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Archive for the ‘Local Food – Chicago’ Category

Summer is a fantastic time for being unproductive.  And as such, I’ve been absorbing a lot of foodie culture news to now share with you!


I’m not sure if you’ve seen this Haagen Dazs commercial, but it’s worth 45 seconds of your life:

Filmed by an Australian advertising agency named The Sweet Shop, the company got its name from its location: an old candy factory.  It shot this high-end cinematography masterpiece in Fiji and New Zealand.  Pretty amazing: an advertising company that embraces its connection with dessert shoots a beautiful commercial about things other than ice cream to get you to buy a scoop.


Meanwhile, the New York Times health blog Well reported on a research article supporting that shifts in the labor force during the past five decades have led to less activity (by 100 calories a day!) at the workplace, and could be a contributing factor to the national increase in obesity.  This factor, however, has been neglected in researchers’ work to find the causes of and stymy obesity because it requires the often difficult-to-obtain longitudinal data.  Instead, we’ve heard a lot about daily things to do: eat fruits and veggies and exercise.  The article is fascinating because it shifts attention from commuting habits or declining leisure-time physical activity to technological shifts and a systemic, environmental change in the workplace:

Dr. Church notes that because the research doesn’t factor in technological changes, like increasing reliance on the Internet and e-mail, many people in service and desk jobs that have always involved only light activity are now moving less than ever, meaning the findings probably understate how much physical activity has been lost during work hours.

Fascinating report.  Suggested food for thought.

While I was browsing at Chicago’s Lit Fest along Printer’s Row at Dearborn and Polk streets this past weekend, I ran into some very focused, food-related history books.  It’s called the Edible Series edited by Andrew F. Smith.  It features the global history of the human consumption of several foods, each with its own individual book featuring recipes and reference material.  You can read about: cake, caviar, cheese, chocolate, curry, hamburger, hot dog, milk, pancake, pie, pizza, potato, sandwich, soup, spices, tea and whiskey.


Back to fun stuff!  Foodie band-aids!  So this Seattle-based novelty/ counter-culture company named Archie McPhee started in 1983 and sells vintage-y looking gift items.  In 2002, the company got widespread notoriety for creating the Librarian Action Figure.  But I’m going to focus on something more important: foodie band-aids ($4.95 per box) in the following likenesses:

I’m not saying I’d go out and buy these and wear them.  But they do harken back to my childhood when wearing a Smurf or Mickey Mouse bandage was highly likely.  The company also sells a Bacon Collection of a variety of items that celebrate the smell and look of bacon, and kind of weirds me out in its quality of devotional thought to bacon.


The Salvation Army celebrated the first National Donut Day (June 3) in 1938 in downtown Chicago to recognize its women who gave doughnuts to U.S. soldiers during WWI.  They were known as “doughnut lassies.”  The tradition continued during WWII to give soldiers the feeling of “motherhood and home.”

From my experience digging through the American Red Cross photo archives, volunteers did similar food-related duties for soldiers overseas, though not with doughnuts exclusively.  More like coffee and snacks.

Salvation Army locations all over the country interact with their local communities around Donut Day with fundraisers or free doughnuts, and both are catching on with commercial franchises like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts.  This is exciting because some are saying dougnuts could be the foodie trend that replaces cupcakes (though cupcakes will always trump doughnuts for me).  A local Chicago fav for doughnuts, with a limited supply and a line around the block every morning, is The Donut Vault located at 400 1/2 N. Franklin & Kinzie in River North.  I haven’t been there (something about mornings…), but this guest blog on NBC gives a pretty extensive overview.


Pennsylvania prides itself on its pretzels.  According to my tour guide at the Intercourse Pretzel Factory, the majority (something like 80%) of the nation’s pretzels are made within 100 miles of Intercourse, PA.  In fact, Auntie Anne‘s headquarters moved from Gap (a town close to Intercourse) to Lancaster in 2008, to be in a bigger city and close to its Pretzel University where employees learn to roll pretzels.  In case you’re wondering, Anne sold the company in 2005 and opened up a family counseling center.  The company and its franchises are (as of 2010) now run by FOCUS Brands, the same conglomerate that owns Cinnabon, Carvel and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Frank and I did stop into the Lancaster Brewery Company for lunch next to the huge brewing barrels and tried the 12 (ours had 13 because of seasonal varieties available) 4 oz. beer sampler tray.  On the tray were these varieties and my thoughts (read about some of them here and here):

  • Milk Stout – awful
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberry – not my taste
  • Gold Star Pilsner – okay
  • Strawberry Wheat – awful
  • Rumspringa – great
  • Celtic Rose Red Ale – okay
  • Cream Ale – good
  • Hop Hog IPA – good
  • Shoo-Fly Porter – okay
  • Lancaster Lager – not the best
  • Amish Four Grain Ale – tasteless
  • Hefe Weizen – great
  • Fest Beer – great

Weird that you can’t really buy what they have on the tray in the brewery’s store.  You would think they’d have what they serve, but we found otherwise.  I wanted some bottles of Rumspringa (when Amish 16 year olds venture into modern vices, according to NPR)!

The Lancaster Central Market, only open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, is an awesome place.  It’s one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the country and a great place for good Amish or Mennonite foods, as well as quality meats and cheeses.  The third-generation run and fourth-generation operated S. Clyde Weaver stall cannot be missed.  We picked up some American white cheddar and habanero cheese (way spicy) that we should have bought more of – it was delicious.

Thought for the week: “Eating words has never given me indigestion.” – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)


Spring is a great time for warm weather just before the mosquitoes get wise that I’m outdoors.  Any opportunity I can find to merge outdoor ambiance with meals, I take advantage of with a religious attention to the inner and outer balance of dining contentedness.  While I don’t currently have a backyard or deck (though Southern Living makes me wish I did), I think this past weekend and Easter weekend were both successful balances.

A popular color for Easter and springtime is yellow, and I found it in abundance at the gorgeous lakeside restaurant Riva during brunch with my mom:

Mimosas and vanilla mousse (colored yellow) and a yellow sweater!

While I was in Philadelphia visiting my friend Raha, my friend Mitra and I bought some homemade fresh pasta from Superior Pasta Company in the Italian Market.  Here’s a picture of us at our delicious brunch across from Superior at Sabrina’s:

Hungry at Sabrina's Cafe in the Italian Market. Check out the challah french toast!

So the outdoors and my homemade pasta came together this past weekend in a wonderful culmination.  I decided to make a mushroom, white wine cream sauce (which was easier than the red sauce I made, surprisingly) over the spinach and goat cheese pasta from Philly.  And because the weather was absolutely perfect, I trotted up to the rooftop with my friend Jacob to enjoy the sunset.  Here was the menu:

  • Appetizer: Green leaf lettuce salad with shredded carrot and Italian dressing
  • Main: Goat cheese and spinach pasta with an onion-mushroom cream pasta sauce
  • Drink: 2008 Fetzer Sauvignon blanc (Fetzer has a devotion to sustainability, which means I’ll be buying more of it)
  • Dessert: Strawberries and blackberries with sugar

On the roof

The dinner - vegetarian no less!

Pasta close-up: worthy of the 15 seconds of fame.

Thought for the week: “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” – Federico Fellini

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