Monday, July 21, 2014

A Magazine Worthy Dinner!

Prawns and Paella and Pig! Oh My! (chant it to the tune of "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!")

For quite some time we have had the date of July 20th on our calendars because it was a date set - between a number of folks who all have busy schedules- to have dinner at Mon & Beth's home.  Chris & Nina warned us that Mon is a fabulous cook and has an amazing kitchen but I don't think we really understood what they were trying to convey until we got there.

Within minutes of our arrival Phil and I were bargaining with each other about which tools (toys) we wanted that Mon's kitchen was sporting... I wanted a mechanical table deli style slicer and Phil wanted the holder for the full leg of bellota ham from which Mon was slicing treats....

the appetizers - olives, pate, thinly thinly thinly sliced hard salami (like I love), acorn fed bellota, white anchovies, blood sausage,  Philippine style egg rolls, along with a number of things I fail to remember - were all fabulous.  AND that should have prepared us for the incredible main courses of stuffed deboned suckling pig, seafood rich paella, and giant prawns in Asian sauce but we were bowled over anyway!!!! LOL

the cheese course had four well selected cheeses and a lovely fruit tart with a cookie crust rounded out the food end of the meal-

the wines- started with several wonderful champagnes and went through at least three Bordeaux wines from the 80s (82 Calon Segur, 86 Margaux, and 89 Pichon Lalande) and ended with a 77 port (a Dow?)

so I know by now you are all thinking "where are the pictures?" - so- I have a couple and you will get the gist of the meal - which really did qualify for the term FEAST....

some photos of the bellota (we all tried our hand at slicing but it was much more difficult and than the pros (including Mon) make it look!

the house made egg rolls!

then some photos of the mains

a guest, John,  takes over the carving not knowing the cochinillo is deboned-

the wines- not all but just what I had the presence of mind to photograph...LOL

after the animals (oh I meant to say guests- LOL) got to it-

so now I see why Mon had no trouble cooking for a chef with one Michelin star (Chris Nugent of goosefoot) LOL- he could open his own place!  Bravo Mon & Beth for a fabulous meal! Definitely in the Michelin lingo "worth a journey"!!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

we come home and go out

Our road trip was planned to be completed in time for our return to Chicago for the Mark Cohn concert at City Winery (tickets we got long ago with Phil's folkie friends) We arranged to meet for dinner before the concert at a location other than City Winery as we are not huge fans of the food there.  We selected Macello - an Italian place around the corner.  We found the food decent and service friendly - if a bit laid back... 

the front of the house has a store

the dining area is spacious and airy- they have outdoors but since the place is right under the EL it seems less conducive to conversation than we wanted...

on to the concert-

Tall Heights the warm up act- were a bit to stylized for me but have lots of potential - lovely harmonies and I really liked the use of the cello - bought a richness to the melodies that enhanced the music IMHO-

sadly no one seems to pay attention to the message on the candles-

Mark at the piano

and on guitar

a good concert - he sang many of the big hits from the eponymous album Mark Cohn, including a rousing Walkin in Memphis... but what I really liked were the times he went for the blues or for soul variations in his performance.  I kept wishing he and his "bandmate" would break out into the Blue Notes hit of Wake Up Everybody - a song that was just made for his vocal and emotional range....

I never thought about it before but this guy has a fabulous voice for covering some of our greatest blues and soul music and it was the improvisation that most impressed me at this concert--- despite the fact that I had agreed to go based upon the hits I knew.

The following evening (now home two nights) we went to Senza for dinner on the recommendation of Alexa (from 42 Grams) - and had a knock your socks off meal that I have no photos of (phone in parking garage blocks away- WAH!) but since we will definitely be back I promise photos the next time.  And you are lucky because they did give us menus at the end of the evening.  We did not have the pairings because we brought a 1996 Corton Renardes from Marius Delarche (they do have corkage fees.)

so here it is- wish I had photos because it was a beautiful meal visually, as well as reading well....

while everything was excellent I particularly liked the onion soup with crab, the foie gras course and the steak tartare- those would be my first tier favorites - followed by the beet salad, the pork rib, the oatmeal dessert and the aerated cheese.  but seriously you can't go wrong with a menu as strong as this one was! Great time- every single one of the front of the house staff was friendly (genuinely friendly not professionally friendly) and the food was marvelous - thanks Cara and Noah Sandoval (front and chef) and thanks Alexa for recommending it to us.