"About Last Night..." Gia finds the things magic is made of

Monday, June 29, 2009

Otherwise known as Mana Food Bar on Division. The cool summer breeze was perfect for an evening at this delightful Polynesian food bar. I was wearing a gorgeous halter dress, courtesy of BCBG (though others next to me were in shorts and flip flops), and the buzz in the air was not from bugs, it was from the magic of this tiny secret. However, I should warn you...all dishes are served sans meat. That's right...no beef, no chicken, no nuthin.
Minimalist comes to mind when you walk in. Large wood bar chairs await you but what comes to mind is the feel that even if you are indoors, you feel outdoors...strange huh?
We opted for outdoor seating, what with that great breeze and all.
A novice at the veggie menu I solicited some Mana 101 to understand all the wonderful choices. But first, as always, a well chosen cocktail. Known for it's selection of sake I opted to try the cucumber sakerita, which is like a margarita but different. It was tangy, and refreshing with thin slices of cucumber. I also loved the naked bottle of water that awaited each patron. No label, no ice, just water.
It was time to dig in. We ordered almost the entire menu. Pickled vegetables, and Hummus with to start. The hummus was the best I had ever eaten...great texture...amazing flavor. From the noodle dishes we chose the lasagna, a bit traditional with eggplant, peppers, mozzarella and basil. It was good, but not the best choice as it lacked the uniqueness of the other dishes (but my date insisted so, ya know). Moving on to the hot dishes....Baked goat cheese with tomato sauce and toast...tangy, warm, soft and creamy. Bi Bim Bop (which really just makes me want to sing the Black Eyed Peas...Boom Boom Pow), and the most famous menu item...the Mana Slider. White Castle....MOVE OVER. These little goodies take about fifteen minutes to make so order early. Tiny little brown rice and mushroom burgers with a spicy mayo on a warm little bun that have a wonderful texture and extremely delicious taste. I could have eaten at least three, but I must remember to be a lady on a date, and truthfully, there was so much food I was beyond full. We had to cancel the order for the Spanikopita (which secretly I think is the coolest word ever...think I'll name my next dog Spanikopita).
An amazing night...Thank you Nick - you cook a good meal.

Mana Food Bar is located on 1742 W. Division 773.342.1742

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To Market with Mo: Genevieve's Kale

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yeah, I know, I am on a bit of a 'greens' and 'not your favorite' veg kick, but when all the green leafy vegetables are overflowing at the Farmers Markets I just can't help it.  I am here to shame you into becoming, at the very least a kale eater, if not a full-fledged kale lover.

A non-heading member of the cabbage family, kale is probably the hardiest vegetable.  It can tolerate a lot of growing conditions (in cooler climates. tropics? not so much.) and it is really, really hard to overcook.  Good for you?  Oh, you could say that - pretty much a multivitamin as nature intended.  Packed with vitamins K, A, C, E, lutein, betacarotene, calcium, iron, and a whole host of other antioxidants, as well as fiber.

The good for you thing still not convincing you?  Now this is where the shame thing comes in...my six year old niece, Genevieve, loves, loves, loves kale, and has since she was four years old.  Her preferred way to eat kale?  Raw and unadorned.  Oh and let me not forget, as a garnish for italian pastries, ah, but that is a story for another day. Back to the kale...

Kale can be found at the Farmers Markets now and pretty much until the last market closes in early November. Kale is a great veg to get us thru the colder months, especially since it turns sweeter after being exposed to a frost.  Common to those of us with Irish ancestry, as colcannon (basically mashed potatoes with chopped kale mixed in), and in soups, like the Portuguese caldo verde. But since sumer is finally here, and in honor of Genevieve, I have been playing with some raw variations, chopped up as a bed for roasted vegetables and as a simple salad with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, parmesan shavings and dried cranberries or currants.

Look for curly, Tuscan (aka Dinosaur), or red varieties at the markets right now.  Pick out fresh bunches that are rich in color, no yellowing limp leaves.  You can store kale in the coldest part of the fridge for about 2-3 days before the flavor starts to 'bitter.'

