I’ve been waiting to blog about the final Fête event that I attended a few weeks ago (see previous Fête coverage here and here): the official launch of Middlewest magazine. Middlewest was created by David Tamarkin and Erica Gannett, both formerly of Time Out Chicago and well-known for food writing and photography, respectively. They worked with design team Sonnenzimmer to produce a new kind of food magazine, meant as a complete departure from tradition. Aesthetically, it’s striking: 10 seasonal recipes on 10 double-sided cards, plus a fold out literary supplement, all inside a white envelope. The images of each recipe are intricately layered for a look that’s undeniably unique. At the event, the creators discussed their bold intentions with Middlewest and how the process unfolded with this inaugural issue. It was really interesting to hear how they ended up with the deconstructed look, the three-word recipe headlines, and other features of the final product.
So, when it came time to decide which recipe to make first, this brilliant green pea pâté practically leapt off its artful page. I subbed in sage for tarragon (out of availability and personal preference), but stuck closely to the rest of the recipe: toasting, then grinding the fennel; sweating down the shallots; blanching, then shocking the peas; and carefully processing it all together with garlic and salt. The result was bright, springy, and basically addictive. Turns out peas and fennel are great together! I tried it spread on both toasted baguette and seedy cracker, and served it with roasted radishes. I have a feeling the other Middlewest recipes will be just as successful, and can’t wait to explore more of these seasonal flavor pairings.
The details:For this and other recipes, buy the magazine’s first issue here.
Last night, I was thrilled to attend the kick-off event for Fête, the first food and design festival of its kind in Chicago. Fête is also distinctive in its curation: Fête’s founders, which represent past and present editors at Tasting Table, Daily Candy, and Time Out Chicago, are well-positioned to understand what’s really trending in the city’s dining and cultural realms, and it showed immediately when the creative four-day line-up of tastings, seminars, and tours was announced. A night market was a great way to open the festival, with an impressive list of chefs and artisans offering both edible and non-edible wares.
However, when you pack a market with that many outstanding vendors – including pop-ups from two not-yet-open-but-already-buzzed-about restaurants – you should expect a lot of people. With a line around the block to get into the building and attendees squeezing shoulder-to-shoulder between booths once inside, I don’t think the space was quite equipped for such a barrage, even with two floors. But, inconvenience aside, there was so much to savor. I loved my chicken sandwich from Pecking Order, with juicy, Filipino-style fried chicken and slaw, and was talked into buying their homemade banana ketchup as well (I have a soft spot for artisanal condiments). I was also able to support Lillie’s Q, who recently suffered a fire in their main Bucktown location, by picking up another bottle of their matchless barbecue sauce. And Firecakes, one of the newcomers to Chicago’s gourmet donut scene, definitely delivered with its butterscotch praline donut, creamy in the center with crunchy praline bits atop its sticky glaze. I’m a little sad I didn’t get to try anything from Mott Street or Parson’s Chicken and Fish, the two aforementioned pop-ups, but I’m planning to get the full experience of both restaurants once they open. My ticket also included two cocktails from Longman & Eagle and a glass of Virtue Cider, all of which were lovely to sip as I walked around.
I’m attending two more Fête events this weekend, and will share those on the blog soon as well. But for now, check out more photos of the night market below.