Welcome Back – A Long Standing Relationship with Our Sponsor Paul Virant and His Restaurants
We Are Honored
I can still remember the moment. It was over ten years ago, at the first of what’s become an annual affair, Joan’s Sandwich Party. There, around her dining room table, I was introducing some of the attendees to this idea fermenting in my head, “eat local”, although I don’t think I called it that. It was more about going back in time, eating as if grapes were not flown in from Chile and no one ate asparagus until we should. One of the guys there told me about a restaurant he knew in the suburbs where the chef was doing what I was talking about. This guy, Paul Virant, had a closet full of fruits and vegetables he had put up. He too believed in the long game. Not too much after that party, I managed to tag along with a writer for a small piece he was doing on suburban restaurants. After the dinner, I managed to coral Chef Virant and ask about the mystery room. He gladly showed us his pickles, agro-deaux’s, and the rest of his nascent Preservation Kitchen. Since that initial visit, I’ve been to Vie many times. When my daughter got the news she no longer had to wear her back brace, we celebrated at Vie. In turn, we were delighted to celebrate with them, their 10th anniversary. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few peeks behind the scenes there, including watching Paul and one of his staff butcher a cow. He’s been a huge fan of the Local Beet since its inception. When we started taking sponsors a while back, he stepped up and hosted the Local Calendar for a bit. He and Vie are back as sponsors, and we could not be more honored.
We could tell you to go to Vie to see what they are doing with the seasonal bounty, to see how they can expand our perceptions–Indiana shrimp anyone, see how they work the various preserved elements into their dishes; hell, we can even tell you if you’ve never had the gooey butter cake, in memory of Chef Virant’s hometown of St. Louis, go to Vie just for that. But we won’t do any of those things. Rather, we have a really good reason to get there. It’s off the train tracks. OK, besides those dishes, the house-made charcuterie, the crispy fermented brussels sprouts, yes, fried giardinara; Vie pours outstanding cocktails. The Condiment Queen always gets one, and I always want like four. Except I have to drive home (see she likes the wine pairings too). Why not take the train. Vie is only a few blocks from the Western Springs Metra station. Go for it.
Stumbling into a train car might be a great way to deal with some of Vie’s special events. I remember a few years back, they had a dinner with North Shore Distillery. After looking (with envy) at the program, I wondered how my constitution could ever handle such things. If you want too try, there is a wine dinner coming up there in a few days, “tour de france” wine dinner with michael corso selections” is on April 16. It’s a fun menu with the kind of stuff Virant pulls out like pheasant and rabbit terrine. He’s finishing with one of my favorite local cheeses, Dunbarton blue by Roelli.
Train, plane, car, heels, we advise seeing what they are doing at Vie now. What they will be doing soon will be entirely different. That’s they way they do it. Seeing what’s in the Midwestern bounty, putting some away for later, figuring out what to do with the rest now. Before ever going there, meeting Paul, we liked their approach. We’re glad to still have them around, and especially glad to have them as one of our sponsors.