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Summer 2012 menu decoder

Demystifying chefs’ favorite ingredients of the moment.


Crawford Farm braised pork-shoulder steam buns
Yusho (2853 N Kedzie Ave, 773-904-8558)
A farm in New Glarus, Wisconsin, where restaurants as near as Madison, Wisconsin’s L’Etoile and as far as Orlando, Florida’s Norman’s procure pork and lamb. (Topolobampo and the Publican serve it in Chicago, too.)

Foie gras, Michigan fish sauce, wild ginger, almond
Nightwood (2119 S Halsted St, 312-526-3385)
The proper name for this “Michigan fish sauce" is Blis Fish Sauce. Blis—based in Michigan—is most famous for its maple syrup, which is aged in bourbon barrels. The fish sauce (a collaboration with Vietnamese-made Red Boat fish sauce) is aged the same way.

Birch Syrup–glazed quail with crispy pancetta, creamed fava beans, pickled peanuts, radicchio, mint
Lula Cafe (2537 N Kedzie Blvd, 773-489-9554)
Uncle Berwyn’s Yukon Birch Syrup—made from birch trees in the Yukon, obviously—is twice as labor intensive to make as maple syrup, and it’s in such high demand that sous chef Mike Simmons had to order this batch a year in advance.

Pecorino crostini: Hidden Springs sheep cheese, English peas, Lonely Moon honeycomb
Due Lire (4520 N Lincoln Ave, 773-275-7878)
Lonely Moon Organics, a farm in Charleston, Illinois, focuses on the sustainable raising of honeybees and cattle.

Flatbread with Drier’s ham, goat cheese, pickled peaches, fennel, hazelnuts
Ruxbin (851 N Ashland Ave, 312-624-8509)
Country ham from Drier’s Meat Market, which—fun fact!—was bought by the current family of owners in 1913. Chef Edward Kim stopped by the store during a Ruxbin retreat to Three Oaks, Michigan. He bought a whole ham for the restaurant that day.

Sunray Clams
Premise (5420 N Clark St, 773-334-9463)
“Sunray" is a marketing name for Venus clams (sometimes they even appear on menus as “Sunray Venus Clams"). Hailing from Florida, they turn pink when cooked.

Smoking Goose lard crusts
Bang Bang Pie Shop (2051 N California Ave, 773-276-8888)
A “meatery" producing “protein treats" in Indianapolis. Balena serves its charcuterie (salami, prosciutto, coppa, etc.); Bang Bang Pie uses only its lard (pork lard, for the record) as the fat for its crusts.

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