Time Out Chicago’s 2012 Eat Out Awards Winners

18 Apr

Congrats to all the deserving chefs, partners, patrons and supporters of the Time Out Chicago’s 2012 Eat Out Awards. And the winners are…

 2012 Eat Out Award Winners
READERS’ CHOICE

  • Best new bar: The Aviary
  • Best new restaurant: Next
  • Breakout chef of the year: Dave Beran
  • Best new burger joint: Butcher & the Burger
  • Best new sweet shop: Doughnut Vault
  • Best new breakfast: Waffles
  • Best local chain: Epic Burger
  • Best new restaurant cocktails: Perennial Virant
  • Best fro-yo chain: Forever Yogurt
  • Best new BYOB: Goosefoot
  • Best new food truck: The Southern Mac and Cheese
  • Cheap eatery of the year: Pleasant House Bakery
  • Best new pizzeria: Roots Handmade Pizza
  • Best comeback: The Pump Room
  • Best new sports bar: Public House

CRITICS’ PICKS

  • The fresh air award for restaurant design: Yusho
  • Most legitimately farm-to-table restaurant: Pleasant House Bakery
  • Best one-man show: Bill Talbott at EL Ideas
  • Strongest dessert program: Spiked milkshakes at 25 Degrees
  • Coziest place to hibernate: Miko’s Flipside Café
  • Best old-country buffet: Julbord at Tre Kronor
  • Best use of egg yolks: Egg-yolk buns at Cai
  • Best route to the suburbs: Wisma
  • Boys to men award for grown-up drinking: Elixir
  • Best firestarter: Tozi Korean BBQ
  • Best creative loafing: Publican Quality Meats
  • Best new biker bar: Heritage Bicycles General Store
  • Most palatable evangelism: Martha Bayne
  • Easiest history lesson: Big Jones
  • Lifetime achievement award: Tony Hu
  • Inspired performance award presented by Infiniti: Jeremy Quinn at Telegraph
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Vote For Your Favorite Chicago Neighborhood Restaurants

18 Apr

Before there was Yelp, before MenuPages, before Twitter, there was Zagat as the trusted foodie resource when deciding where to eat. I still love my hard copy Zagat guides and collect them on the bookshelf.

Now you can be part of the ranking system for Zagat by voting on and reviewing your favorite neighborhood food spots. I had fun voting and filling out the reviews, secretly hoping one of my quips will be included in their final restaurant write-up. We shall see!

Today is the last day to vote, so get cracking!

Splendid Savannah

2 Apr

It’s time to let the cat out of the bag: we’re having another baby due in September! It’s been a rough first trimester, but now that I’m four months into the pregnancy, I’ve finally got my appetite back, and just in time for our trip to Savannah, Ga.

We were going for our friends’ wedding and my awesome in-laws stayed at our house to watch Teddy. Since it will only get harder and harder for me and Ian to find time alone together, we were really excited for the trip.

We flew into Charleston and drove the lovely two hour ride to Savannah. When we arrived in town, I was immediately struck with how much it resembled exactly how I’d imagined it. Beautiful old plantation and colonial architecture, two-hundred-year-old monuments dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and the gorgeous tree-lined streets, squares and parks, all draped with Spanish moss. In a word, it was perfect.

The hotel we were staying at was equally lovely. The Mansion on Forsyth was an old, you guessed it, mansion converted into one of the more eclectic and artistic boutique hotels I’ve stayed at. The room was huge and comfortable, with a great view of Forsyth Park just across the street. Located in the heart of the Historic District, we were in prime real estate to walk around the city and explore the ancient nooks and crannies.

After unpacking and getting our bearings, we made our way to the River-way and downtown district. This houses much of the shopping, restaurants and river-view attractions in Savannah. After a long day of travel, the first item on our agenda was to eat. Going back to the earlier news I broke, I have to say that being pregnant in the south has some SERIOUS advantages. I didn’t hold back!
We found Vics on the River, which was a lovely spot overlooking the river and river walkway. It was a little later in the afternoon, so there was no wait and we were seated in a great spot by a large window and a great view. On the wall next to us there was also an old map drawn in 1844/45 by Sherman’s troops while they were hunkered down in the same building following their march from Chatanooga. The history throughout this city is everywhere.

Back to the food- we ordered up some fried green tomatoes to start. They were amazing. The tomatoes were firm but flavorful and the batter on them was a perfect compliment. The chutney and goat cheese that accompanied them provided further depth in flavor. All in all, they were delicious. For lunch I had the fried shrimp po boy and this was also quite good. There could have been a bit more sauce as it got dry towards the end, but that was a minor issue. I also sipped on some of the best sweet tea I’ve had and it was a nice relief to the already hot afternoon.

On our second day in town, we visited the Olde Pink House after getting numerous recommendations to try it out. Since we had other meals in conjunction with the wedding, lunch-time was our chance to go off for our own for meals and I’m so happy we made this a priority stop.

We arrived right before the rain fell and I have to say that sitting by the window, as it started to come down it added a nice touch to the ambiance. I felt like I was walking into a parlor from the early twentieth century for a tea or lunch party. It was beautifully decorated in a way the preserved the buildings old roots and architecture.

