Saturday, May 13, 2017

Morel Media Dinner at Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena

Table place cards at Media Morel Dinner
Last week I attended my second Morel Media Dinner at Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena. The luxury resort has been hosting the dinner for four years and it is followed up on day two with a guided hunt on the property for morels by Executive Chef Randy Hoppman and other personnel from resort.

The dinner is spectacular, not just for the food, but for the full experience - the atmosphere, the decor, the hospitality. Dinner is enjoyed in a banquet room overlooking Lake Galena with a table adorned with natural pieces, which included the star of the event - morels. Clusters of wildflowers were set among logs - and I discovered that violets are not all purple. White and yellow violets are also common in the area and I'm in love with the yellow variety. Each place setting was personalized and the details were beautiful.

This was my second time attending the Media Morel Dinner and Hunt and I was delighted that this time, Becky (the other foodie sister) was able to attend with me. We can not only recommend the food served at Eagle Ridge, which is incredible, but we would definitely urge anyone looking for a girls' getaway or sisters' weekend to visit the Galena Territory and the charming downtown area, which makes you feel like you've stepped back in time.

A sunset view of Lake Galena from just outside the banquet rooms

To start off, we enjoyed smoked diver scallops and pistachio cappelletti as an appetizer (following a cocktail hour with wine and morel fondue.) The cold pasta was stuffed with morel and four cheeses with English peas, pancetta, tomato and ramp cream reduction with shaved Grana Padana. It's was a heavenly beginning to a spectacular dinner. 

Our next course was Poussin Poche Roti Watercress Salad, a salad of sous vide spring chicken with grilled asparagus, radish, fried morels, crispy leeks, baby carrots and balsamic rhubarb vinaigrette.



This was my second time attending the dinner and one item I remembered well from last year - and have told many people since then that it was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten - was the intermezzo of wild violet sorbet. That little treat returned, with a little modification. This year it was a Wild Apple Cherry Violet Sorbet.


The entree was a Morel Crusted Rack of Hare with wild ramp, fave bean puree, black garlic molasses and fregula sara with swiss chard, heirloom tomatoes and blue foot mushrooms.


There was a fantastic finish of Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Mille Feuille with guava curd, almond florentine with while chocolate ribbon and a chocolate mirrored chiffon. Every bite of the meal was beyond amazing.

This trip, the hunt and this dinner have become one of the highlights of my foodie year and I feel so fortunate us foodie sisters were able to spend some wonderful quality time together in such a beautiful place enjoying such wonderful food. We're already looking forward to the 5th Annual Morel Media Hunt. :)

View from the dining rooms at the Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena.

A warm welcome from our host, Colin.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Get a Free Big Mac Today on National Eat What You Want Day


Every day is a food holiday of some sort. Today happens to be National Eat What You Want Day. So, what do Americans want to indulge in on Eat What You Want Day?

A recent Postmates Culinary Cravings Survey found that the McDonald's Big Mac ranks as America's #1 most-craved food. To celebrate the food holiday, Postmates is rewarding 20,000 Chicago residents with free Big Macs all day.

To get the scoop on America's most delicious guilty pleasures, Postmates [https://postmates.com/] (America's most popular universal delivery app) partnered with the junk food fanatics at NationalToday.com [https://nationaltoday.com/us/national-eat-what-you-want-day/] to find out what Americans like to eat when they can eat whatever they want.

The survey, which you can view here, included some interesting information. Here are where other foods rank:

#1: Big Mac (McDonald's)
#2: Chicken Sandwich (Chick-fil-A)
#3: Crunchy Taco (Taco Bell)
#4: Whopper (Burger King)
#5: McNuggets (McDonald's)
#6: Cheese Pizza (Pizza Hut)
#7: Original Recipe Fried Chicken (KFC)
#8: Baconator (Wendy's)
#9: Roast Beef Sandwich (Arby's) 

The survey also revealed the difference between what men and women crave. Thirty-four percent of men crave meat most often, while forty percent of women crave sweets the most.

