Saturday, September 27, 2014

Another round of SENZAtions

So last night we went with our out of town friends to Senza... we did not get a menu to document the courses so I took the one from online- which wasn't 100% accurate for what we ate but the one course I know we didn't have is in blue below and that was substituted by a Scottish Salmon that was fabulous-anyway- here is the online menu and then the photos of our meal-

Rappahannock Oyster-virginia ham mignonette, finger lime, borage leaf, hot sauce

Charred Hamachi- puffed beef tendon, togarashi, yuzu kosho, oxalis

Beets a la Eichem- buratta, blueberry, rose water, ras el hanout

Parsnip and Vanilla Bean Soup- lobster, pear, sarsaparilla, orange

Snake River Sturgeon- torched lardo, apricot, harissa, fermented ramp

Poached Loup de Mer- crispy skin, artichoke, smoked roe, shisito consomme

Berkshire Pork Rib- coriander meringue, szechuan pepper, celery, anise hyssop

Japanese A5 Wagyu- caviar bearnaise, chanterelle, nasturtium

Spiced Gianduja Cremeux- pandan leaf, tamarind, cardamom, coconut

Lavender Creme Brulee

Here is the note from their website about the menu: "We offer one menu of 9 - 12 courses. the menu is constantly changing based on what our local purveyors, farmers and foragers are able to offer us each day. while we do our very best keep the menu up to date, please note that your dinner may be different than the menu below."

the centerpiece - still leaves room on the table for wine and wineglasses etc...

the meal begins with the oyster-

then off to the races with numerous fish courses - including tuna, salmon, sturgeon and loup de mer

love love love this beet course-

I missed a course in here I think- because we did have a salmon course but the fish I have photos of clearly are the hamachi, the sturgeon and the loup de mer...

then on to the heartier proteins- duck with foie gras, pork rib, and wagyu beef

the beef tendon (tasted like popcorn LOL)

the wagyu with and without the caviar bearnaise-

dessert- mine was yuzu sorbet in place of the coconut part  (which I have photographed below from my friends bowl)

the ending a lavender brulee-

a wonderful meal - my personal favorite course was the duck with the foie gras in the "red" proteins and the salmon in the "white proteins"... we also demolished two plates full of gluten free bread that is charred for a hint of smokiness... and very yummy!

tonight off to Kiki's for old time French bistro food- which will be nice after such an esoteric meal as Senza- which is "senzational" but not appropriate for a "steady diet"....

Friday, September 26, 2014

quest for the best...

So we are doing a survey- informal and no time line attached - of the alleged best burgers in Chicago.  As you know we recently ate at the Butcher & Burger and were very pleased at the burger results (so much so that I returned to the "scene of the crime" only about ten days later...)

but alas- we have more places to try and so off we went with our visiting friends to Leadbelly this afternoon for lunch.  It sounded promising...

here is the menu-

Our friend ordered a milkshake and pronounced it excellent - and we all ordered burgers which three of the four of us liked very much but one of the group "not-so-much" - 2 people got parmesan garlic fries and 1 the regular fries... the regular fries won the day because the parmesan garlic ones arrived barely warm (but the regular fries were pretty hot so we split those, and since the portion size was huge no one went home hungry..)

the place was nicely appointed and had a good number of tables -

so the verdict is in- if you are in the area of Gladstone Park and hungry- go ahead and visit- but don't drive out of your way to get there... unless of course you have a hankering for an excellent milkshake... tonight Senza....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

42 grams of "soul" food

Tonight we had the fall menu at 42 grams.  This was a meal we had eagerly anticipated after our two visits for the summer menu a few months ago.  I may have mentioned that 42 grams is named for the combined weight of two souls (21 grams each) and this may be the most perfect name ever for food that speaks to your soul - "soul food" in a new and different way!

It is hard to transition to new menus when you have favorites from a prior menu- I think back to the moment when goosefoot first changed the corn soup for the chestnut soup (I thought - wrongly - that I would be disappointed, instead I not only loved it as well, it might have been just a bit better) And I was a bit worried tonight because I so loved SO MANY of the courses from the summer menu... but I needn't have worried...

I won't keep you in suspense any longer about the menu... here we go...

we were happy to see that Matt (who had his first day on our first visit to 42 grams) was still there helping in the kitchen... and apparently the food is curing his eyesight LOL because he no longer is wearing glasses! 

here Matt works on the set up for the early courses- 

oh yum- this air-dried tuna (tuna iberico) is still on the menu for now--- so I don't have to mourn the loss of that one! LOL

the "bread course" somethings are new and some repeated- very nice mix of flavors and textures- 

we chose a Chenin for the white tonight- it was very very young- will wait a good amount of time before we open another (bought this when we were in South Africa in 2011 and it has lots of time left...)

I love oysters!!!!

here is the air-dried tuna course - so happy we got another shot at that one- you can see the little "sticks" peeking out of the side-

a tribute to Trotter - the flavors of the sea - server on actual Trotter's dishes gifted to Jake & Alexa...

sturgeon with green curry - loved the texture of the chicken skin and cashew - very nice contrast with the moist tender fish...

the red we picked when instructed to think medium bodied red- a Spanna from Dessilani... also quite young

an incredible new salmon course - brined in smoked tea (wonder if it is a PUR tea like we had on the Tibetan Plateau last October?)

before (above) and after the sauce was added - the flavors of this dish were outstanding - the mushrooms, the nasturtiums and best of all this amazing amazing bread made form spent hops and barley from a local beer maker- incredible flavors and textures - this is a complex and subtle masterpiece!

a few shots of the interior of 42 grams from the cork wall to the rake wine glass racks - lovely small thoughtful touches of approachable, amid the elegant food and service-

the "boys" continue to work work work in prepping our fabulous meal!

PORRIDGE!!! but not like any you have ever had before - texture is the name of the game here, but there is so much more! Supported by pork jowl and pig heart, there are creative flavors of incredible depth behind the crunch!

and my NEW favorite course (I still get to keep my OLD favorite though!) this incredible sweetbread and foie gras bomb! #todiefor

and yes as I mentioned my OLD favorite is still here! YEA! the A5 wagyu beef with the bone marrow- an explosion of essence of beefiness in your mouth! Don't hang the crepe for this one yet- mourning the passing of this one has been delayed!

still working (Eveready bunnies?- LOL) these men are dedicated to creating perfection for us this evening!

green tea and yuzu an excellent combination

palate cleanser burst of tartness encased in a thin white chocolate outer shell

and dessert- which to me was the essence of brown butter and sweet!

the final note - "coffee" - another former favorite we were still lucky enough to enjoy again! this is way all coffee should be - eaten with a spoon for dessert in the form of an espuma.

the menu was passed out at the end (I gave it to you upfront to follow along)

and Jake & Alexa together at the end of the evening- tomorrow morning Jake will be on TV at the crack of dawn to discuss the Charlie Trotter Tribute this weekend, so hopefully they are fast asleep right now! Thanks guys for another wonderful meal and fun night visiting with you both (and with Matt!)

next up - friends visit from out of town and we have dinner at Senza - along with a couple of other places with perhaps more pedestrian food- LOL... Bosnian at Sarajevo and old time French at Kiki's Bistro- we eat food at all levels from "hole-in-the-wall" to the top (next month - next:Trio 2004 is on the calendar as well...) so as always - stay tuned!