I found a recipe in the February 2009 issue of Bon Appetit that to me is a fun and easy snack to enjoy with al fresco cocktails, that not only looks really cool, but is a nice way to ease into kale. Enjoy.

Kale Chips
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
12 large kale leaves (cut in half lengthwise with stems and center ribs removed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt
cracked black pepper
sweet paprika

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Coat kale with olive oil.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two).  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika, unless you are making for Genevieve, 'no seasoning please'. Bake until crisp, approximately 30 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool.  Serve in a tall vase or beaker for a fun presentation.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
My twins used to eat kale by the handfull, even when they were little two year olds! Then they figured out - what - that it was green, that it was good for them, I don't know, but they decided they didn't like it, and I can't get them to eat it anymore! They are 14 now, so maybe their taste buds will go back to the terrible two's (like their attitudes!) and they'll like it again! I doubt it...
June 24, 2009 8:46 PM  

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"About Last Night..." Yada Yada Yada...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Please tell me you remember the Seinfeld episode "Yada Yada".  It's the only thing that comes to mind when I think of my experience at Tocco, the new up and coming restaurant on Milwaukee.  Shown in the picture...me and a gal pal, which is part of another "Yada Yada" story that night...kicked off the night with my favorite starter cocktail...the ever mouth watering Dirty Martini.  Enter...problem #1...it was not cold, it was not really dirty, and the olives were...teeeenny tinnny, not the eyeball size stuffed with blue cheese, that I would have expected.  But you can't judge a place by it's drink...or can you?
The large moon like lighting was bright and the fuchsia walls were vibrating as the place buzzed with groups of friends, colleagues, and what not.  The outside patio seating  blended with the main dining room which I thought was refreshing and original...like it was all one room.  There were a few glass walls with empty picture frames just hanging in thin air.  It made you stop and go "hmmmm".
The menu was created with ingredients that were brought straight from Italy.  Many of the dishes were from the childhood home of the Chef.   Curious about this authentic Italian feel we started with antipasto rustico with meats, cheeses and vegetables.    Known for the pizzas, it was a no brainer so we ordered the casereccia, which was a white pizza with mozzarella, Gorgonzola, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Still hungry...we moved on to the pappardelle alla genovese, homemade pasta sauteed with a veal ragu.  
Yada yada yada....I mentioned the pizza.  The pizza was delicious - cracker like crust, buttery cheese that wrapped around the fresh mushrooms and tomatoes with a fresh, Italian taste...delizioso.

There are some nights...you just roll with it.  

In this photo:  Renee Porter and Gia Claire

Tocco is located at 1266 North Milwaukee Ave.  773.687.8895

Anonymous Anonymous said...
did you have a second martini? thanks for the picture.
June 28, 2009 4:28 PM  

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3,400,000 Margaritas and Still Going Strong!

Everyone has a Mama, but not everyone has a "Mama" like Fernando's Tequila Bar and Restaurant. That's because Executive Chef Carmen Gonzalez is the matriarch of the twenty-five year old Mexican joint and has been in the industry for forty-five years. Carmen, affectionately known as "Mama" by the regulars and her kitchen staff, is married to husband Fernando and together have made their restaurant a mainstay for authentic Mexican regional cuisine.

Like most Mexican restaurants, Fernando's menu consists of traditional items such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and fajitas. Two dishes that are special to Fernando's are the Chicken Oaxaca (a boneless chicken breast cooked in a paper bag) and Grilled Rainbow Trout (topped with garlic and cucumber). The ceviche ixtapa appetizer stood out, but the queso fundido needs some work. What really makes Fernando's hop are their signature hand-blended margaritas specially prepared by Fernando himself. Fresh fruits and their secret family recipe may have contributed to Fernando's selling more than 3,400,000 margaritas over the past twenty-five years. The atmosphere definitely feels like a friendly neighborhood spot and is great for families.

Fernando's, located at 3450 N. Lincoln Ave in the Lakeview area, will celebrate 25 years on July 22nd. Food samplings, a mariachi band, and tequlia samplings will highlight some of the festivities. For more information call (773) 477-6930. Also check out www.efete.net for more dining options and watch Fete Select TV to get an inside look at the newest and hottes restaurants in Chicago.

