foto faves

foto faves

Saturday, July 21, 2018

tremendous TWO

There are actually a number of perfect alliterations for 2C - as in 2C Chicago - the pop up we dined at last night and tremendous would be one of them along with terrific - but here is the thing- none of them would really do justice to the experience.

And here is why - every course was "real food" - something you don't always see in high end dining where the art is often more important to the chef. In some cases I would even say the artifice beyond the art (which can be satisfying- as long as the diners love the taste and are satiated as well.)

This pop up provides as near perfect experience of dining out as I think one can have... no noisy people at the next table, or worse the sullen silent ones who have just had a fight before arriving for their long awaited reservation.  It is just you and five friends at a lovely dining room table.  It isn't exactly the "in the kitchen" chef's table but Chef Jeff is cooking literally two steps away and is interactive in the very best way.  He is friendly and welcoming and open to discussions about ingredients and life in general.  The discussion around the table is of the Chicago restaurant scene and the world dining options. It touches on foreign cuisine and ingredients, a sharing of knowledge that seems to naturally lead from one subject to the next...  the hours fly by and somehow it's after midnight- or it was for the five of us. 

Lucky diners - the convivial table was made up of the Blasers and Shari Massey (Kevin was just returning from a week away at Disaster Preparedness Training with the Air National Guard where he volunteers as a chaplain; and couldn't make it back into town in time to join in the festivities) and the two of us, who wandered on over from our own 2C to Chef Jeff's!

So as I always do, I will start out with my favorite photo- which is also sometimes my favorite course and then go into the full menu and wine pairings- so here is my favorite photo of the food- the trout course- described in more detail later...


 we were dinner #35 at this pop up and hence the title of our menus-

we started with the champagne Shari and Kevin brought to Bastille day dinner last weekend but that we never got to open up due to an abundance of wines and the pacing of the dinner and pairings of the food... and it was magnificent -


 the snacks course- the dot on the right was a cocktail LOL



this might vie for favorite course - incredible eggs on eggs with a side of eggs LOL- the foamy area is actually sous vide eggs with cream and butter them whipped so the texture is like just setting up whipped cream and it tasted like scrambled eggs - the breakfast theme was one we all immediately latched on to as the next course would bring forth pancakes and house made bacon and we wondered if it wouldn't be better to just stay and have breakfast too LOL


we stayed with the champagne (from Shari again) and added the Chablis (ours)



but for the next course Jeff served us the Sake (that Stephanie & John brought) as he thought it the perfect pairing with the chiles and crispy duck tongues in the elotes - and it was!



the rigatoni was lighter and not too red sauce like so we stayed with whites and opened a bigger Sigrid (ours) and a 1996 Pommard from Jadot (photo missing) but it didn't need red at this point as the dish was so well balanced a bigger white was just right!




these next two course were TOO - LOL vying for my favorite TOO ! the foie course with the foie ice cream and pancakes with maple syrup forget the fruit and brioche - this is the way I want to eat foie from now on - with pearls of sweetness on top! with ice cream! on pancakes! (OK you can tell from the exclamation points I really liked this one...LOL but the next was as fabulous a flavor profile as this just in a completely different palate (artistic and alimentary).  The trout course had the crispy-est skin and the buttermilk sauce and my fave (ask my hubby) roe! what's not to love?



on to the meaty courses and by this time the wines were a free for all but we did not get around to opening the Clerc Milon Bordeaux so we are saving that for another meal... the two next course each were excellent but the wagyu was melt in your mouth perfect with the to-die-for truffled potatoes.  So I give the beef a slight edge over the duck as the set up was more to my taste otherwise it would be neck and neck in this match up...




the group was split on the winner of the sorbet match up - several went each way so it was declared a "draw" LOL


and just when you think you have reached your limits of favorites you get this course of amazing combinations - we ordered the honeycombs to be served with our breakfast LOL.  The texture was so crispy and light and full of gingery flavor...


the full menu

another WOW meal at 2C and we are already planning on returning as soon as we get our group together - and next time we know Kevin will want to be there so we will work with the Massey schedule.  #ravereviews #fabfood #terrific2C #greatevening

Friday, July 20, 2018

as promised

So we have had a whirlwind summer so far and we aren't really even quite half way.  It's no excuse for the dearth of posts but it is an accurate statement. During the period where we were fully in wedding mode I got the idea to write about the Grandpas. It was spurred on by two things- this post from the Center for the Great Apes which is an organization we support. It is a rescue facility for chimpanzees and orangutans.

