Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flour Bakery's Famous Banana Bread

I love banana bread, especially ones that are crusty yet moist in the middle.  There's nothing like it.  

I saw this recipe online and apparently Chef Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston is famous for her banana bread so I thought it was worth trying.  I had some leftover batter so I made some mini muffins.  Don't they look scrumptious?  :)

Sweet & Savories - Chicago, IL

A friend of mine recommended Sweets & Savories to me awhile back for the Sunday prix fixe menu.  For $14, you get a two course meal that comes with coffee or tea and a plate of baked goods.  It sounded like a great bargain to me so a few of my girlfriends and I planned a Sunday Brunch there recently.  

It's on Fullerton, but the front is very unassuming so it's pretty easy to completely miss it.  I ended up having to drive past it a few times.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I made these as a side to go with the Chicken Piccata with Pasta dish.  I loved roasted brussels sprouts and I saw these great plump sprouts at the market recently so I couldn't resist.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken Piccata with Pasta

I made this dish for my friend Yeena after she had her baby.  Anyone that is expecting soon, should sign up for MealBaby.  It's a great way to help out new moms.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just called my cousin to ask what I should bring for Thanksgiving dinner.  I asked what he was doing and he said he's making chicken stock.  Two days before Thanksgiving and Jung's making chicken stock from scratch.  omg, he's crazier than I am!

He really outdoes himself every year!  I can't wait for turkey day.  I hope everyone has a "Jung" in their family who will stuff them silly with amazing food.  Have a safe and happy thanksgiving everyone.  I'll try to post pics of our meal after I get back.  It's going to be sooo good.  :)

Chizakaya - Chicago, IL

You would never know it but San Diego has a huge Japanese community and as a result there are some great Japanese eateries there.  I've had amazing sushi, yakitori and ramen there, among other delicious things.  One of my favorite places to go was Yakitori Yakyudori.  Yakitori means "grilled bird" in Japanese and it refers to skewers of meat that they barbeque over a charcoal grill.  The selection of meats, ranging from chicken hearts to squid tentacles, is endless.  

Izakaya's are Japanese drinking establishments or pubs that sell small plates or snacks to accompany the beers and sake.  Ever since I moved to Chicago, I've been on the look out for one here, but there haven't been any contenders, until now.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It's hard to believe it's almost been a month since Halloween, but if you recall, we carved a couple pumpkins this year.  I've always wanted to try roasting pumpkin seeds so I made the kiddies save the pumpkin seeds so soomeenshee emo could use them later.  I found similar recipes online.  I happen to have Lawry's seasoned salt on hand so I used that, but you can use any seasoning that you like.      

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lillie's Q - Chicago, IL

When I heard that a Southern BBQ restaurant was opening in our neighborhood, I was uber excited.  My roommate and I actually tried coming here once for dinner, but we were quoted a 45 minute wait, so we went elsewhere.  My friends and I came back on a weeknight and had no problems getting a table.  

We went when it was relatively nice out so their windows were wide open and a nice warm breeze circled around us all night.  It definitely had that southern bbq joint feel to it.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Robert's Absolute Best Brownies

I have a weakness for brownies: fudgy, chewy brownies to be precise.  I've tried making brownies from scratch before, but often times they end up worst than those boxed brownie mixes.  I was about to throw my hands up in surrender and stock emergency boxes of Ghiradelli brownie mixes, until I saw this post on Leite's Culinaria's blog for these brownies.  This recipe is from David Lebovitz's book, Ready for Dessert.  Apparently the late Robert Steinberg, who cofounded Scharffen Berger chocolate, created this recipe.  You have to believe the founder of Scharffen Berger chocolate must have a good brownie recipe or two.  

I have to admit, I didn't even use good quality chocolate in my batch, I used a standard bag of semisweet chocolate chips and these were divine and surprisingly simple to make.  Not to mention, you'll get a good arm workout as well (you will soon see why).  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arami - Chicago, IL

Arami is a new sushi restaurant that opened in Ukrainian Village in August.  My friends went for dinner one night in September, so this post is clearly overdue.  I can't really remember all the details, but we had a lovely meal and hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.  

