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August 2011 Archives

Here's a $40 deal for tonight: A four-course dinner at Browntrout, 4111 N. Lincoln, and conversation with Spence Farm's Marty and Kris Travis and Jennifer Olvera, author of the Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago and Sun-Times contributor.

This is a good group. The Travises are warm and chatty, as most farmers tend to be ("We always joke that the problem with farmers is they talk too much," Rob Gardner, editor of the Local Beet website, once told me). And they are a familiar topic for Olvera, who has written about their famous ramp digs in the spring and about their son Will making a name for himself with the maple syrup he taps on the property. Marty's recipe for cornbread using, naturally, his own whole-wheat flour, remains one of my favorites.

The evening begins with a 6:30 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. (Add $30 for wine pairings; copies of Food Lovers' are included in the dinner price.) Oh and, those ramps are on the menu, in pickled and vinaigrette form. Call (773) 472-4111.

For more upcoming farm dinners, check out our September calendar. And add this one to the list: 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Blue Sky Bakery, 3720 N. Lincoln, just down the road from Browntrout. Three courses, featuring the meats of Mint Creek Farm, for $30.

[photo courtesy Sweet Spot Macarons]

Yet another food truck is in the works for Chicago, but it's keeping a narrow focus that has nothing to do with the c-word.

Sweet Spot Macarons (still in the licensing process but slated for a mid- to late-September debut) will offer only macarons, those tres chic treats that, like every other pastry, have been hailed as the new cupcake. Galit-Macaron-Small-1.jpg

The woman behind the truck is Galit Greenfield, a French Pastry School graduate who honed her skills with her catering business. Greenfield will offer six flavors initially, at $1.50 a piece -- salted caramel, pistachio, chocolate espresso, hazelnut, strawberry and passion fruit -- though the roster will likely expand. "I've been doing all kinds of experiments with crazier flavors," she says.

Choosing to build her business around the macaron was an easy decision for Greenfield. "I really think it's a superior pastry. It's so diverse. I love that it's gluten free. I love the combination of crunchy and soft, that you can change all the fillings, that it's not huge. It's very elegant and very versatile. And I'm really attracted to the chemistry behind macarons .... It's complicated. It's about your oven, it's about the temperature, your egg whites. It's a challenging pastry, and I guess I love challenges."

Follow the truck on Twitter @SweetSpotMac.

Other new or soon-to-be-operational trucks that have popped up lately include Homage Street Food, which offers an ambitious global menu, and the Lillie Q's Meat Mobile, an offshoot of the Bucktown restaurant.

Can't keep all the trucks straight? The site Food Truck Freak keeps tabs on the whole scene -- which, some will argue tonight, is hardly official.

chef-FOO-0803-01.jpg
[photo by John J. Kim~Sun-Times]

Another day, another "Top Chef' season premiere.

The second installment of "Top Chef: Just Desserts" premieres at 9 tonight. Representing Chicago is Amanda Rockman, who's responsible for all things
sweet and tart at the Bristol. With the show and a a second restaurant in the works, the momentum is behind Rockman.

You'll see other familiar faces this season, including the 'Kings of Pastry' themselves, Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne, founders of Chicago's French Pastry School. Pfeiffer and Canonne judged a key episode this season; Pfeiffer also says the caliber of this field of contestants is higher than the last, which had its share of highly entertaining drama.

IMG_6885.jpg [These can be yours for under $50. | Courtesy Big Star]

Want a piece of uber-hip taco/tequila bar Big Star? Or maybe just a fork?

The restaurant, along with its brethren Avec, Blackbird, Publican and Violet Hour, is collecting all their unused dishes, cutlery, glassware, appliances, furniture and more for a sidewalk sale. The goods, ranging from $1 to $50, will be for sale from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Big Star, 1531 N. Damen. We're told most items will be under $10.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward repair of the beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory, which suffered major hail damage after a fierce July storm.

chef-FOO-0803-03.jpg

Amanda Rockman, pastry chef at the Bristol, 2152 N. Damen, talks up the tart in today's Food pages, and shares a recipe for a lovely buttermilk tart with fresh cherries and a mascarpone cream one might be inclined to bathe in rather than dollop artfully on top.

Make this tart, because Rockman's spot-on suggestions yield such rewards for very little effort. I'm always on the lookout for a good crust - this one's a winner (and a reminder of why the food processor rocks).

And make this tart so you can say you did it before Rockman gets all famous. On Aug. 24, she'll make her TV debut on Bravo's "Top Chef Just Desserts," the only Chicago chef-testant in the field of 14. (The first season had Chicago's Malika Ameen bowing out under pressure.)

[photo by John J. Kim~Sun-Times]

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2011 is the previous archive.

September 2011 is the next archive.

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