4xForth: Sharon Burdett of Strand Design / by Clare Johnson

As is ritual on Fridays here at the Forth blog, we’re highlighting one of the inspiring women from our community in our 4xForth blog series. This week, we're highlighting Sharon Burdett of Strand Design. Together with her husband, Sharon and Ted Burdett run a beautifully unique design studio, creating objects from sustainably sourced and locally manufactured materials. Their work is impeccable and charming, just like Sharon.

We were fortunate enough to hear about Sharon's work, life and passion at our summer salon and today, she's sharing her insight on many of Chicago's best dishes, hot-spots and more.

Best Bites in Chicago

  1. Charcuterie and Cheese at PQM: I love to order the charcuterie and cheese at Publican Quality Meat. It’s always a generous sampling of their house made meats, and I particularly recommend that you select the duck and pork rillettes.
  2. Sourdough Bread from Floriole: Floriole makes some of the best baked goods in the city, but I am absolutely obsessed with their sourdough. Each loaf is a work of art!
  3. Pepper & Potato Hash at Dove’s Luncheonette: This side dish at Dove’s is enough to feed two people! It’s mind-blowingly good comfort food, and the complex flavor of the shishito peppers is beautifully complimented by the almost fluffy queso fresco.
  4. Guacamole at La Lagartija: The guacamole at La Lagartija is something special. It’s blended with their house made salsa and packs some delicious heat.

Favorite Chicago neighborhoods

  1. The Loop: I love the loop and the area around the Chicago river. The drama of the bridges over the river and the incredible architecture rising above always inspires me. I love to walk from my apartment along the riverwalk to the lake in every season and soak up the beauty of the water.
  2. Gold Coast: The walkability of the Gold Coast makes it irresistible. As a non-driver, I love being able to visit shop after shop for just about everything. I also love the way that people seem to really “inhabit” the area … there are always people congregating at little restaurants and cafes. I suppose that it also goes without saying that the shopping is unbeatable?
  3. South Loop: The south loop gives me the feeling of being in the past. When I walk around Jackson Blvd. past some of the oldest and most beautiful office buildings in the city, I feel like Chicago is the coolest place in the world. The absolute icing on the cake is to go the Intelligentsia on Jackson in the Monadnock building. It’s an experience you will want to repeat frequently.
  4. Andersonville: When I arrive at the intersection of Clark and Foster, I always feel an amusing conflict. Should I eat a hamburger? A falafel sandwhich? Sushi? It’s hard to decide because some of the best options for all of them are within blocks of one another. Andersonville is also a special spot when it comes to visiting shops the specialize in awesome things for the home. Be sure to visit Scout and Room Service.

Places I frequent in Chicago

  1. The Dill Pickle Food Co-op: I make special trips to the Dill Pickle whenever I can. Their bulk selection is the best.
  2. Bowtruss Coffee: Bowtruss makes delicious coffee and I love going to their location on Wells St. Definitely order a cortado.
  3. Pastoral: This is a great place to buy cheese! I like their location on Lake street. Since it is small, everything that is there is perfect. You can’t go wrong.
  4. Landmark Century Theatre: This is the best place in the city to see the movies you can’t see anywhere else.

Favorite things to do in Chicago when out of town guests come to visit

  1. Go to City Winery on the River: Combine a beautiful view of the river with city winery’s “river rose” … the cheese plate is also divine.
  2. Visit the Cultural Center: The Chicago Cultural Center is the best place in the city to see world class art … for free! The setting also can’t be beat.
  3. Go to the Garfield Park Conservatory: Especially in the winter, this place is magical.
  4. Improv at Second City: Does this really need much of an introduction? It’s a Chicago institution. Just make sure to get tickets WAY in advance, and it’s worth buying the good ones.

Thank you for sharing, Sharon. I'm dreaming of a loaf of sourdough bread from Floriole with creamy cheese from Pastoral. Sounds like a good Friday night to me! We absolutely love your recommendations. Personally, they've inspired me to go out and savor these last few weeks of summer.

Be sure to follow Sharon at Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and on the STRAND website.