To start, I had the gazpacho which was perfect. Probably the best serving of gazpacho I’ve ever had. Just enough of a bite and kick to give it a punch of flavor while simultaneously proving to be incredibly refreshing.

For lunch I had the crab cake and I am confident it was made up 98% of crab meat. No filler in this cake. It was served with two fried green tomatoes which were a great accompaniment to the rich crab. It also came with a refreshing side salad that was served with homemade ranch dressing. Delicious. And for dessert (I’ve already told you that I didn’t hold back on this trip!) we got a pecan praline crust key lime pie. It was a slice of heaven. The lunch proved to be just long enough to get us through the rain and by the time the wedding started, the sun was making its way through the clouds.

The wedding itself was beautiful. The ceremony took place in Monterey Square and the reception was in our hotel. There were so many lovely touches from the creative bride that really put their stamp on the whole day. I can’t think of many things better than bearing witness to two people who are absolutely in love with each other getting married. We were  so happy to have been able to take part in their very special day!

All in all, we had a wonderful, delicious trip. I only wish we had one more day to do more exploring, but knowing how easy it is to fly in, I have no doubt we’ll be back to Savannah again.

Georgia On My Mind

28 Mar
Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA: photo from About.com

We’re packing our bags and headed south this weekend to Savannah, Georgia. I can’t wait! A good friend is getting married and she just so happened to pick one of the cities I’ve always wanted to visit. My in-laws have kindly extended their visit from Teddy’s birthday party to watch him over the weekend, so it will be a nice trip for me and Ian.
I’ll be sure to write a recap of all the delicious southern food and sweet teas we enjoy, but would love to know what your “can’t-miss” spots are for Savannah.

Healthy and Easy Sonoma Chicken Salad

6 Mar

It’s no secret I’ve struggled with cooking chicken. I enjoy eating chicken, but when it comes to preparing it, I’m often at a loss. I chalk it up to the fact that I didn’t eat meat for 16 years and grew so comfortable cooking as a vegetarian that once I saw the light (or started eating meat again) I was already stuck in my ways. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t try. And try I do.

Last night was a small milestone. It seems insignificant, but involved cooking chicken in a new way that I’ve never tried before. I was making a Sonoma chicken salad and I decided to boil the meat. It turned out to be as easy as can be and the recipe was delicious. Here you go:

 

Catherine’s Sonoma Chicken Salad:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3.5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of low fat mayo
  • 1 cup of low fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 cups of finely diced celery
  • 1.5 cups of quartered grapes
  • 1 cup of diced apples
  • 1 cup of diced toasted pecans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Chicken:

  1. Bring the water and broth to a rolling boil. 
  2. Cut the chicken breasts in half (will cook easier)
  3. Put in chicken breasts and bring to a simmer
  4. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through)
  5. Put chicken into an ice bath (to cool off) and begin to shred into bite-size piece

 Dressing:

  1. Mix the mayo, yogurt and mustard in a bowl
  2. Mix in grapes, apples, celery, pecans and shredded chicken
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste

 

Serve over a crisp salad, or on a pretzel roll. Enjoy!

Single? Love Food? Looking for a Date? Eater’s Got You

26 Jan

Eater

Love this!

Our friends at Eater have launched a new food-inspired dating site, How About We. If I wasn’t happily married and on the prowl, pretty sure this would be my source for a deliciously perfect match. But it leads me to question: once the food is off the table, will they have things to talk about?

If you’ve used How About We, could you let me know? Would love to hear about successes, miseries and delicious bites in between!

Terrific Tenderloin That’s Easy As Pie

19 Jan
Beef Tenderloin

Photo from MyRecipe.com

It’s no secret that since Teddy arrived on the scene, going out to eat doesn’t happen as often as it once did. But that’s okay. We love entertaining and cooking, so having people over for dinner parties has been a fun way to still see friends, enjoy delicious food, all while Teddy snoozes away in his bedroom.

Recently, inspired by a delicious Christmas dinner, I decided to reenact the star of the show, a beef tenderloin. Turns out beef tenderloin is a dinner party super star. It’s insanely easy to prepare and cook and everyone loves it. Here’s how I made mine and it was a huge crowd pleaser.

I bought a five pound trimmed tenderloin at Costco. Note: normally when I buy beef, I get Prime grade. It’s the top 2% of been produced and is graded on the marbling (fat). When you’re doing a tenderloin, since it’s a lean cut, you should stick with Choice grade. There’s just not enough fat in a tenderloin to justify paying the amount for Prime.

Take the meat out, pat it down and season with some salt and pepper. Then use some cooking twine to truss it so it cooks evenly. Once it’s trussed, stick cloves of garlic and sprigs of Rosemary between the meat and twine and drizzle with a few tablespoons of EVOO. Let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours before you cook it.

Once it’s time to cook this bad boy, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, in a roasting pan, sear the meat so it browns on all sides. It should take about 10 total minutes. This is really key as it locks in the juices and flavor.

After you’re done browning it, pop it into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. You may have to cook for additional 5-10 minutes, depending on how well done you want it. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature (registers 120°F to 125°F for rare, 125°F to 130°F for medium rare).

Serve with potatoes, a green, some delicious bold red wine and you’ll be the toast of the dinner. Enjoy!