Collection of Recent Articles/Happenings

I apologize for the randomness of this post but in the past few weeks, I came across a lot of good articles, dinners, happenings, etc. and I wanted to share!

Really enjoyed my recent meal at Thurk and La Sirena Clandestina; drinks at Scofflaw and The Office

Excited about the new website for the Sup Club I helped start

You really should check out Mitsuwa Marketplace not only for groceries (Wagyu, Berkshire pork, Monkfish liver) and Ramen in the food court

Just signed up for this monthly box delivery for a good cause

Chinese food boxes unfold to become plates!!

10 dining trends you need to know

The truth about olive oil found here

This mug is NOT ok

The Taste of Chicago added Food trucks

Thought this list was 1) helpful and 2) cute

Instagramming stranger’s food video prank = hilarious

Food related skit on SNL had me rollin

Oh Magnus. Only chicken can be chicken

EL Ideas received 3 Stars from Phil Vettel. Well deserved!

So proud of Elizabeth restaurant making it on Chicago Magazine’s list of 2013 best new Chicago restaurants

There’s going to be a beer festival in Wicker Park and Bucktown

Ramen!

Super cool TV show in the works about a Food Revolution in Chicago

Advertisements

Thurk Underground

The broth was this good!

Always on the mission for flavor combinations that I’ve never tasted, plating I’ve never seen, and ingredients I’ve never experienced, I typically don’t seek out simple food unless it’s a perfect baguette, good butter, or something of the like. However, I’m beginning to understand that I totally missed the point of what simple can be.

I met Chef Justin Behlke of Thurk through my friend, Melissa. They met on LTH forum where she offered to host one of his Underground meals at her place. He previously staged at Noma and wanted to bring simple, focused food to Chicago without all the drama of kitchen hierarchy. And so Thurk was born. After speaking to Justin, his passion and drive captured me.

Below are images from my most recent dinner a few weeks ago. Still amazed how complex everything tasted, yet how simple the ingredients were. Flakes of Alaskan maldon salt popping through the soft texture of freshly made cheese make my tastebuds squeal. Light pops of vinegar carrots cutting through the pan-fried pig face and warm pork broth caused me to close my eyes and wish the moment would never end. These pops of surprise tell me that simple can be complex with the right chef behind the plate

And let’s be honest — this is as close to Noma I am going to get for a while.

Letherbee gin and Q tonic with thyme

Letherbee gin and Q tonic with thyme

Fresh cheese, honey, and thyme

Fresh cheese, honey, and thyme

Smoked trout pie

Smoked trout pie

Cured pork belly with lacto-fermented carrot

Cured pork belly with lacto-fermented carrot

Homemade sourdough bread and homemade butter

Homemade sourdough bread and homemade butter

Young kraut, egg yolk, basil (before the mushroom tea)

Young kraut, egg yolk, basil (before the mushroom tea)

Mushroom tea pouring over the kraut and egg yolk

Mushroom tea pouring over the kraut and egg yolk

Roasted beets, smoked sour cream, and leek ash

Roasted beets, smoked sour cream, and leek ash

Cheese dumplings with root vegetables

Cheese dumplings with root vegetables

Pig's head, grated carrot (before pork broth)

Pig’s head, grated carrot (before pork broth)

Chef Justin Behlke pouring pork broth

Chef Justin Behlke pouring pork broth

Pork broth

Pork broth

20130111_220551

Pork chop with brown butter, kale chips, and beer shallots

Pork chop with brown butter, kale chips, and beer shallots

Squash butter and milk sorbet

Squash butter and milk sorbet

Beer marshmallows, burnt honey candy, and biscuit cookie with tomato jam

Beer marshmallows, burnt honey candy, and biscuit cookie with tomato jam

Cured Egg Yolk

I recently learned of another fun trick with eggs!  At a recent Thurk dinner, Chef Justin Behlke strolled past each diner shaving what he referred to as cured egg yolk while he explained the dish.  This definitely piqued my interest and I cached it away as something that would require further research!

The proof of concept seemed easy enough so I grabbed the last egg in the fridge and buried it in the curing mixture to see what would happen.  I decided to start with a basic 50/50 mix of sugar and salt and added a bit of Herbs de Provence to see if it would pick up much flavor.  The “biggest” challenge is making sure the yolk doesn’t break!

After a 1 day cure and a two-week aging, the flavor seemed comparable to parmesan cheese, adding a salty richness.  My first pairing was with bone marrow, daikon, and leek which didn’t look quite as pretty as I envisioned, but it added an extra depth of flavor to the already rich marrow.

