The Bristol Rocks

From the minute you walk into the warm atmosphere of The Bristol and try one of their deliciously crafted cocktails, you know you are going to have a great night. With Executive Chef Sean Pharr behind the line and at the helm of the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with anything you may order. I know, because we tasted the entire menu last Saturday night! And it was amazing.

This is the Black Diamond. It is also known at #BDE. BEST. DRINK. EVER. Larceny bourbon, punt e mes, lemon juice and grapefruit juice.

Perfectly whipped, smooth and creamy chicken liver mousse with sweet and gooey blackberries and tangy pickled pearl onions.

Ruinart by the glass served icy cold and perfect with the chicken liver richness.

Grilled octopus with Calabrian chili.

 

Heirloom tomatoes. Peak of the season dashed with Maldon salt.

It’s great to be the head cheese at The Bristol.

Kale salad with a smoked crème fraiche dressing. Smokin’.

Capellini, perfectly cooked, with roasted garlic, Nichols Farm cherry tomatoes and grana padano.

Malformati with a rich Berkshire bolognese, San Marzano, red wine and grana padano.

Porchetta with summer panzanella salad. Perfection. I hear this is a keeper on the menu.

Skate with braised cabbage and carrot.


Chef Sean we love you!

You can find it all here at The Bristol.

DOLCE ITALIAN

Dolce in one word. Delicious. We tried the new hot spot with friends on a Friday night, and each dish we had was better than the next. They have the Neapolitan style pizza down. And we ended the meal with a meringue cake that could battle Cipriani’s in NY. 

   
Caprese with house made mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. 

  

Grilled Octopus with a pistachio vinaigrette 

  
  

We all loved the Tartufata Pizza with speck, spicy salami and truffle oil. 

  
A side dish of eggplant Parmesan broiled and gooey to perfection. 

  

Pan seared Halibut with a flavorful and aromatic seafood brodetto. 

 
This light, fluffy and sugary Italian meringue layer cake is cravable. 

Dolce Italian is located in the Godfrey Hotel at 127 W Huron St. 

(312) 754-0700

#NoMIChocolate

NoMI | Boutique Chocolate has “popped up” in the Park Hyatt Chicago Library. Walking into this temporary pastry shop, the sweet aroma alone will make you go crazy. It’s award-winning Pastry Chef Meg Galus’ dream come true. She and her team have been sourcing rare and unique varieties to create an array of offerings, ranging from handcrafted bonbons to French and American style pastries, as well as personalized gift packages. There is even a rich Chocolate Chai tea collaboration with Rare Tea Cellar - to sip while you peruse the boutique.

Here is what you can find:

Confections - Bonbons, bars, lollipops, caramels, enrobed nuts

Pâtisseries - Éclairs, tarts, petits gâteaux

Snacks - Macarons, cookies, brownies

Gifts - Spreads, hot chocolate mix, customizable gift box

These works of art will be crafted using only the finest chocolate from makers around the globe including Valrhona, Cacao Barry, Felchlin, Guittard, Amedei and TCHO.

When: Runs through Sunday, May 11 (Mother’s Day) from 12pm-8pm

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Chef Meg Galus putting the icing on the Sensation Cake. A Devil’s Food Cake with luxurious DeZaan 72% ganache.

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You have never had rich and flaky chocolate croissants like these – trust me.

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Meg’s delectable macarons. You can even buy just one, but why stop there.

Just Another #ChicagoChefWeek Lunch

When you look at all the Chicago Chef Week menus, you just can’t decide which ones to book. Yesterday a long time friend and I tried Embeya, #delicious. All the dishes were fun to share, colorful, vibrant and full of flavor. The team there does such a great job. I’ll be back for dinner soon! (I promise Attila!)

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Clockwise from top left:

Rice Noodle Salad with short rib, rice noodle and lemongrass.

Octopus with confit eggplant, peanuts, coconut (this was not on the Chef Week menu – but we just had to try it).

Shrimp Wrap with shiitake, lettuce and Vietnamese herbs.

Seafood stew with brioche, kale, black garlic and apples.

Matcha Creme Puff – inside out.

Exoctic fruits.