Arami is owned by Troy and Ty Fujimora, who also own Small Bar and the Exchange, and BK Park, former chef of Mirai.  Their menu is composed of hot and cold appetizers, noodles, donburi and sushi.  I had heard great things about Mirai so I knew the sushi would be great but I was so excited that they would be serving ramen.  You all know how I feel about ramen.  It's also BYOB, but they have Noble Grape's menu on hand so you can order and they will deliver bottles for you as you eat.    

We started off with some cold appetizers to share.  Here is the Togarashi Seared Tuna, topped with a creamy meyer lemon dressing.  Underneath it was a seaweed salad and kelp noodle.  I loved the textures and the juxtaposition of flavors, in particular the togarashi spices with the lemon dressing.  Oddly enough, it works!  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gastro-Wagon - Chicago, IL

In cities like LA and NYC, food trucks are all the rage, but in Chicago, there's a law prohibiting food trucks to cook on the road.  Trucks are only permitted to sell prepackaged foods.  The city is considering legislation to change all of this, but for now, some food trucks like Gastro-Wagon or various cupcake perveyors have been driving around town selling their premade goodies to the hungry masses.

I've heard about Gastro-Wagon but wasn't really motivated to chase them down, but one of my coworkers alerted me to their ascendance in the Loop for lunch one day so we decided to check it out.  We headed out around 12:15 and there was already a long line of people waiting.  Because all of the sandwiches, soups and desserts are already prepared and packaged, the line moves pretty fast.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lentil Soup with Winter Vegetables

I'm addicted to Mezza's Turkish Lentil soup.  I could eat this everyday for lunch.  It's a creamy and luscious soup with tons of great flavor.  I have yet to figure out what goes into this dish but when one of my friends lost her appetite and had strong aversions to certain foods, I thought this would be the perfect soup to make for her.  I found this recipe on Ms. Martha's website and thought it might be good to try.  Here are the veggies I used.  The recipe calls for celeriac, which is also known as celery root, but I couldn't find it readily so I just omitted it.  I used celery, carrots, onions and leeks.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

In Marcel Proust's novel, In Search of Lost Time, the narrator describes his encounter with short, plump little cakes, otherwise known as madeleines, in this way:  

"... a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…"

I had a similar experience with my first madeleine cookie in high school.  My aunt had a coffee shop back in the day and she would always bring back leftover cakes, cookies and croissants for us.  Needless to say, our kitchen was always stocked with baked goods (this probably explains my sweet tooth) and I would always eat them as snacks while doing my homework.  One day, these unassuming plump little cakes must have been accidentally placed in the bag of leftovers and made their way to our house.  The scalloped edges should have clued me in, but those details were lost on me back then.  Upon my first bite, time seemed to stand still and the geometric equations that I tried so hard to ingrain in my head dissipated as quickly as the buttery crumbs dissolved on my tongue.  Madeleine cookies are one of life's great pleasures or in my case, the best distractions from geometry equations.  Proust and I are definitely in agreement there.  

Most people start their baking collection with a cookie sheet or cake pans.  My first purchase was a madeleine pan.  Believe me, if I could line my walls with these shell-shaped madeleine pans I would.  I've tried various recipes in the past, but I took a brief hiatus from baking and I lost track of the recipes I had used.  So this time around, I decided to try a different one all together.  I am a fan of David Lebovitz, and he lives in France, so I thought he would surely lead me in the right direction.  

I have to say, these were more labor intensive than I remembered making in the past, but they produce beautiful madeleine cookies and they were well worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

German Apple Pancake

So a few weeks ago, Susan went apple picking with her nieces and nephews and brought back bags of delicious apples.  Even though we were eating apples morning, noon and night, it was hard to eat them all so I was inspired to cook or bake with it and made some German Apple Pancakes.  

