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Pair Your Favorite Winter Foods with the Right Beer

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Winter Beer Pairings

Some of you may be well aware that wine isn’t the only beverage that pairs wonderfully with food. And some of you may be surprised to discover that beer also serves to greatly enhance a meal.

Whether you’re a veteran or novice when it comes to beer and food pairings, you’re sure to appreciate the tips and suggestions below for pairing delicious winter foods with the right beer.

Tips for Pairing Beer and Food

When the cold weather moves in, strong beers like barley wines, imperial stouts and monk-made Belgian ales are excellent choices for pairing with both savory, hearty dishes and sweet desserts. As a general guideline, you’ll want to determine if the beer and food flavors will complement or contrast one another. Then balance the intensity of both the beer and food.

Here are some additional tips to help you come up with the perfect pairing:

  • Sour beers work well with fatty cheeses

  • Hoppy beers tend to make foods seem spicier

  • Darker beers typically pair well with rich, heavy meals

  • Complementary flavors work well together. For example, brown ales/darker ales with roasted flavors go well with grilled foods that have similar roasted or smoked flavors.

  • Contrasting flavors also work well together, such as a sweet stout with a salty oyster dish.

  • It’s very important to match the intensity of the beer with that of the food. Otherwise, one will end up overwhelming the other.

Great Beer and Food Pairing Suggestions for Winter

Try some of these winter beer and food pairings, recommended by Epicurious.

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale pairs well with blue cheese or a nutty pastry, like pecan pie. Contrary to its name, this barley “wine” doesn’t contain any grapes. However, it does have an elevated alcohol content, making it a strong and warming ale that’s perfect for winter.

  • Brauerei Aying Ayinger Celebrator, with flavors of cocoa, dark fruit, and brown sugar, pairs beautifully with roasted pork and chocolate desserts. This strong, malt-sweet lager was originally developed by German monks for consumption during Lent.

  • Stone Brewing Co. Imperial Russian Stout has flavors of coffee, anise, and cocoa, making it a great partner for brownies and other fudgy desserts, as well as duck, steak, and cream sauces.

Try out one or more of these pairings – or come up with your own – and let us know your thoughts! If you have any other tips for winter beer and food pairings, we’d love to hear them.

Impress Your Employees with These Employee Appreciation Day Event Themes

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Employee Appreciation Event

Employee Appreciation Day on March 3 will be here before you know it! Do you already have an employee recognition event planned, or are you still deciding how to show your employees that you appreciate them?

Either way, below you’ll find some inspiration and fun ideas for Employee Appreciation Day.

  1. Organize an Office Olympics

Create cross-departmental teams and encourage some friendly competition by having teams compete against each other in a few games. You can even give away gold, silver, and bronze medals for each event! This will give employees the opportunity to get to know colleagues that they may not interact with much in their day-to-day roles.

Need some Office Olympic game ideas? Check out this post and this one and this one.

  1. Company Dessert Buffet

If you’ve attended a wedding or other social event recently, you may have experienced a popular trend in event planning – the dessert buffet. A dessert buffet gives guests a wonderful (both in beauty and taste) selection of various desserts to choose from.


Bring this sweet trend to your office on Employee Appreciation Day as a way to treat your employees and thank them for all of their hard work. Have fun and create a dessert buffet in company colors and offer an appealing array of desserts – from cupcakes and candy, to cake and ice cream.

  1. Dance Party

Convert your office (or one of the meeting rooms) into a dance floor and play fun dance music from different decades – create a playlist beforehand so you don’t have to play DJ the entire time!

  1. Superhero Day

A superhero theme ties in wonderfully to the meaning of Employee Appreciation Day. Have employees dress up as their favorite superheroes and let each employee know how they have helped to “save the day” at the office.

Have fun creating a thematic Employee Appreciation Day by gifting employees with things that will “save their day.” Some great ideas include gift cards to grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

We hope you’re inspired to execute one of these themes or come up with your own. Once you pinpoint your theme , don’t forget about feeding your employees! Contact us to discuss catering options for your Chicago office. We have a few favorites to share or we can work with you to create a customized catering menu for your employee celebration.

What’s on Your Plate for 2017?

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2017 Chicago Food Trends

Chicago is known for its superb culinary scene, boasting top-notch restaurants, caterers, and chefs. This city is comprised of many innovative and creative leaders in the food industry who set new culinary trends.

Let’s take a look at some of the exciting culinary trends that we can expect to see in Chicago this year.

  1. Restaurant Gardens

Fresh ingredients are in high demand and that demand will only continue to increase. For this reason, some restaurants in Chicago have their own vegetable and herb gardens so they can easily and efficiently use only the freshest ingredients in their dishes. Choose Chicago lists some of the local restaurants that have embraced the farm-to-table trend.

  1. Breakfast Gets a Texture Overhaul

In 2017, breakfast foods with a different texture than the traditional ones are expected to become menu staples for this important meal. These new items won’t have the “smooth” texture like eggs and cooked cereal, but a crunchier one, with items like fried chicken and crispy chorizo appearing on breakfast menus. Our restaurant in the Loop, tesori trattoria & bar, is debuting its new brunch menu on Saturday, February 25. Check out their crispy Chicken Milanese with poached egg, fontina fonduta, arugula, and a touch of lemon.

  1. Beer Cocktails

Several restaurants throughout Chicago are mixing popular beers with hard liquor to create some unique and delicious beer cocktails. These are the perfect beverages for when you’re in the mood for some brew with a lively twist!