Chicago Chef Week. Get on this!

Chicago Chef Week is here. With $22 lunch menus and $44 dinner menus at some of the city’s best restaurants, we kicked off the first day during lunch at GT Fish & Oyster. We saw plates and plates of their fried chicken and waffles waft by, but the real score was their chef week menu.

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1. Creamy yet light Clam Chowder, with lots of clams and crunchy salty oyster crackers.

2. Seared Tuna Salad, with a savory and tangy cider mustard vinaigrette.

3. Their famous lobster roll, stuffed and loaded with deliciousness.

4. Lemon Panna Cotta with a tangy passion fruit granita.

5 & 6. Chocolate Meringue Tart. I almost fought #billyisthebest over this. Milk chocolate mousse meets dark chocolate ganache, decorated in a perfectly toasted meringue.

Move fast because Chef Week ends on March 21.

36 Hours in San Francisco

There is nothing more exciting than cramming in as much fun as possible when visiting a city for 36 hours. Armed with the package we bid on at the Chicago Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chefs Gala silent auction last October, we were booked for non-stop action. Here are the best bites of the trip.

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Clockwise from top left:

Our favorite stop had to be the Ferry Building Marketplace. Loaded with great eateries and shopping, we were there for HOURS. Boccalone was where we stopped for lunch. The staff had us tasting salumis and before we knew it #billyisthebest ordered a Muffuletta Sandwich. Of course I had to order a half pound of Iberico de Bellota and grabbed some Acme bread, so we could snack it throughout the rest of the trip.

The line at Swan Oyster Depot was as promised, INSANE! After a stroll up and down through Nob Hill, we waited over an hour, making friends and snapping pics with those braving the wait. What an institution. Their highly recommended crab cocktail.

A deliciously rich spin on lasagna and meatballs at SPQR.

The freshest oysters ever at Swan Oyster Depot. Paired perfectly with an icy Anchor Steam.

Our first official stop was at Salt House.  Their happy hour was BUMPIN’ with beautiful people right at 4 pm. The steamed mussels al ajillo were beyond flavorfully addicting with spanish sherry, paprika, garlic and chili flakes.  We had to ask for more ACME bread to lavish in the sauce.

Tartine Bakery morning buns – right out of the oven.

 

The Best Negroni

I used to think I made the best negronis, and so did #billyisthebest. But then we met Michael at Nico Osteria. Although my favorite gin is Hendricks, Michael prefers Letherbee Gin. We tasted them side by side, and it was a fun way to spend time determining all the flavor components and what we liked about each combination.

Michael takes us step by step on how to make a perfect negroni.

Load up a mixing glass with ice. The most important part is measuring responsibly. 1.5 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of Campari, 1 ounce of Punt E Mes vermouth. We have tried Cocchi Americano and Carpano Antica and now prefer the Punt E Mes. It’s a bit lighter and brighter in flavor and doesn’t overpower the other spirits. Stir vigorously yet gently. Strain and serve up or over ice, and of course garnish with a generous rind of orange.

Or just go visit the cool bartenders at Nico.

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Twenty Fourteen, Welcome …

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Looking back on 2013 – it was a great year, but we all are looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us, and here is what I’d like to see more of.

1. WINE: On a recent trip to New Orleans, my boyfriend and I fell in love with Chablis at Restaurant R’evolution, and just can’t get enough. I also want to learn more about Italian wines, especially big Brunellos, with the help of Vino Italiano.

2. BAGUETTE: In Paris with my besties, hot dogs on the Champs-Élysées in a baguette are a must-have obsession.  We are talking the thin ‘crunchy on the outside yet very soft and chewy on the inside’ kind.  More delicious things need to be put in a baguette, so chefs please take note. Pastoral does a great job at stuffing baguettes with Jamon Serrano, BLTS and Spanish style tuna on their sandwich menu.

3. SEAFOOD: This Dungeness Crab with fava bean puree, bottarga and radishes is not only a beautiful presentation, but a delicious appetizer served with thin crackers at Nico Osteria. Bacon and pork belly will always be in my heart, but lighter seafood extravaganzas are welcome. You’re welcome.

