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February 3, 2014

12/19/2013 Adventure #1: Eataly Chicago, Part 3

OK. So I've been a bit busy and have meant to do this for a while. This is installment #3 of 4 on my adventure to Chicago's Eataly. From other people I've know who've visited here, they were as impressed as I was. So far, I've taken you through the bottom levels where sandwiches, desserts, coffee, cooking utensils, books and so much more as well as PART of the mind-blowing level two. In the next two posts, I will TRY and finish level two. Most of this posts are in picture forms (and plenty of them as well) with a description of what you're looking at. Sit down and enjoy the view. I think this post may cause hunger so proceed with caution.        

The butcher's spot/meat counter. 
                             So you want meat? You get just that. Just about every cut you can imagine is here. As for the beef itself, I noticed they served two breeds of beef. The nice thing they do here is that you know exactly what breed you're getting and where it came from. The old reliable Black Angus was one and the Piedmontese was the other. For those not familiar with the latter breed, the Piedmontese is a breed from Piedmont (or Piedmonte, in Italy's far northwest corner). This breed is not only used for meat but for its milk as well. Care for the Piedmontese is pretty labor intensive. The Black Angus, or "business breed" as some call it, is the breed where you get the most beef but the less amount of work. Black Angus is also good for cross-breeding.

As far as the differences between the 2 breeds I mentioned, I took this from the Eataly Internet site. I think it covers it very well (which I cut and pasted below): 

"The Piemontese breed of cattle, known in Italian as Razza Piemontese, is considered among the best in the world. In addition to its unparalleled tenderness and taste, Piemontese beef is beloved by Italy, America and Eataly for being lower in fat, cholesterol and calories than conventional beef.
A truly grandiose steak, cut from the middle to rear section of the loin, a combination of NY Strip steak and filet mignon separated by the tell-tale T-shaped bone. Thick yet quick to cook, the porterhouse is perfect for grilling.
Eataly's exceptionally high quality 100% USDA Prime Black Angus Beef from Diamond Creek Ranch in Kansas is pasture-raised and grain finished resulting in the perfect taste and buttery fat content. Our Black Angus cattle graze on lush pastures and are raised with NO antibiotics, NO added hormones, and NO artificial ingredients." (1)

More from the meat counter. Beef isn't the only thing this butcher offers. Hampshire pork is the choice here. Like the Angus beef, the Hampshire pork is fairly easy to raise and produce well (2). This hog is also lean (compared to other breeds). Veal sold here is milk-fed. Meat is from Pat LaFrieda's Meat Purveyors from North Bergen, New Jersey.

As you can see, quality doesn't come cheap as the prices show. Excellent selection though. 

Eataly has 2 types of pasta for sale. This is the fresh pasta section.The pasta section was pretty interesting. Pretty solid selection here and more flavors than I could have even imagined. The pasta is made fresh on site and I noticed all the main types of pasta. Below are the various ravioli selections and the fillings varied in type. One that stood out for me was the squid flavored fettuccine. That was pretty strange to me but they must sell it. Definitely a unique offering. The pasta is made fresh daily on site. Each pasta is also dedicated to the various regions of Italy. Tajarin (or taglierini), a ribbon pasta from  Piedmonte and ravioli quadrati (of the traditional "squares") from Emilia Romagna show the Northern Italian influences. Tuscan papparadelle and pastas from every Italian region can be found here.

There are also 4 types of pasta they make here and sold here as it relates to a dominant ingredient. Egg pasta, gluten free, semolina pasta (made from semolina four) and whole wheat are the main staples here. 

More ravioli. 

 This is the meat aging cooler. It's in plain view of the customers. At the time I went, I noticed the meat being aged was in what seems to be the fase frollatura (or maturation phase). As I read the cooler, the temperature is set at 3 degrees Celsius (or 38 degrees Fahrenheit). It was busy enough where I couldn't ask how long the beef was aged. If history repeats what I've seen before, my guess is between 14-28 days.

A sample of cookbooks on hand

 This was a pretty fun but small section. This is a variety of wild game sold here. On the right are Mallard duck legs, fed an all vegetable diet. To the left and below are wide shots of the case itself. What you'll find here are anything from quail eggs, poussin, duck fat, rabbit and much, much more.

You want sauce and crushed tomatoes? Well take your pick. The selection is huge and many of these items are imported from Italy.

This version of Barilla pasta is unique to Italy itself. This pasta is egg based (all'uovo). The next series of picture are a sample of various Italian pastas. This is one row of about 7-9 rows dedicated to PASTA!!! Any type of pasta, any Italian maker of pasta, is found here. I'll let the picture speak for themselves. If I said the pasta section alone was bigger than many convenience stores, would you believe me? I think those who have visited Eataly would say I'm not far off.  All pasta imported from Italy. The photos below are just a sample of what they have on hand. 


     To the bottom right is dinner service at the La Pizza and La Pasta section of Eataly. One of SEVERAL dining choices on the Eataly premises. Over 60,000 square feet and over 10,000 items on hand and all things Italian food are for the taking. I didn't look at the beverage area (e.g., beer and wine).

 The fourth and final post will try to sum up what I didn't share here. One thing I noticed here was how easily someone can get overwhelmed here. There is so much here it can't be experienced properly in less than 2 to 3 hours. If you eat dinner, then make it 4 hours. I wish that I could have taken better pictures. As time went on, I wanted to get more pictures of the food they served but the pace was VERY fast. As fast as a plate was up, it was out. The issue was it was VERY crowded on the day I went.

There are some unique concepts all under one roof and I can't recall experiencing something like this as a free standing concept. For those who can remember Marshall Field's on State Street when they had a deli area, it's a good start to try to describe it but again, on a MUCH larger scale. I hope you now see why I'm giving this one more post. Not to mention it gives me a chance to brush up on my Italian. I knew it would come in handy one day. The remaining entrees and shacks will be in the final post. I found a video done by Steve Dolinsky for his "Hungry Hound" feature on WLS-TV Chicago, which may do this more justice. This may give some insight on how I will finish this series of post. He also did more than one segment on Eataly Chicago (which is rare) so that might tell you something. The spectrum Eataly covers is huge.

I tried to embed the video but couldn't do so. Here's the link:

Eataly Chicago can be found at @EatalyChicago on Twitter. Steve Dolinsky can be found at @stevedolinsky on Twitter and on WLS-TV Chicago.                                                

References Cited:

 2. "Breeds Apart", Molly Langmuir. New York Magazine Internet site, December 12, 2010.

3. "Hungry Hound" segment by Steve Dolinsky, WLS-TV Chicago, January, 4, 2014.