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Reporting back from Portland!

I was a bit tipsy after the tour... but yes, I would love to go back! What were some of your favorites from Clear Creek?

I was told about the Farmer's Market, but despite being a slow day, it was still pretty busy for my standards. I was planning on going back in the spring, but I think I might have to make it for the summer... there's nothing like a good peach...

Does anyone know if I can order Ransom from their website? I tried to look but there didn't seem to be an option to do so...

Dec 01, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Metro Portland

Reporting back from Portland!

Hi all,

As promised, I wanted to report back and relay my appreciation to you all for your incredible advice. So, I'll begin:

Friday:
This was our winery day... all the wineries had open houses, which was nice. We started with Archery Summit, which was my favorite. There was live music and cheese pairings as well, and the dark chocolate paired incredibly with that last wine. We bought the 2006 Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir, which was incredible Luckily, due to the special Thanksgiving weekend ceremonies, we got a discount--from $85 down to $68! Pricey, but worth it. We also visited Ken Wright, Elk Cove, WillaKenzie, Owen Roe (tasting at the Horse Radish), and Domaine Serene. I wasn't as impressed with Ken Wright and WillaKenzie as I thought I would be, but all of the wineries were great. We also bought 2 Elk Cove bottles, a white for my dad, and a red for me. We drove back, checked into our hotel/settled down, and went to Toro Bravo. It was a great way to kick off the Portland visit! It was delicious, and the cocktails were well made too (yes, I was pretty drunk by the end of the night... all that wine tasting and 2 cocktails...). We had a spicy octopus and prawn stew, sauteed chanterelles on griddled bread, and seared scallop with romesco. The seared scallops were my favorite... so succulent and perfectly cooked.

Saturday:
Went to the farmer's market... and WOW, such amazing produce. I was very very impressed. I spent pretty much until 11:30 at the market, and didn't want to leave. I was almost dragged off... and sad that I didn't live there so that I could buy everything. We bought smoked salmon, Oregonzola cheese from Rouge, Burdock root (yes, I brought Burdock root in the plane), Plum jam, pickled beets, some pears... I might be forgetting something. The point is, I'm jealous of you all who have access every week!

We then walked around and finally went to the Clear Creek Distillery, which thankfully was having an open house. I was thoroughly impressed... we met the nicest people (they gave me their numbers if I ever wanted to go back! Such a down to earth city!) and had some excellent drinks. Unfortunately, the state of Oregon is very strict with alcohol and recently instituted a law so that we could only taste 5 types. The most interesting was the Doug Fir brandy... unusual and acquired, but still very well made. We also tasted some grappa, liquors, and other brandies. We ended up coming back with the 8 year apple brandy, pear liquor, and cranberry liquor. I really wanted to get the pear brandy, but was told that I could get that in Chicago, so I thought I shouldn't take up valuable space in my suitcase. The tour was very interesting; I loved hearing about the process and asked tons of questions.

By the time we got to lunch it was about 3 pm, and I was ready for some Karam. I had the artichoke stew with basmati rice, and it was the best Middle Eastern food I've ever had. Which says a lot, because my parents are Israeli. My dad had the meat combo on hummus, and he liked it so much that he was trying to convince me to just try some, even though I'm vegetarian. I also had the spinach and lentil soup, which was delightful. The dessert however... was incredible. I've never had anything quite like it... I think it was called Knafe B- something (not typical Knafe, which I've had). I was stuffed and thought I would only have a bite, but ended up eating half. It was worth it. We then went to Powell's... and all I have to say is that I was in heaven. I must have spent at least 3 hours there, and ending up buying 8 books! We went to the technical store as well for my dad, and I ended up reading bunch on Food Science. Once again, extremely jealous.

For dinner, we started out for apps at Andina. This was one of my favorite restaurants that I've eaten in for sure. We only had the cebiche, mussels, and octopus tapas to save room for later (the plan was to go to Tanuki). I discovered that Tear Drop was very close, and so made a detour to go. Hands down, best drinks I've ever had. The bartenders were so nice and patient, and let me try anything I wanted. I ended getting the most well balanced cocktails (2 of them), and enjoyed every sip. I want to move to Portland just for that bar. And the Ransom Gin. I'm still sad that I didn't have time to buy any to take home... I loved that the bar wasn't too pretentious, either (unlike the Violet Hour, which is a somewhat comparable mixology type place in Chicago). We drove to Tanuki, and to my extreme disappointment, it was closed! We drove around and went to Navarre for small plates. Though I'm sad that I didn't get to go to Tanuki, I was more than satisfied with Navarre. Simple dishes prepared beautifully... I don't remember all that we had, but I do remember the arugula and chanterelles, trout in parchment paper, beets with ricotta salata... and once again, the people were just wonderful. We were the only people there (it was about 11), and we ended up staying and talking to them for 40 minutes after the meal.

