It was dang hot last week in Chicago. Thursday, July 21, was forecasted to be the hottest day of the year, the date of this year’s Green City Market BBQ benefit. Friends were Facebooking their nervousness about the heat. My sister Martha, my BBQ invitee, had her doubts about whether she could make it through the evening. “I’ll give it the ol’ college try,” she told me very matter of factly. “But I don’t know if I’ll last long.”
But by evening the temps cooled enough and a light breeze off the lake aided by the shade of big trees made being outside in Lincoln Park bearable. Along with some 2,000 event goers we grazed our way through small dishes created by nearly 100 Chicago chefs who drew on ingredients from the market for their creations.
Armed with a water bottle in one hand and a fork in the other, it was tough to take photos this year. But I can tell you what some of my faves were. My vote for best in show goes to The Publican for its beef and blood sausage taco. A close follow-up was Dirk’s Fish trout burgers with cool tzatziki, arugula, and pickled red onions in a mini pita. Great colors, too. I loved Marion Street Cheese Market’s creamy grit cakes with pulled goat shoulder topped with pickled and caramelized tropea onions and goat milk queso blanco. Also very good: Province’s vegetable tostada with tomatillo and ancho salsas. On the sweet side, I swooned over the Gateau Basque from The Peninsula and the Raspberry-Rose Petal ice cream sandwich from Snookelfritz.
This year there were noticeable improvements in how the event was organized. For one, stands were more spaced out, making it less crowded at each table and much easier to pick up dishes. Second, huge containers of water bottles on ice made it easy to grab and go and keep hydrated. And, third, a cooling station was set up for those who needed the relief. A big shout-out, too, to all the volunteers who directed people with their nifty ping-pong paddles to throw their garbage in the proper bins (landfill, recycle, and composting).
In the absence of any photos, I’m instead posting one of some of the first field-grown tomatoes of the season from Leaning Shed Farm that I bought at last Saturday’s Green City Market. They’re intense and sweet, including the little greenish White Currant variety, a new one grown by Dave and Denise Dyrek. All winter long we dream about locally grown summer tomatoes—it’s one big reason we can’t complain too much about the sun and heat.
And my sister Martha? She was a trooper and made it through the evening. And, next year, I promise, I’ll post photos.