Cho Sun Oak - Chicago, IL

One of the great joys of living with Susan is that we can go eat Korean food at random hours of the day.  One of my favorite places to eat Korean BBQ in Chicago is Cho Sun Oak.  I don't even know what kind of meat they have, all I know is that we always get cha dol bae gi, which is thinly sliced brisket.  As you can see, there's a lot of fat on this, but that is also what makes it very tender.  The plate below shows two orders of cha dol bae gi, so they definitely don't skimp on the meat.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Sugar Cookies

If you eat too many cookies in one sitting, like I did, this is what you might look like.  

Hehe, j/k.  This is one of the pumpkins we carved this weekend when we invited Susan's adorable nieces and nephews over to our place for our first housewarming.  They had previously visited once while we were still moving and settling in and our place was a mess so there wasn't much for them to do.  Even our attempts to bribe them with pizza were foiled when we walked over to Piece only to find that the wait would be over 45 mins that night.  This was our chance to redeem ourselves and let's face it, our reputations were at stake here.  I had to wow and dazzle them and subconsciously plant in their heads that Susan and Soomeenshee emo are really cool.  Let me tell you, it ain't easy trying to impress, let alone keep the attention span of three kids under the age of 7.  To aid us in our attempts, Susan and I bought three pumpkins for them to carve and we baked a bunch of sugar cookies for them to decorate.

In preparation for the big day, I asked a few friends for their go to recipes for sugar cookies and they gave me two recommendations.  One is Alton Brown's recipe and the other is from Allrecipes.com.  Being the nutcase that I am, I made a batch of each.  In my defense, I didn't think one batch would be enough for 3 kids and 3 adults and two batches ended up being the perfect amount of cookies for us to decorate and eat in the end.  They are both great recipes, but there are notable differences that are good to know for future use. 

If I'm making straight up, unfrosted sugar cookies to eat, I'd go with the Allrecipes.com recipe because it puffs up into a cloud of soft goodnesss and has a nice vanilla flavor to it.  However, if you're looking to cut out shapes and decorate them with frosting, Alton Brown's recipe is pretty darn fantastic.  Alton Brown's cookies hold their shape well.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cafe Chloe's Vanilla and Prune Scones

This post is way overdue.  I made these for my friend Yeena's baby shower a few month ago.  Needless to say, Yeena had her baby three weeks ago.  lol.  But fear not, in case you are in the mood to make some scones, here is a great recipe.  I recently also saw a recipe in the NY Times for the classic scone.  One of these days I shall try it for myself.  

I've been ambivalent about prunes, I'm neither offended nor enticed, but ever since my foray into Chicken Marbella, I've been intrigued by our wrinkly friends.  I've been saving this recipe for some time, but was weary about bringing a dish that has the word prune in it to a baby shower.  I had fears that everyone's dish would be devoured except for my plate of scones.  I even decided to rename it, vanilla and "dried plum" scones, hoping it would do the trick.  Lucky for me, it worked and my scones got some love.  If you are for some reason diametrically opposed to prunes, you can replace them with any dried fruit.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nutella, Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast

I was rummaging through my fridge and cupboard trying to come up with something to make for breakfast one weekend and vaguely remembered an episode on the Food Network for Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast from Cafe 222 in San Diego.  When I lived in San Diego, we would walk by Cafe 222 all the time but I never ate there before.  Apparently Bobby Flay loves their french toast so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I happened to have some Nutella in the cupboard so I was curious how Nutella would go with Peanut Butter and Bananas.  I ended up doing a sampling of all three flavor combinations and made three different types of french toast: one with just Nutella and bananas, another one with peanut butter and bananas and the last one with all three.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Huckleberry Cafe - Santa Monica, CA

I've been meaning to check out Huckleberry Cafe for awhile, so when I went home to LA last month and my friends wanted to meet up for brunch, I figured it would be the perfect place to meet.  

Huckleberry Bakery and Café is owned and operated by husband and wife team Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb. Zoe learned to bake at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, which is one of my favorites.  Josh opened Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen in December of 2006, which is where they both met and eventually fell in love.  They wanted to open up a local artisan bakery and cafe where friends, family and enthusiastic food lovers could come together to eat delicious homemade bread, pastries and savory food in a warm casual atmosphere.  

