To Market with Mo: just a spoonful of...
Thursday, April 29, 2010
If Mary Poppins were giving little Michael and Jane honey instead of sugar, why she might have been able to skip the 'medicine' part all together....and no it's not psychosomatic. That spoonful on honey does ease a sore throat. Honey is a wonder 'drug' on two fronts:
A) It's natural antiseptic properties, 'yeah, sore throat, take that', and a great topical salve (number one wound treatment during the civil war, how 'bout that tidbit?). For this purpose go for a darker honey, say a buckwheat honey. It packs more antioxidants than any other honey.
B) Homeopathically. If you are an allergy sufferer like myself, down local raw honey to build up your immune system. Your local bees aren't collecting nectar and pollen from hibiscus in Barbados, but from all those blooming things that got you sneezing in the first place. Local honey (especially a prairie or wildflower honey) hold bits of pollen from all these allergens. So, by consuming the honey, you start building an immunity to them. Yay you.
I could go on about the 'good for you' properties of honey, like all the antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, and vitamins it contains, but all that aside, it's the taste that is so intoxicating. And I am not talking your grocery-store, all the goodness cooked out of it variety, but real local honey that you can actually taste the blooms that it came from.
Speaking of the blooms. Did you know it takes 4.5 million flowers to make one pound of honey? And who does all the work? Bees. Seriously. These little creatures, who you might find annoying if they sting you, are probably the most important player in the sustainability story. Bees gather nectar from flowers, and in turn are pollinating plants. A full one third of the food we consume requires pollination. Did you know that when bees are around to pollinate, crop yields have been known to increase as much as 45%. Wow! Busy? Not the word for it. And with the bee population a quarter of what it was less than 50 years ago....well, instead of getting too down about this situation I say spin it positive--we can all do our part to help US beekeepers, and they in turn they will help the honey bee. How? By buying the byproduct of the bee's hard work: that raw local honey.
There are a number of sources for local honey and honey products. Two in the city itself (Chicago, to clarify for my out of town readers
): Chicago Honey Co-op
and Sweet Beginnings
(producer of the beeline
, line of honey products). Not only are both these producers working within the city limits in under-served neighborhoods, and increasing our bee population, but they are helping to provide jobs for those who might otherwise have a tough time finding employment.
A number of vendors sell honey at the farmers markets, but one of my favorite source is Bron's Bees Honey
(from Heritage Prairie Farm). Why? I truly believe the beekeeper, Browyn Weaver's passion for bees, and beekeeping, is reflected in the honey she produces. Wait. I need to back up. The honey that her well-cared for bees produce. And don't stop at trying the honey and honey comb, if you have the opportunity to try Bron's Honey cake? Do. Oh my heck, this cake is pure bliss. But if you can't wait another couple of weeks for Summer market season to get into full swing, there are online and local retailers that carry these locally produced honeys (refer to all the links above
All this talk of blooming and pollen has got me feeling a bit of spring fever. And if 'allergy girl' is going to sit out on the back porch, on an unseasonably warm MayDay evening, might as well combat the pollen blowing about with a 'medicinal' cocktail, right?
Bee's Knees (a speakeasy classic)
2 parts gin (Hendricks works nicely)
1 part honey simple syrup*
1 part fresh lemon juice
splash of Licor 43 (optional, but brings this cocktail to another level)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, stir briefly to dissolve the honey syrup, then fill with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon, or really zip it up with a sprig of lavender.
*Honey simple syrup: combine equal parts of honey and water in a sauce pan. Heat until simmering and honey is dissolved. Store in the fridge.
See you at the markets!
p.s. any favorite ways to use honey? email me at email@example.com
Labels: beeline, Bron's Bees, Chicago Honey Co-op, Green City Market, seasonal organic produce, Sweet Beginnings
What does your gut tell you? "DietBytes by Sandy"
Everyone is shaped differently. Most of us are either the apple or pear-shaped. Apples gain weight around their middle and find it difficult to change their body composition. Pears accumulate the poundage around their thighs, butt, and hips, and may find it equally as difficult to slim down. Although both shapes share similar frustration, they don't face similar health risks.
Apples face much more serious health complications than pears. They're more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer. This is due to the visceral fat (found deeper within the abdomen and surrounding abdominal organs) that can infiltrate your heart, kidneys, liver, and intestines. On top of that -- this type of abdominal fat isn't inactive -- it's actually producing hormones that can cause type 2 diabetes and other health risks!
