10.04.2014

Red Gold Tomatoes Giveaway

I say it every year, but I think it's always worth repeating: I ♥♥♥ fall! I especially love October, as it is filled with so many of my favorite things. While I've been all about pumpkins, apples, gorgeous foliage, and fall festivals since I was a kid, I've recently added a new favorite to my fall loves lineup: slow cooking. I definitely came late to the world of slow cooking, as I didn't jump on the bandwagon until a few years ago; however, now that I've discovered how easy it is to put together so many fantastic hearty dishes, I can't imagine going through fall (and let's face it, the long, cold winter) without my awesome slow cooker. 

Red Gold Tomatoes most definitely understands my love of slow cooking in the fall. To celebrate the start of the new (and best!) season, they've put together a fantastic promotion in which you can win a fancy new Crock-Pot (two winners daily). Along with the Crock-Pot promotion, they've also offered a fun prize pack to one lucky reader of this blog. As you may remember, I've partnered with Red Gold Tomatoes several times over the past two years; I guarantee you that their goodie packages are always fun and come in very handy when you're looking for something easy and delicious to make for dinner.

The Red Gold goodie package contains 6 popular tomato favorites (including my personal favorite, diced tomatoes with lime juice & cilantro), apron, wooden spoon, and recipe list to jump start your fall slow cooking!

To enter: visit the Red Gold website and let me know in the comments which slow cooker recipe you would like to try (don't forget to leave an email address!). The winner of the Red Gold prize pack will be chosen at random at 5:00pm on Tuesday, October 7, 2014. Winner will be contacted via email and has 24 hours to reply with shipping information.

Congratulations to commenter 4!


9.26.2014

A Magnificient Taste 2014

A few weeks ago, Diana and I were invited to attend A Magnificent Taste, a swanky culinary event benefiting Common Threads' nutrition education programs. The annual event took place in Pioneer Court Plaza (one of the best people watching spots downtown!) and featured bites from twelve Chicago restaurants, lovely views of the river, and one very special Top Chef guest chef (aka one of People's Sexiest Men Alive, fantastic cook, and all-around nice guy... oh, and did I mention total hottie?!). This was our first year attending the event and despite the fact that it was a billion degrees (yes, you read that right; it was a straight up inferno that night), we had a fantastic time rubbing elbows with the fabulous Sam Talbot, sampling the delicious gourmet food, chatting with some of Chicago's favorite chefs, and mingling with some fantastic fellow foodies. It was a wonderful night and we can wait for next year! 




Not only can the man cook, he's also super nice & fun (and hot... did I mention that? ;-) ). It's definitely easy to see why he was voted fan favorite! We had a fab hanging out with him and can't wait to make some dishes from his cookbook.

Mini Classic Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery


Magnolia Bakery dessert happiness!

Smoked Brisket Sandwich from Howells & Hood

Lemon Fish Crudo with Heirloom Tomato, Verbena, Thai Chili, and Basil Seeds from Allium

Farrotto e Bufalina from 437 Rush


Dungeness Crab, Collard Greens, and Pimento Cheese Aioli on Toast (recipe here) from Chef Sam Talbot (yes, you should *definitely* make these - they are little bites of heaven!)

Chilled Corn Soup from deca

Crudo of Arctic Char from deca

Maple Vanilla Pops from deca

Duck Proscuitto with Chilled Tuscan Cantaloupe Soup from Quartino

Trio of Mini Indulgences (carrot cake, mocha macchiato, and pecan pie) from Season's 52

Crispy Polenta with Heirloom Tomatoes & Truffle Chips from The Lobby at The Peninsula

Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes from Texas de Brazil

9.08.2014

Monday Foodie Porn

Gearing up for MDQ!
Happy Monday! I hope everyone is having a fantastic end to the summer. I can't even tell you how excited I am for fall; as much as I've enjoyed our fairly mild summer, I am soooo ready for leaves, apples, cider doughnuts, and bonfires. And of course, I WANT ALL THINGS PUMPKIN!

The last two weekends have been spent cramming in all sorts of late-summer fun. As per usual, I spent my Labor Day laboring (i.e. grading), but really, I can't complain too much after I spent that entire Sunday with a group of fabulous women. We brunched at Carnivale, clapped and sang our way through Million Dollar Quartet, and dished some gossip over Garrett's back at Diana's house. In fact, we had such a great time that we decided to form an informal ladies who brunch club. :-) This past weekend was just as fab with a brunch at Gaudi Cafe, an entire day spent power shopping at Renegade (which is always one of my favorite days of the year!), and a deeeelicious dinner at Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

A few random food highlights from last few months (follow me on Instagram for even more!)...

