This week in food events: 'Odd bits,' green beer and more

March 15, 2012

All our talk about pink slime brought up a lot of questions—but what about answers? This week we can discuss it with the experts at the Good Food Festival and chef/author Jennifer McLagan, who wrote the new book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal. Then from pink to green, St. Patrick's Day in Chicago means one thing: green beer. But now with our local breweries, that means in color and craft.

Thursday, March 15

The three-day Good Food Festival at UIC Forum kicks off with a financing conference—because sustainability means financially too: "Food producers and farmers interested in growing their business should attend the Good Food Financing Conference to learn about funding opportunities and connect with banks and investors interested in financing growth." 

Friday, March 16

The Good Food Festival tradeshow conference and policy summit is like speed dating for chefs and farmers: It's "a fantastic opportunity for buyers to discover food businesses and distributors. The policy summit brings together food advocates and policy makers to discuss local food systems and food access." Then eat, drink and be Localicious at UIC Forum: "The party pairs family farmers with chef-driven restaurants for a sampling of the freshest ingredients and flavors of the season"—plus a baker's dozen of beverage companies.

Saturday, March 17

The third and last day of the Good Food Festival, starts with four in-depth workshops, then "an Exhibit Hall with artisan and farmer exhibitors, workshops on growing and making food, chef demos, family-friendly activities, and nationally significant speakers."

I'll be going From Haggis to Headcheese—The Fall and Rise of Odd Bits with Jennifer McLagan, presented by Culinary Historians of Chicago, at Kendall College. The event will be recorded by WBEZ's own Chicago Amplified, but you must attend if you want headcheese for breakfast!

Take a green-dyed Chicago River St. Patrick's Day cruise by Shoreline Sighseeing with an Irish buffet, including corned beef and cabbage, bread pudding—plus Guinness and Irish Coffee.

The St. Patrick's Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center is "a large-scale, family-oriented annual event includes traditional and contemporary Irish music, dance, food, and children’s activities."

At the homemade ice cream class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, "Get an up close look at one of the world’s tiniest seeds from the vanilla orchid, make a batch of ice cream, and pot up a plant that can flavor ice cream."

Sunday, March 18

The St. Patrick's Afterparty back at the Irish American Heritage Center actually starts with Mass—confessions optional—followed by an Irish breakfast, then another full day of music and fun, including step-dancing and face-painting.

The fourth annual Chicago Chef Week is like Restaurant Week, but focused on some of the best chef-driven restaurants in the city, with $22 three-course lunch and $39 three-course dinner. A couple of exceptions: Blackbird is offering a $65 five-course dinner—and Publican, a $30 three-course prix fixe menu, Monday through Friday, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Speed Rack at the Bottom Lounge promises booze and boobs, says Lynn House, Chief Mixologist at Blackbird. Twenty Chicagoland female bartenders "will compete head to head in this intense test of speed and accuracy. In the end, only one will be crowned Miss Speed Rack Chicago and win a trip to NYC to compete against the winners of all the other cities in the finals in May" and "all proceeds go to breast cancer research, education, and prevention." There will be punch, cocktails, beer, and food. Judges include mixologist Bridget Alpert and the legendary bar alchemist and creator of The Violet Hour, my friend Toby Maloney.

Artist Michael Rakowitz's Enemy Kitchen food truck launches in front of Milo's Pita Place. At sundown artist Aaron Hughes performs Tea, "in remembrance of the start of the Iraq War in 2003." This is the latest interactive installment of Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art.