Chicago had it’s first snow fall Saturday-officially pushing our glorious fall weather onto a slippery patch of ice and out the door. As the nights become darker earlier, we find ourselves seeking toasty dishes to fulfill our need for warmth … Continue reading
Whaaa…we found a place that embodies our blog namesake. River North is hiding a gem of a restaurant, Farmhouse Chicago, right underneath our CTA riding noses, literally. Farmhouse partners with local Midwestern farms in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to provide us city slickers with farmtastic vittles. We were treated to a VIP 5 course tasting event recently to check out new menu creations and learn about Farmhouse’s holistic approach to restaurateur-ing. The first thing we noticed about Farmhouse was the rustic and cozy decor. Co-owners, Ferdia Doherty and TJ Callahan, explained that even the furnishings promote local moods with reclaimed art touches from retired Chicago bars and restaurants and salvaged furniture from the south side.
Chef, Eric Mansavage, detailed each course’s farm connection and ingredient alchemy as we nibbled our way through the Midwest.
Note* No Monicas were hurt during this dinner. Her vegetarian ideals remained intact as Kate took one for team meat! Rest assured, Farmhouse has plenty of farmiliar vegetarian options on their everyday menu.
Course 1: Ellis Farms Green Grapes and Ham Market Amuse
First, don’t act like you know what an amuse is…unless you’re a foodie. Just in case, an amuse is bite-sized hors d’œuvre. We were amused by this fancy PBJ with on a crostini. Tasting notes: Crunchy, yummy, grapey, give us moree than bite sized, please!
Course 2: Green Acres Farm Chilled Melon Soup, Summer Bread Salad, Spiced Yogurt, Crispy Njuda, Mint
This is like a food dictionary lesson! Njuda is a spicy spreadable pork sausage, like pig pate, hahaha. Although we weren’t big fans of the chilled cantaloupe soup (maybe too sweet?), the summer bread salad with crisp radish and tart yogurt tickled the tongue.
Course 3: Grilled Rushing Waters Rainbow Trout, Black Garlic Roasted Tomatillos, Black Bean Relish, Swan Creek Bacon Lardon
So, normally, seafood fans we are not (as Yoda would say) but hey, the force was strong with this fish. The skin was on but, shocker, it was actually smoky and delicious with a flavor reminiscent of bacon. The fish was not “fishy” but freshy. It was mild with a melty texture. The black bean relish on its own would have been a crowd pleaser as well.
Course 4: BBQ Short Ribs, Butter Poached Indiana Shrimp, Hazzard Free Farms Pimento Cheese Popcorn Grits, Sweet Corn
Chef, Eric Mansavage, described this cornucopia (aha!) as Farmhouse’s version of surf and turf. Full disclosure, not a shrimp fan, but the short ribs were tender and surrounded by a delicate moat of popcorn grits. It’s like going to the movies and bringing a rib in your popcorn box.
If you know the Peaches and Cream song sing along….peaches and creaaam. Juicy Michigan peaches, peach marmalade that was almost like carmamel-ade, and sweet cream ice cream nestled between 2 pillowy cookies. Ob-vs we love dessert. Even Monica could chow down on this soon to be farmous goodie.
Farmhouse owners are expanding their acres with the new Farmbar in Lincoln Park, set to open in October. They can also subsidize your love of cider as they own Brown Dog Farm and its filled to the bushel with apple, pear, peach and cherry trees. Can we get a Yum Yum? We love their down to (the) earth mentality and will definitely root our way back to try their veggie options.
Are you a Farmhouse Fan? Tell us your favorite dish!
Just Salad…the restaurant title explains some of the genius of Chicago’s brand new salad eatery chain, a transport from the NYC. It also makes us think of “Just Jack” and believe us, these salads will make you wanna do the same Will and Grace character Jazz Hands!
The first Just Salad location, placed conveniently for the downtown business set or tourists/culture lovers is just steps away from Grant Park at 20 E. Jackson. Vibrant orange and lime green accent walls add energy to Just Salad‘s design and the Chicago location is situated in the historic Gibbons building which adds to the charm of the atmosphere. Just Salad separates itself from the downtown munch bunch by providing quality healthy food with affordability.
