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Alex

Plan: 2008 Heartland Gathering in Chicago Aug 8-10

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Thursday August 7, 2008

Dinner

Blackbird Restaurant

619 W Randolph, Chicago, IL 60606

312 715-0708

Start time tbd, approximately 6:30 pm CT

Cocktail Session

The Violet Hour

1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

773 252-1500

approximately 10:30 pm CT (30 minutes after dinner ends)

Initial post about Thursday's events

=====

Friday August 8, 2008

Workshop

Heartland Gathering Bread workshop

time and loaction to be announced

Workshop

Heartland Gathering Chocolate workshop

time and location to be announced

Dinner

Lao Sze Chuan

Chinatown Square Mall

2172 S Archer Ave

Chicago, IL 60616

312 326-5040

7:30 pm CT

Intial post about Friday's dinner

=====

Saturday August 9, 2008

Shopping

Evanston Farmers Market

Intersection of University Place and Oak Avenue

Evanston, IL 60201

9 am CT

Shopping

Niles Ethnic Shopping Tour

Niles, IL

9 am CT

Intial post about Ethnic tour

Group Meal

Immanuel Lutheran Church

616 Lake St

Evanston, IL 60201

847 864-4464

1 pm CT

Initial post about Saturday's events and the weekend in general

=====

Sunday August 10, 2008

Walking tour of Maxwell Street Market led by David Hammond

500 W Roosevelt Rd

Chicago, IL 60607

312 922-3100

10 am CT

Initial post about Sunday's event

=====

Shopping Map - eGS Heartland Gathering 2008

[Moderator's note: This planning topic has been split off from the 2007 Cleveland Heartland Gathering report topic so we don't lose track of the folks who have already started planning for the 2008 event in Chicago. Let's get the boilerplate out of the way:

  • THIS EVENT HAS BEEN ORGANIZED THROUGH EG FORUMS BY MEMBERS BUT IS NOT SPONSORED BY THE EGULLET SOCIETY FOR CULINARY ARTS AND LETTERS OR EG FORUMS. YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY ARRANGED ON OR DISCUSSED IN EG FORUMS IS AT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RISK. BY USING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE FORUMS YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND (1) THAT IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY, YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO A VARIETY OF HAZARDS AND RISKS ARISING FROM THOSE ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS; (2) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE, DISCHARGE CLAIMS, RELEASE, INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS THE SOCIETY, ITS AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AGENTS, AND OTHER PARTNERS AND EMPLOYEES, FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY ON ACCOUNT OF, OR IN ANY WAY RESULTING FROM INJURIES AND DAMAGES IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY SUCH EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES. YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THESE TERMS WILL BE BINDING UPON YOU AND YOUR HEIRS, EXECUTORS, AGENTS, ADMINISTRATORS AND ASSIGNS, AS WELL AS ANY GUESTS AND MINORS ACCOMPANYING YOU AT THE EVENTS.

On to the planning! -- CA]

Everything looks so wonderful! I regret having to pass on this year's gathering, so let me be the first (not counting Ronnie) to put my name on the list for Chicago next year. (And, after reading Ronnie's post about his amazing birthday dinner, the first to cast my vote for Vie as our Friday night destination.)


Edited by torakris (log)

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Wha!!! Next year is in CHICAGO!

Oh gosh I am soooo there (that is if I am just about to request being invited...not sure how this works!).

I live right in Chicago - so if it is okay (again, how do I get on the "list" - is there a "list"?) I am def. coming! All of this food looks soooooo delish!

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There's no secret list. When Ronnie has some details in order, he'll start a planing topic (or revive this one, I suppose) and ask for people to speak up if they want to attend. Everyone is welcome. But it's a year away, so it'll take him some time to figure it out!

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There's no secret list.  When Ronnie has some details in order, he'll start a planing topic (or revive this one, I suppose) and ask for people to speak up if they want to attend.  Everyone is welcome.  But it's a year away, so it'll take him some time to figure it out!

It'll also take him that long to prepare all the charcuterie and smoked salmon we'll undoubtedly want to eat! :wink:

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If the timing is right, I'm in too. :cool: Maybe even with the family.

