Monday, August 29, 2011

Dinner snapshots: Akebono

Chris and I grabbed a little sushi snack for dinner at Akebono Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar in Granite Bay the other night. A coworker of Chris’ gives this place a double thumbs up, and it didn’t hurt that we had a LivingSocial coupon too.

Their menu is packed with rolls. Here’s Nancy’s Roll — shrimp tempura, spicy tuna roll, unagi, green onion, masago and two sauces on top ($11.95).

We also had Hamachi Kama ($7.95), a broiled yellow tail collar that was super delicious but didn’t necessarily photograph well — sorry.

We told our server we wanted to spend $30 on Omakase Sashimi (chef’s choice) and this is what she brought to our table a few minutes later. Wow!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chowing down in Chi-town

We kicked off August with a much-anticipated trip to Chicago. It’s such a great place to visit during summer months, and we got to see a lot of friends and cram plenty of adventures into our six days in the Windy City.

We spent three of our days rocking out at Lollapalooza, the super-fun musical festival held each August in Grant Park. We worked up quite an appetite listening to great sets by Muse, Friendly Fires, Ellie Goulding, Foster the People, Eminem and more. Good thing for Chow Town, which featured more than 30 food vendors offering everything from pizza to lobster corn dogs.

My favorite deal came by way of Salud Tequila Lounge. I scored two chicken tamales and plenty of spice for $5.

We had plenty of good eats throughout the trip. Here are a few highlights.

No trip to Chicago is complete without a trip to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., a Lincoln Park favorite that serves up to-die-for pizza pot pies. We basically dropped our luggage off after arriving Thursday and headed straight to dinner. You order your pie by the half- or full pound and they come packed with plenty of cheese, marinara sauce, mushrooms and everything you’d want to find in a gut-busting pizza. These pies are baked in a bowl topped with white or wheat crust, and the server flips the bowl upside down onto a plate before handing it over.

The gyros special at Windy City Gyros hit the spot before we headed down to the show Friday.

Our lovely hosts Doug and Shannan took us to Sunday brunch at Hearty, which is a little bit of heaven offering “comfort revisited.”

Every single item on the Hearty menu tugged at my heart a little. I had the andouille biscuits and gravy served with a fried egg and smoky breakfast potatoes.

Chris had spicy grilled shrimp served with bacon-studded grits. Both dishes were breakfasts of champions.

We also passed around a Red Velvet Breakfast Dog, featuring a chicken apple sausage dipped in red velvet cake batter and fried. So good.

Friend Dan took us to lunch Monday at Kuma’s Corner, a badass burger joint which names quite a few of its menu items after metal bands (Slayer, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden). We were pretty wiped out after three days at Lollapalooza and weren’t thinking straight when we ordered a plate of custom macaroni and cheese (added chicken and andouille sausage) in addition to our burgers.

Behold the Brujeria, featuring a 10 ounce beef patty, cheddar, charred tomato salsa and house-made chorizo and cream cheese stuffed jalapeno, all snuggled into a pretzel bun. I didn’t stand a chance finishing it, but definitely worth the effort.

Any time we take a trip I do my homework and try to find interesting restaurants to try out, which is how we ended up at Sable Kitchen & Bar for dinner Monday night.

Seven of us ordered almost everything on the menu at this “new American gastro-lounge” and passed around our plates. Not a bad dish on the table. Some of my favorites included the fried green tomatoes with whipped basil goat cheese,

Thanks to Amelia for being my lovely hand model!
veal meatballs in a gorgonzola cream sauce

and the crispy red lentil cake with coconut curry broth, peanuts and zucchini salad.

Grahamwich was another restaurant I found during my research. Graham Elliot is culinary director for Lollapalooza, but he also owns the Michelin-starred restaurant Graham Elliot and the aforementioned sandwich shop Grahamwich, where we had a fun lunch with friends Ryan and Amanda Tuesday.

I enjoyed every bite of my Waldorf chicken sandwich with flame grapes, candied walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola and shaved celery on multi-grain bread. Chris was equally impressed with his choice — waygu beef with grainy mustard, baby arugula and onion rings on a pretzel roll. We sipped on root beer and ginger orange sodas, and instead of chips we opted for the G’wich Popcorn, pimped out with tons of grated parmesan, sea salt, cracked pepper, truffle oil and chives.

I was sad to head back home after our trip, because we had such a blast but also because I knew I’d be eating iceberg lettuce for a week to counter some of the ridiculously good meals we had.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer of Smoothies: Peachy Keen

We’ve been hard at work this weekend cleaning up the house, cars and yards. This smoothie totally hits the spot, providing the perfect cool-down for when you work up a sweat.

Peachy Keen
1 cup frozen sliced peaches
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 ripe banana
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.