*Guest Razzi – Debi Lilly in Paris

Oh so jealous Debi Lilly is in Paris for five weeks with her family, and taking cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu.  When visiting the City of Lights, we both share a favorite restaurant – Chez Georges on Rue de Mail.  It’s homey in feel, yet very authentic and traditional in technique and sauces.

Coeur de filet de bouef, avec frites et Bernaise.  Best spent 29 euros possible citywide.  Is that a rose spotted as well?

For more on Debi’s adventures, especially while she is in Paris – www.debililly.com.

Fresh NoMI Kitchen

Lunch plans with JLynne at NoMI Kitchen were long overdue.  In addition to the new fresh look, the menu was bursting with fresh flavors and colorful ingredients.  As we ate our way through it, the only thoughts that came to mind were I wonder what’s for dinner.  And we can’t wait to return to the Lounge for a drink.  As we caught up on NoMI news, fashion boutiques and eyelashes, here is what was on our luncheon agenda.

English pea soup with lemon cream, pea tendrils and mint – a perfect Summer soup.

Mushroom ginger bouillon with trumpet and enoki mushrooms and charred green onions. 

Yellowfin tuna ceviche with fried garlic, red onion, jalapeno and matsuhisa vinaigrette.  Bite sized and full with flavor.

Roasted eggplant and goat cheese sandwich with piquillo pepper, rosemary ciabatta with a crisp cucumber and olive salad I could eat every single day. The sandwich was thin, perfectly toasted and oozing with melted goat cheese.

The salad accompaniment was crispy and rich with olives.

As we were wrapping it up, the only thing missing was Chef Ryan LaRoche.  Heading to Davanti Enoteca finally for dinner that night, I learned through the grapevine it was one of his favorite restaurants.  That post is coming soon!

Babes On Ice

I know it’s wrong.  I know it.  Sometimes (not all the time) I love a good crisp white wine on ice.  So when Moët & Chandon actually creates a product to be served over ice, intrigue is sparked, and a love affair is born.  And it’s great to share over a lazy Sunday brunch with your girlfriends.

Moët Ice Imperial, designed to be served over ice, a popular drink of choice for those relaxing and basking on the French Riviera (true story).   It is a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, with notes of tropical fruits such as mango and guava and sweet spices like licorice, red fruits and peppermint.

And it can be garnished and mixed with many things – my choice of the day was lime twists …

… and fresh strawberries.  Mint is also a perfect addition, playing up those peppermint notes in the wine.

At Rockit Bar & Grill In Chicago, their traditional lox plate paired perfectly, as the girls and I sipped and dreamed of the French Riviera. 

It also paired well with this rich Quiche Lorraine.  Applewood smoked bacon, gruyere cheese and a small caesar salad.

sola burger love

After seeing Carol Wallack at the Green City BBQ I realized I had not been by sola yet to try her new menu items.  And since it is in walking distance from The RV (Roscoe Village) The Bomb and I ventured over there on a hot Saturday night, only after trying an assortment of beers and brats at Four Moon. (Would have had pics, but it was a bit too dark in there).

The burger at sola is magnificent.  It is layered and layered with rich flavors.  Wagyu.  Cambozola cheese, a triple cream with a slight vein of blue running through, giving it perfect meltability and earthiness, sharp arugula, crispy bacon and lightly caramelilzed onions.  She has perfecting this for 20 years and it is PERFECT.  EVERY.  TIME.

And Brussel sprouts, lighlty fried, crispy and salty.  We have a thing for brussel sprouts.  Love.

I Had a Roll in The Hay

That’s how the night ended, so let’s just say the night ended well.  This year was my first at the Green City Market BBQ, which is embarrassing to admit, since I love all the restaurants participating and several of my clients are also there.  But it was quite the Sweatfest.

Little W and I from XA represented, and were both excited to attend.  We just came off of Chefs and The City for Vital Bridges pandemonium, so were looking forward to another foodie event to go to with my PARTNERS IN CRIME (PIC).  So we hit the BBQ when PIC noted it was 101 degrees. Subconsciously conjuring calm and icy thoughts, we voraciously attacked the first beer tent, and tried to develop a Plan of Attack to visit with and taste as much food as possible, before we had to go establish the locale for the air-conditioned after party.

Here are our favorite finds, and if you are not listed, it is probably because we expired to the bar at Perennial Virant.

DAVID BURKE’S PRIMEHOUSE

Rick Gresh, you are brilliant.  I am not saying that because you pay me, but after reading all the other reviews and blogs about the BBQ, I would say it’s unanimous your Cherry Margarita and Bourbon Bombs were the BEST IDEA EVER.  Look at that frosty goodness. You rule.  Can you please make more?

FRANKS ‘n’ DAWGS

A place I have never been and a place I can’t wait to try.  The crowds were raving about these.  It was called The Southerner:  Pork Sausage topped with Corn Bread and Cherry-Bourbon BBQ sauce.  Typically not a fan of fruit with savory food, the sauce made the dish and the soft toasted roll was the perfect vehicle.

