3.31.2009

The First Pour


You may have been following along on Carmen and her friend Carlo's brewing adventures, here, here, and here. Well, this is the pay dirt people. The FIRST POUR of Carmen's dry-hopped IPA (which still doesn't have a name?).

Popping the cap.

Here we go.

The perfect color.

Great head.

Her first born.

Fridge fulla beer.

Thanks for the great photos Carmen.

3.30.2009

Pat and Sheila's Morsels


My handsome aunt and uncle, Pat and Sheila Fitz, are feisty foodies and wonderful chefs, so it only seemed natural that they would submit a Morsels for me. Enjoy!
Pat and Sheila F.
Age: Let's just say mature
Occupation: Too many to list
Resides in: McKinney, TX

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
The Light Crust Doughboys, a classic purveyor of Texas Swing. Very similar to Asleep at the Wheel. Fun,fun,fun.

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
Root Vegetables roasted in butter, olive oil, horseradish and salt & pepper. Simply fabulous.

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Rocky Road from Wild about Harry’s in Dallas, Texas.

4. Favorite food show:
Without a doubt, Anthony Bourdain. He combines a search for great and unusual food items with super personality and visits to exotic locations. Great fun.

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
The last time we saw 2 AM was getting up to visit the bathroom, but we get the point. This situation requires old fashioned comfort food. Our favorite is the breakfast combo at the Waffle House. This great entrée includes a waffle, 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, wheat toast and great hash browns with onions and cheese. [ed. note - If any place deserves its own museum, it's the Waffle House. Check it out HERE.]

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Bob’s Chophouse in Dallas has a signature side that is served with every entrée. A very large cooked carrot. You won’t believe how great it tastes with a delicious prime steak

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
:
This question requires three answers.

The best meal we ever had was a 13 course tasting menu at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. This unbelievable experience lasted 3 ½ hours. You need to bring a large satchel of cash to participate, but it surely is an outstanding way to spend an evening.

For pure elegance, nothing beats the French Room at the Hotel Adolphus in Dallas. They provide outstanding French food and wine with the most impeccable service you will ever experience.

Our favorite hangout is Ricks Chophouse in McKinney, Texas. The best bar staff in the world, with great food and drinks. A super way to spend the cocktail hour.

8. How do you take your coffee?
Brewed cup by cup in a Senseo coffeemaker with a foamy finish served with Hazelnut Coffee mate.

9. Top 3 condiments:
• A slice of sweet Texas 1015 onion
• The BBQ sauce from Hoggy’s Pit in McKinney, TX
• Mango Salsa (served over fresh salmon)

10. How do you like d'em apples?
Baked apples covered with vanilla bean ice cream.

3.24.2009

Sawa's Old Warsaw Polish Style Smorgasbord

On the way to a co-worker's baby's 1st birthday party in Brookfield, we got a little lost and ended up driving right by Sawa's Old Warsaw Polish Style Smorgasbord. Not only do I love perogis, but I could tell, even just by looking at the outside of the joint, that it would appeal to my inner-grandma. Also, there were some old peepaw's chilling outside the restaurant on a couch. So cool.

So after the party, we had to pop in for a look-see and a few drinks at the cozy bar. The Smorgasbord part of the deal looked and smelled amazing - a dozen prepared salads, perogis by the bushel, stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut...it went on and on. It was hard to pass up the food but I'll be back...oh yes, I will be back. The perogis will be mine!!! Who's with me!?

You feel like you're at grandma's house - if grandma had a full bar and poured Zywiec

The gorgeous scene in one of the dining rooms.

Anyone who wants to come with me, please leave your overalls at home. Sorry!

3.23.2009

Steak 'N Egger (and hashbrowns and bacon and toast and...)


Bright and early on Saturday morning (like, 9:30 am! On a Saturday! I can't sleep in anymore. I think this means I'm old?) my tummy began to growl. RRRooooaaauuuuggggerrrl. So we decided to drive down Cermak about a mile for some diner food at the always open Steak 'N Egger. I'm a fan of Hollywood Grill on Ashland and North, but it was time to find a new place, in my 'hood.

The slogan at the tiny grill on this industrial part of Cermak is "We may doze, but we never close". At least they're honest!

Steve ordered the 2-2-2-2, which means 2 pancakes, 2 eggs 2 sausage patties, and 2 strips of bacon. Btw, they also have the 3-3-3-3. I'm hoping they add a 6-6-6, in honor of Slayer. And being that I'm trying my hardest to eat healthy, I did a mushroom and cheese omelette made with eggbeaters (yes, those creepy egg substitutes. no, I don't know what's really in them).

