Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chicago, IL

We went to Chicago for New Years 2008-09.

We drove from New York. It took two days on I-80. The food highlight of the trip there was a Sheetz sub with Tofurkey (a a vanilly soy-latte). Sorry, no pictures.

We rolled in on New Year's Eve and went straight to The Bleeding Heart Bakery. It's an organic bakery with many vegan options.

In the background, we have some wonderful, crunchy chocolate chip cookies that were only a dollar each. In front of that is a scrumptious apple bar that Nate tried to save for breakfast, but failed. We went back a second time on our way home. Amy had a pumpkin scone, which was a little too dry and a little un-sweet. But, this was made up for by her chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. Nate had a chocolate banana bar that was delicious.

That night, we went to Green Zebra for our fancy New Year's dinner. The food was gorgeous, but we didn't take pictures because we felt that pulling out the camera in the middle of the fancy, 5-course prix fixe dinner might be in poor taste. Amy ordered an "Orchard Truck," which contained pear brandy, triple sec, and lemon-lime soda; and got Nate a glass of Chardonnay while he washed his hands (because we recently found out his grandmother hates New York Chardonnay at Christmas dinner. This Chardonnay was from Monterrey, though).

The first course was fingerling potatoes and a mixed green salad. Nate was amazed at how flavorful the dish was, until Amy explained to him that the dressing contained truffle oil, and the burst of flavor it provides is what makes truffles so expensive.

For the second course, a miso-fennel broth was poured over edible flowers and blood orange segments at the table. Amy was not a fan. Nate was a little freaked out by the flowers, but he enjoyed spooning the orange segments in with some of the broth and biting them and mixing the flavors in his mouth.

The third course was a poached egg for the vegetarians, but Green Zebra had a vegan backup that we both though was probably even better. We had Mediterranean dates stuffed with Japanese eggplant and drizzled with tamarind sauce. It was an exploration of world food all in one dish, and was great!

Following the exotically flavored dates, Green Zebra opted for some balance with an earthy provision of poached and grilled trumpet mushroom, root vegetables, and a huckleberry reduction. Nate said that he got the feeling that meat eaters would balk at the rubbery texture of the mushroom, but after eating so much "soft" food (potatoes, soup, dates) it was nice to feel some resistance in the mouth. Amy said this dish was her favorite.

Lastly, for desert, we had a fluffy chocolate cake, candied kumquats, and a citrus sherbet. After all the baked goods we had earlier in the day, and the very satisfying two courses that preceded it, it was a little underwhelming.

Phew, that's a lot! We'll have to do this trip in parts. Stay tuned... way more to come, from Handlebar, Chicago Diner, and Karyn's Cooked.

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