Oktoberfest media preview dinner at The Berghoff: pretzel with beer cheese sauce, bratwurst, quinoa & veggie salad, pork stew, and apple strudel. Of course, don't forget the beer, beer, and more beer (the Oktoberfest was definitely the best!). I know there are still two weeks left of summer, but this meal just screams fall to me... bring it on!

 Pork belly, Amish chicken, and chorizo tacos from Cookies and Carnitas. They were all delicious, but the chorizo taco... *whew*. That taco had a starring role in my foodie dreams for days afterward!

Sweet Millet & Corn Pudding: served warm with coconut milk, fried banana, pineapple, toasted coconut & roasted cashews (vegan and gluten-free!) from The Cheese Factory Restaurant. I'm usually more of a savory brunch person, but this was so satisfying and delicious!

Bacon Bianca at Craft Pizza: mozzarella, pecorino romano, grana padano, garlic, herbs, olive oil & cured bacon (heck yeah!!). The newest artisanal pizza joint in Wicker Park is definitely awesome!

 Craft Margherita: tomato sauce, whole milk & fresh mozzarella, pecorino romano/grana padano, EVOO & fresh basil with added prosciutto from Craft Pizza. Pizza perfection!

Jumbo day boat scallops with risotto, chayote, spinach & cilantro pesto from Maya Del Sol. Soooo fantastic!

We finished off our spectacular meal at Maya Del Sol with an *amazing* Salted Caramel Cheesecake Mousse: pecan shortbread crust, cheesecake, salted caramel mousse & candied pecans.

8.26.2014

Sweet Alchemist: Meeting Chef Yigit Pura

*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana

Hellooo Foodies!  

I have to begin by saying that I had The. Best. Weekend. Ever! I managed to meet three Top Chef contestants at three different events, one which included Chef Yigit Pura. The first time I had heard of him was when he competed on the 1st season of Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts about four years ago. That season was a bit of a wild ride; but in the end, Chef Yigit’s talent and skills awarded him the prize of Top Chef.  Hurray!

 Chef Yigit Pura, Photo courtesy of Bravo TV

I recently began following him on Instagram, as well as his San Francisco bakery, Tout Sweet. They recently posted a limited edition line of macarons available for purchase; a lovely tribute to Hedwig and the Angry Inch! As you see below, it's a beautiful macaron filled with a bourbon orange marmalade ganache, a brandied cherry center and most importantly, coated in edible red glitter. Yes, RED GLITTER!! I was intrigued, so I ordered a box and planned to share it with Starr in the very near future!

mmmm…macarons!

On Saturday, while on a break between the Chicago Food Truck Social and dinner at The Tiki Terrace, we taste tested these gorgeous macarons, along with Tout Sweet’s Candied Milk Jam with Vanilla Cognac (I couldn’t resist buying that as well!).  The macarons were divine and dainty; we savored a couple and tasted the candied milk jam (look at those beautiful flecks of vanilla bean!).  Both were food-gasmic!

 Helloooo, delicious!  Hedwig Macaron and Candied Milk Jam, so good!

On Sunday, Chef Yigit was appearing at the Williams-Sonoma store in Lincoln Park for a signing of his new cookbook, Sweet Alchemy, along with a cooking demo. When I saw the tickets were for sale (included a copy of the cookbook and the demo), I jumped at the chance to meet him and bought a ticket. Starr wasn’t able to attend; so this meant that I’d have to go alone. My slight social anxiety had me a bit worried as I never go to foodie events without my partner in crime; she does all of the talking!  However, I thought this would be a great opportunity to work on getting over my fears and just being myself.


I was the first to arrive (that's how I roll, punctual where it's almost annoying, lol); the store is gorgeous and there's a demo kitchen in back. Chef Yigit was already there, working with the staff to prep for the cooking demo.  I was so nervous and kept saying to myself, “Don’t geek out…don’t geek out!”  :-) I took a seat; he immediately turned toward me, greeting me warmly and chatted me up for a bit. I gushed about tasting the Hedwig macarons and milk jam; he was so sweet to entertain my conversation, looking at my pictures and telling me about the amount of work (and booze! woot!) that went into creating the macarons. 


You have to love a man who can cook and look good at the same time.  ;-)

The demo began and within a few minutes I knew we were in for a good time! Chef Yigit is natural comedian and storyteller; he’s so personable and engaging with the audience and is never awkward.  He is so down to earth; I felt as if he's the kind of guy who can talk to virtually anyone and make him or her feel instantly comfortable.  I loved to hear him talk and geek out about his love of science, which I felt gave the class more dimension.

The dessert he made was called “The Sexy Chocolate Coupe," (featured in his cookbook) which is a dark chocolate cremeux, bittersweet flourless chocolate cake, vanilla whipped cream, a hazelnut spear and toasted cacao nibs. He was going to prepare small tastings for everyone, but before that he did a plating demonstration of three full servings, stating that two of them were for the audience members that helped out during the demo. Once he finished, he picked up the third one, hands it to me stating, “And this is for being the first one here.” Huh? OMIGOD! Me? It was the sweetest gesture ever! And yay for punctuality! 

And the dessert? Amazing! Smooth and chocolatey, the nibs, cake and hazelnut spear added awesome textures and layers of flavor.

 My dessert tasting.  This is what punctuality gets you.  Woot!
Trust me, there is flourless chocolate cake buried in there.  And it was delicious. ;-)


Another sexy dessert pose.  Wanna touch my hazelnut spear?  :-)

Sample tastings for the common folk.  
(Just kidding!)

The man does not make dessert; he makes edible art, don't you think?

It was a wonderful event and the endearing Chef Yigit really made my day. Although I missed hanging out with Starr, I was so proud of myself for doing it on my own, even talking to Chef Yigit without stumbling over my words or making an ass out of myself (success!). However, I think he could tell I was pretty giddy/geeked out, I blame the espresso the store handed out at the start of the class.  :-)

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, stop by Tout Sweet for some tasty treats and perhaps you’ll have an opportunity to meet Chef Yigit. His cookbook looks absolutely amazing, you can buy it here.  And if he makes it back to Chicago, be sure to get out there and meet him!  



Thanks, Chef Yigit!  Can’t wait for Tout Sweet Chicago!  (hint hint) :-)

8.06.2014

Adamus

A few weeks ago, Diana and I were invited to check out the summer menu at Adamus, the newest restaurant and lounge along Jeweler's Row. For those of you who are familiar with the area, you may remember the space next to the Silversmith Hotel that once housed Ada's Famous Deli; that oddly shaped space was completely gutted/renovated and is now home to the gorgeous Adamus. The transformation from that decrepit deli to the sleek new lounge is simply amazing - the entire space is decorated in blacks, silvers, grays with diamond accents (a nod to the Diamond District) and elegant chandeliers.

Communal dining area, bar, and lounge space
(interior space photos courtesy of Adamus - click to view larger version)

When we first walked in, I was particularly taken with chic bar area and impressive list of specialty cocktails. As much as I loved those delightful cocktails, they weren't even the best part of our visit - the food really took the starring role. I know many people tend to avoid hotel lounges because while the drinks may be fantastic, the food is mostly an afterthought. This is not the case at all at Adamus; Chef Nelson Erazo has created a really impressive seasonally-inspired menu (with locally sourced ingredients) that makes this restaurant a true hidden gem.


Cucumber Fortune: sour apple, house infused Purity vodka, and fresh lime

 Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with celery and fennel relish, Hass avocado, and citrus crème fraîche

Artichoke Hearts & Goat Cheese Flatbread: confit artichokes, sweet peppadews, soft goat cheese crumble, and garlic cream (one of my favorites of the evening!)

 Vegetable Hummus & Planks: first press olive oil, cucumber relish, and smoked paprika toasted pita

 Diver Scallop Ceviche with mango, shallots, shaved fennel, and chervil, served with boniato (sweet potato) chips

 Raspberry Ginger Mojito: fresh raspberries, mint, Bacardi Silver rum, and fresh lime

Citrus Brined Bell & Evans Chicken Breast with Cippolini onion risotto, roasted summer, plum, and spiced walnuts (another favorite of the evening!)
 
Creekstone Farms Short Rib Tortellini with roasted baby beets, horseradish cream, and mushrooms (yet another favorite of the evening!)
 
Summer Peach Crème Brûlée with toasted Marcona almond and vanilla whipped cream
Bellwether Farms Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with blueberry cognac compote and citrus meringue

Adamus is not only a perfect fit for the neighborhood, but also, it's a perfect downtown space for after-work drinks or dinner. I used to work right down the street and always lamented the lack of good dining options down this particular stretch of Wabash, as there's a plethora of fast food options, but not much else - Adamus most definitely fills that void!

You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Adamus, 10 S. Wabash Ave. (entrance is in the Silversmith Hotel).

Adamus - Silversmith Hotel on Urbanspoon
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.