I favor the orangs over the chimps but this info about two new chimp residents really grabbed me. And if I am losing you already this post is NOT about chimps and IS about the four grandfathers Phil and I have.... so hang on....

Just two weeks ago, we had an emergency call about two adult male chimpanzees in Oklahoma (Joe and Bo) who needed an immediate home. They lived in separate cages and had never been together.

Even though we’ve not yet finished our expansion construction for additional space, the need for this rescue was urgent. So, we drove to Oklahoma (with our veterinarian) and picked them up. They arrived here last week after a 22-hour drive back from Oklahoma, and we have them in our quarantine area at the veterinary clinic for the time being.

Even though Joe and Bo had never been in the same space together, we introduced them after they arrived here, and it was heartwarming to see how happy they were to be with each other! Right away, they began softly panting and laughing while they hugged and groomed one another.

Joe (believed to be in his 60s) was wild-caught, and as an infant, was used at a major Midwest zoo in their old “chimp shows”. When he grew too big to perform, he was sent to a drive-through safari park in Oklahoma. Joe and his mate Lily produced many offspring at the safari park, but the infants were sold as exotic pets or as entertainers. Amazingly, we have four of their offspring already living here who came from entertainment and from the pet trade – Murray, twins Jonah & Jacob, and Ellie.

After the safari park closed, Joe and Lily were sent to a California trainer for use as breeders. But it didn’t work out, so Joe and Lily were moved again to a private zoo in Oklahoma where they were held in small cages for 11 years. Unfortunately, Lily died there a few years ago.

The other chimpanzee, Bo, is thought to be in his 30s. He was also in the entertainment business in California where he produced at least one infant … and then was sent to a Missouri facility before finally ending up in Oklahoma.

But what we discovered after they arrived is that our little 9-year-old Bentley (who was sent to our sanctuary in February along with two other former entertainment chimps) is actually the grandson of both these older males!

These two unrelated chimpanzees living in different states for many years each sired offspring who were used in the ape trade business. One of Joe’s daughters and Bo’s son now live together in Missouri and are the parents of Bentley!

So they are both Bentley's grandfathers who coincidentally ended up in Oklahoma from different owners. Joe and Bo now peacefully live together at CGA, and we refer to them as “the grandpas”.

As if the story wasn't touching enough- look at these guys- one looks like Abe Vigoda and the other like Judd Hirsch LOL



 
I love their expressions and how much they look just like grandpas- I wonder if they will get a chance to meet and dote over Bentley their common grandson...  what a heartwarming story.

And while sadly both Phil and my grandfathers had passed away by the time we met, we had wonderful grandpas too! So this is a short tale of who they were and it starts with a camera... and a wedding photo from Angela's recent wedding...


and this photo of the bride - the groom and the bride's grandmother - Grandma Sue who made it to the wedding in her ninetieth year on the planet, where it was recorded with the EXACT SAME BROWNIE CAMERA as her first year on the planet.  Yes that's right - her father - Phil's Grandpa Joe Lerner bought a box camera to take photos of his first born child his daughter Rita Sue (always known as Sue)


They no longer make film for the camera but you can buy spools of 120 loaded onto retrofitted spools. It is hard to load as the whole camera inner workings must come out to load the spool across the back.  The shutter mechanism has no timer or or release you just flip is and open the shutter for a short moment - the high speed film and full sun do the work as the camera has no real mechanism.  It is a box with a small lens opening- which by the way you see upside down and backwards in a tiny (and I mean tiny) window... oh and you have to guess when you have to wind it to the right point on the film because it is sized differently than the numbers so you stop at 3 and 1/2  and 6 etc... 

So to say the photos at the wedding were a "crap shoot" was not at all an understatement...LOL

From wikipedia
Brownie is the name of a long-running popular series of simple and inexpensive cameras made by Eastman Kodak.