I’m curious now how different aging times will impact the flavor.  Hmmmm, I think I have a fresh dozen in the refrigerator… stay tuned…

DSC_0936

Place whole raw egg yolk into a 50/50 mixture of salt and sugar. I added herbs de provence for extra flavor.

DSC_0938

Cure the egg yolk for 24 hours in this mixture

DSC_0946

Remove salt from cured egg yolk, place in cheesecloth and hang in the back of your fridge for 1 week.

DSC_0421

Use a microplane to shave the cured egg yolk onto your dish

DSC_0398

One egg yolk produces a lot of shavings!

DSC_0403

We shaved ours onto bone marrow with roasted daikon and leeks. Not the prettiest, but delicious!

Sous Rising Guesterant

I started exploring Underground dinners a year ago and haven’t looked back. Creative and exciting food, fascinating dinner participants, and the warm welcoming into these chef’s homes really make it a unique experience every time.

My favorite Underground, One Sister, became Elizabeth restaurant so I sought out to get my fix elsewhere. I recently ate at Thurk Underground (post coming soon) and last night dined at Sous Rising Guesterant with Chef Jake Bickelhaupt (veteran of Alinea, Schwa, and Charlie Trotter’s). He and his wife, Alexa, host the dinners in their place in Uptown. An open kitchen leading into the dining area allowed us to see Jake plate as well as converse with him and give feedback throughout the night. Alexa did an amazing job making us feel right at home, pouring our wine and helping serve.

We booked out the entire table of 8 with our Supper Club so we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting anyone new, but Jake and Alexa genuinely seemed excited to have us. Jake’s take on American cuisine combined molecular techniques — where needed — for surprise. The flavors were inventive and bright. Execution was perfect and the presentation — stunning. I’m looking forward to seeing Jake obtain his goal of opening a small BYO restaurant and dining with him again!

**I forgot my camera at home so these photos are all taken with my camera phone. For better pictures, visit: http://www.sousrisingchicago.com/gallery.html taken by Huge Galdones.

Trout Roe: coconut cream, white chocolate, pink peppercorn, pineapple

Trout Roe: coconut cream, white chocolate, pink peppercorn, pineapple

Kiwano: gin, horned melon, rosewater, hibiscus

Kiwano: gin, horned melon, rosewater, hibiscus

Soup: fingerling potato chips, pea, milk, tomato, tendril

Soup: fingerling potato chips, pea, milk, tomato, tendril

Salad: Spanish octopus, avocado, finger lime, coconut, coast of Maine kelp

Salad: Spanish octopus, avocado, finger lime, coconut, coast of Maine kelp

Winter corn: yolk, fermented black bean, Murray River salt

Winter corn: yolk, fermented black bean, Murray River salt

20130119_202737

Kampachi: Sake cure, pomelo, carob, banana, tapioca pearls

Gnocchi: hedgehog mushroom, black truffle, broccolini, pecorino

Gnocchi: hedgehog mushroom, black truffle, broccolini, pecorino

Palate cleanser

Palate cleanser

Black Pig: Kurobuta, Okinawan, chestnut, tamarind

Black Pig: Kurobuta, Okinawan, chestnut, tamarind

Uni: maitake, Asian crouton, black garlic, burdock root, kumquat

Uni: maitake, Asian crouton, black garlic, burdock root, kumquat

Beef: mango, aged soy, nori, yuzu kosho

Beef: mango, aged soy, nori, yuzu kosho

Tart: Calamansi

Tart: Calamansi

Sweet: Shortbread, root beer, prune, orange, vanilla, honey

Sweet: Shortbread, root beer, prune, orange, vanilla, honey

Caffeine: espuma, coffeeweed, cardamom

Caffeine: espuma, coffeeweed, cardamom

Best Things We Consumed in 2012

2012 brought some of our best food experiences yet — thanks to awesome newfound foodie friends and restaurants that arrived in our lives.  Underground dining proved to be a great way to meet new people and try ground breaking food. Looking forward to what 2013 has to offer!  Next restaurant is on the books as well as Sous Rising Underground and Thurk Underground and a preview of TMIP (Brandon Baltzley’s new restaurant). I’ll be sure to share.