Sunday:
We had breakfast in the hotel, and went to the Japanese Gardens. I loved the gardens, it was beautiful and peaceful. We went to the Hawthorne district, which was very cool (once again, went to both Powell's, and spent a while in the store specializing in cooking). We browsed, got a fish taco at a stand, and decided to go to Mississippi for the food cart scene. We sampled a bit of each--Ruby Dragon (delicious miso soup with kale, ginger, carrots, buckwheat noodles), Native Bowl (Gravy bowl... mmm hearty and perfect), and a sushi place (forgot the name) where we got veggie sushi. After that we walked around Alberta, and then ended up driving back to Washington to go back to visiting my sister.

All in all, it was an incredible trip, and I absolutely loved Portland. Was sad to leave, but I know that I'll be back for more! The culture pretty much exemplifies my character, and I've already made plans to take my mom out there as well. Next time I'll try the microbreweries and take advantage of the happy hour scene...

Thanks everyone for all the help, it was great advice!

Dec 01, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Metro Portland

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

I think I'll skip ten 01, not enough time if I want this trip not to be too stressful. In that case, what is the better option for dinner and drinks: beaker and flask for both, or drinks upstairs a toro and then dinner?

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Almost done--help finalize Portland/Winery food itinerary, please!

Thanks everyone! I realize it is a lot, just needed help on where to cut it down, which is where the hounders come in. I agree, will skip ten 01 and cocktails in between. I wanted to try toro bravo, but if you all think the food at beaker and flask is just as good, perhaps I will kill 2 birds with one stone there, as Nettie proposed in my other post. Between beaker for dinner and drinks, or the bar at toro and then dinner, which would you all recommend?

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Almost done--help finalize Portland/Winery food itinerary, please!

Hello all! I've posted before about this, but now just wanted to get final opinions on my itinerary, including wineries to visit.

So, the list is:

Friday: Breakfast at the B&B, Japanese Gardens, drive to wine country for lunch time, visit 4 wineries (choices: Archery Summit, Elk Cove, Erath, Four Graces, Owen Roe--will be at Horse Radish on Friday, Willakenzie, Argyle, Domaine Serene, Domain Drouhin, Ken Wright... whew!)
Friday dinner: Ten-01 oysters for happy hour, Toro Bravo for dinner
Saturday Lunch: Karam... followed by cocktails? Park Kitchen, Beaker, or Tear Drop as options.
Saturday Dinner: Andina, followed by Tanuki
Sunday Lunch: The Ruby Dragon for lunch (veggie/vegan cart)
Possible late night entertainment on Fri: Doug Fir Lounge, also possibly doing cocktails Fri night instead of trying to fit it between lunch and dinner on Sat... which makes most sense?

Now my questions are: do you think I will have time (or the capacity... I love food, but as a skinny girl can only have so much!) on Saturday to do all of these things? In terms of proximity, do these make sense? I also want to see Powell books and am not sure where to insert it, as well as one when to insert one of the cocktail places... Sunday I guess I will try to visit the cheese shop and distillery, and/or Powell books before I go to the cart, which is on Mississippi at Skidmore.

Does this all seem doable/logical? I'm not sure if I'm running around everywhere, I don't want to waste too much time in transit. Will I have time to do it all, and which wineries (and food, aside from Dundee Bistro) would you recommend? Any changes or recs to be made?

Thanks guys! I will be happy to report back after my unfortunate return...

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Total bummer about Pok Pok... I would move things around, but I really like the set up I have with Andina and then Tanuki, especially because I think Tanuki has Saturday movies at night, which could be fun.

I've been browsing the Cart options for Sunday lunch, and as I understand it, many are closed on Sundays. The Ruby Dragon has amazing reviews, and is open on Sunday for lunch, so I'm going to try that. This works out well, because being that Sunday is a short day, we can squeeze in some things we might not get to.

So, the list is:

Friday: Open Lunch in wine country
Friday dinner: Ten-01 oysters for happy hour, Toro Bravo for dinner
Saturday Lunch: Thinking Karam... followed by cocktails? Park Kitchen, Beaker, or Tear Drop as options.
Saturday Dinner: Andina, followed by Tanuki
Sunday Lunch: The Ruby Dragon for lunch (veggie/vegan cart)
Possible late night entertainment on Fri: Doug Fir Lounge

Now my questions are: do you think I will have time (or the capacity... I love food, but as a skinny girl can only have so much!) on Saturday to do all of these things? In terms of proximity, do these make sense? I plan on going to the J-gardens Friday morning, but still want to see Powell books and am not sure where to insert it. Also not sure where to insert one of those amazing cocktail places... as it is, it seems as though Saturday is too jam packed to fit it in between lunch and dinner, especially if I'm doing Andina and Tanuki for dinner. Sunday I guess I will try to visit the cheese shop and distillery, and/or Powell books before I go to the cart, which is on Mississippi at Skidmore. The other option is to skip Doug Fir on Friday night and go for one of these lounges after dinner at Toro Bravo. What do you all suggest, and what is best in terms of convenience?

