Saturday, September 19, 2015

a worthy "Intro"

so I will cut to the chase and tell you this meal- was to my mind- flawless... some truly different and amazing courses and a number of terrific wines as well.  we met our friends Mon & Beth for dinner at "Intro Chicago" which was our introduction to the place but they had been there for the two prior menus.  The deal here is that every three or four months this place introduces a new chef to Chicago. In the instance of our meal the chef came from California - a little bio from the website-


IN RESIDENCE: JULY 30, 2015 - OCTOBER 17, 2015

Orange County, CA. native Chef Aaron Martinez graduated from the Arizona Culinary Institute in 2003. After graduation, he moved to Southern California and took his first cooking position at The Prado in San Diego, CA. In 2006, he transitioned into fine dining, opening Addison, the signature restaurant of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar as a Chef de Partie working under acclaimed Chef William Bradley.
While at Addison, Martinez traveled to Spain to stage at Restaurante Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian as well as Berasategui’s two Michelin star restaurant Lasarte in Barcelona. Martinez left Addison in 2009 to continue his travels which brought him next to West Flanders, Belgium where he was given the opportunity to work under Chef Kobe Desramaults at In de Wulf. It was here that he honed his style of classic French cooking, utilizing modern, lighter techniques.
In 2011, he returned to the states and landed in the San Francisco Bay Area as the Sous Chef at Quince working under Chef Michael Tusk and preparing a modern French tasting menu with Italian influence. During his tenure at Quince, he was promoted to Chef de Cuisine and the restaurant was also awarded an additional Michelin star, jumping from one to two stars.
Martinez then accepted his dream position to run the kitchen at Commis restaurant in Oakland, CA as Chef de Cuisine. He had always wanted to work for Chef/Owner James Syhabout and Commis spoke to his passion of running a small restaurant; similar to the kitchens he worked in during his time in Europe. At the 25 seat fine dining restaurant, Martinez prepared an award winning modern French tasting menu utilizing California ingredients.
Beginning in August 2015, Martinez will helm the kitchen at Lettuce Entertain You’s award-winning, rotating chef restaurant, Intro, as the third chef-in-residence.
so we brought a selection of wines to accompany dinner and had a first rate meal - which I will start with a photo of the amuse - granita of blueberries and basil which was a great combo of flavors- sweet and herbal...a positive start- and we had opened the Gosset (which was not showing well- tasting more like cider than champagne)

the menu had an optional addition- of an abalone course for two (which we all added) and Beth and I subbed a black cod for the lamb...

not only was the meal tasty it was beautiful! every course - excellent so it was hard to pick favorites

this was the wine of the evening - even though it was the back up (extra bottle) that we opened because Beth and I were having the substitute fish course for the lamb...

This could be one of my favorites - the mussels course-

the abalone (poached in butter) was fabulous!

this 1970 Bordeaux was raisiny on the nose - kind of like a Madeira (cooked) but had wonderful fruit forward on the palate that was exquisite before it died in the glass - like many a terrific old old Bordeaux- so giving when first opened - they just don't last too long... this 45 year old I ranked as #2 wine of the evening.... while it was still living - it was amazing!

this fun course (pre-dessert) was chamomile soda -

our dessert wine from the year Mon & Beth met!

another of my very favorite dishes - the kale like greens are actually sponge cake - tasty with terrific texture...

the wine glasses I had in front of me at one point ()minus the champagne coupe)

the aquarium in the WC... a nice touch  LOL

our autographed menu...

And the finale was a orange chocolate truffle - a bite of intense flavor to end an outstanding meal!
Tonight Mick and I are headed to Miss Buncle's book- while Phil heads off to Folkstage at WFMT... then it's time to get serious about packing for the trip - and Phil had a Sunday concert - and we both have a food event on Monday night... before our Tuesday flight out... keep you posted....

