We shot this show to highlight the upcoming Chicago Gourmet. It’s a fabulous event, my favorite food event in the city, and Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno is such a sweet and lovely man. Check it out…
Here are some pics from my last dining experience at Alinea. It was awesome (as you may have guessed). If you want to know about a specific dish, comment and I’ll try to explain. (And yes, the edible balloon was filled with helium…. an explosion of giggles & laughter in the dining room during that course!) (Ok… just one more note: My favorite course was the percolated dashi poured over the scallop marshmallow. That’s all I’m gonna say.)
I finally have pictures that do justice to Maude’s food. There aren’t many but you’ll get the idea.
I love Maude’s. They do such delicious food. My first impression was that I couldn’t go back often due to the heavy nature of French cuisine. I’ve since changed my mind. Yes, there are heavy French classics on the menu like cassoulet, pates, sausages & escargot swimming in butter. However, they also understand what I consider to be the most important part of a restaurant’s menu: balance. And by that I mean, there are lighter options, as well, like a shaved vegetable salad (see below), chilled seafood towers, and roasted chicken. Not to mention their fabulous cocktail program in which they partake in the trend, and execute much better than most, of prohibition era cocktails. (The Corpse Reviver #2 is one of my faves.)
This is the shaved veg salad with blue and walnuts. It was deceptively delicious. A wonderful balance of acid in the dressing, the crisp freshness of the many veg, a saltiness from the blue and nuttiness from the…well… nuts. (My mouth just watered remembering it. Really.)
These lentils were absolutely TO DIE FOR. I know… you’re thinking “braised lentils… so what?” No. I’m not kidding… probably the best lentils of my life. Perfectly tender yet not overcooked, warm but tossed in a vinaigrette (that was probably made with some of the bacon fat) for a little tang. They were complex and deep and bright all at the same time.
And then there’s the chicken liver mousse. I’m a sucker for good chicken liver mousse… and this one is GOOD. So creamy and rich and smooth with a little background flavor of what I’d guess to be from Cognac. It’s served with a sweet and deep shallot marmalade and perfectly charred, thick cut, crispy-yet-still-chewy toast. Perfect.
Here’s a less beautiful picture of some oysters on ice just let you know that Maude’s doesn’t mess around when it comes to chilled seafood, too. I don’t know why I look mad here. I was having a great time, I promise .
I got a chance to check out the new Champagne Salon in the West Loop as a little sneak peak last night. Let me tell you: IT IS AWESOME!
You enter through a little alley way…. all NYC Freeman’s-style. Down said alley, and around a building and find yourself in a brick-covered courtyard. Very rustic-city-chic. There are lights that hang from building to building and an awesome little patio. There’s a bunch of interesting wall art… old or new… I’m not quite sure.
And there are bubbles! Lots of them! There will also be snacks. Just little bites to nibble while you sip your champagne. Chef Jared VanCamp from Nellcote is doing the food… and you know how I love him. I assume they’ll be similar to the hors d’oeuvres they presented at the party which were all delicious. Thinks like Salmon or Beef Tartar and Burrata with Caviar. I mean… c’mon… one MUST have caviar with Champagne! ;) Oh! And there was souffle!
We probably shouldn’t expect this every night of the week, but Som Jason was sabering bottles left and right. It was way cool.
And as the evening darkens, a beautiful candle display shines brighter against an old wooden door. Very old world.
Up the stairs, past the elevated patio (which will be canopied in cooler months), a little old-French feeling room awaits.
Guess where I’m headed for an after dinner drink?
I’m just going to put this out there: this is totally NOT my kind of food. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not very well done for the type of food that it is. And it is… very well done.
So here’s the scoop: Super French, super heavy, super rich, super pork-y. And there are plenty of people out there that LOVE this kind of food. If you’re one of them, you must hit up Au Cheval in the West Loop.
Roasted bone marrow with an onion jam and toast. It’s like butter and jam on toast except it’s meat butter and uber sweet onion jam. There’s not enough parsley salad on the earth to cut the richness of this dish. For me, it was fabulous for 2 bites.
Go figure… Griddled Brat with smashed potatoes and roasted garlic gravy. Again, super rich but beautiful.
And here’s the grand daddy of ‘em all: Foie gras and pork stuffed cabbage. It’s essentially a sausage and foie pie with a thin cabbage crust. Holy fatty meat, batman.
So there you have it. If you’re into heavy French comfort food, it’s a must. Otherwise, stay far, far away.
(Oh… PS. I’ve heard the burger is AMAZING!)
You have to know that my favorite part of Lollapalooza is Chowtown, right? Chicago’s very own Graham Elliot is the man when it comes to building a sweet representation of the city’s fab food at this huge event. Here’s a little segment from last year to get you thinking about it again.