I'm getting excited to nail these down! Which of these need reservations, by the way?

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Oh! Another question... Where is Clear Creek Distillery? Is it doable?

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Yum! Portobello sounds great... as do the cocktail recs... now I have to re-evaluate where to do cocktails!

Do you prefer Elk Cove to Penner-Ash? I think I'll go ahead with that rec, but it's hard for me to give up Penner-Ash... there's always next time!

And of course, I always report back. I get joy from it too, don't consider it a burden at all...

I just hope I can fit it all in...

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Those cocktails look delicious! Thank you! Also, if I wanted to do Ten-01 for oysters, is this in proximity to Beaker and Flask?

So far I've got:
Friday: Open Lunch in wine country
Friday dinner: Ten-01 oysters for happy hour, Toro Bravo for dinner
Saturday Lunch: Thinking Karam, followed by Beaker and Flask OR Park Kitchen for cocktails (have to find somewhere to fit it in!)
Saturday Dinner: Andina, followed by Tanuki
Sunday Lunch: Pok Pok for lunch and drinks OR find random food cart
Possible late night entertainment on Fri or Sat night :Doug Fir Lounge

Also on the agenda: Cheese/Wine shops (still must research this)
The famous chocolate shop
Japanese gardens

How does this itenerary sound to you all? Suggestions/recommendations/tips?

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Thank you all!

After doing some homework (mostly on Portland), I have focused my questions:

Friday we will be going to the Wine Country-- supposedly all the wineries are open the day after Thanksgiving (again, if anyone knows or has insight into this, it would be much appreciated), but other than that, I'm not really sure what is going on. Thursday night we are sleeping over in Portland at the Painted Lady. I assume we'll eat breakfast there, and then head to wine country for morning/lunch. Perhaps we'll try to fit in the Japanese Gardens before we leave for the wine country. Admittedly, I've focused most of my research on Portland, so I'm not sure which restaurants are most worth going to for Lunch and Dinner, especially considering I don't eat meat (I've noticed that Portland LOVES their meat, especially pork) and very rarely eat pasta (ditto - lots of pasta). Elk Cove seems like a common consensus in terms of wineries to visit, so perhaps someone can help me plan my wine tour around that winery? I also love Penner-Ash wines, but am not sure of the proximity of these two together and how convenient this is.

Depending on where you all think the food is better, we can either have dinner on Friday night in Portland, or stay in the wine country. But, I do want to have the whole day in Portland Saturday (market in the morning!), so we'll have to drive back, anyway.

I'm deciding between some choices in Portland:
Tanuki (yum!), Andina (looks great to me), Biwa, Tabla, Park Kitchen, Pok Pok (seems very cool but seems very meat based), Karam (maybe for lunch--my dad is a big Med. food eater, as he is Israeli...), Toto Bravo, Ten-01 (for the oysters at happy hour, but not for dinner... mmm LOVE oysters), Alberta St Oyster Bar (speaking of oysters), clarklewis... quite a list as you can see, I'm pretty indecisive, but I know that I do love good, clean, seafood and veggies. Tanuki just seems cool, and Andina seems like it has the type of seafood I'm looking for...

Which out of this list (or any other recommendations based on this) would you all recommend for Lunch and Dinner? I need enough restaurants for:
Lunch in wine country
Dinner either in Portland or wine country
Lunch sat in Portland
Dinner sat in Portland
Lunch sun in Portland

And of course, I am always willing to try food carts.. are there any vegetarian or seafood type of carts? Or anything unusual and unique I would love to see...

I am also very into great cocktails, and I know Portland has quite the reputation. I'm having a difficult time deciding which place has great cocktails and/or happy hour, but also has snacks other than meat. Still, the primary focus would be the cocktails... Any recs?

Sorry this was a lot to digest, any info would be MUCH appreciated! Thanks everyone!