2-2-2-2 = 8?

Pre-condiment-ed

Post-condiment-ed. Ketchup AND hot sauce AND pico de gallo

Acting cool at the Egger

Bottom line, if you're looking for 24-hour hearty cheap eats, with character and friendly waitresses, this is your place. I think next time, I need to investigate the scene at 3 am. I have a feeling it would be a bit different, considering the large sign in the front of the eatery that reads "Unruly behavior of any kind will not be tolerated". Anyone with me?

PS - We encountered this car-artwork on the way back from food. Simply amazing.

Cayce's Morsels


Enjoy the morsels of gourmet chef Cayce!
Cayce M.
Age: 23
Occupation: International Woman of Mystery (Yeah Baby, Yeah!)
Resides in: splits time between Lincoln Park and Gold Coast

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
Recently I saw the Queen of Blues, Koko Taylor, and I’ve really gotten into raw Cacao Powder – it’s a super food with lots of magnesium and other good stuff (admittedly I was at Kingston Mines – not so bad after a few). B.B. King, makes me of summertime BBQ’s – but I only have passing interest. Diana Ross and the Supremes, their name reminds me of Lemon Chiffon Pie or something lush and tasty!

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
I’m on a really big Jicama kick right now. It’s really versatile. I like to dice it and mix it with pear chunks, celery, cranberries, lime juice, a little mayo, a dash of ginger, cinnamon, and S&P. I had it tonight in some homemade chicken fajitas. The jicama was mixed with lime juice, thin cut strips of mango and red onion to nest atop the chicken. It’s also really good with watermelon, fresh mint, lime, olive oil, S&P, and small bits of mozzarella. Weird I know, but oh so good!

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I agree with my brother on this one – unfair question. I love “Superman” from Kilwin’s (I don’t know who else has it); it’s bright blue, pink and yellow with a light fruity taste and turns your mouth blue! Also, the ginger ice cream that I made a few holiday seasons ago with bits of crystallized ginger. I just seriously patted myself on the back there, oops!

4. Favorite food show:
I have a morbid fascination with the BBC’s You Are What You Eat. They take how ever many pounds people are overweight or eat in a week and find ways to create visuals – like 115 pounds of butter shaped like a person. I also like Anthony Bourdain because he’s such a badass. He’s like a rock star: sex, drugs and beating snake hearts!

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
Mmmm, whatever I feel like at the moment that I can easily access.

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Hands down #1 is sesame green beans, from Rosebud Steakhouse. They’re the tits – for reals. #2 is probably mashed potatoes, or really thin waffle cut potato chips/fries.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
:
The Original Pancake house! I get the Dutch Baby almost every time I go. But for more upscale Sweets and Savories. The dining room only seats like 30-40 people. The food is high quality, still not cheap but it’s not gonna set you back the way a trip to Alinea or Chucky T.’s (Charlie Trotter’s) might.

8. How do you take your coffee?
Toasted Almond large coffee with milk and sugar from Dunkin’ Donuts. I get it with cream once a month because it’s too good and I usually feel like taking a nap afterwards – ironic, no?

9. Top 3 condiments:
• Fresh mango salsa (the texture is more like pico de gallo – very fresh)
• Mustard (stone ground Dijon mustard is my fave)
• Lemons – anything with fresh lemons

10. How do you like d'em apples?
Again, I side with my broham. There’s just nothing like mom’s baked apples with a bit of maple syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

3.19.2009

Feasting on Fleming's


The whole purpose of starting this blog was to get free food. Kidding! (kind of) Really though, food obviously being a passion of mine, I wanted to share my dining experiences and food knowledge with others. So imagine my delight when frequent contributor Kate and I were invited to attend a dinner for Chicago food bloggers - the best and the brightest only obvs - at downtown steak house Fleming's.

While there are Fleming's locations across the country, I had never heard of the restaurant and was flattered to accept the invitation.

Kate and I met there, in the cozy downstairs lounge, on a chilly night, and while we waited for the other "web writers" to arrive, we partook in deliciously light homemade chips at the bar and I ordered their Basil Lemondrop martini. I am a sucker for a cocktail menu. The drink was just tart enough and the muddled basil added a great herby flavor. Not only pretty to look at, it was one of the better new cocktails I've tried in a while and didn't commit the sin of being overly sweet.

Soon enough, the bloggers were in the house and the managing partner, Curtis Nordeen, walked us all upstairs to a private dining room, overlooking the beautiful Medinah Temple Building (now a Bloomingdale's home store).

