Monday, January 26, 2009

Another Mado Family Dinner Under the Belt

Really, it's not six course of local pork cooked up by Chefs Rob and Allison Levitt of Mado, with the assistance of Jason Vincent of Lula's soon to open Pilsen spot that has me avoiding dinner tonight. I mean I did nosh a bit at the Happy Anniversary party for Cassie's Green Grocer and ate one wee moon cake my family brought home for me from Argyle. Besides, I should treat the Mado family dinners as much more than an exercise in gluttony. After all there was the Slagels talking hog while we ate one of their hogs, but REB on LTHForum does a good job of covering the Slagels. In fact, Ronna covers the meal pretty well, although I found the fritto misto of pork parts crisp and hot when it got to me. Still, what is there to say these days about a Mado family meal than, boy am I stuffed.

Actually, I believe I ate much less at the family dinner. I mean not less as in what a regular person would eat, but maybe less than I did at a previous family dinner. Rob Levitt admonished us early on, save room for desserts. If we did not adequately and fully eat his wife's creations, he would be sleeping on the sofa, he warned. On the other hand, what about me. What about this Rob ending up on the sofa. See, lo, around three in the AM, I awoke from the internal machinations of my organs that sought to process all the consumption. I'm not blaming that on the pork so much as the five bottles of wine and a good dose or two of Michigan pear brandy we all shared. I needed one of those purified seltzer bottles Mado sells for like a buck, but I had to settle for plain old Lake Michigan to hydrate the systems. Next thing you know, I'm watching the early version of Sports Center. I could of course, if I wanted, watch the Australian Open live. And drifting off on the couch.

Platter after platter of pork somehow lends itself to reasonable eating. I'm the kinda guy though to eat much too much of roasted celery root or turnips, well turnips cooked in goose fat. I could settle this time for ones of each. I even limited myself to one trip around the charcuterie table, but I stopped only because I had psyched myself up all afternoon not to each so much pork rillette. I want very much to have a better figure to sell the health benefits of local eating. One can only sell local health on so many slices of house made mortadella.

I took reasonable portions of the next courses. The most non-porcine thing on the menu last night, a fried sardine contained so much sardinial intensity that I was not returning to it anyway. One was enough. I showed restraint on the salad course of lentils, pickled tongue and bacon, but come to think of it, there was not more to eat. I did not have that problem with the meatballs, and several rosemary heavy polpette lay next to my spot, taunting me. I did finally give in and have a second meatball, but I did it the way my grandfather would, who would not, in a thousand years, ever have eaten in a place like Mado, but if he had, would have done like me, taking a forkful and then another forkful until a whole extra meatball had made its way into my gullet. Really, it was not the extra pork I needed, it was the sauerkraut.

We all ooh'd and ah'd over the dumplings, lauded the cookies that combined buckwheat with air and just a hint of sugar and need no urging from Rob to finish his wife's Shaker lemon pie which made the definitive argument for lard crusts. Yet, yet all that, this was a night for lowly ol' cabbage. Dabs of it gave the right buttery accent to the pasta, and the sauerkraut that Rob said he had made and then plum forgot about, I overturned all the extra meatballs to get any kraut lurking underneath. I'm stuffed on sauerkraut.

It goes without saying that I cannot wait until the next Mado family dinner.

1647 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vital Update!

Guess I did not check the one place I should have been checking when checking what was new (to check).

The Local Beet welcomes it's latest blogger today. Vera V is a farmer, a wool spinner, an artist and a market vendor. I very much look forward to what she'll have to say at the Farmer's Almanac. She gives a little background today.

Vital News

If you wonder where the missives are, urging all to eat local, I blog almost daily at the Local Beet.

Look forward to some forthcoming design tweaks at the Beet and more, a new blogger to the fray.

In the meantime, enjoy the Beet's guide to 2009 CSA's.

I think there's a space or two available for tonight's family dinner at Mado. The theme, duh, a whole pig. A very happy way to eat at Mado. I promise a picture less report.

Happy Anniversary Cassie and Gary at Green Grocer Chicago. Come to the party on Monday. I heard there will be plenty of local produce, even in the winter. The omnipresent one, Michael Nagrant hits all the high points of Green Grocer in this Serious Eats profile.

Round up a designated driver for Vie's dinner with Death's Door Spirits this Thursday.

Some people cannot worry about whether their food is local, some people have to worry, even today, whether there is food period. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is one of the main bulwarks ensuring there's some food for all who need it. Martha Bayne's doing her part assist this cause. Three other local food celebrities pitch in this week with soup at the Hideout on Wednesday.

It's somewhat old news now, but still quite interesting. Roth Kase of Wisconsin, which has very successfully bridged the divide between artisinal and commercial cheese took on a new international owner. Here's a good take on the Roth Kase sale and other high finance maneuvers in America's Dairyland.

Nina's organizing a potluck for Chicago eat local fans on Feb 28th. I think I'll be able to attend.

In case you lost count, seven more reasons to eat local.

Ever wonder about the wheat berries you see at the winter markets or maybe in Madison. This may help figure them out.

Plugs always for three local woman: Valereee, Lenae, and the VFG.

Who says eating local cannot be done in the North. How they doing eating local in the Hudson Valley? Or New England.

What else?