Can we change our shape? Genetics determines much of our natural form, but with diet and exercise, we can make healthy modifications. On the other hand, certain unhealthy behaviors may influence our predisposition towards one shape or another.
Both smokers and heavy drinkers are more likely to be apple-shaped. This may be because booze prevents the breakdown of fat to some extent, especially around the belly. Studies found this to be more true with beer, rather than wine. And, unfortunately as we get older, we accumulate more and more belly fat. What can we do to prevent it?
1.) Eat healthy: Cut back on saturated (and trans) fats, limit the alcohol, increase mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and load up on whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. Some studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with shrinkage of belly fat.
2.) Exercise most days of the week: both cardio and resistance training will help to dwindle your trunk.
3.) Quit smoking: Enough said!
To find out which shape you are, measure your hips at their widest point with a take measure. Next, measure your waist at your navel. Divide the waist number by the hip number. For men if that ratio is less than or equal to 1, you are a pear. If it's more than 1, you're an apple. For women, less than or equal to 0.8 is a pear, and more than 0.8 is an apple.
Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN
"About Last Night..." Gia Finds the "Moment"
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Did you ever have a moment, just one moment where you thought you instantly fell in love? Where the world around you seemed to collapse and quiet and all you can here is the sound of his voice, and the brilliance of his smile? It happened here, at Gemini Bistro, in the heart of Lincoln Park, we were discussing my meatball recipe, of all things.
"So is it psshht psssht or psssssshhhhhht pssshhhhhht?" he asked to clarify as I described the amount of Worcestershire sauce I carefully poured into my meatball concoction. His eyes smiled at me, and his face lit up. You can't fake that, but you sure as hell can over analyze it.
So where was I? Oh right, Gemini Bistro. See, here's the thing about this sleek and inviting place...you can easily get lost in it. The dark wood, leather booths, and Edison style lighting (shown in pic - not just me having a brilliant thought!), make it very cozy and inviting, for just the perfect date to fall in love, or perhaps just discuss the egg to meat ratio in making the perfect meatball. Either way, this place is delightful. It's sexy, and the contemporary American cuisine is unique and offers a great variety of dishes.
With the potential of love on the brain, or perhaps a hankering for meatballs, I started with the soft shell crab appetizer (shown with my happy smiling face in the picture). Breaded and fried to absolute perfection it was tender, juicy and was mild and delicious. The Entrees included the Alaskan Halibut which was light, and fresh with braised celery, morel mushrooms, and fava beans. The Roasted Salmon was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with savoy cabbage, and a tangy coriander vinaigrette.
Delish. Absolute Delish.
For desert we opted to share the Key Lime Pie. As our forks swirled, clanked, and met in the middle it was clear to me that Gemini Bistro would always have a special place in my heart.
Oh, I should mention two very unique drinks, and really, I just love the names of these drinks...the Heater, and the Squirtsky. I would like to have the job that gets to name drinks, and OPI nail polish. My color would be the coolest, deepest shade of red and I would call it the "Flame Thrower".
Ahhhh love....it's got me all off my game. Now what?
Until next week!
Gemini Bistro is located at 2075 North Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 773.525.2522
In these photos: Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess
Find me on Facebook, www.gametimedine.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do You Macku? LP sushi beyond just sushi
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sushi is deliciousness in my opinion. Clean eating, non-gluttonous, and perfect with a great non-filtered sake before going out. There are many sushi options in our fine town but few that take sushi to the next level. Macku artfully manages to balance savory and sweet flavors with intention in each bite that chef Macku Chan creates while teasing the eye and the taste buds with a beautiful presentation on each plate. Starting with a slightly soggy and unsalted Edamame, I was admittedly apprehensive about what lies ahead. My next course however was a beautifully poured aromatic white asparagus soup that definitely left me wanting for more. The hamachi was not just tossed on a plate, it was nicely placed on a flower of red beets and pureed microgreens-clean, flavorful, and delicious. The tuna tartare was to die for served up on the spicier side with avocado and I hope it becomes a permanent fixture on the menu, get it now while on special!
