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August 24, 2010

Restaurant Review: Mercadito Brunch

I have spent a decent amount of time at Mercadito since it opened. Usually consuming their illustrious cocktails with a group of equally content ladies in the wee hours of the night. Mercadito, perhaps, is to blame for many of my "it's noon already??" mornings. You know what they say... one tequila, two tequila, FIVE TEQUILA WHAT WAS I THINKING?! Don't they? Well this trip to Mercadito was different. On this occasion, this special, food-oriented occasion, I was with my mama and I was there by noon. Mommy's little angel, I know.
Let me assure you, mommy can eat. Where do you think I inherited this wonderful trait? We came prepared, extra stomachs in tow. I had heard some very flattering things--two stomachs worth as a matter of fact--about their brunch. Needless to say, we were ready to dive in.

To drink, I ordered the mango mimosa infused with green chili. I really enjoyed the subtle sting on my tongue. The chili cut the sweetness of the mango and transformed an ordinary mimosa into an interesting harmony of sweet and savory.
My mom ordered a cappuccino, which I wouldn't even mention if she weren't so pleased that they heated the extra milk she ordered on the side. Again, attention to minuscule details can make a big difference in a dining experience. Mercadito definitely scored some bonus points from my mama.

After perusing the menu and discussing the top contenders with our adorable server, we narrowed our options down. The winners were:

Huevos Ahagados--poached eggs atop crispy corn bread served with a heaping tablespoon of chipotle-hollandaise sauce. This dish obviously resembles a benedict, however, the english muffin is upgraded to cornbread. If you could hear my voice as you read, it would be elevated to an overwhelming scream as I say HAVE YOU EVER EATEN YOLK COVERED CORNBREAD?!? Where had it been all my life, I wondered. I love yolk--yolk on toast is one of my favorite peasant meals of all time, and I love cornbread--well made cornbread can be more gratifying than birthday cake. It all seemed so simple... Thankfully, Mercadito played matchmaker to this bud-tantalizing couple.
Estrellados y Tampiquena--rosemary marinated skirt steak topped with sunny side up eggs, served with potato-rajas-cactus fundido (basically a delicious potato-pepper hash). After reading the previous paragraph, you make me shocked to discover that this dish was my favorite. That's right my friends, this rendition of steak and eggs was out of this world. The only thing better than cornbread drizzled with runny egg yolk is a perfect medium-rare skirt steak. The steak was absolutely delicious, from the marinade to the preparation. Throw the eggs into the mix and there you have it... Brunch heaven. You must go to Mercadito brunch and try this dish--your brunch repertoire cannot be complete without it. It is just one of those oh-so-satisfying breakfasts.
Pan Mexicano--mexican french toast topped with apples and cajeta (sweetened caramelized milk). Another delicious marriage. This one is actually more like a delectable threesome. Who doesn't love french toast? And who isn't weak in the knees for apples smothered in caramel? Together, a sexier threesome than you joining Brad and Angelina. I can't say it was strategic, but we ordered this dish last, which was a brilliant idea because it was basically dessert. If you're like me, you usually need something sweet to conclude a meal. And I mean the 'get-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-punch-you' type of need something sweet. Pan Mexicano did the trick. It was a fantastic consummation to our brunch.
Moral of the Story? I don't care how many Pepino El Pyus you drank the night before, you must make it to Mercadito's brunch or you will be more sorry than Brad and Angelina after they realize their sexual liaisons were outdone by french toast.

July 24, 2010

Restaurant Review: Girl and the Goat

There are some dining experiences that are simply satisfying, and there are those that flush my cheeks, elevate my blood pressure, and make my buds dance on the fast track to cloud 9. If you have shared one of the those magical dining experiences with me (The Drawing Room, Table Fifty-Two, Angelina Ristorante, to name a few), you know the difference. My sister, Shana was the lucky one who bore witness to my buds' awesome performance at Girl and the Goat. Our superb server Meadows, and killer general manager Dan Russo may have caught a glimpse as well. The choreography made the Joffrey Ballet look amateur. My fancy was truly tickled.

As our cocktails wet our whistles, so did the
Tortone bread--made by their resident bread maker it consisted of mashed potatoes and garlic confit (yes, in the dough), served with sweet onion butter and herb oil. The soft, garlic filled center and the crusted to perfection exterior ensured that we finished the loaf. But not before we killed the sweet onion butter...

As we looked over the menu, there were several things that I would rather run laps around the dining room in my skivvies than leave without tasting. The Hiramasa Crudo and Crispy Pig Face were the top contenders. I knew I was headstrong for a reason.

The Hiramasa Crudo--with crisp pork belly, aji aioli and caperberries, proved that a harmonious marriage between delicate, raw fish and salty pork can in fact exist. And what a remarkable discovery it was! Two individual proteins, each delicious in their own right, but typically make an unthinkable pairing, came together in one beautifully cohesive bite. Thank you Chef Stephanie Izard for exposing my palette to new flavors and concepts. Not once...
But twice! Introducing Crispy Pig Face. Fear not, Babe is not on a plate staring back at you... For those of you who are curious, here is how it is prepared: they trim the meat off of the face and wrap it air-tight in the form of an extremely large, cylindrical sausage. Then, they chill it, slice it--thus resembling a patty at this point, bread it and pan-fry it. Served with chimichurri and arugula, which offset the richness nicely, this dish is absolutely divine. I highly recommend scorning whatever reluctance you feel towards the name or idea. If you were unaware of the body part it came from, you would simply think it was the most flavorful pork you've ever tasted. We were informed by Meadows that the face does contain the most delicate yet intense pork flavor. If you are a foodie and enjoy intense flavor as well as exhilarating dining experiences, you must try it. If it frightens you, fine. However, if you regularly consume pork but refuse to try face (alright... I recognize that it sounds strange), consider another way of looking at it--consider the pig. I am an advocate for utilizing the whole pig. I hate wasting all food, but meat especially. The animal has died; justify its death. Do not dishonor it by allowing edible, valuable, not to mention delicious meat to go to waste. Let's move on...
After ordering a few more items, don't fret--I will describe them in a hot second, I have to mention the Shaved Kohlrabi. We did not order this originally, but Meadows being the fabulous server he is, put an order in anyway--we had to try it, he said. I am thankful he did. My sister, who is as much of a meat-lover as yours truly, said it was her favorite dish. I can't say the same, but that is only because I don't pick favorites when every item is so damn good. Aside from being an amazing, light contrast to the richer dishes, it was just ridiculously delicious on its own. A mixture of kohlrabi (doh!), fennel, blueberries, evalon (cheese), and almonds--this ain't your ordinary salad! The opposite of what I like to call the "leaves on a plate" salad, this one is the cat's freaking pajamas.
I love grilled octopus, usually. It is, however, one of those dishes that can be so hit or miss. Unfortunately for me I've tried octopus that had the texture of rubber bands, carried a repugnant char flavor, and were just dead way too long, but miraculously served anyway. On the other hand, there are those rare occasions when a chef who does it right reminds me of why and how much I adore it. This was one of those occasions. The Grilled Baby Octopus with guanciale (similar to bacon) and lemon-pistaccio vinaigrette is the quintessential grilled octopus dish. Unique, mouth-watering flavor and cooked flawlessly, this grilled octopus is as close to perfect as they come.
Rabbit Rilette, where to start... The crisp, yet fluffy crepe? The heavenly, juicy rabbit? The sweet garlic jus? Oy, I'm getting disheveled just thinking about it. Superb. It was simply superb. Packaged inside two luscious crepes, the rabbit was exceptionally moist and savory. To boot, they were floating in a sea of sweet, flavorful jus. It was absolutely scrumptious. To be honest, it didn't strike me as I looked at the menu, but GM Dan Russo insisted we try it anyway. Once again, they know what they're talking about. For not striking me on the menu, it sure struck a chord within my foodie soul. This is the most excellent rabbit dish I have ever had, or more accurately, devoured. Yea, I went there...
In case you were wondering, yes I did still have room for dessert. I actually had room for all four. We had the 1) deconstructed fudgesicle, 2) potato doughnuts with apples and figs, 3) sweet corn ice cream topped with crispy pancetta, and 4) goat cheese and blueberry topped brown sugar cake. These are not your typical desserts, but they are mighty tasty. I enjoyed each one of them in a different way. The sweet corn ice cream and goat cheese desserts both introduce new flavors, mainly of the savory variety, into a world of sweet deliciousness. It's not every day that you see pancetta, corn, and goat cheese on the dessert menu. My advice to you: take advantage! If you have never tried anything like it, go for it! Explore new flavors. Even if it doesn't work for you, you'll live. You can always turn to the fudgesicle or doughnuts if you seek more familiar, safe flavors. There is a delightful option for everyone, no matter how sophisticated one's palette.

