Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chicago ala Mexicana

One of the events I looked forward to the most as Spring Fling 2009 neared was the tour of Rick Bayless' garden. My husband and I are long-time fans of his south-of-the-border cooking and his flare for sharing the Mexican culture with the culinary world.

One of my husband's favorite Bayless cookbooks is called, "Salsas that Cook," and it's so fun -- chock-full of salsa recipes designed to wake you up.
Spread over two small urban lots, the garden was delightful. It had texture and old-world charm -- lots of little rooms with seating and pots of plants and vines working their way up brick walls and wooden trellises and arbors. It was very much a courtyard garden -- with several courtyards, if you will.
Our hosts and the keepers of the garden, Bill and Lori Shores, gave us a full rundown of how this small space provides the micro greens and peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, radishes, grapes and many other fruits and vegetables for Rick's two restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
This space added onto the second story of the home is a greenhouse, in which Bill overwinters plants and gets a head start on seedlings. He also grows micro greens under lights in the basement all year long.
I loved the warm embrace of this garden -- so cozy and aged -- like a good wine. I clearly had garden envy here, and described this as much more the kind of garden that suits my liking than my own, sprawling suburban garden.

I guess the grass always seems greener on the other side.

But then again, I'm already eating tomatoes out of my HOT HOT zone 9 garden, so that's definitely a plus!


Pam/Digging said...

You DID have garden envy. But I'm glad you're remembering the unique pleasures of your own garden as your tomatoes ripen.

Janet said...

Good morning Diana, I am so glad you said that Rick Bayless was a chef for Mexican foods. I have seen his show maybe 3 or 4 times, and the name was SOOOO familiar, but I couldn't place it. Our PBS only carries it every so often. Hard to believe that garden is in Chicago, thinking of those hard winters.

Carol said...

You have tomatoes ripening in your HOT zone 9 garden? Good for you! I'm overrun with strawberries right now.

The Rick Bayless garden did have a lot to look at, a lot of interest, especially for those of us who have vegetable gardens and enjoy salsa!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Diana said...

Pam -- I did, but I'm better now! Sorry you were subjected to my internal agonizing...I did get pretty revved up there for a while! I'm excited to be back in my garden and inspired to make it all that it can be.

Janet -- We catch him on PBS, but I am not sure when he is on either. I love it when he's in Mexico and we get a tour. Living in Texas, I've been to Mexico so much I can't count, but I never tire of it. I did ask about them growing peppers and things there - they just have a shorter growing season and try to extend it with the greenhouse.

Carol - we have some strawberries, too, and jalapenos! Wish I had tomatillos this year, but there isn't any more room -- I don't have the space you do. Have you ever grown them? They are fun to grow. I'll be thinkin' of you watching the ballgame tonight!

Annie in Austin said...

This garden looks so wonderful - no wonder you have garden envy, Diana - but you seem pretty much at home in that sprawling Suburban garden. You might get claustrophobic after spending some time in the city.
My husband & I have watched Rick Bayless on TV for years - love the recipes and techniques and it's so much fun to see the segments where he roams the markets of Mexico and just talks about what you see and can buy there.

We have envy for the enormous outdoor comals - but I'll bet using one in a small yard would make the air temps go up 10 degrees!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Gail said...

Diana, The Bayless Garden has many features to admire...I loved it, too!
I so want a pond, even though I know that they require way more time to care for them then I have to give...sigh!

I had fried green tomatoes for lunch!

Diana said...

Annie - I love watching his shows, too. It always makes me hungry for street food, especially the fruit with the chile on it!

Gail -- I'm with you on the pond. I can't keep up with what I have. And my husband said he was thinking about surprising me with a pond when I was gone to Mother-Daughter camp! It'll take me years to plan such a thing, if I ever do decide to do it. Fried green tomatoes sound wonderful, wish I'd been there for a taste!

getgrounded said...

I understand what you mean about the coziness of a small garden, Diana, I believe I would enjoy that as well. When I have the space, I feel compelled to fill it up, thus creating more work! But then again, I envy your sprawling gardens, so what are you gonna do?

Diana said...

GetGrounded-- I'm gonna learn to love sprawl while trying to build it up into a more enveloped, cozy space! (And try to work on my garden envy!)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Diana, I was wondering who this guy was. I knew he was a restaurantuer but I didn't know he had written any books. He did have a fab city garden. Just think though you could have all of those rooms and more outside. Fun fun. You have a green house too. Droool.

Diana said...

Lisa -- You should watch his show sometime on PBS on the weekends. I have no idea when it's on, but he's kinda neat. And yes, now I am trying to get inspired with the challenge of creating rooms where there are none!

vertie said...

Thanks for the tour. I would loved to have seen his garden, and I'm sure I would have been envious too! I'm a big Rick Bayless fan. I've got several of his cookbooks, although not the salsa one. He also tweets (twitters?)recipes, which is quite fun.