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Oh yeah, I'm in. :biggrin:

There are many, many great restaurants here. Choosing from among them will be difficult, just because there are so many possibilities. But I can assure you that we will include several great restaurants as well as the now-traditional feast. And if there's a restaurant you've been wanting to try, if it doesn't show up on the schedule, you can always spend an extra day or two here.

When it comes time to choosing where to eat, that needs to be decided not only based on great restaurants but also with an eye to the entire event, including transportation logistics, where out-of-towners are staying, ability of the restaurants to accommodate our large group, etc. Just to cite one example of how these factors come into play, a couple of people have already mentioned Vie for Friday dinner. It is likely (but by no means certain) that out-of-towners will be staying somewhere in the downtown Chicago area. Friday evening rush hour, roughly from 3 to 7 pm, has the absolute worst traffic of the entire week. Vie is in the suburbs, and while it might take 30-40 minutes to drive there from downtown Chicago in the off hours, in the Friday rush it can easily take 90 minutes or more, which may not be the best use of the limited time that our out-of-town visitors will be spending here. So please, give us Chicagoans a chance to decide on a mix of restaurants for our event, and which times during the event will make the most sense for each venue. Just as at previous Heartland gatherings, we will try our best to show off our city's restaurant scene at its finest and most impressive.

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Oh yeah, I'm in.  :biggrin:

There are many, many great restaurants here.  Choosing from among them will be difficult, just because there are so many possibilities.  But I can assure you that we will include several great restaurants as well as the now-traditional feast.  And if there's a restaurant you've been wanting to try, if it doesn't show up on the schedule, you can always spend an extra day or two here.

When it comes time to choosing where to eat, that needs to be decided not only based on great restaurants but also with an eye to the entire event, including transportation logistics, where out-of-towners are staying, ability of the restaurants to accommodate our large group, etc.  Just to cite one example of how these factors come into play, a couple of people have already mentioned Vie for Friday dinner.  It is likely (but by no means certain) that out-of-towners will be staying somewhere in the downtown Chicago area.  Friday evening rush hour, roughly from 3 to 7 pm, has the absolute worst traffic of the entire week.  Vie is in the suburbs, and while it might take 30-40 minutes to drive there from downtown Chicago in the off hours, in the Friday rush it can easily take 90 minutes or more, which may not be the best use of the limited time that our out-of-town visitors will be spending here.  So please, give us Chicagoans a chance to decide on a mix of restaurants for our event, and which times during the event will make the most sense for each venue.  Just as at previous Heartland gatherings, we will try our best to show off our city's restaurant scene at its finest and most impressive.

Actually, don't be surprised if a lot of folks wind up in the suburbs, in part to keep hotel/parking costs in reasonable proportion to the meal costs!

I recommend that you guys do what we did - listen if there is something special that people really, really want (Lola) but otherwise use your judgment to pick the places the rest of us might not really know about (VTR, Carrie Cerino's, Sun Luck Garden, Light).

We are thrilled to have a reason to visit (and taste) Chicago again!

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Yes, it's a long way away but I'm thrilled that the "show" is coming to Chicago next year and I'm more than happy to head up the planning effort on behalf of all my eGS friends, who've made these Gatherings wonderfully enjoyable since their initial inception. It'll be a pleasure to reciprocate.

As for the specific venues, etc., I think the best thing is to start listing and aggregating ideas here and let the concensus play a major role in what ultimately gets scheduled. Of course, those of us who live in Chicago will -- I hope -- be happy to make suggestions, offer ideas and help answer questions, but since many of Chicago's best places are so well-known, I think it's important to let the visitors weigh in heavily on this. After all, those of us who live here can visit any of these places anytime we want.

It's very unlikely that 100% of the places we discuss today will still be around by next summer. And conversely, new places of great interest are sure to pop up between now and then, too.

One thing I hope to organize will be a "crawl" of sorts that will take interested folks on a journey through some of Chicago's neighborhoods where they can enjoy several highly-regarded renditions of our most well-known culinary delicacies (hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, Italian Beef sandwiches) as well as some of our less well-known, distinctively delicious fare, too. Based on what I've already discussed with several people who are likely to attend, there seems to be a lot of interest in this type of event. If that turns out to not be the case, we can drop it.