Six or seven pounds later... ALL DONE! Now let's get real about this restaurant. The amount of heart, time, and dedication that went into the highly anticipated Girl and the Goat is evident as you walk in the door, but it slaps you across the face with each bite of food. When I left Girl and the Goat, I was in awe. It is amazing to me how every single thing I consumed was not only delicious, but took me by surprise. I felt as if I had experienced food on a new, divine level. Culinary Nirvana, if you will. My dinner at Girl and the Goat singlehandedly opened a whole new world of food for me. It was a monumental experience in my life as a food lover.

Moral of the Story? Girl and the Goat hoisted me up to reach Culinary Nirvana, and I never want to come down.

June 9, 2010

Birthday Dinner at Table Fifty-Two

My birthday was a few weeks ago and all I wished for was food. I must be the luckiest girl alive because food's what I got. Tons of it. And I have the spare tire to prove it (I actually just signed an endorsement deal with Michelin). My birthday binge consisted of food from Angelina Ristorante, Molly's Cupcakes, Table Fifty-Two, Japonais, and English. Who's the lucky fat kid!? For this post however, I will concentrate on only one... because it was a first time experience for my buds, it made my birthday incredibly memorable, and the food was divine. Thank you Art Smith for feeding me one of the greatest meals of my life, transforming an ordinary May 18th into The Birthday I Ate Art Smith's Pickle... Fried pickles---ever had 'em? They're like crack. Delicious, delicious crack. The entire meal left me yearning for more.

Prior to dinner, my day was not the greatest. I spent it planning and organizing someone else's birthday party, ironically enough. Gotta get the job done! It was fine although I was a tid bit exhausted and a zinger was growing in my temples from becoming famished in anticipation of the feast in my near-future. I arrived at Table Fifty-Two and at this point in time I needed food! For the sake of my headache AND my poor dad and sister who merely escaped being in the presence of a starving monster (a hungry Kara is a rather unpleasant Kara, some might say). As we were seated, Art Smith personally greeted us and delivered deviled eggs (he looks fabulous by the way and was lovely to talk to). My day had already improved. Then, out came the goat cheese herbed biscuits from the oven... Into my mouth they soared, gliding atop my buds and into my ever so gracious tummy. From that moment forward a smile never left my face. Cupid had pierced my heart with Art Smith's arrow...

Our love would only grow when the real food, the food we actually ordered, arrived. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and sides so that we could try as much as possible. If I portray the food to be just one-fifth as good as it tasted, get ready for your culinary boner. You should see what happens in real life... I'm not kidding, not even David Blaine could lift tables that far off the ground.

Yukon Gold Potato Risotto--bacon tuille, egg yolk, chives and shaved gouda.
I LOVED this potato risotto. Each mouthful of the soft, creamy potatoes and the rich silky yolk, enhanced further by what other than crisp bacon, just warmed my soul. This is a mouth-happy dish.

Low-Country Shrimp and Grits--wild gulf shrimp, stone-ground white corn grits and spicy tomato stew. This
shrimp and grits is now the standard for all shrimp and grits in my future. Art Smith knows his grits! I love the course grind--not often do grits have such great texture. The shrimp were plump and delicious. It was just perfect. Definite contender for my favorite dish of the night.

Farm to Crust Wood-Fired Pizza--seasonal veggies, manchego, and balsamic reduction.
I'm not going to lie, this was certainly delicious but when it came out of the kitchen at the same time as the shrimp and grits it didn't stand a chance with me. Good pizzas/flatbreads are not terribly hard to find in Chicago, while amazing shrimp and grits are. Thus, I ever so generously allowed my sister to have her way with this one... I'm such a good sharer!

Three-Cheese Mac.
Holy cheese-gasm! I have never seen such a gigantic, bud-tantalizing mound of oozy, golden cheese. Cheese was overflowing, clinging to the outside of the bowl for dear life--similar to the appearance of french onion soup. But underneath was pasta-cheese heaven. This dish could fatten up an entire country. So you know it's good...

Cornbread, with Bacon, and Brown Butter Maple Glaze.
This, along with the shrimp and grits, was my absolute favorite. I could eat it for breakfast, as a side, or for dessert. It literally satisfies every craving. Art Smith, I had already fallen in love with you, but this cornbread will make me stay in love with you. Knowing that it is only a few blocks away brings me peace on a daily basis. One of the most special foods I have ever tasted.

Fried Pickles with Roasted Garlic Aioli.
I had heard of fried pickles but never tried them... Until now. And damn they're good! I like pickles, and I obviously love all things fried, so these were definitely going to be delicious... However, I did not know how delicious. As your teeth break through the crunchy, battered exterior, the tangy juice fills your mouth. Let me tell you, that tang is addictive! I could eat them all day. My neck itches...

