Monday, July 5, 2010

My Sushi Roll Made the Cut

I entered a contest at Friend's Sushi in Chicago, and to my surprise and excitement, my roll made the cut! I named it the Sweet and Spicy Roll and it is currently featured on the restaurant's Facebook Page and well as their menu for the month of July!

The restaurant is located at 710 N Rush and their sushi is delicious!

As I said, my roll (and 8 others) will be featured for the month of July and $1 of each roll ordered will go toward the charity Imerman Angels, which supports cancer survivors, fighters, and caregivers. You can go to the restaurant and vote for your favorite of the featured contest rolls!

Go to Friend's Sushi and order my roll! (then vote for it of course :-) )

You can go to their website to find the facebook link. There is an album on facebook featuring the 9 rolls that made it!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Publican

The Publican
837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, Il 60607

My Tab: $75

Do you like beer? Do you like pork?...Then you'll love The Publican!
I was invited, by my co-worker Bryan ,to his once monthly Boys Beer Club. May's bustling beer establishment of choice was The Publican.

Now, it is well-known that I'm not a beer girl...I'm a Grey Goose vodka martini girl...but every now and then I'll allow some barley and hops to pass across my palate. And I must say I was quite pleased with most of the beer that I sampled.

The Publican also serves fantastic fare to nosh. They have a full dinner menu if you care to take a seat or they offer you a smaller menu (the afternoon menu on their website) if you are just drinking and snacking. Mind you, if you are a part of the latter group, you will be standing, so ladies, don't wear heels, you'll quickly regret it!

I'll start with the snacks. We had the Spicy Pork Rinds ($5), Frites ( $5) , Liverwurst ($6), Charcuterie Plate ($21), and Oysters-6 piece Chef's Selection ($15).

I did not get to taste the spicy pork rinds, which I think attests to their deliciousness! The boys scarfed those things down. I was initially hesitant on trying random pork products encased in who knows what, but the boys were very convincing.

The Liverwurst was served with homemade pickles, dijon, and rye bread. Though I will not likely have liverwurst again in the near future, I must say, that it paired very well with the beer. The wurst seemed to be of very good quality, tasted very fresh, and was very flavorful. It is a must to pair the liverwurst with the dijon and pickle; adds so many more layers of flavor and brings out some of the finer tastes of the sausage.

The Charcuterie Plate featured pork done 5 ways and was served with pickles and coarse grain mustard. One of those ways was headcheese, and despite much head shaking to the contrary, I ate headcheese....and I enjoyed it. I blame the beer!

The frites were served Belgian style in a conical stand. They came out steamy hot, topped with the perfect amount of salt. They were served with a garlic aioli but of course, you have the option of good ole American ketchup!

The Chef's Selection of 6 oysters was comprised of 3 east coast and 3 west coast mollusks. They were all fantastic. Not one complaint about their oysters. They were served with the typical accoutrement of lemon, cocktail sauce, Tabasco, and red wine vinegar-shallot mignonette but quite frankly you did not need it. If you have a palate which appreciates the true flavor a raw oyster, I'd advise you to eat these fellas bare! They were sweet and herby and melted in your mouth.

And now for the beers. I know I drank at least 3 beers, but I'm quite positive I had more like 5 beers...though the names of the last 2 have been lost in the black hole, that is my brain post 3 beers! The beer menu is amazing. It is divided into sections by the style of beer and lists the beer name, brewer, region and percentage of alcohol.


Section: Trappol-Belgium

Name: Westmalle Trappist Tripel

Alcohol: 9.5%

Price: $12 for 11.2 oz

My beer lingo is limited, however, I'd describe this beer as light in taste moderate in hops and pairs well with oysters and pork bits!


Section: Micro-Belgium

Name: Duvel, Belgian Golden Stronge Ale

Alcohol: 8.5%

Price: $6 for 11.2 oz

This beer was my favorite of the 3 I tried. The beer was very balanced and easy to drink. I told our waiter (who was amazing by the way), "I'm not much of a beer person, what do you suggest?" He then suggest the westmalle and duvel. I was very pleased with his selections.

I should have continued to ask for his assistance, because the 3rd beer, which I chose on my own, was not to my liking.


Section: Micro-Belgium

Name: Blanche De Bruxelles, Witbier

Alcohol: 4.5%

Price: $9 for 11.2 oz

Low in alcohol, low in flavor, I would not recommend this one. I was anticipating more of the orange peel and coriander flavors to come through but I was disappointed.

