Monday, April 25, 2016

Sunday on the Pitch...

Leif and I hoped in the car yesterday morning to surprise Finn in St. Louis.  His Chicago Blast team made the finals of the Midwest Invitational and we wanted to be there to cheer him on. They ended up coming in second in one of the strangest games of soccer I have ever seen, but we felt like winners when we saw Finn's look of surprise when we showed up!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Another Ode to Big Night...

Secondo: Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone.
Aperol Spritz//prosecco. aperol. soda
Apropos Aperol//gin. aperol.chartreuse. pimms. lime
Negroni//gin. campari. sweet vermouth. orange

funghi e salvia foccacia
assortimento di formaggi e olive
Crostini with goat cheese, arugula, caramelized onions and figs
(also known as one of my favorite bites of the night)
Secondo: Primo, do you know why this night is happening?
Primo: No.
Secondo: Because it has to happen.

Primo: To eat good food is to be close to God.

cremosa zuppa di aglio arrostito
risotto con gamberie e capesante
The creators of this dish measured the garlic by the pound not the ounce. I was amazed by the subtle flavor and smooth mouth-feel this luxurious bowl of soup delivered.

Woman in Restaurant: Monsieur, is this what I ordered?
Secondo: Yes, that is the Risotto.  It is a special recipe that my brother and I bring from Italy. 
It's delicious, I promise.
Woman in Restaurant: It took so long, I thought you went back to Italy to get it.


The Frigs take on the herculean task of preparing the timpano- the gargantuan rounded pasta dish made famous in the movie Big Night. The buttery crust houses rigatoni, homemade meatballs, long-cooked red sauce, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and sausage. This bad-boy is baked  in a "laundry" bowl and then unmolded before being sliced into portions for serving. 
Timpano is an applause worthy dish to say the least!

rotolo di pollo con purea di carote di patate
 Post timpano you'd think there couldn't possibly be any more food coming out of the kitchen, but Big Night totally disproves that silly little theory! My favorite part of this entire evening is the simple fact this meal is really just an elegant pot luck! I was in charge of the secondo; this bacon and prosciutto wrapped chicken roulade stuffed with fennel sausage, chicken liver, white wine and parmigiano reggiano was pretty over the top! The balsamic reduction brought a lovely piquant note to an otherwise rich dish and as full as we all were I am happy to report these plates were pretty darn clean!
tuscan panzanella
My friend Aim makes this salad and I have to say she really knocks this one out of the park. After all these big bold dishes there was something super refreshing about chomping on a crunchy cucumber, savoring a vibrant red wine vinaigrette and tasting summery basil! A gorgeous salad should always be followed up by a stunning dessert and Matt and Marta totally delivered with their complicated-yet "casserole" style-tirmisu; this dish made me wish I has a second stomach!

ferrigno lemoncello

Secondo: You know everything has just become... too much.
Pascal: Hey, hey, f--king guy! What this is: "too much"? HEY! It is never "too much"; it is only "not enough"! Bite your teeth into the ass of life and drag it to you! HEY!
Secondo: [pause] That is why I come here to you, you know...

Thank you to the Frigs for hosting such a special night. We are are honored to be on the guest list among such an array of awesome people; we wouldn't miss your BIG NIGHT for any reason.  Cheers until we do it all again!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday in the Kitchen...

We are attending one of our favorite dinner parties of the year tonight and I am betting my wild mushroom and sage foccacia with porcini salts will take a back seat to the wide array of stellar dishes being served up tonight. Before it gets lost in the shuffle of all the food though, I just had to mention this slab of bread is as close to perfect as it gets. It is a triple proofed blend of whole wheat flour and mashed potato.  It is both crispy and tender. It is earthy and comforting and complex. It quite literally took almost all day to make and I think every second I spent working on this bad boy was totally worth it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Girls and the Goats...

Look I really thought nothing could be better than sneaking away to meet one of my besties for a quick lunch at Lamb's Farm near the Wisconsin boarder, but then Ang and I added a bunch of goats into the mix and things got really fun! It was such a fun and silly way to catch up; I sure do miss my girl, but it is nice we still live close enough to spend an afternoon together.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Very Hungry Caterpillar...

This weekend we transformed The Day Nursery into a restaurant for a duo of fine-dining dinners to celebrate the Week of the Young Child! I love how this 100 year old organization moves with the times and embraces alternative means of drawing dollars toward their worthy programs; no idea is too zany for this crew...even a 10-course pop-up dinner inspired by Eric Carle's classic children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 

Before letting guesting into the dining room for the evening our Executive Director treated them to a reading of the book. Only after they knew what they were in for did we reveal the setting for a most memorable meal.

My friend Sue helped to pull together an extraordinary trio of tables. I had such fun helping her plant all these little terrariums and wheat grass filled eggshells, but the blooming cherry branches were the most impressive aspect of these displays. People could not believe they were real! Aim was on hand to help put the finishing touches on things and the resulting display was nothing less that spectacular.
The menu followed the book closely, but took some serious creative liberties. 
Trust me, that was one VERY hungry caterpillar and I had a great time planning and plating this creative array of dishes!

"One Apple"

 "Two Pears"

"Three Plums"

"Four Strawberries"

 "Hold the Tummy Ache"

"One Nice Green Leaf"
"A Little House Called a Cocoon"
Four Awesome Dishwashers!
"A Beautiful Butterfly"

It took an amazing crew of volunteers to make these dinners a reality and I am grateful to all of my friends, family and fellow Day Nursery board members for sharing their time, talent and treasure with such a worthy organization. I am feeling PROUD, GRATEFUL and EXHAUSTED all at the same time! Cheers until next year.
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