Yearly Archive: 2013

Wednesday

18

December 2013

3

COMMENTS

Avec

Written by , Posted in Chicago, Restaurants

I was already distraught about the fact that it had taken me so long to get myself in here and after dining at Avec for the first time I was really kicking myself for not visiting sooner! From here on out I will definitely be making up for all that missed time without this amazing food in my life!

It was a Tuesday night and as the snow fell outside, this tiny space on Chicago‘s Near West Side was bursting at the seams with energy. Conversation and laughter filled the restaurant as wine flowed and food was savored, all to the soundtrack of Biggie Smalls playing in the background…what’s not to love?!

Avec

Being the tiny space that it is, along with their no reservation policy, Avec is usually a fairly crowded spot any night of the week. When we arrived there were a few seats open at the bar, so my two dining partners and I snagged those up and settled in. For a group of 1-3 the bar works fine, I usually prefer the bar if it’s just me or me and one other person because I love chatting with the bartenders and getting their opinion on what to order.

Avec

Avec has a variety of small and large plates that are all perfect for sharing-my favorite way to go! Their menu is filled with Mediterranean classics, pulling from regions of France, Portugal, Italy, and the coast of Spain. The twist? A Midwestern interpretation that makes these dishes interesting and comforting at the same time. We perused the menu over a lovely plate of house-marinated olives…the perfect first bites to give us a taste of what was in store.

Avec

house-marinated olives

house-marinated olives

Our first dish was the Brandade. No idea what brandade is? Neither did I. Per Wikipedia, Brandade is an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil eaten in winter with bread or potatoes. It was delicious….and now I know that I love brandade! We also ordered their much-loved Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates and as soon as that first bite hit my tastebuds, I knew that this dish was the winner of the night. The spicy kick from the chorizo and pepper sauce combined with the slight sweetness of the dates and the saltiness of the bacon is a PERFECT combination!

whipped brandade with garlic bread and chives

whipped brandade with garlic bread and chives

chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce

chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce

As hard as it was to follow the dates, we thoroughly enjoyed our next few dishes as well-charcuterie and cheese boards and the refreshing brussels sprout panzanella to round out the meal. The brussels sprout salad was really fantastic-if you think you don’t like brussels sprouts…I challenge you to try this salad and see if you feel a little different about these mini cabbages afterwards!

charcuterie board

charcuterie board

cheese board

cheese board

brussels sprout panzanella with calabrian chiles, gold raisins, and fiore sardo cheese

brussels sprout panzanella with calabrian chiles, gold raisins, and fiore sardo cheese

Luckily one of my dining partners was the Epicurean, and he has been to Avec a time or two. Even though we were happily full at this point, he let us know that Avec’s version of the Nutter Butter was not to be missed. After quickly polishing off the four pieces in our first order,  Kit and I exchanged glances and knew that a second order was going to be needed! You definitely do not want to miss these…and I guarantee that you can’t eat just one!

nutter butters

nutter butters

Bottom line: if you haven’t been to Avec, get there! If you’ve been but haven’t tried some of the above items, heck, even if you have….get back!

 

Friday

13

December 2013

1

COMMENTS

Bacon.Sports.Beer

Written by , Posted in Chicago

A few weeks ago I won 2 tickets (and 2 free black car rides!) from Uber to Bacon Sports Beer, a celebration of “three of the greatest things in life: bacon, sports and beer”. The sports-themed event was held in the Great Hall of Union Station and it boasted 30+ craft brews, 30+ bacon creations from some of Chicago’s top restaurants, one bad-ass DJ, and a whole lot of fun. Event-goers were encouraged to dress in their favorite sports attire and there were a variety of games like pop-a-shot, beer pong, bags, and Nerf toys to keep everyone entertained. Red Hook even created their own man cave for lounging! Bacon Sports founder Rob Cressy runs a sports website, so he knows what’s up when it comes to sports!

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

In between the sports and games were all the beer and food booths…as much as I love sports, this is really what I was here for! We made our way around with our little tasting glasses, trying out some old stand-bys and some new ones! I especially loved the Cherry Bomb from Brickstone Brewery in Bourbonnais, IL! Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and Knob Creek also had some of their bourbons available for sampling. I’m definitely not a bourbon or whiskey girl but they encouraged me to try Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple and I think I might have almost enjoyed it! Mike had no problems trying them all!

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Any food that is bacon-themed is generally going to be pretty outstanding in my book! There were a couple great mac ‘n cheese dishes, deviled eggs, shrimp, burgers, bacon-glazed donuts, and more. My personal favorite was the triple bacon beignet from 312 Chicago…pretty awesome! My non-restaurant favorite of the day was the bacon sausage from Big Fork Brands. These sausages were DELICIOUS and you can buy them at several locations throughout Chicagoland. Another plus, they have a great sense of humor (see t-shirt below)!

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

Bacon Sports Beer

All this eating, drinking, and playing can really tire a girl out, so after a couple hours we decided it was time to head out. The combination of bacon, sports, and beer is a pretty amazing one and I really hope they continue this great event next year!

Bacon Sports Beer


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