2018 has been one of the busier spring seasons on record for Slow Food Chicago. So today, we're taking a stroll down memory lane to reminisce about all that we've been up to since March. With the summer solstice (and our Annual Potluck celebrating the start of summer) just a couple of weeks away, as anxious as we are to officially be operating on "summer hours," we want to take a minute to reflect on all that we've accomplished in springtime.
Food Book Club
The 2018 schedule for food book club was announced and we've already met and discussed three of the six titles we plan on reading this year. First up was Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen. We noshed on sourdough biscuits and discussed this dreamy memoir - a tale of duality about a chef splitting her time first in the big apple in high end restaurants and then returning to her roots in a cabin in rural Minnesota. Next, we changed things up with a panel style discussion at the MCA Commons about Paul Robert's The End of Food while also discussing the Ark of Taste and its efforts to preserve food culture and heritage at risk of being lost. Just the other week, we gathered for the third food book club discussion - where we explored The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food by Michelin Star Chef Daniel Patterson and natural perfumist Mandy Aftel. We're taking the month of June off, but we'll be back at it in July with Carl Honore's In Praise of Slowness : Challenging the Cult of Speed.
Good Food Expo
We were fortunate to be involved in this year's Good Food EXPO this March. Not only did we exhibit with a "Slow Seeds" booth where we engaged with attendees and passed out Ark of Taste seeds for planting (including Amish Paste Tomato seeds and Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce Seeds), but we also had the opportunity to sit in on Abe Conlon's and Michael Harlan Turkell's Master Class : Acid Trip, Travels in the World of Vinegar. During the masterclass, participants enjoyed a pork vindaloo prepared by Abe, a posca sour cocktail of Michael's creation, and infused vinegar shots (including aronia berry vinegar, sorghum vinegar, ramp vinegar, heirloom tomato vinegar and concord grape vinegar).
Farm to Fork Dinner at Eataly Chicago with Paul Fehribach of Big Jones
Through a new partnership with Eataly Chicago, La Scuola has been hosting "Farm to Fork" dinners featuring "slow" producers. Most recently, this included a dinner with Paul Fehribach, owner of Big Jones. Participants left with a better understanding of Slow Food and heirloom ingredients, which Paul highlights on his menus. Next up this June, we spend an evening with Ali Cole, founder of the Farinata Project, a chickpea based Italian Bread. Hope you can join us!
preSERVE Garden Days
We finally thawed out from the winter and despite a rather chilly start to the season, we got busy volunteering in the garden - planting, cleaning and weeding. An entire portion of the garden is committed to growing Ark of Taste ingredients, and on a recent volunteer day, we planted kale, chard and onions. As of last weekend, the strawberry patch is starting to ripen as well! If you haven't made it to a volunteer day yet, things are going to heat up this June and July. Hope to see you on the first and third Saturday to get busy in the garden together! Can't make it on the weekends? We're hosting a crop mob at The Pie Patch next Wednesday!
Celebrating Earth Day in Batavia, IL
In line with our commitment to engage more audiences throughout not just the city, but also the suburbs of Chicago, we participated in a special Earth Day Celebration at the Montessori Academy's campus this April. Along with other sustainably focused vendors, we had a blast on this green campus along the Fox River.
Annual Tomato Seedling Sale
Our annual Tomato Seedling Sale happened on a chilly and sometimes rainy weekend in May. But you still showed up and went home with seedlings to #growyourown this season. Whether you picked up Ark of Taste varietals like Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter or a Sudduth Strain Brandywine or even a variety you haven't grown before like the pepper shaped Opalka or the plum shaped Ukranian Purple, thanks to all of you who purchased seedlings this year and for selling us out of inventory on the first day of the sale! Extra thanks to Bang Bang Pie in Logan Square for hosting us another year (and for fueling us with coffee and biscuits)!
Dishing on the Farm Bill
Recently, the Farm Bill has gotten some deserved attention in political activism. A couple of our very own board members - Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Meat CSA and Alison Parker of Radical Root Farm - have gotten involved in their own right. Both joined forces with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to host events about the politics behind the food on our plates and "dish" about the proposed farm bill. Oftentimes, these events involve not just food, but also an educational component and perhaps even a postcard writing party where participants can emplor their representatives to advocate for a bill that helps sustainably-focused small family farmers. Click here to read a companion blog post from Farm Aid about these parties that are gaining popularity in these times of increased grass-roots activism.
National Restaurant Association Show
May is notorious for a being a busy time of year. Add to the calendar the industry's most talked about food show that draws industry experts from the world over and you've got yourself a packed schedule. Slow Food Chicago was fortunate to be invited to partake in a couple of stage demonstrations at the BellaVita Pavillon. On Saturday, board member and pastry chef instructor Heidi Hedeker lead audience members through a "World of Baking" demo showcasing Ark of Taste Wheats like Turkey Red Wheat which can be used to make pastry dough, naan bread and even miche bread. On Monday, chef Jaime Gurrerro and co-president Katie Johnson led audience members through the composition of a grain salad built using primarily Ark of Taste ingredients including Turkey Red Wheat Berries from The Mill at Janie's Farm, Rio Zape heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, dressed in a vinaigrette using benne oil. Want to recreate it at home? Click here!
Granor Farm Dinner
This past weekend, a couple of members of the Slow Food Chicago board were lucky to accompany Midwest Ark of Taste chair Jennifer Breckner to Three Oaks, MI for a special 7-course dinner at Granor Farm. Chef Abra Berens prepared a farm fresh meal highlighting Ark of Taste ingredients and items vital to local foodways. Guests had the opportunity to tour the farm, and then gathered in the farmhouse for meal where the distance from farm to table was virtually 50 yards or less for nearly every ingredient. $45 of each ticket sold to this inspired meal benefitted Slow Food USA and the Plant a Seed Campaign. On top of that, for every ticket sold, a "Plant a Seed" kit was donated to a school garden encouraging #foodforchange. Relive the event in our instagram story highlights.
Stay tuned for more this summer and check back on our events page for updates! Thanks for making this Spring the most eventful #goodcleanfair season yet!