Nov 24, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Thanks everyone! Those topics are helpful... I will do more research when I get the time (and not sneaking off for 5 minutes during work... whoops!). I wanted to also ask specifically about visiting the wineries on the Friday after Thanksgiving. As I understand it, all the wineries are having an open house on that day. I contacted Owen Roe because I really enjoy their wines, and they confirmed this and mentioned that they would be at The Horse Radish in downtown Carlton. Have any of you been to this event? Is it just as special as visiting the winery? Will all wineries be there, what's the deal? I'm not sure about the size of the event, the distance from where I am... if it's worth it, essentially!

In terms of price range to narrow things down... with restaurants, I obviously don't want to be spending $100pp every night, but I can definitely splurge if I wanted to. I don't have anything against inexpensive hole in the wall restaurants, or a fine dining experience (as long as it's not rude or stuffy).

Also, in terms of microbreweries in Portland--what are some recommendations for great quality craft beers and good food, keeping in mind that I am not a burger and fries type of girl?

I've also heard of Tanuki--worth going to? As I said, I love Japanese and sushi (though no meat), and it seems intruiging.

Thanks in advance!

Talia

Nov 23, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Oh! And along with that question... What are some products that I should bring back to Chicago with me? Gourmet stores or otherwise?

Nov 22, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Portland for 2.5 days - help needed with Willamette Valley winery tour and Portland itinerary!

Hey all!

Chicago chowhound here, and in need of help! First of all, I apologize if my post is a little all over the place... I hope it doesn't seem like too much rambling. Here goes...

I'm going to Portland for Thanksgiving, and am staying for Thursday, Friday, and half of Saturday. I've never been, but can tell that it's my kind of city: I love wine, microbreweries, charming shops, local/seasonal food, B&B's, the outdoors/staying active, etc... a more European lifestyle, and also clean and friendly. I've been reading up where to go and what to do, and am a little overwhelmed with the amount of time I have to do it all! Since I'm having Thanksgiving in Portland, I don't want to travel too far, but would still like to explore the scenery, the wine country, and Portland.

Now the food/wine questions: given the amount of time I have, where are some key restaurants and wineries I should visit that will let me explore (and that I will be able to intertwine with my visit) but won't have me going all around Oregon? I've never been, but OR is obviously an emerging culinary force, and I want to make sure I take advantage of that, and of course the wine/beer. Now, some background about my likes in terms of food... I don't eat meat, but love seafood. I generally don't enjoy heavy food such as pastas, risottos, or extremely rich creamy sauces. French/Italian food then is limited along the lines of crudo, seafood, etc... also not a fan of Chinese, and not a big breakfast person (pancakes, french toast, etc don't really do it for me). And I LOVE veggies of any kind. Japanese/sushi is probably one of my favorites, as well as Cal/Am Contemporary, Middle Eastern, Spanish, South American (mmm ceviche!) Thai, Vietnamese, some Mexican (contemporary, ceviches, etc)... I think you get the idea... but I am willing to explore more unusual or unique fare. I like good, clean food, whether elaborate or simple. Creativity is always a plus--eating something you can't just get anywhere. On the other hand, I can't deny a meal that is less creative, but that is done so well that you can't miss it. I don't really have a budget either, which I know makes it harder to narrow down. I just want to experience in OR what I've been hearing so much about!

I told you I tend to ramble, sorry! So taking all of that in context, what restaurants and wineries would you recommend I visit (we will have a car to travel the Valley), in Portland and in Wine Country? Keep in mind, we really only have 2 full days, but will probably have half a day and time for lunch on Saturday. If there are other suggestions that are doable in this amount of time that are beyond these regions, I'm open to that as well. We don't have any accommodations booked yet, either.

Any advice would be much appreciate, and thank you in advance!!

Nov 22, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Pacific Northwest

Pitchfork - food recs for the festival?

Thank you! All useful information...

My friend's cousin sneaked in a water bottle full of vodka last year, not sure how she did it as I'm sure they check for the seal, but I thought that was funny... That same friend told me I could probably put something in my pocket, if it were small enough, or put a small ziplock of something in the liner of my bag that would be zipped... just info for you guys in case you want to do the same!

I will rely on the booths though, good info about the lines and times.

Can we bring in whatever size water bottle, and are there water fountains to refill?

And yes, I'll see you there!! Enjoy yourself!

Jul 16, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Pitchfork - food recs for the festival?

Thanks everyone!

I'll be at the festival pretty much all day, and they don't allow re-entry, so I'm basically looking for dinner options since I will be getting lunch beforehand. I couldn't find a bunch of those vendors online, but it's reassuring that you can't decide, because that means they're all pretty good choices.

Has anyone actually gone? Is there anything other than beer as far as drinks are concerned?

Jul 14, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Pitchfork - food recs for the festival?

Thank you! I tried to look up the vendors but I guess I missed it.

Any recommendations/insight on those vendors? Obviously I know Whole Foods and Chicago Diner, haven't been to Wishbone in a really long time so I don't quite remember if I'd like it now...

