Behind the small red brick storefront of Tonini's Italian Market, owners Dave and Taresa Goldman carry on the Italian cooking traditions that Dave followed years ago at the beloved––and now closed––D'Andreas Italian Market. These traditions include hand crafting four styles of italian sausage, sauces, pastas, and rustic breads each day. Though, Dave and Teresa are perhaps best known for their lean meatballs, which have garnered praise from local TV show Chicago's Best as well as the international grandmother syndicate. They fashion their many artisan specialties into a range of hot and cold Italian sandwiches, as well as deli salads ranging from piquant italian pasta to greek olive.
To compliment their homestyle cooking, they keep the store stocked with specialty groceries from Italy so customers can continue the tradition at home. Shelves brim with imported cheeses, canned tomatoes, and a gallery of olive oils, as well as colorfully painted ceramic plates and mugs.
Winner of the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2008–Cheese Selection, Marion Street Cheese Market carries a myriad of artisan cheeses from local and international farms, and offers a sumptuous menu for in-store bistro lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Dine in and dabble in one of the restaurant's cheese flights (each of which comes with bread, crackers, and dried fruit), such as the Francophile flight ($15), with firm Cantal cheese, Essex St. Comté, and the mild petit basque. Or practice your multiple-choice skills by designing your own flight ($12 or $15). Entrees include the free-range roasted chicken ($17) with bacon-shallot marmalade, or the mac 'n' cheese ($12–$14), with aged cheddar, SarVecchio parmesan, and Capriole chèvre. Complement tastings with craft brews such as Flossmoor's Recession Ale or Surly Brewing's Furious Ale, or sprinkle curds with a cheese-enhancing wine. Recently endowed with a license to spirit, the market is also beginning to serve specialty cocktails.
Established since 1949, Bill and Laurie Begale purchased Paulina Meat Market in 2006. As a family, Bill, his wife, and three children continue to operate it as a traditional meat market with German specialities.
In addition to old world sausages, staff have started experimenting with exotic meats and complementary deli items. They now serve sausages stuffed with fillings such as apples and pork, jalapeño and pepper jack cheese, and even a goat bratwurst, all of which can be paired with specialty condiments and fine cheeses.
Paulina Meat Market has broadened the range of the meat counter to include unique cuts of beef, including Flat Iron and Hanger steaks, along with an option for grass-fed beef, Bill Kurtis’s Tallgrass Beef. Knowing that not everyone likes to cook or admit they use their oven for a dragon-hatching operation, the staff have also created a line of ready-to-eat entrees such as their famous chicken pot pies and corned beef hash. All the meat is locally sourced throughout within the Midwest, with the exception of the lamb, which comes from Colorado.
Made possible by FamilyFarmed.org, an organization that forges bonds between locally grown food and the people who grow, sell, and eat it, the Good Food Festival & Conference lets Chicagoans participate in the locally driven Good Food movement. Coming from all over the Midwest, 150 farmers and artisans display their healthily unprocessed bounties while debunking widespread myths that the freshest fruit grows in cans, and chef demos from Frontera Grill’s Rick Bayless, Perennial Virant’s Paul Virant, and Nightwood’s Jason Vincent celebrate the spectacle of cooking. Young chefs can exercise creative muscles and artsy tendons at the children’s corner, which features face painting, a scavenger hunt, and an arts and crafts session. Scheduled workshops, such as Growing a Community Garden or Brew Your Own Kombucha and Sodas, teach casual eaters about their deep-seated connections to the things they chew (additional workshop fees apply).
Debbi Fields opened her first cookie shop in 1977, launching what would soon become a household name. Today, Mrs. Fields bakers from all over the world carry on her legacy, whipping up her signature semisweet chocolate-chip cookies with the same top-secret recipe that Mrs. Fields invented. They carefully fold real butter, whole eggs, and pure vanilla into delicate, buttery batters to create soft, chewy cookies that fill nearby nostrils with irresistibly sweet aromas. Using these same ingredients and recipes, they also bake up cookie cakes that can be decorated with colorful icing and personalized messages such as birthday wishes, inside jokes, or bank-account passwords. When they’re not handcrafting milk-chocolate-chip, cinnamon-sugar, and peanut-butter cookie batters into mini, regular, or cake-size cookies, these bakers are busy making gourmet brownies with pecans and walnuts.
For more than 30 years, Bockwinkel's commitment to quality noshables has supplied downtown customers with organic fruits and vegetables, fresh baked goods, and Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, which are devoid of any fillers, gluten, artificial colors, or trans fats. During lunch hours, deli specialists quickly assemble elaborate Bock sandwiches to be served alongside homemade soups. A fresh salad bar provides an elaborate selection of crisp ingredients to construct edible dioramas depicting pint-size pioneers trekking across baby-spinach frontiers.