DC's Jamaican Sunday Brunch at Ja'Grill

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yeah Mon! We're brunchin' this Sunday 11 am - 3 pm in Lincoln Park. Join DC at Ja' Grill for the only Jamaican brunch in the city. Ja' Grill was featured on Fete Select TV as one of the best new restaurants in 2008. The menu is fabulous plus Ja' Grill is serving complimentary Blue Mountain Coffee during brunch hours.

This is a special treat for coffee lovers, because Jamaica Blue Mountain is the rarest and most sought after coffee in the world!

Located at the eastern ends of the island of Jamaica runs a majestic range of hills known as the Blue Mountains. At elevations of up to 5,000 feet the terrain, soil, rainfall, and the thick Blue Mountain mist combine to create the perfect conditions for the cultivation of the World's famous, most distinguished and most delicious Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee.

Ja' Brunch menu is $18 and includes any 4 different menu items in any category, a Ja' Bloody Mary or Ja' Mimosa, and unlimited Blue Mountain Coffee.

Ja' Brunch
Sunday 11am-3pm

Jerk Chicken and Waffles with Butter Rum Syrup

Breakfast Options
Akee and Cod Fish
Scrambled Eggs with Mixed Peppers
Waffles with Butter Rum Syrup
Fruit Selection

Jerk Chicken
Jerk Pork
Curry Chicken
Curry Goat
Stew Chicken

Ital Stew
Cabbage & Carrots
Rice and Peas

Ja' Bloody Mary
Ja' Mimosa

Call (773) 929-JERK (5375) for reservations

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

To Market with Mo: Another Nightshade

Eggplant, really? What a name. Granted, many older cultivars of this nightshade, in their hues of white and yellow, resembled a goose or a chicken egg, but I much prefer the sexier sounding aubergine, or melanzana, or brinjal. Wonder if there is anything we can do about campaigning for a name change here in the US. Nevermind, bigger things to worry about....

Regardless of what you like to call 'the king of vegetables' (as the eggplant is referred to in India), it is a fruit (yes, like it's cousin the tomato, it is really a fruit and not a veg) whose exotic taste and texture lend itself well to a number of dishes from around the world: Moussaka in Greece, Parmigiana in Italy, curries in India and Asia and Baba Ghanoush in the Middle East to name a few.

There are so many gorgeous varieties at the Farmers Markets right now, from the familiar dark purple Italian, to the long & lean Japanese & Chinese, to the white and purple striped Rosa Bianca that lends itself well to grilling, to the tiny green and vibrant orange thai, that are the perfect foil for a curry.

Pick out firm, smooth-skinned eggplants that feel heavy for their size and have a bright green stem and cap. How can you tell if the eggplant you picked is ripe? Press your thumb on the eggplant, if the flesh gives a bit and bounces back, you have picked a perfectly ripe eggplant. No give? Put it back.

Once you have your eggplant home if you are planning to cook the same day just leave it out on the counter. If not, store in a plastic bag in the fridge and try to use within a couple of days. Need to use later that that? Blanche or steam, and then store in the freezer for up to six months, your eggplant will be a great addition to stews, soups and vegetarian chilis come colder months.

Now this is one piece of produce that you won't want to eat raw....rather bitter. But cooked? The transformation rewards us with rich and tender flavor. As someone who loves eggplant, I enjoy it in it's many global guises, but one of my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant is the classic French dish (not animated rat) ratatouille. Since the markets are peaking right now, ratatouille is a perfect dish to highlight the other current market stars like zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.

5-6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium eggplant (approx. 1 lb), cubed
3 large bell peppers, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
3 medium zucchini or other summer squash, cubed
5 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/8's
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 3 sprigs of fresh)
salt & black pepper to taste
Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Fresh lemon or balsamic vinegar
Black or green olives, chopped

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, bay leaf and dried thyme (if using fresh thyme, add after vegetables have begun to cook down) and cook until the onions are tender.
Add the bell peppers, eggplant, and squash and cook for 20 minutes, Add the tomatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes until all the vegetables have cooked down. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Serve as a side, or over cooked polenta for a fantastic vegetarian main course. Garnish with parsley, a squeeze of fresh lemon or balsamic vinegar. some olives and capers.

Labels: , , , ,

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I can't wait to "Ass the tomatoes" !!
August 26, 2009 11:21 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

"About Last Night..." Gia Hits a European Beer Hall

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Publican was huuuuuum-mming on Saturday night.  As soon as you walk in you can just feel the electricity.  The conversations, set at large walnut communal tables, are buzzing and the hundreds of globe lights on the ceiling (shown in picture) just make this place bright - electric - happening - totally happening.  If you arrive early you are placed in the middle of the dining section at tiered round cocktail tables whereby you can begin with a tasty cocktail and an appetizer, if that's your thing.  I can't remember when a fine meal didn't start with a fine beverage so I solicited some advice from our waiter for the very BEST choice.  Known for the large, international beer selection I felt obliged to, as before, pick one based on the name.  I chose the Duchess de Bourgogne (shown in picture).  This frothy orange goodness was sweet, sour, cold and delicious. I had my doubts at first, but me and the Duchess got along just fine, times three.  Let me get to the menu because I could go on and on about the strong architectural lines and energy of this place but the food....the delicious food story needs to be told.
Known for market and organic fresh everything, I didn't know where to begin.  The oyster platter had a variety of choices from Canada to New Zealand, and most were very creamy and smooth.  As the menu is divided by fish, meat and vegetables we had something from each.  The lake perch fry was outstanding and came with fried artichokes and even lemon slices (which strangely, are quite tasty when fried).  We were also given a sampler of the shrimp which came right off the ship of Captain Dino in New Orleans, apparently just twenty-four hours earlier.  I stared into the eyes of the shrimp floating in squid ink fettuccine, did a three second pause thinking of the talking shrimp in the move Shark Tale, and gulped it down, poor little guy.   Another fine offering from the fish menu were the bouchot mussels which were steamed to perfection.
You can't really come to a place like this, what with swine artwork on every wall, and not try the pork.  The spicy pork rinds were...like eating spicy air, but it's all good.  More importantly, the "potee" was sausage, pork tenderloin, and pork confit, which all boasted tender juicy flavors.  Thank goodness all the dishes were meant for sharing, in case I didn't mention.  I just couldn't eat another bite - you know I tried, but every girl has her limits.