Jul 14, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Pitchfork - food recs for the festival?

Hi all,

I'm going to Pitchfork Music Festival on Saturday, and apparently you aren't allowed to bring in any food. My first question for anyone that has gone... how accurate is that? Has anyone had any experience sneaking things in?

Secondly, I view festivals, etc. sort of in the same way that I view the taste of chicago. Tons of people, can be fun with the right crowd/music, but usually the food is terrible and greasy. Anyone have any recs for food in the festival? I myself do not eat meat, am somewhat lactose intolerant, and in general hate greasy foods, so I'm a little worried. As long as there are options for good healthy food, my mind will be much more at ease. Any words of advice?

Thanks!

Talia

Jul 14, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Quick help! Valle de Guadalupe visit tomorrow and only allowed 1 L per person of wine for 2 people!!

Hey everyone! Desperate for your help here!

I'm leaving for Valle de Guadalupe tomorrow (March 16th) and staying at La Villa del Valle, and unfortunately have been so busy that I just started doing my research today. My flight is early in the morning so I should have the afternoon on the 16th, all of the 17th and 18th, and half of the 19th (flight is at 2:30). That said, there are a few questions... I've gathered that I must go to Laja, Muelle Tres and Manzanilla, and I will be having dinner at our inn I'm sure. That leaves another restaurant or two to try, any suggestions? Anything off the beaten path is great, too... any must tries. I don't eat meat, and don't usually dairy or eggs, but definitely love seafood. To make the most of my trip, which do you recommend for dinner, and which for lunch? Any other suggestions on how to structure the trip in terms of food, and which other places to eat would you suggest?

Also, the major question I have is regarding the wineries. Given the time that we have, and the fact that we also would like to explore the city, go horseback riding, etc, how many wineries is reasonable that we visit, and which are absolute musts? I know about LA Cetto as the big one, and have read so many names of others, but not sure which are most worth to go to. And most importantly and related to that question, I just found that we are only allowed the bring 1 L back per person (is this correct?), and we will be 2 people. That's basically one bottle per person, unless I find a small bottle as well. Which are absolute musts to bring back? I wouldn't want to go over 40 dollars, as I'm not from CA and won't be back for a long time. Still, I generally buy bottles in the 15-30 range. As far as my taste, I drink reds mostly... I love elegance and layers in my wines, bolder flavors but not overly tannic or gripping, but silkier. As always, balance is important to me, hints of smoke, spice, and fruit seem to be a typical wine for me, but I can also change it up. Not a ton of fruit or sweetness, but not lacking either. I love tasting unusual wines of course, and can go for either wines that are easy drinking on their own or food wines (sorry that doesn't narrow it down). My mom tends to go for the lighter to medium bodied red wines, and has sweeter palate than my own. I also can go for medium bodied wines depending on the wine. She also tends to enjoy white wines more than I do, though I also can enjoy a great white. She appreciates wine but I'm much more knowledgeable than she is, so she will be less picky, haha.

Ok, sorry that was a little longer than intended... but basically, knowing a bit more about my taste and price range, which 2 bottles would you suggest? Or if you know bottles that are 350 ml or less...?

Thanks SO much in advance!!

Talia

Mar 15, 2009
ShikaSfrn in Mexico

Israeli Wines

I will second the rec on Carmel... they have some really nice wines. I recently tried the 2004 Carmel Petite Sirah, and was really pleased. Also second the Yatir, which was a Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot blend. Berry and cherry undertones, with some nice spice and a bit of a grip. Really nicely balanced, and I think it received 91 points from Wine Advocate. Other favorites are 2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz, as well as the Kayoumi Cabernet. The Cabernet was more uinique than others, it was big but still soft, almost chocolatey and jammy, nice tannins.

If you want to talk about white wines, the 2006 Domaine du Castel "Blanc du Castel" is a really outstanding Chardonnay, and I'm not generally a Chardonnay fan. Not overly oaked like Napa Valley, citrus, fig... crisp and nice acidity but definitely balanced and elegant... more Burgundian in style. I think that received 92 points in Wine Advocate.

For an out of this world dessert wine, try the 2005 Carmel "Sha'al'" Late Harvest Gewurztraminer. For me, it takes a certain type of Gewurztraminer or Reisling, etc. for me to really enjoy it, and I did this one. It's succulent, coats the mouth... apricot and peach, obviously sweeter on the finished but still well balanced. This got 90 points, as well.

These are also from Royal Wine distributors, in case you were wondering. Hope that helps!

Talia

Apr 01, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Kosher

Spring, Green Zebra, or Custom House

I've never been to Custom House, but between Spring and Green Zebra, I would go for Spring. In general, I think it's easier to be a crowd pleaser, but I also thought that most of the dishes were hits. At Green Zebra, though very good, I've had dishes that while were not misses, didn't wow me. I've heard good things about Custom House, though, but it really boils down to: would you rather eat meat?

Let us know what you decide!

Feb 24, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Foodie needs recs on cocktails and brunch

I think Orange and Flo are pretty overhyped and not too special in my opinion. I do second the recs on Bongo Room (even though still very hyped), M. Henry (very hyped), Sweets and Savories, and Magnolia Cafe.

I would also add Lula Cafe, which is in the west part on Kedzie. They change their brunch menu every weekend and are known for their creative brunch menu, using local and seasonal ingredients. I've always really really enjoyed brunch there, and have yet to be let down. It's also very reasonable, and I love the crowd and atmosphere. Whatever you do, report and let us know how it went!

Feb 24, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

"I Love You, but You Love Meat" - NYT

Hey all,

I came across this article in the New York Times this morning and thought it was a really interesting topic. Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/din...

What do you guys think? Have you ever have to deal with this issue on a personal level?

Feb 13, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Food Media & News

Carlos' in Highland Park

Hey all,

Just wanted to know your thoughts on this restaurant... I went there last night and had the fish and shellfish degustation (my mom had the meat and game degustation), and it was really excellent. Among those of you who have been, do you know how often they change the degustation and/or ala carte menus? Also, have you found it to be consistently great? Specifically, what did you think of the wine pairings if you chose to do it, and the degustation dessert? For the most part, I was extremely pleased with the wine pairing, but would have changed a few things. As for dessert, I was a little disappointed by the trio, and would have much preferred the fromage plate. For those of you curious about the menus, here they are (I can only comment on the fish, as I don't eat meat, but my mom thoroughly enjoyed hers):

Chef's Selection
Meat and Game Degustation Menu

Amuse Buche: Cappuccino soup of asparagus and wild mushrooms with fried vegetables and basil oil

Grilled California Squab Breast with Tart of Spinach, and Mushrooms
with a Natural Jus
2001 Vosne-Romanée Domaine Gros Frére et Soeur Burgundy

Pan Seared Duck and Duck Confit with Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Baby Carrots and a Grape Reduction
2006 Greg Norman Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

Grilled Lamb Chop with Ox-Tail Ravioli,
Baby Spinach and a Caramelized Shallot and Sherry Gastrique
2004 Joseph Carr Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cocoa Crusted New Zealand Venison with Caramelized Fennel, Root Vegetables and a Cherry Reduction
2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de Saint Siffrein Rhone Valley

Grilled Ribeye with Butter Poached Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Cauliflower and a Cabernet-Rosemary Reduction
2003 Fagus de Coto de Hayas Garnacha CXampo de Borja Spain

Symphony of Dessert
NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne

Petits Four

Chef's Selection
Shell Fish and Fish Degustation Menu

Amuse Buche: Cappuccino soup of asparagus and wild mushrooms with fried vegetables and basil oil
This was a great way to start, and certainly had me wanting more! I tend to steer away from mushroom soups, as they often overwhelm or are too rich. The asparagus gave this the perfect balance and just the hint of mushroom, and the fried vegetables with the basil oil were a great addition.

Scottish Smoked Salmon and Butter Poached Fingerling Potato Terrine
with a Caviar and Vodka Cream Reduction
2005 Balthazar Ress Riësling-Kabinett Rheingau Germany
This was my least favorite. I was excited about this dish, especially the vodka cream reduction, but it was a little bland for my palate. Perhaps this was not to overload the taste buds and start light, but I have to say my mom enjoyed hers much more than she enjoyed mine. The Reisling, however, was outstanding.

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat with Kiwi, Mango and a Sunchoke Puree
2006 Torresella Veneto, Italy Pinot Grigio
Incredible. I was worried this would be overly sweet, but the flavors were perfectly balanced. The Pinot Grigio also had just the right amount of acidity to cut through the sauce, and wasn't overly fruity at all. Perfect marriage of food and wine.

Chervil and Black Truffle Crusted Ahi Tuna
with Roasted Kobacha Squash and a Truffle-Thyme Reduction
2005 Kathy Lynskey Wines Marlborough, New Zealand Pinot Gris
I didn't really get the Black Truffle flavor at all, but in general this, too, was really great. Perfectly cooked, and just enough sweetness in the reduction. The squash was really small and so didn't overwhelm the dish, perfect amount of balance of sweet and tang. I wasn't expecting to love this Pinot Gris since I tend to prefer those not from New Zealand, but this couldn't have been a better choice. I really enjoyed it; light and fruity, yet had the acidity and crispness that you want from a Pinot.

