This week in food events: pantries, polka, and more

December 27, 2011

Before we dive into New Year's Eve revelry, please allow me to answer a couple of questions that keep popping up from WBEZ's Jennifer Brandel's reporting that food pantries can't meet demand.

First, where can we donate food?

The easy answer: at all Chicagoland Dominick's and Chicago Whole Foods, to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository's 1 City, 1 Food Drive going on right now.

And, is it better to donate food or funds?

The short answer: both.

The Food Depository and other agencies have greater buying power, but food is still needed and highly appreciated. We can easily donate funds at all Dominick's and Whole Foods check-out counters—at the latter, outside the city, donations go to local pantries—or donate funds here.

The GCFD's most needed items are beans, canned fruit, canned vegetables, cereal, chili, jelly, macaroni and cheese, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, rice, shelf-stable milk, soup, stew, and tuna.

One thing to note: glass jars are discouraged, as you can imagine, because of weight and breakage.

You can also volunteer your time and talent to the Food Depository or at one of the member pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.

Meanwhile, nearly every restaurant, hotel, and venue in the city is planning a New Year's Eve party. Here are just a few interesting options.

Friday, December 30

I love this space and EVE of the EVE takes over the Great Hall at Union Station with black-tie optional cocktails, heavy hors d'oeuvres, a live band, and dancing. All proceeds benefit HighSight's scholarship program. Their mission is to provide academic and social support to Chicago high school students.

Meanwhile, in a much more intimate room, celebrate at the Pre-New Year’s Eve Party at North Shore Distillery's tasting room. Bring in a donation to benefit PADS shelter in Lake County, only a few miles away, and get $1 off your cocktail—or simply donate here.

Saturday, December 31

And then there's New Year's Eve powered by The Polkaholics at the DANK Haus. Polka meets rock meets German food and drink, plus feuerzangenbowle, "wherein a sugar cone is soaked in high proof rum and lit on fire over a spiced wine." Willkommen 2012 indeed!

The Prohibition Dinner and Classic Cocktail Party at In Fine Spirits promises not only drinks from the era, but also well-researched tastes, with surprising hints at Italian, Indian, and Chinese.

I presume the "Bottomless Champagne Bar" refers to unlimited and not dress code at Zoot! at the Hotel Palomar with unlimited small plates and unlimited dessert. A 10-person private Sable NYE VIP Swing Lounge is also available with Exec (Top) Chef Heather Terhune and Head Bartender Mike Ryan as your private chef and barkeep respectively.

Sunday, January 1

Happy 2012!