In addition to the City Veg, bloggers from Blue Kitchen and Chicago Gluttons joined us around the table and Curtis outlined the evening. Basically, we'd be tasting anything and everything - from a seared Ahi Tuna appetizer to their Chipotle Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

Kate's going to take us through the night with her poetic descriptions and our photos.

One of the first things served to us was this monstrous tower of delicacies from the sea. Claws of crabs and lobster as well as shrimp as big as your fists tumbled from this tower

Another shot of the Seafood Tower and our fellow bloogers. Shannon just created this word. It’s a new term for food bloggers. Get it?

Arguably one of the best things of the night was the Lobster Tempura. It was lobster. Tempura-ed.

This is their creamed spinach. Just now I was trying to remember why it was so good. Me: “Wasn’t it prepared like two ways or something?” Shannon: “You’re thinking of the final episode of Top Chef.” Me: “Eh.”

This steak was so good that the camera couldn’t even handle taking its picture

I drank a lot of wine and was having trouble holding the camera still. But this is Shannon eating New England Clam Chowder and the awesome view from the private dining room

Our waiter hooked up Terry from Blue Kitchen with a wine flight to match his meal. I wish I had thought of that…But I was doing just fine on my own.

Early in the evening Shannon ordered me to be her “voice of meat.” I took the charge seriously and ordered the Surf and Turf as my main. My steak was wrapped in bacon.

This was a crowd pleaser. A chocolate lava cake that was passed around the table at least twice. This was the end of the evening and we were all BFFs and it’s possible that we were even sharing a spoon. BFFs.

You may be wondering what the cost would be for all this decadence. To me, it seemed like a very fair way to price steakhouse food, but then again, I'm not in steakhouses often(enough). Fleming's was offering a great value on a 3-course winter prix fixe menu for around $35 and they always have over 100 wines by the glass.

So, after almost 4 hours of eating, talking, sharing food, and Kate worrying about her cholesterol, the night was over. And I was sad for it to end. The best part about the whole event (and yes, it was an event) was meeting people who got it - Fleming's staff included. And at the risk of sounding cheesy(I'm just going to go for it...) this evening just reinforced that for me, breaking bread with good company and good wine is one of life's true pleasures.

Thanks to Fleming's!

3.16.2009

Kirmizi Biber: Turkish Hot Pepper


During my last trip to NYC, I carved out some time for a trip to my favorite spice house, Kalustyan's. Located right in my old neighborhood, the store can entertain me for hours. I always stock up on exotic spices (as I may be a bit of a spice hoarder - the more I have in my cabinet, the better I feel) and this time I came back with a packet of Kirmizi Biber. The bold red pepper flakes are sweet when they hit your tongue, then comes the heat, and would be a welcome flavor addition to pizza, eggs or other starchy dishes.

And when I was researching Kirmizi Biber, which is derived from cayenne peppers, I found a link to a song called Kirmizi Biber by Turkish artist Bendeniz. You'll like the song, named after hot peppers, if like me you are a fan of the middle eastern beat. The wonders of the internet!

For Lindsay

Opie's Morsels


Opie
Age: 29
Occupation: Defender of the Public and First Time Dad(!)
Resides in: Logan Square

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
Cap'n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters [ed.note - nice one! check them out here]

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
Meat and Potatoes. Any which way.

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would get sick of any one flavor, so I would choose vanilla for use as a blank canvas for all those lovely toppings.

4. Favorite food show:
Good Eats narrowly beats out Top Chef. Top Chef may have the sexier host and all that drama, but Good Eats indulges my love of random knowledge. Especially random culinary knowledge. Don't get me started on Mark Kurlansky.

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
I do not seem to be the only one at La Pasadita drunk at 2 a.m. I will have 3 carne asada tacos, onion, cilantro, and cheese please. Oh, and a large horchata.

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Keep it simple. Potato. Baked. Pat of butter. Lest you detract from the main event.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
:
Hands down. Lula Cafe. My favorite even before I lived within walking distance. Never ordered the same thing twice. Never had a disappointing meal.

8. How do you take your coffee?
At work: Black. At home: Cream and Sugar. At brunch: Grand Marnier and Bailey's.

9. Top 3 condiments:
• Bacon
• Oil & Vinegar
• Real Maple Syrup

10. How do you like d'em apples?
Cidered and bourboned.

Nomo

So I should have posted this before their show but better late than never! I went to see Chicago-by-way-of Michigan band Nomo last night at Schuba's, part of their multi-city trek down to South by Southwest. A really interesting band, with a strong horn section and driving beats. So if you haven't read my interview with Nomo bandmember and former-cheesemonger, Erik, DO IT! and check out Nomo's web site and Myspace page to hear some tracks from their upcoming album Invisible Cities! Happy Monday!