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The Best Cupcakes In Town...Period!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sometimes you just know when you know. I’m talking about an instance where you experience something and it just feels right. For example, meeting a spouse or significant other for the first time, selecting a college, interviewing for a job or…umm… tasting a cupcake? I didn’t know that eating a cupcake could be a life changing experience until recently. That’s because the newly launched Naperville based Foiled Inc. has the most moist, most fresh and best tasting cupcakes that I’ve tasted. Hands down!

There has been a trend of specialty cupcake shops that have recently opened, but none of them can compare to Foiled Cupcakes. Owner Mari Luangrath started her company Foiled Inc. to help people enjoy memorable experiences through her cupcakes. She called a childhood friend that is an Executive Pastry Chef about her idea and voila they were in business. Unlike other bakeries, Foiled doesn’t use a storefront, but differentiates itself as being Chicagoland’s first and only exclusive on-line designer cupcake delivery service. The cupcakes are handmade using only the finest all-natural ingredients, such as traditional foil cupcake wrappers, real butter cream frosting, handmade fillings, and European Garnishes. They offer twenty standard flavors every day, as well as additional monthly flavor offerings that are available for a limited time. A few of the unique standard cupcakes offered are:

Ooey Gooey – Chocolate cake, caramel filling, caramel buttercream, ganache topping, and a pinch of sea salt.

Pinkalicious So Delicious - Chocolate cake, raspeberry jam filling, raspberry buttercream, and a dainty raspberry garnish.

The Cinnful Apple – Vanilla cake, baked apple filling, cinnamon buttercream, and sweet cinnamon sugar sprinkles.

Foiled also sets themselves apart from the competition by adding a little humor with each cupcake. Their signature “Quippies” are little tag lines of humor inserted into the cupcakes themselves for an extra special surprise.. They also offer customized “Quippies” for special occasions. Cupcakes retail for $38 per dozen and delivery is included. They can whip up designer cupcakes by the dozen with as little as 12 hours notice. Foiled delivers in Chicago and the West Suburbs and pride themselves on customer service. Orders can be made on-line, by phone or fax. For more information log onto www.foiledcupcakes.com.

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To Market with Mo: Turnips Take Their Turn

Turnips. Oh, I can just see your faces, all scrunched in distaste at the mere mention of the word 'turnip.'  Now don't be hatin', what did the poor turnip ever do to you?  Always getting a bad wrap...well time for the turnip to get a 'redo.'

Admittedly, the turnip hasn't exactly been my 'go to' veg of choice.  Periodic appearances in soups and, and well, not much else (assuming this stems from bad memories of eating severely overcooked over-cellared turnips). But with the appearance of the beautiful baby turnips at the Farmers Markets this spring all that is a changin'.

This humble root veggie, and member of the cabbage family, is not only tasty but is a pow-pow-powerhouse of health: the root is low in calories, high in fiber and vitamin C and the leafy green tops are packed with vitamins A, C, K, folate, calcium and lutein (a big preventer of cataracts and cardiovascular disease).  Tender with a nice crunch (the older and larger versions tend to have a spongy texture) the baby turnips are sweeter with a less pungent bite.  I would liken more to a radish and mild enough to enjoy raw in salads or as part of a crudite platter.  And the greens, long a favorite in Southern kitchens, are similar to mustards, they bite you in their raw state but mellow when cooked.

In the Fall turnips are large and recognizable by their purple topped white root. This Spring look for baby turnips that are no larger than 3 inches in diameter, smooth skinned, firm and in an array of colors: white, yellow, orange, pink and red. This past week I found both white and pink baby turnips with perfectly unblemished tender green tops, a plus since I wanted to cook both the root and the greens.  I did not expect a big taste difference but you should definitely taste the different varieties -- the white was mellow and sweet and the pink had a radishy bite.