The mackarel had been depleted for the evening, bummer because I was there for a 7:00 seating, and the substitute recommendation of fly fish tasted gamey-not bad-just not what I expected to taste. The Maki rolls were straightforward, the rainbow roll looked lovely but I was too full to eat a bite. I was hoping for desert but was too full, just kidding, just went for the Mochi but noticed that some of the desserts made their way over from Kaze-the previous sushi stop of Chef Chan.
Service was exceptional, and no one said a word, shut off the music, or turned off the lights while I gabbed away with my friend -the last two people in the joint-until 10:45!
Walk ins beware-even on a Tuesday night at 7:00 I need a reservation, or expect to be waiting awhile!
Macku, 2239 N. Clybourn-773-880-8012-Open Daily 5pm-Close
Labels: Macku, sushi
"About Last Night..." Gia Gets Unzipped
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The light of the candles flickered. The soft, sexy sounds of Cafe del Mar played in the background. It was a magical night. "Are you ready?", "yes, I'm ready", "is this what you wanted?", "absolutely" I said with a smile. It was love, love at first sight. Insert a record SCCCCRRRATCH now, as the only love I was feelin that night was for the man-size, ginormous, hunkilicious, ELVIS burger from Stanley's Kitchen and Tap. "Mmmmmmm, sooo gooood" was all I could say as I literally clapped when Cydney brought this dish to the table. But first, let me rewind and tell you about Stanley's Kitchen and Tap IN THE EVENT THAT you did not see my 30 second spot on the Game Time Dine Season Premier!
Stanley's is a place you go when you want to feel like you're just hanging out at a neighborhood joint. It's like eating at home, minus the cooking and clean up factor. The place is chock full of things to do from brunches, theme nights, the famous Burger Bar, and if you're a Long Horn fan this is your place! But the extensive menu is what makes this place feel so great. You'll find Chef Jaysen's menu to be full of yummy comfort food such as macaroni and cheese, a variety of amazing sandwiches, and extraordinary dishes like his famous shrimp and cheese grit creation which is outstanding. The drink and desert menu is equally broad with drinks like Sucker Punch, Texas Tea and Spiked Milkshakes. Famous for the fried chicken I couldn't resist this choice either on this particular lovely night. I stared the Elvis burger down and enjoyed the Angus beef with pimento cheese and tiny, crisp onion rings. I should have been embarrassed at the amount of food consumed, but when it's this good you just subtly unzip, or unbutton, whichever is your thing, and keep the good stuff coming.
Check it out - there's something fun going on every day of the week!
In fact, I'll be there again Saturday so don't delay - I'm going for brunch. I'll be the girl, in loose sweatpants licking my fingers from the fried chicken (not really on the pants...you know me better than that!).
Stanley's Kitchen & Tap is located at 1970 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 312.642.0007
In these photos: Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess, Cyndey, Fabulous Server at Stanley's
See you next week! check me (Gia Claire) out on Facebook, Twitter or email Gia@efete.net
Labels: dating and dining in chicago, new restaurants
To Market with Mo: tiny but intense...
...clearly I am not describing myself, unless of course women who are six feet tall are suddenly deemed 'tiny'. No, 'tiny but intense' best befits micro-greens. Let me tell you, I cannot get my fill of these petite doses of green. And, in this 'super-sized' world we live in, it is so incredibly refreshing to find something so wonderfully tasty in micro-size.
Hitting the last few indoor farmers markets, the biggest clue that we are nearing outdoor market season (fyi...Green City kicks off the outdoor Chicago area farmers market season on May 12th. How excited am I?!?
) is the presence of the micro-greens. Nothing complicated or exotic here, micro-greens are simply the seedlings that are harvested before developing into mature greens and/or herbs. Oh, but add a few micro-greens to a dish and turn on the instant 'wow' factor. Those you are feeding just might think they are being served something complex and exotic, when all you prepared was a simple omelet that suddenly looks fresher, prettier and most important, tastier.
I dare not call them 'cute'. No, nothing 'cute' could pack such a punch of flavor and nutrition. Think of them as a super concentrated form of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and a zing of flavor. A great way to sneak in more 'healthy' into any dish. And back to 'keep it simple' in the kitchen, what could be easier than adding some to a sandwich or wrap (boy that trumps a flavorless leaf of iceberg
), garnish a pizza, quesadilla, stir fry, or piece of grilled fish, add to sushi and maki rolls, salads, or forget the mature salad greens and make a salad using only micro greens. The other day I gave my favorite Spring dish of grilled asparagus topped with a fried egg the 'wow' factor with a topping of Three Sisters Garden
mixed mirco-greens. I did not think I could love this dish more. Wow
, I do love this dish more.
