Klug Farm-fresh Michigan raspberries flood Chicago menus

July 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

You can almost hear the rallying cry from the kitchens. After months of waiting for the season to turn, red and black raspberries are now firmly entrenched on local menus. The best part is, the path from field to fork is just a few hours long.

The Klugs have been growing raspberries on their farm, in St. Joseph, Michigan, the past 20 years. They're a mainstay at the weekly Green City Market in Lincoln Park, and Klug says being on the opposite side of the Lake makes all the difference.

"Gets down to 5, 10 below, 15 below, you get a lot of winter damage so that lake protects us from hopefully from getting that cold," said Mick Klug.

Reds are abundant this time of year, but so are blacks.

"Black cap or a black raspberry, it's similar to the red raspberry, not as plump or whatever; very unique flavor," he said.

Klug will pick 'em until November, but he says when you get them home, keep them dry.

"Put 'em on a cookie sheet, put a paper towel over them to suck the moisture back up out of them," said Klug.

Across the street from the Market, the cooks at Perennial Virant are giddy with the prospect of endless flats of raspberries hitting the kitchen.

"They're just fun; they're delicious. I love black raspberries; probably my favorite out of the three different kinds," said Pastry Chef Elissa Narow.

On the savory side, a wheel of Illinois goat's milk camembert is brushed with olive oil and grilled until softened. It's served with homemade beer bread that's also griddled, plus a healthy dollop of raspberry compote fortified with red wine and sugar.

On the dessert menu, Narow makes a compote with red raspberries, vanilla beans and sugar, plus some sparkling prosecco.

"Raspberries tend to break down fairly quickly so you want to have a little bit of liquid in with your fruit so that it doesn't start burning or scalding," she said.

That compote is spooned over a scoop of raspberry ice cream and white chocolate sorbet; finished with some fresh reds and blacks.

"I think it creates a really nice textural contrast as well as flavor contrast and visual," said Narow.

Klug Farm
At Green City Market every Wed. and Fri.

Perennial Virant
1800 N. Lincoln Ave.

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