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:

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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

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

S&M Underground:
July Menu:
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

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

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

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):

Owen & Engine:

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

Robuchon mashed potatoes

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

Lobster pad thai

Tagliolini Nero, crab, sea urchin, chili
Amaro cocktails

Barrelhouse Flat:
Remember the Main
Mamie Taylor

*Deconstructed Baked Potato Soup
Truffle Ravioli

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

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

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

Crispy pig ears with Habanero, maple, and cilantro

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

Corn risotto

Revolution Brewing:
Mad Cow Milk Stout

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

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

Peanut Butter and Jelly custard

Urban Belly:
Lamb and brandy ravioli

*Celery gin and tonic cocktail
Pickle tots

The Savoy:
Truffle cocktail

Pork Ramen

Longman & Eagle:
Chicago style Pig Face

Au Cheval:
Foie gras terrine with cherry sauce

In Montreal, Canada:
Jean Talon Market:
Ground cherries
Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage)
*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):
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


Flavor Tripping at iNG

Nick and I are loyal supporters of anything Homaro Cantu and his people come up with at Moto and iNG restaurants in Chicago. For years we have watched them continually push the envelope with the format of dining, gastronomy and introducing new types of food, like the Miracle Berry, to change the world. They are constantly thinking about the bigger picture such as world hunger and health issues. From age six to nine, chef Cantu lived homeless with his mother and sister. This experience led him to want to fight world hunger and poverty  and to become a social entrepreneur.

Previously, Chef Cantu proposed using his invention of edible paper as a new form of advertising — “edible advertising”. Can you imagine opening a magazine and eating the advertisement! It was also meant to cut down on paper waste and put a dent in ending world hunger by having a single sheet contain much needed vitamins for an entire day.

I do think they are onto something big. Wanting to end world hunger with the Miracle Berry by making things that are bitter (like grass) palatable would automatically allow the abundance of some of our resources to become food for the masses. Another wonderful proposed method of use for the Miracle Berry is helping people with diabetes by using it to help their craving of sugar rather than eating actual sugar. I hope they succeed!

A few weeks ago, we tried their newest venture: flavor tripping with the miracle berry. It was a 6-course meal complete with pairings where the miracle berry was used to enhance or detract from certain flavor profiles. For instance, once you take the miracle berry, it tricks your taste buds into thinking you are tasting sweet instead of sour, or sweet instead of bitter. It also brings out umami flavors and rounds out dishes.

First course pairing: Honey nut cereal infused rum, honey, lemon, and frangelico cocktail served in a hollowed out lemon. Tasted like a white russian after the miracle berry!

Miracle berry pills:

First course: Mille-fuille: Puff pastry layered with lemon ricotta, apples, goat cheese ice cream and cider gastrique. Before the miracle berry, the lemon was more pronounced but after, the lemon ricotta mixture tasted like cheesecake.

2nd Course: Sweet Potato: Sweet potato “chain” with vanilla parsnip, puree of brussel sprouts, goat cheese, and balsamic, truffle marshmallows, and hazelnuts. Upon complimenting them on how delicious the burssel sprout puree was, we were let in on the secret that sans miracle berry  it was too bitter and kind of gross!

3rd Course: Baozi: Pork sausage with caramelized onions and homemade mustard (take on brats and beer). Served with a winter ale. The winter ale instead of being hoppy tasted like cream soda.

4th course: Turducken* bacon — Housemade turducken topped with bacon, a vegetable pave “bone”, horseradish puree topped with mushrooms, roasted brussel sprout leaves.  The folks at iNG and Moto do love a good “Road Kill”/”Massacre” themed plating.

*The Turducken was a slice of “deli meat” with Turkey/Duck/Chicken “Meat Glued” together.  Note the dark line down the middle is the duck.

5th course: Cheese course — Triple creme cheese ball with chives, fruit cake cracker, mulled wine reduction.

6th course: Figge rice pudding — Roasted and seasoned puffed rice, ornaments with apricot puree and cream — mixed together to make an instant figgie rice pudding.

Overall, everything tasted fantastic. They are still in the beginning stages of introducing the miracle berry so they had a few kinks to work out like explaining what the dish would have tasted like without the miracle berry. Right now the Miracle Berry pills are costly (about a dollar a pill), but I see a future dinner party in my future where we experiment with what it can do.

I always say food becomes boring once you stop experimenting and thinking of new combinations, forms, solutions, etc. Happy experimenting!