Mushrooms

There aren’t a lot of foods that I don’t like. For as long as I can remember, mushrooms have been my biggest offender. “They taste like dirt.” “It’s like eating styrofoam.” These were the reasons I often uttered. But lately, I am singing a different tune. I’ve let them slip into certain dishes I eat at restaurants. I’ve stopped hunting for the offending bits to separate them out for my husband to eat.

Then finally last week, it happened. I actually bought some mushrooms and sauteed them in butter on my own. I loved it! I’ve since eaten mushrooms 3 times. People, I am a reformed mushroom-hater.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I am all for having preferences where food is concerned, but hating certain kinds of food and refusing to try them different ways is just silly. There isn’t much out there that I won’t eat and enjoy if it is well-prepared. This is just one more food I have to love, and I will keep trying more, cause I love food and I don’t want to miss out.

Thanksgiving Potluck

Anyone who works in an office environment typically experiences the holiday potluck, but here is my question: Do you try to replicate the holiday feast? Or do you try to bring something out of character for that holiday meal, so as to avoid burnout?

I am on the fence about this one. Truthfully, even if the potluck fare is similar to the kind of food I will have on Thankgsiving, it is typically different enough that I do not experience any kind of burnout. But since I have heard people voice this complaint in the past, it makes me wonder what I should bring? Traditional fare or break the mold (tacos, anyone?)…

Hrm.

An Ethnic Buffet

Today was a mix of delicious culinary offerings that just happened to come together perfectly.

For breakfast, I feasted on a friend’s mother’s homemade tamales, which were wonderful!

For lunch, a large cancelled gathering offered a Thai feast with several delectable dishes. I’m still stuffed from that one.

For dinner, we ordered up Z-Pizza and had 3 tasty varieties, one of which was vegan and I have to say, it was very good!

Finally, the Chamber’s left over Costco cookies made a great evening snack.

Working long days is definately rough, but all is made better by good food.

Brazzaz

Well, we’ve made our 3rd trip to Brazzaz in Chicago and it did not disappoint. Brazzaz is a Brazilian Barbeque restaurant. Basically, you sit down and they bring several (16, I think) different types of meat on huge skewers and carve it right onto your plate. They also have a salad bar of side dishes that are equally yummy. It’s not cheap, but it’s an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. I am, of course, stuffed.

While I love the food, this place is also great because of the good company. We always seem to meet up with some people that work for our client (often people we’ve never met before) and we just eat and talk and laugh.

I love meeting cool people. It gives me hope that all of the idiots I see on TV are not really what the world is made up of. Oh, Gerbner, what we’ve cultivated.

My Last Meal

Mr. Benz posed this question to his Twitter followers: Test time. Tomorrow you die in the electric chair. What is your absolute last meal?

I did not answer via Twitter, because this is not something I can say in 140 characters. Seriously.

Now, I don’t know the rules of a last meal or how specific I can get, but let’s say the sky’s the limit. Here’s what I’d order:

Appetizer
The baked brie in a sourdough bread bowl from The Twisted Vine here in Fullerton.

Salad
A really good caesar (no chunks of anchovy, please).

Main Course
The Roasted Prime Rib Special from The Chicago Chop House with a huge broiled Lobster tail.

Sides
Thick steak fries and steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce.

Dessert
The chocolate cake made from Elizabeth Berg’s recipe in “Escaping into the Open”, with homemade cream cheese frosting. (This is a cake I make…I wonder, can I make my own death-row dessert?)

All of this with a great glass of red wine, that I would probably take a recommendation on.

And I’d probably like to have a few strips of perfectly cooked, thick-sliced bacon…you know since it is my last meal and all.

Tapas

We got a new restaurant in town. Lizarran Tapas Restaurant finally opened today. We have been waiting quite a while, watching them gut the building and turn a sweaty old gym into a classy new eatery. It is quite the unique experience. The cold tapas (or appetizers) are served buffet style and you go and choose from the bar. Then warm tapas are passed around on trays. Each little treat has a toothpick stuck thru ut which you are asked to collect in little cups on your table and that is how you are charged. They also have a full menu of regular dishes and a nice regional wine list.

