Things to be Thankful for

George Bernard Shaw said it best – “There is no greater love – than the love of food.” 

This week’s posts will be dedicated to Thanksgiving – as well as few other things!  I am very proud of my boyfriend for making this – is it gorgeous or what?  A large platter of cured Italian meats …

And olives coated in olive oil with fresh thyme and garlic he warmed in the oven before serving.


Chow & Fun at Sunda with @BillyDec

Finally had the chance to sit down with my old friend Billy Dec (and when I say old I mean we used to have pizza lunches back in the day when I was a partner at Spago and used to hang out late night at Le Passage).

Well now it’s a whole new era, and our hot topic was social media.  Our lunch? Amazing dishes at Sunda in Chicago.  The best part was in the spirit of staying fit – we didn’t eat anything with four legs.  I love that trick and philosphy – will come in handy over the next few months when trying not to over-indulge.  He also showed me a thing or two about photo styling.  If anyone is a great foodarazzi –  it is Billy.

Chicken and mushroom siu mai steamed dumplings, hot mustard, sweet soy. (Photo credit Billy Dec)

The Great White is my favorite dish on the menu.  Super white tuna with truffle and potato chip.  Melts in your mouth.

The dish everyone raves about – crispy brussel sprout salad with chilis, fried shallots, nuoc cham and minced shrimp.

Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice and Avocado Crispy Rice.  Pan fried sushi rice glazed with soy sauce and topped with hand cut spicy tuna and jalapeño or shrimp tempura, avocado and wasabi.

Spicy “tail of two tunas” – yellowfin tuna, pickled jalapeño, spicy mayo, super white tuna and fried shallots.

Roasted duck breast tossed with crispy chow fun noodles topped with special Hong Kong sauce. 

Thanks for all the CHOW & FUN at Sunda!

For more of Billy’s foodie photo ops follow him on Twitter at @BillyDec.

Babes Love Bubbles

For most of my friends in Chicago Le Colonial is a home away from home, where Nikki knows your name, and we all go to have a great time in their cozy second floor lounge.  Each year we have our girlfriend holiday lunch, (and this was most likely the 6th, but who is counting) of bubbles and fun with Moët & Chandon Imperial.


Icy cold Moët & Chandon.  (Photo credit Tasya Menaker)

Of all the dishes at Le Colonial – this is my favorite – chicken fried rice with a side of Sriracha.

Need I say more …

This was a three course luncheon – with many classic dishes as well as some newer ones Director of Operations Jen Hansen wanted us all to try.  The classic Bo Bia – soft salad rolls. (Photo Credit Tasya Menaker)

Cheers to the Babes Jen Hansen and Kimberly Burt!

And special thanks to Peggy Lanigan for the bubbles!

And here’s to a great holiday season!

Comfort Food


The weather outside begs for this type of dinner – a steaming hot & flaky crock of chicken pot pie – big enough for two.

There is a lot of activity over at Water Tower these days – MBurger just opened along with Foodease market, but Mity Nice Grill is tucked away and offers many seasonal dishes – perfect for this time of year.


Burger Kick-Off

I challenged myself the other night to make the best burger to date.  There was no expectation, just rush into the store, get all the ingredients and be home before kick-off. 

This one was a monster – and perfect when watching the Bears game on Sunday.  It was a one-stop-shop at Mariano’s for all the ingredients, including a mix & match six pack of beer.

Turkey burger with Lillie’s Q Carolina BBQ sauce, Jack Daniels caramelized onions, sliced sharp cheddar and apple wood smoked bacon on a toasted Labriola pretzel bun.

Holler.  Got a great burger recipe?  LMK!

Red Rooster Chicago

When asked what is the perfect place for a cozy night out, or what is the perfect place for a date, the answer is Red Rooster in Chicago.  We actually all thought it was our friend and her husband’s favorite restaurant, but we learned over a bottle of Bordeaux that it actually was a favorite of HERS, and one of her old boyfriends.  And after her telling me about it for years, I was excited to finally dine there.   


Cheese plate with American artisan cheeses.

French onion soup which looked, smelled and tasted delicious.

Spinach salad with warmed, herbed goat cheese.

Steamed mussels in an aromatic broth.

Braised Beef Bourguignon, it was a toss up between this or Beef Stroganoff.

Gulf Shrimp Provencale.  This sauce and the potatoes were also a great combination.  This was my favorite of the night.

Their sign tucked off to the side behind Cafe Bernard on Halstead …

and their entry door.

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**GUEST RAZZI – Food Mafia at Le Vallauris in Palm Spings

Stacy Johnson from Food Mafia and I talk a lot about de-toxing, but the truth is we do have more fun when we are eating and drinking.  But off she went to Palm Springs and reveled in Le Vallauris, without me!  Palm Springs is a dream destination – so maybe one of these days …

Maine Lobster Cocktail.


Delicious Epi de Ble.

Beet salad with pistachio and goat cheese.  Elegant. 

Vanilla Souffle – when is the last time you had souffle?

Here is her overview straight from


I went to Le Vallauris for lunch after another Food Mafia member recommended it. This could become a new favorite!The restaurant is off the main strip in Palm Springs and it has an amazing outdoor patio with a fireplace. It is covered by trees during the day and the trees are lit up at night.They bring over a menu on a stand with the daily specials and they also offer a great prix fixe menu for $35.00 at lunch.The beet salad was excellent, the pistachio was a nice touch. The bread they brought out was actually so hot you had to wait to touch it! The main lobster cocktail was amazing and looks like a dish from the Jetsons. Definitely a more modern presentation than I would have expected. I don’t even know what to say about the vanilla souffle, it was so light it actually tasted very healthy and good for you!

The service was also great. Attentive but gave you space. I would suggest getting a table on the inside of the patio rather than against the wall of the patio as you will probably see some ants with all of the plants and trees!

Recommended Dishes:

beet salad, maine lobster cocktail, vanilla souffle, cappuccino
Stacy Johnson
CEO / Founder
Food Mafia, Inc.

Henny Mo & Confit

After fabulous Hennessey cocktails with HennyMo (Cognac King Maurice Hennessey) and KJ, we adjourned to Balsan at The Elysian with PL and Rooster for amazing dinner fare.  AND we were tucked away in the back corner at the community table which was a perfect hiding spot so we could discuss wedding crushes, our favorite wines, HennyMo and our business cards.  We also got to see Joan Cusack’s personal Garage Sale items, which was a highpoint of our night. 

This confit could have fooled me into thinking I was in France. Duck leg confit with green lentils, smoked ham and mustard.  That sauce was divine.  Going back there very soon just for this. If duck confit isn’t perfect, it’s such a disappointment.  This was rich yet crispy and full of flavor.  Obsessed.  This dish was a discussion point for days. 

As a young child, fishsticks were a favorite dinner treat.  Yes, that’s right.  These are all grown up.  Fish Goujonettes with lemon, parsley and remoulade.

More, more, more!

We also may have ended up at the Red Head Piano singing a cover of Tiny Dancer, but I won’t freely admit it.