Friday, September 18, 2015

one terrific, two will be new

So we are on a round of high end dining before we leave for eastern Europe (maybe we will need the fortifications LOL- not sure about Moldovan cuisine - but we do know they have good wines!)

We started with Oceanique on Monday and then last night we dined at one of our favorites - goosefoot.  We love the owners - Chef Chris Nugent and his wife, Nina (who does everything with a flair and a sense of humor.)  We had made these plans a while back and changed them about six weeks ago to include friends Don & Jim.  Don was the founder of Chicago Gourmets now seventeen years ago, and is still a driving force in the organization.  Jim is an education consultant and retired school administrator.  Don is a retired professor of botany (which makes him an invaluable resource about all things green!)

They brought an impeccable bottle of Krug which we had with the first couple of courses - really showing well with the scallop and the egg... but I am getting ahead of myself-

here is the current menu-

Our amuse was a delicious mushroom and truffle soup - yum yum - especially on the rainy night it turned out to be- 

then the real fun began- the scallop course- 

the egg course in a presentation that kind of looks "chicken-like"

the ALWAYS delicious soup- Chris is the MASTER of soup of all kinds- I could have gallons before I said "Oh No that's too much" - LOL

the fish course - big eye tuna - in a soy flavored sauce - reminiscent of Hawaiian Poke-

gnocchi and white truffles - what's not to love here?????

our white selection was show a tiny bit of age but very nice- 2005 Kistler McCrea Ranch

the beef - excellent as always-

the cheese course - a great pairing of Roquefort and fruit flavors-

a guava based juice with lime olive oil as a palate cleanser-

dessert number one the peaches and cream with a nasturtium atop the creamy bowl of sweet fruity flavors-

the second dessert- a luscious treat of hazelnut and chocolate with mango dots for a counterpoint of flavor!

the end- a cape gooseberry dipped in chocolate and nuts- with a spectacular presentation of drift wood...

a terrific evening of good wines - good food - AND good company... what more could a gal ask for? 

so the title of the post is one terrific - and that was our goosefoot dinner... and  two will be new because we are headed tonight the restaurant number two which is NEW to us... Intro.  Intro is located in the former home of Ambria (long time ago best in Chicago restaurant) and then L2O another highly regarded high end dining place.  The owners Lettuce Entertain You group- have taken it into new territory with a revolving door (deliberately) for chefs- so that they can showcase their work with a menu that will be served for three or four months and then they move to a new chef and new menu.... so far the first couple of chefs have gotten rave reviews- and certainly  the concept will keep folks returning frequently without stressing chef to do a new menu three or four times a year... so I will report back on this one in the next post. 

And tomorrow night- theater again - trying to get everything in before leaving town - and the calendar is quite booked for our return - with only two weeks before we head never a dull moment - and as I was saying to one of my doctors this morning - GO NOW - you never know if there will be another day... so off we go- go - go....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Off to the theater tonight for a thoughtful play about a funnyman at the end of his comedic career who is forced by a daughter to reveal long suppressed memories that shaped his life...

The blurb read:

New York City, 1959. Fading vaudeville comic Chick Sherman, along with his long-suffering agent, tries to revive his career with a role in an avant-garde off-Broadway play. While his grown daughter searches for answers from her absentee showbiz father, a lifetime of private and professional struggles rise to the surface, cracking the polished public persona of the world's favorite former "funny man."

the Theater Guide gave the more detailed synopsis - from Northlight's website -
It's  1959  in  New  York  City.  Chick  Sherman, a famous comic in  his  sixties, finds  that his offers for  work are  dwindling. His agent, Junior, tries  to talk  Chick  into taking some time off.  Junior mentions that has received a call  to meet with a big-time director, but  it's  not the  kind of show Chick  is used  to-it isn't  a comedy.

Katharine  Sherman,  a   bright  young  woman  in   her   twenties  and   Chick Sherman' daughter, works as an  archivist at  Carnegie Hall  with a charismatic young man  name Nathan Wise.  She deflects his  romantic pursuits with questions about his  parents an what they might know about her father's life.  After having been  kept at arm's length fo so many years  by  Chick, Katharine is hungry for  information.

