Friday, December 05, 2008

Freddy's Revealed

Annmarie at Freddy's today pointed me to this great set of pics of her place.

(BTW, my latest food fantasy is to team up Rob from Mado with Joe from Freddy's.)

Obligatory Freddy's disclosure: lunch of pork sandwich, giardinara, beef gravy; pizza ala Napolina and eggplant in Freddy's red gravy no match for doggy bag Joe sends us home with: pasta with clam sauce and much more eggplant.

1600 S 61st Ave
(between 16th St & 18th St)
Cicero, IL 60804
(708) 863-9289

Deep Thoughts

  1. Roasting beets smell surprisingly good
  2. Local water is nicely cold this time of year

Gosh, I Love Helen

As I eagerly await Sunday's Mado goose dinner, some other goose thoughts crossed my desk. Hear what she has to say!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New Local Beet Feature Up

The best dressed man on the Local Beet team has turned in his latest dispatch. David "Hat" Hammond talks local with one of the localist of chefs in the area (and future Iron Chef Cheftestant). See what Paul Virant of Vie has to say at the Beet.

Café des Architectes in the Hotel Sofitel, Brunch

How's the Thumb Thing Working?

The VI family, especially the girlz of the VI family, love a good tea, especially a good tea around the winter holidays. One year in search of good tea we discovered the well designed Café des Architectes in the Hotel Sofitel just off of Rush Street. Impressed enough with tea, we returned for what we found to be a stellar brunch. So, when the Thanksgiving weekend denouement required a brunch, Mom and Dad pushed for Mado brunch, but since we had already imposed Thai on younger daughter the night before, we let her have her way with Sofitel. The thumbs gave this one nine, which the wife thinks points out the limitations of the system. In true MikeG-ian fashion, I would say that is exactly the kinda of result that makes the system work. Let's go to the score cards.

Mom - She's happy not doing dishes. She likes upscale-ish types of place. She likes brunch. She's somewhat aghast that from the basket of French pastries brought to the table at the start of the meal--a strong plus for this place--that our younger daughter manages to eat the whole pain au chocolat without giving her a taste. Mom's a bit peeved over certain service flaws, but will leave that to other thumbs. She very much enjoys the brunch sampler consisting of three juice shooters, a four plate combo of scrambled eggs with chorizo (the hard Spanish kind), avocado tian, french toast and smoked salmon, and ending with three mini desserts (pumpkin cheesecake, maple creme brulee and chocolate-orange cake). Mom does note that nothing beats the truffled eggs she had at her first Sofitel brunch, but the cooking overall is very good. Two Thumbs

Dad - Dad...Dad, did someone say local? Dad detects quality ingredients! The salad side on the steak sandwich he splits with daughter is like salad at home. Sauteed fingerling potatoes, while a bit underdone are very sweet. Late research confirms this [ed. such a foodie, you did not even know about the Noguier hire?]. The split thing gets Dad plenty of tastes, but he allows daughter a much bigger portion of steak sandwich. Darn, as it's quite good, both the meat and the meat juice soaked toast. See, there's all sortsa stuff on the brunch sampler daughter avoids like the caviar on top of the avocado and the aforementioned smoked salmon, so she gets more steak. Two Thumbs

Older Daughter - All good. No one complains as much when she eats the entire pan au raisin. Not being Dad, asparagus alongside crabcakes and eggs does not bother her (that much). Two Thumbs

Younger Daughter - Any surprise here? Endless glasses of orange juice (all tables seem to get all-you can drink juice and coffee), the bigger bits of the mini-desserts, pain au chocolate, croissant AND several slices of baguette (don't ignore the last just because there's fancier stuff around). She did not pick this place on a lark. How many thumbs can she give it? Two Thumbs

Elijiah - How would our picky and persnickety friend react to the uniformity of opinion above. Well, Elijiah's here to make sure we see all. He's duly impressed with the look of the place; loves his coffee like they serve it, in French press pots, but also finds said coffee a bit on the weak side. Elijiah demands better service from such a place. He practically holds a stopwatch to the time it takes to clear dirty plates. The way the waiters make the rest of us pass dishes around annoys him too. Like some of the commentators on LTHForum, he's snobbish over anything molded in a ring these days, even if the avocado tian tasted fine. He wants his guacamole deconstructed not Frenchified. And the brioche. While the rest of us found pastries in the basket to love, he found a dry and tired brioche. Elijiah is not happy. One Thumb

Café des Architectes
20 East Chestnut Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Nine Thumbs

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Food - Inventory Update

I've described a bit on the Local Beet how we've been getting the stuff. The only throw-out last week was a yucky cauliflower. Tired arugula and fennel fronds and older celery all went into the stock pot. (Last inventory report here.)

Here's the latest tally.

Tomatoes - Catalina's holdovers

Mushrooms - crimini and oyster

Salsify - The key find at the first winter market, five or so roots worth.