I played around with a number of preparations and found the tiny spring turnips to be quite versatile:
-raw as a crudite (yummy paired with sliced fennel),
-sauteed in butter alone or with sugar snap peas, carrots and radishes,
-as a simple salad - paper thin slices of turnips tossed with warm rice wine vinegar, a bit of honey, pinch of salt and a dash of red pepper,
-roasted with olive oil, butter and some red wine vinegar,
-pureed with milk, butter and thyme.
And since the weather is still feeling more March/April than June, I opted for comfort sides to my roasted chicken last nite: turnips mashed with potatoes and greens sauteed with bacon.

Smashed Turnips & Potatoes
1 lb baby turnips, greens removed, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces (I used butterball variety from Nichols Farm, yum)
3 T butter
2 T sour cream or yoghurt
1 c. chicken broth or cooking water
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes and turnips in a large pot of water until tender. Drain the vegetables, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water (if you are not opting to use chicken broth). Put the drained vegetables back into the cooking pot. Add butter, sour cream, broth (or water) and start mashing to your likeness -- some of us prefer chunky mash and others a smoother mash -- your cooking so it is your call.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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"About Last Night..." Gia Meets a Moscow Mule

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

THIS guy....Jeff...he had me at "Bone Marrow".   As if...a funky little place called the Bristol, which literally means "meeting place near a bridge", could have offered a more unique, and shall I say...visceral menu.  
Exposed brick, hanging light bulbs that look like they came right out of Thomas Edison's workshop, and large burning candles with melting wax give the feel of a medieval gathering place.  The menus like leather doctrines and large butcher block tables leave you looking around for the fire pit with roasted pigs, and what not.  Yet, the copper mugs and original square ice cubes give a contemporary, edgy feel.  I especially love the chalkboard wall with the menu and rounded corner, which trust me, after a few Moscow Mules (served in an ice cold copper mug) you don't want to lean on that wall unless you plan on sliding right into the kitchen.  So...you may be wondering what a Moscow Mule is...it's a tangy, ice cold mixture of ginger beer, fresh lime juice and other secret goodies that keeps your lips smacking for more.  While you're at it, ask Steve for a Dark & Stormy, lime juice, ginger beer, black strap molasses...add some yummy and it's GAME ON...or GAME OVER...depending on how many you have.
This is a place for people to gather...to share and to break bread, or perhaps bone.  See, this place brings in the animal, and uses everything for the menu.   Chef Chris rolls out a menu with dishes like Pappardelle, with chicken liver & hearts, Beef Hot Link, and Halibut with snails and stinging nettles.  For starters or sides there are many options such as Duck Fat Fries, Scotch Olives, Grilled Flat bread, and my personal favorite Roasted Bone Marrow served on crusted bread with ramp pickle, and Shallot Jam.  Every dish was unique. Every dish came with a body part I had never eaten before.  Every dish was...tasty.    
Grab a seat at the bar and ask the bartender/owner Steve to make one of his amazing creations, then cozy up to the butcher block table and prepare to experience something new in every bite. And if you're on a date...skip the bone marrow...it's LOADED with garlic....seriously.  

In this Photo:  Jeff, Waiter & Gia, Professional Bloggess

The Bristol is located at 2152 N. Damen 773.862.5555


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The Health Conscious Foodie - CRAVE Success

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nowadays, marketing events, meet-and-greets and tweetups happen every day, but rarely do guests get to enjoy essence readings, numerology and auratherapy session at these events.

Tonight, Crave Chicago gets the city's most enterprising women and top female entrepreneurs out of the bars and restaurants for a free party at Ruby Room to promote their upcoming CRAVE Chicago book.

The Ruby Room is actually a fitting location, considering the book serves as a guide for the women-owned boutiques, fitness studios, spas and much more.

Plan on getting there early. You don't want to miss out on the opportunity to learn more about your aura and hopefully meet some inspiring ladies.

The party takes place tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Ruby Room, 1743 W. Division St.


Health & Happiness,

Jessica Marie


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To Market with Mo: Avoir de l'oseille et avoir soupe

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There is a saying in French, 'avoir de l'oseille.' Literal translation? 'Having sorrel.' But the actual saying is slang for 'having money.' I like that idea. But back to that in a moment and onto the weather in Chicago (yes, again for you regular readers).  Well into the second week in June and the term 'cooler near the lake' is getting old, old, old.  I am ready for cooling salads and sorbets and not cooling temps.  Needless to say these temps have put me back in a soup-making mood....