These key points will make other eateries green with envy:
- Just Salad‘s menu is created by a registered dietitian and nutrition info is readily available.
- Protein offerings range from grass fed meats, sustainable creatures of the sea (aka seafood), organic tofu, & humanely raised antibiotic free cluckers.
- Many produce options are GMO-free, organic and even local when possible. Veggies are baked, raw or steamed and never canned (hey hey no BPA!)
- Just Salad encourages us to reduce, reuse, recycle and be rewarded! You can purchase a reusable ultra cute salad bowl and every time you bring it back for a salad refill you score extra toppings or CHEESE.
So what did the Chiorganicgirls (royal we) think of it? Well dang, who doesn’t love a good fresh salad. As you walk in, you enter into a world of your salad imagination. Like Chipotle x2, there’s a long topping assembly like starting with a bevvy of green choices. Romaine, kale, mixed greens, spinach, and other lettuces start you off and then your head begins to spin (salad spin, ha) with the possible salad combinations. The produce was very fresh, colorful and crunchy. The portion size for the price was superb and the reusable salad bowl held about 2 servings of salad=only about 4-5 bucks for a big serving of salad with primo toppings.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, you can start with a signature salad recipe. Our favorites were the Thai Chicken Crunch with romaine, red cabbage, celery and crispy wonton pieces, and the (what did you like Monical?). There’s even a Chicago inspired salad, the Windy City Kicker, with Italian sausage, giardiniera,red onions and celery. If you wanna get really jazzy, get your Dr. Frankenstein on and create your own crazy salad (butternut squash, falafel, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, horseradish chive dressing…you monster!). We also really loved the menu because it’s colored coded to help you avoid allergy or even preference snafus. You can easily tease out sneaky hiding seafood, gluten, or dairy. Finally, don’t let the name fool ya. Wait for it! SURPRISE, there is more than just salads at Just Salad. Wraps, juices and smoothies are available too. We def need to go back after some sweaty warrior II poses at the Millennium Park summer yoga to try the Peanut Butter Chia Warrior with almond milk, chia seeds, PB, agave nectar and banana. Doesn’t that recipe make you want to do Just Salad Jazz Hands now?
No? Well how about a Kale Yeah (sorry had to!)
JUST SALAD is open!
20 East Jackson Blvd
Mon – Fri: 10:30am – 9pm
Sat – Sun: 11am -8 pm
*We were not compensated for our opinions but did get to try some yummy free salad.
Two mysterious events this week entice those strong of heart and sound of mind. Darling, will you wander down dark hallways to weave your culinary wants?
Tonight! The Sauced Night Market makes its way to Emporium Logan Square. This night market takes place once a month on a Tuesday and hops from hip spot to hip spot (how hop hip). Meander through aisles of local vittles like Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits while you sip on a apertif (a·pe·ri·tif noun an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite) from Chicago Distillery. Get sassy (or saucy) to DJ beats and peruse the fine elixirs of Windy City Beard Co (works for your mustaches too ladies and gents!).
Do you dare to join us!?
Sauced Night Market
Tuesday April 21st
6 pm – 11 pm
Emporium Logan Square
1366 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Wait, you don’t dare? You prefer to prep for an impending apocalypse? Build your emergency fridge ideas with Sauce and Bread Kitchen’s event: The Stew Survivalist Supper. After all, if your last moments on earth are filled with culinary delights perhaps you can eat away the memories of those zombie attacks. Sauce and Bread Kitchen outlines it best
“Cooks Anne Kostroski (Crumb Chicago, SBK) and Mike Bancroft (Co-op Sauce, SBK) are digging back into this freeze dried genre after a 5 year hiatus with wide mole eyes. They will wow you with a multi-course menu that without advance warning, one would never know could have come from canned, foraged, dried, or fermented foods. If you are going to survive the apocalypse the least you can do is rock it in style”. And rock it, you shall. Hunker down and bunker up.
