Best of the South Side 2009: Beverly

To those of us who only take public transportation northwards, 95th and Dan Ryan can seem pretty far from home. However, to the intrepid traveler, it’s just a 15-minute ride on the 95 bus west from the Red Line station, or a 20-minute Metra ride from downton’s LaSalle Street Station, to one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. Running between 88th and 107th streets west of the Dan Ryan, Beverly is a neighborhood comfortably nestled between some of Chicago’s only hills. Home to the Beverly Arts Center and formerly home to the famous South Side St. Patrick’s Day parade, the neighborhood boasts a strong Irish population, evidenced by the names of numerous pubs. An eclectic mix of restaurants and small businesses line the main roads, and along the side streets one is met with a smorgasbord of suburban architecture. Foodies, art lovers, and historians alike can find something worthwhile in Beverly.

best start-your-own catering business
Baking enthusiast? Or do you think you’re a world-class pâtissier in the making? Cakewalk, a baking supply store, was started in 2003 by Chef Lori Parrett to help Chicagoans embark on all kinds of cooking endeavors. Providing for both professional needs and homestyle techniques, Cakewalk is stocked with every kind of cake mold, cookie cutter and muffin tin imaginable. The store also provides candy-making tools and a solid collection of instructional books, which range in subject matter from cupcakes to wedding cakes. To supplement their retail, Cakewalk offers an array of weekend classes. A knowledgeable staff is on premises, ready and eager to cater to their customers. 1741 W. 99th St. Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-5pm; Friday, 11am-pm; Saturday, 10:30am-5pm. (773)233-7335. (Sarah Pickering)

most uses for sweet potato
Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies
“Is this your first time here?” asks the man behind the counter. “Let me show you around.” Pies, you will find, are only one of the many uses of the sweet potato. Jimmy Jamm also sells scones, muffins, cookies, cakes, as well as a non-dairy ice cream, all flavored with the tasty tuber. One could theoretically get lunch first, as there are sweet potatoes stuffed with chicken or beef, sweet potato vegetable stew, and a variety of sandwiches on sweet potato bread. The friendly establishment goes through 300 to 400 sweet potatoes every few days, using recipes that have been passed down for nearly a century. 1844 W. 95th St. Monday-Saturday, 10am-7pm. (773)779-9105 (Sarah Pickering)

best (and only) meadery
Wild Blossom Meadery
While it may evoke images of Vikings and warlords, the taste of mead, or “honey wine” as it is sometimes called, is sweet, similar to a dessert wine. The Wild Blossom Meadery operates out of the back room of the Bev Art Brewer and Winemaker Supply shop. Bev Art offers classes in making your own beer and wine, and they let you store your product in their store until it’s ready. Founded by Greg Fischer in 2000, Wild Blossom is Chicago’s first winery and the only meadery in Illinois. Using local bees and wildflowers found in abandoned lots, Wild Blossom runs over 80 hives. Certain products are flavored with spices or fruit, like the blueberry and pomegranate meads, but there is really something for every audience here. Case in point: through their unique partnership with Jim Beam, Wild Blossom ages their “Sweet Desire” mead in old oak casks used to age whiskey, imparting a strong kick to its flavor profile. Using and reusing local materials is what led Fischer to promote the Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery as “the world’s most sustainable wine.” 10033 S. Western Ave. Monday, 8am-4pm; Tuesday-Saturday, 8am-7pm. (773)881-9463. (Sarah Pickering)

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