“City of Gold” opens in Chicago at the Century Landmark Theater this weekend (see review here ). This delicious documentary highlights not only the culinary hidden gems in the diverse ethnic neighborhoods in Los Angeles, but also the man behind the curtain. Yes, Jonathan Gold is a wizard of sorts—with his pen and palate he can create a beautiful portrayal of a restaurant allowing you to almost taste the words as you read them.
I had the unexpected delight of being a part of Gold’s reception at a “Pop Up Dinner” in a South Side neighborhood near the University of Chicago. Dining with a famous food critic and sitting next to him as a film critic was an event that was as savory as the appetizer, dinner and dessert plated before us.
The Currency Exchange Cafe located at 305 E. Garfield Blvd. where this event took place, was a warm and welcoming venue created to “provide the neighborhood with new, healthier food options…and a hang-out for the community.” It has an artistic feel to it as the space used all repurposed materials. Shelves, chairs, and anything I saw was probably from a demolition site, but was now home at the Currency Exchange Cafe.
This eclectic collection of material is representative of the culinary delights experienced here for Gold’s dinner. With soup and salad choices, entrees of succulent shrimp and grits, buttermilk chicken, and steak sandwiches, the unusual combination of seasonings elicited oooohhh’s and ahhhh’s from everyone at the table. As a cellist played serenely in the background, Chef Ron Turner came out to a round of applause for allowing us all to enjoy such tasty treats.
The true enjoyment, however, besides the creative dessert, was the table time conversation with Gold. Chatting about pie pastry recipes and pie judging contests and the forbidden use of tapioca in a recipe made you feel like you were just hanging out with a few friends. Gold’s humble and almost shy demeanor caught me off guard as I expected this world-renowned critic to command attention. He didn’t. He was soft-spoken but lit up brilliantly when he talked with his daughter who was also at the event. As she headed out with friends as she attends the U of C, the conversation changed to kids, college, and internships—typical conversation among adults our age.
Gold is completely ordinary on the outside, but the secret is out— movie goers and foodies alike will now know about his positive personality, extraordinary palate, and midas touch that effects everyone who has the honor to meet or know about him.
For more information about seeing the film, go to www.landmarktheatres.com
For more information about the restaurant, go towww.currencyexchangecafe.com