Saturday, March 04, 2006

Grow Globally, Buy Locally

Once a month, Intelligentsia opens up its roasting plant for public tours. For those who don’t know, Intelligentsia is one of the country’s better known and respected independent coffee roasters, specializing in fair trade and organic beans (though as we learned on the tour, many of not most small coffee farms are organic by default, since they’re unable to afford the certification).

The tour was fun and informative, and best of all came with a souvenir you could drink: 7 pounds of freshly roasted coffee. How fresh? We actually got to see it put into the roaster green, toasted to a nice, light brown and then packaged before our eyes. Can’t beat that, or the all you can drink coffee policy while on premises. Needless to say, Baby Z. could barely hold still for the 2 1/2 hour tour, not because of the coffee, but because there was so much to see and do. We took turns entertaining her and keeping her out of trouble while the other listened and asked questions.

We followed it up by heading up Western to Honey 1’s, one of the city’s newer and better barbecue places, recently relocated to Bucktown. It was that or Irazu. Chicago’s only Costa Rican restaurant and, I imagine, one of only a handful in the country, but since Baby Z. and I had eaten there last weekend with Grandma Nancy, BBQ it was. And it was very, very good!

We topped off the day, after Baby Z.’s epic nap, with a trip to Caputo’s, the longstanding family-run Italian grocer in Elmwood Park that also specializes in Mexican and Polish stuff. The cheese alone is something to behold, as is the butcher counter. We got tons of good quality fruit and produce for a pittance, and I picked up some cannoli and kolacky as well.


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