First off, I want to wish everyone out there a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. For everyone up at Watkins Glen for Superball IX, have a blast and bring back some great stories!
As for me, I will be in the windy city, hanging with some friends and knocking a couple of things off of my bucket list.
More on Wrigley field in a bit. The main reason for my visit to Chicago this time is to have dinner at Alinea. For those who don’t know, Alinea was named best restaurant in North America (for the second straight year) and 6th best restaurant in the world in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011 (up one from #7 in 2010). Dining at Alinea is one of the items on my bucket list that I will be crossing off on this trip.
Here is what S. Pellegrino had to say about Alinea:
Alinea represents one of the most radical re-imaginings of fine food by any chef in American history and has propelled Grant Achatz to chef superstardom.
Everything about his restaurant is unique, from the deconstructed food, unfamiliar flavour combinations and theatre to the tableware, with dishes served in and on all manner of implements: test tubes, cylinders, multi-layered bowls that come apart. It’s boundary-shifting stuff.
I had a chance last year to dine at Alinea and was unable to due to logistics and timing, no way I was passing up the chance a second time! READ ON for more on Jon’s trip…
Below is a video from Alinea Chef/Partner Grant Achatz explaining how the name came to be, where the name was derived from and his vision for the restaurant. I love the part in the video where he says “You’re here to have fun.” That is an amazing statement from one of the best chefs of the best restaurants in the world.
One of the other restaurants I will be eating at on the trip as well will be Moto.
Here is part of what their website says Moto is all about:
Inventive. Innovative. Artistic. Imaginative. Thought provoking. Futuristic. Inspired. All words used to describe Homaro Cantu’s moto, an internationally recognized leader in the world of molecular gastronomy. A term with many interpretations, at moto molecular gastronomy is the application of both scientific and artistic principles in cuisine. Equal parts chef and inventor, Cantu challenges culinary convention and diners, stretching the boundaries of the former and taking the latter on a post-modern, interactive and fantastical gastronomical ride.
A “molecular tasting room,” dining at moto is like taking part in an ongoing multi-sensory science experiment. Cantu’s post-modern cuisine applies science to cuisine artistically, utilizing high-tech equipment such as Class IV lasers and liquid nitrogen with eclectic ingredients from around the world. The moto kitchen serves as a laboratory and a canvas for Cantu and his team, an incubation center for ideas that are revolutionizing the culinary landscape – ideas that focus on all things food-related, including menu items, packaging, tools, delivery and more. As Cantu says “to create is not to copy” and this philosophy of “food engineering” drives the moto team.
Below is a great video interview with Chef Homaro Cantu. There are two lines in the video that boggle my mind, the first is “My goal is for you to remember every course for the next 10 years.” and the other is “It can’t be something that we’ve seen, done or heard of before”.
For the record, I am eating at Moto the night before I eat at Alinea. I plan on running at least 3 -4 miles at the start of both days to make room for the amazing meals to come each evening.
The second item on my bucket list that I will be crossing off is catching a Cubs day game at Wrigley Field. I’ll accomplish this the day after eating at Moto leading up to my dinner at Alinea. Wrigley is one of the old school stadiums I wanted to visit in my lifetime having been to Fenway Park, the old Boston Garden and the original Yankee Stadium. Luckily for me, this weekend the Cubs will be playing their crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox which should make the game even more memorable.
I came across this video which highlights the rivalry and shows just how much fun this game should be. Really looking forward to this one!
The last major thing I will be doing on the Chicago trip is catching U2 at Soldier Field on July 5, a rescheduled concert from 2010. Also, Soldier Field is where U2 kicked of the 360 tour on September 12, 2009 as witnessed in the video below:
All in all should be one hell of a weekend.
Some other food-related stops during my five days in Chicago:
Xoco (description from the website) This quick-service cafe from Rick and Deann Bayless proffers contemporary expressions of Mexico’s most beloved street food and snacks: hot-from-the-fryer churros and flaky empanadas; frothy Mexican hot chocolate (ground from Mexican cacao beans right in our front window!); warm, crusty tortas (Mexican submarine sandwiches); and made-to-order caldos (meal-in-a-bowl soups) that feature everything from roasted vegetables to seafood to pork belly.
Big Star Paul Kahan’s Taco place. Here’s a great description from Food & Wine magazine “”Tacos, whiskey, hillbilly music”—that’s the promise of Chicago’s Big Star, famed chef Paul Kahan‘s new project with Donnie Madia and mixologist Michael Rubel of Violet Hour. Though they call the place a dive (it’s not), the classic tacos—like the exceptional grilled-pork one here—are impressively fresh. And there’s a take-out window.”
Should be an amazing weekend, wish me luck.
Unfortunately I have no plans on stopping to remember or document this trip for this column …