The Eye of the Meat Storm
Reader, I apologize it’s taken me so long to write about the Chicago food. Here goes.
Sullenly biting into a small pile of asparagus loosely wrapped in sliced carrot, I asked myself, How in the name of Upton Sinclair did I end up in the middle of downtown Chicago, stuck in some vegan wasteland? And moreover, what was with this foie gras ban? I’m aware of the dastardly elements of foie gras production. Forcefeeding a goose who spends its life in a 2 by 2 cage ain’t pretty. But of all the cities in all the world who would suddenly find the heart to ban such a savory, meaty delicacy? Chicago?!!! Home to the Moo and Oink, where ears, snouts and hooves can be purchased without a flinch? Home to the Chicago hot dog, the Italian beef sandwich, ribfest, and nearly all things carnivorous, junky, and quintessentially American? The answer is yes. In 2006 the city council voted to ban the soul sucking stuff. Now I’ve never been too driven to eat foie gras in my daily life, but you know how when you tell a kid she can have almost anything but there’s only one thing she can’t have, and suddenly that’s all she can think about? Well, that kid was me last weekend in the middle of my vegan event and all I wanted was foie gras. Luckily for me, Chicago is home also to some of the ballsiest chefs in the world. There are ways to get around a health inspection, you know what I’m sayin?
So there we were, at the famed French restaurant, Sweets and Savories on Fullerton. We were there for one thing, and one thing only. We didn’t even need to whisper or nudge (although we did for good measure.) There it was, right on the menu, in plain sight, hitting you like a chest bump. The $20 Hamburger. Not just any hamburger either. This was a locally farmed kobe beef burger, red in the middle and juicy as any I ever seen, smothered with a thick layer of seared foie gras. Top that layer with truffle mayonaise and a buttered, toasted brioche bun, and you get savory all right. See, what happens is this: the foie gras melts into the meat, and also melts into the bun, melding with the truffle mayonnaise on the way. They go heavy on the truffle, by the way, at Sweets and Savories. I do not kid when I tell you that tears of joy were streaming down our faces, and we laughed out loud as we gasped for air between bites. This was all served with a side of duck fat fries. Yeah. You heard right. The ketchup was more like a tomato marmalade, and it was in fact, the perfect blend of sweet and savory. An oyster mushroom risotto was outstanding, though clearly someone had tried to weigh down the cow that provided the heaviest of heavy creams for this insanely rich dish. After our respective desserts of chocolate torte with homemade chocolate sorbet and fresh raspberry sauce, and my lemon tart with mint and berries, we heaved ourselves up, and rolled ourselves out onto the street, feeling like true Chicagoans at last.