In this Photo: Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess (and lovely waiter who shall remain nameless)
** for more information on Gia's adventures search "Gia Claire" on Facebook

the Publican is located at 837 W. Fulton Chicago, IL 312.733.9555

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

"Chicago Living" With Kristine Farra

Who me ?
Welcome to my Very 1st Blog ! Yes, my very 1st. Who is the One person who was able to get me to post my thoughts on the .net ? My friend, and dining companion, D.C. Crenshaw of http://www.efete.net/. I've been asked to blog before. I'm told I have some interesting discussions to share. My response in the past has been that if you want to hear me talk real estate, come on a tour with me ( or call me at the office :-) ! So now, with my brand new blog, you can get a sneak peak at the discussions around My dinner table after a glass of wine ( or two :). You'll never have to ask yourself : " I wonder what she is REally thinking when she's walking through a house ? " Because this is it : ( or a small piece of :-) : When I hear toMAYtoe vs toMAHtoe, my thoughts wander straight to the kitchen those fruits ( yes, they are technically fruits ) are being prepared in ( my grammar school teacher would not be too pleased now :-). What kind of oven ? Stove top ? Microwave ( Oh-no-no ) ... When I see a home, I imagine all the wonderful meals prepared, dinners shared and lively converations. A bit of history, a story, a lifestyle ...

Stay tuned ... More to come ...

Kristine F Farra


Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Got Date? Go Here!

Sooo many restaurants to try and sooo little time to try them. In-fact, most of us get so caught up going to the same restaurants week after week that we forget about the fine dining options that the city has to offer. One particular example is Aria, located in the Fairmont Hotel. The New World Asian restaurant offers a contemporary twist on conventional dining. Chef de cuisine Ronnie Aleman prepared a meal that was memorable and that deserves to be revisited.

Aria’s culinary team brings a diverse ethnic influence to the menu. From the start of their “amuse” to their “dessert flight” the cuisine boasted flavors and spices that prompted an eagerness to take the next bite and to try another course. The following menu items is a guide to Aria’s New World Asian experience.


“aria spiced” grilled shrimp, sweet summer watermelon, cilantro basil cucumber broth

Appetizer Flight:

Hot and sour baked rock shrimp, sweet and sour chili glaze

Spicy citrus calamari, lime zest, scallion

Shrimp and pork potstickers, ponzu

Aria “sushi poppers” (created by Ronnie Aleman)


Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, sherry marinated shallots, English cucumbers, brioche croutons, extra virgin olive oil, organic green and opal basil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper


Soy and mirin glazed Black Cod, organic pea puree, sugar snap peas, hon shemedji mushrooms, organic pea tendrils


Wagyu strip steak, butter glazed organic carrots, summer baby squash, wild mushroom demi glace

Dessert Flight:

“Banana Split” sorbet: banana, strawberry, chocolate, pineapple sorbets

Take Five:chocolate cheesecake, savory pretzel crust, peanut butter ganache, caramel sauce

Banana Bread Flan: spicy oaxacan sorbet, candied walnuts, banana bread tuille

Ambiance and service at Aria is what to be expected from a fine dining environment. The service is attentive, detailed and knowledgeable. The rich colors of the restaurant makes it a comfortable and warm place to dine with friends or a significant other. The Aria Bar is an upbeat diversion from the main dining area and is highlighted by an illuminated sushi bar. Communal style tables make it easy to share dishes or meet new friends. It’s a perfect place to meet for sake or a glass of wine from their extensive wine list. In 2008 Aria’s Bar received an award for “Chicago’s Best Date Spot”.

Aria is on the ground level of the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr. For more information visit www.ariachicago.com. To get an inside look and a review of the newest and best restaurants in Chicago check out Fete Select TV.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

A Magic Pill?...Diet Bytes by Sandy

Hippocrates said "Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food."

Do you believe that food is like medicine? Is it possible to avoid prescriptions with a better diet? 

As I dietitian, I make recommendations based on scientific research. While I know that this research is not absolutely perfect, I feel reassured that at the foundation of my nutrition knowledge, are thousands of hours of research done by professionals like me (RDs), along with PhDs and MDs. 

In a previous post, I listed the "superfoods" for optimum health. Here, I will expand upon my personal favorites and explain why they are like (or better than) medicine.

I heart salmon: Omega 3 fatty acids are compounds found in salmon. Studies show that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help to lower blood triglycerides and increase HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol). Several other studies also suggest that these fatty acids may help lower high blood pressure. In addition to heart health, omega-3s may play a role in the prevention of depression, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. 
Learn to like-o-pene tomatoes:  Some studies have linked tomatoes to a reduction in heart disease and certain cancers. Most notably, tomatoes have been cherished for their protective effect against prostate cancer, which is attributed to the antioxidant, "lycopene." In a study of over 40,000 health professionals, Harvard investigators found that men who ate more than 10 servings of cooked tomato products daily (like tomato sauce), had a 3% lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who ate the least amount of these foods. Remember, cooking tomatoes increases the amount of lycopene activity.
Nutworthy information: Research shows that people who eat nuts regularly have a lower risks of heart disease. In 1996, the Iowa Women's Healthy Study found that women who ate nuts >4 times a week were 40% less likely to die of heart disease. Furthermore, potential heart health benefits of nuts were also found among men. The FDA approved the heart health claim for almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts, since these have less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g. In addition to nuts, seeds such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds may offer the similar health benefits.  

News or nonsense? You have to be living under a rock if you haven't heard of acai products. (By the way, it's pronounced "Assayee.") These products come from acai berries, but you will not find the actual berries anywhere nearby. What you will find are juices, powders, frozen pulp, ice cream, jelly, liquor, smoothies, and supplements that are sold for a pretty penny. The acai berry is only available in Brazil. What differentiates acai from the  other disease-fighting fruits, is that it contains a high amount of phytonutrients, antioxidants like anthocyanins, and omega-9 fats, which have anti-inflammatory properties, (but aren’t one of the essential fatty acids like omega-6 & omega- 3). However, one study revealed that acai juice contained less anthocyanins than red wine and pomegranate juice. 

The bean is boss: While acai does offers magical health properties, you can find other supernatural foods for much cheaper. As a matter of fact, the #1  food on the United States Department of Agriculture's list of 20 high-antioxidant sources of common foods is...a bean! A 2001 study found that eating beans four times a week, as opposed to only once, was associated with a 22% lower risk of heart disease. Furthermore, the fiber in beans has been studied to improve colon health and reduce the risk of diabetes, prostate cancer, and macular degeneration.
Tea-riffic beverage: Numerous studies have exposed the anti-cancer properties of tea's antioxidants' called "polyphenols." Some studies suggest that 4 to 6 cups of tea daily provides enough polyphenols to reduce the risk of gastric, esophageal, and skin cancers. Another study showed that just 2 cups of tea may lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 46%  in women. Other studies have found that polyphenols help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels. And finally, a Japanese study found that green tea lowers mortality rates from heart disease.