3.12.2009

Brewin - The Conclusion (Or is it....)

I joined Carmen and Carlo last weekend for the conclusion to one of their beer bottling adventures. Carlo lives right down the street from me, which is exciting (especially if he continues brewing beer and inviting me over). I showed up and they had transferred Carmen's IPA into a bucket for straining and bottling. The goal was to keep as much hop leaf out of the actual bottles of beer.

Check out those 80's shoulder pads on my blazer! I got to taste Carmen's pre-carbonated IPA, which smelled amazing, earthy and rich, and tasted very hoppy. Carlo also shared with us his espresso stout which was SO so so good. Dark, bold and filled with over 30 shots of espresso, the batch woke me up and relaxed me at the same time.

Here they are considering naming their next beer after me. Kidding!

The ladle and strainer helped Carmen remove some of the hops prior to bottling, while making sure all the flavor stayed in the batch. Her beer is officially a dry hopped IPA and the bottles will hopefully be ready to taste in a week or so. I, for one, am excited to taste the unnamed-brew. What do you think Carmen should call her beer?

3.10.2009

Floyd's

On a recent blustery Sunday, I met a few friends for a lazy day of food and drink at Bucktown bar Floyd's. I had never been to Floyd's but instantly felt at home. When the space opened in 2004, the owner described it as a "really clean dive bar with really good food" and I can't think of a more accurate description. It's a great casual spot with more than just your regular pub food. I had a delicious bowl of cream of tomato basil soup and a hearty vegetarian burger, while my dining companions enjoyed burgers with very very generous piles of tater tots. (side note, I feel like tater tots are the hot new side, popping up on menus everywhere! anyone?)


But the big surprise of the day was the bloody mary. Being the connoisseur that I am, my standards are set very high and I've had my fair share of bad and boring bloody marys. But Floyd's managed to make the classic drink their own - by doctoring up their own mix, adding a pickle cushioned by a slice of provolone cheese and dusting generous amounts of celery salt around the rim. Very very good - nicely done Floyd's!

3.09.2009

Desi (and Kate) Do The Morsels


Kate helped her boyfriend Desi with his morsels and its one of the best submissions I've gotten! Also, I want that teeny beer in his pic.
Desi A.
Age: 27
Occupation: Office Boy
Resides in: Wicker Park, Chicago

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
D- Peanut Butter Wolf
K- Did you make that up?
D- No! It’s a DJ/producer. It’s a good name right?

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
D- Um baby corn…how do they prepare baby corn?
K- Baby corn can’t be your favorite vegetable if you don’t even know how it’s prepared!!!
D- I like the salad bar type of baby corn!
K- Uh huh.

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
D- One flavor of ice cream?
K- Yes…sigh…
D- Chocolate Chip! Or Blue Bubblegum! I can’t decide.
K- But the question is that you have to choose 1.
D- Mmmmm. Blue Bubblegum.

4. Favorite food show:
D- I know what it isn’t!
K- What?
D- Ace of Cakes!
K- And why is that?
D- Duff Goldman is such a douche bag!
K- That’s why?
D- And his hipster crew…man handling cakes…their grubby paws are all over those cakes. I’m supposed to eat those?!?

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
D- Um. English muffin...No no no no no. Tacos. But ideally?
K- Yes, ideally.
D- I would, ideally, like a turkey dinner. Extra stuffing. But I usually settle for tacos.

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
D- Lobster!
K- That’s not really a side.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
:
D- Le Colonial, the French Vietnamese place downtown. It was delicious, magical and good people watching because it’s right by Le Passage.

8. How do you take your coffee?
D- Like my women.
K- Yes? What does that mean? I don’t know if I want to know…
D- Black.

9. Top 3 condiments:
D- Sweet Baby Ray’s, Chipotle Mayo.
K- Hahaha, yes, and 1 more?
D- Humus. That’s not a condiment, is it?
K- Sure it is.

10. How do you like d'em apples?
D- With caramel and nuts.

The End of an Era

Ok so maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. But this is an empty bottle of White Truffle Salt (Tuber Tagnatum Pico for the purists). EMPTY!!! I used the last pinch on tonight's dinner of Feta-Spinach Barley. Help!

3.08.2009

How To Make a Splash at a Party


Just bring one of these! That's right - a Chocolate Lover cookie cake, as found at Jewel.

