Tag Archives: wine

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!

 

And A Merry Fondue To You

4 Jan

We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. We celebrated with my family in Chicago for Christmas and then headed east to Vermont to have another Christmas and New Years celebration with my husband’s family. All in all, it was very delicious, special and fun to eat amazing food with the people I love most in this world.

Cheese and Seafood Fondue at our New Year's Eve dinner in Vermont

My in-laws have a long tradition of breaking out the fondue pots during special events and holidays, and that is exactly what we did on New Year’s Eve. We had three variations, one cheese fondue, a seafood/broth fondue and of course for dessert, a chocolate fondue.

I’ve had cheese fondue before, but cooking seafood in the broth fondue was new to me. It was amazing. Here’s the recipe and tips for throwing your own fondue party. I know, 1970’s, but I think it’s on the rise and will be a dinner party trend in 2012!

Get a fondue pot, a spirit lamp, a few long-stemmed forks. I love this one from Le Cruset!

For the seafood fondue, rub the interior of the pot with a clove of garlic.

Add boiling broth (I recommend vegetable as it won’t interfere with the flavor) and keep a top on until you’re ready to start dipping.

Have enough seafood (I recomend scallops and raw shrimp) for your guests. You may also want to blanch the seafood to ensure it’s cooked in the fondue, or else make sure you leave it in long enough to cook well.

Have some sauces on hand, such as a mustard mayonnaise, cocktail sauce and a Thai sesame sauce) to dip the cooked seafood into.

Voila!

For cheese fondue, add about four cups of diced cheese (of your choice) as well as a cup of dry white wine and about 1/4 cup of Kirsch brandy. Cook in a pot on the stove until it’s all melted. I would also add a teaspoon of sage, a nice aromatic flavor that accompanies the cheese.

Once melted, add to a fondue pot (which, similar to the seafood fondue, should be rubbed with garlic). Have bread, veggies on hand to dip and enjoy!

Make sure you have some nice white wine and Champage. Both go great with these fondue dished.

Enjoy!!

Due Lire Serves up a Delicious Wine Dinner

1 Oct
Massimo Di Vuolo behind the bar at Due Lire

Massimo Di Vuolo behind the bar at Due Lire

Since I had my son, getting out to restaurants has become harder and harder. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I still make a great effort to eat out three or four times a month, but when we do go out to a restaurant, we’ve started staying closer to the neighborhood. One of our absolute favorite staples is Due Lire. The genius behind owner, Massimo Di Vuolo and chef, Kevin Abshire, is one of those rare dynamics that is few and far between. Massimo brings forth his hospitality experience and expertise and Chef Kevin has developed a reintroduction to fine Italian dining. My husband and I may have become creatures of habit, but dear lord do Massimo and Chef Kevin make it easy to come to Due Lire time and time again.

This past Thursday, Due Lire hosted their first (of many, rumor has it!) wine dinners. I will save the suspense. It was amazing. Each course was thoughtfully created and expertly executed and the wine pairings were perfection. Oh, and it was only $65 a person, including tax and gratuity. It was also one of those great neighborhood experiences where people shared tables and got to mix and mingle with each other.

The menu started out with the antipasto, of fresh figs, citrus whipped mascarpone, honeycomb and brioche toast. This was all paired with a cataratto bianco blend from Tasca D’Almerita Leone Igt, 2009. The unoaked and vibrant flavors picked up on the citrus in the mascarpone. A sweep and delightfully light first course.

The primo course was straccetti al ragu’ di faraona, which was homemade rag-shaped pasta, guinea hen ragu’, porcini and fresh pomegranate. This was paired with Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rossa, a level red that picked up the rich guinea hen and porcini. The homemade pasta was divine and held court among the other savory flavors.

Next up was tonno alla scapece, seared ahi tuna loin, scapece style zucchini, and a petite fennel salad. This was paired with a crisp Tasca d’Almerita le Rose di Regaleali. The crisp rose paired with the superbly prepared tuna was an amazing combination. The only thing that didn’t coordinate with this course was the crisp fall weather, but when planning for an event in September, you never know what it’ll be like outside!

The dessert course was poached pear, fried dunbarton blue pastry cream with a pistachio brittle. This was accompanied with a glass of Tasca d’Almerita Lamuri Nero d’Avola, a robust and juicy Italian red. The blue cheese pastry with the pears (poached in simple syrup) was perfect. I love sweet and savory together and the blue pastry was a well matched blend of those flavors.