I would recommend that you check out The Publican, whether you're a beer connoisseur or a beginner like me. The staff is very helpful in assisting you with beer selection. The food was fantastic. And for those of you that would rather not imbibe in beer, they offer a full wine menu as well. I intend on returning in the near future to order some of their mussels (they were smelling amazing, every time a bowl of them went by, my nose followed it to their final destination!) and to work my way down their hefty beer menu!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Costa Rican Sodas

There are many reasons to visit the beautiful country of Costa Rica; a variety of flora and fauna, pristine rivers with flowing waterfalls, ocean views of either the Pacific or Caribbean, the best mango, pineapples, and bananas I've had to date, and last but not least, cheap dining at a neighborhood Soda.

The Soda in Costa Rica is the equivalent of a cheap American mom and pop diner, except, you typically dine outside, the food is half as expensive and is delivered quite fast.

The menus are generally simple and divided into categories: Desayuno (breakfast), Comidas Rapidas (fast food like sandwiches and soup), Almuerzo (lunch and usually dinner), Casados (big dinner plates), Batidos Naturales (fresh fruit and water blended), Batidos (fresh fruit and milk blended), Bebidas Calientes (usually limited to hot coffees and teas).

I was in Costa Rica recently for 8 days, and I ate at a soda at least twice daily 5 of those days.
There are a few Costa Rican must-try, staple items- Gallo Pinto, Cafe con Leche, Maduros, Patacones, Ceviche, Yuca, Casados, housemade Chilera.

Gallo Pinto: a variety of spices and aromatics are sauteed with cooked white rice and black beans. Gallo Pinto is served anytime of the day, but is typically eaten at breakfast, accompanied with huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs) and toast or bread. Gallo Pinto is also served with chicken, beef, sausages, maduros, or fried fish.

For 3 days in a row, I ate Gallo Pinto con Pescado (fried fish) for breakfast with a side of Maduros (fried ripened plantains) and Cafe con Leche (costa rican coffee with warm milk) from a soda called La Casa de La Hormiga in La Fortuna, San Carlos , Costa Rica. I typically mixed a generous helping of both bottled Chilero sauce (spicy deliciousness) and the housemade Chilera (a variety of onions, peppers, carrots, cauliflower marinating in vinegar) with my Pinto.....sooo good! (approx $4 or 2000 colones)

For lunch, I recommend something me, you'll still be pretty full from breakfast...go with Ceviche! I prefer Ceviche Mixto because it has a variety of fresh fish and shrimp "cooked" in citrus juices. On my recent trip, the main fish in the ceviche was Mahi Mahi. The better ceviche I had also contained a bit of avocado, cilantro, red bell pepper. Soda crackers, like Saltines, are served with the ceviche, and are tasty if you dip them in the citrus juices. (approximately $6 to $8, 3-4000 colones)

Pre or Post Dinner snacks are always a delight- Patacones or Fried Yuca will hit the spot and only cost you a couple of dollars.
Patacones are unriped plantains that have been pan-fried and salted. Patacones are served with a savory black bean dip. I had patacones while doing a bit of Spanish karaoke and sipping on a Fanta Naranja and Vodka, good memories!
Yuca is sort of like a potato as far as starchy density is concerned, but taste-wise it is slightly sweeter and richer than a typical white potato. Fried yuca is served in large chunks or sometimes in a french fry style. I've had yuca without any dipping accompaniments or served with a Costa Rican Thousand Island-esque sauce. The snack is good either way!

Before you know it, it will be dinner time. Be sure to bring your elastic-banded pants for this feast. The Casado, as pictured above, is a looooot of food, and probably could be shared...though I finished mine and then proceeded to go into a food coma!

Casados are different at every soda, but the 3 I consumed had the following in common: Meat (your choice, I always chose pescado....if I'm by water, I'm eating seafood!), Rice, Black Beans, Salad (not necessarily lettuce type salad, I had one that was a typical salad, another that featured tangy cole slaw and yet a 3rd, that was a creamy beet salad), Maduros, and either Tortillas or Bread.

**The casado pictured contained: Pescado, Rice, Beans, Maduros, Pasta Salad, Yuca, and Tortilla. The veggies you see are from the house-made Chilera and the sauce atop the fish is the bottled Chilero sauce. Oh, and it cost the equivalent of $5 (2500 colones)!