Huckleberry Cafe is definitely warm and inviting and if the lines out the door are any indication, I think they have succeeded.   Inside, their spread of sweet and savory foods is quite broad and expansive.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach, as always.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Bread

I don't know about you, but my bananas often ripen faster than I can consume them.  One trick that I've learned is to toss ripe bananas (unpeeled) as is, into your freezer.  A frozen banana looks like the one to the right.  

I've discovered that frozen bananas are great in smoothies or in this banana bread.  My roommate introduced me to this recipe and it's the bomb diggity, as my cousin Jung would say.  When you are ready to use these bananas for the bread, you don't need to defrost them for that long.  Just take them out for a few minutes before using, wait till it gets a little soft, run your knife down one of the sides and peel it off.  My roommate recently peeled it using the vegetable peeler and she said it worked great too.  Toss the semi-frozen banana into a bowl, mush it up with your fork and you have ripe bananas ready for your recipe.  I like freezing it in the peel because the fruit itself seems to retain a nice yellow color and it's so much easier to toss the whole thing into the freezer without having to wrap it in saran wrap.  Now for the  recipe!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

iCream - Chicago, IL

After dinner, we had plans to go see Inception.  But before we rushed off to the movie, we stopped by iCream for some dessert.  I first heard about iCream from my friend Will who told me that he saw the show on the Food Network show, Chef vs. City in Chicago.  I looked up the address and realized it was really close by and I have been meaning to try it out, but never got around to it ... until now.  
It's hard to see the storefront because it's sunken in, but be on the look out for this little banner on Milwaukee Avenue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sono Wood Fired - Chicago, IL

Yeena, Caroline and I made plans to have dinner at the newly opened Sono Wood-Fired near North and Clybourn.  It was touted as a new pizza date spot in Lincoln Park.  It sounded like an equally suitable place to share a meal with old friends.  Taking a cue from its name, you will soon realize that their specialty is wood and coal fired pizzas, which they bake in a special oven that they imported from Italy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Margie's Candies - Chicago, IL

Mary and I got to meet up one last time and went to Great Seas again.  She mentioned that she went to a cute little ice cream parlor in Bucktown.  I recently moved closer to Bucktown so I was intrigued to find a neighborhood ice cream place.  We decided to meet up with some of our friends there for dessert.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forever Yogurt - Chicago, IL

So are y'all all keeping track?  This is dessert number 3 for Mary and me.  Oh my goodness, I did not think it was humanely possible, but then again, I was warned that we would have a lot of time to kill and that we should save room for lots of desserts.   After dessert number 2 at Cloud 9, our friend Faith finally joined us and she hadn't eaten yet.  It was a bit too late to grab real food, but she said she wanted to eat froyo, so off we went to Bucktown to go check out the new self-serve frozen yogurt place called Forever Yogurt.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cloud 9 - Chicago, IL

What is Taiwanese Snow Ice doing in Lakeview, you ask?  I have no clue either, but I'm not complaining.  We spoke to the owners and they said it's their first outpost outside of Taiwan and I can totally see this being the next boba, the next tart yogurt trend to hit LA.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mario's Italian Lemonade - Chicago, IL

Right across the street from Al's No. 1 Italian Beef is Mario's Italian Lemonade.  I've heard good things about it and it's only open during the summers, so you definitely have to take advantage while you can.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Al's No. 1 Italian Beef - Chicago, IL

My dear friend Mary was in town last month and she emailed me weeks before and asked where we should go eat.  A woman after my own heart.  :)  She gets a kick out of getting mentioned on my blog, so she wanted to make sure we went somewhere that I hadn't been and could blog about.

I told her how Jung came to visit a few weeks back and how he loved Italian Beef sandwiches.  Mary never had one before so we thought we'd try Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy.  It's been on Food Wars and Man v. Food and is often pitted against Mr. Beef for the title of Chicago's best italian beef sandwiches, so I thought it warranted a visit.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

Cheese, salami and crackers.  check!      
Roasted chicken and gravy.  check!
Summer Corn Sauté.  check!   
Bottle of wine.  check!
Ice cream sandwiches made from smores cookies (courtesy of my friend Mary).  check!  