Pan Seared Jumbo Prawn
with Parsnip Custard and a Caramelized Popcorn Reduction
2006 Jean-Marc Brocard "Dom. Saint Clarie" Chablis
This was divine. The prawn was the exact temperature I wanted, the parsnip custard was a great texture and went very well with the rest of the dish. The flavor combinations were just right on. The Chablis was good, but I might have made a different choice. Though I did appreciate that there was a high acidity to it, which cut through the sweetness of the parsnip and the caramelization.

Red Snapper with Braised Kale, Salsify Puree
and a Stone Ground Mustard Beurre Blanc
2005 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay Alexander Valley
WOW. There was not one flaw to this dish, and I could eat it every day for dinner and be perfectly content. I was surprised by the sweetness of the dish, which was offset nicely with the mustard beurre blanc. I also tend to enjoy savory rather than sweet, so I was surprised by how much I loved these dishes, but I think it was because there was also a nice savory flavor, or tang or acid, to counterbalance. Again, I appreciated the acidity in the Chardonnay to cut through the sauce and the sweetness, but it was a little bit more oaky than I prefer.

Symphony of Dessert
NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne
I was disappointed by the trio of desserts. They were just very standard and safe, something I could find at any bistro for a degustation that didn't cost as much as this one. I guess I was expecting too much after the main courses. I also appreciate when restaurants make the extra effort to pair a really great dessert wine, instead of the typical Brut to end a meal. And in this case, the Brut seemed to just be their default wine pairing with any dessert, rather than a thoughtful choice... it didn't stand against the dessert, but certainly didn't add anything.

Petits Four

Sorry for the lengthy report, hopefully you all stuck around to read it :) After such a wonderful experience, I just wanted to know your thoughts on it, and wondering if I should make this my go-to place :) And for those of you who also love this restaurant, which are some comparable restaurants in Chicago?

Thanks!

Feb 12, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Favorite Beer Bar Ever?

I have to second The Map Room in Chicago. The selection is outstanding, and I actually don't mind the dive-y bar aspect of it. It's my favorite beer bar in the city. I also frequent the Hop Leaf quite a bit-- it has a lesser selection than the Map Room (though it's still excellent), but really great atmosphere and food.

Feb 12, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Beer

Need help quick! Challenge: wine recs for tonights dinner degustation

Thanks for the help!

I ended up going for the wine pairing, I felt a little uncomfortable bringing 4 bottles of wine! For the most part their pairings were very good, but I will definitely agree with you that I wish they had given me a Pinot Noir, however the Tuna merried extremely well with the New Zealand Pinot Gris. I generally don't prefer New Zealand Pinot's over others, but this was really outstanding. The Chardonnay was a little bit too acidic for me, but it really did bring out the sweetness of the dish. Overall, I'm very happy I went with the pairings.

My mom, being less picky, decided on the Owen Roe Yakima Valley, which I find a very versatile wine and so recommended it. And in general, it's just very drinkable. I would have liked a bolder red to stand up to the lamb, but she didn't notice the difference :)

The must say I was dissapointed that they didn't give me a dessert wine that really paired well but instead defaulted to the Brut as a typical end to the meal. I've had some delicious dessert wine pairings in a few places, and those that make the extra effort always seem to be the most memorable experiences.

As far as the meal, it is absolutely one of the best I've had! Chicago Mike, if you really are from Chicago, I highly recommend driving down to the Northern Suburbs and trying it out...

Feb 12, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Wine

Need help quick! Challenge: wine recs for tonights dinner degustation

Thanks for the quick response! I was debating whether I should just take one white for the fish (debating between the pinot gris, reisling and the Grgich Hills Sauvignon, which is really nice), one for meat (I'm thinking the Owen Roe Yakima Valley), and the dessert wine in case there are chocolate desserts.

I've never actually been to a BYOB at an upscale restaurant, so I'm not sure whats typical in terms of how many wines to bring... we'll see what happens!

Any other thoughts?

Again, thanks for helping me narrow it down!

Feb 11, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Wine

Need help quick! Challenge: wine recs for tonights dinner degustation

Hi all!

