Sunday, July 31, 2011

Minter Men for Dinner


 Tonight we were lucky enough to have the Minter boys spend the evening with us and I was happy to cook up a little 14th birthday dinner for Miles!  I tried to cook some of Miles' favorite dishes.  He is the Deviled Egg master and I was delighted he enjoyed mine.  He likes it when I make him try something new so I  threw a little truffle oil into the veggies to keep him on his toes.
It is hard to imagine that we've known Miles since he was a teeny tiny baby and, as you can see, things have sure changed a lot since then.  He has a manly handsomeness about him now, but is just as sweet as ever and remains one of my favorite people to cook for.  He has a big day tomorrow; his dad is taking him to see Paul McCartney in concert.  We were just thrilled we could host them on the eve of their big father-son outing.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Homework Already?

Emma thinks annotating a summer reading book for high school is best done on a sunny deck.
I totally agree!

Storm Buddies...

We think they look like a Black and Tan when they cozy up together.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Next: Tour of Thailand

rice not noodles
 newspaper covered table, plastic cups, pink paper napkins, disposable utensils.
 an intoxicating rose water sprinkled rose
  a single red thread made me slug a glass of water...
...and laugh while wiping the sweat from my brow.
tea in plastic bags...lovingly garnished bananas...one steamed bun
 fine dining restroom etiquette lessons
lifted the hairy coconut lid
slurped the spicy soup
ruined on catfish forever
punchy sausages fermented with rice
lemongrass, lime, curry, mango, ginger
beef cheeks and salted duck eggs
street food...elevated.
Next Restaurant
Tour of Thailand

Street Food Platter
Roasted Banana
fried garlic, pickled shallot, cilantro blooms

Prawn Cake
white pepper, coriander, lime zest

Sweet Shrimp
raw garlic, mint, bird chilies

Fermented Sausage
peanut, galangal, grilled scallion

Steamed Bun
beech mushroom, green curry
Batavia Arrack, Szigeti Select, Guava, Mango Papaya
Tom Yum Soup
hot and sour broth, pork belly, tomato, ginger
Disznóko, Furmint, Tokaji, Hungary 2007

Rice with Relishes
chili, shallot, garlic
salted duck egg with green mango and white radish 
pickled fruits and vegetables with basil
Catfish in Caramel
wild catfish braised in caramel sauce, celery, green peppercorns, coriander root
Itsas Mendi, Hondarrabi Zuri, Bizkaiko Txakolina, Spain 2010
 Panang Curry
beef cheek, curry, nutmeg, coconut, kaffir lime, lemongrass
Paul Georg, Brut Rosè, Champagne, France N.V.
Fruit Consommé
clear juice of watermelon and lemongrass 

Coconut Dessert
coconut, egg, licorice, saffron
Planta 'Passito di Noto', Moscato, Italy 2009
Dragon Fruit
dragon fruit, rose water, sugar
Banks, blended island rum

Tea to Go
rooibos, palm sugar, milk
Grant Achatz and his team have managed to do it again; they served me a meal that I will count among the best of my life. Next's Tour of Thailand was an assault of intriguing textures, complex flavors, and an un-ending sense of whimsy and frivolity. The chefs at Next made a nimble one hundred eighty degree turn  from the classic French dishes featured in their Paris 1906 menu and offer diners a glimpse of dishes served in virtually every corner of Thailand.  The catfish was a revelation and may well have been my favorite dish of the evening and Leif, a longtime lover of Tom Yum Soup, cannot stop talking about the version he was served last night. The wine pairings were sublime and the Guava Punch served with our first course set the tone for our extraordinary meal perfectly.  Our servers were knowledgeable, personable and quick to educate us about sausage fermentation, colored paper napkins and similar topics.
Each and every dish and drink was as close to flawless as I can imagine; flawless enough you'd think this extraordinary team had spent years perfecting the dishes and their presentation, but alas this flash in the pan approach to high end fare will have them reinventing themselves again in just about ten weeks.  God only knows what they have planned next, but I cannot wait to find out. 

Old Fashioned In the Rocks.

Yesterday evening, before enjoying a simply astonishing meal with friends, we settled in for a pre-dinner cocktail at The Aviary.  The last time I enjoyed a culinary cocktail at this Chicago hot spot it was the middle of the night and we had just consumed sixteen courses of the most decadent French fare imaginable.  Even then,  my Tiki cocktail was a refreshing and unexpected end to a most memorable evening.

Last night we were able to enjoy the beauty of The Aviary in the sunlight light and I have to say the luxurious lounge drastically shifts in mood and feeling between night and day almost as flawlessly as Next shifts it's menu.

Check out the cocktail I had before dinner...

What an astonishing creation and each and every drink at our table was a stunning and unique as the next one.  Honestly, I could get used to this kind of cocktail hour!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

LGC Farewell

Yesterday, Leif and his fellow Leadership Greater Chicago participants graduated from the program.  See my husband up there with his fun new plaque?  That pretty much the last I saw of him until the late night after party!  We both took away great relationships from his LGC experience and I was just as happy as can be flitting about the festive event!