The Brownie camera, introduced in February 1900, invented low-cost photography by introducing the concept of the snapshot to the masses. The Brownie was a very basic cardboard box camera with a simple meniscus lens that took 2 1/4-inch square pictures on 117 roll film. The Brownie camera was conceived and marketed for sales of Kodak roll films. Because of its simple controls and initial price of $1 along with the low price of Kodak roll film and processing, The Brownie camera achieved and surpassed its marketing goal.

The Brownie is among the most important cameras in history.

from what I can tell this particular camera is a Brownie 2- 

 Brownie Number 2
The Kodak Brownie Number 2 is a box camera that was manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company from 1901 to 1935. There were five models, A through F, and it was the first camera to use 120 film. It also came with a viewfinder and a handle. The Brownie Number 2 was made of a choice of three materials: cardboard, costing US$2.00, aluminum, costing US$2.75, and a color model which cost US$2.50. It was a very popular and affordable camera, and many are still in use by film photographers.

this is from a blog I found called Lomography and it explains the process of using the camera better than I have- 


Even though it’s an early camera, the Kodak No. 2A Brownie Model C has some features that are still interesting today. One extremely interesting feature is that the 2A Model C has two viewfinders – one for portrait mode and another one for landscape mode. Along with two viewfinders, the 2A Model C has two tripod bushes so that you can mount the camera in either portrait or landscape mode. The 2A Model C also has a “B” setting for long exposures and an interesting shutter release that works differently from any other I’ve seen. The “B” mode switch is a little tab on top of the camera that you lift up. When the tab is down, the shutter release will momentarily open the shutter every time you move it from one side to the other. You operate the shutter by toggling it back and forth, either up and down or left and right, depending on the orientation of the camera. Each time you switch it from one position to the other the shutter will quickly open and close. When you lift the “B” tab, the shutter release will keep the shutter open until you switch it back to where you started – either down-up-down or up-down-up. Interesting. The other tab next to the “B” tab is the aperture setting is the aperture switch. It’s just a metal plate with three holes in it. The instructions just call them “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large”. The actual apertures are close to either f/11, f/16, and f/22; or f/16, f/22, and f/32 depending on whom you believe. The No. 2A Brownie was designed for a film that is no longer available, but you can use 120 film in it 

but Grandpa Joe wasn't the only Grandpa in this story who had a love of cameras- I had two grandfathers who had love of cameras in different ways-  My mother's father King who we referred to as Granddad was a traveler and always had a camera with him.  My father's father Ed- who we referred to as Pop Pop - was in PR much of his career life and during the Depression he traveled around the country making films for the National Underwriters (I guess fire safety and such...) 

here is a photo of him from that era - 


and here is a short film he made of his own family with borrowed film equipment- starring his father and wife and son (my dad) - this film would have been taken before my great grandfather died in 1937...


Phil adored his grandparents Norma and Joe Lerner and the feeling was mutual. He was their first grandson and how lucky they were to get such a handsome genius like Philip LOL - and if you were your grandparents first born grandchild you know the same sentiment holds true for you LOL. 

Here is a photo of Sue (far right)  likely taken with the camera we used at Angela's wedding 



Sue and Grandpa Joe in a later photo but likely the same camera given the size and format. 
And another from that era- 
now - to my knowledge the remaining photos are not from that camera but are some of the few that Phil has of his family (unlike my family- where there are literally more than a thousand going back multiple generations)

This one is baby Phil and Grandpa Joe - and their expressions in each other's presence didn't change for the remainder of their lives together- 




and here is one of my mother as a toddler with her mother - my grandmother Catherine McFarland Cox Haight  - who everyone called Lovie except my Dad who called her Katie.


and one of my Dad as a toddler - circa 1929


as I said we have plenty to choose from - and here is one of me with my great grandmother's sister Aunt Fan! (Frances Hill Pieck)


she was one of the stunning Hill sisters shown below- with my great grandmother Minnie in the red circle and Fan next to her the others were called Teensie and Lillie...


