Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Quick Restaurant Recap

I'm completely behind on blogging due to business in other areas of my life.  I still have to blog about a 4 day trip to Vancouver in July (go! Vancouver was amazing!).  And I have a ton of restaurants.  Since I didn't even take pictures at most of them I'll just give a rundown here.

Do not miss:  We recently dined at Balsan in the new Elysian Hotel and Stephanie Izard's Girl and the Goat. Both were absolutely fantastic meals that I cannot say enough about.  Girl and the Goat is a hard reservation to get so make one really far in advance.

Very good:  I've also been to Sunda, Sushi Samba Rio, Spring, and Naha that were delicious.  Unfortunately Spring is closing as of January 1.  Naha I only went for lunch so I can't wait to return for dinner at some point. 

Slight Disappointment:  Piccolo Sogno. I'd heard so many rave reviews about this place.  Reservations were hard to get.  Food was good.  But not overwhelmingly good.  I've had lots of better Italian around town.

In other exciting news, the Chicago Michelin Guide will be available November 18.  My new goal is to eat at every michelin-starred restaurant listed.  That should keep me busy for a while.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicago Gourmet

We had the pleasure of attending Chicago Gourmet at Millennium Park this past Sunday.  We got there early and lined up to get in.  There were over 50 food booths, countless wine, beer and alcohol tasting booths, cooking demonstrations, food and wine seminars, and book signings.

They had a separate line for people with Groupons to check in and the line went very fast.

First stop was for some booze at the prosecco booth.  Yum.

Unfortunately I can't remember the details of all the dishes and we didn't get pictures of everything but I'll do my best.  We started at the Mediterranean tent.  Avli Restaurant was serving an octopus dish.

Riva had tuna with watermelon on a piece of crispy bread.  I didn't really care for the watermelon flavor with the tuna.

Prosecco had a delicious risotto crabcake.

Cod salad from C-House.  Flavor was a little too smokey for me.

One sixtyblue had a  spicy lump crab meat with apple, melon, and mint and some foam that was our second favorite dish of the night.

Spring/Green Zebra had shrimp with some sort of fancy lettuce and a piece of what seemed to be vegan cheese to me.  The shrimp had an excellent flavor.  The cheese was disappointing.

The Gage had some sort of fish with foam over a butternut squash.  The fish was pretty good, the squash was not.

Oceanique had a seafood salad with lobster and scallops that was very good.

This dessert was from the Gage and had pumpkin in it with a marshmallow on top and a caramel crisp on the side.

Baklava custard with pecans from Chalkboard.

Squash ravioli from Piccolo Sogno.  I haven't been that impressed with Piccolo Sogno after both dinner there and this tasting.  Others rave about it though.

Buttermilk panacotta from Floriole Bakery.

The French tasting tent.  We had a coq au vin from The Chopping Block that was so tender it fell right off the bone.  Unfortunately we didn't get a picture.

LM's station.

Cinnamon rice pudding from LM.  I found this too sweet and I'm not a huge fan of cinnamon.  Nick loved it.

Heirloom tomato salad with watermelon from Epic.  Although the tomatoes were delicious, this is something I could have made at home in 3 minutes.

Les Nomades - chilled soup, mini macarons (almond), and chocolates with passion fruit and pumpkin fillings.

Cafe des Architectes had a saffron bouillabaise which was one of my favorites of the day.

Firefly was serving a delicious mini-BLT with some of the best bacon I've ever tasted on a brioche.

Tacos from Zapatista.

At this point I needed to rest my belly to get ready for round 2.

So we had some beers that came in cute little cups.

Round 2 started.  This was our favorite dish of the day.  Sunda was serving a miso soup with crab meat.  We can't wait to make a reservation at Sunda now.

A blackberry dessert by Sixteen.  I think Nick voted this his favorite dessert.  I was skipping most of the desserts to leave room for food.

I waited in the longest line ever for L2O and was kind of disappointed.  L2O was serving a tandoori shrimp with mango that was nothing special.

Dirk's Fish and Gourmet Market was serving this very filling shrimp and rice dish.