All of the spouses of the fellows gathered for one group picture and I have to say we made up a pretty darn good group of b-list of guests!  Most of of the LCG fellows have someone amazing supporting them and I am happy to count myself among them.
Part of the evening revolved around monitoring the "food" being served to our mamas in the making.  After we deemed certain things inedible they managed to split a filling hamburger.

Before heading out to The Crocodile Lounge for more celebrating, Nadim and Leif and I wisely snagged a few late night tacos at Big Star.  We all needed a little refueling to make through a Tuesday evening party!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All Fired Up: By Finn

 Last Saturday after a soccer tournament my dad got me all fired up for the Manchester United vs Chicago Fire game at Solider field. It was a great surprise! It was a really great experience to have, even though I had some trouble picking who I was going to root for. I ended up choosing Manchester United!
The game is normally one sided and usually in United`s favor, but this time the Chicago fire made the score 1-0 in only the 13th minute. It was a goal scored by Cory Gibbs; he drove it down with his head brilliantly to open the scoring. The picture below is of Manchester United`s number 9 Dimatar Berbatov looking a little down after missing an open shot.
 Manchester United`s Diouf and Jones trying to get the ball off of Cory Gibbs, the Fire`s goal scorer
 United`s number 10, Wayne Rooney, warmed up at half time with team mate Ryan Giggs
 Left to Right. Park Ji Sung, Michael Anderson, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney all subbing in at half for Manchester United.
 Every body in the audience thought there was going to be some miracle that the Fire would win, but in the 66th minute Wayne Rooney got on the end of a beautiful ball played forward by Park Ji Sung and finished it with wonderful accuracy to make it 1-1. Still another goal came for United in the 75th minute.  Rafael Da Silva made a dazzling run down the wing and tapped it in near post. Now it was 2-1 and still United wasn`t finished. In the 81st minute Luis Nani received the ball off of sloppy defending from the fire and chipped it over the goalie and had a great celebration
I would like to thank my dad for taking me to this game. I will never forget it

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A note on community.

Sometimes it is easy to think of home as little more than the four walls full of personal memories that shelter people from the elements everyday, but then there are moments when the definition of home expands to include the intense bonds of friendship and love that bind a community together.  The emotional events over the past few days have served as a not so subtle reminder that our community is much more than a collection of folks living in rows; we are a diverse, interconnected, passionate family.  Our South Oak Park homes may be small, but we clearly live in the mansion of communities. Welcome home Jassen.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Life of a Dancer...

"When I say they loved me, I mean they really really loved me!  I was the only one who could do this one move in master class today.  The teachers were excited and kept screaming at me in Spanish and they even video taped me!  Everyone was telling me how great I was and how good I looked.  It was totally amazing until I realized I had partially dislocated my shoulder."
Emma
Yep, she did.  And her Spanish speaking master teacher popped it right back in.  To say Emma is sore is a massive understatement, but her instructors handled the situation very well.  Emma drew the picture above as a means to describe the move she sacrificed her shoulder for.  I cannot figure the darn thing out to save my life and all I can say is it looks complicated!
We have loaded her up with pain meds and rubbed her body down with Tiger Balm and we'll wait to see how she is feeling tomorrow...

Art on the Big Wall

 The giant wall holding up the much beloved sledding hill at Barrie Park is far less of an eye sore than it was a couple of days ago thanks to an astonishing array of new mosaic art installations!  Seeing this burst of color on those drab cement walls surely brightened up my day and I am certain everyone who lives in the area will agree!  The drama of public art suits South East Oak Park just perfectly!  I would love to know who the artist is...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Portraits

"Reflection of a Young Dancer"

 "Poised at the Ready"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Graduation Fare.

A few weeks ago I took some portraits of my friend's daughter to commemorate her graduation from high school.  I was honored to be asked and yesterday I wrapped up a framed copy of the above photograph (my favorite from the series I took) and prepared to throw down for her graduation party!  Between the photos and the food, I really could not have been happier to play such varied role in the festivities surrounding L's transition to college!
I threw a baby shower last week-end with a similar theme, but I changed up some the appetizers for yesterday's graduation celebration.  Most notably, I created a Green Tea and Hibiscus Shortbread with Chutney Cream, Peas, Shoots, Orange, and Poppy.  I used the shortbread basic recipe I included in my column a few weeks ago but added tea and flowers instead of herbs.  The result was exactly what I had hoped it would be.


I put three of my favorite garnishing girls to work topping off some cucumber cups; they are a focused crew and their attention to detail is first rate!


I also ressurected L's favorite Ahi Tuna on Gow Gee and whipped up her standard Chinese restaurant order...crab rangoon.  I am not so sure take-out will do the trick for her any more!
Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, but most especially the graduate and her army of friends!
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