Mike Sula rounds up some of his favorite things from the year to date, among them the savory royal pies at Bridgeport’s new Pleasant House Bakery, where chef Art Jackson (formerly of downtown late-night spot Bijan’s Bistro) and his pastry-chef wife, Chelsea, are using vegetables grown in their own plot of land down the street. His other picks include the items off the Thai Classics menu at Aroy Thai and kuay tak, sun-dried, pressed, and salted Thai bananas available at Edgewater’s Golden Pacific Market.
In Key Ingredient Paula Haney and the crew at Hoosier Mama Pie take on the ancient grain millet, experimenting with it in several forms before coming up with a tabbouleh with beer-soaked millet, a spiced ground beef hand pie with millet, and a fruit parfait made with millet pudding and garnished with chocolate millet bark. Next up is Michael Carlson of Schwa, challenged with the wormwood liqueur Malorthttp://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/one-sip-nightwood-nocino/Content?oid=4064725, which he says tastes “kind of like bum feet and earwax mixed together, man. It's pretty rough.”
In One Sip Heather Kenny tracks down some nocino, a hard-to-find Italian digestivo made from walnuts. Some months ago Eric Davis, a server at Nightwood, made an unorthodox version using El Dorado 151 rum in place of the usual vodka, grain spirits, or grappa and flavoring it with cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, citrus peel, and candied ginger. The complex liqueur is used in whiskey-based cocktails at the restaurant, and while Davis is down to his last quart, he’s planning to make some more when green walnuts are ready to be harvested later this month.