Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eating Green for Our Anniversary

August 21 was our 5th wedding anniversary. Thank you. To celebrate this milestone, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner out: Frontera Grill in downtown Chicago. We had been to this restaurant, where the food could be described as authentic Mexican with a modern twist, for lunch a couple of years ago and were eager to try its more extensive dinner menu. It wasn't the good food alone that made this a perfect anniversary spot for us.

Chef Rick Bayless, the owner of Frontera and its upscale neighbor Topolobampo, is a local-and-recently-national celebrity, and we've been fans of his TV show, "Mexico: One Plate at a Time," and his cuisine for almost as long as we've been married. But there's more: He's also a big advocate for sustainability. Rick's website even says, "Here at Frontera, one of our goals is to live 'sustainability' everyday." In other words, the restaurant is green! Here are some examples of how:

  • They use seasonal, locally grown produce, including that from their rooftop salsa garden and from Rick's own backyard.
  • They buy responsibly raised meats—free-range chickens and ducks, certified organic lamb, and grass-fed beef—and sustainably harvested seafood.
  • The vast wine list includes some biodynamic (a method of organic, holistic farming) and other organic wines.
  • They recycle!
  • They compost!
  • They even give their spent vegetable oil to a farm that uses it for a bio-diesel delivery van.
Now that's pretty neat.

I'll just conclude by saying that dinner was indeed sumptuous. One pleasant discovery was the Café de Olla, a sweet and fruity spiced dessert coffee that we've since been trying to duplicate at home. And, we did not bring the leftovers home in Styrofoam clamshells, oh no. The restaurant has biodegradable cardboard containers for guests like us, whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.

Actually, just one more thing: You can read more about Rick Bayless' newest efforts as a sustainability-driven restaurateur in this article from the March/April issue of Natural Home magazine.

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