Additionally, according to the survey these are the foods that people would most like to indulge in if there were no consequences:

#1: Pizza (13%)
#2: Burgers (11%)
#3: Ice cream (11%)
#4: Tacos or burritos (9%)
#5: Chocolate (9%)
#6: Anything with carbs (like pasta or bread) (9%)
#7: French fries (9%)
#8: Donuts (7%)
#9: Cake (5%)
#10: Chips (5%)
#11: Cheese (4%)
#12: Cookies (5%)
#13: Macaroni & cheese (4%)

To encourage even more Chicago residents to indulge a little, Postmates is delivering a free Big Mac to the first 20,000 Chicago dwellers who download Postmates and order on May 11.

1. Download the Postmates app by visiting:
>>  http://springboard.postmates.com/eatwhatever

2. Add a Big Mac to your cart from your local McDonald's

3. Use code EATWHATEVER to get it for free


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Florentine Introduces Spring Menu


There are some places where you dine that you never forget. You remember exactly what you had for each course and know it would be hard to duplicate a meal so magnificent elsewhere. The Florentine would be one of those places. Located in the JW Marriott, this upscale Italian spot has enhanced classics that are traditional, yet creatively improved. Every bite was magnificent. I'm drooling looking at their new spring menu. Take a look and if I were you, I'd make those reservations ASAP. :)

The Florentine Says “Saluti” To Spring 

Loop dining destination opens the book on spring food & drink offerings
The Florentine, the Loop’s destination for delicious Italian cuisine, is ready for springtime in Chicago with a new dining menu and libations perfect for spring in the city.
 
Featuring seasonal ingredients, Chef Zachary Walrath looks for imaginative ways to brighten up with fresh peas, spring lamb and more while the beverage team turns the page to spring cocktails.
 
The new spring menu features such dishes as Gnudi with fava beans, oyster mushrooms, prosciutto and parmesan; Risotta with asparagus, morels, porchetta and lemon; Trota pan roasted trout, butter beans, shrimp, braised kale, pancetta, salsa verde and Osso Bucco di Maiale crispy pork shank, harissa, spring onions with a pea shoot salad. The full dinner menu includes:
To add to the culinary experience, guests can imbibe with literary themed cocktails from the beverage team drawing inspiration from the library feel of The Florentine. Each cocktail is named for a book within the restaurant and include the Mirror Image Hanger One “Buddha’s Hand” Citron vodka, lemon, liquid heat; Once is Not Enough Bacardi 8 Anos Rum, strawberry, whites; How it Was Woodford Reserve Bourbon, artisanal bitter, Italian vermouth, old fashioned bitters and The Benefactor Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Galliano l’apertivo and Italian vermouth.
 
The complete cocktail menu for spring 2017 features:
For additional information about The Florentine or to make reservations, please visit the restaurant’s website.
 
ABOUT THE FLORENTINE
The Florentine, owned by ESquared Hospitality, reinterprets seasonal Italian cuisine offering an accessible yet elegant dining experience and a menu characterized by simplicity and premium ingredients. Located in Chicago's JW Marriott at 151 W. Adams, The Florentine is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday from 6:30 - 10:30 a.m. and Sunday from 6:30-11 a.m. and lunch daily from 11 to 2:30 p.m. For dinner, The Florentine is open from 5 - 10 p.m. seven days a week and The Lounge serves food until 11pm Monday through Thursday. For more information about The Florentine, please call 312-660-8866, visit www.the-florentine.net or view the restaurant's FacebookTwitter or Instagram pages.
 
