocktails than wine (which is a first), and visited some very interesting eating establishments. Check out the highlights of our trip.
1. Drinking and eating our way around Logan Square. The Goal – to explore as many places as possible during one evening with absolutely no reservations or plan. We started by grabbing seats at the bar, ordering a hand-crafted libation made with ingredients we had never heard of, and enjoying a bite to eat. Details below:
The Vibe: A modern take on an old Chicago neighborhood inn.
To Eat: Confit of Pacific Octopus, Charred Ramps, Pimenton Confit Potato, Grilled Beef Tendon, Artichoke Relish, Black Olive Caramel
To Drink: A Whiskey Cocktail of course (148 selections are available)
The Vibe: A cozy parlour serving 1920’s era cocktails
To Eat: Pimento Cheese in a Jar
To Drink: Grapes, Rice & Wrath – Pisco Acholado, Nama Genshu Reduction, Ransom Vermouth, Lime, Spiced Kola Nut (told you about the ingredient situation)
The Vibe: Modern Mexican with a fascinating collection of Tequila
To Eat: Chilaquiles
To Drink: Mexican Firing Squad
3. Returning to Au Cheval two nights in a row to order the same exact thing: Cheeseburger and Raw Vegetable Salad.
4. Munching on delicious examples of Gourmet Bar Snacks during a seminar lead by Andrew Knowlton, which featured chefs from Billy Sunday, Nellcote, and Scofflaw. Our favorite bite was the Deviled Egg (which isn’t surprising considering we have a Deviled Egg obsession). This one was stuffed with Chicken Liver Mousse, instead of a yolk mixture.
5. Spotting our favorite editors of Bon Appetit Magazine and Chef Hugh Acheson at Au Cheval in a corner table during visit number one.
6. Discovering a speakeasy in Wicker Park where no cell phones are allowed, the lights were low, and they served our cocktails in vintage glassware. It’s called The Violet Hour after a quote by T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” (1922)
“At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting…
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea”
7. Watching a Meatball Smackdown with two of Chicago’s top Italian Chefs – John Coletta, Quartino; Doug Psaltis, RPM Italian. Love Meatballs as much as we do? Try this Neopolitan style that Chef John Coletta made right in front of our eyes!
Veal Meatballs with Raisins, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pinenuts, and Tomato Sugo
2 c. Bread; 1 day old; Interior only; Small dice
¼ c. Whole Milk
1 Egg, beaten
1 Clove Garlic, minced
¾ c. Cheese: Half Pecorino and Half Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 c. Mixed Dark and Yellow Raisins, poached then roughly chopped
½ c. Pinenuts
½ c. Sun-dried Tomatoes, poached then roughly chopped
¼ c. Italian Parsley, chopped
1/8 c. Basil, chopped
1 lb. Ground Veal
¼ t. Salt
½ t. Black Pepper
1/8 c. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
½ c. Ricotta
¼ c. Cheese: Half Pecorino and Half Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1. In a bowl add the bread crumbs, milk, egg, garlic, cheese, raisins, pinenuts, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Let rest for 30 minutes. While resting begin making the Tomato Sugo. Recipe is below.
2. After the 30 minute rest add the ground veal and mix by hand to incorporate the milk soaked bread crumb mixture and veal into an evenly distributed format. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Brush the olive oil onto an oven proof tray. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Using a small ice cream scooper, form the mixture into balls, each the size of a golf ball. With wet hands, roll the meatballs tightly and place them onto the oiled oven proof tray. Place the tray containing the meatballs into the oven for 10 minutes, until slightly brown.
5. Transfer the cooked meatballs into a pan and add the warm simmering tomato sugo. Place back into the oven for another 3 minutes.
6. Remove the veal meatballs and tomato sugo mixture from the oven. Transfer this mixture to a serving vessel. Top with fresh ricotta, grated mixture of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses and hand torn basil. Serve with Warm Polenta
¼ c. EVOO
1 Clove Garlic, thinly sliced
2 T. Basil, roughly chopped
1 28oz. Can Tomatoes; peeled and crush by hand (reserve juices)
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a 3-Quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the basil and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce coats the back of the spoon.
8. Enjoying a Pickle Back Shot and Schlitz Tall Boy after a long day of pouring wine. As we say in wine country it takes a lot of good beer, to make great wine!
And that’s all for now folks!
Heading to the Windy City anytime soon? Check out my favorite places in Chicago on Urban Spoon.