THE BRISTOL

Friends from The Bristol, you guys were seriously rocking it out over those flaming hot grills in 101 degree weather.  The beef is from the Q7 ranch in Morengo, IL, and aged for a few weeks before landing on this potato bun.  Pink pickled red onions, Tilamook cheddar and garlic aioli got it ready for it’s close-up.  And yes Amanda Rockman, after reading your FB post I also had to take several showers (even as just a guest) to stop smelling of a BBQ pit.

UNCOMMON GROUND

The sub-theme to the BBQ was SAUSAGE FEST 2011.  There have never been so many sausage and brat themed dishes in one place, except for the Italian Fest down on Taylor Street every summer.  I had a first blind date at Uncommon Ground a while ago, and loved talking to the chef and telling him the story.  At least it got me in there. (They also have great Bloody Marys).  I was too hot at the time to try this, but looking at it now that was such a huge mistake.

PRASINO

prasino – we can’t wait until you open on August 12, 2011.  There have been many reports of people peeking in the windows on Division Street.  This raspberry gelee cooled us down.

THE FOUR SEASONS

Bacos???  Another great idea found at the GCM BBQ.  And the Brat served with Sophie Beer Mustard wasn’t bad either.

It was also great to see Terri Hickey from the Four Seasons in action making these caprese sundaes.  The Heirloom Tomato sorbet was a welcome relief.  At least you got to stand over a cooler girlfriend!

SPROUT

I love seeing Dale Levitski because he usually threatens me with violence for not yet having been to Sprout, which admittedly is quite deserved.  In his cheery summer tee he was serving Summer in a Bowl – granola, fresh fruits and arugula.

SOLA

One of Carol Wallack’s specialities at sola is her Kaluha Pork.  This one topped with crispy shallots.  And on the side ice cold pink vodka lemonades, another brilliant idea at the BBQ!  Carol – hopefully I will see you this weekend for my burger fix.  There also needs to be another Luau soon.

SEPIA

This was a crowd pleaser – Buffalo Chicken Sausage, Blue Paradise Cheese, and Vegetable Crudite salad from Chef Andrew Zimmerman.

Paired with these Angel Food Cake cones with spicy peach salsa.

PERENNIAL VIRANT

AND FINALLY, Little W and the PIC ended up at the impromptu after-party where a “Roll in the Hay” was thoroughly enjoyed.  Old Overholt Rye whisky sour, sorghum, lemon balm and hyssop.  Bartender, is that heart shape just for me, aw, I love you too.

As friends started piling in like JZ, AB and JG etc, we had a blast, cooled down and gossiped like there was no tomorrow!

Details on “The Walk of Shame” with JG to follow on Thursday AM …

Italian Cookie Plate

Being that I practically live at the 900 North Michigan Shops, I am proud to be a regular at Frankie’s.  I even have a signed plate on their wall of fame, and love to chat with Chris Favero about cooking, old Italian recipes and what my mom is up too.

Last night I had the Fra Diavolo, a recipe Chris developed with some of his cronies back in NY, and on the way out, realized that I wished I had devoured this cookie plate.

Obsessed

Little W from XA and I raced from a meeting in Evanston to get to the ice cream Pop-Up at David Burke’s Primehouse, just in the nick of time.  The flavors each week keep getting better and better, how can that even be possible???  This week our choices were our respective favorites, at least so far, and we still have the month of August to taste test.  Pastry Chef Jove Hubbard, you really are our hero.

Little W chose the Turtle Cheesecake – cheesecake ice cream, caramel ice cream, butter toasted pecans, dark chocolate and graham cracker crumbs.  Also please note the amazing summer dress Little W is sporting.

I love all things cherry, and the flavor of amaretto.  The Cherry Bomb is amaretto ice cream, sour cherry sorbet, smoked cherries, topped with a small amaretto cookie.  This Italian girl is dreaming of the flavor “Italian Stallion,” perhaps a little cannoli ice cream?Jove, can’t wait till next week!

The Perfect Fried Chicken

Our whole group of friends know when you are invited to Lance’s house you are never going to have a bad meal.  In fact, it will be an amazing meal. One recipe he has been perfecting over time is his fried chicken. 

First the chicken is marinated overnight in buttermilk and Crystal’s hot sauce.  Then in a “shake n’ bake” method, a secret mix of flour and herbs and spices are placed in large brown grocery bags.

The key to perfect fried chicken?  The oil is kept at an even 350 degrees, while the pieces are browned perfectly on both sides.

Finished in the oven – perfectly crunchy, crispy, juicy and delicious.

Birthday Sliders

Attention to all my single friends – the food at South Branch (100 South Wacker) is not the only eye candy, please note!

But these mini-burgers are, on soft buns with sharp Merkt’s cheddar.  The tater tots were a big hit at my friend’s birthday bash, which goes to say you are never to old for these childhood favorites.