Category Archives: good eats

part deux

hanging around
the crab whisperer
into the fire
court bouillon
crab army
aftermath
The Christmas day followup to Oyster Fest 2010, was Crab Fest 2010. As we did last year, my family and I went over to a local Asian market on Christmas day and picked up a large garbage sack of Dungeness crabs. This bounty set us back a mere $23 and some change. (Boy do I love the availability of fresh seafood in Washington.) We each got one giant crab and gorged ourselves silly. It’s not the most traditional Christmas dinner but I could happily make this a tradition.

11.15: say that five times fast

sticky coffee toffee pudding
Sticky coffee toffee pudding! Sticky coffee toffee pudding! Sticky coffee toffee pudding! A bit of a tongue twister, isn’t it? Taking a quick break from LA vacation photos to tell you about this exciting bit of baking that I did last night. I don’t fancy much in the way of British foods, but sticky toffee pudding is something that I adore. I don’t know why I haven’t made this before, but now that I know how easy it is, I’m sure this will become a regular treat. Delicious!! Go make it NOW! (Sorry for the ALL CAPS. I am perhaps still hopped up on the sugar from the piece of sticky coffee toffee pudding I ate this morning for breakfast.)

Sticky Coffee-Toffee Pudding
Adapted from Marlena’s Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients
Sponge
* 5 oz pitted dates, diced
* 1 cup hot but not boiling water
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 oz butter at room temperature
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups self rising flour

Coffee-Toffee Sauce
* 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup strong coffee
* 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the Sponge
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Prepare an 8″ square pan by first buttering, then lightly flouring the inside of the tin.
3. Place dates in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot water over them. Cover and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes. After sitting covered for 20 minutes, uncover and cool to room temperature. After cooling, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to date mixture.
4. Using a mixer, cream together the soft butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between until they are mixed in well.
6. Gradually add the flour and then the date mixture until it forms a thick batter.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until it is cooked through. A toothpick or chopstick inserted in the middle should come out clean, no crumbs adhering. Remove from oven and set aside.

Make the Sauce
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the dark brown sugar with the white sugar, coffee and cream.
2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently until the sugars melt and continue cooking, adjusting the heat lower and higher as needed, for about 5 to 8 minutes. If mixture boils up, reduce heat; if it stops bubbling, raise it. Sauce should be dark and slightly thick. Don’t be tempted to sample it without cooling as the sugars are so hot they will burn your tongue.
3. Remove from heat and with a wooden spoon stir in the butter, salt and vanilla, stirring until the butter melts and the sauce is glossy. Let cool to a warm-hot temperature.
4. Using a paring knife, make slits all over the top of cake and pour about half the warm/hot sauce over it. Leave the cake to marinate in the sauce for several hours, then pour the rest of the sauce over it. To serve, cut into small pieces. Cream fraiche or lightly whipped creme Chantilly are good with this, but to be honest, it doesn’t need anything else.

Serves 6-8 generously.

11.14: oh yeah

menu
options options options
contemplating our options
chicken and waffles!
a thing of beauty
sides
clean plate
You guys know how much I love waffles so another “must do” thing in LA was to have a meal at Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles. Lest these photos not be sufficient urging to go, know that this place has the Snoop Dog+Larry King endorsement. I mean really. How many places can boast that?

This is straightforward, no frills soul food. Service is fast and efficient. Portions generous. Judging from all the clean plates, I think you can figure out how much we loved everything here. Delicious!

Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles: 5006 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

11.11: oysters, pork, and beer

settings
oh the light
walking in
oyster prep
Yesterday started off pretty crummy. I’m a firm proponent that one should take one’s birthday off but you know, life gets in the way sometimes. Anyone who’s talked to me knows how impossible my work schedule has been lately (15-16 hour days, weekends working, travel, etc.). From the second I walked in the door yesterday, I was running from one thing to the next, putting out fires left and right. I did the best I could given the circumstances. I worked as hard as I could and I kept my fingers crossed that I’d make it to the epic dinner I had planned for the evening. Lately, I’ve had a strong hankering for all things seafood, in particular shellfish. When a coworker (also friend and favorite cranky dining companion) offered to take me to dinner, I knew I had to revisit the Publican. I’d been here once before, shortly after moving to Chicago, enjoyed the food and atmosphere, but hadn’t really tried any of the things this place is particularly known for–oysters, pork, and beer. This of course had to be remedied (although we ended up crossing things off the list backwards).

at the bar
beerMost of the seating here is communal (and a bit cramped for my tastes) so we opted to wait for a table while grabbing a drink at the bar. We split a festive bottle of Brasserie Dupont sprl (Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium). Beer. Check.

porky goodness
GIANT!
Then, pork. Check. We couldn’t pass up on the spicy pork rinds. Afterall, they were cited by Chef Michael Symon as the best fried thing he’s ever eaten. I’m happy to report that they did not disappoint.

beautiful
on the half shell
Finally, oysters. Check. Four kinds: hama hama (Hood Canal, Washington), kumamoto (Humboldt Bay, Cailfornia), island creek (Duxbury, Massachusetts), wellfleet (Cape Cod, Massachusetts). All amazing but the hama hama was my favorite. I was super duper excited about this one.

giddy!
See? Don’t I look giddy?

mussels
sweetbreads
brussels sprouts
The food that followed after was equally amazing and delicious–bouchot mussels (from Stonington, Maine) with gueze, bay, celery, butter, & garlic with a tall stack of garlic peasant bread; sweetbreads (from Franklin, Wisconsin) with rapini & tapenade; and brussels sprouts with sesame vinaigrette & peanuts. My only gripe was the pacing. Food took damn near an eternity to reach us and service was virtually non-existent. (Dinner start to finish took THREE HOURS.)

up up and up
make a wish
On the server’s recommendation, we wrapped up the meal with a crostada with quince, housemade farmer’s cheese & pistachios. I wished for a better year, blew out my candle, and dug in. Buttery, rich, and delicious. An extravagant way to end an extravagant meal.

So yeah, the service and stuff sucked but I have a feeling I’ll be back here again someday. The food here is really incredible; it has just the sort of menu that I really adore. Tonight I fly to Los Angeles to see two of my favorite people on the planet. This mini vacation could not have come at a better time. I couldn’t be happier. I was too swamped to schedule posts to pop up in my absence so you’ll have to excuse me from my November NaBloPoMo duties until I return on Monday. I’m sure I’ll have lots of food tales and pictures to share. Until then, happy weekend!

The Publican: 837 West Fulton Market

francophile

macarons!
How is it Monday already? The weekend was here and gone before I could even register it. I got to spend some quality time with my brother before he returned to Seattle. Although I was saddened by his departure (I’d forgotten how nice it was to have family nearby), he left me the most amazing box of macarons from Vanille Patisserie. I have another very grueling week ahead of me before I fly out to San Francisco for work. As with most work trips, it will be stressful and busy but I’ve carved out a day or two to meet up with some people, including long time friends/readers, Ivy and Lynn. I’m excited to finally meet them in person. It will be nice to have that to look forward to.

6 hours in key west

best lunch ever!

enjoying the view

on the half shell

stone crab!

just steps away

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dessert

What a week! Such a far cry from last week’s rest and relaxation that I have to ask myself if last week was a dream? Thank goodness I have all these photos to remind me that last week did actually happen. I had so much fun! Hyejin was such a great travel companion because she’s laid back and also has different strengths and interests. She can chat up almost anyone (we made a lot of friends on the trip) and always knows where to go to get a good drink. It’s probably no surprise to you that I was responsible for documenting our trip and making sure we ate well. :D

I must tell you about my favorite meal of the trip–our lunch in Key West. After walking through the city, doing some shopping, and touring the Hemingway Home, we were thirsty, cranky, and absolutely famished. I was determined to eat my fill of conch and seafood on this trip, so I’d picked out Conch Republic as a “must-see” place on our trip. It definitely did not disappoint and I would happily go back again if I ever make it back to Key West. We ordered a half dozen oysters, a bowl of conch chowder, a basket of conch fritters, two of the largest stone crab claws I’ve ever seen, and some very stiff mojitos. Right by the water, it was the perfect place to stop and refuel.

