Vella Cafe celebrates the Chinese New Year with a dinner hosted by Cellar Rat Thursday at 7 PM. The six-course meal features shrimp and scallop wontons with chile oil and brown vinegar, ma po tofu, and orange-ginger creme brulee, plus wine pairings. $75; call 773-489-2728 for reservations and more information.
Making your own meal or headed to a BYO for the Chinese New Year, but not sure about the wine pairings? The theme of this week’s free wine tasting at WineStyles on Belmont, Thursday from 6-8 PM, is Asian Fusion, featuring wines that complement Asian food.
Journalist turned cattle rancher and conservationist Bill Kurtis of Tallgrass Beef gives a talk at Fox & Obel Thursday from 6 to 7:30 PM about the pros of grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef: he says it’s more sustainable, tastes better, and is healthier than beef from corn-fed cattle raised in feed lots. Samples of meat loaf and flank steak prepared from recipes in his Prairie Table Cookbook will let attendees judge for themselves; a copy of the book is included in the registration fee. A book signing, open to those not registered for the lecture, follows. $35.
The Boozehound hosts Kiltwarmer ’08, a Glenmorangie scotch tasting Thursday from 6-7 PM at Mexx Kitchen at the Whiskey. The $30 tasting features Glenmorangie Original, Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, 12-year, Nectar d’Or, and a 1977 vintage.
Decades of Decadent Desserts, Friday at 6:30 and Saturday at 4:30 at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, offers sweets popularized over the last hundred years or so as well as champagne, live music, and an architectural tour. Among the treats featured will be brownies from the Palmer House’s 1892 recipe; Baby Ruths and Butterfingers, developed by the local Curtiss Candy Co. in the 1920s; Toll House chocolate chip cookies, which originated in the ’30s; and cheesecake, whose graham cracker crust was invented in the ’40s. $45.
Culinary arts instructor Clarence McNutt gives a free talk on soul food, with cooking demonstrations, at the Chicago Public Library’s West Lawn branch Saturday at 1 PM. He’ll repeat the program later this month at the Roosevelt branch (2/16, 2 PM), the Woodson Regional Library (2/20, 2 PM), and the King branch (2/23, 1 PM). Registration required.
The Food Network’s Hearty Boys (aka Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh) celebrate the release of their cookbook, Talk With Your Mouth Full, Saturday from 7-9 PM with a free party at their new HBTV location, 3819 N. Broadway, 773-244-9866.
Chefs Paul Virant (Vie), Carrie Nahabedian (Naha), Bruce Sherman (North Pond), Sean Eastwood (Isabella’s Estiatorio in Geneva and the forthcoming Olo on Randolph Street), and Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris (Prairie Grass Cafe) are teaming up to put on a Slow Food Benefit Dinner Sunday at 6 PM at Vie. Each chef will prepare an hors d’oeuvre and one of the six courses; the menu will include Rushing Waters trout, heritage poultry, lamb sausage, beef brisket, and a dessert incorporating local black walnuts and Prairie Fruits Farm yogurt. $150 (including tax and tip).
Mountains, Buildings and Deserts: One Chef’s Journey, a Cuisine Populaire documentary about chef Bradley Borchardt and his travels in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, screens Monday at 6:45 at the Cordis Brothers Supper Club. Borchardt will do a cooking demo, prepare a four-course tasting menu for the guests, and show photos of food, restaurants, and markets in Japan, Thailand, Korea, and China. $95; complete details available here (PDF).