Moral of the Story? As my sister said so well as we parted ways with Table Fifty-Two: No wonder Oprah's fat!

May 26, 2010

Restaurant Review: The Drawing Room

Before I had the marvelous opportunity to eat at the Drawing Room with my friend Jessica, I had solely visited to sip and savor their magnificent cocktails. It seems to be a widespread idea that the Drawing Room is the place for mainly drinks, however after my munch-tastic experience, I know better... The truth; unveiled. Myth; shattered. While their drinks do shine like stars in a fairytale sky, their food shines brighter (that is a fib because they are both really freakin' good but I just like the way that sounds). Unbeknownst to you, I am utilizing this blog as a vehicle to enlighten you by opening the magical door that keeps only two sacred things: rainbows, and Chef Nick Lacasse's sweetbreads. Although The Drawing Room does have delectable--and from a mixologist's standpoint maybe even perfect cocktails, the food also deserves more gold stars than six-year-old Einstein.

My dinner was seven courses while dessert consisted of three, so altogether I had approximately 42 courses... Truth be told, they were all phenom (that's slang for phenomenal). Chef Nick Lacasse definitely spoiled my buds with his never-ending sequence of mouthwatering dishes; since then a standard 3-course meal feels roughly as satisfying as a five-star drive-thru dinner from Arby's. Barf. Thanks a lot, a-hole! As punishment for setting the bar too high, I'm going to tell everyone how splendid your food was. Consider yourself served...

Here I go:
New Jersey Oysters--with Frank's Red Hot caviar and mignonette: fresh, sexy, and delicious with a kick from the faux-caviar.
Spicy Tuna Tartare--with avocado, tempura nori, and hearts of palm emulsion: exquisite combination of taste and texture between the fresh tuna, creamy avocado, crisp nori, and slightly sweet, airy foam.
Veal Nuggets--veal sweetbreads with porterhouse bbq sauce and buttermilk poppy seed slaw: the flawless natural flavor of the sweetbreads (further enhanced by Nick's skills), crispy breading, and the tangy, fresh crunch of the slaw makes this perfect little nugget my favorite.
Fried Guacamole--tempura avocado, tomato, cumin seed, cilantro coulis, grilled key lime: there is something about the crunchy, warm avocado--which melts in your mouth with just the slightest pressure from your tongue, combined with the perfectly complimentary ingredients that elevate this creative interpretation higher than you could ever imagine without tasting it.
Polenta--crispy herbed cake, whipped fontagne, baby spring onions, asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and parsley white wine sauce: first, who doesn't love polenta? The variety of perfectly executed vegetables and simply delicious sauce makes this sophisticated rendition of a classic comfort food even more likable.
Bacon Squared--bacon wrapped braised pork belly with yuzu sunchoke puree: this dish, which screams HOLY SUCCULENT FAT EAT-ME GOODNESS, sounds down-home and unrefined (with the exception of the yuzu sunchoke puree). In reality (aka my mouth), it is remarkably polished and it balances wonderfully with the sweet puree. Sinful is OK when it's this delicious.
Dessert consisted of white chocolate creme brulee, blood orange bread pudding with whipped sour cream, and my favorite (though all were heavenly) whiskey ice cream--a must try because I promise you will like it no matter how much you cringe after taking a shot of Jameson...

So, who's jealous? It sounds like a fabricated fairytale but trust me, there is no need to sugarcoat an experience that is already this sweet. It was simply that amazing.
And for those of you who are wondering, with regard to cocktails I had the Trifecta (Cabana, Martini & Rossi Bianco, three herb syrup, lime) and the One Night in Rio (Cabana, Aperol, Luxardo Maraschino, lemon, basil). Both were very good--complex yet well-balanced, the whole shebang... I'll leave the explaining to the experts.

Moral of the Story? It is rare that the restaurant- and bar-component of a restaurant/bar are on equal playing fields, especially on such a stellar level. But I promise you the Drawing Room does in fact exist, it will make your buds dance, and it's right in the heart of Chicago...
*Photos: The oysters and tuna tartare, the fried guac, the sweet breads, and the bacon squared.

May 3, 2010

Restaurant Review: Sable Kitchen & Bar

Throughout the course of our lives we experience many firsts—there’s the first crush, the first chase and tackle of the first crush to attain the first kiss, the first forbidden sip of your friend’s parents’ booze, the first night spooning the porcelain throne as a result of abusing your friend’s parents’ booze, etc. (You may or may not have just learned a lot about me…) Some of those firsts are obviously more exciting and welcome than others. As I walked to Sable Kitchen and Bar with my friends Ryan and Evan, I expressed the elevated level of excitement that comes hand in hand with a highly anticipated first visit to a new restaurant. Aside from experiencing new food in a unique setting, I always look forward to these experiences because they provide me with blog ammunition. Unfortunately for Sable Kitchen and Bar, my dining experience was beyond sub par while undoubtedly providing me with a wealth of blog ammunition. In terms of “firsts,” I’d say it was the equivalent of discovering my first gray hair, which I actually may have grown while waiting for the bill.

Okay, on to (bitching about) the food and drink… I ordered the bridal shower cocktail, consisting of vodka, campari, rhubarb syrup and soda water. Although we waited an unacceptable amount of time for our cocktails (and water), it was pretty good—tasty with a punch, as it better have! Next, I ordered the ahi tuna tartare tacos to start. They were not special; under seasoned and boring. Ryan had the five spice pork ribs, which I tasted. The hoisin-sesame glaze was delicious but it was evident that the ribs were not slow cooked. Rather than tender meat effortlessly falling off the bone, there was lots of gnawing going on. Evan had the soft pretzels, which again were boring. I don’t understand why pretzels are on any menu other than sports bars’ or ball parks’. Unless, of course, they are sprinkled with dust from unicorns’ horns, they are just pretzels—how good can they be? Next we ordered the bison short rib sliders, which were actually not completely disappointing. My first bite was delicious—the meat was juicy and the crispy fried onions added nice texture and flavor. If only every bite was that good... Some pieces of bison were dry, lacking glaze and ultimately moisture and flavor, while others were tasty. Each bite begged the question “is this bite going to make me happy or sad?” The answer was always a toss-up. The best item of the evening was the braised pork belly flatbread with apples, white cheddar and molasses barbeque sauce. I do actually recommend this. The pork combined with the sweet apple, the tang of the cheese, and subtle barbeque flavor melded well together. Needless to say, after the first few dishes, the three of us were fighting for the last piece of flatbread.

