Archive for June, 2011

Yikes, it has been over a month since I posted here!  Sorry for the long absence, but life was kind of keeping me busy.  I had a big event at work to plan.  My car got totalled while parked on the street, so I got to spend a lot of time doing insurance paperwork and car shopping.  I went to visit my parents after my dad had major surgery.  And I went to Chicago for a conference.  So, yeah, I am very ready for a fun and relaxing summer!  Hopefully I’ll manage the balance of adventures and free time to have some regular posts here.

While I was in Chicago for the conference, I was in sessions all day and the weather was mostly cold and rainy, so I didn’t get to do too much exploring.  I did make sure to have some culinary adventures, though.  The first, and best, was a visit to Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill.  What with the car mess, I hadn’t had time to research restaurants before the trip, but once I arrived and consulted Chowhound I discovered that Frontera Grill was walking distance from my hotel. That was all the encouragement I needed. I figured that getting a table on a weekend night was out of the question, so I just headed over on the early side and snagged a seat at the bar right away.

Argh, sorry for the stinky photo! It was dim in the bar, and I didn’t want to be all conspicuous with my flash. As it was, the couple sitting next to me saw me taking photos and asked if I was a blogger. 🙂

This was only my second experience at a celebrity chef restaurant (I got to eat at Morimoto in Philly years ago, and Chef Morimoto even came to our table and asked how our dinner was!), and it did not disappoint. My only regret is that since I went alone, I only got to try a few dishes. I maximized my tasting by getting two appetizers and dessert, and a wonderful margarita, of course. 🙂 The Coctel de Atun Tropical was simple and divine: juicy chunks of raw tuna, creamy guacamole, and sweet mango. I have a thing for any raw tuna dish, so I have tasted many, and this one ranks among the best. The Sopes Rancheros, little cups of crispy masa filled with juicy, shredded beef and topped with avocado, roasted tomato sauce, and crumbled queso, were insanely good. I wanted to lick the plate, it was such a lovely combination of savory, rich, fresh flavors. And for dessert, my memory is failing me a bit, but as I recall it was a rhubarb tart with pumpkinseed ice cream. I definitely remember that it was delicious, and the pepita ice cream was the star. Traditional pumpkin ice cream is a perennial fave of mine, but this ice cream was purely flavored by the seeds and was nutty and not overly sweet, which made a perfectly sophisticated pairing with the tart-sweet rhubarb tart. Just talking about the meal makes me want to go back, though if I do get a chance to return, I will probably try one of Frontera’s siblings, Tobolobampo or XOCO.

Chowhound also inspired me to try an authentic Chicago-style hot dog, so after some research, I decided on Portillo’s. Apparently a Chicago dog is topped with just about everything but the kitchen sink: relish, tomato, pickled peppers, onions, mustard, and a pickle spear on a poppy seed bun. It was a little spicy for me, but definitely tasty, and it was fun to taste a Chicago tradition.


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