The only thing missing was potatoes.  I wanted something quick and easy, yet tasty.  I tried looking up some recipes and ended up at one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Summer Corn Sauté with Basil

I don't know why but whenever I have roasted chicken, I feel like I need corn.  Creamed, steamed, buttered or grilled, I don't mind, just so long as there's corn involved.  I saw a recipe for this in Bon Appetit where they use a bunch of fresh herbs.  I only had fresh basil on hand, so I just used that and it turned out great.  It's hard to mess up when corn is in season and you have fresh herbs on hand.  

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ina Garten's Lemon and Garlic Roasted Chicken

I invited Susan and Aleen over for dinner one night and made roasted chicken with some sides.  I had been eating out a lot and just wanted a home cooked meal.  It's too bad I didn't anticipate that it would take about 2 hours including prep time to make this so we didn't get to enjoy this till close to 10 pm.  Oops!  I will remember to get an earlier start next time.   Here's a preview of our late night meal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

El Taco Veloz - Chicago, IL

Jung and I tried eating at El Taco Veloz one day as a pre-meal snack, but we were in a rush and we didn't realize it was a sit down restaurant so we didn't get to try it.  He went back a few days later and told me about this soup that he had that had bacon in it.  At this point, he's tried deep dish pizzas, italian sausage and beef sandwiches and pork rinds at the Publican, so he is convinced that restaurants in Chicago, when in doubt, just add meat to everything.     

I got home pretty late from my trip from New York and didn't get to eat dinner, so I figured I'd stop by and check it out for myself.  

It's a few stores down from Alcala's Western Boots on Chicago Avenue.  You also can't miss the bright yellow sign.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream - New York, NY

So what does Soomeenshee do after eating a huge meal at Lure Fishbar?  Go eat ice cream of course! Yes, her stomach knows no bounds.  It so happened to be parked in SoHo and we were going to walk around and burn some extra calories, but I got sidetracked by the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lure Fishbar - New York, NY (Soho)

I went to go visit Pete in New York last month and I always face a conundrum when I am there.  I have limited time and there's too many places to eat.  So when Pete asked what I wanted to eat for lunch on Saturday, I had no clue.  Luckily Pete suggested lobster rolls.  It's hard to say no to lobster rolls, so off we went to Soho to Lure Fishbar.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ruxbin - Chicago, IL

When I heard about a new restaurant opening near my place, my curiosity was peaked.  When I found out that the chef and owners were Korean-American, I knew I had to get my butt over there.

If you read his bio, you can't help but be immediately impressed.  He's been Le Cordon Bleu trained and has worked in the kitchen of Thomas Keller's Per Se.  His dishes are a blend of French, Asian and American bistro fair.  I was expecting a lot Korean inspired dishes, but the K-town empanadas is the only item on the menu that seems to suggest his Korean background.  

Here's the outside of the Ruxbin kitchen on the corner of Ashland Ave and Pearson Street.

Inside, it's cozy and warm.  We came on a weeknight around 7:30 pm and it was packed.  We waited an hour and a half to get seated.  They don't take any reservations and the hostess told us it's really hard to predict how busy they will be.  She did mention that it's definitely easier to get seated with a smaller party, but there was four of us that night.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Joe Boston's Italian Beef - Chicago, IL

I was watching an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network and saw an episode called "Meat-Fest."  Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, featured the Italian Beef and Sausage Sandwich from Joe Boston's. From the show, the place looked like it would be in the middle of nowhere, like a random truck stop in the booneys, middle of nowhere. Turns out, I live less than a mile away from it. lol. Joe Boston's is in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, where Grand Ave and Chicago Ave intersect. Yup, those two streets actually intersect.

Since Jung's arrived, he's been on an Italian Beef kick. He took a quick liking to it and set out to try as many as he could. I've been in Chicago for a few months now and I'll be honest, this was my first time trying an Italian Beef sandwich. I think I had Al's Beef on my list of places to try, but clearly I was in no hurry. Well, it took a little nudge from Jung and we were off on our very own Meat-Fest quest.

