Sunday, April 18, 2010

Near-loop gastronomic tour

My college friend Joker is in Chicago for a "usability" conference, which has something to do with making websites not suck. Jamie and Julie came up to hang out for one day, although Joker will be here until Wednesday. I set up some fun plans for a tour of the lovely food and drink that the near-Loop area has to over.

First, we went for lunch at the Pegasus Restaurant in Greek town. I tried to bring them over to the Athenian Candle Company for some nice voodoo, but it's closed on Sundays. I also tried to bring them to my favorite Greek town grocery store, Athens Grocery, but apparently it burned down. Sighhhh.

Of course, dessert at More, where I got a seasonal flight of cupcakes: cookies 'n' cream, Valrhona, and hazelnut brittle. We each had a tiny cupcake, and I think everyone was pleased. I also picked up a vanilla chocolate caramel cupcake for Dave and me to split tomorrow for breakfast.

Then we headed over to the Goose Island Brewery on Clybourn for a brewery tour and tasting. It was $7 and you got to learn about their facilities, beers, and also taste a flight at the end.

Their facilities here were a little smaller than I expected, but I guess this location pretty much only brews beer for this location, and some special orders, too.

We could see the brewery's favorite beers - 312, India Pale Ale, and Honker's Ale - gleaming in huge kettles above us like some kind of deities.

Learning about the brewing process makes me want to make my own beer someday, as some friends of mine have (including Joker), but we just don't have the room right now.

Afterward at the tasting, we sat down to cute little glasses of beer and got to learn about each one. It reminded me of a tasting I went to at the Chicago Bar Association, except at that event we also got to pair the beers with cheeses and chocolate.

It was definitely more upscale than the brewery tour that we had at Budweiser, although Budweiser also had Clydesdales, so that made up for it. We were wondering whether Goose Island would make us tread through a room filled with angry namesake geese, but alas, no.

Here's all the beer we tried:

The set in front is mine, and the one across is Julie's. Looking at my row, here are the names:
  • PMD Mild Ale (Joker's favorite, I think)
  • Special Ordinary Bitter
  • Green Line Pale Ale (Julie and my favorite)
  • Golden Goose Pilsner
  • India Pale Ale (Dave's favorite)
  • Robert Burns Scottish Ale (too strong for most of us)
We had a lot of fun at this event, and it's definitely something I'd take out of town guests to do again.

Afterward, we went to one of my favorite tapas restaurants in the city, Cafe Iberico, and ordered a table-ful of tapas dishes. It was Joker and Jamie's first times with tapas, and I think they came out of it with a very pleasant view.

I've got a few more days to show Joker around, so I've got to think of something fun for dinner tomorrow. Preferably also light, because honestly, today kind of kicked my ass. Then we're having him over for sushi on Tuesday night, and he will finally know the wonder that is the Mitsuwa marketplace. Of course, I'm a relatively recent initiant myself, but I know enough about its awesomeness to be able to recommend it strongly to others, especially those with an interest and skill in Asian cooking.

So, that ends another fairly busy but very fun day of our weekend, and now it's back to work for us.

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