As with many of you, I was glued to the Olympic games during the final two weeks of my summer break. I wasn't much into the Olympics until a few iterations ago - now, despite any reservations concerning political issues, I just cannot get enough! As always, gymnastics, swimming, and track & field dominated my TV screen, but I also spent a fair amount of time with sailing, rhythmic dancing, wrestling, volleyball, and water polo. Also, although I slowed down quite a bit (the Olympics came at the perfect time for me!) in preparation for the new school year, I did manage to squeeze in a few end-of-summer foodie activities, including a visit to the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck during its only Midwest stop; for a mega Hello Kitty fan, that was a dream come true (and yes, there will be a blog post covering all of the HK goodness very soon!).
Here are a few of my recent foodie finds (follow me on Instagram for even more!)...
Vanilla Milkshake Layered with Dark Chocolate, Cherry Coulis, Lemon Curd and Espresso Whipped Cream at Blue Door Kitchen. This amazingly delicious milkshake (seriously, it was one of the best shakes I've ever had in my entire life!) is part of the Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a yearlong festival celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. Through December, 38 of Chicago’s top chefs are creating Shakespeare-inspired dishes in a nod to the legacy of the great playwright and as part of a program called Culinary Complete Works. Of course, as an English professor and foodie, this program is right up my alley! I've been to two of the restaurants to sample their Shakespeare-inspired dishes and already have plans to visit several more next month.
The shake at Blue Door Kitchen was inspired by the descent into madness of King Lear: the layers represent Lear dividing his kingdom up among his daughters, while the choice of chocolate and coffee make a historical nod to the fact that these exotic ingredients were first introduced to Europeans during Shakespeare’s day.
How gorgeous is the newly redesigned patio at Blue Door Kitchen (formerly Table 52)?! Art Smith really can do no wrong. :-)
Homewrecker Challenge: a massive 24 inches of Chicago-style meaty deliciousness at Bull & Bear. This mother of all hot dogs was part of the special celebration of hot dog week; while it's no longer available, you can still get plenty of meaty goodness at Bull & Bear, including miniature versions of this gigantic dog.
Mad Boiler. Everything is delish, but the king crab legs in coconut curry sauce are definitely a standout!
the world's oldest smoked salmon company, H. Forman & Son. Their products are truly unique in regards to the hand preparation, the friction smoking process, and hand slicing (they use no machines at all!). Also their productions are completely free of sugar, nitrites, or any brine/coloring.
So much brunchy goodness!
Scallops with basil purée, caramelized plums, and fried Crescendo cheese at Bar Pastoral. It's hard to explain exactly how much I loved this - the slightly peppery basil, the crunchy and gooey cheese, the sweet plums, and the buttery scallops all combined to create one perfect dish. Bar Pastoral never disappoints!
Ceviche with mango and chamoy sauces at Moe's Cantina. As I mentioned on Instagram, this ceviche was one of the prettiest seafood dishes I've ever seen. Beautiful and delicious!
The Big Hurt Brisket Dog at Blackwood BBQ: chopped brisket, smokehouse beans & Alabama white BBQ sauce. Blackwood celebrated the Crosstown Classic with two limited edition dogs; as a diehard Sox fan, of course I had to go for the Southside dog - it was just as juicy, meaty & delicious as its namesake! ;-)
Cheeseburger with double gloucester cheese on a house made onion brioche bun at Bangers & Lace Evanston. Sometimes you know just from a single glance that you're about to bite into one damn fine burger - Bangers & Lace most definitely did not disappoint!