If you're feeling hot and thirsty and need a refreshing beverage, I recommend Batidos Naturales. They are a shake made of blended fresh fruit/fruit juice with water and a little sugar (if the fruit is on the tart side). They are served ice-cold and go down quickly! I tried guanabana, maricuya (passion fruit), raspberry, and mango. The raspberry one was not great....the berry was not quite in season, and added sugar helped but...If I were you, I'd stick with the fun tropical fruits, they don't taste nearly as good in the states so get it while you can! My favorite is guanabana....I don't know how else to describe the flavor, except to say, that on my palate it seems to be a blend of kiwi with a honey dew melon and a green grape. I tried the guanabana fruit straight off the tree while horseback riding in La Fortuna, and as a fresh fruit, it is a little furry and sweet. I'd say, it is better enjoyed as a blended cold beverage!
**If you'd like to try guanabana, go to your local Hispanic market; the Jumex brand has a Guanabana Nectar canned beverage that is delicious.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Now this is going to be less of a restaurant review blog and more of a "did you know..." blog.
Subways offer different veggie and condiment options regionally!...Yeah that's a fact. Now, maybe you think it's a little strange that I'm able to comment on the regional differences in Subways, but what can I say, when I'm road trippin, I always crave Subway...Shannon, you can back me up on this one.
I had a 5, $5, $5 fooootlooong for lunch today...and though it was mighty tasty, I wished it had some of the veggie options I had in Philly or Cali for that matter. Here are some of the regional differences that I know of...if you know more, by all means comment!
-Hot Peppers: hoagie spread; crushed hot cherry peppers in a bit of vinegar
-Sweet Peppers: sweet and tangy red bell peppers (not the same as roasted red bell peppers)
-Hot Pepper Giardiniera: a mixture of hot peppers (serranos) and veggies (usually green olives, celery, carrots, cauliflower, red bell peppers) in an olive oil brine
-Alfalfa Sprouts
-Paneer Cheese
-Tikka Sauce
Costa Rica:
Yeah, I went to Subway in India...sometimes you crave a little taste of home.
Why can't all the Subway people unite and offer all of these condiments and veggies everywhere?!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

McCormick and Schmick's

Wacker Location-Chicago, Illinois
1. Large Oyster Sampler feature 2 of the following
-Chef’s Creek Oysters, Totten Inlet, Washington
-Cortez Oysters, Vancouver Island, Canada
-Delaware Oysters- Delaware Bay, New Jersey
-Skookum Oysters, Skookum Inlet, Washington
2. Spiced Jumbo Prawns with Traditional Cocktail Sauce
3. House Salad with Blue Cheese Crumbles and Glazed Walnuts
4. Barrumundi Marlborough Sounds, Australia
5. Lobster Stuffed Ravioli with Blue Crab

Cost: $98 for two diners

Alright, let's start with the oysters. The waiter, though very nice, did not tell us which oyster was which...not cool waiter. Once we finished these delicate little molluscs, I was able to get the waiter to find out were my favorites were from. The winner is: Delaware Bay! Now for future reference, fellow diners, the oysters are typically arranged based on the location of the lemon wedges when you order a sampler. For example, the oysters were listed on the menu as I've listed them above, and were placed in order moving counter-clockwise from the lemon wedges- a fact I wish I would have known previously. (don't refer to the above picture)
Now for my palate, the Delaware Bay Oysters tasted the best. The flavor was clean and fresh; perfectly accompanied by just a squirt of lemon or topped with the the shallot vinegar wash and cocktail sauce. A good starter.
The Spiced Jumbo Prawns where just that, lightly spiced, but not spicy. The prawns were succulent and perfectly cooked. I think the traditional cocktail sauce could use a bit more horseradish, a little too ketchupy as is.
The House Salad was simple and good, nothing spectacular, however, I would like to applaud the chef's dressing choice. The salad is tossed in a very light white balsamic vinaigrette, which I believes pairs better than a traditional balsamic when using a strong flavored cheese, in this case blue cheese.
Now on to the main plates!
The Barrumundi and the Lobster Stuffed Ravioli with Blue Crab
Ah, dios mio is what I have to say about these two delightful dishes.
The barrumundi was sauteed with spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and bacon. HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH people, heaven! The fish was so tender it melted like butter in your mouth. It was hard to keep a good bite-full on your fork with out it flaking away. The bacon was a wonderful addition of smokeness without being overpowering. The sun-dried tomatoes were a bit too much. They would have been better addition, had they been diced smaller and roasted less. The tomatoes on our plate were a bit a bad way. Spinach and mushrooms always good!
The lobster stuffed ravioli with blue crab were tossed in a white wine cream sauce with roasted tomatoes and spinach. My mouth is watering while writing about this! This dish came with 6 to 8 moderate sized ravioli ...I don’t remember the number because I ate them so fast! The blue crab was sweet and delicate. The flavors of the seafood really stood out because the white wine cream sauce was so light and the ravioli weren’t swimming in sauce. The roasted tomatoes were sweet yet pungent and seemed to bring out the flavor of the lobster well. The lobster inside the ravioli was perfectly cooked and seasoned and married well with the blue crab that was sprinkled atop them.
All in all, this was a fantastic meal!


"a person having an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food"
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003"

Here goes nothing!

So I guess a little introduction is in order.
My name is Amber, and I'm a foodie!