With regard to service, I felt bad for our server. She was clearly flustered and had too much on her plate. I know this because so did I… Our undersized plates had never been swapped out for new, clean ones. NEVER. If you saw the size of them you would understand. My desire to cut my food was not an option without any room on my tiny plate due to space being taken up by rib bones and pieces of inedible, dry short rib. Being the dainty little flower that I am, this was yet another letdown that amounted to a disappointing dining experience...

I do have one positive thing to say about Sable—the d├ęcor, specifically in the bar area, is very chic. Aside from the faux fireplace that belongs in a Viagra Triangle frequenter’s bachelor pad, I really like the black high-top tables, marble bar, and bar wall lined with a harmonious array of bottles.

Sadly, my trip to Sable was a disappointment. Although it pains me to be so harsh, I needed to write my first negative restaurant review some time…

Moral of the Story? My experience at Sable is another example of a not so welcome nor exciting “first.” I'm sure you have a few up your sleeve...

*Photos: The braised pork belly flatbread and the bison short rib sliders

April 14, 2010

Restaurants Revisited: Gilt Bar and English

I recently reviewed my dining experiences at English and Gilt Bar, but luckily for me I have some updating to do! It's not everyday that you find a place worth visiting, revisiting, and re-revisiting over again. These fine establishments, however, provide plenty of reasons. Thanks to them, I have boatloads of good stuff to share.

English Bar and Restaurant:
I mentioned before that English has a new chef, Top Chef contestant Radhika Desai, but I hadn't yet tried the majority of her menu additions. Well, my friend, things have changed for the better. I have since had the lobster & white truffle mac 'n' cheese and the duck confit dumplings. Not to pick favorites, but the mac 'n' cheese was extraordinary. Everyone and their mother has truffled mac and cheese on their menu nowadays, and I'm sure I would happily devour all of them if placed in front of me, but English's really is special. It takes you beyond the typical level of pleasure you experience when a creamy, cheesy noodle is placed on your tongue beside a morsel of arguably the finest crustacean on the planet. In all seriousness, it is a field day in your mouth. The duck confit dumplings are delightful as well. The succulent filling is perfectly complimented by the sweet strawberry dipping sauce. Both dishes are rockstar additions to the menu and I cannot wait to get my buds on them again.

Gilt Bar:
My experience at Gilt Bar turned my night into one of the most enjoyable evenings I've had in a long time. I was just stopping by to have a drink with my friend Chelsea while waiting for other friends to make it to my house, but we had a little too much fun. One drink turned into two, and two drinks turned into a feast. Needless to say my friends were waiting in my apartment lobby for a while. To start, I ordered the Death's Door Daisy, of course---it's my drink of choice. Zach, my friend behind the bar recommended a new cornbread dish and ordered one up for us. And mmm mmm mmm was it good! I have a soft spot in my heart for cornbread and Gilt's rendition puts a gourmet and utterly delicious spin on it. Next up was the blackened cauliflower---roasted and tossed with red onions, chiles and capers. It requires some mad skills to prepare a vegetable dish that I'll adore. Kudos to you Gilt, you succeeded. I didn't think I would ever rave about a side of veggies, but there's a first for everything... Way to turn me into a fan of cauliflower--my mom will be thrilled! On to Death's Door Daisy number two and the Gunthorp Farm chicken, which is prepared with oregano, espelette pepper and roasted garlic. It had sublime flavor, and I mean sublime. I am not too familiar with espelette pepper, but I think it has magical powers. Combined with roasted garlic... holy schnikes. It literally was the perfect chicken. And just so you know, I am not the type of person (or foodie) that orders the roasted chicken... I rarely do, actually, and I don't know that I could call myself a foodie if I did. Evidently, Gilt is my only exception.
Oh, and be sure to say hello to Zach if you're looking for the perfect visit. If he's behind the bar, each visit will be better than the last!
Moral of the Story? With food this scrumptious, Gilt bar and English are the kings of the "re-revisit."

April 7, 2010

More Restaurants... Blue 13, Piccolo Sogno, & Hugo's

I wanted to take this blog post in the same direction that I did the last two--restaurant review city. As you may have guessed, I have been equally as big of a fatass these past few weeks as I have been, well, always. There are, however, too many restaurant excursions to document all in one post. So I'll take it slow and start with just a few noteworthy meals and leave the rest for later. Here are my restaurant reviews for Blue 13, Piccolo Sogno and Hugo's.

Blue 13:

The evening I spent at Blue 13 was a yummy evening indeed. I started off with the Truffled Mac n Cheese. Can you say "lather me up and bathe me in cheese sauce?" because that's what I did. I mean, it's pasta slathered in cream, cheese and truffle butter... That's a combination you can always bet I'll want to bathe in, but it was damn good. I like that they use orecchiette pasta (meaning little ears in Italian) and broccoli in it. If my parents fed me broccoli draped in that cheese sauce when I was a kid I wouldn't have been such a fussy pain in the ass when it came to eating vegetables. Next, I got the Mixed Green Salad. Compared to everything else, a bunch of leaves on a plate is not memorable. Skip. On to the Pan Seared Lake Whitefish served with "potato risotto." I loved this dish. The white fish was perfectly crispy on the outside and the flesh was just right. I also loved the taste, texture and creativity of the potato risotto, which was pretty much diced potato cooked in risotto fashion--the end result being tender potatoes in a creamy, starchy sauce. This plate was delicious. For dessert I had the Carrot Cake. It was not the best carrot cake I've ever had, but the frosting was good. One spoonful was all I needed after this feast. Next time I go, I am getting the Lobster Pizza, the Braised Rabbit Leg or Steak on Acid, and the Coffee and Doughnuts. AND I am going to be sure to go on a Tuesday for 1/2 off wine night. Before I wrap Blue 13 up, I cannot forget to mention how lovely and hospitable Dan, one of the owners was. Overall a fabulous dining experience and a highly enjoyable evening.

Piccolo Sogno:

First and foremost, what a beautiful restaurant. I loved the decor and the quaint bar--very lovely atmosphere. Now let's talk food. I dined here during Chicago Chef Week, so it was a no-brainer to order off the prix fix menu. For each course on the prix fix menu, there were two options. Luckily for me and my lovely date Shannon, there were two of us. WHAT a coinkidink! We told our server we wanted one of everything to share, and it was a marvelous choice. I'll keep each dish's evaluation to a minimum... This ain't a novel. 1) Ravioli Piccolo Sogno (four-cheese ravioli, pine nuts, marsala glaze, parmesan)--SO good. I cleaned the plate by dipping bread in the extra sauce. 2) Insalata di Pere (arugula, goat cheese, pear)--a good/fine, simple salad. 3) Porchetta Alla Romana (roman style roasted pork)--succulent pork, LARGE portion, quite delicious. 4) Polletto Alla Griglia (wood-grilled chicken)--pretty good but the skin had a too much of a char flavor. 5) Tortino di Gianduia (chocolate hazelnut lava cake with hazelnut gelato)--out of this world. An absolutely amazing dessert. 6) Panna Cotta Allo Zafferon (saffron panna cotta, caramel & berries)--very good as well, but the chocolate cake stole my heart. The must-tries are the ravioli, pork, and chocolate cake. I definitely plan on coming back for more. Especially the chocolate cake... Screw Blue 13's Truffled Mac n Cheese, lather me up in this!