Some of my favorite sources for la petite
greens are Three Sisters Garden
mixed micros and petite pea greens, Tiny Greens
for, oh where do I begin, bronze fennel, radish, curly cress, arugula, amaranth, onion, sunflower, to name a handful, and Heritage Prairie Farms
for mixed micros. I recommend using your greens soon after getting them home, but if you are not ready to use right away, store in a closed container (the plastic bag or container you brought them home in are perfectly fine
) in the fridge for up to a week.
Micro-greens: proof that great things come in small packages (present company excluded from that statement of course ;)
See you at the markets!
Labels: Chicago Farmers Markets, Heritage Prairie Farms, micro greens, seasonal organic produce, Three Sister's Garden, Tiny Greens
Mangia Mangia!..."Diet Bytes by Sandy"
Monday, April 19, 2010
With swimsuit season around the corner, you may be pondering your next weight loss endeavor. This probably isn't your first attempt to drop the pounds. In the past, you've likely cut calories, skipped meals, and given up your favorite snacks all in hopes of watching the numbers on the scale get smaller and smaller.
Remember back to that unpleasant feeling of dissatisfied hunger and constant crankiness. It wasn't fun, but...it's normal, right? Wrong. You have to eat in order to lose weight!
It's true that we need to burn calories in order to lose body fat. But, our body still needs a certain amount of calories, or "energy" in order to carry out its basic functions. The common misconception that is if we just eat less and less and exercise more and more, we'll continue to shrink until we've attained our goal weight. Not so easy. Once we deprive the body of the energy it needs to function, we go into conservation mode. The body senses that we're starving, slows the metabolism, and conserves stored body fat.
Think of calories like the gas in a car...if you continually put too little gas in the tank, the car will stall. Calories are needed to support our organs, muscle, immune system, hormones, etc. When we undereat, we aren't supporting our organs, and eventually, they'll shut down.
Most women need at least 1,400-1,500 calories a day and most men need at least 1800-1900. However, if you're active, you'll need many more. Consult a dietitian to be sure that you're eating enough. Or, you can use this quick and dirty tool online http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598.
If you think you may be undereating, you should consider these common signs and symptoms:
Are you constantly tired, cranky, or cold?
Is your hair thinning, or have you been ill more frequently than usual?
Do you have intense cravings and trouble concentrating?
If this sounds like you, focus on structured mealtimes. Most people skimp on breakfast, eat a little more at lunch, then feast at dinner time. Try to have at least 400-500 calories (for women) or at least 600 calories (for men) at every meal, plus snacks. Remember that breakfast skippers are more likely to be obese and develop type 2 diabetes. Get in some morning grub within 1 hour of waking up and aim for fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Try Greek yogurt with almonds and a piece of fruit. Or, grill up an omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Get in the proper amount of calories by picking healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, and string cheese. "Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."-Jim Rohn.
Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN
Kick Ass Cast and Nicole Richie in Chicago!
The cast of the new film Kick Ass
were in Chicago last week walking the red carpet at the AMC River East downtown. I had the chance to speak with the stars of the film Aaron Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz. Aaron told me about mishaps on the set of the film and and his feelings about becoming a daddy soon! And Chloe is only 13, but so mature for her age. She told me how she plans to stay grounded throughout her career and how she learned her stunts. Be sure to click here
to view the video. Also, I spoke to Christopher Mintz-Plasse, better known as "McLovin." He stars in Kick Ass
as "Red Mist" and also hit Chicago this weekend. He told me all about what his plans were for the opening weekend of the film and how he planned to attend a Cubs game while in town! Interview is here
! Kick Ass debuted in second at this weekend's box office behind How to Train Your Dragon
with $19.75 million.
Also, Nicole Richie was at the Nordstrom's on Michigan Ave. last week promoting her new clothing line Winter Kate. You can take a look at the pictures here
. She also dined at Sunda while in town.
Labels: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Kick Ass, Nicole Richie
"About Last Night..." I'm turning Japonais I think I'm turning Japonais I really think so...
