Chicago Food Winter Roundup
Between Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Years the past couple of months after the wedding have been packed with eating! Between planning and dieting I really had to put the food blog on pause and it’s been a lot of fun catching up with foodie friends the past couple of months! During my forced blogging break I really learned how to eat in moderation better as well as recognize that you don’t have to attend an event every night to stay in the loop. Here’s a recap of some of the restaurants I tried and events I attended this winter season since becoming a Mrs!
Hakka Bakka is a new fast, casual Indian joint in Lincoln Park serving up Kati Rolls. Kati Rolls are pan seared unleavened bread, layered with an egg, filled with your choice and preparation of meat/protein. All of the bread, chutneys, and marinades at Hakka Bakka are prepared fresh daily and each roll is completely customizable.
Here’s how it works:
- Choose your item: Kati Roll, Rice bowl, or Salad
- Choose your filling: Lamb, Chicken, or Paneer, Chickpeas
- Choose your preparation Tikka (Red), Hariyali (Green), or Reshmi (White)
I ended up choosing a Kati roll layered with an egg and chicken prepared reshmi-style (cream blended with poppy seeds and Indian aromatics to strike a complex balance); I added a little bit of each of the chutneys and chose some of their great masala fries to go with it. The bread was so incredibly fresh and I loved the spicy and sweet flavors each of the different chutneys added. The rolls are quite filling on their own even without a side of fries and an incredible deal for an average of $7.50 apiece.
This incredibly delicious, down-home fried chicken and biscuit joint emerged earlier in December from the old Carriage House along the Division street strip in Wicker Park. I had the chance to taste the menu when I attended a social media dinner with a few of Chicago’s most food-famous instagrammers. Buckets of fried chicken, biscuits with apple butter and honey, bowls of boozy punch, and giant s’more biscuits are easily shareable, even though I didn’t really want to pass on the biscuits to others. The fried chicken has a crunchy brown crust that really sticks to the chicken skin, making it easy to eat without it falling off in just one bite. The biscuits also rose to the occasion with a fluffy buttery interior and a flakey exterior. It easily broke into two sides so you can make sure you get a taste of the creamy apple butter on one side and the honey on the other. I highly suggest adding a dash of their deliciously thick hot sauce to your chicken to kick it up a notch!
A tradition dating back way, way back to 2014, Brew Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo is a great event to take in the lights, drink beer and be with friends during the holiday season. We attended the inaugural version of Brew Lights last year and it definitely had some first year hiccups such as long lines and not enough booths. The team from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Auxiliary Board and the lead sponsor, Louis Glunz Beer put on a really nice event this year, adding entrances into the event, more booths/vendors, and a corral system to avoid congestion.
Zoo Lights is one the great hidden treats of winter in Chicago. There are not too many places where people of all ages can have a good time but Lincoln Park Zoo during the holidays is definitely one of them. How do you make an already enjoyable time better for the older crowd? Add in 12 great beer vendors of course. Some of our favorites were the 5 Rabbit Pils, and the delicious Berghoff Rowdy Root Beer. We definitely recommend braving the cold for the 2016 version.
World of Beer in Evanston is worth the short trek out of the city if you’re a fan of beer, or if you’re a fan of beer-related food. Taste Tester #1 and I had the chance to try a beer-flight paired with different menu items. What sets them apart from your standard bar is their worldwide assortments, over 550 plus kinds of beer available from all around the world. One of the coolest things about picking a beer is their awesome beer-finding app, you can search by ABV, color, country, and style. I absolutely love ciders and I was able to find 19 they had in stock!
We started off our meal pairing with a giant German pretzel and a story. The pretzel is an authentic Bavarian recipe by a German pretzel maker who was flown to the United States to satisfy a German woman who was unable to find an authentic pretzel to eat with her beer. It’s one of WOB most popular menu items and after eating it you could see why, the inside had a great crunch almost similar to French bread with a soft and pillowy interior. It was served with stone ground mustard and beer cheese sauce that was deliciously tangy and almost sweet when eaten with the beer. It was paired with Emmetts Munich Light Lager, a nice light pairing with the pretzel and great start to the evening.
Next we had some delicious chimichurri meatballs with a peppery arugula and pimento salad paired with Firestone Walker Opal. The chimichurri meatballs had a little bit of kick to them that paired well with the Firestone Walker Opal that both seemed to calm down and compliment the spice at the same time. The acidic vinaigrette on the arugula salad was a great contrast to the dish and added a little bit of brightness to the heavy meal so far.
Taste Tester #1 was excited about the next pairing from one of his favorite brewer’s; it was 3 Floyds Alpha King, a Belgian strong pale ale paired with loaded tater tots! The tots were topped with homemade beer cheese, jalapenos, crispy bacon, scallions and sour cream. After being on a wedding diet for the past six months these babies tasted SO good! The tots managed to stay crispy amongst all the decadent toppings.
Next came a variety of sliders paired with a beer called, Edge Hop Timista, a Spanish IPA that actually was influenced from the American craft brewing culture. I was really impressed at how well the sliders were cooked since it’s usually so difficult to cook such a small burger well, but these were perfectly medium temp. I especially loved the Chimay sliders with Chimay Classique cheese, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions & homemade Chimay aioli. In addition we tasted their amazing shrimp tacos. The tortilla was toasted to give it a little extra flavor/crunch and were quite a large portion. The shrimp was seasoned well and the roasted corn and tomato salsa had that nice chipotle style smokiness.
We finished out on a heavy note with an artisan sausage board with cracked black pepper, jalapeno cheddar, hickory smoked sausage served with spicy pickled green beans, peppadew peppers and house made stone ground mustard. The sausages were delicious and unfortunately we ran out of stomach space! But they definitely left an impression and wouldn’t be a bad thing to pick up on your way to a Northwestern Tailgate in the fall. This was paired with FEW Distillery’s rye sipping whiskey. I’m adventurous but not really a sipping whiskey kind of girl, so I tried it and it packed a punch. One sip good enough for me. But for those stronger than I, they should know FEW is a great local Evanston distillery and the first one in the area as Evanston used to be a dry town!
Overall we very much enjoyed our beer and food tasting at World of Beer. I can see us coming back to try out more beers on their extensive menu and definitely ordering more of the massive Bavarian pretzels!