Schnitzel

This fall the hunt is on for the best Weiner Schnitzel in Chicago. I always love the festive jolly crowds and schnitzel sandwiches at the Chriskindlmarket in Daley Plaza. This tender crispy veal dish from Mirabell is up there, served with spaetzle and a wedge of lemon. Raise your beer and say PROST.

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Mirabell will be having live music throughout the month of October, celebrating Oktoberfest.

Downton Abbey

It’s true – Downton Abbey is addicting and truly Emmy worthy. So while you are watching the awards this Sunday – serve some Stilton cheese with gin and tonics. It is “The Queen’s” favorite cocktail. Opt for Hendricks Gin, the cucumber and rose petal flavors are refreshing, and garnish with some cucumber slices.

For more Emmy Party tips check out my segment on ABC.

A Damn Good Waffle

Okay, so we have established that FoodMafia CEO and Founder Stacy Johnson is the beholder of everything yummy. When she ventured to S. Michigan Ave to try Waffles we HAD to share her mouthwatering experience.

This is my new favorite place for breakfast / brunch food. Great fresh juices and a great food menu.

We had the waffle flight which is a good option if you can’t decide, the red velvet was the favorite. I ordered the ham and cheese waffle – it was incredible. Ham was actually inside the waffle and it was covered in cheese (a lot of cheese!) and a sunny side up egg.

We also ordered the side of potatoes and they were incredibly crispy, which I love, and usually have a hard time finding them that crispy. I love this place! My new place to take people for brunch – worth the cab or drive!

Every Monday TheFoodarazzi features some of their favorite food shots and reviews from FoodMafia.

Pig Roast Toast

Themed parties are the best, especially when it is a pig roast. Our friend Jaime invited us to his second annual pig roast which he hosts with his friend Matt, and now I can’t wait until next year. A great mix of friends and family made for an evening of fun, and even when the rain started we all got to hang out in the garage with the band. Yes, they even had a band.

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The night started with a Cherry Fishbowl from a bar that will remain nameless. For $20 bucks it was a delicious bargain. And on pink piggy theme.

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We had never been to Matt’s before, but knew it was the place to be when we saw this giant pig balloon.

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Jaime crafted the pig cooker himself with cinder blocks and brined the pig for three days before the roast. He also butterflied the head. The pig was so flavorful and crispy. On my plate: the loin, ribs, some of the cheek, and various other pulled parts. It was served with a chimichurri sauce.

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The final few minutes.

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;

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The flipped pig.

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Jaime giving it some last minute char.

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One of the guests made this amazing chocolate cake with date frosting and candied bacon. I had a piece of this before I even tried the pig.

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Setting up the buffet.

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The perfect cocktail – watermelon tomato margaritas with Milagro tequila seasoned with fresh jalapenos and peppers. There was also plenty of beer.

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Even the plates had a pig stamp of approval.

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I just hope to be invited back next year! Hint! Hint!

Mafia Mondays – Old Town Social

Food Mafia’s Goodfella Alex got to try out her neighbor Old Town Social – and we agree the pretzel bites look amazing!

“I recently moved to Old Town and live 2 blocks away from Old Town Social. Considering half of my friends used to work here and because I now live so close I ended up coming in a few weeks ago for dinner.”

“The restaurant is really pretty – the lighting is a bit on the dark side, but the set up is really cool and very spacious. They have a great beer list, literally goes on and on and on. I ended up getting a Corona because I was too lazy to read more of the menu but they had some great options. We ordered the pretzel bites and mac and cheese for an appetizer and omg the pretzel bites were AMAZING.  I am not usually a huge fan of pretzels, but these were so tasty.”

“Definitely recommend this place. They have a great outdoor section too!”

Every Monday TheFoodarazzi features some of their favorite food shots and reviews from FoodMafia.

The Birthday Diaries

What a week it was, and also thank goodness it is over!  It is always fun to celebrate your birthday – over and over again with family, friends and great food – and most of all, delicious cocktails.

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Sunday, August 19:  The Sunday before my birthday started innocently enough at one of our favorite watering holes, Big Star. After several tecates and escondidos, this Sonoran Hot Dog landed on my pants – but fear not, we ordered another.  I did however, walk around with mustard on my jeans for the remainder of the afternoon.  The Food Mafia (aka Stacy Johnson) though this was very funny. But by the end of our jaunt there we had totally forgotten about it.

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Monday, August 20:  As you might have heard, the burger at Au Cheval is at the top of the charts. This foie gras terrine, sprinkled with flakes of Maldon salt, was over flowing with house made Strawberry jam and brioche. Roro was dying to try to their burger, and we each had our own.

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Tuesday, August 21:  My amazing team at XA had one of my favorite foods – hot dogs – catered in by America’s Dog for lunch. Chicago Dogs are the standard, but the Mandy Dog with chili, cole slaw and mustard is delicious. We all had more than one. And a Sprinkles Cupcake too.

The actual birthday dinner was a special treat. My friends and my mom were in attendance and we got to hold court at David Burke’s Primehouse for a dinner benefiting Harvest Moon Farms. Chefs David Burke and Rick Gresh were on hand serving a seven course meal, paired with cocktails from Breckenridge Distillery. The groups favorite libation was a Caprese Martini with heriloom tomatoes. My favorite course was the Rooster Ravioli – and David and I both agreed it tasted like a rich sausage. The whole team at DBPH is like familia – thanks for such a great night!  We also had some quality time with Chef Rick at the end of the night, over some wine and funny stories.

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Wednesday, August 22: Pies from Hoosier Mama at XA – a “day after” birthday surprise. We ate three whole pies. Before lunch.

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Thursday, August 23: My bestie from NYC arrived in town and we were ready to party! Here we were (God knows where), but had a special visit by the Tamale Spaceship. Lucky us!

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Then we were off to Longman & Eagle – starting with Aperol Spritzes and Vino Verde. Their cheese stuffed gourgeres are sublimely flaky, steamy and puffy.  We loved our soft shell crab too. Their outdoor patio is a great location for pre-dinner cocktails, like being in a friend’s backyard.

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Friday, August 24: RESERVED – Starter cocktails at Drumbar with superstar Benjamin Newby making us (surprise) – Aperol Spritzes in the later afternoon sunshine.

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The biggest birthday hit was at Balena. The pastas were amazing. But it was also the best service we had experienced. Our server was ON IT and friends at the table next to us even gave us their wine.

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Amanda Rockman’s dessert was wild with citrusy flavors and inspired my recent grapefruit cravings - Grapefruit Sorbetti, Dry Meringue, Cinnamon, Aperol Granita. We also are craving Aperol.  All the time.

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Saturday, August 25: Jim and Lance are back in town from NYC.  After a bottle of Veuve we headed for cocktails at RPM. The Campari Sbagliato with Carpano Antica, Prosecco and Campari got us in the mood for dinner at Bavette’s Bar & Bouef. A little switch up from the Aperol (there were no Aperol cocktails on their menu).

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My new favorite – maybe because it is pink – maybe because it is in a coupe. The Champagne Smash small’s gin, lillet rosé, mint and lemon at Bavette’s Bar & Bouef.

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GIANT meatball with handcut pasta.

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And our server brought us this slice of lemon meringue pie for dessert, which is one of my most favorite desserts ever, especially when the meringue is sky high and fluffy.

The end – until next year, so I can fully recover.