I could go on forever, but instead you can check out Dave Grotto's book, "101 Foods That Could Save Your Life" http://101foodsthatcouldsaveyourlife.blogspot.com/. 
And take a look at one of my favorite websites: www.whfoods.org (World's Healthiest Foods)
Healthy eating!
~Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN


Post a Comment

<< Home

To Market with Mo: Corn is King

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What is the biggest crop produced here in the US? That my friends, is corn. And those of us living in Illinois are smack in the center of the US corn belt. This time of year I just loves me some sweet, sweet Illinois corn. So sweet is the fresh corn this time of year that I can almost forego my daily sugar fix...ok, let's not go that far.

There are cobs of corn a plenty at the Farmers Markets. Now, before you go peeling back the husks and pinching your finger nail into the corn, and putting it back because it wasn't to your liking, there are more discretionary, and sanitary (personally, I don't want corn that you have poked your fingernail into and I am sure the farmer selling it would like you to leave the husks intact as well so that he/she can sell that ear of corn) of telling a good ear of corn. Just feel the tip of the cob, thru the husk. You are feeling for fully formed, firm to the touch kernels. If you don't feel the kernels, then put it back and try another, no fuss, no muss. Sorry, just had to share some good farmers market etiquette with you. ;)

When you get the corn home you can husk and de-silk it. I just learned a trick for removing the silks from diva of all things domestic, Martha Stewart: microwave the cob, husk and all, for 45 seconds, then remove the husks and the silks should adhere to the husks and not make a mess all over the place.

When corn is this sweet and fresh just cut it off the cob and throw the raw kernels into a salad, soup, pasta or favorite cornbread batter to give some extra crunch and a sweet kick. Craving some corn on the cob? Nothing a quick 1-2 minutes in the microwave, 8-10 minutes in a pot of boiling water, or 12-15 minutes on the grill, then a quick slather of butter, salt and pepper, if that is your thing. Personally, I like just a squeeze of lime on my corn on the cob. Or if you are grilling your corn wrapped in foil, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, some favorite fresh herbs to the foil packet before grilling, no need for seasoning when done. Delish.

Here is an easy corn salsa recipe that is great just with chips, or as an accompaniment to a grilled piece of fish, chicken, pork or flank steak, or topping a taco.

Sweet Corn Salsa
3 ears of fresh corn, husked and hulled
2 red bell peppers (or whatever color you like, I went with purple & brown this week), diced
1 bunch of green onions, trimmed and sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mix corn, peppers and onions in a large bowl. Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat, Add garlic & cumin. Saute approximately 30 seconds. Mix the lime juice, hot sauce and the remaining olive oil and then add mixture to the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and then add the cilantro.

Labels: , , , ,

Blogger Gia Claire said...
Mo - I love your photography...who would have thought corn could look so beautiful.
I want you to take me to a market...an absolute must experience.
August 25, 2009 11:32 PM  
Blogger Gia Claire said...
Mo - I love your photography...who would have thought corn could look so beautiful? I want you to take me to a market - this is a must have experience!
August 25, 2009 11:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

"Wish" Upon A Sushi Star

The song “When You Wish Upon A Star” was made famous in the Walt Disney movie Pinocchio and includes the lyrics “Anything that your heart desires will come to you”. The song has some other inspirational lyrics such as, “If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star as dreamers do”. Well the folks at Nozumi Japanese Cuisine must have sang that song a few times, because their “wish” has come true. Nozumi is the newest Japanese restaurant to open in the North Western suburbs, but the 45 minute drive out to South Barrington is well worth the trip.

The literal translation of Nozumi is “wish”. Their wish is to take you on a journey of the five senses while exploring their Japanese cuisine. Nozumi’s culinary team consists of world travelers that give their own interpretation of the menu items, therefore they soar above the traditional approach to sushi. Nozumi is all about sharing and Executive Chef Andy Park created the menu with that in mind. Even the Nozumi Menu Box – a collection of five books, or menus, are meant to be shared. This new approach is distinctly separated into a beverage menu, plates menu, sushi menu, sweets and treats menu, and a chefs daily special menu. I had numerous favorites out the fourteen dishes that were shared, but the following were at the top of the list.

Scallop Ebisu – seared scallops, saffron cream couscous, asparagus, tomato confit, soy balsamic reduction.

Shinju Crab Cake – Shiso remoulade, scallop puree, sawgani, haricort vert, shitake vinaigrette.

Chef’s Special Signature Roll – Roasted pepper seasoned spicy tuna, cucumber wrapped in nori topped with Japanese sea bream in ponzu sauce.

Nozumi doesn’t only serve sushi, but meat and pasta dishes. Don’t leave the table without trying their tender Taiyou Short Ribs. The Kobe Steak melts in your mouth and the Togarashi Mauro Penne Pasta has a sun-dried tomato cream sauce and big eye tuna combination that will have you biting your fork. Dessert is a must with the Shokura Dream chocolate layered cake and the Natsuki Apple Brulee.

Nozumi is simple yet stylish. The sushi bar area is upbeat and vibrant, but a separate dining area appears to be more relaxed and chilled. The bar area is roomy enough to enjoy a cocktail and an entree without being too crowded. Owner Fred Hong was certain to hire a staff that was knowledgeable about their cuisine and serious about their service.

Yes, Nozumi appears to have had their wish fulfilled, but the true test will come from the wish of their customers. Nozumi is located at 100 W. Higgins Road in South Barrington. For more information log onto www.nozumirestaurant.com. Also check out Fete Select TV for an inside look at the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

"About Last Night..." Gia catches some of that Wildfire

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nothing makes for a greater night out than combining a game of competitive pool with a little Wildfire.  Except in my case, the pool consists of dancing around the table and shaking the pool stick around like a ninja...entertaining but not quite competitive.  
Needless to say, I brought my appetite by the time we hit Wildfire on W. Erie.  While I realize this place is neither new, nor is their a doubt in anyone's mind as to whether or not this would make for a great meal.  But you know me by now...it's not just about the meal...it's the whole experience.