The Stew Survivalist Supper
Wednesday April 22nd
7 pm – 10 pm
Sauce and Bread Kitchen
6338 N. Clark Street
We have ambitions of getting in touch with our inner culinary geniuses every week when we head to the grocery store…and then we end up passed out on the couch with a half eaten Morning Star Burger falling out of our hands after work. Like it or not (who really likes it), American culture is one of the most overworked cultures in the world. We need a break! Don’t you often muse about have your own personal chef? Chicagoans, rejoice! There is a pretty fantastic option for you to get your personal chef wishes fulfilled, even without a genie!
We were so excited when Erin Winston Silva, the co-founder of Cooked, reached out to us to sample their pre-cooked meal delivery options. Cooked promises “Nourishing Meals for Busy Folks” and we are 2 very busy ladies so we jumped on the opportunity. We were particularly intrigued as Cooked seemed to have more veggie options than many delivery services that we’ve seen. We also love the values of the organization. Chef Jona Silva’s own health journey inspired him to create local and nutritionally rich (not calorie rich) foods to promote wellness in others. One can tell from menu offers, which change weekly, as well as Silva’s transparency in where ingredients come from. The focus is local partnerships and he is also sensitive to food allergies like gluten or dietary preferences like vegan, vegetarian and T-Rexian. Ok, enough blabbing, we know you wanna know what you get to eat!
For $76 (tax and delivery included) dollars, we got ALL the foods below!! Delivery was timely and Erin was available throughout to deal with a multitude of blogger questions like: “What about Monica’s chickpea allergy” and “Can you change our delivery date? We forgot, we won’t be home!”.
Freshly Pressed Juice: Pineapple Cooler
Loved it! It was refreshing and green-licious with kale, romaine, spinach, coconut water and a sweet touch of pineapple.
Lunch Bowl #2: Organic POWER grains with black beans and salsa ranchera
We split this, yet there was enough for a full lunch for both of us. This puppy is only $5 and is rich in superfoods like quinoa, amaranth and other ancient grains with mysterious origins. The salsa added a nice kick to the mix.
Lunch: Kale, Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad
Again, the portion was plentiful. We enjoyed the sweet touch of cranberry and the kale and rice mix was tender and garlicky with a rich balsamic dressing.
Soup: Kabocha Squash and Apple Soup
Admittedly, we had to google what the heck a kabocha was. Turns out it’s an Asian winter squash! Last week’s weather was considerably still miserable so this warm rich soup hit the spot. It reminded us of a sweet potato bisque with light creamy touches of spices and cinnamon.
Sesame Crusted Tofu
The 2 tofu cutlets came with zuccini noodles and vibrant red and yellow peppers, dressed with a light a soy sauce.
Cauliflower Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa
Cauliflower is a vegetarian delight as it has a chunky texture. The taco mix also included cilantro, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds with a side of fresh salsa.
Walnut loaf with Roasted Squash and Broccolini
The squash and broccolini looked ultra fresh and colorful with bright orange and green hues and they were both cooked to perfection. The walnut loaf was a gray meat like color and was hearty for those of you who are familiar with the texture of meatloaf. We really liked the dressing that was provided and it seemed like it had a tahini base.
The meals are supposed to stay fresh for 3 days but we stretched them out until Thursday and basically had enough deliciousness to stave off any grocery shopping for 2 people for the work week. It was like a cooking vacay! We highly recommend Cooked. Meals change weekly to provide variety. This week features a tantalizing coconut dal (aka lentils) and chickpea zuccini fritters. Ready to order? All Chi Organic Girl readers can get 10% off their first order with the promo code: chiorganicgirls so skip the shopping this week and eat cooked!
*We were not compensated for our opinions but were provided with a gift card to try Cooked meals.