Hugo's Frog Bar:

I go to Hugo's for one reason and one reason only... Alaskan King Crab Legs. They are like heaven on my tongue--my buds' personal culinary sanctuary, if you will. I treat myself to them just once every few months. Any more than that and it's not a treat anymore--I don't want to spoil myself. I love how dear they are to me when they hit my tongue for the first time in too long. It's like a buttery, delicious kiss from Leonardo DiCaprio that you've longed for since the first time you dreamt it when you were 14. Okay, maybe that's just me... Anyway, in my eyes, king crab legs are the ultimate treat. Prior to this gift from God, however, I ordered the Tuna Tartare. My server was adamant that I get the Coriander Seared Tuna instead, which I reluctantly agreed to. I really wanted the tartare. Low and behold, the seared tuna was very good. Once completed, the server said "would you like to try a taste of the tartare to compare?" "Why the hell not?" I replied, possibly leaving out the "hell." More food is always a plus in my book. The next thing I know he brought over an entire order of the tartare, comped. Obviously, it was incredibly generous of him and I must agree, the seared tuna was better. That little "battle of the tuna" was a fun surprise and made the experience even more enjoyable. For dessert, I had the Key Lime Pie, which was pretty much taller than the 5" heels I was wearing. Once I spooned through the mountain of meringue, the filling was perfectly tart and sweet. The best part was definitely the graham cracker crust--so crunchy and there was so much of it! Not surprisingly though because all of their desserts are on steroids. Overall, I left absolutely stuffed and satisfied. I ate not only my culinary sanctuary, king crab, but I had the pleasure of trying both tuna dishes and key lime pie as well.

Moral of the Story? If you lather me up in truffled mac n cheese, then give me a sponge bath in chocolate lava cake, all while feeding me king crab legs, I'll be yours for life.

March 27, 2010

English Bar is Top-Cheffing The Charts

Pretty soon, English Bar is going to have to change their slogan from Eat Well, Drink Better to... Eat Equally As Well As You Drink! Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but I speak the truth! New to the English family is chef Radhika Desai--who I myself know from watching on Top Chef Season 5. All of Chicago has been talking about how Radhika will soon take over as Executive Chef at English, and thankfully the time has come. The menu is now updated with some of Radhika's special additions, which include duck confit dumplings, lobster and white truffle mac n cheese, and curry mussels while still serving up their classic dishes like the Fish and Chips, Bangers N' Mash, and my favorite: the English Crisps. My buds have been so lucky to try some of the new tasty dishes... I'll begin with the
Roasted Vegetable Sandwich. Now a veggie sandwich would honestly NEVER catch my eye... And I mean never. I like meat, plain and simple. And I DO discriminate against lone veggies. This sandwich, however, is freaking delicious! There is a wide variety of different veggies, which bumps up the flavor tenfold. But I must give credit where credit is due... The herbed goat cheese. It makes this 'wich the T-rex of veggie 'wiches. I didn't miss the meat one bit. I also had the deep fried deviled egg. Well, actually I had two. In one sitting. A starter to my starter, if you will... Anyway, they are damn good. Even if you're in there just to grab a beer, try one of these bad boys. You'll be ordering a second in no time.
On another note, I went in last Tuesday with a few girlfriends to, well, booze it up. I'm so lady-like, I know. On a serious note, it was a ridiculously fun night. English's Tuesday and Wednesday specials are killer--1/2 off bottles of wine and $5 signature martinis and cocktails. What are they, nuts!? It's like they made these specials just for me... How did they know that my favorite way to wash down sauvignon blanc is with a few St. Germain cocktails? Luckily for me, I also enjoy a nice glass of champagne, which just happens to be their special du jour on Thursdays. Ladies, can you say JACKPOT?
Moral of the Story? Ladies, join me (and Top Chef Radhika Desai!) at English on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and very possibly Thursdays too so we can "Eat Equally As Well As We Drink!"
*Photo: The fried deviled egg at English

March 22, 2010

The Week of the Plus 5 (lbs...): Restaurants Galore!

Last week I did quite a lot of damage... I dined at Publican, Xoco, Sunda, Gilt Bar, Ai Sushi, and Steve's Deli. That spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E in just three letters: LBs. I don't fret however, I'll be good this week... Oh God it's only Monday! But seriously, Imma do it! Rather, I NEED to do it--my bank account is in dire need of a break, not just my scale (poor thing)! If I may, I'm going to tell you all about my week of dining glory.

Publican--what I ate: pork rinds, sweetbreads, wagyu sirloin, frites (WITH the fried eggs), and the waffle for dessert. The pork rinds are an absolute must try--incredibly flavorful. They typically are not my bag, never have been, and probably never will be. The only exception being when I eat at Publican... They are so freaking crunchy I felt like an asshole (forgive me) eating them. But nobody minds because they're all eating them too! I think I found the next non-musical tool to accompany the brooms and garbage cans in STOMP. Anyway, moving on to the sweetbreads: my favorite dish of the night. It was my first experience with sweetbreads, and they were utterly delicious. They have not departed my thoughts... The wagyu sirloin was another first for me and it definitely lived up to my expectations. A wonderfully tender and flavor-packed meat, duh. The fries were good too--how could they not be? Served with mayo on the side and beneath fried eggs a.k.a. runny yolk goodness. The fries were a sin that I was willing to commit. The waffle was very fluffy and light, but I did not so much like the blueberry preserves or honey butter. Probably could have done without the waffle, but they don't have many dessert options. Not that I needed dessert anyway! Overall, it was an incredibly satisfying meal. Honestly, a treat to dine here.

Xoco--what I ate: the pork belly vermicelli caldos (soup)--crispy-tender pork belly, toasty-tender noodles, woodland mushrooms, zucchini, avocado, and salsa negra. I have dined here before but never had the soup. And let me tell ya, this one was superb. The broth was so flavorful. Bayless is a baller.

