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Time to Celebrate!

20 Aug

There are two very important reasons to celebrate this week! First and foremost, it is Cdog and Paul’s 6th Anniversary! And without that anniversary, we wouldn’t be celebrating Monkey’s 2nd birthday!

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Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday to the Gentile Family! We love you!

Here is a cake for Camille:

Camille loves hot dogs!

Camille loves hot dogs!

Chicago Eats!

30 Jul

Last weekend I was in Chicago for a girl’s weekend with a few friends from college. It was my first time in Chicago and I was excited to check out the city. I had heard that there was a great culinary scene, but I’m one of those, “don’t believe it until I see it/try it.”

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On Friday night, we made reservations for a new rooftop scene called Cindy’s. It is at the top of the Chicago Athletic Club Hotel, which also has a Shake Shack, and is right across from Millennium Park. Make reservations! There was a LONG line to get upstairs, and we were able to walk to the front of the line and go straight up. VIP. We still had to wait for a table, but at least we were upstairs. Naturally we headed to the bar. The cocktail list is fun, cleverly named drinks. Examples: A Kick in the Daisy, Western Cape, Excelsior. We decided to try The Old Fashioned. Yes, it is an old man drink and yes, we liked it. The bartender was rude, but he made a good drink. We headed to the patio to enjoy our drink, take in the views and wait on our table. You are able to see all of Millennium Park and it was a perfect night to hang out. In the distance, there was even a fireworks show to keep us entertained.

Dish on the food: the items on the menu are meant to be shared, and are called platters for a reason. We started off with the Burrata (broccoli rabe, cherry tomato, spicy salami,aged balsamic, ciabatta). It was sinful. I love a good mozzarella and this was fantastic. There was a smokey flavor from the broccoli rabe and salami that really added an extra layer of flavor. As my friend said, “This tastes like I’m eating a cigarette, but surprisingly in a good way.”

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For our second dish, we had the Great Lakes Fish Fry (lake superior walleye, anti-hero batter, tide water cole slaw, hand cut fries, tatar sauce). It is hard to mess up fried fish, but these fish sticks were really good. They were not too heavily battered and it was super flaky, white meat. The tartar sauce was awesome and I could not stop eating the french fries.

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We were sent the Blueberry cobbler from the table next to us. They apparently frequent the restaurant and told us we had to try it, so they bought it for us, which was nice. They were not wrong. I don’t like blueberry desserts all that much, but this thing was delicious and I have never seen anything like it. When I think of Blueberry Cobbler, I think of mashed up blueberries in piecrust. But this was a piecrust, filled with whole blueberries and served warm with a big scoop of roasted vanilla ice cream. Part of me wants to go back to Chicago for that dessert and to try the Milk Stout Nitro Chocolate Cake.

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Bellies: Full and satisfied

On Saturday we explored the city – Millennium Park, the Riverwalk, the beach, we did an architectural tour, which I would highly recommend!

On Saturday night, we headed out for some pizza pie. Now, one would think that while in Chicago, you get deep dish. At least that is what I thought, BUT we went to this great joint called Parlor Pizza Bar, which served thinner crust pizza.

Once again, highly enjoyable food. We started off with one of the most amazing appetizers I have tasted and that is saying a lot because appetizers are my MO. It was Kale and Artichoke dip. It was served at the perfect temperature and it was just damn good. I will definitely go back for this when I return to Chicago.

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For pizza’s we had Abe Forman’s Fave Pie and the #BLT, #LOL, #OMG, #WTF. You had me at #BLT. It was definitely my favorite out of the two.

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Yep, that’s shredded lettuce. It is a BLT pizza!

The beer selection was also quiet expansive and delicious. A lot of local brews.

Bellies: Full and Content.

After stuffing our faces, we headed to Bub City, a country-western bar. Remember, I was with one girl from the mid-west, one from South Carolina, so they like their country music. A band from Nashville was playing and they were actually decent. But that was where we ended our night.

Sunday morning, we were on the hunt for a great brunch spot. We were going to go to this place called Au Cheval, but when we got there at 9:40 (it opened at 10), there was already a line about 30 people deep. Apparently, they have a superb cheese burger. Even though I don’t eat burgers, we probably should have waited in line and checked it out. Next time.

