My friend Ellen took me to Blackbird last night as a (delightful but unneccesary) thank-you treat. It's one of Chicago's most prominent restaurants, and for good reason. Chef/partner Paul Kahan is tireless seeker of great ingredients. When I interviewed Paul for The Slow Food Guide To Chicago, he talked about how the winter menu keeps him up at night. As you can see from my clean plate (one of several), he needn't have worried.
Paul is one of those chefs who truly embraces the idea of local food -- he's not one of these chefs who talks local then orders everything flown in. Yes, we live in the Midwest and things get pretty dire around this time of year, but because I know he's so thoughtful about his choices, I'll eat anything he puts in front of me without question. Which I'm sure is a relief to my dining companions, since I can be one of those pesky patrons who quizes the poor beleagered server about where everything comes from.