Blackbird almost wasn't Blackbird, Tasting Table's Open Market, and more | Bleader

Blackbird almost wasn't Blackbird, Tasting Table's Open Market, and more

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Blackbird: what might have been.

If you haven't read it, you're the last one in Chicago . . . it being Chandra Ram's epic account of the opening and early days of arguably our most influential modern restaurant, Blackbird, at Plate Online. My favorite bit (which I had heard before but has always been kind of kept quiet) is that back in 1998 the restaurant was nearly given the hilariously new wave-y name Menue (see, it's like menu, and new!). It was back and forth between that and Paul Kahan's desire to give it a twee Ye Olde name, the Little Blackbird, before they settled on the name whose classic simplicity (and possible Beatles reference) was a perfect fit with Kahan's flavor-first, unfussy food. Or at least it seems that way after 15 years of Blackbird influencing our scene and sending its line cooks all over town.

Tasting Table Chicago editor and onetime Dose Market cofounder Heather Sperling is on her way to New York; Anthony Todd of Chicagoist will be taking over; and semirelatedly, Sperling has pulled together quite the star-studded gathering of chefs for Tasting Table's Open Market this Friday and Saturday, all to be held at Block 37. Friday night's market will have 30 chefs selling bites street food style, among them saganaki wings from Tim Graham of Travelle, alfajores and caneles from Thomas Raquel of Acadia, and ice cream by Dana Cree of Blackbird, as well as offerings from Smalls Smoke Shack, Mott St, La Sirena Clandestina, Parson's Chicken & Fish, and more.

Saturday's market includes both foods and goods; highlights include a Portuguese pork sandwich from Fat Rice; food from Spiaggia, Urban Belly, and Rustic Tart; vintage cookbooks from Edible Type books; Middlewest magazine; wares from Rare Tea Cellar; and still more. Tickets are here.

• Condolences to the family behind now-closed Bleeding Heart Bakery on the death of partner, husband, and father Vinny Garcia over the weekend from leukemia. Matt Kirouac wrote a remembrance here.

• Swim Cafe owner Karen Gerod is fighting cancer, and Soup & Bread, the fund-raising event she's long supported, is having a benefit for her starting at 5:30 PM Wednesday, December 11, at the Hideout, with storytelling (by Reader contributors Martha Bayne and Dmitry Samarov, among others), soup from Milk & Honey, Allison Scott of Hoosier Mama Pie, and others.

• Been wondering what they're growing at Brandon Baltzley's farm and future restaurant near Michigan City? There are a couple of seats left for your first chance to try it at a guest chef dinner with Baltzley at The Trenchermen on Tuesday, December 17; it's six courses for $95, call 773-661-1540.

• The headline from the Madison paper says it all: "Younger generations flip for making lefse."

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