A must-see in Fullerton.

Places to eat in and around downtown Austin.

This is quite late coming, I know, but while we were in Austin for SXSW we got a ton of food recommendations from a friendly bartender at the Melting Pot. Below are his picks, asterisks indicate where we’ve actually eaten.

*Stubb’s BBQ – on Red River, Famous and all, but not the best I’ve ever had.

Red River

Iron Works BBQ

*Moonshine Cafe – on Red River, A little pricey but oh-so good. Recommend the roasted garlic appetizer and molasses smoked pork chop.

Green Mesquite BBQ – on S. Lamar

Hills Cafe – on S. Congress

Threadgills – on Riverside and First Street

The Mean Eyed Cat – Johnny Cash music all the time on 5th street

Don’s Depot – on 5th

Best Wurst – Sausage Cart on 6th

*Torchy’s Tacos – on 6th, but there is more than one location. Recommend the “Democrat”, awesome little place.

Guero’s Taco Bar – on S. Congress

*Homeslice Pizza – on S. Congress. Recommend the white pizza…very good rolls too!

Matt’s El Rancho – on S. Lamar

P.Terry’s – on S. Lamar. Recommend Burger

Casino El Camino – on 6th Recommend Burger

*Champion’s – on 4th in the Marriot, Best burger I have ever had.

*Cork and Co. – on Congress. Wine bar, great selection.

*Amy’s Ice Cream – on S. Congress, very good!

*The Salt Lick – Great BBQ Brisket

The Great Meat Experiment

This weekend we conducted a culinary experiment of sorts cooking 6 pieces of tri tip in 6 different sauces. Some of which turned out to be real winners, while other may not have been favorites actually none of them turned out badly. Here are the results:

1. Onion puree – worked very well with the meat, but the onion need to cook a bit longer than the meat. Not for next time, start the onion first.

2. Garlic and olive oil mash – pure magic if you love garlic and we do! Note: take care not to burn the garlic, just carmelize it in the pan…lovely!

3. Chili and sugar rub – several smokey spices, chili powder and sugar, made for a nice sweet and smoky result. Thumbs up!

4. Balsamic with a splash of orange juice – this one got watered down a bit too much, but the overall flavor was great.

5. Citrus saute – orange juice, lemon juice and just a touch of chili powder. It reduced down to a nice dark syrup. Very nice, akin to an asian dish.

6. Serrano puree – this was the only one in the bunch that wasn’t quite as edible (unless you have an iron stomach). The heat did not cook out as we had hoped, it was like a volcano. Next time we will roast the peppers before puree.

Combinations for the future? The garlic and citrus chould marry nicely as should the balsamic and onion.

Anyway, it was quite a fun experiment.

Food, Glorious Food!

We have been eating wonderfully well on this trip…yum! We hit Brazazz again and it was amazing as I had remembered. Then we tried out a Spanish Tapas restaurant called Emelio’s, it was also quite good, and our friendly waiter dropped off two sherries for us at the end of meal. We also ate a a Mediterranean restaurant called Amira. They great mezza platter with very good, garlicky hummus. Last night we ordered take out from the Fox and Obel cafe and picked up a few more desserts. It was wonderful!

Fox and Obel Bakery

Fox and Obel is a charming little gourmet grocer here in Chicago. I fell in love with their bakery the instant I peered into the case. In case you don’t know, I love desserts (as do most women). It is my one big vice. I’m not a smoker, or heavy drinker. I don’t buy riduculously expensive clothes or purses. I don’t drive a sporty car. But I do love me some dessert.

So I carefully selected 4 desserts on my first trip and 2 on my second. I brought them back to the room and sampled each little heavenly treat. They were wonderfully decadent and I am quite glad I decided to indulge. But I didn’t leave you out…

Check out the photos!