Pastoral care is a major component of my work life--assisting people, listening, advising, and otherwise being present in their time of need. It is really one of the best parts about being a priest. But since I'm on vacation, I found it rather nice that I could get some of my own needs met by popping into Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.
This four-year old shop offers a carefully edited selection of cheese, wine, condiments, and specialty food items from around the world and close to home--that is, Chicagoland. They bake artisanal breads several times a day and offer a delicious array of sandwiches. The Canard Balsamico--herbed duck confit with cipollini onions, a buttery Brie-like cheese called Fromager D'Affinois, a bit of mustard and lettuce on a baguette--was scrumptious. If I could have, I would have gotten a bottle of one of their wines--they specialize in small production, sustainable wineries and nearly all of the ones on their shelves were new to me.
But it wasn't just the food that had me feeling good--it was the care and time that co-owner Greg O'Neill gave to us. Greg was as generous with sharing his knowledge as he was about sharing samples of the many cheeses they sell. In fact, if I lived in Chicago I would be all over the special classes, workshops and tastings that seems to be a part of Pastoral's presence in the community. Indeed, a shopowner next door said that Pastoral is a key to a noticable and positive shift in their section of North Broadway.
And if that all that wasn't enough, I was even able to pick up a copy of the premiere issue of Edible Chicago--just one week old. Armed with some good Wisconsin cheese, a delectable sandwich and an Edible publication I was totally feeling the love.