Portlandia: The Tour hits The Hideout this Wednesday, but it's sold out. In fact the show sold out in mere minutes way back on November 22 (as in last year) according to WBEZ's own Kate Dries. Unknown food television fact: When Anthony Bourdain was shooting No Reservations in Chicago at Hot Doug's, Portlandia star Fred Armisen happened to be eating there with a lady friend. We actually filmed him commenting, but it ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
But no worries: winter break is over in the Greater Chicagolandia world of food events. There's more than enough local, seasonal, sustainable, organic-organic, free-range stuff to do, eat, and drink this week. Too much in fact.
Monday, January 16
In honour of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, YMCAs across Chicagoland launch a weeklong healthy food drive to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank. They're seeking whole grain pasta, canned-in-water chicken or tuna, canned fruits and veggies, reduced-sodium soup, peanut butter, and pasta sauce. Drop off your donations this week at any Y or donate here or here anytime, anywhere.
Tuesday, January 17
Re-think, talk, and eat soup with Gastronomica founder and editor-in-chief Darra Goldstein at the Hull-House Kitchen's weekly program, Re-Thinking Soup. Soup of the week: Lentil with mushroom bacon. Topic of the week: feeding the senses. Goldstein will "talk about how culture and scholarship have helped to shape our radical imaginations about how to form a more just and delicious world".
The Aviary previews their El Bulli cocktails and February menu at the inaugural "Party @ The Aviary" with passed cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a resident DJ. As with their sister restaurant Next, advance purchase tickets required.
Wednesday, January 18
The weekly mid-week Koval Distillery tour now officially features a paired pop-up food truck dinner. This week DucknRoll serves Vietnamese-ish bánh mì sandwiches with flavor-takes from China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.
Thursday, January 19
Greetings Bacon-Nation! The final Baconfest Chicago satellite dinner of the season is upon us! (We in Bacon-Nation speak in this collective manner!) Hearty will amuse your bouche with BLT and bacon consommé, then stuff it with bacon Parker House rolls, and then serve four bacon-y courses, including a bacon dessert of Elvis Whoopie Pie (banana whoopie, salty peanut gelato, bacon bourbon caramel, candied bacon). There will also be sparkling wine apéritifs and Templeton Rye cocktails to gild the bacon-y lily.
Former Goose Island Brewmaster/current Virtue Ciderist Greg Hall hosts a cider dinner at Floriole, featuring his new elixirs, including a super special advance preview tasting of Virtue Redstreak English Style Draft. Vegetarian dinner options are available.
Friday, January 20
The Peninsula kicks off Chinese New Year celebrations with an Asian-inspired Afternoon Tea and Executive Lunch in The Lobby. In Shanghai Terrace, Chef Ivan Yuen has created a six-course dinner for the Year of the Dragon, which "pays homage to a Chinese poem about new beginnings, with each course corresponding to a line in the verse". The New Year items will only be available for a week.
Saturday, January 21
Culinary Historians of Chicago presents "Midwest Baking Traditions" at the Chicago History Museum. Hear some sweet and not so sweet talk, from the invention of the brownie at the Columbian Exposition to the real stories behind industry giants Kraft and Nabisco. Also learn how tainted food products led Chicago to become the country's first city to pass food protection laws. The event will be recorded for WBEZ's Chicago Amplified, but you need to attend if you want to taste the sweets that will be served.
The Green City Market kicks off the Winter Indoor Market with a demo by Yusho chef/owner Matthias Merges—and nota bene the Superbowl Chili Cookoff Contest recipe deadline January 23. Chili judging will be held February 4, with categories Chef’s Choice, People’s Choice, and Most Innovative. Each category winner will receive a ticket to the annual GCM Chefs BBQ Benefit on July 12.
Third Coast Comics hosts a Pie Bake Off continuing their quarterly series of exploring comics and food. To date they have 12 entries, and a modest $7 entry fee covers pie for you to eat and judge.
Get back to the Pen for the traditional Chinese Lion Dance at the front entrance of the hotel. The performance will continue in The Lobby with the lion and musicians weaving their way around guests taking tea. Children are invited to feed heads of lettuce to the lion to ensure good luck for the coming year.
Sunday, January 22
Have an event recommendation? Please email me here. Thanks.