Below is a compendium of the tastiest dishes and beverages we were fortunate to consume in 2012:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One Sister Underground (Now Elizabeth Restaurant):
Spring Menu (see my full blog post on this menu here):
Beet: Marshmallow and biscuit with whipped bacon fat
Carrots and Cashews: Blanched, dehydrated & shaved carrots, cashew milk, roasted cashews, carrot top pesto
*1 Pill Makes You Larger: Cocoa nib and chamomile in a dissolving capsule
Rice Crispy and Bear: Puffed wild rice, cured black bear, Wisconsin cheddar, pink peppercorn
Chicken liver mousse: Chicken liver mousse encapsulated in dark cocoa, fennel pollen, madiera gel

Elizabeth Restaurant:
Owl menu:
*Carrot tea with ginger
Hen & Egg
Pear & Chestnut dessert
Deer menu:
*Tartare and Sumac
Salmon Cannoli
Forest Float
Porcini mushroom dessert
Diamond menu (see my full blog post on this menu here):
Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard
Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree.
Oyster and Nasturtium (kumamoto oyster)
**Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel (WINNER)

EL Ideas:
February Menu:
*Anise Hyssop:  Brussels/pecans/root beer
Ideas in Food collaboration dinner:
Sunflower seed risotto, porcini, and kombu
December Menu:
Octopus: eggplant / cardoon / garam masala
*Secreto: parsnip / horseradish / old bay
Wagyu: royal trumpet / sunchoke / leek

Thurk Underground:
Mushroom, dandelion, ricotta, and chicken skin
Cauliflower, cress, and egg yolk

iNG:
Christmas Menu:
Mille-fuille: Puff pastry, lemon ricotta, apples, goat cheese. honey nut cereal infused rum, honey, lemon, frangelico
Sweet Potato: Chain vanilla parsnip, balsamic, truffle, hazelnut
Easter menu:
April Showers capon, cauliflower, Tokyo turnip
Heavy Metal menu:
*Deep Purple Poutine: purple potatoes, aged cheddar, short rib
Back in Black: donut sauce, salted whipped cream, and espresso

City Provisions:
*Sasparilla stout
Jicama potato salad
Quiche

S&M Underground:
July Menu:
Poke
Sai Gog (Laos) – pork sausages, papaya salad
August Menu:
Matzo-Pot-Au-Pho: matzo, broth, carrot, daikon, leek, asian herbs

Girl and the Goat:
*Arctic Char with capers, ruby grapefruit
*Kohlrabi: fennel, almonds, shiitakes, pears, and ginger dressing

Acadia:
Mezcal old-fashioned with notes of tomatillo and grapefruit and a coconut-dill ice cube — created by Michael Simon

Carriage House:
*Venison tartare
Collard Greens
*Crispy Pork shoulder with grits and smoked plums

Ruxbin:
*Octopus dish with grilled with Chickpeas, Pickled Green Onions, Radish, Black Soybean, Grapes, Ginger-Scallion Vinaigrette

Next:
El bulli menu (see my full blog post on this menu here):
Chicken Liquid Croquettes
Cauliflower cous-cous with solid aromatic herb sauce
Potato tortilla, trumpet carpaccio
Foie gras caramel custard
Mint pond
Kyoto menu:
*Corn Husk (broth)
Matsutake Chawanmushi, pine

Graham Elliot (with Andrew Brochu):
Egg
Doughnut

Owen & Engine:
*Burger

Yusho:
Chicken liver takoyaki
Pig foot ramen

Lula Cafe:
Buccatini with brown butter and garlic
Chestnut, brie, and rosemary Strada

Chizakaya (RIP):
*Octopus beignets
Po Bao

Nellcote:
Robuchon mashed potatoes

Publican Quality Meats:
(PB & L) Pork Belly and Lamb Sausage sandwich

Namo:
Lobster pad thai

Balena:
Tagliolini Nero, crab, sea urchin, chili
Amaro cocktails

Barrelhouse Flat:
Remember the Main
Mamie Taylor

Schwa:
*Deconstructed Baked Potato Soup
Truffle Ravioli
Salmon/Grapefruit

La Sze Chuan:
*Dry chili chicken
Lamb with dry cumin

Machu Picchu:
Cancha (Peruvian fried corn kernels)

Bouchon Bakery:
Vanilla and Pistachio flavored macarons

Do-Rite Donuts:
Old Fashioned donut

Pecking Order:
Banana ketchup
P.O. sauce

Premise (RIP):
*Lapsang Souchong cocktail
Foie Gras pretzel

Fumare Meats & Deli:
Montreal Smoked sandwich

Pastoral:
Millenium Park Bean sandwich
BLTA sandwich

The Peasantry:
Chocolate chili fried chicken on a corn pancake

Pleasant House Bakery:
*Mushroom and Kale pie

Birchwood Kitchen:
Chickpea salad

Scofflaw:
*Fries
Guapichosa (“Secret” pork sandwich)
*”Dealer’s Choice” drinks

Nightwood:
Crispy pig ears with Habanero, maple, and cilantro

Alinea:
*Corn: Huitlacoche, sour cherry, silk
Chanterelle: ramps, asparagus, smoked date
Black Truffle explosion, romaine, parmesan