One piece of good news is that I already have several promising leads on commercial kitchens that will be available for our use. I'll continue to investigate that part of the puzzle while we assemble our wish list here over the next several months.

=R=

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Count me in also. And, while it's certainly premature, count me as another vote for Vie. I love the place and dine there 3 or 4 times a month. I also love the fact that my current house is about 5 minutes away. :smile:

Virant doesn't post much, if anything at all, on the forum but, he is a occasional lurker. While there are a lot of great restaurants that would be very happy to be the venue for an eG gathering, I think he would push the envelope a bit more than most.

As mentioned by nsxatsy, the Fri. rush hour commute from the Loop by car can be brutal. A really simple solution would be to do what I, and thousands of others, do daily. Take the Metra commuter train from Union Station. By express, it's around 15 minutes to Western Springs. Local trains take about 30 minutes. Starting around 7:00 P.M., return trains run hourly until midnight. Unless you are a very slow walker, the front door at Vie is about 2 minutes from the station. I don't know what the daily cost is but, it's probably in the area of $8.

Plus, you have the opportunity to have a pre-cocktail hour cocktail for the train ride out. :wink:

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I love that everybody is so enthused about this already! I hope that we find that we can pick a weekend far enough in advance that we can plan our schedules around the date. I'll be happy to go wherever the concensus takes us and I'm sure that the out of towners will have plenty of places that they'd like to try. While I think that most of those places will be in Chicago, I think it very possible that a lot of people will want suggestions for hotels that are in a nearby suburb due to the high cost of rooms in the downtown area.

Thanks to Ronnie for offering to start putting this together. I'm sure it will be a great time no matter what we do.

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A few more thoughts.

First, we should define the time frame and meals involved. Do we follow the pattern used at this year's event?

Thu eve - dinner (restaurant)

Fri noon - lunch (restaurant)

Fri eve - dinner (restaurant)

Sat morn - food shopping

Sat noon - lunch at a restaurant? (we may want to plan a lunch with a reservation, rather than hoping to get lucky as folks did with Phnom Penh this year)

Sat aft - cooking the feast

Sat dinner - Heartland feast

Sun noon - lunch/brunch (restaurant)

If we can agree on a schedule, that could help us figure out when different places would work best. For example, the "crawl" for cheap eats (pizza, Italian beef, etc) might be something to do for lunch on Friday. For another example, if we wanted to go to Vie, it might work best to go there for lunch on Sunday. (Yes, I know that Vie is normally closed on Sundays, but they might be willing to open for us; furthermore, it might be easiest for them to handle a group our size on that basis, rather than when they are open to the public.)

As for specific suggestions on restaurants, there are so very many great places here that I would take a step back first, and talk about kinds of places to go. For example, would we want to go to three contemporary American type places for Thursday dinner, Friday dinner, and Sunday lunch? (There are certainly plenty of candidates; in the city, places like North Pond, Blackbird, Naha, Custom House, Sweets and Savories, Sola, and literally dozens if not hundreds of others; in the burbs, you've got Vie, Tallgrass, Chef's Station, Michael, and again, dozens more.) Or would we want to have one or two such places, and then choose one or two places from other categories such as steakhouses, seafood places, French, Italian, other ethnic (Mexican, Thai, or perhaps less common ethnicities not often found elsewhere)?

Personally, I think that something Mexican and unusual (not your typical Mexican food) would be an awesome choice - such as Flamingo's - it's new, read more about it here - or one of Bayless's places.

The other thing to consider is price range, since costs have already been mentioned. Most of the contemporary American places I mentioned above are typically in the $80-120 range per person including moderate alcohol, tax, and tip. This was about what we paid at Light Bistro (I paid $69 including tax/tip but no alcohol) and Lola ($89 tax/tip no alcohol). Maybe we would want one of the three meals to be somewhat less than that. It would be nice if we could work out an inexpensive bargain for someplace, maybe Sunday lunch, the way Carrie Cerino's turned out this year.