ABOUT ESQUARED HOSPITALITY
ESquared Hospitality is an international restaurant and hospitality group. Built on a commitment to "Exceeding Expectations" with extraordinary food and excellent customer service, ESquared Hospitality has grown into a diversified group of restaurant concepts, from the flagship BLT Steak New York which opened in 2004 to more than 25 restaurants on two continents. ESquared Hospitality properties include the BLT restaurants, comprised of BLT Steak in New York, NY (2004), Washington, DC (2006), San Juan, PR (2006), White Plains, NY (2007), Hong Kong (2009), Charlotte, NC (2009), Waikiki, HI (2009), Seoul, South Korea (2014), Roppongi, Tokyo (2014), Las Vegas, NV (2014), Ginza, Tokyo (2015), and Aruba (2015); BLT Burger in Hong Kong (2009); BLT Prime in New York, NY (2005) and at the Trump National Doral Miami, FL (2014); BLT Market in Waikiki, HI (2016). ESquared Hospitality also operates two Italian concepts: Casa Nonna in New York, NY (2011), which became the official pizza vendor of Madison Square Garden (2013) and Radio City Music Hall (2015), and The Florentine in Chicago, IL (2010); as well as Horchata De Nueva York (2014), The Wayfarer (2014), and plant-based fast-casual concept by CHLOE. with six locations across New York, NY (2015/2016/2017), Los Angeles, CA (2016), Boston, MA (2017), and standalone bakery, Sweets by CHLOE. (2016). In September 2015, acclaimed Chef David Burke joined E2 Hospitality as a culinary partner to open BLT Prime by David Burke in Washington DC (2016) and Tavern 62 by David Burke (2016). For more information, visit ESquared Hospitality online at www.E2Hospitality.com, Facebook.com/ESquaredHospitality, Twitter @ESqHospitality or Instagram @ESquaredHospitality.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Enjoy final days of BRIO Tuscan Grille's "A Variety of Flavors" menu

Cucumber Basil Gimlett
BRIO Tuscan Grille in Lombard has become one of my favorite restaurants. I've made a couple visits there in recent months and I love the atmosphere, the friendly service and the phenomenon food. The current special menu is the "A Variety of Flavors" menu and it has some nice choices of appetizers, three entrees (including two that are seafood dishes - perfect for Lent), a dessert and wine options.

Although I didn't have it this time, their Lobster Bisque is fantastic and a must on your visit. It's available daily. Each visit starts with a basket of warm bread - and a crispy herbed flatbread that is irresistible. 



There's a nice selection of wines and cocktails. This time hubby had a Cucumber Basil Gimlett and I had a delicious white peach sangria. We sampled both of the appetizers on the special menu - the Calamari Britto Misto. In the past I have not been a fan of calamari, but this appetizer changed my mind. It was crispy outside and melt-in-your mouth good inside, seven with some nice dipping sauces. We also tried the spicy shrimp and eggplant appetizer. I love eggplant at the combination of the two in this savory sauce were perfect.






We tried both the Perone Beer-Battered Fish & Chips and Braised Beef Pappardelle. The fish was perfection - so succulent and the crispy batter was a winner. The pappardelle was also tasty - such a nice combination of vegetables, including one of my faves - the crimini mushrooms.



The desserts are always so tempting! We each had the perfectly-sized portion of Butterscotch Budino, which includes yet another favorite of mine - Marcona almonds.



The menu runs through Saturday, so be sure to get in and try out some of the items while you can.



One other nice feature of the Lombard location is a cozy nook with a fireplace to relax while you wait to be seated.

 


About BRIO Lombard – Chicago
BRIO Lombard is located at 330 Yorktown Center, Chicago, IL 60148, off Highland Avenue on the West side of Yorktown Mall near Von Maur. BRIO offers lunch and dinner, as well as a special children’s menu; brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday until 3 p.m. The restaurant is open Sunday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday–Thursday 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. For more information, visit www.brioitalian.com. For reservations, please call (630) 424-1515.               


About BRIO Tuscan GrilleBRIO (meaning “lively” or “full of life”) is a “polished casual” restaurant serving authentic, northern Italian cuisine. The subtitle, “Tuscan Grille” is descriptive in the menu that features oven-roasted steaks, chops and seafood, similar to what one would find in an authentic ristorante in Tuscany. BRIO’s philosophy is “to eat well, is to live well;” which is why it only uses the finest and freshest ingredients. BRIO brings the pleasure of the Tuscan country villa to the American city. BRIO is part of Columbus-based BRAVO|BRIO Restaurant Group (BBRG). Founded in 1992, BBRG currently operates more than 100 restaurants including BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, BRIO Tuscan Grille and Bon Vie Bistro. Please visit the website for BRIO locations at www.brioitalian.com and follow the restaurant on Twitter (@brioitalian) and Facebook (facebook.com/brioitalian)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Medieval Times Tomato Bisque Recipe

So, for dinner and theatre kind of places, I go in expecting either the dinner or the theatre to be outstanding. Then if one of the two is medicare, I'm still satisfied. However, when you go to Medieval Times, you know that both the show and the food will be spectacular. 