Congratulations to the entire team at Due Lire (Massimo, Kevin, Kelly, Cyndi, and everyone else)- I know that it was a lot of work to put this first event together, but they really nailed it and everyone (literately, EVERYONE) was buzzing about when the next dinner would be. Whenever it is, I’ll be there. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be there in a week or two regardless. And so should you.

 

 

Chicago Gourmet 2011 is Almost Here

21 Sep

If you’re in Chicago this weekend and you’re a food and wine lover, then chances are you’re heading to the annual Chicago Gourmet Festival. With an amazing lineup of chefs, sommeliers, restaurants and participants, this will be the most delicious place in the city this weekend. Take a look at who’s going to be there. I will be attending Sunday and reporting a full recap. Tickets are still available!

2011 chefs

Ted Allen, Robert Mondavi Food and Wine Ambassador
Rodelio Aglibot
, The Food Buddha
Michael Altenberg, Bistro Campagne
Luis Arturo “Artie” Aucaquizhpi, Gene & Georgetti
Jerome Bacle, Courtright’s Restaurant
Ariel Bagadiong, Aja at the dana hotel and spa
Jimmy Bannos, Heaven On Seven and The Purple Pig
Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig
Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO
Jonathan Beatty, Davanti Enoteca
Greg Biggers, Café des Architectes at Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
Brian Binzer, Zapatista Lincoln Park
David Blonsky, Bull & Bear/ Public House
Viraj Borkar, Vermilion
Francis Brennan, L2O
George Bumbaris, Prairie Grass Café/ Prairie Fire
Cyril Calmet, The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago
Niall Campbell, Firefly Grill
Evandro Caregnato, Texas de Brazil
John Coletta, Quartino
Federico Comacchio, Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush
Steve Coppolillo, Rosebud Steakhouse
Abel Cortes, e.leaven Food Company
Chris Curren, Blue 13 Restaurant & Bar
Jesse DeGuzman, Sunda New Asian
John des Rosiers, Inovasi
Stephen Dunne, Paramount
Kendal Duque, The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
Graham Elliot and Brian Runge, graham elliot/Grahamwich
Greg Elliot, Lockwood at the Palmer House Hilton
Patrick Fahy, Café des Architects at Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
Christian Fantoni, Filini Bar and Restaurant
Joseph Farina, Salatino’s Restaurant
Dirk Flanigan, Henri/ The Gage
John Folse, Restaurant R’evolution
Mark Freedman, Myron & Phil Steakhouse
Jo-Marie Frigo, Nonna Santi’s Biscotti
Dirk and Terry Fucik, Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop
Meg Galus, NoMI Kitchen
Gale Gand, Tru
Luigi Garcia, RIVA Restaurant
John Gatsos, Tavern on Rush
Carlos Gaytan, Mexique
James Gottwald, Rockit Bar & Grill
Elvia Granados, Francesca’s Restaurant
Rick Gresh, David Burke’s Primehouse
Tim Griffin, N9NE Steakhouse
Mark Grosz, Oceanique
Jeffrey Hedin, Leopold
Thomas Heinrich, Stetson’s Chop House & Bar at the Hyatt Regency Chicago
Perry Hendrix, Custom House
Roger Herring, Socca and Redd Herring Food & Wine
Kevin Hickey, Four Seasons Hotel
John Hogan, Keefer’s Restaurant/ Tavern at the Park
Sandra Holl, Floriole Bakery & Café
Trevor Hoyte, IPO
Tony Hu, Lao Szechuan
Dan Huebschmann, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
Jun Ichikawa, Japonais Restaurant/ Mirai Sushi
Stephanie Izard, The Girl & The Goat
Noel Jaramillo, Bacardi at the Park
Stefan Karlsson, Fond Restaurant
Paul Katz, Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group
Ryan Kikkert, Jake Melnick’s
Beverly Kim Clark, aria Restaurant and Bar at the Fairmont Chicago
Diane Kochilas, AVLI Estiatorio
Michael Kornick, MK The Restaurant
Sarah Kosikowski, Sixteen
Eddie Lakin, Edzo’s Burger Shop
Mariano Lanfranconi, 5411 Empanadas
Gilbert Langlois, Chalkboard
Ryan LaRoche, NoMI Kitchen
Chan Le, Le Colonial
Kai Lermen, The Peninsula Chicago
Aaron Lirette, Duchamp
JR Luna, LUXBAR
Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia
Anthony Martin, Tru
Justin Martin, Uncommon Ground
Shawn McClain, Green Zebra/ Sage Restaurant
Michael McDonald, one sixtyblue
Charlie McKenna, Lillie’s Q
John McLean, Sono Wood Fired Pizzeria
Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill Restaurants
Cory Morris, Mercat a la Planxa
Jason Mousseau, HEARTY
Carrie Nahabedian, NAHA
Fernando Navas, SUSHISAMBA rio
Tommy Nevill, III Forks
Martial Noguier, bistronomic
Mary Nolan, Bon Appétit
Jessica Oloroso, Black Dog Gelato
Terry Opalek and Michael Frontier, Terry’s Toffee
Dan Pancake, Autre Monde Café
Chris Pandel, The Bristol
Beth Partridge, Autre Monde Café
Mark Payne, deca RESTAURANT + BAR
Nicole Pederson, C-House
Justin Perdue, LM Restaurant
Ryan Pitts, RL Restaurant
Celine Plano, The Peninsula Chicago
Ryan Poli, Tavernita
Tony Priolo, Piccolo Sogno
Patrick Quakenbush, ZED451
Joe Rosetti, Market Bar
Patty Rothman, MORE
Arun Sampanthavivat, Arun’s
Patricio Sandoval, Mercadito
Mario Santiago, May St. Cafe & Catering
Anthony Schmidt, Pierrot Gourmet at The Peninsula Chicago
Brian Schoenbeck, Stetson’s Chop House & Bar at the Hyatt Regency Chicago
Kevin Schulz, Fulton’s on the River/Bridge Bar
Nathan Sears, Vie
Alex Shalev, Park Grill Chicago
Patrick Sheerin, The Signature Room at the 95th
Bruce Sherman, North Pond Restaurant
Michael Shrader, Epic
Brian Shustrick, HEARTY
Larry Sinclair, Cantina Laredo
Mark Sparacino, Prosecco
Chris Spear, Uncommon Ground
Jeff Starr, Build A Better Burger
Sarah Stegner, Pairie Grass Café/ Prairie Fire
Kristine Subido, WAVE
Michael Taus, ZEALOUS Restaurant
Giuseppe Tentori, Boka Restaurant
Shin Thompson, Bonsoiree
Rick Tramonto, Restaurant R’evolution/ Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood/ RT Sushi Bar & Lounge
Melissa Trimmer, C-House
Jared Van Camp, Old Town Social
Paul Virant, Perennial Virant
Randy Waidner, Gibsons Restaurant Group
Scott Walton, Markethouse Restaurant and Bar
Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto
Jared Wentworth, Longman and Eagle
Matthew Wilde, Moonshine
Erick Williams, MK The Restaurant
Keith Willis, SugarToad Restaurant at the Hotel Arista
Shelley Young, The Chopping Block
Ivan Yuen, Shanghai Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago
Celeste Zeccola, Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Café
Bob Zrenner, Hubbard Inn
Randy Zweiban, Province