Here's what it looks like from across the street.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cafe Iberico - Chicago, IL

Cafe Iberico holds a special place in my heart ... and stomach, of course.  My law school friends and I used to come here all the time, but I haven't had a chance to come back since I moved back to Chicago.  I was pleading with Jung to eat something besides Italian Beef so when he said he was up for tapas, I knew it was my chance!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hoagie Hut - Chicago, IL

Hoagie Hut is a little sandwich shop in Lincoln Park. My friends and I were really hungry one night and were looking for a quick place to grab a bite, so we stopped by here.  I've never heard of Hoagie Hut, it just happened to be open and we were hungry, a perfect storm of sorts, I guess.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kuma's Burger (Lollapalooza) - Chicago, IL

I've been wanting to go to Kuma's Corner forever, but it's up in Avondale and I hear the lines are crazy so I was really excited when I found out they'd be at Lolla this year.

A friend described their size of the beef patties to hockey pucks. The beef patties were indeed huge, 10 ounces to be precise. They had three options: The Kuma Burger (bacon, cheddar cheese and fried egg); the Iron Maiden (Avocado, Cherry Peppers, Pepper Jack and Chipotle Mayo) and the Judas Priest (Bacon, Bleu Cheese Dressing with Apples, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Silver Palm - Chicago, IL

So after day 1 of Lollapalooza, where do we go for dinner? In keeping with the Meat-fest theme, we decide to hit up The Silver Palm for the Three Little Piggy sandwich.

Now why does that sound so familiar you ask? It's because Anthony Bourdain called it the "greatest sandwich in America" on the Chicago segment of his No Reservations show last year.

The Silver Palm is basically a retired railway dining car-turned-restaurant, docked near the intersection of Milwaukee and Chicago Avenue. This restaurant serves up one mean sandwich, enough to make any wolf jealous.  Good thing the Silver Palm is made of brick.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Graham Elliott (Lollapalooza) - Chicago, IL

I went to Lollapalooza earlier this month and while my cousin was going crazy for the lineup, I was busy creating my own lineup, plotting what I would eat throughout the course of the weekend. hehe. I've been to my share of street festivals this summer and was getting a bit tired of the usual funnel cake, fried cheese curds and elephant ear offerings. So you could imagine my excitement when I found out that The Southern, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Kuma's, Sunda and Graham Elliott were all going to be there.

We all have Graham Elliot Bowles, the Culinary Director for Lollapalooza this year, to thank for the fabulous chow town line up. For those of you who are not familiar with Mr. Bowles, he, at the age of 27, was the youngest chef in America to ever receive four stars while he was at Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel. Then Bowles went on to open a River North “bistronomic” spot named after himself two years ago. He's known for creating signature dishes like his “foilipops” (fois gras speared like a Tootsie Pop and encrusted with Pop Rocks) or his deconstructed Caesar salad, which is made up of baby romaine, white anchovy, Parmesan fluff and a brioche Twinkie.

His restaurant represented at Lolla and offered up three tasty choices: Lobster Corn Dogs, Truffle and Parmesan Popcorn and Watermelon Gazpacho.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Giordano's (and Jazzin at the Shedd) - Chicago, IL

My cousin Jung came into town for two weeks and there were three things I knew I had to feed him while he was here: Great Seas, Chicago style hot dogs and deep dish pizza. Now everyone seems to have their favorites when it comes to Chicago deep dish. Some like Lou Malnati's buttery crust, while others prefer the disk of sausage and corn meal crust at Gino's East. I know some people like Pizzeria Uno, but I didn't like it when I tried it years ago and haven't been back. My law school friends are partial to Giordano's so I decided to take Jung there.

There are several locations throughout the city. We opted for the one in Greektown, there wasn't a long line and there's even a large parking lot where you can park for a minimal fee. If you have a car, you should definitely come here instead of going to the one in the Loop or in River North.