Here’s what Graham himself has to say about it:
If you can believe it, I haven’t been to Trenchermen yet… and it’s been open for almost 2 weeks. I know. Absurd. But knowing the background of the guys that opened it, and having tasted their food, you’d better believe it won’t be long before I’m there. Anyway, it’s always good to give a restaurant a month or so to work out the kinks. I’m usually just not that patient.
Here’s all the info you could possibly need on the place. (I’ve bolded the most important parts for ease of reading.)
Trenchermen [def: 1."a person who enjoys food; hearty eater and drinker]
Creatively retooling the ubiquitous chef-driven concept, this local spot aims to integrate the best of both casual and fine dining experiences with a menu of familiar flavors presented in an unexpected manner. Having remained close culinary collaborators, all while comparing notes from their divergent paths, brothers Michael and Patrick serve as co-chefs of the Trenchermen kitchen. Located in a city with a reputation for both its experimental cuisine and its Midwestern farm-to-table approach, the Sheerins’ culinary philosophy finds the balance between these two ends of the spectrum. Inspired by the sense of community created by early 20th century beer halls, the restaurant serves as at once a destination spot and neighborhood hub, a gastronomic adventure and a casual place to meet up with friends for a meal.
Trenchermen’s menu changes seasonally, not only showcasing organic ingredients at their peak but also displaying the Sheerins’ high level of creativity. Inspired by the local farms and markets from which the menu is crafted, Trenchermen offers inventive, worldly dishes that pay homage to Midwestern ingredients, yet present them in unique, unexpected ways, such as Pickle Tots – Chicken Breast Bresaola, Red Onion Yogurt, Scallions and Sepia Noodles – Avocado-Chive, Pickled Watermelon, Garlic. Larger format dishes pair expertly prepared proteins with the freshest seasonal produce and feature the bold, unconventional flavor combinations that have become the Sheerins’ signature, such as Smoked Sturgeon – Haricot Vert, Cherries, Chicories, Chocolate Malt Granola and Aged Pekin Duck Breast – Rhubarb Umeboshi, Fried Rice, Kimchee Mortadella, Red Bean Paste, Nasturtium.
Helmed by beverage director Tona Palomino (wd~50), Trenchermen’s cocktail list ranges from the crisp, refreshing Green Hornet – Celery Gin and Tonic to the latest iteration of an assertive, layered drink Palomino originated at wd~50, Heart of Darkness II – Rye, Yellow Chartreuse, Amaro, Smoked Bitters.
Located inside Chicago’s historic North Avenue Bath House, Trenchermen incorporate
Currently Trenchermen is open Monday through Saturday; hours of opening operation are Monday through Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, please visit www.trenchermen.com, or call (773) 661-1540.
It’s too bad you don’t get to see how fab the pizza is in this video. This is the guy that had a flour mill built in his basement so that he can grind his own “00″ flour from local wheat for pizza & pasta. I mean… you gotta admire the dedication! I’d say it’s top 2 Neapolitan pizzas in Chicago. I love that it’s so close to my apartment and that Jared is so such a nice guy! It makes me like the place even more. ;) Check it out…
Here’s something fun that Tavernita/Barcito is doing in honor of the San Fermin festival that’s happening soon in Spain. Check it out!
Tavernita, in conjunction with Hennessy, will host a weeklong celebration for San Fermín from July 6-14, 2012. The annual San Fermín festival is the most internationally renowned celebration in Spain, best recognized for the encierro, or the running of the bulls. Adventure seekers that can’t take to the streets of Pamplona this summer are invited to Tavernita to compete, drink and dance as the Spaniards do!
Guests can run with the best of them at an exciting lineup of events and San Fermín-themed specials:
To kick off the week of festivities, guests are invited to enjoy vibrant flamenco dancers and a sampling of Hennessy-infused Sangria. This special sangria will be available by the pitcher for $25 from July 6-14 at both Tavernita and Barcito. For every pitcher ordered, guests at the table will receive a red bandana to celebrate the true España way.
Mallorca Melon Tea Syrup
Not for the faint of heart, Barcito challenges both amateur and professional eaters to the ultimate pintxo throwdown, eating as many of the San Sebastian-inspired bites as they can in a given timeframe. The winner will receive dinner for two and a Pintxo mascot (Pintxo is the Spanglish-speaking perro who reports on Barcito’s goings-on), along with the glory that comes with being Chicago’s Pintxo Pounding Champ. Guests can pre-register for a discounted price of $10 per person (day of registration: $15) by calling (312) 274-1111.
Adding to the celebration, diners and their pooches are invited to Tavernita’s bustling outdoor patio. Those who don their pups in any Spanish-inspired costume (bulls, matadors, etc.) will receive matching red bandanas and pintxo treats (for owner and pet).
For more information and reservations, please call (312) 274-1111.
Here are a few pics from one of my experiences there: