Paul and Us
At the Green City Market, Chef Paul Virant of Vie demonstrated his signature dish, gnocchi. The Vie menu is an every changing guide to what can be done with gnocchi. Showing that winter cooking is not all root vegetables and stews, Chef Paul cooked up a gnocchi made with Illinois produced goat cheese from Prairie Fruit Farms. He garnished the gnocchi with oyster mushrooms from Wisconsin's River Valley (at the market) and escarole from an un-named Wisconsin farmer. He finished with a sauce made with butter and sorrel purchased from Growing Power (at the market). The goat cheese gave the gnocchi a pleasant tang, and the tang balanced well against the buttery-earthy oyster mushrooms. He sure made it look damn simple.
For us, first my wife thought about trying the gnocchi. Then we considered our leftovers, either Monday's pasta with Farmer Vicki's cauliflower or Tuesday night's stir-fry with Vicki's bok choy, carrots and broccoli. Instead, we were mesmerized by a gorgeous loaf of ciabatta bread we picked up at the Green City Market from Bennison's Bakery--outside of Fox & Obel's peasant sour dough, I would say Bennison's is my favorite bread in Chicago. A simple dinner, Whole Foods smoked salmon spread (not local, but it could have been their smoked trout spread from Rushing Waters in Wisconsin, so it feels less a cheat!), washed rind "petite frere" cheese from Wisconsin's Crave Brothers (one of the few local cheeses I have not adored, and I've liked other things from Crave Brothers, it was way too mild for a washed rind); Maytag Blue from Iowa, canned bread and butter pickles from some local farmer's market, and butter from the Amish in Indiana. Winter's been easy so far.
At the penultimate market, we were disappointed to not find Farmer Vicki's Genesis Growers. It turns out because of the heavy August rains, she has not enough crops for Wednesday and Saturday, so she is holding out until Saturday. So, there was not that much for us to buy. Grower Power had carrots and parsnips; we bought nearly 10 lbs or each (both last an incredibly long time). We skipped their red potatoes as we are pretty long on tubers, and we skipped their brussell sprouts because we will be out of town for a week. Hillside Orchids still had a good amount of apples. We purchased big bags of rome, gala and sungold.
Because this is when eating local gets fun, I promise to post a lot more regularly.