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
No, I didn't see Jennifer Aniston, nor did I see Vince Vaughn, but then again that was a few years ago that they were frequently spotted at this local, fabulous, amazingly sexy place. Ahhh, sigh, that reminds me, I must call Jennifer and see how things are going with that secret kiss with Brad, but then again, who really cares? I have my own secrets, slightly juicer than hers if I might add. But I digress.
Japonais has been on my list for some time now because, yes, if it's good enough for these two fab celebrities it's certainly worth a trip right? Not to mention it has been listed as one of the TOP 66 Restaurants in the...ahem...world!
True that. This place rocks. The vibe is chic and sexy and it's a perrrrrfect place to have a date. Thank God I was on a fabulous date, with a gorgeous man who was dripping sexy just like this hot spot tucked away on Chicago Ave. I would hate to waste this experience (not to mention my new skinny True Religion jeans!). As in most cases I entrust the entire meal experience to the resident server whom I trust has extensive knowledge of the menu. So only moments after arriving the array of food was on its way. Executive Chefs Jun Ichikawa and Gene Kato have done an amazing job of combining modern day Japan with European elegance. I will tell you in advance that ALL ingredients, sushi, sashimi, and everything in between was absolutely fresh, creative, and delicious. We had so many rounds of appetizers that my head was spinning. Bin Cho (marinated baby tuna),
Kimo (monkfish foie gras wrapped in octopus), Spicy Mono (spicy octopus roll), a variety of sashimi, and my ALL TIME FAVORITE..."The Rock", thinly sliced marinated new york strip steak cooked on a hot rock presentation. This was fun, interesting and so very tasty.
AS IF, food could get any better. I was in heaven.
Later that night...a little "Soldier of Love" by Sade to top off the night.
Does it get any better than that? Not so much.
Japonais is located at 600 W. Chicago 312.822.9600
Check me out of Facebook and Twitter "Gia Claire" or email me Gia@efete.net
To Market with Mo: chestnuts now?
Friday, April 9, 2010
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost..." Whoa, whoa, whoa sister, stop already, wrong time of year. It's time for green to start showing all it's beautiful new shades, not for popping freshly roasted chestnuts into our pockets to keep warm.
Oh, but wait. It does not have to be wintry to enjoy chestnuts. Yes, prime season is Fall and Winter(hello chestnuts and Brussels sprouts),
but a recent wander thru the farmer's market (a stop at Hillside Orchards stand to be specific)
and, low and behold, one of my favs in another form. Or I should say forms: chestnuts peeled, frozen, vacuum-packed and ready to go, chestnut flour, and something I had not seen before, chestnut 'slices' and 'chips' (these are freeze dried slices of chestnuts to enjoy as is as a snack, garnish salads or veggies, pulverize to a 'breading' for fish or meats, or rehydrate and use like you would fresh chestnuts.)
Oh sure, frozen are a great stand-in for fresh: to use in stuffings and soups, but the sweet tooth has been doggin' me a bit more than usual (I'll blame Easter, yeah, that's it...) so I'm thinking souffles, puddings, ice cream, or puree (for crepe filling, of course). Why stop at the crepe filling, bring on the chestnut flour to make those crepes, that need filling.
Chestnut flour. In both Europe, and here in the States, chestnut flour was a staple used more than wheat flour. It was the wheat flour that was more of a luxury (go figure). Then bam, a 20th century chestnut blight, and oh how the tables turned. But lucky us, the majority of stateside chestnut growers, rebuilding blighted trees, are located just across 'the lake' in Michigan.
Gluten-free, low fat, and nutritious, chestnut flour is a great stand-in for wheat flour. Chestnut flour does lack gluten, and is denser than wheat flour, so in some recipes you might want to mix with wheat flour, or other GF flours if you are celiac or gluten intolerant. You don't want to mess around with mixing flours, and are hankering to whip up something sweet? Here is a simple and delicious brownie recipe courtesy of the Chestnut Growers, Inc
. (which Hillside Orchards is a member of
2/3 cup chestnut flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 stick plus 2 T butter
1 c sugar
2 t vanilla
1/2 c chestnut 'slices' or walnuts or pecans (optional)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in small bowl; set aside. Fit a 16x12 inch piece of foil in the bottom of a 13"x9" pan, using the overhang as handles. Spray foil with cooking spray.