2011 master
sommeliers

Serafin Alvarado, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois
Jay Fletcher, Southern Wine & Spirits of Colorado
Eric Hemer, Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida
Alpana Singh, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
Joseph Spellman, JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery

2011 speakers

Bridget Albert, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois
Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig
Xavier Barlier, Maisons Marques & Domaines
Bobby Gleason, BEAM INC.
Lynn House, Blackbird
Charles Joly, The Drawing Room
Stefan Karlsson, Fond Restaurant
Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit
John Legnard, Blue Moon Brewing Co.
Rob and Allie Levitt, The Butcher and  Larder
Tony and Cathy Mantuano, Spiaggia
Paul Mugnier, Premium Port Wines
Ira Norof, CWE, Southern Wine & Spirits of California
Adam Rapoport, Bon Appétit
Peter Scott, Premium Port Wines
Erling Wu-Bower, The Publican
Donald Ziraldo, TWG/Equifera Icewine

2011 emcees

David Blackmon, CPS
Lin Brehmer, Radio Personality, WXRT Chicago
Joe Campagna, ChicagoNow.com
Jason Carlen, Spiaggia
Catherine DeOrio, Culinary Curator
Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7
Shebnem Ince, Henri/The Gage
Chris Koetke, Kendall College
Kiki Luthringshausen, Beauty and Her Feast
Amanda Puck, The Foodarazzi
Adam RapoportBon Appétit
LeeAnn Trotter, NBC 5

 

Tru was Truly Sublime

16 Aug
Tru Menu

Our menu from Tru, signed by Chef Anthony Miller

It’s important that I write this review now so I don’t forget a single moment from our dinner at Tru. To say it was amazing wouldn’t begin to do it justice. But let start at the beginning.