The show is always a magnificent display of pageantry and excitement and really the food is secondary. However, the meal - that you eat with your bare hands as they would have in medieval times - is really impressive. We've been there a few times and I always love the Dragon Blood Soup a.k.a. Tomato Bisque. I was excited to see that they recently posted the recipe for this delicious soup - so in-between visits to the castle, you can make it at home. 




Medieval Times Tomato Bisque (Dragon Blood Soup)



2 Tbl. canola oil
2 ea.  medium carrots, peeled
1 ea.  celery stalk, cleaned and trimmed
½ ea. medium onion, peeled
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 ea. 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 ea. 15 1/2 oz can tomato puree
5 cups water
1 tsp. paprika
3 tbls. Sugar
2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
Pinch Italian seasoning
½ ea. lemon, for juice


Cut the carrots, celery and onion into small pieces about ½ inches. Place the carrots, onions and celery into a food processor fitted with the knife blade and pulse until they are finely minced, almost pureed.
Heat the canola oil in a 5 – 6 quart stainless steel sauce pan or pot. Add the finely minced carrots, onions and celery and cook until vegetables are soft but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir into the vegetables to combine well and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the tomato puree, water, paprika sugar, salt, ground pepper, Italian Seasoning and juice from ½ lemon.

Bring soup to a boil while stirring frequently. Once soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, while stirring frequently to prevent soup from scorching.

Friday, March 31, 2017

It's Friday! Where to go in Chicago area for Lenten meals

As the Lenten season moves on, you may be on the lookout for some new places to try that are offering up some really good seafood (or vegetarian meals). Well, look no further. Here is Chicago Foodie Sisters' guide to some of the top spots to enjoy seafood during the final weeks of Lent.


fourteensixteen in LaGrange

Lent features will rotate every two weeks:
Week 1-2:
Fired goat cheese and root vegetable fritters - poached pears, aged balsamic $10
Poached lobster tail - brussels sprout & yukon gold hash, brown butter emulsion, lemon $25
Week 3-4:
Peruvian shellfish ceviche - sea asparahus, shrimp, scallops, radish, red onion, cilantro, habanero $12
Rushing Water's Trout - farro, rainbow swiss chard, meyer lemon byre blanc $21
Week 5-6:
Pan seared scallops -poached apricots, parmesan crisp, hydro watercress, ramps, caper vinaigrette $16
Shrimp Orcchiette - classic soffritto, stewed tomatoes, italian parsley, pecorino $18
 
Kinfork (in Schaumburg) and Rack House (in Arlington Heights)

Fish & Chips will be offered every Friday through Easter:
Fresh Pacific Pollock fried crispy in our house beer batter with slaw, fresh lemon, and remoulade. Choice of fries or tots $10

LaVoute in Homwood

Every Friday this Lenten season, La Voute will feature a variety of seafood specials ranging from Crab Cakes to Mussles to Salmon and so much more.  And during Lent and beyond you can enjoy crab legs every Wednesday.

Arami in Chicago
 
Chicagoans can enjoy an extensive meat-free menu this Lenten season, including a variety of sashimi, nigiri, and maki fare. Highlights also include Hokkaido Miso Ramen with vegan kimchi, Japanese mushrooms, fried tofu, and negi ($14) and Kankoku-Nabe ($16).  Reservations are available seven days a week via Reserve.

FIG & OLIVE in Chicago
 
The sophisticated, French-Riviera inspired restaurant in the Gold Coast offers seafood options in an elegant setting for diners observing Lent. With a menu showcasing fresh, Mediterranean-style ingredients, guests of FIG & OLIVE enjoy Sea Scallops with honey roasted carrot, orange segment, citrus and charmoula ($19); Salmon Crudo with pomegranate, grapefruit segment, pink peppercorn and pomegranate dressing ($16); Crab Cake with horseradish, preserved lemon mayo and cilantro ($16); Riviera Salmonwith braised endive, baby kale, cauliflower purée, olive and piquillo condiment ($26); Branzino a la Plancha with haricot vert, yellow wax beans, roasted potato and green harissa sauce ($32), and more. For more information, please visit FIG & OLIVE’s website or call (312) 445-0060.