Sunda--what I ate: Rock Shrimp Tempura with glazed walnuts and honey aioli, and the Ridiculous dessert. I came for a glass of wine and the Ridiculous, which always lives up to its name (it's ice cream wrapped in carrot cake, deep fried, topped with pecans and caramel), and ended up eating the rock shrimp tempura as well. That's right, I'm a fatty fatty boom boom... My date Shannon and I were naive to the fact that after 2 glasses of wine, the Ridiculous alone wasn't gonna cut it... We were reclining in the lounge with our vino and delicious food and had a wonderful date night. I definitely recommend that rock shrimp tempura--the glazed walnuts paired with the crispy shrimp and sweet aioli are a killer combination.

Gilt Bar--what I ate: Roasted bone marrow with toast and red onion jam. Once again, I came intending to simply meet a friend for a drink, and I left with a new found affinity for bone marrow. It was delicious. The red onion jam was my favorite component--it rounded out the richness of the marrow perfectly with its sweet tang. The bone marrow wasn't the only highlight... My favorite drink of the evening was the Death's Door Daisy--Death's Door vodka, St Germain, aperol, and lemon. It was delicious--perfectly suited to my buds (not too sweet, and strong) and holy crap was it powerful! After one drink I was like wait a minute--I'm drunk?! As you can imagine, it was a fun time... The bartender Zach was extremely hospitable and answered all my questions about the menus, which made the experience even more lovely.

Ai Sushi--what I ate: A LOT. I ordered off the Prix Fix menu which offers a lot of options--and more importantly GOOD options. I started with the miso soup, then had hamachi carpaccio (delicious), then the bagna cauda (shrimp and squid seasoned with garlic, olive oil and anchovy), then the crunchy salmon maki (mmm), and lastly 3 pieces of sushi (tuna and avocado, eel, and benni toro (fatty salmon). Lots of food for $35. I go to Ai all the time since it's close to my humble abode, but my favorite part of this trip was the hamachi carpaccio. I definitely think the Prix Fix menu is a steal.

Steve's Deli--what I ate: Turkey stuffed cabbage and mushroom barley soup. There is not much to talk about... My grandma makes the best stuffed cabbage in the world so I know it will never be as good, but it still gives me my fill when I can't see her. And the mushroom barley soup was fine. Done and done.

Ok, time to go work out!
Moral of the Story: I lost my pork rind, sweetbread, wagyu beef, and bone marrow V-card in the same week. I'm a food whore and it feels FANTASTIC! Check out these spots/dishes ASAP.

*photos: the roasted bone marrow from Gilt Bar, the ridiculous from Sunda, and the pork belly vermicelli caldos from Xoco.

December 20, 2009

Ta-Ta for Now!

I'm off to Munich, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam in the morning! I can't wait to share my culinary adventures with you! It's going to be the most spectacular two weeks of eating I've ever had. Wahoooo!! Bye for now--happy holidays and happy new year! Drink well but eat better :)

December 11, 2009

Boka Group Restaurant Tour

Hi all! I missed your faces. But I am back now to tell you about an amazing night I had in which I had a 6 course meal spanning three different restaurants-- the Boka Group restaurants: Boka Restaurant and Bar, Landmark Grill and Lounge, and Perennial. It was my first time dining at each place, and it was a fantastic start. I was only so fortunate thanks to my new job at Chicago Event Consultants. My bosses Ryan and David brought me along so I could share in the glory and get in touch with everything the venues have to offer. Not only am I thankful they shared the incredible night with me, but I am so thankful that I get to work with them in the future. I am ridiculously excited to say the least. Besides, I could get used to dining like a rockstar... Here is what I ate at these three extraordinary restaurants:

First stop @ Boka:
-Boka Bento Box--a lovely raw tasting including an oyster with daikon mignonette, himachi with pomelo grapefruit, pickled fennel, and yuzu parsnip sauce, pink peppercorn seared big eye tuna with cauliflower puree and asian pear, and snapper carpaccio with daikon, edamame and blood orange vinaigrette. If you dine at Boka, I highly recommend this tasting Box.
-Black Mole Infused Pork Belly--with celery root slaw, sourdough chips, and quince sauce. This pork was awesome. Who doesn't love perfectly cooked, succulent pork belly?
-Sidenote: their homemade Rosemary Focaccia is delightful... Must try.

Now off to Landmark:
-Gnocchi--perfectly crispy on the outside and tender in the center, served with mushroom ragout, basil tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. P.S. I don't like tomatoes, but I could eat those all day with the gnocchi--perfect little bite.
-Braised Boneless Shortrib--with roasted sunchoke, parsnip puree, and bone marrow sauce. As if one heavenly tender meat dish was not enough, this was unbelievable. I loved the bone marrow sauce.
-Sidenote: as sides we were served mac and cheese--rich, cheesy, phenomenal--and smashed rutabaga with brown butter--sweet, textured, flavorful.

Last stop, Perennial:
-The Brazillian--brown butter cake, pineapples, ginger popsicles, coconut sorbet, with a pina colada sauce. So unique! Loved the cake.
-Hazelnut Crunch--crispy hazelnut bar, milk chocolate, creme fraiche, and chocolate caramel. Like a sophisticated rice crispy treat, with all the fixings!
-Cheesecake--LISTEN TO THIS--raspberry custard, cream cheese whipped cream, and graham cracker ice cream. This was my favorite dessert--the graham cracker ice cream was perfect. All the elements together in one bite were absolutely delicious, like actual cheesecake itself! Plus, how creative is that?

Moral of the Story? I feel like the luckiest Girl (with the buds) alive! Clearly, I am not only counting my blessings, but my courses too!

October 21, 2009

Top Chef Tonight--Restaurant Wars!

Who do YOU think is going home?? And who are your favorites? I love the Voltaggio brothers and Jennifer... One of them is going to win it all. We can make stronger predictions later...
Moral of the Story? Sorry to pick favorites (and least!) but what is Robin still doing there?

September 30, 2009

Sexy Restaurant Alert: Be Sunda or Be Square

Although Sunda opened its doors earlier this summer, I didn't make it in to give it a test drive until August. I know, I am surprised by myself too... And after I dined there, I nearly punched myself in the face for not having done it sooner. It is definitely one of the sexiest restaurants I have ever been to. Needless to say the food was, well... orgasmic. Brought to you by the same team behind renowned Rockit Bar and Grill and the Underground, Sunda is a must-have dining experience. Not only is the beauty of Sunda's food equivalent to that of its interior, the service was outstanding--well-educated on the menu, warm, and attentive. One of the many examples of the Sunda crew's immaculate attention to detail is that the sushi case is transparent, not just translucent. The glass is crystal clear (no foggy dew blocking the view!) which allows for the colorful, fresh fish as well as the skillful art behind sushi creation to be appreciated to the maximum. It is little things like this that make a dining experience wonderful for me, and Sunda goes the extra mile. Details like the visibility of the sushi case may be small and unimportant to some, but to who it matters most (foodies!), it can make a big impression.