Browntrout:
Corn risotto

Revolution Brewing:
Mad Cow Milk Stout

Katsu:
*Matsutake tea
*Eel Chawanmushi
*Chef’s Choice Omakase

The Publican (Faviken Dinner):
*Arctic Char with matsutake mushrooms, apples, and fermented cucumbers

Scooter’s:
Peanut Butter and Jelly custard

Urban Belly:
Lamb and brandy ravioli

Trencherman:
*Celery gin and tonic cocktail
Pickle tots

The Savoy:
Truffle cocktail

Oiistar:
Pork Ramen

Longman & Eagle:
Chicago style Pig Face

Au Cheval:
Foie gras terrine with cherry sauce

In Montreal, Canada:
Jean Talon Market:
Ground cherries
Pintxo:
Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage)
Le LAB:
*Jerky Jack Lab cocktail (Cane sugar, bitter BBQ craft, Curacao Pierre Ferrand, Tennessee Whiskey Jack Daniels and sweet and spicy beef jerky)
Flaming S’More shot
Le Couteau (The Knife):
Coffee
Joe Beef:
Oeufs en Pot: Chanterelle mushrooms, bacon, chicken skin jus, soft egg
Bone Marrow with pickled vegetables and mustard
*Filet de Cheval a Cheval (Horse entrée)
*Au Pied de Cochon: Foie Gras Apple Tart

*Best of the best

Fall Diamond Menu at Elizabeth Restaurant

Expectations tend to color how we perceive experiences.  Will Ferrell movies for me are a good example:  I find my enjoyment of his movies is inversely proportional to how much I expect to like it.  Excited for Talladega Nights: blah.  Ambivalent about Step Brothers:  HIlarious!

Of course, this is very true for dining.  I’m often scared to return to a restaurant that I tried a few years ago and loved.  So much of the experience comes not just from the food, but also the ambiance, the company, and the diner’s past experiences.  I think people tend to remember places more by the whole experience than a pure objective critique of the food.  It could be the first time I had (and loved) sweetbreads (and realized there was nothing “sweet” or “bread” about them) or a fantastic wait staff.  On the return visit if it doesn’t live up to my romanticized memory, I leave somewhat disappointed.

How does this all relate to Elizabeth Restaurant? My last One Sister dinner was one of the best meals I’ve ever had (Re: Spring Menu).  Obviously I was quite excited to see what Chef Iliana Regan would do with a full kitchen and a staff to work with, but as our reservation drew near, it struck me that there was a chance the menu wouldn’t live up to my high expectations (Re:  Mind Blowing).  After all, it is a pretty ambitious project: three 10-20 course tasting menus with no overlapping dishes and they were only a few weeks into service.

I had the pleasure of eating the Diamond menu, the longest menu of the three offered. From start to finish, the magical presence of Mother Nature mixed with creativity peppered with molecular techniques kept my mouth happy and my taste buds jumping for joy with anticipation for the next course.

Chef Regan, once again, succeeded in crafting many courses that were truly mind-blowing.  A few standout courses:

–Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard. The textures and flavors were unlike anything I had experienced before — anywhere.
–Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree. I used my finger to get every bit of this dish.
–Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel. This dish packs a giant flavor punch. Plate licking good.

Service is a highlight I rarely discuss, but the staff does a great job of welcoming and pampering you from beginning to end. It’s fine dining service in a casual environment. Wine pairings are also not to be missed. Scott Noorman has a passion for wine and it shows.

I’m happy to say that the transition from One Sister, Inc. to Elizabeth Restaurant seems flawless for Chef Regan. Again, I was a huge fan of the underground dinners she once held in her home and the food hasn’t let down at her newest “home” in Lincoln Square. Dishes on each menu change all the time — below were the courses served the night I went. Next month I am going to the Deer menu so I’ll be sure to post my experience of that menu as well. Looking forward to it more than words can say!

Apple Pie and American Caviar -- salty and sweet

Apple Pie and American Caviar — salty and sweet

Pumpkin Experiment -- Pumpkin gelee with cocoa nib consomme.

Pumpkin Experiment — Pumpkin gelee with cocoa nib consomme.