Chop chocolate, and melt with butter in a bowl, over a pot of simmering water. When completely melted remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and vanilla, then the eggs. Continue whisking until smooth and glossy.
Add the dry ingredients (including 'slices' or nuts if using) until just blended. Spread batter evenly in the pan. Bake approximately 40 minutes (or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use foil handles to remove sheet of brownies from the pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut. Serve. Devour.
See you at the markets!
Labels: chestnut flour, Chestnut Growers, Green City Market, HIllside Orchards, Inc, seasonal organic produce
A Well-Done Steakhouse - RB Grille
RB Grille, the new adjoining eatery to Rock Bottom Brewery, is a Chicago novelty - a reasonably priced downtown steakhouse where the quality of food isn’t completely dependent on the price. And while the wine list is on par with similar restaurants, it’s the craft beers (courtesy of their next door neighbor) that elevate the experience. Forget wine pairings – the beer flights are the better choice and an area where RB Grille really shines. The servers wax poetic about stouts, ales and lagers and you get to taste-test three generous pours of their finest brews.
The ample serving size is a recurring theme and it works beautifully. Every dish I sampled was about one and half times larger than expected…which is great if you have a hearty appetite and a limited budget. I can’t imagine how anyone could leave RB Grille still hungry. The jumbo crab cake earns its name with two sizable cakes filled with lump crab and little else. They’re meaty, flavorful and well-paired with a charred sweet onion and roasted corn & tomato relish. While it’s technically an appetizer, you could easily mistake it for a small entrée. The bacon wrapped scallops are another delicious starter, served with a spicy aioli and Thai chili sauce.
I was initially impressed by the size of the buttery Atlantic salmon, but it looked paltry in comparison to the massive Delmonico 10-ounce steak. This thick, juicy bone-in cut took up an entire plate, but I had no complaints. It was exactly what a steak should be and arrived with the singular best baked potato I’ve ever eaten. The only competition to my new favorite spud was the miniature peanut butter cream pie in a chocolate crust filled with ultra creamy peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache and crushed peanut butter cups. It’s the perfect size for a small indulgence, but rich enough to satisfy a strong sweet tooth. Even better – it’s only a $2.50 a dessert.
The restaurant itself looks like an upscale extension of the brewery. Brick walls, black leather booths, dark accents and low lighting make the room both comfortable and slightly nondescript. It’s a welcoming, warm environment that matches the menu – accessible, familiar and appealing to a mainstream crowd.
While RB Grille’s prime location at the intersection of State and Grand will make it a perfect draw for downtown shoppers and weekend tourists, it’s also an appealing dining destination for Chicagoans. We’re a city that savors a hearty steak and celebrates quality beer. And in a tougher economic climate, it’s a rarity to enjoy both on a tighter budget. RB Grille finds a much-needed middle ground and caters to both our appetites and wallets.
"About Last Night..." Triple G...Gaga...Gia...Graham
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
WHO is that hot blonde? Ahhh simmer down, it's just me, Gia, in a mood to be Lada GaGa for a night. Why not right? It was a night to remember for sure. The festivities kicked off at a most desired restaurant, Graham Elliot appropriately located in the Gallery District. If you've never heard of this place you must Google it immediately because A. the website is very cool, and B. it's AMAZING. Housed in a 19th Century printing warehouse the vibe is hip, relaxed but buzzing with ultra cool people (Gaga included). As Graham puts it, the menu is a juxtaposition of four star cuisine with humor and accessibility. When our server mentioned that the Chef was once known to crack up Altoids and Cheezits out of the vending machine to complement various meals I knew I was in the right place. Truly, this is Chicago's first "Bistronomic" restaurant.
Ordering almost an entire side of the menu I sat back and awaited the meal to begin with a delicious glass of Chardonnay and to my surprise a basket of popcorn? Indeed, like nothing Orville could create. This had garlic and truffle oil and I was horking it down like I was in a movie theatre. Not my best idea as there were crumbs lining the front of my shirt like I hadn't seen food in a decade. Regardless, I swished it off and resumed my position for this gastronomic experience. The portions were small but there were many of them. Nothing was done in typical fashion. Each piece was done like a painting on a canvas. Caesar salad, Beet Salad, Bisque, Macaroni (more garlic and truffle oil), Scallops, Beef. They were all exquisite! The flavors and presentation were all very unique and tasted rich, yet subtle as you could easily move through all the courses without feeling like you've overeaten (not that I would know of course). The desert plate was a chocolate combination of Guinness/malt/cocoa, which I enjoyed with a glass of NV Pineto, Brachetto, Piedmonte from Italy. It was THE best desert wine and complemented the chocolate deliciously.
