Tag Archives: Green City Market

Green City Market Annual Chef’s BBQ Benefit

Whoa… this summer is movin fast and I can barely keep up.  Here’s a photo from our latest dining endeavor The Green City Market Chef’s BBQ Benefit in Lincoln Park.  If you missed it this year, make sure you keep it in mind for next year!

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio from Cafe Spiaggia

 

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A Last Minute Venture: Perennial Virant

Oh no. We made this reservation two months ago and passed up Bulls playoff tickets for our much awaited dinner at Schwa with our good friend who was in town for the weekend.  Four hours before our dinner time, our friend’s plane landed only to find out that the kitchen was out of order at Schwa and all reservations were canceled for the evening.  What to do?  Fortunately, Kate thought of Perennial and its exciting makeover involving the Michelin starred chef from Vie, Paul Virant, and quickly snagged a late reservation to save the night… well not totally… the Bulls still managed to get eliminated from the playoffs during our dinner.

The Atmosphere:

Perennial Virant is located across from The Lincoln Park on Clark Street.   The dining room had a very comfortable and casual feel with two long communal wood tables surrounded by more intimate booths.  While we are not the biggest fans of communal dining, these tables were spaced out well enough to make our dining experience very comfortable.  The modern yet rustic look made us feel like we were in a nice spacious neighborhood lounge rather than a fine dining establishment.

The Food:

There are two basic options:  the 37 dollar 3 course price fixe with 2 options each course or the small plates option similar to the menu at the Girl and the Goat, another restaurant owned by the Boka Restaurant Group.  The small plates get progressively larger but never large enough to constitute an individual portion.  Since there were four of us, we chose a few small plates to share.  Our first plate was the Carnaroli Rice with local Brunkow Cheese Curds.  The dish looked beautiful and had a nice texture to it but could have used a little more salt or pepper for my taste.  This was followed by the Slagel Family Farm Pork Shoulder which was quite tasty but didn’t carry the falling off bone texture you typically expect with pork shoulder as it was compressed into a pork patty of sorts.  The Wisconsin Morrels in Milk Jam were the highlight of the meal.  They were extremely fresh and delicious!

Carnaroli Rice Cake

We also enjoyed the perfectly seared scallops and the flavorful Rabbit Ballotine, although Kate opted out on the bunny.  We tried the Chicken Fried Steak(beef provided by Wisconsin based Dietzler Farms), but we just couldn’t get into it like we had hoped as the crust wasn’t quite sufficient for the amount of meat it covered.

Sea Scallops

Our Thoughts:

Considering that this restaurant had only opened four days before our meal, the kitchen and service did an outstanding job!  The dishes were all very seasonal and composed of  fresh local items, many of which were supplied by the farmers that regularly attend the Green City Market across the street in the park. Paul Virant certainly lives up to his reputation of using fresh, local ingredients.  However, the portions of the shared plates were not much more that tapas size despite carrying a price tag of 8-27 dollars.  Overall, we enjoyed our time a Perennial Virant, but will most likely try the prix-fixe menu on our next visit.

Perennial Virant | 1800 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago IL 60614  | 312.981.7070

Perennial Virant on Urbanspoon

 

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Images from the Green City Market

Green City Market Radish

Genesis Growers Radish, Spinach and Lettuce

I love the farmers market.  There… I’ve said it.  My first memory of a farmers market stems from the small local market in West Allis, Wisconsin.  Although, we had our own cherry trees, raspberry bushes and vegetable garden in our backyard, every summer my mother would take me and my brothers to pick pints of pickles and tomatoes from local farmers, which she would use to can pickles and salsa all summer long.  And even though my most vivid memory of the market is of my brother getting stung by a bee, it was here that I began to realize the importance of the farmers and where our food comes from.

The second farmers market that played a significant role in my life, as well as many other UW-Madison students, was the Dane County Farmers Market.  Every Saturday students from all over campus flocked to the capital for one of the largest farmers market in the country. Going from tent to tent we would select tomatoes, honey or cheese curds from farmers or producers who were passionate about their vegetables, bee hives, or dairy farm.

Tiny Green's Radish and Onion

It was here that a squeaky cheese curd made an impression on me.  Its almost impossible to find a squeaky cheese curd in a big box grocery store, and why is this? Because the squeak is an indicator of freshness that is lost in the time it takes to go from the farm to your grocer’s refrigerator.  This was an epiphany for me, a poor college kid whose only sustenance was the processed foods of her dorm.  I vowed that once I had the money and kitchen to do so, I was going organic, sustainable or the next closest thing.  It took several more years and a bout of professional school until the final realization of my goal.  I shopped predominately at Whole Foods for the past three years. And oh the price I paid for going organic, but I wanted to support a corporation that promoted both farmers and the environment.  But when I moved to Chicago last summer, I found that there were few other places that I would rather be than the Green City Market in Lincoln Park.

Beckerlane Pork

Beckerlane Organic Pork

The 12 year old market is a model for the sustainable food movement where local farmers and artisans share their craft every Wednesday and Saturday from 7 Am to 1 Pm from May to October.  This market is a constant reminder that we as consumers have other options than our big box grocer.  We can go straight to our farmers where their produce will always be ripe, seasonal and maybe even less expensive.  Here all your questions about what is laid before you are easily answered.  Where was this grown?  When was it picked?  What is in season now?  When was this beef slaughtered?  How are the lives of your hens?  Do your pigs live a happy life?  How long are these eggs good for? What is a CSA?  Here you can find the pork they serve at Publican, the beef they serve at The Four Seasons Hotel, or produce used at Frontera Grill. The market operates on the premise that you should, “know your food.  know your farmer”, a motto that challenges Chicago to become more aware of where our food actually comes from.

Chives Radishes and Rhubarb

King's Hill Farm Radish, Chive and Rhubarb

The market’s influences can be seen all over the faces of the patrons roaming through the grass, passing and stopping at each tent.  We want to know our food!  We want to know our farmer!  We are here because sustainable practices and preservation of the environment are important to us, and we know what we do here has an impact elsewhere.  With a look of content I wander the market knowing that my tiny purchases here show my support of local farmers, my daily attempt to save the earth, and my appreciation for farms that truly do have happy cows, pigs and chickens. After perusing around the market we found ourselves with bags full of spring garlic, micro greens, potatoes, Berkshire pork, goat cheese, a fig tree, and a few too many plants.  When we went home, I put on my green gardening gloves, pulled out some potting soil and began to plant the lavender, chives, fig tree, sage, and grape tomato from the market.  You see I have my own makeshift farm on my balcony. Hungry from all the planting, I went inside to see G had created a Green City Omelette.

Green City Omelette

Our Homage to the Green City Market

Our omelette consisted of sauteed spring garlic, Fromage a Trois goat cheese from Capriole, inc. topped with onion micro greens from Tiny Greens and  green garlic.  And the eggs we used were from TJ’s Free Range Poultry.  We liked it so much, we decided to make another!

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