This place smells delicious, as you might imagine.  It has a regal and classy feel.  I must have sipped the Stormy Night drink down too fast because I really don't recall the musical selections for this fine establishment.  For the record, that is one puckery drink, I'm certain I had that ear to ear grin like the Joker plastered all over my face.  
The appetizers chosen were classic, yet delicious.  Oven baked goat cheese, spinach artichoke fondue and calamari - all excellent choices.  The main course however was, as shown in the picture above, an item that was not actually written on the menu but a must have item...the Macadamia nut crusted Halibut.  WOW...buttery, rich, and amazing over the white flaky fish.   Another tasty choice was the Fillet medallions with signature crusts...my personal favorite was the mushroom, but you can pick three and try a variety such as Parmesan and blue cheese crusts.  AS IF that wasn't enough food, we were over served with the Au Gratin potatoes, wild rice and steamed broccoli.  I recommend it all, but please make sure you ask for the Halibut, it's like a great little secret.   
Three Stormy Nights later, still smiling like the Joker, I politely declined desert...stood up and curtsied in gratitude for a lovely evening.

In this photo: Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess (pretending to know how to play pool)

Wildfire is located on 159 W. Erie, Chicago, IL 312.787.9000

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Eat Like a Native ...Diet Bytes by Sandy

It's been said that most native diets (regardless of the country) are healthy. In other words, people who shape their diet around the rules and traditions of a native culture, are generally in far better health than those who follow a typical western diet. 

In borrowing from a native food culture, think about your grandparents' diet. Remember how they use to eat, in addition to what filled their plates. In the case of my grandparents, they loved spending hours cooking in the kitchen, but found even more pleasure in watching us enjoy their food, rather then eating it themselves. ("Eat...eat!!!")

My grandparents were from Greece, which happens to be where one of the most healthy native diets originates: the Mediterranean diet. You may be hearing a lot about this way of eating, and it's for very good reasons. Research has linked the Mediterranean diet to increased longevity and reduced risk of death from disease.

The Mediterranean diet is not a complicated way of eating and is centered around a few important principles:

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Limit your red meat consumption
Enjoy healthy fats like olive oil and nuts
Eat fish or shellfish at least twice a week
Drink alcohol in moderation
Exercise most days of the week

While I may be a little bit biased towards the Mediterranean diet... it is not the only native diet that's healthy.

In the case of the traditional French diet, it isn't so much about what they eat (lots of bread, cheese and alcohol), but more about their eating habits, that make it healthy. They value more relaxing mealtimes, shockingly smaller portions, seldom snacking, and experience legitimate pleasure while eating. (Less stress over diet= more enjoyment at mealtimes.) We could all benefit from a more relaxed way of eating. Consider waking up 10 minutes earlier to eat your breakfast at the table instead of in the car...

The Japanese have the longest life spans, and their diet clearly has something to do with it. Even though their newly westernized diet has increased the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, their native diet is one of the healthiest around. The traditional Japanese diet centers around fish, vegetables, tofu, and green tea. They also have a saying called "hara hachi bu," which means "eat until you are four-fifths full." Sounds like some wise advise to me. Try leaving a restaurant before your pants start to bulge...

Most traditional diets are healthier than our western diet, but we must also consider the lifestyles that accompany them. Even if Facebook was around back in our grandparents' era, I doubt they would have the time or interest to get involved. They appreciated face-to-face interaction and intimate conversation, as well as long, relaxing meals and family gatherings. No matter what native food culture you may choose to emulate, focus not only on the quality and nutrition of the food, but the pleasure and nourishment it gives you.

Healthy Eating!

Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN


Post a Comment

<< Home

A List With Amanda Puck


Everything we love - food, shopping and fun - August has not disappointed, and in my opinion is the best month of all.

The Green City Market is always the best way to spend Saturday mornings and check out all the amazing chef demonstrations. Toni Roberts from C-House was there this past weekend making Grilled Peach Sandwiches with Maple and Herb Goat Cheese. For a full listing of the happenings at the market, checkout http://www.chicagogreencitymarket.org/calendar/, and you may find your favorite chef making an appearance.


On Thursday August 20 from 6 to 8 pm, Bistro 110 continues the popular ‘Tour De France’ Wine Tasting Series with an exploration into the Alsace Region of France, on Bistro 110’s amazing new outdoor terrace, where guests will sip and snack on tasty regional food and wine prepared by Chef Dominique Tougne. To drink, wine pours from Alsace, France will include Cremant D'Alsace and Domaine Martin Schaetzel Cuvee Reserves - Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Attendance is $25 per person, including tax and gratuity. Reservations and questions may be directed to Bistro 110 at 312.266.3110 or by visiting http://www.bistro110restaurant.com/.

Celebrate Original Penguin's One Year Anniversary at 901 N. Rush Street on August 20th from 6pm-9pm. Enjoy a night of cocktails and private shopping at 25% off all purchases. RSVP required. RSVP: 312.475.0792
SVEDKA Vodka is taking the term “Mile-High Club” to new heights this summer by launching the “Mile-High” Cocktail Club with a chic and futuristic “Mile High Club” Party at C-View (pictured here), Chicago’s hottest rooftop lounge located on the 29th floor (166 East Superior) of the Affinia Chicago hotel.

On Thursday, August 20 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, guests will soar high above the sky and receive First Class, VIP treatment on this exclusive, one-of-a-kind flight. The in-flight drink menu will feature C-View’s SVEDKA cocktails served by sexy flight attendants and prepared at the outdoor SVEDKA bar. Cocktail specials will include the Future Ex – a tantalizing twist of SVEDKA Vodka, fresh raspberries, and lemons and the Fembot Fatale – a summery libation of SVEDKA Vodka, cranberry juice, fresh strawberries and basil leaves (all $10). The C-View “cabin crew” will also serve complimentary creative hors d'oeuvres from C-House, with highlights including mini yellowtail fish tacos and grilled oysters.

CAN YOU SAY PHOTO OPP?? -- In addition, guests will have the opportunity to capture their Mile High memories at the SVEDKA Vodka photo booth.

The SVEDKA Vodka “Mile High Club” Party is open to the public, however RSVPs are recommended by emailing Chris@expagency.com. All guests must be 21+ with valid proof of ID to enter.

SVEDKA Vodka will also debut a hot new drinks as part of the Mile High Cocktail Club this month at C-View and Vertigo, two of Chicago’s top rooftops. Each rooftop will create one of a kind specialty SVEDKA Mile High cocktails featuring SVEDKA Clementine and SVEDKA 80 proof.
See you up there, and out an about!



Post a Comment

<< Home

The Burger Fiend Strikes Again: Back on the Hunt

When it comes to preparing ground turkey, I find time and time again that restaurants and home cooks continually try to overcompensate for the very simple and lean nature of the meat.

