Heather Sperling knows food. She's the brains behind the Chicago edition of daily food newsletter Tasting Table. "It's a full-time job that keeps me eating at hole-in-the-wall sandwich shops, Michelin-starred spots, and everything in between. I thank my mother for passing on a fierce metabolism," says Sperling, who also inspires jealousy in Chicago's female foodies as the girlfriend of the city's most famous chef, Grant Achatz (no, she can't get you into Next).
But Heather's latest gig — as the cofounder of hot new pop-up Dose Market, a monthly, year-round event that features incredible local talent in the arenas of fashion, design, and food — proves just how seriously this gal takes her cuisine. Heather has curated an incredible mix of food merchants who sell their wares at each of the monthly events. A taste of what you'll find, foodwise, at the Aug. 14 market: quiche and cold hot chocolate from Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate, housemade charcuterie from Old Town Social, pulled-pork sandwiches from Lillie's Q, barrel-aged maple syrup from Michigan-based Blis Gourmet, and savory pies and housemade sodas from Pleasant House. Yum, yum! Heather shared some of her favorite Chicago things — edible and otherwise — with us.
Restaurant and dish: Impossible to narrow it down — I eat for a living, after all — but I can say that the newcomer I'm most excited about is Telegraph in Logan Square. I had an excellent meal the other night with cured salmon crostini, grilled cucumber and currant salad, and orecchiette with kippered walleye and favas as standouts. Its wine list is phenomenal: interesting, and eclectic with some wonderfully unusual by-the-glass pours.
Bar/lounge and cocktail: Another toughie. I like so many places for different reasons . . . The Drawing Room, The Whistler, The Violet Hour. A pitcher of margaritas at Big Star on a Summer afternoon is always perfect. But my favorite recent experience was at The Office, the small, sexy space below The Aviary, drinking a rye-smoked, malt-grapefruit cocktail and a refreshing gin-honeydew-lovage concoction while eating shrimp cocktail and a massive, old-school ice cream sundae. Full disclosure: it's my boyfriend's bar, but I'm not shilling; it was truly excellent! (Check out Sperling and her beau, Achatz, pouring cocktails at the last Dose Market above.)
Shops: I always find things to covet at Eskell on Milwaukee Avenue and Roslyn on Damen. I recently scored a few cool (and very reasonably priced) decor pieces at Hoard Antiques in Ravenswood, including an old LP holder that I use for storing mail and a vintage light-up exit sign.
Salon and spa: I'm terrible about getting my hair cut. I go twice a year, max, and when I do, I go see Dennis at Gro Salon in Bucktown. For massages, either Urban Oasis in the Gold Coast or the spa at The Elysian, which is lush, spacious, and lovely. I'm dying to visit the newly revamped Park Hyatt spa; that's next on my list!
Workout: I was hot on CorePower Yoga for quite some time, but after doing a yoga and hiking retreat in California last month, I returned craving something a bit different and more classic, so I have been going to Yogaview on Elston, where Claire is my favorite instructor.
Chicago spot: I live in Bucktown and love to camp out at Holstein Park on a pretty Summer day. For a quick Saturday getaway, I love going to Oak Park. Get breakfast at the farmers market; stroll around the historic, Frank Lloyd Wright-filled neighborhoods in the afternoon; and have a picnic with fodder from Marion Street Cheese Market then catch a movie at the Lake Street theater and have a late dinner at Autre Monde, an excellent new restaurant (helmed by Spiaggia veterans) in nearby Berwyn.
Chicago attraction: I never tire of the Art Institute and the stunning mosaics and stained glass at the Chicago Cultural Center. I also love the Shedd Aquarium (though I hate the line!). There's nothing wilder than undersea life. Those little anemones that carpet rocks in a tapestry of pastels? Amazing!
Other local favorites: I love shopping and eating along the Indian and Pakistani stretch of Devon Avenue and spending an afternoon in Lincoln Square going to The Book Cellar, Merz Apothecary, Gene's Sausage Shop (have a beer and a garlicky, alpine sausage in the new rooftop beer garden), PNA Oriental Store, and the always wonderful Provenance Food and Wine, then seeing a movie at the Davis Theater — unless I have to rush home to stick my finds in the refrigerator.
Source: Dose Market