Although I was stuffed beyond belief, I insisted we stop by the Blond Giraffe for a slice of key lime pie because surely, no trip to Key West is complete with out that, right? I took a ton more photos in Key West so this will not be the last time you hear about it here. Have a great weekend!

<3

YIP 365.309: love letter to the windy city

with love

sparkle

Sorry to bore you with more film shots but I’m really excited to be shooting film again. These were some shots from a recent breakfast at Ann Sather–one of my favorite breakfast/brunch spots in Chicago. If you visit me in Chicago, it’s almost a given that we will go there at some point for cinnamon rolls and coffee. I consider no trip to Chicago complete without a stop here.

chalkboard

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pate

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YIP 365.305: afterglow

Another Friday. Another opportunity to kick start the weekend with a great meal. This time at Chalkboard, a neighborhood eatery that I walk by often and have been meaning to try. Everything about Chalkboard is outrageously charming. It oozes the sort of warmth and coziness that makes you feel like you’ve been invited to someone’s house for a really great dinner.

The initial draw here was a special $50 tasting menu (five courses–mostly seafood, five wine pairings) but when our server walked us through the namesake chalkboard menu, we quickly abandoned those plans. There was too much that sounded too good not to try. I started the meal off with some housemade pâté with traditional condiments and a glass of a wonderfully crisp Spanish white wine. My friends got a salad and some really good dungeness crab cakes.

For an entree, I got a roast duck with plums. I would’ve preferred that my duck was cooked slightly more but the flavors were quite good. My friends got a halibut with citrus marmalade and house-cured bacon and a brined pork loin with mushroom hash. With all of the dishes, the proteins were sort of unremarkable and took a backseat to the accompaniments. But everything was well cooked and the flavor pairings were really interesting. We also ordered a side of the smoked gouda mac & cheese, which our server forgot to bring out with our entrees. It ended up being a good thing though because I got to enjoy it on its own. It was really delicious although not quite as good as the mac & cheese at Perennial. The portion was very generous and perhaps the best bargain at the restaurant.

We were pretty full by the end of all that but were determined to split a dessert. Boy am I glad we did. We got the chocolate chip cookie dough egg roll with chocolate ice cream and caramel sauce. Warm, chocolatey, and gooey, this was almost blackout good. Yowzers!

At the end of the meal, the owner came by to ask about our meal, which I thought was really nice. Service overall was very attentive (they were very apologetic about forgetting our mac & cheese) and though we took our sweet time hanging around and catching up no one seemed pushy about reclaiming our table. All in all, a really lovely meal. I’d love to go back and try their fried chicken (one of the dishes they’re known for). I would’ve gotten it last night but after last week’s fry-fest, I needed a break. :)

Chalkboard Restaurant, 4343 N. Lincoln
Chalkboard on Urbanspoon

manhattans + gin fizzes

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with a twist

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bacon ice cream!

Anna and I have been trying to catch up for a while now but hadn’t been able to get our schedules to line up until this weekend. I asked her if she wanted to grab a bite at Longman & Eagle, a place I’d heard good things about from Lauren and Cinnamon. I’d been warned about a possible wait so we tried to get over there as early as possible on Friday. We arrived just before 7, barely beating the dinner rush.