Have I mentioned that the Farmers Market is not only a great source for locally grown seasonal produce, but also provides an opportunity for us city folk to give growing some of our own produce a go.  For years I have sourced my tomato plants, herbs, flowering hanging baskets, and perennials at the Farmers Market.  Last year I came across a beautiful red-veined broad leafed variety of sorrel. Sorrel. Hum. I had never actually grown or eaten it before but the tiny plant was beautiful and if nothing else thought it might provide some interest in my small city garden.  Fast forward to this year and that little sorrel plant came back this season triple the size, so you could say I am really 'having some sorrel' this year.

'Sour spinach' aka sorrel make a wonderful and classic sauce for fish.  Melting the sorrel down in some shallots and adding white wine, cream, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste and a quick and impressive topping for salmon or a fleshy white fish.

The edible leaf of the sorrel plant is high in vitamin A&C and has some potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition to becoming sauce, this tasty and nutritious leaf is wonderful in salads, omelettes, purees, soups and my latest discovery, as pesto.  But lets get back to soup since my heat is still kicking on in June...

Sorrel Soup

1 packed cup of chopped fresh sorrel (or if your like me a bit more)
1 medium onion diced
1/2 stick of butter
1 lb white potatoes peeled and cubed
1 1/2 qt chicken stock (can sub water with lots of pepper & salt)
salt & pepper to taste
optional garnish: squeeze of lemon, creme fraiche (sour cream or yoghurt work as well)

Melt sorrel in a pot of onions already sauteeing in butter. Add chicken stock and heat to a simmer.  Add diced potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft.  Puree the soup in a food processor.  Return puree to soup pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. (NOTE: do not be put off by the color which looks more like a green or brown lentil soup.  It's all about the flavor.)   Garnish with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of creme fraiche.


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"About Last Night..." Gia enjoys the "Bride of the Fox"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Otherwise known as Kanbara Sake, which means "The Bride of the Fox" it was THE perfect way to start this amazing meal.  Though I do recommend a good looking man in tow, the chilled, crisp, yet warming flavor of this sake is so delicious once it hits your lips you'll forget who you came with and where you're going later.  But if you find yourself in need of some Japanese "home cooking" you must journey to Takashi, as in Chef Takashi's beautiful, romantic establishment on Damen.  
I recommend sitting on the second floor where you literally feel like you're in the Chef's home and he's cooking a meal just for you.  The decor is modern yet electric and the cozy padded seating in the corners make the perfect night for romance, which by the way was at every corner (including mine).  The jazz is soft and sexy and the wait staff is friendly and extremely knowledgeable of the menu.  The occasion feels special and the menu is methodic with a recommended pattern of ordering and devouring.  Cold Plates, Hot Plates, and Main Plates.  Yes, Yes, Yes.
Almost impossible to articulate is the palette of flavors that are present in every dish.  The Spring Rolls were crisp with a slightly tangy vinaigrette, and the Sashimi plate boasted scallops and Big Eye Tuna which were each marinated in their own delicious sauce.  Next came the Beef Short Ribs sitting on a beautifully textured combination of brown rice, Chinese sausage and Shitake mushrooms, and though we should have stopped at one hot plate, we could not refuse the Caramel Pork Belly eaten as an open faced sandwich with buns that literally felt like clouds. But...here is where I would pull the Meg Ryan scene from "When Harry Met Sally"...you know the scene I'm talking about.  Three words... Soft Shell Crab.  I could have eaten it all night...every night and never been more satisfied.  Understand? it was that good.  
And yet...the Chicken in Clay Pot was mouthwatering, as I discovered a new favorite mushroom...the Shimeji, my new little friend.  I seem to have distant memories of desert, but the Yuzu Pudding Cake was light and tropical...with that lingering feeling of coconut on your lips.
As the sun set beautifully across the flickering candles I was reflecting on the joy of food...the blessing of great company...and...another glass of sake.

