Empty Bottle, full house……

If getting up at the crack of dawn to trek to a “clean cut” Lincoln Park Farmers Market  is not your idea of a great way to start a Saturday morning, check out the rebellious and  rockin’ Farmers Market at The Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village, the third Saturday of the month. It starts at noon, just in time for a Bloody Mary made with Tomato Mountain Bloody Mary Mix, or my favorite, Templeton Rye Whiskey and Earth First Organics’ Apple Cider.

There weren’t any veggies this time of year at the market, but The Empty Bottle packed a full house of people sampling, tasting and buying delicious local culinary creations. I was so excited. There was something new to try each time I turned around. Right when you walk in the door is Macaron Chicago tempting you with caramel fleur de sel, apple cider, pecan honey, or chocolate orange macarons. These macarons are nothing like the dense coconut mounds we tend to think of as macaroons in the US. They are delicate, pillowy and light, but packed full of flavor. Beth bakes her confections locally out of Logan Square Kitchen, a shared use kitchen on Milwaukee Ave.

Right next to the heavenly macarons is Besto Pesto. The pesto is a bright fresh green color and is packed with basil flavor. They get their basil locally from Smits Farms. The pesto is great as a bread dip or paired with One Sister’s pastas or pierogi, which also happens to be at the market. My friend got some lamb pierogi that were very plump and rustic looking. I think the bright pesto will pair great with the gaminess of the lamb. Both of these small batch food producers will be featured at a tasting on February 13th at Provenance Food and Wine in Logan Square from 3:00-6:00. Sounds like a great start to a romantic Valentine’s Dinner at home!

I don’t know how I got started on this Valentine’s Day theme, but it IS a nice segway, so that’s how I am rollin’ for now! LOVE. Can you be in love with a loaf of bread? Don’t know if it is pc, but it was love at first sight when I saw the rustic crusty boules from Crumb (even in the crappy lighting at the bar, I knew they were beautiful, and I had to go home with one…or two of them.). I bought the walnut bread and the spicy provolone. One is great to eat with cheese and the other is filled with cheese, how could you go wrong?  Nice and crusty on the outside, so chewy on the inside. Fresh…. yeasty…. yummy. (I know, I’m babbling, sorry…love does that to me.)  I heard that Anne does a cranberry focaccia for the Logan Square Market. I can’t wait to try that next week. Let’s hope Chicago catches on quick and demands more venues…soon! You can follow Anne on Twitter to see where she’ll be next. Oh, you will need a loaf of this crusty goodness to go with the above mentioned pasta and pesto Valentine’s Dinner that you’re cooking at home.

I purposefully went to the farmers market, full, so I wouldn’t be tempted. That didn’t work, so I just threw in the towel and got fuller….but happy. I sampled Nice Cream’s ice creams. They have great flavors like spicy chocolate, gingersnap cookie, and vanilla mint. I am not a vanilla ice cream girl, give me something with chocolate and caramel and nuts any day, but this vanilla mint ice cream was amazing. They use real mint fresh from the garden, so it tastes like mint, not fake mint flavor and no garish green color either. Plus, it is actually has chocolate chunks in it, too, so it passed my test. Nice Cream has lots of pluses, besides the fact that it tastes great. Kris makes her nice cream with local, sustainable ingredients right down to the gingersnap cookies from Swim Café on Chicago Ave. Kris changes her flavors seasonally and will be rolling out exciting new flavors like Brownies n’ Stout made with Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and Tinycakes Brownies at Provenance Food and Wine in Logan Square on January 23rd from 4:00-6:00 and on January 30th at the Lincoln Square location from 2:00-4:00. I just love how Tracy at Provenance supports so many small, local, sustainable, artisan food producers. This whole post is a “shout out” to local small business people.

I was so happy to see Celestial Kitchens at the Empty Bottle. Celeste makes incredibly good pastries. They are textbook examples of what a pastry should look like and taste like. End of story. It’s that simple. Bacon scones, pear tarts, apple pies, beautiful quiches…..and her prices are so reasonable; $5 for a very filling Quiche Lorraine. What a steal! I have had her peanut butter and jelly bars in the past. To. Die. For. (Sorry, I won’t use that expression again, but I had to pull it out for these bars. It is worth the eye rolls!) Celestial Kitchens sells her perfect pastries at Cipollina, Milk and Honey, and Pastoral. Maybe we can start a mass movement to make them available at more cafes!

That was a wonderful Saturday well spent at the Empty Bottle Farmers Market. I don’t know how I am going to wait until February 20th for the next market and a chance to try and buy all those wonderful, local, artisan food products again. I can just taste that rye & cider cocktail….what a nice, new, 3rd Saturday of the month tradition.

P.S. I went a little “link crazy” in this post, but, like I said earlier, this is a post full of “shout outs” to local small businesses. We all need to support them, so they continue to survive and thrive and make Chicago a great city that buys local.

7 Comments

Filed under Farmers Markets, Foodie Fun

7 responses to “Empty Bottle, full house……

  1. Hazel Peartree

    I was at the Empty Bottle’s Dec. 19 Farmers Market and got those wondrous lamb pierogis. Tossed ‘em in the freezer and forgot about them until one night last week when I hadn’t thought about dinner until dinnertime. I dropped them into boiling lightly salted water for about 5 minutes, then finished them off in a cast-iron saute pan with unsalted butter. Served with a dollop of sour cream and thinly sliced scallions, they were outta this world!

    • Hazel, Your dinner sounds tasty. I am getting hungry just reading it. I bet the cast iron skillet gave the pierogis a great browned finish & added flavor. Isn’t it great when an amazing dinner is so easy?

  2. Melissa – thanks so much for visiting and enjoying at the farmers market! Hope to see you at Provenance on Feb 13th for our tasting. Linda – Besto Pesto

  3. Pingback: Laura’s Quick and Easy Flexitarian Chili «

  4. wait, what?! I live down the street from EB and have been to the craft fair held one Saturday each month. I had NO IDEA there was a farmer’s market the 3rd Sat – during winter?!?!

    This changes everything. This may be the single most valueable thing I learned this week.

    Thank you!

    • Yay! Glad I could help. I have been dying to go to the craft market, but have not made it yet. The craft market could be dangerous as DollyBird Design, one of my favorite Chicago jewelry artist is there. I think it is great that the Empty Bottle supports events like this. That really makes Chicago a great place to live!

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