Since turkey is such a light protein in terms of taste, more and more it seems chefs feel compelled to mix some spice or seasoning within the patty. Many times I believe this is a mask because the meat is so susceptible to heat and can easily dry, and other times I think people just feel it is too bland and needs additional flavors.
I, however, personally enjoy the taste of the meat when cooked perfectly throughout, peaking at 165° in the middle. Just leave it alone and embrace the lean, light and juicy taste for crying out loud!

And this is exactly what you will find from the turkey burger at Rockit. Already one of my favorite venues in the city in terms of culinary creations, trendy nightlife and an attractive wait staff (girls and guys, mind you…), when dining I’m always torn on whether to go with the turkey or the signature Rockit Burger – by far one of the best beef burgers I’ve ever tasted.

Cooked to near perfection, Rockit chef James Gottwald’s turkey burg comes without a trace of sage, rosemary, celery or any other aforementioned additives – just a plain ol’ hunk of lean and tenderly hand-packed ground turk. The taste is crisp, clean and juicy, and the homemade chipotle mayo complements the meat by giving it the little extra zest that makes your head nod with each bite.

The burger is served on a wonderful pretzel bun too, which definitely adds another salty-sweet dimension to the experience, and sliced avocado, though I declined the latter as I always feel too many layers begin to interrupt the experience.
This lean, naked approach to preparing turkey is exactly what I would like to see other venues strive to replicate, because I do really think it provides a means for another level of appreciation. An abundance of seasoning isn’t always bad, but simply isn’t always necessary.

In addition, I dined at the new Wrigleyville location directly across from the Friendly Confines on Clark/Waveland. The ambiance is on par with the River North establishment, but I would suggest NOT going before/after/during a Cubbies home game if you're looking for a quiet eating experience. Nothing against the Cubs by any means…but you could imagine the scene.

All things aside, the food and the venue will always come highly recommended.

Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654-4606
(312) 645-6000

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

To Market with Mo: Toe-May-Toe, Toe-MAH-Toe

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If I were to take a guess what would be the one fruit or veg that people look forward to every summer it would have to be tomatoes. Farm fresh or homegrown, ripened by the warm summer sunshine. Like berries, and tomatoes are actually a berry, I could just eat them right off the vine. So, so, so not your grocery store, hothouse, stand-in for a tomato but the real deal, and the 'real deal' is starring at your local farmers market now thru early Fall (thru November if you are a tomato grown in my yard, then again the only ripe tomatoes on my vines right now are the tiny super sweet 100's. Can you say 'cooler near the lake' effect?).

So many heirloom varieties at the markets right now, from the aforementioned tiny super sweet 100's, to Green Zebras, Pink Brandywines, Purple Cherokees, Mr. Stripeys, Fuzzy Peaches (yep, they are fuzzy), to the big Mortgage Lifters, just to name a few of the 7500 varieties (know globally) that you might find at your local farmers market.

Gratefully, tomatoes don't need much prep or cook time to really enjoy. Sliced and sprinkled with some salt, pepper, fresh basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and there's your salad for the evening meal. Or, with the aid of your blender or food processor and a few additional ingredients, gazpacho, for the perfect summer lunch or starter (man, those Spaniards were onto something when they came up with gazpacho). Any who doesn't love a tomato and bread combo? Be it tomatoes and mayo between two slices of white bread, or bruscetta or a panzanella salad? And all of this without having to cook a thing.

Look for tomatoes that are firm and smooth-skinned but have some give, and are split and blemish-free. Now when you get them home please, please, please whatever you do, do not even think about putting your tomatoes in the fridge where they will lose their flavor quickly and become mealy to boot. Back away from the fridge and store them, 'stem side' up at room temperature and in indirect light. Ripe tomatoes are good for a few days like this and if you have any that need a bit more ripening your are good for about a week. Past that, get ready to make and freeze some marinara sauce.

When I am feeling like something more 'cooked' but don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen, here is the perfect pasta with a 'no cook' summer tomato sauce.

"No Cook" Tomato-Basil Pasta
1 lb spaghetti, bucati or linguine pasta
1 lb. mix of heirloom cherry or grape varieties of tomatoes (cut each in half)
2-3 cloves of garlic sliced thin
3-4 T fresh basil chopped (or mix a variety of summer herbs like marjoram, parsley, thyme or oregano)
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt (sea or kosher) & cracked black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Return pot to a medium temperature burner. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the sliced garlic (kick it up a bit more and add a pinch of chili flakes as well) and cook until tender. Turn off the burner. Add the pasta back into the pot of garlic and olive oil. Toss together until pasta is coated. Add the tomatoes and an additional tablespoon of olive oil and toss. The tomatoes will begin to 'cook'. Add the chopped herbs and salt and pepper. If the pasta is seeming a bit 'dry' for your liking, stir in some of the reserved pasta water. Plate the pasta and then top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. And there's dinner.
P.S. for a variation, a bit of crumbled bacon zings this dish up nicely.

Love to hear about some of your favorite tomato preparations and recipes. email me at moira@efete.net

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Max Out in Glencoe

Finding the time to play golf is a challenge on many different levels, especially while living in the city. The first challenge is making the tee time early enough to avoid being on the course the entire day. Secondly, the location must not be too far from the city and should have easy access away from major traffic. Thirdly, the golf course itself must be void of a lot of water, trees and brush that will limit the number of balls that I lose. Lastly, but most importantly is the club house food, which should be good enough to make up for bad shots and a high score. The Glencoe Golf Club seems to have at least the latter locked down with their newly renovated restaurant Max’s on the Green.

Larry Estes, President and founder of Catering by Max’s, opened Max’s on the Green with the intentions of making it more than a food venue for golfers. His hopes are to attract locals to dine at Max’s on the Green throughout the week, regardless of golfing. The menu consists of breakfast and lunch, but the dinner menu deserves the most attention. Atypical of most club house options dinner entrees include dishes such as the Salmon Filet, Lobster Ravioli, Pork Chop and Skirt Steak. The Greg Norman Kobe Burger was delicious and consists of an 8 oz beef burger grilled to your liking and served on a pretzel bun. Be sure to complement the burger with cheese fries or onion strings. Although Max’s is known for their Italian Beef the Grilled Chicken sandwich topped with your choice of BBQ sauce or honey mustard is the way to go. They still have the traditional golf course grub, including sandwiches, salads and wraps and a few dessert menu items. All meals can be enjoyed inside the restaurant or on the outside deck overlooking the ninth hole. Max’s transforms into a traditional restaurant setting with waiters and servers only during dinner hours.

