This week in food events: Next vs. El Bulli; Beatles vs. The Stones; and more
Wednesday, February 8
Next: elBulli opens, and runs through May 27, 2012 only. The first course will be El Bulli's 2004 "caipirnha-nitro con concentrado de estragón" (liquid nitrogen Caipirnha with tarragon concentrate). Hey I made that when I staged there that year! Then and there it started with a big bowl of limes and bunches of tarragon; then hand-muddled juice, sugar, and cachaça were frozen with liquid nitrogen at the table; and served with a touch of intense tarragon, extracted by centrifuge. The liquid nitrogen freezes the highly alcoholic cocktail to a Mario's Italian ice texture. The insulated table-side bowl always came back to me—and yes, I drank the leftovers. For ticket information, check out the Next Facebook page, your best chance to get in.
The Chemistry of Chocolate: A Chicago Story at Garfield Park Conservatory will be a workshop presented by Blommer Chocolate Company R&D specialist Melissa Tison. It's part of the Sweet Talks series, held in conjuction with Tropical Treat Nights, "featuring chocolate, chicle, vanilla, cinnamon, chewing gum, banana, and more" with "fact and flavor stations...throughout the Conservatory". There's also "a special chocolate tasting lounge" with a "self guided chocolate 'taste test' quest" and "self-serve hot cocoa bar". The Conservatory is still recovering from last June's hail storm which destroyed the glass paned greenhouse roofs.
Thursday, February 9
Our very own Sound Opinions presents Eat to the Beat: The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, at the not-yet-open Nellcôte. Join Jim DeRo and Grē Ko as Top Chef/Girl and the Goat chef/owner Stephanie Izard cooks to The Beatles, while Old Town Social/Nellcôte chef Jared Van Camp cooks to The Stones. All proceeds benefit Sound Opinions and WBEZ.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Auto Show First Look for Charity throws down at McCormick Place, benefitting 18 Chicago area charities. This year's black tie gala will feature global food celebrations, from Chinese New Year dim sum, Brazilian Carnivale churrascaria, American 4th of July BBQ, German Oktoberfest brats, to international New Year's Eve Champagne, cheese, and desserts.
Food writer friend Jennifer Olvera does a book talk and signing of her beautiful Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago at the Oak Park Public Library. "Sample edibles from some of her favorite spots featured in her book"!
Friday, February 10
The Urban Art Party at the Grossinger City Autoplex (got a problem with that?) benefits Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter and CampCare, a grief support camp for children and teens who have lost a loved one. The party features food from Wishbone and drinks from Illinois Sparkling Co., specifically their sparkling wine made with Illinois-grown grapes in Illinois—their slogan "Less Champagne. More Champaign."
Saturday, February 11
The 3rd Valentine's Day Pastry Market at Logan Square Kitchen will be held Saturday and Sunday, "showcasing the best and newest local, small-batch food artisans in Chicago", including one of my favorites, Mess Hall & Co. Plus scope out "NOLA-style beignets" from De La Rue Patisserie, among more than a dozen food artisans each day.
Get yourself back to the Garfield Park Conservatory for From Bean to Bar, to "taste [your] way through the natural and cultural history of the cacao plant, and discover how we get from the fruit of the tropical tree to the tasty reat we all love". Oh yes.
Sunday, February 12
Dose Market is back at the River East Art Center, this time with a Spanish market within the market, featuring Vera's Mark Mendez and JDY Imports. Start with Zingerman's Bakehouse bostock, then stock up on Burton's Maplewood Farm sorghum syrup, and sip a pickles and brine cocktail from The Bedford's chef Mark Steuer's pop-up, Pickled.
The Trenchermen, chef/bros Michael and Patrick Sheerin, dig deep for a series of pop-up dinners back at Logan Square Kitchen. I spy lots of inventive takes on interesting Japanese ingredients on their menu—like chicken bonito, sake lees, and bamboo rice. I'm pretty sure I didn't see anything like what they'll be serving when I was in Japan last week. Sunday is sold out at this time, but tickets are currently available for Monday and even the late Tuesday seating—remember, that's Valentine's Day!
Have an event recommendation? Please email me here. Thanks.