The only problem I had at Sunda was determining which of the mouth-watering dishes to order. I had an angel-devil dilemma on my shoulders--my buds were pulling me in all sorts of directions. On my right shoulder, my sweet buds were urging me to order sweet while on my left, my savory buds were putting up their dukes. I thought it would be best to let them both win... Take one for the team. What a sacrifice! There is no "i" in team, but there is in delicious, satisfying, and orgasmic! This is what I ordered:
-Crab Cake Crusted Ahi Tuna Sashimi-- japanese hot mustard, sweet soy glaze
-Oxtail Potstickers-- braised oxtail, caramelized onion jus, "white" wasabi cream
-No You Didn't... The Ultimate Handroll-- crab, shrimp tempura, salmon, spicy tuna, dynamite
-Charsiu BBQ Pork-- honey, miso, palm sugar glaze

I am being nothing short of perfectly honest when I say that they were all outstanding. I wish I could have tried everything, if only my stomach and budget would allow. So friends, if you are reading this, who wants to go with me this weekend?? I promise it's as good as it sounds.
Moral of the Story? Unlike your love life, Sunda always delivers.

September 9, 2009

New Restaurant Alert! Gemini Bistro-Lincoln Park

**UPDATE: Gemini Bistro was a success! Important Background Information: The menu is broken down into groups: small, medium, large, and XL. Customers mix and match the dishes they want while being mindful of the sizes so that they end up with a diverse meal that suits them.
I did indeed have the handmade oxtail ravioli, which was to die for. If you go, you must try this. Luckily for me, I got a taste of my neighbor's scallops too! The scallops were cooked absolutely perfectly--they were utterly amazing. I wish I was able to eat more of them because I just had a taste of my neighbor's, which consisted of two jumbo scallops, so I only had a small bite. I also tasted the steak frites and surprise surprise, the steak was juicy and flawlessly cooked. The fries were the perfect balance between fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside and very well-seasoned. It's a great place to go to share and taste a variety of fabulous food.
Moral of the Story? Overall, my buds can't wait to go back!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I am going to dinner tonight at Gemini Bistro, which is opening today (09/09/09!) in Lincoln Park and I am salivating just thinking about it. The Chef, Jason Paskewitz has created dishes that just the sound of make me happy. You can go to geminibistrochicago.com to check out the menu. I am already having trouble deciding what to order. Between the handmade oxtail ravioli, duck confit nachos, and crispy braised pork belly with butter basted quail eggs, I am in quite the pickle! I may have to try all three... And the best part? The prices are beyond reasonable, especially for how special each dish sounds.
I'll let you know how it is!
Moral of the Story? I am sure I am going to be adding Gemini Bistro to my list of favorites.

September 1, 2009

The Staple Salad of Your Dreams

I was invited to have dinner at Sergio's house tonight and did not want to show up empty handed. Thus, I asked if I could prepare a salad and the host said of course. I must admit I had a bit of a hidden agenda---I just really felt like cookin'! And boy am I glad I did 'cause the salad was ahh-mazing. I think it is going to become my staple salad from now on. You know... like the salad you whip out on countless occasions? For instance, picture this: "Oh Suzy's coming to the party? I bet she's bringing the Suzy Signature Salad." With Suzy comes salad. Suzy --> salad. Just like that. Except I'm not Suzy.
So here it is, only I am not going to give precise measurements for all of the ingredients because salads are quite easy to predict how much of each ingredient you want or need. You can adjust as necessary for a single serving or a party.

Kara's Staple Signature Salad--The BBPC Salad:
Spring lettuce mix (you know how much you need; I don't!)
Bacon (I use about a slice per person)
Blue cheese crumbles
Shelled pistachios (so unique and delicious!)
Dried cranberries

Dressing--The Staple, Simple Vinaigrette:
Extra virgin olive oil (equal parts EVOO and red wine vinegar {below})
Red wine vinegar
Dijon mustard (if using about 3 tbs of both EVOO and RWV, about a teaspoon or tablespoon will do)
Salt and pep (gotta season it!)
Little bit o' honey (add it little by little, tasting it after each addition to find your desired sweetness)
Toast the pistachios in a pan over low heat for about 3-4 minutes, tossing frequently. Once toasted, set pistachios aside to cool. In the same pan, cook the bacon over medium/medium-high heat until desired doneness. I like mine right at the in between stage of chewy and crispy, about 4-5 minutes per side. Drain off excess fat on a paper towel and allow to cool slightly. While the pistachios/bacon are working, prepare the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. If you prefer, take it easy on the honey at first so you can taste it and choose if you want to add more. I like mine with just a hint of sweetness. I accidentally added too much honey and it was too sweet, but not to worry...that's not a problem. I just added a little more EVOO, RWV, and a dash more mustard and ended up making just a slightly larger batch. No biggie--the extras are great to keep in the fridge for another time. Once the bacon has cooled, cut or break it up into salad-appropriate, bite sized pieces. Assemble the salad by placing the greens in the serving bowl, then top them with the bacon, blue cheese crumbles, pistachios, and dried cranberries (hence, the name BBPC). Store in the fridge until ready to serve and dress at the last minute. Note that if there will be a significant amount of time between prepping and feasting, add the pistachios at the last minute along with the dressing so that they retain their crunch!
Moral of the Story? This salad has it all: sweetness (cranberries), salty crunch (pistachios), heaven (bacon), and tang (blue cheese and the dressing). Imaginary Suzy's is imaginarily going down if she steals my signature staple salad!

August 22, 2009

Question for YOU!

So I am going to send the president of the Food Network a little "Kara Package"--including my resume, cover letter, and something delicious! I was wondering if you folks could help me decide on the baked good that would make the absolute best impression on her. You in? Great! The trouble lies in the shipping process. Chocolate is the way to any woman's heart (unless there exists such a thing as a female chocolate-hater, who is no friend of mine!) but nothing can be too chocolate-oriented or else it will melt in the heat of these beautiful summer days. And what could be worse than a gooey brown mess delivered to my idol with my name attached? Well, I could think of a few things, but ew... Anyway, so what do you think is the way to go? Brownies? Cookies? Blondies?
I was thinking about doing these chocolate cookie sandwiches with white chocolate in between the cookies, but the white chocolate "meltability" scares me.
What do YOU thhink? What would YOU like to receive? More importantly, what would make YOU want to hire me so that I could bake for YOU every single day!? (leave your response as a "comment" please)
Moral of the Story? HELP!!! My life depends on it!

