Bandera Wins Best Burger at The Hamburger Hop 2011

This post is very ironic for me as I was just at Bandera last weekend  – for the burger which I think is one of the best burgers around, and was telling everyone about it.  Not that it’s crazy, not that it gets served with extensive accoutrements.  It is simply delicious.  Allen Brothers ground beef (always a plus), soft french roll, lettuce, tomato, onion and already dressed with a bit of mayo, mustard and ketchup and some thinly sliced pickle.  This was taken at Bandera last weekend.

If there was a grilled artichoke competition – they would win too.

They are first steamed tender, then thrown on the hot grill for char, and served with remoulade.

The judges picked the winner – and the “people’s choice” was won by Palmer Place.

To see more on the Hamburger Hop participants and judges as the kick-off to Chicago Gourmet –

All the chefs wowed us – Rick Gresh from David Burke’s Primehouse, the team from Jake Melnicks, Ryan Pitts from RL, Kevin Hickey from the Four Seasons (loved the bellini milkshakes), and Rey Villalobos from Table Fifty-Two. It was fun to see everyone, and meet the Bon Appetit team.

I’ll be there emceeing demos today and tomorrow – hope to see you all there!

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The most beautiful sushi I have ever seen, this night was long anticipated, and I can’t wait to go back.  Thanks for a great night TK. We closed the place down!!

Luscious oysters.

Toro Tartar Bite = the best bite of anything you ever had.

Special spring roll with crab.

Special grilled prawns.  These guys were good.

17 and I drank this, preparing for overeating at Chicago Gourmet’s Hamburger Hop the next night.

This was especially gorgeously presented – a whole filleted mackerel.

Akami Anikimo – tuna with monkfish foie gras, one of my all time favorite dishes I first tried at Nobu in NYC when it first opened.

Sake Garlic – salmon with garlic and vinegar.

Secret Hamachi – yellow tail with mushroom and truffle oil.

Botan Ebi – sweet shrimp.

These are just a few snapshots of what we ordered. The sake mussels were a great spin in the mussle dish, and the ramen all sounded delicious.  I can’t wait to go back.

These pics are good – but they don’t do the presentations justice – so you have to go see for yourself.

See you all at Chicago Gourmet later.

Minetta Tavern NYC – An Old-New Icon

Being from NY I have an apparent love affair with Manhattan.  Two nights at the St. Regis, Fashion Week and Going Out on The Town were all that two friends needed for a getaway of fun.  When we walked into Minetta Tavern, we were not only impressed with the intimate old school decor, but also with the bevy of good looking men collected in one room.  Including the attentive bartenders who whipped us up some classic cocktails, such as an Aviation (old-new favorite) and a Bronx Cocktail.

Bronx Cocktail.

The Classic Cocktails.

 The special of the night – lobster risotto with fresh corn.

 Filet wrapped in bacon and crusted with blue cheese.

Coconut cake.

Photos enhanced with Camera+ and Instagram on my iPhone. 

Originally opened in the 1930′s, Keith McNally has brought Minetta Tavern back to it’s old school splendor. Read more here:

Mercer Kitchen NYC

Since 1998, one of my must-haves when traveling to NYC is the Raw Tuna and Wasabi Pizza at The Mercer Kitchen.  The tuna is always rosy red and the wasabi creme slightly peppery and lush.  It’s an addiction, and inspired by culinary master Barry Wine when he had the Quilted Giraffe in the fabulous 80s and 90s.  Paired with a glass of bubbles and it’s the perfect snack after a day of shopping in Soho during fashion week ….

Shell Shocked

The old school Oysters Rockefeller with a twist of charred lemon and 12 month Manchego.  One of my favorite dishes from the Common Threads Cook-Off at Fulton’s On The River on September 15.  Foodies took over and picked winners from different culinary challenge categories.  Chef David Blonsky from Public House won with this dish for the “On a Shell” category.

For more about Common Threads – and for more info on the event check out grubstreet’s post

Total Sidebar

Power meeting with with Spindevious at Sidebar Grill, and the place was PACKED with a great looking work week crowd. 

 My choice was the Filet Steak Salad – perfectly sized with a fresh salad.

 Laura had the Turkey Burger.

Spindevious had the French Dip.

Great lunch spot, especially if you are in a hurry, like I always am … – On LaSalle just south of Wacker.

Fiesta at The Richmond

Parties at The Richmond are the best, EVER.  When you get invited, you make sure you go.  This one in particular was a duo of culinary effort with bestie LPL and fellow Italianista girlfriend TC, who raised the bar on making authentic Mexican cuisine at home.  The menu was planned for days, and the fun tidbits like pinatas and spicy sauce on the tables made it so much more fun to attend.  They engaged old recipes and “Mexican Connections” all over town to get the best ingredients.

TC made the tamales – because they came out amazing!  The pot was borrowed from a friend of TC’s with specific instructions on how to perfect these treasures. 

 One of my contributions – chelada’s ala Big Star …

… And a trio of Sangria’s – White with Pear & Sage, Tropical Rose with Guava, Pineapple and Mangoes and traditional Red with the best recipe from my friend Augustin.

 Freshly made guac with a gun full of tequila.

 Shrimp Queso Fundido with different kinds of cheeses.

The perfect platter of marinated beef, authentic Mexican Rice (the rice was browned the day before for additional flavor) and chicken enchiladas.

see u at prasino

prasino in Wicker Park – the destination for the meeting of FoodMafia and TheFoodarazzi one sunny afternoon.  The outdoor patio makes you feel like you are in Miami, not part of the Chicago urban landscape.  And those cocktails, keep them coming …

This lobster salad is one of their specialties and is so fresh and decadent.   Lobster stuffed avocado with mango salsa and chili beurre fondue.  The “beurre blanc” with the lobster is the perfect pairing and makes the dish memorably rich.


Ahi tuna tartar with ponzu, firecracker, avocado, wasabi caviar and sesame wontons.

Enhanced with my new iPhone’s Instagram (user name amandapuck).

Check them out –

Great spot to spy on Joe and Joran - two of my fave peeps that know the menu there better than anyone!

A Whole Lotta Latke

Little Weiner and I happened to be driving around the South Loop area when we were craving a foodie adventure.  Then it totally dawned on us we where in the vicinity of Manny’s Deli, and we needed a fix from this Chicago institution.


The best part about Manny’s are the counter guys that flirt with you.  Little Weiner went with the corned beef on rye.  There was one ready, poised on the counter. “Take it honey, it’s a bad idea to keep a lady waiting.”  Smart guys!  The dish was piled high with luscious corned beef, thinly shaved and begging for the spicy brown mustard we had to commandeer from another table.

I chose the pastrami, which was just all right.  It was full of flavor, but just a bit fattier than was expected.  The potato pancakes were complete potato nirvana. They were polished off within minutes.  Delicious!

We were hoping to make everyone else in the office jealous, that we had our foodie adventure.