We also might want to organize a smaller, and more expensive, dinner the night before the event (Wednesday night before the start? Sunday or Monday night after the end?) at one of our top tables, such as Avenues, or Alinea, or Schwa, for folks who choose to come in early for a splurge. Maybe we could get a special meal arranged at one of these places; for example, I know ChefGEB is a big participant here and maybe he could do something for us at Avenues.


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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Thanks to Ronnie for offering to start putting this together.

LOL! Well, I was drafted but it's my pleasure. Beyond posting here, any locals who'd like to help with the planning should contact me via pm or e-mail.

As for Vie, it would also be very high on my list (obviously). I think that pub trans getting out there is one option -- and a good suggestion -- but an 8 pm dinner there on a Friday night would probably make a non-issue of traffic.

=R=

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If the timing works I would love to be there in one of my very favorite food cities!

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I think the big thing we're going to have to worry about for this meal is having too many people to do much of anything as a whole group! There are a lot more local eGulleteers in Chicago, and lots of people who want to visit. So this could get really big, really fast.

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I think the big thing we're going to have to worry about for this meal is having too many people to do much of anything as a whole group!  There are a lot more local eGulleteers in Chicago, and lots of people who want to visit.  So this could get really big, really fast.

Maybe we can make a deal with a hotel that would include guest rooms and the use of a hotel kitchen, too. :wink:

=R=

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I think the big thing we're going to have to worry about for this meal is having too many people to do much of anything as a whole group!  There are a lot more local eGulleteers in Chicago, and lots of people who want to visit.  So this could get really big, really fast.

That's a good point. One of the difficulties in planning an event like this is guessing at attendance. It's probably safe to say that there will be more people at the gathering in Chicago than in Cleveland, just because there are more eGulleteers here (as Tammy points out), but how MANY more will attend, versus the thirty or so at this year's event in Cleveland? Will we have 40 people, or 80 (or more)? Nobody really knows. And there are venues suitable for 40 people that just won't work if you have 80. We could try to have things at places with the flexibility for a variety of attendance numbers, and/or we might have capacity constraints for certain venues.

Lots of stuff to figure out how to handle.


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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I think the big thing we're going to have to worry about for this meal is having too many people to do much of anything as a whole group!  There are a lot more local eGulleteers in Chicago, and lots of people who want to visit.  So this could get really big, really fast.

Yes, it could be more like an eGullet Society convention than a Heartland Gathering -- not that there's anything the matter with that! We come from the City of the Big Shoulders, and more importantly, Hog Butcher to the World. We have a year to plan this thing, and ronnie I am at your command.

We'll find a way. It's gonna be beyond.

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I was really hoping it would be in Chicago next year. I'm in to help plan.

I vote for Green City Market on Saturday morning for shopping.

I would be happy to go to Vie on any night since I haven't been there yet.

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An issue with choosing restaurants will be selecting those that can handle a big group successfully. Some of Chicago's finest, I'm sorry to say, are not at their best when serving a crowd. While there a number that can cope well, it's definitely something to keep in mind.

As to Green City Market for shopping -- it's a fine farmers' market, but it's not really that different from others throughout the Midwest, and less extensive than some. Wouldn't people rather visit venues more unique to Chicago? Devon Avenue, say, or Niles?

Regarding restaurants, too, I'd suggest looking at some of the things that Chicago does best that aren't ubiquitous elsewhere in the Midwest, such as nsxtasy's suggestion of Mexican. (Although Flamingo's might be awkward to get to -- there are similar spots in the city, including Fonda del Mar and Sol de Mexico. But you aren't going to find so many places specializing carne en su jugo or birria elsewhere in the Heartland, either.)

Every city in the Midwest has contemporary American fine dining. Not everywhere has a Lao Sze Chuan, a Garden Buffet or a Szalas.

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If anyone would like me to lead a tour of crappy sushi restaurants in the area of Clark/Broadway/Diversey just let me know. I've got 3 fantastic examples to share with the group.

In all seriousness, I think some sort of crawl or dinner in Chinatown or on Argyle would be great. Anything else is going to be completely dependent on how many people will ultimately be coming.

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I'm definitely interested, and may be able to help with planning closer to the event. Will keep an eye on this thread.

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