Thursday, February 28, 2008

Media Tasting: Deleece

Last night Tighe and I had cocktails and a 5 course tasting menu at Deleece in Lakeview. The drinks weren't like anything I've tried before and the dishes packed enough flavor to cure my tuna-from-a-can-with-day-old-lettuce lunch funk. The restaurant's exposed brick interior, dark cherry floors and warm lighting didn't hurt either.

After arriving (and convincing Tighe that the photographer was not going to destroy her food writing career by plastering her face all over the internet) we parked it at the bar and were given two different cocktails made with Shochu. The first was a mix of blood orange (the sexiest fruit ever, next to pomegranate) and coconut milk. Normally I'm not a fan of cream in my alcohol, but I am a lush and it was free so I gave it a go. The milk was so subtle that I probably wouldn't have detected it had I not been told the ingredients beforehand. The second cocktail was not at all to my liking: apple and leche; I let Tighe handle that one on her own.

It probably didn't hurt that the Shochu drinks were complimentary, but the people here were loving this obscure import; a good sign for owners, Lynne Wallack and John Handler, who are naming their newest restaurant after the stuff. Shochu is slated to open this April and, much like Deleece, will offer eclectic fare (mostly contemporary American with a Japanese twist) using fresh ingredients and novel concepts. Executive chef Josh Hansen (culinary mastermind behind Deleece's menu) will be manning the kitchen.

If the menu at Shochu is at all similar to our 5 course tasting, I'll be adding it to my list of favorites.

Here's what we ate:
  1. Polenta layered with smoked shallot mushroom duxelle
  2. Salad of morels and grilled asparagus in a white soy pancetta vinaigrette
  3. Seared diver scallop with braised fennel, pimenton risotto and a light basil aioli
  4. Grilled NY strip with truffle mashed potatoes, baby carrots and port wine demi-glace
  5. Blueberry Basque cake
4004 N. Southport Ave.
(773) 325-1710

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Royal Treatment

I can only dream that someday I'll meet someone who wants to take me here for Valentine's day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stinky Little Toasts

OK, so my good friend Laura mocked me for this concoction, but I'm sharing it anyway because it's that good. These little "sandwiches" are a spin on my (and Laura's) favorite dish at Hopleaf, where we typically have to wait 2 solid hours for a table. Thankfully there are enough varities of Belgium brews here to keep us entertained.

By the time we are finally seated at Hopleaf, we're more than a little flushed and we don't even care that it takes a few flights of stairs to find the washroom or that the tables are crammed together like a traffic jam on Lakeshore Drive. None of this matters because we know we're only moments away from the CB&J sandwich-- undoubtedly the most comforting plate of food in Chicago

Think peanut butter and jelly on crack; a hearty slab of cashew butter followed by fig preserves and a thick slice of melty morbier cheese on toasted bread. This warm gooey delight is served up with a side of stilton mac n' cheese and homemade chips. No doubt, it's a heart attack in waiting, but I promise you'll still be grinning after the convulsions.

I told Laura that I wanted to make this in my own kitchen and she advised me not to mess with a good thing. But I rarely heed warnings.

Stinky little toasts
  • Mini toasts: 1 package
  • Cashew butter: 1.5 tsp. per toast
  • Stonewall Fig & Ginger preserves: .5-1 tsp. per toast
    • This was ungodly difficult to find. After searching forever for straight up fig preserves, I finally got this spread at Binny's. It can also be ordered from Stonewalls website.
  • Stilton cheese: as many stinky crumbles as you see fit
Spread cashew butter on toast, follow with fig & ginger preserves. Top it all off with the wretched little crumbles.

These work great as hors d'oeuvres. Prepare and refrigerate a few hours before your guests arrive, just be sure to let them temp before serving in order to get the full pungent flavor of the stilton.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Grabbing Fat Tuesday by the packzi

After months of hesitation, I've finally decided to start a food blog. And it couldn't be a more fitting time. Today is, afterall, Mardis Gras-- the one time of year (excluding Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and every other Christian holiday) when we're granted a free pass to overindulge. So here I am, grabbing Fat Tuesday by the packzi and leaving nothing behind but a trail of crumbs and ink stains.

I promise (and I use this word lightly) to provide you, dear readers, with frequent updates. At least as frequent as they can be for someone who still can't commit to a color scheme for her apartment. You can expect restaurant reviews, recipes, chef profiles, kitchen gossip and random rants from my glamorous life as journalist by day, sassy waitress by night.

Folks, if it's edibile, it has a story. And I'm here to find it, taste it and tell it.