A little muffin with chocolate filling from Bittersweet.

My favorite dessert as I love macarons.  Chocolate, sesame seed with chocolate, and foie gras macarons.

Next was the Gastropub tent which turned out to be a huge disappointment as 3 out of the 5 restaurants had run out of food by the time we got there.  And we got there only about 45 minutes to an hour after they opened!  First was pheasant balls by the Paramount Room.  We'd never had pheasant before and were pleasantly surprised.

We also had a reuben from Luxbar that we didn't get a picture of.  We're not sauerkraut fans so this wasn't our favorite.  Balsan was serving a pig trotter terrine which we'd had the previous night at dinner that was pretty good.

Sepia was serving a lamb sausage that we really enjoyed.

I convinced Nick to try the veal sweetbreads from Chicago Firehouse.  They weren't our favorite but they weren't gross like he thought they'd be.  We didn't get a picture of those either.

Stetsons was serving beef with pumpkin grits.  The pumpkin grits were delicious.

Park Grill had beef and tomatoes which was a little plain.

One of the dessert tents was sold out as well but we got a mini dessert trio with mousse and a cookie from C-House.

The Asian tent was our last stop and was out of several things as well which was not surprising considering the event was almost over.  We had Asian pulled pork from Red Light that was wonderful and a spicy Indian fusion soup from Vermillion that I loved as well.

I would highly recommend attending Chicago Gourmet 2011.  Both this year and last year had Groupons available for the Sunday event that were a considerable savings over the usual ticket price.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Paris - Day 4

Last day in Paris.  4 days was definitely not enough for us!  We started at the Eiffel Tower where we waited a ridiculously long time.  We didn't get to go all the way to the top because it was closed until just before we went up due to the wind.  Then by the time it opened the line for the top was extremely long since no one had been allowed up all day.

We ate lunch along Rue Cler which is known for being a great market street where you can pick up your fish, your cheese, your bread, and everything else you could need from the little shops.  Unfortunately it was Monday and a lot of things were closed.

Then we headed over to the Champs Elysees.  We had two very important stops to make.  Stop 1 was at Lauduree to try some of their famous macarons.  We got yelled at for taking pictures.

Stop 2 was at the Louis Vuitton flagship store.  I've never seen such craziness.  I saw people buying multiple very expensive bags at a time.  I also saw people at the airport with whole trolleys full of their purchases that they were waiting in the VAT line for.  If you're in the market for an expensive purse I recommend making your purchase in Paris.  Due to the exchange rate, the purse was slightly cheaper.  Add in the fact that I got my VAT refunded and didn't have to pay 10% sales tax if I'd bought in Chicago and it was about $200 cheaper.

We had to hurry because were meeting up with Liz and Ellen again to do a bike tour around town.  You know it was an American company running this tour because they made us wear these hideous safety vests.  The French would never left safety get in the way of something as important as fashion.

Not long after we started, we got rained and hailed on (for the second time of the trip!) which is why we are also wearing these sexy ponchos in addition to the vests.

You can see the ominous clouds coming.

After the rain finally stopped it was quite beautiful at night, although also quite miserable being as we were soaking wet and freezing.

The best part was biking around the Louvre at night.  So quiet and beautiful all lit up.

Liz and I looking slightly bedraggled.

After the bike ride, a river cruise along the Seine was included.  Our guides brought wine which our group managed to polish off.  The river cruise is a don't miss event in my book.  It's nice to see the city from a different vantage point.

I can't say that I'd recommend a bike tour.  First, there were lots of older people who kept randomly falling off their bikes or being very slow.  One group made it about a half of a mile before someone fell and the whole group gave up which we then had to wait for our guide to take them back to the shop.  It was also hard to bike as we kept having to stop and start because of Paris traffic.  Finally the tour was supposed to run 6 pm - 10 pm, then we were going to grab a late dinner.  The tour went until midnight and the Metro was nearly closed at that point.  And I was starving!  The company was excellent though and our guides were very entertaining and knowledgeable about the city so there were some high points.