In this photo:  Chef Takashi, Gia Clair

Takashi is located at 1952 N Damen 773.772.6170

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Katz and Boehm Makes Perennial Sizzle In Lincoln Park

They say that three is a charm, but that’s not necessarily true for Chicago restaurateurs Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm. That’s because the dynamic duo have already been successful opening two of the best and hottest restaurants in Lincoln Park, BOKA and Landmark Bar & Grill. Both restaurants have received critical acclaim from local and national publications and continue to be considered two of the more popular spots for great cuisine, cocktails and atmosphere. However, Katz and Boehm just weren’t satisfied with their two gems and decided to open a third restaurant about a year a go. Perennial, has lived up to its name and Executive Chef Ryan Poli was added to bring a new casual dining experience to Chicago.

Perennial’s menu boasts a plethora of approachable dishes such as the Soft Shell Crab” and the “Brown Butter Gnocchi” appetizers. Both starters are prepared with flavors that are succulent and a presentation that differs from similar type dishes. The entrees are a perfect mix of seafood, meat and pasta selections, which makes it a difficult task to choose. However the “Grilled Salmon”, “Alaskan Halibut”, “Compart Duroc Porkbelly” and “Sea Scallops” are all popular dishes that won’t disappoint. The “Perennial Mac and Cheese” side dish holds it own when compared to other mac and cheese dishes in the city. An attractive array of desserts and cheeses complements the menu, but the standout is the warm chocolate brownie served with coffee ice cream.

Their specialty cocktail menu is also seasonal and the wine list is manageable. The service was attentive, but not overbearing and the waiter was knowledgeable about the cuisine, cocktails and wine. The vibe and crowd is casual elegance and atmosphere is loud enough to enjoy a dinner conversation. As the summer weather heats up Chicago expect Perennial to be even hotter during the months to come.

Perennial is located at 1800 N. Lincoln Ave in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. For more information log onto www.perennialchicago.com. Check out more reviews and to get an inside look at the newest hottest restaurants on Fete Select TV.

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To Market with Mo: Wanted - Signs of Summer

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Really?!?  Is it me, or has the calendar put it in reverse?  The weather in Chicago is feeling more like March (and slow roasting meats in the oven) that June (and eating fruits and veg right off the vine), but wandering into the Farmers Market this week there is reassurance that it is actually June.  Before I even see them I catch a waft of the sweet smell of the first strawberries of the season.  No, these are not the strawberries you have been getting 'in season' at the grocery store since the end of March. No, these are the 'real McCoy' Midwest strawberries picked only hours before arriving at the market.

Their scent is intoxicating, so sweet and reeking of summer.  Compact little jewels and every last one of them that beautiful ripe 'strawberry red' -- no white tipped berries here.  Like the raspberry and blackberry, the strawberry is a member of the the rose family.  The 'berry' we eat is a 'false' or 'accessory fruit'.  The seeds on the exterior are the 'true' fruit of the plant.  The name strawberry refers to the straying habit of the plant, and the species, Fragaria, refers to the fruit's fragrance.

Farm fresh Midwest strawberries (at least in my opinion) are best enjoyed unadorned.  No embellishment needed to taste the pure summer sweet perfection.  Tradition pairs the 'false fruit' with cream, as a jam, topped on a shortcake, as a handcranked ice cream, or floating in a flute of champagne.  Stray from tradition and a spinach salad or a salsa result.

When you get your berries home, or perhaps I should say, if you get your berries home, DO NOT WASH them immediately, unless of course you are going to eat them immediately.  Store them in the fridge in a paper towel-lined container and then eat within the next 2-3 days.  If you are not planning on eating within 2-3 days (that's willpower) I would go ahead and freeze the berries hulled and whole (great for smoothies).

The following is simple and one of my favorite ways to enjoy the first fruit of the summer...