The Glencoe Golf Club is located on the North Shore at 621 Westly Rd and is not too far from the city. The public golf course is gorgeous and scenic. For more information about Max’s on the Green and the Glencoe Golf Club log onto www.cateringbymaxs.com or www.glencoegolfclub.com. Check out Fete Select TV for a review of the newest and best restaurants in Chicago.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

"About Last Night..." Gia says "Not so much"

They say Mado is a French term for "baby", or "honey"....well...listen here "mado", this was not my favorite.  Sure, I could blame the fact that I didn't like the dress I was wearing, or the table we sat had the sun glaring through, or maybe it was the simple fact that I was just too hungry.   Regardless, mado did not deliver in the way I expected. 
The energy was low, and one could argue that it felt more like being in someones dining room than an actual restaurant.  This could be a plus for some.  There was a large family style table placed in the center of the small restaurant and when we walked in it was like everyone stopped to look up...like we were disturbing their family gathering.  There was some exposed brick and local artwork which is always nice and modern but I just wasn't feeling it.
Boasting support of Midwestern farmers and a Mediterranean flavor I figured I would just dive right into the menu and see what kind of tasty goodness I could find.  We started with freshly baked sourdough bread with mustard and pickles, and wood grilled sweet corn with a smoked paprika butter.  Honestly, I think we could have chosen more exciting dishes, but I just went with the flow.  Usually bread is served whilst waiting for the food, but in this case, there was a charge so had I brought my Grandmother, she would have stashed the extras in her purse.  But I digress...
A combination of entrees from the wood grill and the rotisserie, we chose the hanger steak and Gorgonzola polenta, and the chicken with roasted summer squash and margoram.   Hmmmm....the steak was nicely flavored but the polenta was overpowered by the Gorgonzola.  The chicken was extremely juicy and tender, but a half plate of bland summer squash was just not hitting the spot.  
The good news is I didn't overeat.  The bad news is that I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts down the road.  
Like I always say...sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

In this photo:  Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess

Mado is located at 1647 N. Milwaukee 773.342.2340

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Veggie Tales..."Diet Bytes" by Sandy

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What do you call a vegetarian who starts eating meat again?
Someone who lost their "veg-inity!"

These days, there is a lot of talk about the different types of vegetarian diets. Obviously, the unifying component is the avoidance of meat, or animal products.  For example, there are:
  1. Flexitarians: Those who avoid meat fish and meat but eat both on occasion.
  2. Pescetarians: Those who avoid avoid meat but eat fish (and eggs and dairy).
  3. Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Those who avoid fish and meat but eat eggs and dairy.
  4. Vegans: Those who avoid all foods that come from animals including fish, meat, eggs, dairy, and gelatin. 

I can safely and proudly call myself a flexitarian. I can go meat-free for days, but if I'm at a BBQ or baseball game, I don't feel bad hanging out (and eating) with the carnivores. Plus...isn't it fun to say "flexitarian?"

Some people, however, choose to avoid all foods that come from an animal. Though they can, still hang out with carnivores, if they choose.

Do you know any vegans? If so, they might resemble the typical vegan: (according to the Vegan Research Panel)
  • Female and under 35 years old
  • 87% eat vegan for ethical or moral issues
  • 11% eat vegan for dietary or health reasons
  • 2% eat vegan for spiritual or religious reasons
Vegans account for 1% of the US population. But, word has it that the number of vegans might be growing, thanks to new research on low-fat vegan diets and type 2 diabetes.
A study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), George Washington University, and the University of Toronto, (with funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation) showed that a low-fat vegan diet was more effective in managing type 2 diabetes than the standard American Diabetes Association (ADA) diabetic diet.

The study participants on the vegan diet experienced a greater reduction in blood sugar levels, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and LDL ("bad") cholesterol than those on the standard "ADA" diet. 

If you have type 2 diabetes, or know someone who does, this study offers an alternate approach to meal planning. What's most attractive about the vegan diet (as a therapeutic diet for diabetes), is that there is no measuring or counting when it comes to eating and planning meals. However, it likely takes more planning to figure out what to eat since all animal products are off-limits. To learn more information on vegan diets and diabetes, visit the PCRM website: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diabetes/

If you want to try some animal-free fare, here are my favorite vegan-friendly restaurants around the city:
The Chicago Diner: 3411 N. Halsted
Karyn's Fresh Corner: 1901 N. Halsted
Karyn's Cooked: 738 N. Wells St.
Blind Faith: 525 Dempster St.
Handlebar: 2311 W. North Ave
Earwax Cafe: 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave
Green Zebra: 1460 W. Chicago Ave
Victory's Banner: 2100 W. Roscoe St.

To learn more about veganism (with a comic twist), visit: http://www.bizarro.com/vegan/index.htm.
And, to find out more about the flexitarian diet, check out this book written by 
Chicago's own, Dawn Jackson Blatner: 

Healthy Eating!
Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN 


Post a Comment

<< Home

To Market with Mo: Beets Me

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I am counting down the hours until "Julie & Julia" opens at movie theaters this Friday. I am so excited to see Meryl Streep bring to life one of my idols, Julia Child. Surprising, right? Not sure how Julia feels about beets but I have had a very mixed relationship with them thru the years.

As a kid and thru my early 30's I absolutely detested beets. Blech! Just the thought of them made me shudder. Yeah? Well you grow up with them being cooked into oblivion for cold beet borscht and you tell me how much the smell of that will make you want to gobble that up? NOT. That aversion extended into the commercial pickled and canned varieties as well. Nothing worse than a grown woman having a fit in a restaurant because a pickled beet was touching her salad greens, oh so becoming.

All this 'digging in my heels' against beets ended at the Farmers Market. Week after week for years I would be drawn to the beautiful array of beets displayed at the market, deep ruby red, to the candy cane stripe of the chiogga to the orange, golden and super sweet white beets. But still I resisted.
Well, I have Lloyd Nichols, of Nichols Farm to thank for finally giving me the kick I needed to just 'suck it up', buy some beets, roast or grill them up and give them another chance. What can I say but 'thank you Lloyd', I am among the converted. What a different animal a farm fresh beet is, sweet, sweet, sweet, like candy. Just a rough chop (don't even waste your time peeling, the skins are tender enough when this fresh, and who needs the red stained fingers anywho?), a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme, throw into the oven for an hour (at 350 degrees) or on the grill and voila, a tasty, sweet dose of fiber, folate, potassium, iron, vitamin C, and only 74 calories per cup.