Junior meets with the   director, Matthew, but   is  confused as  to why he  wants  Chic Sherman in  a show that  is  not   a  comedy and that will not run on Broadway. He is convinced, however, that this will  give Chick  both a new  edge and  a new  audience, two things he  desperately needs. Managing an agreement between Chick and the director proves to be harder  than Junior  thought.  When the   two  finally meet, it  become apparent that Chick and Matthew have very different ideas  about the play. After a uncomfortable encounter with the  playwright, Victor La Plant, Chick finds himself even more conflicted in his decision whether or not  to sign onto this risky, avant-garde play.

After coming home from her search into her father's life empty-handed, Katharine decides to confront Chick  about his distance, and forces him to open up to her.  But as soon as they begin to make some headway, Nathan shows up to take Katharine out to the dinner that she finally agreed to.

The  next day, tensions are as high as ever around the Sherman apartment when a brutal argument breaks out  between Katharine and  Chick. Katharine is more determined than ever  to find out anything about her  father's early life.  In her continued search into his past, Katharine corners Junior for information; but Junior confides that Chick doesn't like to talk about the past, even with him.

Chick's involvement in LaPlant's In Lucy's Kitchen is announced in a press conference. When Matthew, Victor, and Chick meet for their first rehearsal, they argue and very little gets accomplished. Chick and Victor on one side and Matthew on the other. Chic becomes discouraged and tries to back out, but Junior won't let him. When little improves by the second rehearsal, Matthew suspiciously resigns, citing a "scheduling conflict" while the other two set out to stage the play their way.

Katharine's search comes to a disturbing discovery and she finds herself unsure of what to do with the information she has found. She decides to wait for the right moment to confront Chick with this new-found evidence. She clearly did not know that what she would uncover about her father would both shock her and lead to a new level of understanding between father and daughter.

Chick and Victor's show finally opens, and the show is a hit!  Everyone is excited, but Chick is more relieved than anything. After so much difficulty, he has finally found peace in his career and as a father.

The play had moments that were really funny and was incredibly touching - we laughed - we cried...there were terrific performances all around- but this was Wendt's play- pure and simple - he drove the vehicle as a masterwork.  Well recommended, one of the best we have seen at Northlight since one of my all time favorites "Better Late"

some more from the guide the theater publishes on their website-

so this one is one to watch for - or if you live in the Chicago area- make a real effort to see this before it closes- it was worth spending an evening getting to know these characters and their stories... 

somethings are easy

others not so much- but here is something that is easy- when you have dinner with friends and the evening just flies by because you have lots of things to talk about... and that's how it was tonight. Our 7:30 reservation and dinner found us surprised when we looked up and the restaurant was empty at 10:45... where did the time go? well who knows...when things are easy and comfortable - it just goes...

we had a lovely dinner and caught up with friends John & Barb at the wonderful Oceanique...

an amuse to start-

Phil and I shared the scallops and the foie gras as starters Barb also had the foie and John had the corn and lobster soup...

then another amuse - seared skate with sea beans-

a palate cleanser of blueberry sorbet with pineapple-

John and Barb and I all ordered the halibut - which was excellent and Phil had the bouillabaisse-

desserts were 2 and 2- 2 Night & Day cakes and 2 Pot de Creme with whipped creme fraiche and hazelnuts...

an excellent meal with even better company- and did we mention that we're winter neighbors? as well as both being Chicago summer folk... and John & Barb (who I met in my Sarasota arts class last winter) have now joined Folkstage, Phil's regular Chicago Saturday night concert series.... I think it was beshert... LOL

Anyway we have plans to do some music together the first weekend in November in Florida - which will be here sooner than we think... Tomorrow night- The Funnymen at Northlight Theater... review to follow - of course....