Chicago Foodbloggers Unite…

September 16th, 2009

Having dinner with some food blogging ladies last night, I realized that 1) I haven’t posted in over a week! (bad busy Ginny!) and 2) I never posted about the original dinner that led to the outing last night. As a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher, sometimes I have the opportunity to go to special events. A couple weeks ago, they sponsored a dinner at Tru. It was a wonderful experience. The food was delicious, the service great, the art fascinating and the company excellent!

I had a wonderful time. Spent four hours talking about food and food blogging… out of that, we decided to begin a group that would meet month to continue this conversation… So last night, I met Tammy, Bridget, Jackie, Joelen, Cynthia and Chris for dinner to begin our “Alliance.”   Another fun evening… can’t wait for next month…if are a Chicago food blogger and want to join, check us out

A little about our dinner at Tru…

We started off with a series of canapes. Above is the cauliflower sphere with sea trout roe and orange zest, which was my favorite. I like a little molecular gastronomy every once and a while… We were also served a basil collins, which was delicious…

The first course was an Amuse Bouche with sea curred salmon with cucumber skin. This was very delicious. I loved the hint of lime.  Very refreshing!

Then there was peeky toe crab with prosciutto and pequillo and cantaloupe-cava consomme… I’m not a big cantaloupe person but it was quite good… just a little too sweet…

Next we had frog leg with roasted garlic, carrot, and waterchess.  It was my first experience with frog leg- it tasted like chicken.

The fourth course was olive oil poached salmon with granny smith apple, coconut, thai long peppercorn.  Poaching the salmon this way creates a really different texture that was very close to a piece of smoked salmon.  I loved the salmon itself but the stuff with it was a bit difficult to eat gracefully and did not seem that cohesive.

This was my favorite dish!  The short ribs cut easily with my fork… the eel worked perfectly with the short ribs… topped with miso foam… it all that fit together perfectly…

This beautiful dessert ended our dinner… gorgeously plated… I wasn’t quite sure how to eat it but it tasted good, especially the milk chocolate with the plums…
As if we had not eaten enough, they brought out a tray of different candies.  I love this photo because it is so fitting for the evening… it was so entertaining to watch everyone taking photos of their food before eating…

After dinner they took us on a tour of the kitchen… complete with a liquid chocolate raspberry truffle which was like nothing that I’ve ever eaten before. Then, as i was walking out the door, I was given a little madeline type roll filled with jam… finding that in my bag the next day was a wonderful surprise…

Check out other reviews and my dining companions…

Marathon Val

Eating Bender

What’s Cooking, Chicago?

Eat a Duck I must!

What’s for Dinner?

Homemaker’s Habitat

Feasting on… Gluten Free Pixels

Gourmet with me

Chik n’ pastry

Better with Butter

Lindsey’s Kitchen

Happy Labor Day!

September 7th, 2009

and a very Happy Birthday to my mom!

Her birthday was on Saturday but it typically falls on Labor Day.  Her mother always calls her to remind her that “She was in labor on Labor Day.”  On Saturday, as I was sitting around working on my law journal article, I really started craving something sweet.  I remembered the recipe that Deborah just posted and something blondie-esque sounded really good.  So I made some Congo Bars and iced them with chocolate icing.

As I was licking the chocolate off the spoon, I realized how much like my mother I really am besides my cackling laugh, friendly nature and independent streak… we both love to bake when the craving hits… I knew she would approve of my Congo Bars late on a Saturday night!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Congo Bars (recipe from my Aunt J)
1 cup. nuts (optional)
1 small package chocolate chips (I didn’t use)
2 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 box brown sugar

1. Grease and flour 13 x 9 pan.
2. Mix all ingredients together and pour into pan.
3. Bake for 30 min at 350.

Chocolate Frosting
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 ounces melted chocolate
1 box confectioner sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk

1. Cream the butter and cocoa together.
2. Mix in vanilla.
3. Slowly add confectioner sugar and milk until it creates a frosting. Add the milk slowly because sometimes you do not need the whole amount.

Costa Rica Part I

September 5th, 2009

Juan and I arrived in San Jose on a Saturday night. Hungry and grouchy, I insisted we get something in the hotel restaurant before they closed. I ordered the avocado and palmitos (heart of palm) salad… Out came a sliced avocado and palmitos on a bed of lettuce… I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!!!!

We spent one day in San Jose. In the morning we visited a coffee plantation and in the afternoon we walked around the city square, ducking into a cafe for dinner just as the rain started. We were in Costa Rica during the rainy season, which never bothered us in the slightest. Instead, you learn how to plan your day so that when it starts raining you are not out hiking in the middle of rain forest. Of course, this is probably the first vacation I’ve ever been on where I purposely woke up at 6am but I was never really tired and as soon as I was out looking at monkeys, wild birds, tree cutter ants and other amazing wildlife, I did not care.

The second leg of our trip took us to the Arenal Volcano, where we stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, off the beaten path with the best view of the Volcano (see top picture). While there we went to hot springs, took advantage of the hiking trails around the Lodge, saw lava (or as we learned really hot rocks) spilling out of the Volcano, and went Zip Lining.  It was beautiful!

We ate a lot of fresh fruit and fish. Overall, I felt very healthy after vacation. My next two posts will go into more detail about the food. Above is Guanabana… it took me all week to figure out how to say it properly (and Juan always made me order it!) but it is my new favorite fruit. They serve it as fruit juice with breakfast. Yummy!

Our final part of the trip took us to Guanacaste… the Flamingo Beach Resort on the Pacific Ocean… For some reason, I felt like James Bond every time I walked into the resort. This was a new experience for Juan and I but I must say we enjoyed being at a resort. We would play in the ocean and then go play in the pool and back to the ocean. It was a hard life!

We took a day off from our ocean-pool schedule to go back to the rain forest for a hike with a guide. We learned a great deal about the wildlife and plants of Costa Rica plus I was able to ask him more about Costa Rican culture. One issue with Costa Rica is because it is so touristy discovering what is truly Costa Rican is difficult. When we left the resort, we were always asked if we needed a car and looked at funny when we said we would walk. But we like walking and exploring. If we didn’t walk all the way to the top of the hill to go to the really good restaurant (post to come) then we would have never seen the little hermit crab going across the street or the beautiful yellow birds in the trees.

As I’ve already mentioned, the wildlife is amazing. This iguana was just chilling by the pool. We also saw a crow like bird steal a Splenda packet off the table.  We watched a tree cutter ant cut up a leaf.  We had to wait for a Coati to cross a swinging bridge before we could cross.  Every day, we saw some new interesting animal or plant.

We loved playing in the Pacific. The water was so clear that I could stand up to my waist and see my feet.  That does not happen in North Carolina.  One day, we saw little tropical fish swimming near us. It was gorgeous. I was really sad when the week finally came to an end. Yes, we got a lot accomplished in only a week. Coming back though, I felt relaxed and very focused, exactly what I needed before school started.