I have now converted quite a number of folks. Perhaps I can even convert our Commander-in-Chief (known to have quite the beet aversion) as well? I will start him off like Lloyd started with me, slowly easing in, starting with roasted beets, then move onto a homemade pickled beet, and then to really enjoy at their purest (this one even I did not move toward until this year, credit food writer Mark Bittman for moving me in this direction), a raw beet salad.

Raw Beet Salad
(as inspired by NY Times article 101 Salads by Mark Bittman)
2 cups grated beets (I like orange or golden beets for this recipe)
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese or soft goat cheese
1T sherry vinegar (no sherry vinegar? cheat and use a splash of real sherry combined with some white wine vinegar)
2T extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Arrange arugula on a platter. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl and then serve on top of the arugula.

Labels: , , ,

Blogger Mary said...
Yum. Jessica thanks so much for this recipe. I love beets, but I have never tried raw beets. I also love sauteed beet greens. They are the best, never throw those away!
August 5, 2009 9:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

"About Last Night..." Gia turns up the heat!

By definition, Vermilion means a vivid red.  But in this case I would say it means H.O.T.  The restaurant is a place you could almost pass up walking down Hubbard, but once you step inside you are transported to a modern, beautiful eclectic blend of Indian and Latin cuisine...who would have thought riiiiight?
Vermilion is the color, trendy and hip is the scene.  Bursts of red blanket the walls with beautiful women on canvas dancing as your eyes float from picture to picture.
And the sexy, pumping beat of Cafe del Mar playing in the background.  Perfect.  Just perfect.
Take note, however, this place is not for the spice haters.  It will have you reaching for the water with each passing bite (which in my case, means restroom breaks every ten minutes, lovely).
It's difficult to articulate this experience because it was as unique as it was delicious (and for once, an almost perrrrfect date).  But I digress.
Let me give you a run down of tapas delights that crossed my lips that night.  Though I can't really tell where the starters began and the entree ended, it was all blended into sweet and hot flavors hitting different taste buds on each bite.  Menu items included wild boar jibarito, blue corn crusted scallops, coconut chili mussels, Juhi ki pani puri (which, personally, I just like saying over and over), and lobster Portuguese.  I can honestly say that the spice and flavor of these items were all unique yet similar in the fact that they were hot, sweet....or sweet then hot. Every bit made you stop and go hmmmmmm.  (see face below).
My personal favorite was the Juhi ki pani puri, and though YES I kept saying "Juhikipanipuri" almost in song, it was the most delightful little flour shells filled with spiced potato and chili mint.  You first pour a little juice into the cup and sip and crunch...how cool is that?  No wimps though...this is one bite food.  
After what seemed like four hours and ten courses I kept looking over at the large portrait of a beautiful woman dancing wearing a tiny little bikini with killer abs, that before this meal may have resembled my own.  I could see her staring at me saying "put down the fork...put doooowwwwn the fork".  Who knows? maybe it was the Chardonnay talking.
Go to this place as soon as you can - enjoy the experience - enjoy the flavors.
But ladies, sit with your back to these beautiful portraits, I mean, really, who needs the pressure?

In this photo:  Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess

Vermilion is located at 10 W. Hubbard, Chicago, IL 312.527.4060

Labels: , ,

Blogger Gal about the Globe said...
Yes! I totally passed by this last week and really enjoyed the menu. But I didn't go in because it definitely looked a bit eclectic and I wasn't sure if the menu was safe! Thanks for the recommend!!
August 5, 2009 9:36 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

The "Fat Kid" Knows Protein

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Most great ideas are inspired by personal experiences or passions. In the restaurant/food industry, many concepts emerge from the love of a particular ethnic food, a visit to another part of the world, or a need that has yet to be addressed. Bottom line is that we create based on our own motivations, successes or challenges. Being known as the “fat kid” growing up was challenge for Matt Matros, but helped to motivate him to shed 60 pounds eight years a go. His vision after dropping the poundage was to help people everywhere live the healthy lifestyle that they want to live. His brainchild? “Protein Bar”, a new food venue downtown Chicago where folks can quickly get a meal with essential proteins needed to live a healthy active lifestyle.

“Protein Bar” has signature protein drinks, signature whole grain bowls and a plethora of boosts too choose from along with fresh made wraps, soups and salads. There is also an option to build your own drink or bowl if you’re not feeling any of the signature options, but a must try signature protein drink is the “Wrigley Peeled”, consisting of chocolate protein, a choice of milk, all natural peanut butter and banana. “Protein Bar” uses either whey, soy, or egg as a protein and has four different types of milk. Some of their boosts include an “Anti-Oxidant Blend”, “Fat Burner Blend”, “Hangover Blend”, and “Libido Blend”. Gotta try the “Libido Blend”! Their whole grain bowl options are steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, power granola, or Kashi Go-Lean Crunch. Try the “Crackberry” bowl if you like Acai berries mixed with vanilla protein, yogurt, power granola and a fresh banana. All items are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar. The “Chipotle Roast Beef with Guacamole” highlights their wrap selections.

“Protein Bar” provides nutritional facts about all of their menu items, which is very helpful for the health conscious individual. The menu explains the differences between proteins and compares the nutritional differences between their signature items and similar selections found at Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Duncan Donuts and Chipotle. Overall, “Protein Bar” is a new favorite of yours truly, another former “fat kid”, and will be a frequent stop on my protein tour.

“Protein Bar” is located at 235 South Franklin Street. For more information log onto www.proteinbarchicago.com. Check out Fete Select TV for more restaurant reviews and an inside look at Chicago’s newest restaurants.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Blogger Gal about the Globe said...
I'm excited about Protein Bar, although I will say that it looks like Chipotle!!
August 5, 2009 9:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

A List With Amanda Puck


Happy Birthday Barack! Its doesn't seem that long ago, when we were chit-chatting on the set of Check, Please! ...

Best place to celebrate the Commander In Chief's big day is David Burke's Primehouse, with a complimentary YES WE CAN birthday cake. (I'm clutching my own in the photo.) Its a mini version of their signature Cake in a Can dessert, a decadent red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and “birthday” blue sprinkles will be served to patrons gratis on August 4th in honor of the Commander-in-Chief’s special day. The complimentary cakes will be served during dinner only, one cake per table (offer valid only for dining guests). These fun cakes will also feature an exclusive “Yes We Can” embossed cake design.

David Burke’s Primehouse is open for dinner on Tuesday, August 4 from 5:30pm to 10:00pm. 312.660.6000 or www.jameshotels.com/davidburkesprimehouse.


Chef Art Smith will be at Horseshoe this Sunday, August 9th.

