A Squared: In the Loop: The Nosh & Tasting Table Open Market

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In the Loop: The Nosh & Tasting Table Open Market

Last week I told you about a few of my favorite things to do during the holiday season in the mostly underrated Chicago Loop. Today, I want to tell you about two fun food events that recently took place in the heart of the Loop at Block 37. The Block 37 mall is newer to the State Street shopping scene and was recently the host location for both The Nosh and the Tasting Table Open Market events.

I have always wanted to go to The Nosh-- an amazing collection of restaurants, food trucks, and "small-batch food purveyors" that set up shop every weekend in Wicker Park for Chicago food lovers. It's like a farmers market for prepared foods. They have more recently been setting up at the Logan Square Farmers Market and it has been one of those things that I said "I'll get around to going" and then I never did. Well, last week I got my chance.

For one week only, the Nosh took up residence at Block 37 and I took advantage of its close proximity to my office and headed on over for a delicious workday lunch. It was frigid that day so when I spotted Karl's Craft Soup I knew exactly what I wanted. One of the two soups he was selling that day was a Szechuan Carrot Sesame Soup and it was so delicious-- sweet from the pureed carrots with a good amount of heat and a hint of that nutty sesame flavor. I rounded out my lunch with a sandwich from Gayle's Best Ever Grilled Cheese. I ordered The Southport, a grilled cheese with smoked onion marmalade-- the perfect sweet compliment to my spicy soup. A lunch win!

As if The Nosh wasn't tasty enough, I brought Alex over to Block 37 for a Friday date night at the Tasting Table Open Market recently too. This was a really fun and unique event celebrating food-- specifically, local chefs, restaurants, and artisans. Are you sensing a theme here?

The event space on the third floor of Block 37 was done up in its holiday best that evening with twinkle lights, trees, and pointsettias around the room. It was so pretty and festive.

Alex, my food holder and tasting partner in crime

At the event we had the opportunity to sample a variety of different foods from tons of vendors around Chicago-- some we had heard of and some that were new to us.

When he spotted the Fish Bar table, Alex made a beeline for it. The man loves a lobster roll and Fish Bar's is one of his alltime favorites. They were serving up adorable mini rolls that evening-- perfect for getting just enough lobster and saving room for tasting other treats!

I was excited to see a Parson's Chicken & Fish table. It's a restaurant that has been on my 'must try' list for a while, so getting a little sneak preview of their food was wonderful! I tried their chicken biscuit-- spicy saucy chicken over a warm biscuit with a little aioli on top. Delicious!

New to me was Pecking Order-- and I am so glad we checked it out! Their restaurant is in Uptown, a neighborhood I don't often spend time in so I had never even heard of this place. We agreed that the Pinoy Egg dish that we ordered was our favorite thing that we ate all night. This two part dish was a soft boiled egg wrapped in risotto, breaded, and fried with a spicy sauce on top accompanied by adobo pork that received the same fried risotto crust. Wow! So glad we discovered Pecking Order and looking forward to popping into their restaurant!

But wait, there's more-- Just when you thought we were done, we continued eating! When I walked by the Longman & Eagle and noticed what they were serving that night I had to give it a try. Roasted pork cheek over homemade pasta in a fontina mornay sauce topped with shaved Brussels sprouts. It was as rich and delicious as it sounds!

Tito's Handmade Vodka was serving up a great seasonal cocktail that I was happy to sip on all night. A combination of vodka, caramel liqueur, apple juice, and lemon, it was like a really refreshing apple cider.

This event was also a great way to discover some local food vendors that aren't necessarily restaurants-- perfect for a little holiday gift shopping or to just find fun ideas to take home and eat or cook with. We stopped by Floriole Cafe & Bakery's table to check out their spread of amazing baked goods. We left with a Canelé de Bordeaux (a rich vanilla rum cake) and a triple chocolate brownie. So. good.

Lastly, I wanted to tell you about Le Sirop, a syrup perfect for mixing into your craft cocktails. Femme du Coupe was serving it up their Lavender Honey variety with fresh lemon juice and water. I grabbed a bottle thinking it would be great coupled with some prosecco or St. Germain.

To learn more about Tasting Table and any of their upcoming events, check them out here!

Editor's Note: Admission to this event was provided to me at no cost, however all of the opinions expressed here are my own.

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