Do you ever wonder where your McDonald’s cheeseburger meat came from? Unless you’re subjected to some kind of food coma induced nightmare, you probably have avoided being “in the know” on fast food meat origins. “But burgers are so delicious”, you say. Yeah we get you, (well the dabbling meat eater one of us, aka Kate, does and the veggie burger fiend one of us, aka Monica, may have an inkling too). Burgers, in all their glorious forms, are special sammiches. But as we are grown people, we like grown and sexy sammiches with ingredients we can name…and we LOVE food that’s locally sourced and not only tastes fresh but is fresh.
Recently, we visited the South Loop to try a locally owned burger slinging business, Burger Point (with no creepy clowns, bonus!). Owners, co-founders and couple, Asha Mathew and David Esterline, pride themselves in providing consumers with grass fed beef as well as organic chicken, turkey and veggie burgers. Asha and David started Burger Point about 3 years ago and used to gaze at the space across from their condo and dream of opening their own business. They often craved a juicy organic burger a ala North side DMK burger so they snatched up the corner spot on State and Archer and started their own burger revolution. Local sourcing is their priority and many produce items come from David’s produce shop. 95% of the menu is house made. Meat is ground, formed into fresh patties in the restaurant and meals are made to order (take that, Burger King!)
The menu hosts 17 specialty burgers, wangs (or wings as some might call them) with house made sassy sauces, and side options like house cut sweet potato fries. We started our culinary experience with hearty samples of the vegetarian chili. A toasty bowl of chili is definitely the thing for a Chicago arctic winter. It had a healthy amount of cooked “just right” beans, a perfectly thick consistency and a nice kick of spice. We liked the bits of tofu floating around in the mix as it added to the filling nature of the chili. This dish could make your meal and Burger Point gives you free toppings like cheese, sour cream, olives and onions to boost it’s fill factor.
For the main event, Kate got a little meaty and tried the #7 hamburger, called the Dirty South, with aged cheddar cheese, double smoked crisp bacon and BBQ sauce on a homemade pretzel roll. The flavor of the bacon and burger was juicy, not greasy, and Kate noticed a markedly higher meat quality than chain restaurants. Kate’s fave part was the PRETZEL BUN!! “I know me and gluten are iffy but this was a homemade pretzel bun”
Monica tried the #14 with the moniker the Best Damn Veggie Burger Ever, which sports a homemade veggie patty with chipotle aioli, havarti cheese and avocado on a sesame seed bun. She liked the balance of beans and rice, simplicity combined, but needed more kick from the chipotle aioli to counterbalance.
Becoming a Burger Point Superfan can have perks. Customers can use the delivery ease of Grubhub or Ordersnap to ensure no leaving of one’s bed is necessary, crumbs be damned. If you do choose to wear pants and leave the house, Burger Point is located on the quiet corner of Archer and State. Frequent Feeders can join a rewards endeavor called the 5 Star Program. Every $5 spent gives the user a point which can eventually lead to free point earned foods. One customer even racked up so many points that there is a burger named after him, the #17 Saigon Johnny, featuring fresh ground chicken, sliced cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro with sriracha aioli and soy sauce. The couple and their manager, Ryan, like to let their minds run wild with new monthly recipes. Their salmon burger is very popular for the Lenten season and now they are working on the aptly named Heart Attack consist of 5 different types of bacons. We are guessing it features pork, beef, turkey, chicken and tempeh bacon (haha we actually have no idea. Is there such a thing as chicken bacon? Chicky bake for short?)
The South Loop neighborhood is close to popular Chicago locales like Soldier Field, the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium in addition to public transportation making it an accessible choice for tourists and locals alike. If you want a relatively quick and tasty meal that doesn’t challenge your moral meat values, leave those golden arches behind and taste Burger Point!
Hey Chicagoans! We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy it is to incorporate local farmer’s market produce into your summer time recipes but cooking in winter, jeez what to make? Then, along comes the Green City Market Cookbook. Inspired by the beloved Lincoln … Continue reading
Oh winter…devilishly evil Chicago winter. You haven’t been able to keep us down…especially with all these events and restaurant openings popping up. What about you, dear readers? Have you wound your scarf around you and strapped those snow boots on to take the chill out of winter? Here are some spots that may make you wanna brave the great white Midwest.
