X Marks the Spot...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: I really do have a fascinating and diverse group of friends, and I enjoy getting out of the house to support them in their myriad undertakings. For the past couple months, my friend, Darrell, has been pestering me to check out the new Dose Market, a monthly gathering of artisan food producers, small-collection fashion designers, local clothing boutiques, and home furnishing dealers. It's a place for small, independent businesses in Chicago to gain visibility and expand their customer base while creating a unique, quirky experience for attendees.

Darrell, who is seemingly pursuing a different venture every time I talk to him, has been working for a while with X-Marx, a collective of chefs who work outside the traditional notion of restaurant dining to experiment with new flavors and ideas in food. They do underground dining, where they create elaborate multi-course meals in non-formal settings, as well as pop-up restaurants in various spaces, where they can explore different ideas for a short period of time before moving on to the next thing. Operating this way gives them a great deal of flexibility.

X-Marx has been working with Dose since July, but I wasn't able to make it to one of the Dose events until last month, where I completely forgot to take any photos. Plus, as luck would have it, X-Marx took that month off, though some of its constituent members were there with another venture of theirs -- Mama's Nuts, a company that sells gourmet nut brittles and roasted, flavored nuts. I brought home some of their pecan brittle last month, and it was dangerously good. I'm not even going to own up to how embarrassingly fast the bag disappeared...

This month, however, I managed to drag myself out of bed to get to Dose in a timely manner (last month we came about half-way through the day, and most of the food producers were running out of free samples), so I could experience X-Marx's pop-up soda shop, Jo Jerx, a collaboration with fellow Dose vendor Jo Snow, a company which produces artisan syrups for everything from coffee to soda to snow cones. Though I knew it wouldn't really be his thing (given that he has a Y chromosome and all, and that tends to give men a predisposition against events centered around shopping) I took Justin along for good measure, so we could sample the maximum range of food products.

The menu.

My rootbeer float. I think this was actually my greatest disappointment of the day, as the rootbeer flavor was mild at best, and I didn't feel that it had enough ice cream.

My tuna melt.
Despite being friends with Darrell for going on three years now, I've never eaten any food that he's made, which is really kind of a travesty, when you think about it. For my entree into his cooking, I picked a tuna melt, a seemingly classic dish that the X-Marx group had reinterpreted with luxury ingredients like wild-caught tuna and aged gruyere cheese. Though it was good, it was a little too fancy for me; I guess I'm a traditionalist when it comes to these things.

Our "patty" melt.
On Darrell's recommendation, Justin and I split a "patty" melt, a meatless concoction that featured, among other things, figs, quinoa, caramelized onion, and butterkase cheese. All of those components were really quite tasty, and had a nice balance of salty, sweet, and savory flavors. My only gripe was that the rye bread it was served on was aggressively rye in flavor, and I absolutely loathe rye bread. I think it's mostly the caraway seeds that offend my palate, as I can sometimes tolerate rye that lacks them, or has low amounts of the seed. (Notably, caraway is part of a whole family of spices I can't stand, including fennel, dill, and cilantro. Ick.) 

I'm glad I can say now that I've tried Darrell's food, and done my small part to support X-Marx (though they clearly didn't need my support; they've been wildly successful lately, and founding member Abe Conlon was just named one of Time Out Chicago's "20 Chefs to Watch"). I still think it's important to do what you can to stand behind your friends. I'll be keeping an eye out for their next move; rumor has it that a brick-and-mortar restaurant is in the works, and if it is, I'll definitely be on hand to check it out...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for coming! Wish I could have talked more but you two showed up just as we were hitting our busy streak.

    Also, after Justin and you move into your new place, I'll come make dinner for you two. Help break the place in nicely.