We were hungover and needed grub. We walked down to the other end of the block and stumbled upon Little Goat, the diner child of Girl & The Goat across the street. I had heard about Little Goat and how good it was so I was psyched. #OMG.

I got the Parathas Burrito (indian flatbread. sunny side eggs. avocado-bean salad. chili pepper sauce. sheep’s milk cheddar). Obviously, not your average burrito, but I was perfectly ok with it. First, the flatbread had a sweetness to it that offset the savory taste of the rest of the dish. I am not one for lettuce on my meal when it isn’t a salad or a sandwich, but everything on this plate worked so well together. Second, the flatbread was placed on top of the eggs after it was cooked and so when you cut into it, the eggs broke and it was heaven. I wanted to finish the dish so bad, but it was just too damn big. So good though. The dish on the right is the “This little piggy went to China” (sesame cheddar biscuit. sunny eggs. szechuan pork sausage. chili garlic chive sauce. blackberries). The pork sausage was the perfect amount of spicy. The cheddar biscuit and egg worked so well together and the blackberries added the perfect ending with a sweet, bitter bite.

Bellies: so full. So content.

All in all, my weekend in Chicago was well spent eating. I can’t wait to go back and try out all of the ones we weren’t able to try and to add some more to the list. Have recommendations? Drop ’em in the comments.

Stay hungry,

kteb

 

Reserve Makes Dining Out with Friends a Breeze

16 Jul

Do you love technology? Do you love making things easy? Reserve is a dining concierge app, which is actually backed by founders of Uber and Foursquare, that allowed diners to make reservations, but also split the bill in the app.

Here’s how it works: after confirming your reservation on Reserve, you can add your guest through your phone’s contact list and Reserve will send a text message inviting them to share the bill.  From there your guest can accept your invite, and have their portion of the bill charged to the card on file in the app once the meal is over. The entire check — including tax, tip and Reserve’s $5 concierge fee — is divided evenly between everyone who accepts.

Reserve also provides recommendations of great places to go, and makes it easy for you to invite friends to join you. I haven’t used it yet, but for those that are looking for a seamless way to enjoy a meal with friends, it seems like a great app.

Reserve is available for iOS and Android.

Are you using Reserve? Do you like it?

National Donut Day!

3 Jun

PSA: June 5 is National Donut Day!

Dunkin Donuts is giving a free donut with a purchase of a beverage, so you know where Cdog and I will be on Friday. My favorite donut is the chocolate glazed. Boring, maybe. Delicious, absolutely.

If you are in the South, Krispy Kreme is giving away a free donut – no purchase necessary. If you can’t get a free donut on Friday, here are some local donuts to check out.

Union Square Donuts

maple+bacon

Image from Union Square Donuts website

62 Restaurant in Salem has a donut bar on Sundays

Kanes Donuts in Saugus & Boston

Fun fact: National Donut Day was instituted in 1938 to commemorate Salvation Army workers who surprised soldiers with donut deliveries.

The diet can start tomorrow.

What’s your favorite?

Jacob’s Creek introduces Two Lands

24 Apr

On April 9, Jacob’s Creek hosted a digital wine tasting. No, there is no technology that allows you to drink through your device… yet. I was sent a bottle of the Chardonnay (2014), Pinot Grigio (2014), Shiraz (2013) and Cabernet Sauvignon (2013), and Jacob’s Creek broadcasted a wine tasting session via a video streaming service.

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Two gentleman, Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker of Australia’s Jacob’s Creek and Ehren Jordan, a boutique winemaker from Napa Valley (Failla Wines) joined forces to create Two Lands, which is described as “California Craftsmanship meets Australian Character.” The best of both worlds.

 

We started off by tasting the Pinot Grigio and right away, I could tell this would be my summer white of choice. It had great pear, apple and citrus flavors, but it wasn’t too sweet. To me, that is perfection. The Chardonnay had an elegance to it and had a great balance of fruit and oak with hints of vanilla, nutmeg and spice. Next up was the Cabernet Sauvignon, which had a good texture, was soft and had some current flavors. Erhen said he wanted to make a cab that tasted like a cab. He believed that American cabs got away from making a real cab and so he got out of the habit of drinking it, but now he wants to drink cab again because of his collaboration. They both agreed that this would pair well with a rib-eye steak. The Shiraz had an intensity to it, but had a softness because of the tannins, and it was full of fruit flavors – plum, red fruits. Some tasters also described it with the following words, “bacon, rosemary, mulberry, dark plum, black pepper with a cedar on finish.” You had me at bacon.