On August 11, Ian and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. We’ve been married as long as we were in college. It’s not a Things Remembered milestone, but one that we were eager to celebrate. As you know, going out to dinner with a one and a half year old is not an easy task. Ian and I are able to sneak away sometimes for a dinner out in the square, but for our anniversary, we wanted to go beyond our comfort zone and do something special.

My friend, Jeffrey Ward, had been over in July and was telling me about how amazing Tru’s new Chef Anthony Martin was and I was sold.

I booked us a hotel room at the Sofitel and made reservations for Tru. The reservation was at 8:45, which was much later than we normally eat, but again, we were breaking all the rules (how dangerously we live!). I will add, on a side note, that before our dinner, we did something that was so fun and another highlight of our evening. We put on the plush bathrobes, opened the bottle of Veuve Clicquot and watch Bridesmaids in bed. It was bliss! But I digress…

We dressed up for dinner, I put on serious heels and Ian was dapper in his jacket and slacks. When we arrived at the meal, we were greeted with a glass of complimentary Champagne. Perfect.

We were going to order the Grand Collection, but Chef surprised us and brought us the Chef Collection as his treat. Along with the wine accompaniments. All 15 courses.

The first show-stopper was the suspended foie gras. The food was of course amazing; the buttery foie gras with the reinvented texture and the candied pecans. But what truly brought the dish to life was the impeccable pairing from Tru’s wine director and Sommelier, Chad Ellegood.  Ellegood brought out the 2007 Bonny Doon Le Vol Des Anges Roussanne Arroyo Seco. It was delicate enough to partner the heaviness of the foie gras, but substantial enough to enhance the flavor.  When people disregard how wine can compliment a meal, I want them to experience what we did with this bite and sip. It was incredible.

The halibut was another example of Chef Anthony’s ability to simply create a perfect dish. It didn’t have dry-ice or impeccable plating, but it was perfect. Poached in butter (when can you go wrong with that) it was hands-down the most perfectly cooked fish I’ve ever had.

And then the cheese cart. Any civilized meal should have a cheese cart. The one objection I had to this was that after Ian and I ate our cheese, at an admittedly quick pace!- one of the servers pointed out how fast we ate it. Not nice. But we were quick to forgive when the desserts came, one, by one, by one.  The natural cherries with black truffles and honeycrisp apple beignet were the things dreams are made of. If I could, I’d eat them, each, everyday for the rest of my life.

After our almost four hour Tru-athon was over, Ian and I made our way back to the hotel, full bellies and full hearts. In addition to the food, the experience was perfection. The service was the standard to which all other restaurants should aspire, and most importantly, it gave me and my husband a chance to really enjoy each other’s company.
Bravo to Tru, to Chef Anthony Martin and Chad Ellegood. The experience was absolutely amazing and it will go down as one of the greatest meals.

This Foodie Went To Schwa

11 Jun
Catherine Merritt at Schwa

Catherine Merritt at Schwa

About six months ago, my friend from Portland, Amy, said she and her boyfriend were coming in town in June to celebrate her birthday, and she wondered if we could do dinner with them. But of course! Then we had to decide where this dinner would take place. One restaurant immediately came to mind: Schwa. With about six months out, it was enough time to begin working on securing that highly coveted reservation. I was on it.

For those that don’t know, Schwa’s Chef Michael Carlson has been acclaimed one of the greatest chefs of our generation and certainly of Chicago. On par, hands down, with Charlie Trotter and Grant Aschatz, what separates Chef Carlson from the pack is that he’s continued to do this his way. From the way that he runs the restaurant, the frustratingly maddening reservation system, and the loud music in the dining room to the sublime food- it’s all a reflection of the genius of Michael Carlson.