Serious about the details

Serious about the details

Arugula Salad Sponge with goat cheese ice cream and sunflower ice cream along with various herbs and honeys

Arugula Salad Sponge with goat cheese ice cream and sunflower ice cream along with various herbs and honeys

Round Pancake with homemade goat cheese and malt vinegar powder

Round Pancake with homemade goat cheese and malt vinegar powder

Terrarium: Brioche crumbs with pickled blackberry, lemon, and greek yogurt

Terrarium — Brioche crumbs with pickled blackberry, lemon, and greek yogurt

Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard

Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard

Oatmeal dashi

Oatmeal dashi

Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree. I used my finger to get every bit of this dish.

Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree.

Shrimp Noodles -- buttery and umami

Shrimp Noodles — buttery and umami

Oyster and Nasturtium (kumamoto oyster).

Oyster and Nasturtium (kumamoto oyster)

Brioche curl with lobster and duck liver sauce

Brioche curl with lobster and duck liver sauce

Hand Course -- salty goodness

Hand Course — salty goodness

Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel. This dish packs a giant flavor punch. Plate licking good.

Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel.

Duck Pho in owl mug

Duck Pho in owl mug

Iliana pouring the pho from a cute tea pot

Iliana pouring the pho from a cute tea pot

Heart with celery ribbons and pickled onion. The celery was outrageously flavorful.

Heart with celery ribbons and pickled onion. The celery was outrageously flavorful.

Deer bresaola with carrot top pesto

Deer bresaola with carrot top pesto

Dry Aged Ribeye with tongue -- this meat was ridiculous

Dry Aged Ribeye with tongue — this meat was ridiculous

Feta and herbs

Feta and herbs

Bacon ice cream with koval caramel in a homemade cone

Bacon ice cream with koval caramel in a homemade cone

Scott Norman muddling in the drunk trunk.

Scott Noorman muddling in the drunk trunk.

Related articles: Tickets for Elizabeth restaurant now on sale (chicagoreader.com)

 

Egg Bao with Pork Belly and Pickled Ramp Sauce

Awhile back, my friend Tom introduced me to the idea of pressure cooking eggs. After months of staring at a brand new pressure cooker, trying to figure out how to break it in and not blow up the kitchen in the process (there is really little risk of blowing anything up these days), I happened to be flush with eggs from my farmer Paul. I figured it would be a good time to toss ’em in the pressure cooker and see what happens.

Nerd Side Bar:  A pressure cooker @15 psi will boil water at ~120C/248F (depending on elevation and a few other factors). This, coupled with the alkalinity of egg whites, causes both the whites and yolk to undergo Maillard Reactions (aka the reason browned meat tastes so darn good!).  This results in a hard boiled egg that has the flavor of roast chicken (seriously).

Prior to embarking on this journey, I decided I should at least do some research. I came across this interview with Dave Arnold where he described how he (and his intern Ed) stumbled into something they called egg bread while trying to pressure cook just the yolks.  So, of course, I had to attempt some egg bread of my own.  I did have plenty of eggs after all. Did I mention I was roasting some pork belly?  I don’t quite remember what I had in mind at the time, but when someone (Paul) shows up bearing 5 pounds of pork belly, you find ways to use it!

Egg Bread Recipe:

  1. 6 large egg yolks
  2. 4.5g baking powder

Mix yolks and baking powder together until it starts to get a little thick.  Pour mixture into a ramekin (or any other suitably shaped dish) and place the dish into a steamer for 30 min.

The mix rises nicely and the texture reminded me of bao.  So quite naturally I cut my bread into vaguely bao shaped buns, topped them with a slice of the pork belly and made a pickled ramp dressing that I recalled from the Momofuku book (chopped pickled ramps + mayonnaise = delicious ). This recipe is also gluten free which was nicely noted by our friend Melissa McEwen!

*The more astute among you may have noticed the pressure cooked eggs didn’t quite make an appearance in the final product, but rest assured they did turn out quite tasty and make a rockin egg salad mixed with a little mayo and sriracha. Fill pressure cooker with just enough water to cover eggs, then follow your pressure cooker’s instructions to cook at 15psi for about an hour.

** I used this Pork Belly Egg Bao below to ‘cheat’ at an Iron Chef Sardine dinner party I attended.  This time I used a sous vide pork belly with a homemade sardine ‘katsuobushi’ shaved on top.

Egg yolk and baking soda mixture

Ready for steaming

Egg mixture steaming

Steamed egg bread ready for cutting

Pork belly from Paulie’s Pastures (not sure why this picture came out so yellow…)

Pork belly egg bao with pickled ramp aioli

 

Written and photographed by: Nicholas A. Hruza