that one above was obviously not taken with a Brownie - but I am fairly certain this one below of Granddad and his mother - known as DearMa which was taken in 1928 was- 


and this one of my mom in 1930 was as well - 


and here is a Granddad and me photo from 1955


but you get the drift of it- LOL - grandpas have cameras for a reason and now of course we just pick up our phones and snap photos like this one of Phil and his surrogate grandchild Alix- who is now already 7 but in this photo she was almost one whole year old! 


so the thread continues to run through the lives of families everywhere including the non human ones we started this story with- Bo and Joe the chimp grandpas! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

three nights - three meals

so here's a good one- our dishwasher broke down... so we have been eating out a lot because standing at the too short kitchen counters is a killer on my back.  The other night we ate at Jibek Jolu for the second time ever and the friendly owner came by to talk to us.  We mentioned our dishwasher was broken and we were eating out until a new one arrived and her response was "we are closed tomorrow but open every night until 10 or 11 weekends" LOL... I guess she thought we would be over every night until the new dishwasher came. Alas she will be disappointed tonight when we do not show up (and in some ways so will we but one cannot live on manty and samsa and pelmeni alone LOL)

Last night we did a return engagement at El Ideas- a place which has just gotten better and better and better over the meals we have enjoyed from Phil Foss' kitchen.  Let' see - I have a new favorite course to use as the top photo- shrimp with a buckwheat tuille and amazing flavors- in the gelleed broth- completely brought up memories of food in Vietnam during my first trip there with Jennifer in 2003- now fifteen years ago!


here is the menu for last night


our wines for the evening-




on to the fabulous food- in the menu order- the burrata...


salt cod beignet-


foie course- with caramelized pineapple - yummy!


the shrimp - wow wow wow


halibut with caviar and puffed beef tendon


ever popular - milkshake and fries!


tuna


rabbit and full flavored peas -


amazingly tender venison and hiding underneath equally amazing sweet corn - corn pancakes and puffed corn  and alongside a kick of jalapeno pepper to notch it up!


my fave -coffee ice cream and macadamia nuts and roasted pineapple (a trip to Hawaii for your mouth!)


final dessert of berry and chocolate - Phil was in heaven- his two favorite flavors in one dish!


a fun place all around - here are some photos of the restaurant -









a new sign in the restroom - LOVE it!


and in case you were interested - here are a few prior posts on El Ideas-

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2017/08/a-bright-idea.html

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2016/08/back-busy.html

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2014/08/an-idea-or-two-or-el.html

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2014/07/happy-27th-birthday-drew.html

the night before we went to Jibek Jolu - where we had some central Asian cuisine-

We arrived at a tad after 8 PM and found virtually no one there - but by the time we left the place was jumpin! - completely full and turning folks away!



we started with Cheburecki (a beef lamb pasty kind of thing


then a Samsy with beef ( made with pastry dough)


and carrot salad - which is made all over Uzbekistan (second photo from my visit to the Tashkent market)



then a full order of pelmeni with beef and served as a side to the skewer of beef and the lula kebab we ordered but ate before I got a photo of it (sorry only swords!)



for dessert the Napoleon -



a nice meal in the hood in between two great meals out of the hood - the second being our Monday night seafood place in Evanston (corkage free night at Oceanique)- starting with an amuse of halibut


then Phil had foie gras to start-


I had oysters with trout roe and creme fraiche and a side "salad"



then a second amuse - the sword fish bite which made swordfish taste better than it usually does to me...LOL


a palate cleanser of berry sorbet


then for mains Phil had the bouillabaisse and I had the halibut -



and as usual - we both had the day and night cake for dessert-


Chef Mark never disappoints us! So the next few days bring more dining out (still no dishwasher until next week on Thursday) tomorrow with Chaine friends Shari, John & Stephanie at the pop up 2C Chicago.  Then Saturday night meeting up with Mike & Leslie at Bistro Campagne -

so we won't go hungry LOL - but you knew that already LOL.... and now we are in the twelve day countdown for Africa and starting to think seriously about packing beginning this weekend... we need to see just how much we will have to jettison in order to fit our things into our specially provided bags for flying camp to camp.... maximum (and they mean it) for all your stuff (camera equipment included) 33 pounds each.  Which is kind of a tall order when carrying DSLR and telephotos for the animal photography...but who needs clean clothes??? LOL

as always more to follow!