Bok choi - One head; one head of bok choi is not the easiest thing to use

Celery - 4 bunches of heirloom from the first two Fall CSAs; these are mostly for stock and related. I have a batch of vegetable stock in me soon. 1 bunch from Cassie

Brussels Sprouts - 1 bag

Apples - 2 quarts honeycrisp are the current eating apple. In storage: 1/2 bushel fortune, , 1/2 bushel of mutsu, a 1/2 bushel of mixed including northern spy, akane, winesap, courtland, granny smith and a few other varieties; 1/2 bushel of granny smith; 5 lbs of mixing baking (cortland and law rome); 5 lbs of mixed, empire/fuji; 8 large romes (for baked apples) + quart bags of raritan and empire; a quart from Seedlings I'm forgetting which type...

Pears - Several Yali from Orianna, one something from Nichols holding out in the fridge.

Tomatoes - I hit the Green City Market two weeks ago, and a few of the tomatoes purchased are still alive and well. There's some in the attic but let's not talk about them today.

Red bell peppers - All of the last red peppers have been roasted. Some have been packed in oil; the rest in vinegar.

Jalepeno peppers, Serrano peppers, Cayenne peppers, Other hot peppers - poblanos, habeneros, pasillas, etc. - some left - my babies

Sweet peppers (a long green variety) - 6

Beets - 4 larger + 12 or so baby

Rutabagas - Maybe 6

Cabbage - 2.5 larger green; 1 whole red

Garlic scapes - forgotten but amazingly holding up, will make a strange taste of Spring in Fall

Turnips - Several larger and several baby

Radish - Some regular ol' radishes + 2 daikon + 5 or so "easter egg" from Catalina + 6 black radish

Celery root - About 8

Lettuce - 1 bag

Carrots - lots + more from this weekend

Garlic - More than enough as we got a braid of local garlic

Leeks - 6 bunches of 3

Dry onions - Plenty, most of theTropea have been used though + several pounds of cippolini.

Shallots - 5 or so lbs of larger and about 1 lb of smaller

Sweet potatoes - A good amount

Potatoes - 25 or so smaller + 1/2 bag of Yukon gold; when I did the move from basement to attic, I found more potatoes than I thought we had, cool + many heirloom (German butterball, fingerlings, etc.) + several pounds of yukon gold, kennebec, norland; still have not got my 50 lb bag from the wholesaler.

Kohlrabi - 2 large; 2 medium;

Winter squash - 1 large-ish spaghetti; 8 acorn, 4 Mexican style pumpkin, 4 butternut, 8 or so carnival, one white pumkin-ish looking thing.

Spinach - 2 bags worth



Herbs - rosemary, parsley, dill, marjoram, mint, cilantro

Parsley root - 5

Horseradish root

Dry beans including yellow-eye, Great Northern and red kidney - A good amount

Grains - Michigan grown and ground pastry flour; Illinois grown and ground corn meal; Illinois grown and milled all purpose flour; wheatberries + new bag of corn meal, new bag of soft white

Mado's Next Family Dinner - December 7, 2008

I've mentioned before that as much as I like eating at Mado, I like eating best there during the family dinners. While I knew a family dinner was in the works, Rob and Allie were a bit late announcing the details. From a recent e-mail:

it's time for mado's next family dinner!
on sunday, december 7, 2008 we will be featuring goose from swan creek heirloom farm. look forward to goose sausage and spit-roasted goose breast and, of course, allie's amazing desserts. the goose dinner will be 5 courses served family style, beginning at 6pm and will be $65 per person, not inclusive of tax and gratuity.
to reserve seats at the table call or email.
hope to see you there!!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thai Avenue

VI Restaurant Scale in Action - 8.5 Thumbs

As I explained the other day, this blog has now introduced its soon to be trademarked, patented, talked about late night on WGN, food score. The ten thumb system. We put it to use yesterday at Thai Avenue.

Thai Avenue is not the flat out best Thai restaurant in Chicago (I'd say Spoon with more confidence if it has not been over a year since my last visit there), but for a variety of reasons, it is my family's favorite. Reason's for favorite-ness includes the authority of the flavors and the willingness to help with the menu (and a new picture menu makes getting the Thai-Thai food easier than ever) as well as a special place in blogging memory. Much of the family is also a fan of the lunch specials, but that did not apply to last night's dinner.

The compilation:

Older daughter - She of the cast iron gullet scarfs down on many helpings of bamboo salad done medium + on the heat scale, a wondrous dish of funk and heat. She gobbles down several pieces of Thai fried chicken, likes the chicken laab and the stir fried on-choy too. A solid two thumbs.

Younger daughter - Pouty for a good long while over the very fact of eating Thai food, settles in to a Panag curry after Dad throws a conniption over the mere idea of her getting a plate of lemon chicken. Dad also convinces her that she'll like the on-choy. Besides, there's sticky rice to be had. She does, does and does, but not especially being fan of Thai food, gives it one thumb.

Dad - Dad gets angee-angee over the thought of being at a beloved Thai place and being left out of the ordering. Fit later, he's enraptured with the dishes on the table. Two thumbs.

Mom - Settles down Dad but perhaps hold grudge over not getting noodles--damn Dad has to be "authentic". Likes what she eats but not the order. One and one-half thumbs.

Elijiah - Did not need Elijiah's thumb yesterday. His role played by dinner guest. Dinner guest not into Thai the way Dad's into Thai, but she's quite happy with healthy stir fry, hold various stuff, and won ton soup. Two thumbs.

Thai Avenue
4949 N Broadway
8.5 Thumbs