Hmmm, vexing, vexing…where to conduct our next adventure of 2010? Off to Chicago for some time of fun, food, good friends and relaxation. We crashed at the pad of Jimbo, who some of you might know as that fella’ in the back who can’t seem to keep his hands off the dishes…sometimes even when he pretends to be a diner. We have been long-considering a superhero name for Jim but so far have only come up with “God”, because if a god wanted to be a good looking white guy who stayed in shape by biking and exercising his acerbic wit, he could find no better role model than our Jimbo. God may very well have picture of Jim in his locker at the Y. We don’t judge.
That first night we started off at Marty’s Martini Bar in Andersonville for some good and dirty martinis. The nice thing about Marty’s is that you can order a large or small martini, which must be a great option for those with somewhere to drive or those who are just stopping in for a quick one….excellent in theory, but we wouldn’t know. We enjoyed it for what it was that night…dark, sleazy and a bit cliquey (great to watch when you’re an out-of-towner).
We cabbed it to dinner…ahhh AVEC. Warm, inviting, casual and creative, there’s a sense of serious foodie bliss in the air when the door closes behind you. It’s obvious that the entire dining room has come to sample, to savor and play and not just fill up. Food Porn Index: HIGH.
We sit at the bar where we can see all the action. The wine starts flowing and we decide to order what turns out to be an amazing duck sausage with maple in brioche. A dish we still keep trying to recreate but with no luck. All was excellent, some sublime…we sampled brandade, dates with chorizo and the charcuterie board.
Morning, morning, got a late start thanks to the bottle of red slurped at Avec, Wonder Woman opted for a refreshing and freshly made apple ginger carrot juice at the health food store on the nearest corner, which sounded good to the Bad Fairy as well until she happened to look across the street. Hmmm….what is this “Italian Beef”. What’s the ruckus? Why all the fuss? Best to take the short walk and test, eh?
Thin slices of shaved beef DIPPED in beef jus WITH cheese and sport peppers and then DIP the Italian roll in the jus as well. WHAD’YA GOT TO SAY, UH? Drippingly delicious.
Another Chicago favorite that we visited is Anteprima in Andersonville where we met God for an appetizer of duck proscuitto, a beautifully grilled flank steak over arugula and then finished with a fig infused grappa. Anteprima is usually busy but has an incredibly warm, communal dining atmosphere full of peeps that appreciate simple but elegant high end Italian classics with an occasional twist. God made us drink more grappa.
That night, THAT SAME NIGHT, Wonder Woman needed a late night snack at her old favorite, La Pasadita, La Pasadita, La Pasidita, three taquerias within a block of each other, owned by the same family on Ashland in the Wicker Park area. Great people watching, juicy, pungent and just spicy-right steak tacos hit the spot. Killer salsas, though the roasted one is a favorite, work well with anything and that includes the burrito supreme, but we’re not mentioning who had room for that (the Diety).
April brought the next dinner and our idea was to recreate a 1940’s Jazz Supper Club. We researched some old fashioned dishes and came up with a great menu that incorporated some of the old favorites we found with some new twists and local vendors (the now well-known Lansing shrimp for the Shrimp Louie). Carbonara Verdure went from the germ of an idea to a realized oozing fruition and we experimented with cold asparagus terrine, braised lamb, flatbreads and a semifreddo, all of which turned out to be one of our favorite Bona Sera dinners ever. Our experience of meeting with Vincent York and learning about how his program really influences young people reaffirmed our commitment to doing these dinners. We had some incredible music and the Ann Arbor Swing Club dancers were there to get people moving.
We began planning for our next dinner soon after the Jazz Supper Club…something we had been wanting to do for quite some time…a pig roast! We found a great method of doing the pig Cuban style (http://cuban-christmas.com/hall_o_fame.html). Now who could we possibly trust to be pit-masters, feed the fire every 15 minutes, watch the skin crisp, imbibe steady quantities of beer? Hmmm….trusted, juicy pit-master update next post!