  1. Goat Dishes

Yes, you read that correctly. According to Food Business News, goat may be the next big protein in restaurants across the United States. Goat is leaner than most meats – including chicken. Chicago’s own Girl and the Goat serves up a few goat dishes, including Goat Carpaccio, Goat Empanadas, and Goat Ribs.

  1. Gluten-Free Menus

With more and more people adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, restaurants have realized the importance of offering customers gluten-free options. Of course, Chicago restaurants take gluten-free to the next level and ensure that these dishes are packed with flavor, keeping their customers coming back for more.

The latest restaurant trends are also popping up in the catering scene. If you’re looking for catering in Chicago for your next corporate or social event, we’d love to show you how we can harness the flavors of your favorite Chicago restaurant dishes at your next gathering Contact us today so we can help bring your catering vision to life.

Make One of Your Favorite President’s Go-To Dishes

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President's Day Meals

With President’s Day coming up, many of us will have a nice, long weekend to spend with family and friends. Why not have some fun and celebrate by making a go-to dish of one of your favorite presidents?

To inspire you, we’ve gathered some interesting information about the favorite foods of some of our past presidents.

  •      President William Howard Taft Feasted on a huge breakfast every day that usually consisted of a twelve-ounce steak, two oranges, and a lot of buttered toast.

  •      President John F. Kennedy – Kennedy just about always had soup for lunch, with chowder being a favorite since it was tied to his New England background. Try this recipe for Bay Scallop Chowder.

  •      President Ronald Reagan – Known for his love of desserts and high-calorie American fare, Reagan enjoyed dining on steak, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate mousse (when his wife was out of town!). Cook up some mac and cheese, grill some steak, or make monkey bread, which is a Reagan family tradition. This Chai Spiced Monkey Bread recipe is especially yummy at this time of year.

  •      President Theodore Roosevelt – Fried chicken. But not just any fried chicken. It had to be served with white gravy soaked into the meat. Check out this Chicken Fried Steak with Sage Gravy
 recipe.

  •      President Thomas Jefferson – Waffles. Not the frozen kind that you throw in the toaster, of course. After trying waffles for the first time while in Holland, he was hooked and even bought a waffle iron! You’ll need to get out your waffle maker and try Aretha Frankenstein’s Waffles of Insane Greatness.

  •      President George W. Bush – Huevos Rancheros were his choice for a post-church lunch on most Sundays.

  •      President Barack Obama – Chili. This is definitely a great dish for this time of year. Try this recipe for Just Good Chili.

  •      President Richard Nixon – He loved his wife’s meatloaf and it was on the family dinner menu about once a month.

If your favorite president’s dish doesn’t appeal to you, then try another one that is more suitable to your tastes. Just have some fun in the kitchen and then enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Need party catering in Chicago for an upcoming event? Contact us to discuss your event and we’ll be happy to help!

Inside Our New Home, Larkin Hall

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Larkin Hall

More than 30 years ago, we opened up shop on the second floor of a coach house in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. Today, we are happy to call Larkin Hall our home. Our newly constructed, 80,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in the West Loop features expanded production, logistics and administrative spaces, as well as various onsite venues for meetings, events and celebrations.

 

Over the years, we’ve catered some of Chicago’s most special occasions, and now we’re honored to host you in our new home. The urban decor with warm wood finishes provide an easily transformable backdrop for any event, whether understated or glamorous. We invite you to come explore these new venue spaces.

Larkin Hall Tasting Room 2 Larkin Hall Tasting Room

Tasting Kitchen + 3 Tasting Rooms

Our fully equipped tasting kitchen is the perfect place to gather for a chef demonstration, intimate celebration, or corporate team-building experience. One, two or all three of the adjacent tasting rooms can be converted into breakout rooms, bars, specialty buffets or seated dinner areas. It’s a flexible space that our Culinary, Sales and Operations staff can convert to meet your needs.

Larkin Hall Bar Larkin Hall Bar

Bar + Event Space with Open-Air Patio

The built-in bar and event space can accommodate up to 60 guests for a seated dinner and as many as 100 for cocktails. Choose your favorite microbrew to serve on tap or treat guests to a creative, handcrafted cocktail. Combine all of the above event spaces for a unique mix-and-mingle experience where guests can explore different rooms and spaces to uncover a variety of featured bites, dishes, sweets and spirits.

Conference + Training Center

We’re ready to host your next meeting in our conference and training center. From AV to catered meals, we’ll help ensure your team has all the right tools to take planning and strategizing to the next level. The nearby tasting rooms double as breakout spaces. When your discussions have concluded, why not host a cocktail hour at the bar to celebrate the day’s work or an important milestone?

 

Commissary

The northwest side of Larkin Hall features a commissary with full picture windows and retractable glass doors. The bright room is the perfect spot to inspire productive meetings and brainstorming sessions. The space is flexible and can be arranged to accommodate the group’s needs, from 100 seated to 200 standing.

 

Future Venue: Wine Cellar

While still in the planning and design stage, ideas for the cellar include a large, built-in bar and a series of private dining rooms, each holding 20-30 guests. Collapsible walls accommodate larger groups in the private dining area. The space features a temperature-controlled wine collection with more than 6,000 bottles, viewable behind a glass wall.

 

Future Venue: Rooftop

Also in the planning and design stage, the rooftop venue on the third floor of Larkin Hall will be enclosed in glass on the south and east sides to preserve views of the city skyline. The outdoor space will include a landscaped patio area and green space perfect for any corporate or wedding event.
Situated at the western entrance to the Fulton Market corridor, Larkin Hall is located in one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Chicago and close to corporate offices, schools, airports, highways, stadiums and is minutes from downtown. Contact us to schedule a visit and start planning your next meeting or celebration!