4. FANCY: Caviar, yes please.  And shaved truffles, please don’t stop. These crème fraîche and caviar numbers were served at the Brioni opening. Class. All the way.

5. ESCAROLE: Can it be the new kale? This salad at Pizza House 1647 is perfectly light yet robust with flavors with the addition of roasted string beans, grape tomatoes, garbanzo beans, a wedge of asiago, fennel and scallions. Chickory and Dandelion Greens are also on my list.  If you have any leads let me know.

6. ARTICHOKES: This is the one vegetable where I can never get enough. Steam them, grill them, stuff them. Just get out of my way when they are done. La Madia grills them with garlic and a creamy mustard sauce.

Well 2014, I can’t wait.

The Scout Guide Chicago Blog: Life on The Farm

One of my favorite blogs and publications is The Scout Guide Chicago. I crave the creative content and love spending time with my friend and publisher, the ever-stylish Meredith Wood-Prince.

She asked me to guest blog about my recent trip to Blackberry Farm, which was the trip of a lifetime, in every way imaginable.  My boyfriend and I road-tripped to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and may have had the best travel experience ever.  We loved everything about Blackberry Farm – from the service to the wine selections to the Saison made on premise.  And I couldn’t eat enough Benton’s Country Ham or Bacon.

TheFoodarazzi guest post from The Scout Guide Chicago:

#FOODLOVE at Blackberry Farm

Guest blogger Amanda Puck of TheFoodarazzi.com gives Scout Guide the inside scoop on Blackberry Farm.

This past summer I was the luckiest girl in the world and had the best vacation in the heart of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee at Blackberry Farm. The farm is situated on an abundant 9,200 acres of spectacular scenery and offers some of the world’s finest wines and cuisine. Blackberry Farm was named “The Best Food Lover’s Hotel in America” by Bon Appetit and rated “#1 Resort” by Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. After reading about it in Bon Appetit, my boyfriend and I were determined to make it there.  The article had us hooked with the mention of their fried chicken to-go that could eat on the way back home when your vacation was sadly over!

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The breathtaking views had me whipping out my phone to snap the scenery nearly every step we took. The sustainable farm produces their own vegetables, wild flower honey, farm-fresh eggs and artisan cheeses from East Friesian sheep.  You can even fly-fish on the grounds.  As a truffle fanatic, I immediately fell in love with the “Truffle Dogs” who were being trained to hunt for truffles they are planning to grow at a nearby orchard.

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Blackberry Farm’s renowned “Foothills Cuisine” features both haute cuisine and foods indigenous to its Smoky Mountain heritage. Executive Chef of The Barn Joseph Lenn and his team were so inviting, which made for amazing and relaxing meals. The Barn was an exquisite space, truly magical, well designed, open and elegant.  A few of my favorite dishes included a creamy chicken liver pate with farm fresh blueberries, their famous fried chicken and of course, every morning was no complete without Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham with poached egg and heirloom tomato. As much as I love food, I certainly love wine. Blackberry Farm’s impressive wine list and gorgeous wine cellar did not disappoint. So whether you’re a food lover or a wine connoisseur, Blackberry Farm is the perfect haven.

Thanks to Ashley Boll and Nicole Donnelly for the graphics and help with the piece!

My Staten Island Roots

It is something that can’t be helped if you are an Italian from Staten Island. Pizza is in your DNA. You are passionate about it, would profess it to be your last meal, and always crave just even one slice.  On the Island, my favorite is Joe and Pats. Thankfully, my best friend lives just a few blocks away, so when I visit we get it delivered, pop-in for dinner, or may just run in for a snack.

When I found out the owner of Joe and Pats son, AJ Pappalardo, opened Rubirosa several years ago, it has been on my list to try it.  Tucked away in Nolita, Rubirosa is charming, friendly and most of all, a delicious find.  On a recent work trip, a colleague and I sat outside for 20 minutes, just to be sure we would get a table right at 11:30.

Our server suggested we do a half Supreme (tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, mini meatball and roasted garlic) and half Vodka sauce with fresh mozzarella.  We devoured it, but saved room for cannolis.  My Nonna would have been proud.  See you next time Rubirosa!