Food and drinks should be about savoring the meal. Too often, though, our hectic lifestyles mean we eat more in our cars, at our desks or out of the microwave than we should. Food events this July are all about slowing down and remembering that dining is an experience. From the slow smokiness of barbecue to local green movements that remind us where our food comes from, this month's events are about reconnecting with what's on our plate.
Rice calas, spiced rum butterscotch and carmelized banana from Big Jones
Andersonville Green Week
From July 12 to 18, Andersonville's residents and businesses celebrate green living with a festival that includes some tasty food events. On Friday, July 16, Big Jones will offer a five-course menu of seasonal, locally-grown food prepared via traditional Southern foodways. Both a meat and a vegetarian menu will be offered during the special, and Chef Paul Fehribach is especially excited about the vegetarian menu, which includes a Nichols Farm zucchini and green bean tempura as well as Green Acres Farm eggplant. A former vegan, Chef Fehribach says he wants to celebrate the incredible local produce of the Midwest. Big Jones is located at 5347 N. Clark Street and reservations can be made at (773) 275-5725. On Saturday, July 17 at 7:00 p.m., Mary's Attic (above Hamburger Mary's) hosts a film festival called "Highlights of Sustainable Agriculture in Media and Film" featuring footage from Dirt! The Movie, Fresh and Michael Pollan. Mary's Attic is located at 5400 N. Clark Street.
One of our favorite barbecue joints in Chicago, Smoque, is the tasty brainchild of owner Barry Sorkin. Four years ago, Sorkin left his IT career to open the Irving Park restaurant and has turned it into one of Chicago's best. On Saturday, July 17 at 10:00 a.m., Sorkin will host a lecture at Kendall College called Smoque Signals, sponsored by the local chapter of the Culinary Historians. During his presentation, Sorkin will explain how he took his small business from a start-up to a Chicago institution, and will share some of his barbecue philosophy (as well as delicious samples from Smoque). Gary Wiviott, author of "Low and Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons" will introduce Sorkin. The presentation will take place at Kendall College, 900 N. Branch Street and the cost is $5 for adults, $3 for students. To reserve a spot, call Catherine Lambrecht at (847) 432-8255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skate with cauliflower and brown butter from Sepia
Sepia's Third Anniversary
Sepia's owner Emmanuel Nony and executive chef Andrew Zimmerman will celebrate the restaurant's third anniversary on Monday, July 26, with a five-course meal featuring ingredients from local farmers as well as small-production wines. Guests can attend a cocktail reception before the meal, which includes menu items such as a carpaccio of octopus confit, ratatouille tart, wild striped bass and lamb loin. The reception begins at 6:30 PM followed by the dinner at 7:00 p.m. The cost is $85 per person, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Slow Food Chicago. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling (312) 441-1920. Sepia is located at 123 N. Jefferson Street.
Beer Tastings at Smoke Daddy
Every Tuesday from 7:00 to 9:00‚ p.m. at Smoke Daddy, the legendary barbecue is complimented by a beer tasting. On July 20, Chicago's own Metropolitan Brewery will be featured. The tastings are free to attend, and Smoke Daddy offers specials on the featured beers: $6 for pints and $10 for flights. Upcoming tastings include Minneapolis's Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider on July 27 and Lagunitas Brewing Company on August 3. Smoke Daddy is located at 1804 W. Division Street.
Potter's "Secret Spirits" Tastings
Potter's Lounge at the Palmer House Hilton evokes the spirit of the speakeasy with its new "Secret Spirits" tastings. Beginning July 20, Potter's will offer a class every Tuesday through the end of August. Led by beverage manager Patrick Coyne, the series will feature an expert from a new spirit or wine brand each week. The series begins with absinthe on July 20, followed by vodka on July 27 and whiskey and scotch on August 3. The cost is $25 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) which includes generous tasting pours as well as bites created by executive chef Philip Foss. Reservations can be made by calling (312) 917-3404.
Meinl's Summer Picnic
The Julius Meinl coffeehouse on Southport is out to prove that picnics can be much more gourmet than just potato salad and lemonade. On Thursday, July 22 at 7:00 PM, chef Jeff Adamek has prepared a feast in celebration of National Picnic Month. The menu for the picnic dinner includes smoked chicken with sausages and summer vegetable succotash, housemade pickles, assorted Midwestern cheeses, grilled peach salad, desserts and coffee from the Meinl coffeehouse and more. Following dinner, musician Ralph Covert, formerly of The Bad Examples, will perform. The cost is $40 for adults, $20 for children and reservations can be made by calling (773) 868-1857 ext. 5. The Julius Meinl coffeehouse is located at 3601 N. Southport Avenue.