Monday, August 22, 2011

A Trip, A Sabbatical, A Coupla Salons

Last night we had a great Late Summer Salon--we cooked up a bunch of beautiful food from the area and got to know some really great people. This menu was inspired by an upcoming trip I'm taking to New England, and thus included two of my favorite things from my time living out there: Italian sausage and maple "creamies". Outside of Fenway Park in Boston, whether you're lucky enough or not to be heading inside to watch the Red Sox win, all kinds of stands are grilling sausages and then piling them into buns with grilled peppers. Simple, right? But so good--and the atmosphere makes it all complete. Last night, we braised ours--searing them first, then adding peppers of all kinds, onions and garlic; a little red wine and some stock. All those flavors melted together and--well--good things happened. Moving on, the creamie is something I discovered during my time living in Vermont--basically maple soft-serve. The taste of maple and cream together is seemingly made for each other, and last night was a happy improvisation from the original plan to make a honey tangelo ice cream. I'd made my ice cream base, and when I went to spin it, I found that my ice cream maker was kaput! I was distressed, and slurped down a few spoonfuls of the sweet cream base, pondering my next move. I decided to line a shallow, wide bowl with plastic wrap, pour in the base then freeze it. When we were ready, I turned the frozen "bombe" onto a cutting board, sliced it into wedges and drizzled it with some really good maple syrup--instant creamie, and so good. I led all the Saloneers in licking the plate.

Moving forward, this week will take me to New England to visit these favorites in the flesh in Boston, Portland and my old stomping grounds of Montpelier, VT (where I will be visiting my favorite restaurant in the world--no hyperbole there--American Flatbread). It'll be a week of eating and notalgia-izing and general relaxing. I'm also hereby announcing two new Salon dates for September, a month that will find me stepping back a bit to focus on another great project that has arisen for me here in Chicago. But never fear! The Salon remains a strong focus for me and I hope to see you at one soon. Click on a link for tickets:
  • Vegetarian Salon: It's high time we run another one of these--as you know, we're not about replacing meat with boring faux-meats. We're celebrating all the gorgeous vegetables available to us here in the late summer in several different preparations, letting each vegetable and grain be what they are--delicious and nourishing! Come explore all of the bounty from the local farms in this highly market-driven Salon; based on what I find at the market, we'll prepare a full and delicious meal. The Salon is BYOB, please bring whatever you'd like to drink! Saturday 9/3/11 at 6pm. $50.
  • Tuscany Salon: Come join us and those tall Chianina cows in the Salon as we go under the influence of one of the great food regions of the world, Tuscany. The menu will be set the day of the Salon, but count on some big, hearty fare to go along with your big red wines--BYOB as always! Saturday 9/17/11 at 6pm. $60.
Here's to New England and the late summer, and see you soon!