3.06.2009

Wanderlust Soup


Yeah, yeah...two soup posts in a row. Sorry but there is nothing I want more when it's 20 degrees outside than a big steamy bowl of salty broth with some hearty noodles. And this particular soup was inspired by my winter wanderlust, dreams of warm exotic places, and a No Reservations marathon a few weeks ago. Bourdain slurped on a big steaming bowl of Vietnamese Pho, so I tried my hand at a vegetarian Pho-inspired soup.
Wanderlust Soup
1 package of rice or udon noodles
Broth (either chicken or vegetable)
Ginger root
2 Red onions
1 head of white cabbage
2 cups of green beans, frenched
Cilantro, Basil, Mint, and 3-4 Limes
Sesame Oil
Soy sauce and sambal

This really couldn't be easier so I'm not going to insult you, fine reader, by listing out the steps here. Slice and cook all the veggies until soft, doctor up the broth with the oil, soy sauce and sambal and garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro, basil, mint and the juice of one lime.


It's hearty, spicy and refreshing all at once. For my version, I also added strips of baked tofu. It's pretty.

3.05.2009

Home is Where the Kitchen Is


It's been a while since I've been able to cook anything. For me, cooking is a creative outlet and a way for me to clear my head. So tonight, although still not fully unpacked in my new home, I decided to - no, needed - to cook a dinner for myself. In honor of my new neighborhood, it had to be Mexican influenced. So after a quick trip to El Guero, my new neighborhood supermercado, I decided on a tortilla soup with a nice cheesy quesadilla to dip in the savory broth.

Side note regarding El Guero itself. I've never seen so many limes, avocados, bags of dried beans, and peppers in one place. Heaven! The strange part is in the back of the store is a deli which sells the meat and cheeses separately. You have to wait in a separate line and pay separately. And I definitely need to brush up on my Spanish as I had a few communication issues here. Regardless, a great store with lots of fresh produce and cilantro by the bushel.

So back to dinner.

For the soup, I basically did a vegetable broth, although you could easily substitute chicken stock, and added some Carne de Soya. I found the bag of dehydrated soy "chicken" strips at El Guero, much to my delight (many of you are aware of my fondness for fake meat). I tossed a few handfuls in and before you know it, I felt more at home than I had in weeks.
Carne de Soya Tortilla Soup
3 cups of Carne de Soya, chicken, or other delicious fake meat
vegetable or chicken broth
1 tomatillo
1 zucchini
3 tomatoes
1 Spanish onion
hot sauce of your choosing
sumac, coriander, cumin
handful of cilantro
tortillas, avocado, sour cream and queso blanco for garnish

1) Rehyrate the Carne de Soya in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. Add to broth and start to simmer

All the little soy meats go swimming!

2) Add diced onions and tomatoes. Clean the tomatillo and finely dice, along with the zucchini. Add to broth and continue to simmer.
3) Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add coriander, cumin, sumac, hot sauce, salt, black pepper, handful of cilantro, diced.
4) Ladle into bowls and garnish with lots of crispy crushed tortillas, sour crema, and crumbled cheese

Enjoy with a hopefully un-burnt quesadilla...

(I'm obviously still learning the heat settings on my new stove)


Stay tuned for a post from Kate and I about our recent night o' gluttony. And check out links for my new friends at Chicago Gluttons and Blue Kitchen. Some great photographs and writing on both sites.

3.02.2009

Ange F. Does Morsels

I have so many good blog posts in my head right now! And in my camera! If I could only find my damn camera cord so I could get these genius shots to my lil computer. Moving is such a pain. Anyway, while I continue sorting through items here, enjoy the morsels of my fab cousin, Ange.
Ange F.
Age: 43
Occupation: www.angefitzgerald.com, www.photopol.us
Resides in: Downtown Dallas

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
Flaming Lips?

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
Brussel Sprouts sauteed slowly in butter and minced garlic, salt and pepper and a dash of sugar. [Ed. note - mouth. watering.]

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cherry Garcia

4. Favorite food show:
I like Anthony Bourdain. He's hot.

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
Sloppy Joe w/ onion, sweet pickles on a wheat bun w/ miracle whip

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Garlic Mashed Tators

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
:
I like Lola a lot and I've been wanting to try BOLSA but haven't yet. [ed. note - both in Dallas]

8. How do you take your coffee?
Very strong w/ lots and lots of flavored cream, vanilla caramel or hazelnut, so much cream that the coffee is practically white

9. Top 3 condiments:
• hot sauce (any)
• miracle whip rules! its rumored that I made miracle whip sandwiches as a child
• does truffle salt count? cuz I LOVE THAT.

10. How do you like d'em apples?
Green, with salt