Classic Simple Strawberries
1 pint of strawberries (hull & stem intact)

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. Grand Marnier or Amaretto
1/2 c. creme fraiche or sour cream (sorry health nuts, have to be a purist here, save the yoghurt for breakfast)

Wash strawberries and arrange on a platter. Put brown sugar, liqueur and creme fraiche into separate small bowls.  Pick up one strawberry.  Dip into liqueur. Then dip into the brown sugar, followed by a dip in the creme fraiche.  Pop into mouth.  Now is that heavenly or what?


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Sushi Mon Wizard Is "Pressed" in Chicago

Head to any neighborhood in Chicagoland and you’re bound to run into at least one or two sushi spots. Eating sushi has become as common as grabbing a turkey burger or cobb salad. It’s tasty, healthy and in most cases affordable. However, not all sushi is made the same. In-fact, Sushi Mon’s “pressed sushi” is the only sushi of its kind in Chicago. Created by Bat, a certified sushi wizard, Sushi Mon has become a popular new hot spot known for great sushi, crazy combinations and an intimate atmosphere.

Bat honed his sushi skills in LA and brought his creativity to Chicago three years ago. His pressed sushi consists of compressed rice and ingredients topped off with avocado, slices of succulent fish and tasty sauces. To experience the true flavors of the pressed sushi, Bat suggests that you try his creations without soy sauce. Pressed sushi favorites include “Salmon Bliss” made with salmon, seaweed, masago, avocado, and sesame seeds, the “Chicago” consisting of crab, unagi, avocado, masago and spicy mayo, and the “Crazy” created with salmon, tuna, ebi, wasabi mayo, wasabi tobiko, avocado and seaweed. The menu also allows sushi lovers to create their own pressed sushi. Sushi Mon still has the usual Sushi Nigiri and Sashimi selections along with a number of appetizers and salads. Expect to discover fresh sushi at an affordable price. Average cost for pressed sushi rolls are $12, but other rolls range between $3.50 – $6.95 per roll. If you’re in the mood for cocktails, be sure to bring your favorite bottle of sake or wine, because Sushi Mon is BYOB.

Sushi Mon is located near Lincoln Park at 2441 N. Clark Street. Guests can dine-in, carry-out or have their favorite sushi delivered. For more information log onto www.sushimonchicago.com. Check out Fete Select TV on www.efete.net for an inside look into the newest and best Chicago restaurants.

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"About Last Night..." Gia Finds Love

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If you love her...tell her to put on her prettiest Little Black Dress and take her to one sixtyblue. Ask for Chef Michael, and tell him I sent you for an amazing night.  Start with a Dirty Martini, THREE blue cheese stuffed olives, and sit back and let this old pickle factory work its magic.  A stylish West Loop establishment, yes...but so much more.  
The earth tones set the warmest glow, and the soft candles are perfect for that lovely romantic evening.   The music is not overpowering and the tables are set close enough to feel modern and stylish yet you can steal a kiss in between courses...if the mood strikes you.
Chef Michael prepared an amazing array of vibrant seasonal dishes, which began with two delicious soups.  A light but creamy potato leek combined with baby ramps (which is an onion for us non-chefs), and a Shrimp Broth favoring ginger, Hijiki seaweed, Edamame and shrimp dumplings.   Enter...Dirty Martini #2.
This was followed by Gulf Shrimp encrusted in rice flakes with a mango sauce, and slow cooked pork belly with a tangy tangerine reduction.   Everything had a unique combination of flavors and boasted the freshest of seasonal foods.  I felt certain the Chef made a special trip to the market prior to my arrival...professional bloggess and all.
HOLD...no more martinis
AS IF I had room for more...the Colorado Rack of Lamb with red curry emulsion (which truly, I was not sure you could do to food), and the Grilled Flat Iron steak with a variety of fresh vegetables begged me to believe the LBD may not have been the best choice of clothing.  (I always seem to find myself in this situation).   The sampling of deserts that concluded this entourage of yummy goodness was almost a blur (NOT because of the Martinis) but because it was all so remarkably good, and I was so remarkably full.
I fell in love with one sixtyblue...convivial indeed...as for my date...time will tell.

one sixtyblue is located at 1400 W. Randolph  312.850.0303

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Your date was one luck guy
June 7, 2009 12:03 PM  

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