I didn't know that Giordano's pizza was technically "stuffed pizza" and it's not deep dish. Giordano's basically has a thin layer of dough on top, which means all the cheese and toppings are stuffed between the two layers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RoliRoti Gourmet Rotisserie - San Francisco, CA

One of my closest friends from college got married in a tiny little town near San Francisco a few weeks ago and it was a blast. It was a fun filled weekend, but a definite highlight was our dinner prepared by RoliRoti, a rotisserie food truck. She had originally planned on having dinner at the only restaurant in town, but they were charging exorbitant prices for fish and chips, so she asked the wonderful people at RoliRoti if they wouldn't mind driving an hour up from San Francisco to cater a dinner for her wedding party.

For those that have never heard of RoliRoti, it's a rotisserie food truck based in San Francisco that serves free-range chicken, Heritage pork and local lamb, prepared by owner Thomas Odermatt, a Swiss former organic farming student whose business card reads “Rotisseur.” You can read up on Mr. Rotisseur himself here.

I've heard so much about RoliRoti so I was so excited when they pulled up to our house. From the side, it looks like a regular van, but prop open the back and you see a built in rotisserie grill. Where can I get one of those?

Here is a close up.

On top of the rotisserie was the Porchetta (por-KET-ta). My friend described it to me as basically a pork roll, a free range pork loin that is wrapped in a layer of pork belly. Thomas takes the pork loin and loads on the garlic, fresh herbs like rosemary, marjoram, cracked black pepper and fennel seeds. He then wraps a pork belly and skin on top, ties a nice bow around it and skewers it on a rotisserie for four hours until the skin is crispy brown on the outside, and the meat is succulent on the inside. Thomas typically uses the Porchetta and serves it in a sandwich at his food truck stop at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market every Thursdays and Saturdays. I hear the waits can go for hours. We were so thrilled knowing that we'd have all of the Porchetta to ourselves that night.

Below the perfectly packaged Porchetta were the Gourmet Rotisserie Chickens. Thomas grills only the freshest corn-fed chicken from Sonoma County, which he sprinkles with herbs and spices. And don't forget that it's also getting bathed by the Porchetta drippings from above. Have mercy.

As if that was not enough, at the bottom of the rotisserie was a layer of halved french fingerling potatoes that had been tossed with fresh rosemary and unpeeled pieces of garlic. These potatoes were just hanging loose, getting a nice sun tan and catching every juice from the chicken and porchetta morsels above. We all know that there's nothing better than golden brown roasted potatoes cooked in chicken and pork fat renderings, right?

The caterer said that he had started cooking this on his drive up. The drive up to Bolinas is quite windy and treacherous so thank goodness these chickens were skewered on tight. He said he had about an hour or so more of cooking left so we waited. The truck was stationed outside and every 10 to 15 minutes, a few of us would venture outside to check on our dinner and just stare glassy eyed into these skewered meats being rotated round and round. You could tell that dinner was almost ready when you heard the pork skin start to crackle and the birds were getting nice and golden as well.

A close up of the triplets.

When the food was all ready, he laid out all the other dishes that accompanied this glorious feast.

We had some Heirloom Tomato Salad with crispy shallot vinaigrette and fresh basil. Oh my lord, these were so good!! Anyone that has tried heirloom tomatoes knows they are the real deal. Crazy expensive anywhere you can get your hands on them, but so full of flavor.

At the bottom of the picture, you'll see Summer Corn Salad, which consisted of charred corn and fresh avocados tossed in lime-jalapeño vinaigrette, garnished with cilantro.

Here is our dear friend untying our present and preparing to slice up pieces of that infamous Porchetta. We had a delicious onion marmalade, some French sea salt and rolls from Acme Bread Company to round out our meal.

Here's a picture of our plate. Every single thing on that plate was heavenly and quickly devoured.

I wish I lived in SF. I'd gather a bunch of my friends every weekend and have this catered if I could. Everything tasted so fresh and so flavorful. Without a doubt, this was the best food at a wedding ever! Congratulations J & M! Love you guys, and your taste in food trucks! :)