This is very short notice, which I apologize for, but hopefully you can all help me out. So my mom and I are eating at a very nice French Restaurant (Carlos' in Highland Park, IL) tonight at 7:30 central time and will each be doing a degustation. She will be doing game and meat, while I'm I'm going for the shellfish and fish degustation. Since Monday night is no corkage fee, we thought it would be a good opportunity to match our wines instead of going with their wine pairings. Seeing as I rely on my Chowhounders' expertise much more than my own, I had I though it the best place to get recommendations as to which wines pair well. Below are our menus, and below that I'll write down which wines we currently have. We can bring multiple bottles, and my mom is less picky about which wine goes with what, but if a certain wine goes great with both that would be great, obviously. Obviously meat and fish can merit some different wine choices, so I know not every wine can accommodate both. I trust you all know what I mean and can offer advice on what to recommend :) Anyway, here are the menus (underneath are their pairings, which we've decided not to do) and wines:

Chef's Selection
Meat and Game Degustation Menu

Grilled California Squab Breast with Tart of Spinach, and Mushrooms
with a Natural Jus
2001 Vosne-Romanée Domaine Gros Frére et Soeur Burgundy

Pan Seared Duck and Duck Confit with Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Baby Carrots and a Grape Reduction
2006 Greg Norman Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

Grilled Lamb Chop with Ox-Tail Ravioli,
Baby Spinach and a Caramelized Shallot and Sherry Gastrique
2004 Joseph Carr Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cocoa Crusted New Zealand Venison with Caramelized Fennel, Root Vegetables and a Cherry Reduction
2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de Saint Siffrein Rhone Valley

Grilled Ribeye with Butter Poached Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Cauliflower and a Cabernet-Rosemary Reduction
2003 Fagus de Coto de Hayas Garnacha CXampo de Borja Spain

Symphony of Dessert
NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne

Petits Four

Chef's Selection
Shell Fish and Fish Degustation Menu

Scottish Smoked Salmon and Butter Poached Fingerling Potato Terrine
with a Caviar and Vodka Cream Reduction
2005 Balthazar Ress Riësling-Kabinett Rheingau Germany

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat with Kiwi, Mango and a Sunchoke Puree
2006 Torresella Veneto, Italy Pinot Grigio

Chervil and Black Truffle Crusted Ahi Tuna
with Roasted Kobacha Squash and a Truffle-Thyme Reduction
2005 Kathy Lynskey Wines Marlborough, New Zealand Pinot Gris

Pan Seared Jumbo Prawn
with Parsnip Custard and a Caramelized Popcorn Reduction
2006 Jean-Marc Brocard "Dom. Saint Clarie" Chablis

Red Snapper with Braised Kale, Salsify Puree
and a Stone Ground Mustard Beurre Blanc
2005 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay Alexander Valley

Symphony of Dessert
NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne

Petits Four

The wines we currently have are:

*
2006 Maysara Pinos Gris, Willamette Valley
*
2005 Aldin Chardonnay, Napa Valley
*
2005 Vin d'Alsace, Rolly Gassman Reisling, Alsace
*
2001 Rolly Gassman Auxerros, Alsace
*
2005 Grgich Hills Fume Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
*
2001 Easton Zinfandel
*
2006 Owen Roe Sinister Hand
*
2004 Kent Rasmussen Esoterica Petite Sirah, Napa Valley
*
2003 Keenan Merlot, Napa Valley
*
2005 Owen Roe Yakima Valley
*
2004 Karl Lawrence, Cabernet Sauvignon
*
Trentadue Chocolate Amore

Thanks so much!

Talia

Feb 11, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Wine

Cheap and good places around Park West venue?

Thanks all! As always, I know I can count on the board...

Jan 31, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Cheap and good places around Park West venue?

Thanks for the suggestions, as always, your posts are my usual go-to. I'm confused though, I've been to Geja's and since I don't just want to eat cheese, I recall the menu being at a range of 30-50 dollars per person. I'm a recent graduate here ; ) And since I'm originally from Highland Park, I've been to the Pancake House many times, and maybe the quality of the HP location is much worse, but I've really always been put off by it when I used to go.

But anyway, does Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder have good salads and such? I'm not such a fan of pizza in general, myself. Burgers, pasta, pizza... though I just graduated and you would think I survived by these staples, I have never enjoyed them. Maybe that might inform the suggestions...

My friend had seen Kabuki, and Sushi O Sushi that seemed to have parking lots. Any opinions on these?

Also just as a general statement, I think we would spend the money on a 5 dollar cab ride if the restaurant had a place we could park our car for the night...

Thanks so much in advance!

Jan 31, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area

Cheap and good places around Park West venue?

Hi all,

Going to a concert at the Park West (322 W Armitage) and will be with a car. We're looking for a dinner rec for two recent college graduates (aka not expensive...) within walking distance, preferrably with parking since I have a feeling that parking on a Friday night will be pretty terrible (is that a correct assumption?).

From searching the board, I know there is an Italian place (Riccardo's?), but I'm not big on pasta and it's pretty expensive. Any other ideas?

Thanks so much!

Jan 30, 2008
ShikaSfrn in Chicago Area