Friday, November 14, 2008

Mixteco Grill: a Mexican Adventure

Do you ever feel while eating at a restaurant that something really special is happening in the kitchen? That sort of feeling typically comes to me when I eat at a place for the first time and feel really really happy. This is exactly what happened last night while eating at Mixteco Grill, a newish Mexican restaurant in Chicago. I started with the Uchepos Gratinados, an addictive corn tamal with green poblano sauce and cheese. The green poblano sauce was sexy, flavorful and the tamal perfectly moist. I could have a hundred of these. Then, I had pork chops in a yellowish pumpkin seed infused mole. It was just terrific. Overall, a beautiful, creative and welcome addition to an already outstanding Mexican lineup in Chicago. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Al's Deli

Simple Sandwiches can be outstanding. Think about it: Amazing bread, two slices of Turkey or Ham, a slice or two of cheese (mine is provolone), and condiments (nothing for me). There you have it. A perfect sandwich. Well, Al's Deli is the best in my world at just offering delicious simplicity. For that reason, they just won a Great Neighborhood Restaurant Award.

Yours truly delivering the award to the two brothers in charge. Read more about Al's Deli here and here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2 reasons I love Starbucks today

1) Free coffee for all who vote
2) Christmas cups

Essentially, Starbucks gave me an extra Christmas. I woke up at 6am soo excited to go vote (it literally was the same feeling I used to have on Christmas morning when I would wake up early to go see my stocking). The free coffee and Christmas cup made it that much more real.

(Disclaimer: I apologize to all anti-corporate activists for this post- ie. Thea Voula :))

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Black Bean Soup

It rocks! Comforting and satiating, bold and hot...the deep color represents the taste in every way. Start with a bag of quality black beans, rinsed and then put in a pot with water, and a mixture of garlic, peppers, onion, and green herbs! Simmer for hours and voila! The best fall / winter soup. Learned it from Daisy Martinez, a chef on TV.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dry Aged Sirloin Burger for FIVE DOLLARS!

You can only get those today and tomorrow at the very best steakhouse in the city David Burke's...
Here is the info.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Last night I went to Japonais with six other women from work. When I walked into the restaurant I got the sense that the focus was not necessarily going to be on the food. Japonais is, for all intents and purposes (and maybe just because I don't get out much), a club. Music was pumping, lights were dimmed, and people were clearly there to see and be seen. One of my colleagues rattled off a list of celebs that supposedly frequent the restaurant.

In any case, we started with a wonderful bottle of wine. I learned many things from the more experienced attorneys at the table, and one of them included that you can never go wrong with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc- preferably Marlborough. I loved it! It reminded me of a Riesling but not quite as sweet.

We got lots of appetizers including the much discussed "the rock"- literally a smoking hot rock is brought to your table, on which you then cook thin slices of ny strip steak. A bit gimmicky, but fun nonetheless- My real problem with "the rock" was that the meat was just tooo salty. And I love salt.

For my entree I ordered the mushroom encrusted cobia- the fish was cooked to perfection, and the mushroom crust provided great texture. But again, the sauce was really salty. What should have been a light meal actually left me feeling somewhat bogged down.... Don't get me wrong, it's all "tasty," but I know I'd have appreciated it more if everything was a little less salty, so as not to completely cover the natural flavor of the ingredients.

For dessert we ordered the doughnuts and apple toban yaki- again, obviously yummy, but I wouldn't call home about it.
Next time I go to Japonais, it would likely be for drinks and some sushi.

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I am not sure how you like yours, but I drink all kinds. The constant is that I never use any sugar and, I would ALWAYS rather have my coffee in a cafe, or a coffee shop. I guess growing up at our house, coffee was always a time to try and get whomever of your neighbors is around, assemble, eat pastries (some would smoke) and TALK. Invitations were yelled orally from balconies, except in the mornings where people take turns hosting the coffee hour (you can always go on Monday to so and so's house for coffee). Anyhow, things have changed a lot, some for the better (I think much better coffee) and some to the worse. Around here, we are blessed with amazing local roasters -like Metropolis and Intelligentsia- that supply the majority of our local coffee shops (See this for a brief description of the coffee scene here). The drink that I order more often than not is a double espresso with foam on top (or machiato - I find the descriptive name easier). Anyhow, on the right, you will find the coffee ``shop'' with the best view...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Name this restaurant!

In what restaurant was this sandwich served?
Need I say more?


Elie, love the name. Love the picture.
Love NAHA. This was my first trip to NAHA and I couldn't have been more satisfied. I walked in with two colleagues and was seated by the window along Clark Street- just beautiful. The space is open and refreshing, but not bare. And the pop music added a kind of informality to what is a very formal dining experience.Because it was cold and rainy (actually, my only pseudo-complaint is that the heat needed to be turned up a bit), I started with the soup of the day- a potato soup. The presentation was beautiful! Cool, fresh tuna in the center of the bowl, the warm soup poured around it table-side.For lunch the halibut with sweet potatoes and other seasonal flavors. It was perfect. The halibut was light and moist, and there was a warm sauce poured on top, which again, was fitting for a rainy October day. I left nothing. Dessert- the almond clafoutis. We all oo'd and ah'd when the desserts came. From the foam creme anglaise to the spaghetti thin sugar sticks, it was gorgeous. I must admit I was a bit confused when I first bit into the clafoutis- I was most excited about the almond, and didn't taste much of it. I couldn't complain though- the fresh, farm blueberries were a treat, and they made up for anything I, at first, was missing.In all, a wonderful experience and I completely understand what all the hype has been about. I can't wait to go back- for dinner.

60th Birthday Cake

Well, I am sorry I missed it, but it did look good. I will post a picture later. The cake I bought was from Three Tarts Bakery in Northbrook ( It is a wonderful family bakery that I should frequent more often. I wanted to get their COLUMBIER CAKE: Almond cake with orange zest, but it called too late.
More importantly, the cake was intended for a 60th birthday of a wonderful person. This is what makes the whole occasion that much better.

p.s. Elena: we should make that Columbier at home one day!
I had the happiest of happy foods last night- birthday cake. And it was the best one I've ever had- no exaggeration. The white cake was perfectly moist, just the right amount of frosting- and not too sugary. The fillings, a raspberry layer, and chocolate layer, were scrumptious. Just writing about it makes me want a piece right now. And, to top it off, it was one of the most beautifully decorated birthday cakes I've seen- so much detail! It made everyone smile.

But where was this cake from??

Monday, October 20, 2008

Inaugural Post

Welcome everyone. This site is dedicated to cooking, restaurants, and all kinds of happy foods. Enjoy!