Homestead on the Roof in Chicago
 
Leave traditional notions of pot pie at the door, because this Lenten season Executive Chef Scott Shulman is serving up something special at Homestead on the Roof. Putting his own unique spin on the classic comfort food item, behold the Lobster Pot Pie. A homemade pie shell created in-house by Executive Pastry Chef Chris Teixeira, this signature item is filled with decadent Maine lobster, seasonal vegetables, and lobster bisque. Hello, Lent. For more information, please visit Homestead on the Roof’s website or call (773) 332-2354.

Keith's in Whiting, IN

I made my first visit there recently after being urged to go there form friends for several years. There's a significant number of seafood entrees on the menu as well as seafood specials. I enjoyed some salmon with a lemon caper sauce that was amazing. My lunch portion came with soup or salad for just $14.

Latinicity in Chicago
 
The meat-free options are limitless at Latinicity. The foodhall is home to ten unique kitchens, including MariscosSpanish for “seafood”, where diners can enjoy calamari, mussels, fish & chips and oysters.  Latinicity also serves up classic ceviches, salads and tortas, with Lent-friendly options to go around.  Reserve a table at Pata Negra, the full-service tapas restaurant within the foodhall, to enjoy small bites like gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), pulpo de la gallega (octopus), or montadito de congreja (crab toast). 


Vermilion in Chicago
 
Known for its bold Indian-Latin cuisine, the fusion restaurant offers an array of seafood and vegetarian options.  Appetizers include Toasted Coconut Shrimpwith kashmiri mirch chimichurri and lychee jalapeno salsa, Blue Corn Crusted Scallops with Peruvian corn, calabasa, chipotle and goat cheese, and Grilled Peruvian Pulpo Octopus, featuring tangy tiradito sauce and jicama slaw. Signature Latin entrees include Vermilion’s Caldeirada De Peixe, a savory Brazilian seafood stew served with tomato rice, and Plantain Crusted Seasonal Whitefish, seasoned with cilantro mint and served with roasted corn tomatillo salsa. Another staple is the Lobster Portuguese, voted as a top dish worldwide by USA Today. Reservations can be made on OpenTable or by calling (312) 557-4060. 

BRIO Tuscan Grille in Lombard

They say variety is the spice of life, and BRIO Tuscan Grille Lombard in Chicago is embracing this philosophy with an array of new dishes on the “A Variety of Flavors” lunch and dinner menus. Available Tuesday, Feb. 28–Saturday, April 15, the menus present two exciting new appetizers, three entrées (including two mouthwatering seafood dishes), a divine dessert, and delightful wine options. 

I was in recently to try out some of the menu items from this list of limited-time selections. The calamari was fantastic and the Peroni Beer-Battered Fish & Chips hit the spot. The North Atlantic cod was crispy on the outside, succulent and so flavorful on the inside. It came with fries and Brussels sprout slaw for $17.95. The pasta dishes are always pretty awesome and this menu includes a Lobster and Black Pepper Shrimp Ravioli.


The Florentine in Chicago
 
The Florentine located in the Loop inside the JW Marriott is one of my absolute favorite dining spots in the city. Venture in for seafood appetizers and entrée options crafted by Executive Chef Zach Walrath. The Italian dining destination offers an elegant, seasonal menu with dish highlights including Capesante: hudson canyon scallops, parsnip puree, red cabbage, gala apple, pancetta ($20); Branzino:whole mediterranean sea bass, giant white beans, puttanesca, basil, lemon ($42); Salmone: faroe island salmon, shaved fennel, orange, grapefruit, treviso, pomegranate agrodolce ($32); Trota: pan roasted trout, creamed escarole, fingerling potatoes, smoked trout, capers ($35). 
 
For Lent-friendly imbibing, tasty mocktail selections include Mixed Berry Italian Cream Soda with farmers market mixed berry simple syrup, sparkling water, topped with cream; A rif on a Caipirinha with muddled lime, jalapeno, cucumber, agave nectar and topped with soda; and Pomegranate & Mint Mojito: the classic without the liquor. For more information, please visit The Florentine’s website or call (312) 660-8866.