July 16, 2009

Deconstructed Pesto Pasta

I was hungry... so I made something to eat! SHOCKING, right? Well it turns out that a lot of awesome thoughts struck my brain during the ellipsis, providing me with the perfect formula for a sweet blog entry.  Excitement and happiness are still lingering on my buds because of how successful this dish was. Needless to say, the girl with the buds is pret-ty thrilled right now. Here's what happened...
A few weeks ago I went to a farmers market in down town Chicago with my dad. I left with small pots of fresh parsley and basil. I always liked the idea of having my own little herb garden so I was excited. Of course, by "garden" I mean pots on a table next to my 6th floor balcony window that I water with a dixie cup, but you get the gist. Anyway, the basil is flourishing big time. I thought, "I'm hungry and have so much basil... Basil basil basil, what to make?? PESTO!" I have all of the necessary ingredients: basil, parsley, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. Woohoo, I thought! But then... DUM DUM DUMMM... I realized I'd have to dirty up a blender or food pressor, and then clean it, oh my! What fun is that? I was major bummed. So I thought, maybe I don't have to blend it. Maybe I can deconstruct the pesto so that it is equally delicious but easy to clean up. And I did. I used all of the standard pesto ingredients but in a different way. And it was delicious. You're welcome...

Deconstructed Pesto Pasta:
1 to 2 bunches basil, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup (toasted) pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs butter 
1 lb spaghetti
salt and pep
as much parmesan cheese as you want!

Cook spaghetti in salted boiling water to al dente according to the directions on the box. As the pasta cooks, toast the pine nuts (if not toasted already) in a medium-sized pan over low heat. When toasted, set aside. In the same pan, heat up the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic to pan over low heat. Once pasta is cooked, add the pasta to the pan and coat the noodles with the oil/butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Still over low heat, add the chopped basil and parsley and toss. Turn off the heat and toss in the pine nuts. Top with parmesan and serve. Add all the parm in the world! 
The simplicity is glorious!
Moral of the story?  The beautiful taste of basil lingering on your palette will make your buds jump out of your mouth to smooch you on the lips. 

July 9, 2009

Getting Back in the Groove: Fuss-Hater Edition

Okay, I know I haven't been doing my job. I made a promise to You as well as myself that every time I cooked dinner--easy or intricate, healthy or fat-filled, I would write about it. But clearly, three weeks have passed without an entry from the girl with the buds. To think that I have not cooked in the last three weeks is simply absurd. The truth is that I have just been a slacker with my blog-o-log. I have not been holding up my end of the bargain, and for that I kindly apologize. 
I will start getting back into the swing of things by providing you with a recipe that is the best of THREE worlds: delicious, healthy, and easy. The magical dish: lemon-rosemary chicken breasts.  You won't believe how simple it really is and if you try this recipe you'll realize that what makes it so good is all the time you spend DOING NOTHING. It's all in the marinade, yo.  Perfect for all you fuss-haters...

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken Breasts:
3 chicken breasts (boneless + skinless = super healthy)
salt and pep
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested (about 1 tsp) and juiced (about a little less than 1/3 cup)
1.5 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary

Can you tell how easy it is already? Season the breasts with salt and pepper liberally on both sides. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, rosemary, and one teaspoon pepper. Coat the chicken in the marinade and refrigerate for 2-3 hours (either in the same bowl covered with plastic wrap or in a sealed plastic bag).  Throughout the 2-3 hour period, make sure that the breasts are coated and tossed evenly. Place the breasts in a baking dish with several spoonfuls of the marinade in the center of a 400 degree oven. Cook for about 20 minutes--internal temperature should reach 165 degrees. Let rest for a little, then enjoy! 
The marinade infuses it with such bright, refreshing lemon flavor, and you didn't even break a sweat! Also, considering how healthful it is, how could you possibly feel bad about eating this one?? You won't; you'll feel MARVELOUS. 
Moral of the Story? Hush the fuss all you fuss-haters, with this no muss no fuss recipe.

June 14, 2009

I Ate My Way Through LA!

Holy shnikies, it's been a while since I've "blogged"! Miso sorry... I missed you like celebrities miss carbs. I just got back from a short Los Angeles excursion.  If I could sum it up in three words they would be: I ATE GOOD! And boy was it fun. I was only there for two days but I feel like I was there for a week because of how many wonderful meals I had. I typically only get to experience a really good restaurant once or twice a week (money does not grow on trees people) so because I ate at an amazing restaurant for basically every meal my trip seemed longer, happily! I stayed with my lovely family friend and she made my trip extraordinary. The key to my heart is obviously through my stomach and she really won me over by taking me to the best restaurants in town. She also helped me narrow down what I want to do with my life--small stuff, really... NOT. And the conclusion is (drum roll please) "Food Journalism!" Anywho, I'm dying to tell you where I went--rather, where I ATE!  So away I go...

Monday June 8th--arrived just in time for din-din!:
Dinner @ Il Pastaio (A Drago brothers' restaurant in Beverly Hills). What did I eat, you ask? I had the refreshing Trittico salad composed of chopped radicchio, Belgium endive and arugula with a bud-tantalizing balsamic dressing, served with perfectly plump shrimp and topped with sweet mango. This salad was just what I needed after a long, less than pleasant plane ride (I seem to be a magnet for phlegmy men who emit repugnant odor--appetizing I know!)
Dessert @ Pinkberry--where else? A Cali staple.

Tuesday June 9th:
Breakfast--Sprinkles cupcakes! Red velvet and chocolate--devilishly delicious and sooo worth it.
Lunch @ Pizzeria Mozza--Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton's place (one of the many). In all seriousness, it was honestly probably the best pizza I have ever had. The crust was delectable--crispy yet chewy and oh so tasty! On the plane ride home I was reading Food and Wine magazine and it was featured right there... These buds are lucky!
Dinner @ Katsuya-- Such fabulous fish! Oh my goodness did this restaurant make me happy. My favorite dish was one of their signatures... Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. I'm telling you that if you do not live in California hop on a plane right now. 

Wednesday June 10th--departure day:
Breakfast @ M Cafe de Chaya--an up and coming cafe specializing in contemporary macrobiotic cuisine. (Word to the Wise: Chaya means Tea House.) They do not use any refined sugars, eggs, red meat or poultry. I had a heavenly croissant and Green Lemonade, which is made of freshly juiced lemons, natural honey and juiced kale! It was SO refreshingly delightful. Pardon my almost-French, but screw coffee; Green Lemonade energized me for hours! Not to mention it was yummy and super healthy.  
Moral of the Story? My buds are forever in debt to me for their royal treatment in Cali. I'm home and back to my standard restaurant experiences, sadly. But I suppose it is better to have eaten in LA and returned home than to have never eaten in LA at all.
*photo is of myself at M Cafe de Chaya