Though not an inexpensive start to the night I would say it is a PERFECT date night. Especially if your date is picking up the tab and they happen to be a VP, Surgeon, or Entrepreneur - you get what I'm saying, not a first date "we'll see how it goes" kinda night.
Needless to say, blonde wig in tow the night kicked up quite a bit and ended in a strange twist of events. From Crobar to Spy Bar I just couldn't keep the blonde thing up and ended up in my a la natural self....a little wiser...and as always...a little crazier.
Next week I cook on lava rocks. Stay tuned!
Graham Elliot is located at 217 W. Huron St. Chicago, IL 312.624.9975
In these photos: Gia Claire, Professional Bloggess and unnamed super cool guy!
Labels: Chicago dating and dining, dating and dining, new restaurants
Celebs Dining in Chicago!
The cast of FOX's hit show Glee was in town this weekend to tape an episode of Oprah! Some of the cast members including Mark Salling, Cory Monteith, Harry Shum Jr., and Naya Rivera were spotted having dinner and drinks Saturday night at SushiSamba Rio. They enjoyed maki rolls and shots of chilled Patron. Sounds delish! Also, hit singer Michael Buble was spotted enjoying a late lunch recently at State and Lake restuarant at the Wit Hotel. He was in town for a sold-out performance at the Allstate Arena. Finally, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan dined the other day at Mercadito restaurant for dinner with five friends.
Are you the worst cook in Chicago? Then you might want to head over to the casting call for the new Food Network TV show Worst Cooks in America
. The casting will be Saturday, April 17th from 9am-3pm at the Affinia Chicago (166 East Superior St.). For more info be sure to click here
Labels: Cooks, Glee, Michael Buble, Michelle Kwan, Showbiz Shelly
Spring Break Mistake?..."DietBytes by Sandy"
While most of us have already taken our springtime holiday, others are restlessly awaiting their pre-summer getaway. For high schoolers and college kids, spring break is synonymous with binge-drinking and flirty rendezvous. For us boring working-folk, it means a hiatus from our jobs and daily responsibilities, and some well-deserved "downtime." Usually, in addition to taking a break from our hectic daily lives, we tend to desert our usual eating/diet plan and replace it with breakfast buffets, fast food lunches, and heavy dinners topped with heavier desserts, because after all...we are on vacation!
Here are some vital tips for eating and being healthier on vacation...and some ways to get back on track post-trip:
1.) (Try to) avoid airport fare: I'm always watching people make terrible food choices at airports. It's like they're nervous that they may never eat again! For flights that are 2-3 hours long, there is no risk of starving to death. Eat a meal at home before you go to the airport and bring a small snack just in case. For longer flights, look for sandwiches, wraps and fresh fruit to fill you up. And don't forget to pack some nuts, low-fat granola bars, or whole wheat crackers in case you have a long delay or sudden hunger attack.
2.) Beware of buffets: If you must dine a la "all-you-can eat," fill your plate up only once. Yes, you can pile it high, but chain yourself to your seat afterwards. Fill half your plate with veggies and the other half with one-fourth lean protein and one-fourth whole grains.
3.) Make your trade-offs: We all have some room for "discretionary calories," especially on vacation. The Food Guide Pyramid actually allows 100-300 discretionary calories (based on your activity level). So, that means you can have an extra drink or two at dinner. But, you should make a choice whether you want a margarita or fried ice cream. And furthermore, if you're gonna treat yourself, why not make it something you wouldn't usually eat at home? Most restaurants serve bread with dinner or french fries with meals, but you may not always have the chance to try an exotic dessert or an inventive cocktail.
4.) Add activity: The only way to "undo" or correct any less-than-desirable food choices on vacation is to...MOVE! Most hotels have gyms, or you can walk, run, or bike to explore your surroundings. When you get home, check the scale and then get back on track with your eating plan. Exercising at least a few times on vacation, can help to avoid weight gain. We all know how easy it is to gain a pound or 2 when we aren't paying attention, which makes returning to reality even more dreadful!
Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN