Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I had a very low-key one that included some quality time with my DVR along with a daylong cooking, sangria, and reality TV extravaganza at Diana's place. I'm happy to report that I am now 100% caught up on the world of TV brides, bachelorettes, housewives, and cooking show contestants. ;-)
Last week, I was invited to join a select group of other Chicago Food Bloggers for a lovely meal at managing partner and sommelier Don Sritong's latest venture, Coppervine. Sritong (of the popular Just Grapes fame) paired up with Chef David Wang (formerly of Mercat a la Planxa) to create a unique experience that carefully pairs the flavor profiles and textures of food and drinks.
The focus of Coppervine is in the beer, wine, and cocktail pairings. As explained on their menu, "We are in constant pursuit of the perfect pairing. In its most basic sense, a great pairing occurs when the food and drink taste better together, than apart - when the flavors of one enhance, complement or uniquely contrast the other." During our dinner, Sritong explained that the beverage program is just as important as the food - every dish on the menu lists a carefully selected beer, wine, and cocktail pairing. We were given the opportunity to sample eleven of the most popular dishes/pairings (from the small plate, medium plate, large plate, and dessert categories), all of which were flawlessly executed.
A gorgeous 60 foot copper vine runs the length of the restaurant - the "copper" refers to the stills used for distilling liquor and the "vine" is a nod to grape vines/wine (so clever!)
Happy National Hot Dog Day! Yes, I know what you're thinking... another food holiday? I know, I know. However, as I mentioned last week, I'm a sucker for just about any fun food holiday (there's actually a food holiday for practically every day of the year, so things could get *really* exciting around here). And as you may already know, Chicagoans take their hot dogs very seriously (don't you dare ask for ketchup!), so I felt it was my duty to partake in this sacred day.
In honor of Chicago's love for encased meats, Bull & Bear took National Hot Dog Day a step further and created an entire week of celebrations. Their 5th annual Dog Days of Summer promotion pays homage to the mighty dog with a selection of five specialty hot dogs, each one themed after a different location in the United States (Cincinnati, California, Miami, Wisconsin, and New Orleans). The daily dog offerings are all customized with specific toppings that are unique to the areas they were named after. Diners are also able to try all of the dogs in mini form (and vote for your favorite!), via the Frank Plank, which Mario and I were invited to stop in and sample.
The Frank Plank!
Happy National Peach Ice Cream Day! Wait, what?! You didn't know that there was an entire day devoted to the love of peach ice cream? Yeah, well, up entire a few weeks, I didn't either. However, I'm a sucker for just about any fun food holiday, especially one that pays homage to ice cream (and my favorite stone fruit!). Of course, I never really need justification to eat ice cream, but National Peach Ice Cream Day really is the perfect excuse to indulge in some frozen fruity deliciousness. And really, what better way to celebrate than with some amazing gelato from Siena Tavern?
Based on my previous experience with pastry chef Amy Arnold's gelato, I knew I was in for a real treat when the good folks over at Siena contacted me to see if I would be interested in taste-testing their July flavor of the month: Bourbon Peach Cobbler. I quickly learned that there is something even better than your typical peach gelato... it's a gelato with large chunks of tangy peaches mixed with some smooth bourbon, earthy nutmeg, and crumbly hunks of cobbler. Holy deliciousness!
Bourbon Peach Cobbler: our server was so excited to send us home with a pint of this fantastic gelato that she accidentally misspelled the name in her haste to label it and pack it up. Ha! After I had one bite of the perfectly luscious gelato, I completely understood her urgency. ;-)
Recently, Diana and I were invited to join a group of other fantastic bloggers for a night of food and fabulous drinks at the newest location of Connie's Pizza. For those of you who live in the Chicago-area, I'm sure you're already familiar with Connie's Pizza (who hasn't had a slice at the Taste of Chicago or US Cellular?!), but you might not realize that not only has the South Side institution recently expanded onto the North Side of city, but also they have numerous new delicious wood-fired pizza options (all thanks to the gorgeous pizza oven that was custom ordered from Italy).
During Connie's Night Out, we learned all about the history of the restaurant (the original location was purchased by current owner Jim Stolfe with a classic Oldsmobile and a few months of free labor!) and sampled their newest dishes, along with several classics and customer favorites. After ten (!!!) courses, we stumbled (well, I stumbled, thanks to the potent drinks) out of Connie's with out tummies full and a renewed appreciation for one of Chicago's longest-running pizza joints.
The main dining room at the new Gold Coast location - check out that awesome pizza oven!
Welcome back to Thirsty Thursday, aka my favorite day of the week! :-) As I've mentioned a million times over the last few years, I'm definitely not the biggest fan of summer (mostly because I'm a humidity wimp), but even I have to admit that this summer has been fairly fantastic so far. I'm on break from school (yes, I still have work to do, but it's from the comfort of my own home/on my own schedule) and the weather has been fairly mild thus far. I've spent much of my free time catching up with friends, exploring new restaurants and foodie festivals, binge-watching Orange is the New Black (the last episode of season 2: OMG!), and indulging in my favorite summertime fruity cocktails.
In celebration of Fogo de Chão's newly lauched Fogo Guide to Brazil, they shared with me some of their most popular classic cocktail recipes, including one of my all-time favorites: the Caipirinha. While there’s no definitive version of how the recipe was invented (legend has it that it was once used to treat patients with the Spanish flu), it is now Brazil's most popular cocktail... and it is the perfect summertime Thirsty Thursday pick (especially for all of you World Cup fans out there!). Cheers! :-)
Fogo de Chão Caipirinha
1 medium to large lime
2 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
2 oz cachaca
1. Cut off lime end caps then cut in half. Remove core. Slice each half in half again and slice into 5-8 pieces.
2. Place lime in a rocks glass, add 2 Tbsp of sugar and muddle.
3. Top with ice and add 2 oz of cachaca. Shake in a shaker and serve.
*Make sure you also check out Fogo de Chão on Facebook, Instagram and Twi
tter for two social sweepstakes with several $500 dining cards up for grabs. Official Rules at: Fogo.com/guide
A free shuttle ride from Chicago that spared us the pain of navigating through rush hour traffic? Check. Rows and rows of sparkly penny and quarter machines? Check. Potent drinks served under a fabulous/nostalgic 1970s-eque shiny chandelier? Check, check. Two hours of delicious food, wine, and live entertainment in a room with sweeping views of Lake Michigan? Check, check, and check. That, my friends, is the Horseshoe Casino experience.
A few weeks ago, Diana and I were invited to check out the most recent Perfect Pairings event at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond (less than an hour away from downtown Chicago). After a quick bus ride down to Indiana and a hour of playing the slot machines, we found ourselves in the lovely Lakeview Room in the upper level of the casino for a fantastic six-course meal that highlighted locally sourced ingredients, as well as perfectly paired wines, beers, and liquors. During a chat with executive chef Mark Angeles, he revealed that each Perfect Pairings menu is not only crafted to showcase the flavor characteristics of the beverages, but it's also designed with a seasonal theme in mind. For June, Angeles created a menu focused on grilling around the world, which was the perfect kick-off to summer!
Bacon and monkfish skewers with Romesco sauce
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