Thursday, September 15, 2005

From DishNews, Tips, and Inside Information from the Dining Editors of Chicago

Avec (615 W. Randolph St.; 312-377-2002), which pretty much single-handedly made charcuterie popular in Chicago, is not curing its own charcuterie at the moment.

Really? All those places up and down Milwaukee, Joe the Sausage King on Western, numerous chorizo hecho en casa, Saravele's Romanian, Thai sausage from Sticky Rice cited last week in Time Out Chicago, a whole festival built around brats made by hand at a place in Morton Grove, Freddy's hams, soppresettas and salamis, pigs, chickens, ducks baked in Chinatown, more than a few Greektown places with their own sauasage, a couple of Middle-Eastern places around Albany Park too; a very well stocked department at Fox and Obel, hell even Trotter's to Go. What else? But, of course, none of those places are popular.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

15th Market
Oak Park Farmer's Market 9/10/05
In Which We Buy a Lot of Plums

Hardin Farms. All season long I have been talking about the great fruit the VI family has been purchasing at this certain stand at the Oak Park Farmer's Market. The problem was, I had no idea the name of the stand. There was no big banner, no truck, no signs, no nothing that could point you the reader to this outstanding fruit beyond my vague description, SE corner, on the inside, etc. Finally, though, last Saturday, I spotted a farm name written in small letters on an apron. Hardin Farms. Hardin Farms has been the source for the best peaches, apricots and now plums I think I have ever had.

On Saturday, now knowing their names, we became fast friends. And we mentioned the best apricots ever, which segued into something the wife and I have been talking about for a while. Why did we not buy more at the time. Partially because, obviously, one does not always realize that one has had the best apricots ever at the time. It can take of summer of fruit buying to realize what you had earlier was so special. Moreover, we have just not been the kinda family that thinks too far ahead in its produce buying. We fall into that category of people that are scared of canning--if you cannot keep your house tidy, can you can? Yet, with our attention to eating local, and my pledge to stay local even come winter, we were amiss that we did not take more advantage of the short apricot season. If nothing else, we realized that we could dry the apricots. Even idiots can dry fruit right? We conveyed all of this to Hardin on Saturday. They responded by offering us a bunch, read bushel, of plums for $25. It will be a winter of local plums. We figure on drying some, making freezer/fridge jelly with others, just plain freezing some, and perhaps a bit of infused vodka with some laggards.

If we do not eat them first. Like everything else from Hardin this year, these plums are incredible, almost too sweet. The last of the season's peaches from Hardin were incredible (as usual) as well, with an intense taste of vanilla in the peaches. We got lostsa grapes from Hardin, Nicholl's and Skibbes, and heard about Chad Nicholl's attempts to make wine from his grapes. It was a turning point market. Still very well stocked with tomatoes, bell peppers and sweet corn, the items of summer, but everything else was thinning out. We are now on the downside of the peak. That does not mean things are bad. There are all sortsa apples to try, and posting so late, I have forgotten the varietals we purchased. Fall is appearing. Farmer Vicki already had some pumpkins. Nicholls has all sortsa sexy looking root vegetables including shotput sized rutabagas. I know things will look even more different next week.

See ya there.