Guests will see Chef Art Smith prepare a four course selection that includes his famous Tomato Pie Appetizer, Pistachio Crusted Chicken, a favorite of Ms. Oprah Winfrey, one of his fan favorite fruit cobblers & a twist on the Electric Lemonade that includes watermelon juice ice cubes. Guests will be served a sample size of each item as Art is preparing it. Then, throw some money in the slots!

Show at 2pm, Doors open at 1:30pm
Standard Ticket Pricing
Seated Floor $55

777 Casino Center Dr., Hammond, IN, 46320
Horseshoe Box Office: 219-473-6060

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT TICKETMASTER AND AT http://www.thevenue-chicago.com/

Anonymous Lisa Lenoir said...
Dear Amanda:

Great item about the cake in honor of President Obama's day. Love red velvet cake. We show him big love in Chicago. :) I gave him a shout out in my blog item today, too.

August 4, 2009 2:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Gem Seeking With Jessica: South Water Kitchen

So it’s a fact: the words “theWit”, “ROOF”, “Market”, “Bull & Bear”, “The Publican” and “cibo matto” are no doubt the buzz about town. I admit we can all be suckers for hot spots,moi aussi, and usually for good reason. But some places in Chicago need to be equally recognized, even if they have been graced with a visit from Father Time.
Case in point: South Water Kitchen. South Water What? Hotel Monaco’s lovely little bistro, that’s what. (Which happens to be situated directly around the corner from that fancy-shmancy Wit place, but I digress.) This off-the-beaten-trendy-path destination is nothing short of refined, upscale and on par with Chicago’s culinary provenance. There is really no other way to describe this place other than to call it a hidden gem. And sanguinely speaking, a hidden gem no longer.

What people need to know about this restaurant is not necessarily the extraordinarily charming atmosphere, the preciously kind staff or even the intelligent wine list, but three words: Chef Chris Lateano. Lateano sharpened his knives with the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse and has been seen around town at spots like Green Dolphin and Grace. But at SWK, he finally gets his own time to shine. Or rather, he lets his food (and the local farmers and their fresh ingredients) do the shining. His menu is one of the most locally celebratory menus I’ve seen in a long while, utilizing proteins and produce with more flair and courage than most hot-spot chefs would even dare to do.

So what did I have during my decadent, perfectly paced six course meal? The question is: what didn’t I have? The night started off with chiogga beet borscht with house smoked sturgeon, watermelon radish, pea shoots and lemon oil: ‘twas an amuse of decadently light proportions. The tomato heirloom salad with sweet onion, celery leaves, goat cheese and herb oil wasn’t revolutionary in flavor but distinguished in its simplicity. The Caw Caw Creek Country prosciutto with parmesan, snow queen nectarines, 25-year-old balsamic and organic California olive oil played on the harmony of salty ham and tart fruit with flawless execution.

After this explosive and beautiful progression of flavors, the pineapple and orange blossom sorbet with vino verde basil was definitely in order. (Duh.) Out next was the grilled wild Columbia River sturgeon with Anson Mills white grits, braised French breakfast radish, soy beans, curried sweet corn emulsion and oxtail reduction. It was the finest piece of plated fish this side of the river. However, land beats sea in this prix fixe as the braised short ribswith roasted baby carrots, potato puree and gremolata, (which were rich and soft as butter, literally falling seductively off the bone), slightly overshadowed its scaly companion.

SWK knows (like everyone should at this point) Cheeky girls don’t leave without dessert and seeing there were two of us, we were served two: the pistachio cheesecake with a nilla wafer crust and rosewater macerated Nichols Farm strawberries was food-gasmic, as was the bittersweet chocolate cake with cocoa nib caramel and salted peanut gelato. No overshadowing here - the desserts were pound for pound perfection.

So in the spirit of overshadowing — er, not overshadowing, I mean — don’t let your incessant desire to see and be seen at all the scenes sway you from experiencing, in my Cheeky opinion, the best thing about this city: the gems.


Anonymous Anne Brunner said...
I'm delighted to be the first to comment on Jessica's Blog. She had me drooling with her descriptions of her meal at SWK. I may just have to get on a plane to Chicago and try it for myself!Keep up the great work!

Proud to be a fan of yours!
Anne Brunner
Columbia, Md.
August 6, 2009 1:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

My Beef Bias..."Diet Bytes" by Sandy

After abstaining from red meat for 15 years, I recently dipped back into the mouth-watering seas of juicy steaks, hamburgers,  and lamb chops. I had been genuinely enjoying my non-vegetarian diet for a few years until I saw Food, Inc. Thanks to the film, I reverted to my meat-free ways (for 3 tofu-filled weeks) and now understand the ethical, nutritional, and environmental distinctions between grass fed and corn fed beef. I'm back on the beef now, but in order to keep a healthy body and a clear conscience, I try to stick to grass fed beef only – along with my trusted tofu. Here's why...

Most of us learned in second grade that the natural diet for cows includes grass and hay. However, most of us don't know that switching a cow's diet to that of mostly corn, turns their digestive system overly acidic which usually makes them ill. (Picture a cow with heartburn!) They are then given antibiotics to keep them well, which we ingest every time we have a mac attack.

What's worse is where and how their diet is changed. When it's time to fatten up cows before the slaughter, they are taken to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or "feedlots." Here, they are fed gluttonous portions of corn to grow faster and fatter than they would on their natural diet. (Envision the opposite of fat camp!)

You don't have to be a vegetarian or an animal rights activist to find the conditions on CAFOs to be offensive. The animals live in confinement, often crowded in undersized cages, or packed together for months on end standing knee deep in their own manure. Are you hungry yet?

According to a 2008 report from the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, CAFOs pose serious health and environmental risks to the public. One of the reasons is that the production lines are forced to move extremely fast, and it is difficult for the meat processors to prevent contamination. The result is meat contaminated with bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Ground meat is the leading cause of E.Coli infections in the U.S. Are you still craving that juicy burger?

We all know that red meat poses significant health risks, but nutritionally, grass fed is a far better choice than corn fed beef. Grass fed beef has less total fat, saturated fat, and calories than corn fed beef. What's even more impressive, is that grass fed beef has a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids (7% of total fat content) compared to corn fed beef (1% of total fat content). Omega 3s have been shown to protect against a number of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers. Also, increased consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of complications from diabetes.

Unfortunately, grass fed beef is more expensive than the alternative, and can be tricky to find. But – after evaluating the facts – the choice seems clear to me. Grass fed beef is definitely growing in popularity and you can find it in a number of restaurants around the city. 
To find out more, check out Tall Grass Beef Company: 
Healthy eating!
~Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN


Post a Comment

<< Home