Friday Foodie Forecast: Southern food and drink comes to Chicago

April 23, 2010


In the next few weeks, the Midwest will experience the best parts of the South: bold food, hand-crafted whiskey and Kentucky Derby parties.

Southern Food at Big Jones, Chicago
Big Jones' Boucherie plate: house made tasso, andouille, head cheese and rilletes.

Lost Southern Foods

On Tuesday, April 27th at 6:30 pm, Big Jones's executive chef Paul Fehribach will create a five-course menu of "Lost Southern Foods". Slow Food Chicago joins Fehribach to showcase "threatened" Southern foods-- delicious ingredients that are in danger of disappearing from tables due to industrial standardization or environmental damage. The menu includes Sea Island red pea cappuccino with house bacon froth, house andouille and head cheese with pickled Laughing Bird shrimp, Genesis Growers lettuces with honey and ginger dressing, Gunthorp Farm duck with house tasso gumbo and buttered Arkansas popcorn rice, and calas with pumpkin seed pralines. The cost is $45 per person which includes non-alcoholic beverages, tax and gratuity. As of this writing there were less than 15 spaces left, and reservations can be made by calling Big Jones at (773) 275-5725 and asking for Paul or Andy. Big Jones is located at 5347 N. Clark Street.

Whiskey Fest

The South loves its whiskey, but so does Chicago. Malt Advocate's WhiskeyFest 2010 rolled through Chicago this week, and though the festivities are over, you can still attend the official after-party at Delilah's tonight at 10 pm. Special guest distillers and bartenders will join the celebration, including Preston and Julian Van Winkle of Old Rip Van Winkle distillery in Louisville. The Gage is also toasting to WhiskeyFest by offering an all-American whiskey flight for $28. The American flight features tasting pours of Death's Door white whiskey from Wisconsin, Hudson Bay bourbon whiskey from New York, Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve 6 year rye from Kentucky, and Jefferson Presidential 17 year Select Vintage 1991, a whiskey sourced from the legendary and now-closed Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville. The Gage also offers three other whiskey flights, the Glenmorangie flight, the Irish flight, and the International flight. The Gage is located at 24 S. Michigan Avenue. Call (312) 372-4243 for more information.

Kentucky Derby

Get off to the races and head to one of the many Kentucky Derby parties planned for Saturday, May 1. Stretch Run, a River North off-track betting and horse racing bar, is hosting a day-long Kentucky Derby party. The second floor of Stretch Run will become a VIP party from 10 am until 6 pm. The cost is $75 per person and includes a Kentucky Derby Racing Program and access to Mutuel Tellers for no-wait betting. Stretch Run is located at 544 North LaSalle. Call (312) 644-4477 to reserve a space. Lakeview's Fizz Bar and Grill will host a party at 3 pm with a complimentary buffet featuring Southern favorites like Burgoo stew, Benedictine sandwiches, succotash, Hot Browns and bourbon brownies. Mint juleps will be served in commemorative Churchill Downs glasses for $10 with $5 refills. And don't forget your to look your best-- Fizz will award a prize for best women's hat and best men's seersucker suit. Fizz is located at 3220 N. Lincoln Avenue. Call (773) 348-6000 for information. The Southern, an appropriate location for a Derby party, will serve $7 bourbon cocktails like mint juleps, the Lily (lemonade, bourbon and cranberry juice), and the Lazy Boy (bourbon, bitters and soda) and Peach Tea. Chef Cary Taylor will also serve the traditional Hot Brown for $12. The Southern is located at 1840 W. North Avenue. Call (773) 342-1840 for details.‚  Zella will host its Derby party to benefit Chicago Children's Charities. From 2 to 6 pm, enjoy an open bar, lunch buffet and live music on the outdoor patio. The cost is $80 in advance, $100 at the door and are available online through Chicago Children's Charities. Zella is located at 1983 N. Clybourn Avenue. Call (773) 549-2910 for details.