Loving Chicago- Chicago ♥’s Cheese Part II
In a world filled with a lifetime of fascinating places to visit, every city has its particular charms. Chicago is no exception. Though having diners whose menus can simultaneously boast foie gras with strawberry jam, bone barrow, french fries topped with mornay sauce and a fried egg, and Firestone Walker on tap would be enough for me (yup, one menu), there's much more to Chicago than rich and delicious food. Not that that wouldn't be enough.
Its beer and wine scene that rivals San Francisco's or New York's isn't bad either. That Lake Michigan and the Chicago River that frame the city's varied, beautiful turn of the century, art deco, and post modernist architecture? Also pretty. And despite its below-freezing winters, it's one of the most welcoming, warm cities around. I'm pretty sure strangers even stop to say hello to each other in the underground tunnels during a blizzard.
After just returning from book promo in Chicago for the first time, I can say that ... I loved it. I drank and ate here and there (and then there and there), saw some sites, and met some amazing people.
One of the biggest things I did while in town? I was on Good Day Chicago! My first television appearance ever. Live- did I mention that?
I flew in late Monday night, went to bed at 1am, woke up at 5am, and drank five cups of coffee before the end of the show. I was... a little nervous. And tired. The videographers and reporter quickly put me on ease though, assured me that my outfit was TV-ready (just take a quick look online to learn about all the things that apparently make you look horrible on HD- these things were all I seemed to have in my closet before leaving Oakland), and we proceeded to taste Wisconsin cheese, make a recipe from my book, and sip wine and beer inbetween downing five mugs of coffee.
Here's a link that shows my three segments (there are additional clips beneath the main video that shows all segs). I had so much fun (and subsequent naps)!
I was also on Down and Dirty Radio with Frank Fontana and his cute sidekick Alex. Frank Fontana's About Me page describes him as “The Straight Guy-With A Queer Eye” and host of HGTV’s top-rated DIY design show, Design on a Dime." He called the portion that I was on The Man Zone. We ate Dunbarton Blue and Limburger, drank wine (Alex downed three glasses), and they put me on the spot with questions that no dairy person should have to answer. I loved it. Here's the link- I start around the 30 min mark, if you perchance don't want to listen to the whole hour.
I felt very lucky to have both of these opportunities and meet so many fantastic people. Chicago welcomed me with style and I am thankful with all my heart.
Some places I visited that I loved:
City Winery: Chicago's wine program is run by Rachel - a woman who's as skilled in wine directing as she is an excellent educator. Filmed Good Day Chicago here at 7am, returned at 7pm to teach a wine and cheese pairing class with Rachel Driver Speckan. They also have top-notch musicians play here. Not a bad place to hang out.
Chopping Bloc - Daily classes and lovely instructors. The co-chef that helped with the class I taught was Carolyn Engleman. I'd highly recommend her classes. She knew her stuff, had wonderful energy, and was a natural teacher.
Provenance Food and Wine - A great selection in a tiny space. They back a lot of punch in this Lincoln Square spot.
Pastoral - I run into these people everywhere! After hearing about them for years, I was already excited to stop by, and after I was told to visit their shop by many of my friends, to say hi to many of their friends, visiting their French Market space was even more of a necessity. A wonderful selection, and some fun German cheeses that rarely make it to the U.S., too.
Jazz Mart - I met the owner, loved her, and got invited to her Friday movie night. Enough said. Their selection rival's any jazz-focused record shop in the country.
Au Cheval- See third sentence, first paragraph.
Girl and the Goat - I've never been really inspired to visit a restaurant of someone who's won a cooking show. This was another story. Delicious goat preparations, vegetables, fried chick pea fritters, and man, can they make a negroni.
Terzo Piano, The Modern Museum - A gorgeous cheese list, and a chef unafraid to take risks with it. See above photo.
And.... the Drake. Oh, Old Chicago, your'e so pretty.