My last visit home is a testament to growing into new “foodie” britches. Without a doubt when visiting Chicago it is necessary that one must have the exemplary thin crust pizza (my preference and opinion of the best pizza, ever – more on deep dish another time) from my favorite place (Dipiero’s, even though it’s in the ‘burbs). Then there is the tasty 100% Vienna Beef wiener from their specific dog stand (and will debate with their peers about why their fave is better, even though we all know Superdawg reins king with their secret recipe). This time though, something different was going on in my head. I wanted to try something new; exciting; ADULT-LIKE. I am still at that last stage of “out of the nestdom”. Working towards it; almost there. However, I have a few more strings to cut with that seam ripper. Ahem. Moving on!
Eating real, amazingly delicious “would sell my soul for another plate” food at least makes me feel closer to that point. The plan; get into the Chicago local “foodie” scene, since I have become so attuned to the one at my new home; San Francisco. I followed my addiction of reading food reviews via print, the web, and through my idol, Mr. Bourdain (need an assistant!? I am available!!!) to the sauna-esk (in a good way!) cedar encased dining space known as Avec, run by amazing – and quite feisty – chef Korin Grieveson.
As you might have picked up, I am an avid food reader. I tend to inflict upon myself a type of food torture, really. Making myself crave foods, and restaurants, that I cannot – at least not on a regular basis – afford or visit for that matter for I live in another city, state or country, somehow gives me a rush. Thus, I knew before arrival to order the Chorizo Stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon. And Oh. My. Did someone take a cloud, turn it into meaty, tasty, sweet, salty, crave more but need to hold back so as not to go into a mental-spiral goodness? Yes. Korin did. Hands down. BEST part of the meal. You could skip them… but you would really regret it.
Other highlights of the meal, such as the handmade trofie pasta with house-made blood sausage, squid, bacon, grilled radicchio and tomato was a perfect mix of textures, flavors, and the best squid, quite possibly, I have ever had. Deluxe focaccia had the crunch of a great bakery matching amazingly oozy, scrumptious tallegio cheese. Pork shoulder never tastes better than when it is fall off the bone tender, with some chili kick, and fresh seasonal, still slightly crisp, stewed vegetables to boot. Last but not least, I have finally found the adult replacement for my “nachos” fascination I had as a child; Whipped brandade with garlic bread and fresh herbs. Wow.
This is a restaurant I WILL be returning to, as will my family, and with good reason. Korin, and her staff, have a good thing going, and have for years. I know that with those little stuffed dates, they will haunt their visitors’ dreams with longings of the Basque region’s cuisine, and of Avec, for many years to come.