 

Photo credit: Schwa

Chef Michael Carlson of Schwa, Photo credit: Schwa

Back to about three months ago, after calling Schwa daily (I knew and still know the number by heart), I finally got an answer on Thursday. I felt like my sixth grade self who just called B96 to find out I won tickets to see C&C Music Factory. I kindly asked for the date of June 9 for four and he said he’d add us to the wait list. He also told me that they’d call in advance to get my credit card number to hold the spot. Amazing.

As June 9 got closer and closer I was simultaneously excited and anxious. I was dying for our meal but still hadn’t gotten the reservation confirmed and from what I’ve read on other boards is that Schwa is notorious for dropping resos without much warning. Luckily, the night before our dinner, they finally called back and we were set.

Schwa is BYOB and a little inside tip: when you’re buying bottles for your table, also pick up a six pack of something good for the kitchen. More on that later.

We bought four bottles, a sparkling, Pinot Gris, a brut Riesling and a Pinot Noir from Willamette in Oregon. In retrospect, we could have used another bottle and they’re generous with the pour, but everything we picked was spot on.

NOTE: when I went into this meal, I made the decision to leave my pad of paper in my bad and just enjoy it. I didn’t write down one note. So we’re going off of memory.

In all the 11 courses at Schwa (it was a nine course menu but the extra six pack for the kitchen got us to complimentary ones) there were some standouts. The quail egg ravioli was the most superb thing mine lips doth tasted. It was amazing. We were told the accompanying forks were simply meant to fend off others and we were left to shoot the ravioli. It was in a brown butter truffle sauce and I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly it was. Same can be said for the deconstructed baked potato soup with stretched ‘barely buzzed’ cheddar cheese. The cheese is fermented in lilac and coffee grounds and if you ever thought Cheddar was an under sophisticated fromage, please enjoy this one first. It was incredible.

Schwa Cuisine, Photo Credit: Schwa

Schwa Cuisine, Photo Credit: Schwa

Another off-the-menu offering from the kitchen was the tuna sashimi, which was the most delicious, delicate, melt-in-your-mouth piece of fish I’ve ever had. The highlight of the meal was the Schaw version of smores. It was braised short rib in a cocoa sauce with graham crackers and marshmallows over a glass of campfire smoke. It evoked every single sense and I am still dreaming about each and every course.

Food was part of the experience at Schwa, but another thing that contributed to this meal was the exposed kitchen and watching Chef Carlson and his amazing team of six (yes, that’s six total people. Running both the front and back of the house). Our server was incredibly attentive without coddling. He was even so kind as to extend some beer from the kitchen after our wine had run out. The music played is loud and that is a testament to Chef doing this his way. And I loved that.

With all the hoopla about Next and Alinea, I would chose to eat at Schwa again any day over those. It was an authentically beautiful experience that I am already making calls to secure our next reservation. Likely a year from now.

Upcoming Chicago Foodie event: The Social Media Potluck

18 Apr
Potluck!

Potluck!

The Chicago Foodie is excited to announce an upcoming event it’s hosting: The Social Media Potluck. Taking place July 16th, it will give new meaning to “Food for Thought” with 40 top thought-leaders throughout Chicago, gathering for an afternoon of great conversation, ideas, questions and of course delicious food.

If you’re a food and wine vendor, we are in the midst of considering vendors for sponsorship opportunities. This is great exposure in front of some of the city’s most socially savvy and blogger-types. For information please email: thechicagofoodie@gmail.com

Here is more information about the event:

There’s something to be said about gathering 40 top thought leaders for an afternoon of ideas, questions, forward thinking and great food. This is the premise behind The Chicago Foodie and The Chicago PR and Marketing Network’s Social Media Potluck!

The Social Media Potluck is going to bring to life one of the greatest ways people have connected throughout history: around a table with delicious food.  If we think technology is the only way to bring people together, then we’ve forgotten about the power of a hearty, tasty meal.

With that in mind, we’re taking the idea of ‘food for thought’ to a new level with the Social Media Potluck. Don’t worry, this is also open to PR and marketing folks as well. As some of Chicago’s top thought leaders, we will convene for an afternoon of robust conversation, discussion and ideas  whilst enjoying amazing food and drinks!

There will be tweets, live blogging, podcasts and Tupperware. The cost of admission? A dish to share with about 25 people and a few ideas to discuss around the table.