Sunday, September 28, 2008


reading this blog you would think we cook 5 course meals every night, but most nights I just eat chicken and salad with ranch dressing and fake bacon bits. cooking from scratch in a home kitchen without floor hoses and dishwashers and 400 horsepower stick blenders makes a big goddamn mess.

but sometimes you just need to have meatballs. especially with a blend of 3 meats, ricotta cheese, grated parm, fresh herbs and everything mixed in there. these were the size of baseballs, and served them up with these vegetable lasagna-ish (no pasta) towers dripping with fresh mozzarella and sitting in a pool of parmesan-vodka cream sauce.

Super Snacks

Japan is really good at snacks. My last nite with Saya, Ryohei and Jiro involved Okonomiyaki and Manju. Both not so good for you, both I could eat all nite with my delicious grapefruit sochu. The most social food ever. All we got were the raw ingredients and a comic strip on how to cook it. Lucky for me Saya was a pro.

Our Okonomiyaki was basically a noodle pancake cabbage pizza with yummy sauce on it. The Manju was, well I am not sure, but it was amazing.

Thinking about Tokyo

I miss having lunch at the Tanaka household. Where after cruising the neighborhood mall ( where you ride your bike through) Ryohei's super mom had soba and croquettes waiting for us. Perfect Lunch.

Treviso, Italy

I had no idea what the restaurant was called, or what the name of the food I had at this place in Treviso, Italy. The plate of smoked octopus and some type of fish with fresh rasberry is drissled with olive oil and lemon juice. How simple!

I was alone there with of course no knowledge of italian. I somehow managed to say (or point with my index finger) "appertiser," "fish," and "please." and of course "wine, the red."

I got soooo addicted to the cured octopus and it also helped me drink 4 glasses of wine. After a while, all i remember was drinking local cherry liquir with the restaurant owner, who's name was Valdo. He kept on pinching my butt and speaking in Italian (or at least that's what i think he was speaking.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pub and Kitchen

Ignore the Rittenhouse suits and cable knit clad women. This place was awesome.

The Pub and Kitchen was a lovely dining experience. Hands down High Fives all around. From the Pabbit as there logo, to the nice staff, to the simple well done dishes. Good beer on tap, well done cocktails, and a wine list that's got a good under 10 bucks selection.

This made me ache for my old neighborhood even more.

The Fish and Chips were deicious and light, with the best tasting mushy green peas I ever had. There was a little bit of mint, maybe a potato, but I almost got an extra side to take home. The fries were perfect with some malt vinegar.

Becky had the Lobster BLT which I had a bite as well, and that too was delicious. The lobster was sweet which was good with the bacon.

We also had oysters, which were fresh and delicious, and the duck liver toast which came with the right amount of cornichons and mustard to share. I have to go back for the malt vinegar potato crisps, the best part is all the bar snacks are 3 bucks. Which is smart, because just having that will make me drink more.

The Pub and Kitchen

20th and Lombard

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

chicago dogs

so it's nice to go to chicago and try out some of the fancy new restaurants where truffled bacon chips hang from wires and chefs pump blueberry caviar smoke into your face with strange gadgets, but what I really wanted to eat was some chicago hot dogs.

a hot steaming dog covered in whole pickle spears, diced raw onions, sliced tomato, hot peppers, celery salt, yellow mustard and neon green relish, delicious.

first stop was "Mister J's dawg and burger" which we stumbled past after eating a deep dish pizza (also delicious) but couldn't resist the glow of the yellow and red sign. pretty good and garlicky. No poppy seeds on the bun or celery salt though.

the next night we were wandering out of some dive bar and saw yellow lights in the distance and ended up at clark dog which for some reason also has philly cheese steaks (didnt try) but the dogs were delicious. also there is a bar next door which sounds like the prefect place to me.

then we sought out the wiener's circle which is know for insane screaming matches between the customers and the staff late at night. we were there during the day and the staff was very pleasant which was sort of disappointing but the dogs and fries were fantastic. with 2 pickle spears and giant thick slices of tomato it was like eating a hoagie. also wiener's circle "char-dogs" are available grilled (most seem to be steamed) which is great.

there's also hot doug's which has wild stuff like fries cooked in duck fat, corned beef reuben sausage, all kinds of stuff but we didn't make it there this time..

Mister J's Dawg n Burger
822 N state st

Clark St Dog
3040 N clark st

Wiener's Circle
2622 N clark st

Monday, September 22, 2008

ghost town

I don't know if it was because there was flooding a few weeks ago, but chinatown in chicago at 8pm on a wednesday is pretty much vacant. there were maybe 3 other people on the pitch black street and most of the restaurants were empty.

anyway we ended up at 'cantonesia' where we were the only people there. seems strange in the third largest city in the united states.

i kept waiting for gangsters to jump out of the ceiling or a little wizard man out of 'big trouble in little china' to float out of the kitchen in a cloud of green smoke.

the food was decent - seaweed soup, dumplings, lo mein - and we drank a bunch of tsingtao. the lights went off and doors locked as soon as we left the building.

custom house

custom house was our first meal in chicago. we were originally planning to go to alinea or tru but custom house looked a bit more relaxed, more affordable -and right down the street from our hotel. turned out to be the best meal of the trip.

the menu is mostly meat; braised meats, housemade bacon, pork belly and steak, a-la-carte style almost like a steakhouse but with much more eclectic food and a focus on local farm produce.

started with a heirloom tomato-mozzarella salad with watermelon "variations" - diced, pickled rind, and granita - fantastic. sweetbreads and bacon with white polenta - delicious.

then bone-in shortrib, bacon wrapped rabbit loin, and a side of cauliflower with fromage blanc that was delicious, and made me wish we ordered more sides (everything from sheeps milk potato gratin to swiss chard gnocchi).

dessert was awesome - sorry no pictures, i was drunk and/or batteries ran out - plum linzertorte with brown sugar ice cream and a "smores parfait" with black lava salt and toasted marshmallow that was incredible. i've had a lot of forgettable desserts lately that seemed like an afterthought, custom house's pastry chef is on her game, I would go back just for that.

custom house
500 S. dearborn

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I can't sing the praises of Southwark enough. I had the pleasure of having a full meal there this past Friday and the fresh seasonal dishes made me want to be a regular.

There was a rabbit crepe with balsamic figs, and stuffed squash blossoms tempura battered and fried to start off the meal.

The pork belly was a piece of pork I fell in love with. It was bigger than my face and good enough to fry my eggs in the next morning.

Tim's trout was delicious, it came with a yummy onion marmalade and fried green tomatoes. It was light and yummy.

And of course I had one Gimlet too many.

15th and Morris

On 15th and Morris is a small Indonesian food market run by the nicest family. I have to admit that I feel completely alien in this store but the family's daughter is nice enough to offer information on all there ready made snacks. Here is the booty we grabbed for a rainy day of sitting inside snacking.