One thing that stood out to me was that Berndard and Ehren just wanted to make good wines that they would want to drink and they did this by doing less to the wines. They said that sometimes people try to add too much or do too much to a wine and they didn’t want to do that.

The wines were produced in a limited quantity and are only available in the U.S. For the whites, about 7,000 cases were shipped and for the reds about 10,000-12,000 cases were shipped. All four wines sell for under $15 a bottle and can be found across the country. We may or may not have seen the Cabernet Sauvignon at Wegmans this weekend for $10.

Blue sky delights in the Barossa last week.

A post shared by Jacobs Creek Wine (@jacobscreekwine) on

 

We ended the wine tasting on a nice existential note. Ehren reflected on the surreality of the situation he was experiencing. He got on a plane in San Francisco, arrived in Australia a day later and knew that he was there to indulge in an extremely old craft, but was talking about it via live streaming video to people on the other side of the world, that were a day behind. Technology.

Follow Jacob’s Creek on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Thanks to Jacob’s Creek for letting me “attend” its wine tasting. Now go out and buy some Two Lands or better yet, come over this summer and we’ll enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio together!

For tasting notes on each wine, please find the fact sheets below. (I apologize for not providing more detailed notes on the flavors. I do not claim to be a expert in wine tasting.)

Two Lands Cabernet

Two Lands Shiraz

Two Lands Pinot Grigio

Two Lands Chardonnay

National Grilled Cheese Month

23 Apr

April is National Grilled Cheese Month! I love grilled cheese. Add bacon and we have a serious situation on our hands. The other day in our cafeteria I ordered a grilled cheese with bacon and the guy next to me looked at me like I was 1. a genius and 2. like I had 10 heads. He said, “Did you just order a grilled cheese with bacon?” To him I said, “You’ve never had bacon on your grilled cheese? You should try it, it is life-changing.” He agreed that anything with bacon is infinitely better, and we went our separate ways. I am pretty sure he probably came back the next day and ordered a grilled cheese with bacon.

Image from All Recipes

Image from All Recipes

Anwyays, if you are looking for a few ways to up your grilled cheese game, check out some that I’ve tried in the past:

And if you are in the Boston area, or if you visit Boston, I implore you to seek out Roxy’s Grilled Cheese Food Truck.

Image from Roxy's Grilled Cheese

Image from Roxy’s Grilled Cheese

I scream, you scream, we all scream for gelato…

23 Mar

Scoop on the street- Amorino, a popular European café and gelateria is staking a claim in Boston – at 249 Newbury Street to be exact. The Newbury location is the first in the United States, and has more than 100 locations including cities such as Paris, London, Milan and Madrid.

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How do these sound? L’Inimitable (a Nutella-inspired hazelnut & chocolate), Mango Alfonso d’India (Indian Alfonso mango), and the Bronte Pistachio (Pistacchio Verde di Bronte PDO)… Yes, please. These are just a few of the up to 23 gourmet gelato flavors they have at a time and will also serve a flavor of the month!

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Photo: from Amorino’s Facebook page -https://www.facebook.com/AmorinoBoston/timeline

This month’s flavor:

Guests are served their gelato in a signature flower shape… pictured below. How cute!

How cute is this little flower? (Photo from Amorino's FB page)

Photo: from Amorino’s FB page

Café items include a selection of fine Italian coffees, ten flavors of hot chocolate, tea, fresh pastries and breakfast items, and, in the warmer months, granitas. Sweet items include beautifully crafted luxury chocolates, milk covered roasted almonds, and candied oranges dipped in chocolate. Did I mention the macarons? They have eight different flavors. I think I found our next dessert destination!

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Photo: from Amorino’s FB page

Talk about following your dreams… Amorino is owned and operated by  Léa Sasportes, a 28 year old former engineer who followed her passion for the industry from France to the United States one year ago. She fell in love with Newbury Street’s European feel and knew it needed to be the spot for Amorino’s first US location.

If you are available on Thursday at from 11 am to 2 pm, stop by and enjoy a complimentary small cup or cone! To become instantly hungry, follow Amorino on Facebook or on Twitter.

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