We kicked the night off with some stiff drinks. Anna got a gin fizz and I got a Manhattan. Longman bills itself as a gastropub so we were a bit surprised when a server came out with an eggplant and olive amuse bouche. It was a delicious, if not odd complement to my very strong drink. Anna, like me, isn’t terribly picky and shares my love of variety so we agreed to share four small plates instead of each going for a single entree. (You can get a sense of Longman and Eagle’s menu here. Our server told us that two small plates roughly equal one entree, a claim that I’m not entirely sure I agree with.) We got a good mix of things:

  • Kobe meatballs, creamy polenta, parsley pesto, fonduta
  • Ricotta gnudi, porcini marmalade, crispy sage, and aerated Parmesan
  • Potato agnolotti, escargots, wild mushrooms, bordelaise sauce, cured foie gras
  • Fried Ipswich clam bellies, celery root rémoulade, toasted brioche, mâche

Everything was quite good (interesting textural and flavor combos) although nothing arrived to the table as hot as I would like it. (I’m somewhat particular about the temperature of my food. I prefer to eat things hot, not warm.) We wrapped up with a dessert of poached apple, brioche french toast, and bacon ice cream (yes, you read that right, bacon ice cream). The bacon ice cream was very smoky and the bacon flavor was much more pronounced than in bacon desserts I’ve tried at other restaurants. I loved it, but of course, you know how much I love me some bacon.

All in all, a fun, fun night catching up with Anna. The food was interesting and good. But I can’t put my finger on it…I came home feeling a bit unsatisfied. I’ve done small plates at plenty of other restaurants. I get that portions are smaller, but I left with a gnawing, dull hunger–an irritating inconvenience after having just paid a $70 dinner bill. (We contemplated ordering another plate or two but there wasn’t much else of interest to us–the menu is fairly small–and we didn’t feel like spending anymore money.) I may go back to try the sandwiches or entrees but I’ll make sure not to be too hungry beforehand.

Longman & Eagle: 2657 N. Kedzie Ave.

Longman & Eagle on Urbanspoon

everest

the best kebabs!

masala naan

I’ve decided that Friday nights are the perfect time to eat out. By the end of the work week, I am far too tired to cook, let alone to wash dishes, and a great meal is the perfect way to jump start the weekend. Last Friday, I trekked up to Evanston to meet a friend at Mt. Everest Restaurant, a place I’d been curious about since reading about it on Lottie + Doof’s Chicago Guide. The restaurant specializes in Indian and Nepalese food and was well worth the short trip up to Evanston.

I still haven’t been to the many Indian restaurants on Devon but, minus a place or two, have been otherwise grossly underwhelmed by the Indian restaurants in Chicago. A quick run-down of some of the places I’ve been:

  • Curry House: A little too far from my office to make it a regular place to eat, but the lunch buffet here is great. Bonus points because they bring fresh, hot naan to the table if you get the buffet.
  • India House: Standard Indian fare. Not bad but a bit on the pricey side.
  • Hema’s Kitchen: Went there on the recommendation of an Indian friend. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good.
  • Essence of India: In my neighborhood. Went there once for takeout and got horrific food poisoning. Suffice to say, I won’t be going back.

But I digress…this is, after all, a post on why I’ll be going back to Mt. Everest, and don’t let my crummy pictures fool you. The food was fantastic…I was just too hungry and distracted to take better pictures.

The server brought us a basket of papadums and a chutney tray to start. We also ordered some vegetable samosas as appetizers. The samosas were expertly fried although the filling wasn’t particularly flavorful. For the meal, we ordered the reshmi kebab (a chicken kebab marinated in sour cream, which came highly recommended by several people), bhuetko cauli (a Nepalese tomato cauliflower dish), peas palau, and masala naan. Everything was good but the reshmi kebab was the runaway hit. I can see why everyone tells you to order it. It doesn’t look like much coming out (like a boring chicken kebab) but it was so soft, moist, and flavorful. Days later I’m still wishing for another plate. Service was a bit slow at times but the restaurant was also packed. Otherwise, no complaints. I’ll be definitely going back for a plate of the reshmi kebabs soon.

Mt. Everest Restaurant, 630 Church St., Evanston