Remember that ol’ Lasalle Power company dance club you used to troll to pick up your future v-day date? Well now it’s been converted into a brand new Gino’s East. Chicago’s legendary pizza spot just got classy at its River North location. Three floors of expansive rustic cozy hangout space will eliminate your wait with your out of town guests as you get your “mangia” on with artichoke pizza, pickle-y sliders and fat stuffed cheese sticks with spinach. The restaurant proclaims to be including a brewery opening in several months as well…just in time for Spring!!
Our next pick is a neighbor to the north, Pizzeria Serio, a hidden addition to the food scene on Belmont avenue in Lakeview. WGN’s Chicago Best honored Pizzeria Serio as one of Chicago’s fave pizza. Check out the video here. We hopped over snow mounds to meet with the Chicago Food Bloggers and Pizzeria Serio was gracious enough to host our group. We sampled several tasty starters like a Spinach Salad (baby spinach leaves, red onion, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and walnuts in homemade citrus dressing) and the more traditional Caprese. For veggie lovers and goat cheese lovers (eww says one of us..the goat cheese hater) try the spinach specialty pizza (EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, tomatoes, spinach, ricotta and goat cheese sans sauce). For the more purist pizza crowd, try the wood burned crusty Eat Your Veggies (onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives) and get your 5 a day veg serving…a good excuse to eat mas pizza if we do say so…and we do.
In a whole other country (this is what it feels like to Chicago residents) is Farmhouse in Evanston. This tavern makes their own burgers, condiments and soda from scratch with ingredients plucked straight from Midwestern farms. Even their beverage selection is pulled only from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. The majority of interior pieces are reclaimed woods and salvaged materials. At the kick off to North Shore Restaurant month, going on now, we gobbled down hot beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds with crispy warm centers and fresh Tavern-cut peppery potato chips with homemade ranch-like dipping sauce. On demand for our next visit is the Old World Grains Burger with Forest Mushroom and Poblano Pepper. For those of you who don’t venture that far out of our city, there’s also a sister location in River North with a slightly different menu and a two floor space. Don’t all these pics of yummy food make you wanna trek through your alley to the El?
Oh Twitter, how we love thee. Recently, the Chicago Food Scene held a Twitter poetry competition for free Blaze pizzas. We dug deep back to our middle school Haiku writing days and typed a clever pizza ditty….and won!! Once our coupons came, we gleefully braved the snow to try the “new to Chicago” casual pizza chain, Blaze Pizza, situated in Boystown right near the El stop. We weren’t really sure what to expect when we entered but the staff hollered out a welcome and invited us to come closer.
As we shyly peeked around, they detailed the Blaze pizza process for us. The fine art of pizza creation is set up in an assembly line format. Patrons can pick their own pie toppings and sauce or choose a signature ‘za and watch while it is made. Pizzas are 11 inches of thin crust glory and take only 3 minutes to cook. We were intrigued by the gigantic oven and learned that 12 pizza could fit inside which brings to mind sitcom hijinx of craaazy pizza cooking. The oven man assured me that he avoided that magnitude of pizza multitasking. The oven does, however, cook pizzas at a blazing (get it?!!!?) hot 800 degrees.
There were a ton of signature veggie pizza options available to us as well as gluten free and vegan substitutions. We decided on the Red Vine, with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and chunky red sauce, and the Green Stripe, with pesto sauce, arugula, and garlic minus the chicken.
Pizza Highlights: Blaze Pizza is a real departure from Chicago style pizza and a real good one at that. The crust was light, crispy and a titch garlicky. Our wallets were happy because their pizzas only cost 8 bucks and we each walked out with leftover slices. We also tried the S’mores pie, a chewy marshmallow with melted chocolate in between 2 British biscuits. It had appropriately crumbly texture but we decided it could have used a quick pop in the oven.
Status: Liked, retweeted and plused, we loved Blaze Pizza and will be back to make our own creation. Thanks to Blaze Pizza and Chicago Food Scene for choosing us as the creative poetresses that we are and giving us pizzas instead of an award.