Posts Tagged ‘Mercat Ala Planxa’

The Foodie 13 – Desert Island Fare

I probably spend more time than is normal thinking about what I would do if I ever became stranded on a deserted island.  I can assure you there’d be no montage of Castaway or Blue Lagoon moments, but if there were other people trapped with me, I imagine it would quickly devolve in a similar manner to Lord Of The Flies.

Because of that, I keep a mental list of comestibles I’d want to have with me if that were ever to go down.  The ironic thing about that statement of course, is that if (heaven forbid) it really did happen, there’s no way I’d be prepared enough to have all these good eats with me.  But a (slightly delusional) girl can always dream, can’t she?  With these 13 paradigms of culinary excellence to keep me company, I’d never be wanting for more.

So without further adieu, but in no particular order…

1- Czehoski‘s bacon poutine - There’s nothing better on a grey and blustery day than digging in to a bowl of this salty, creamy, crispy perfection.  If you’ve never tried bacon gravy before, you’re probably asking yourself, what’s the big deal?  Can it really be that different?  Trust me hombres, it can and is.  This poutine is what dreams are made of… decadent, curd-filled dreams.

2- Fat Willy’s ribs - Fat Willy’s is a little hole in the wall barbecue joint in the suburbs of Chicago.  I never expected we’d fine transcendent barbecue in Illinois of all places, but ever since we came home, I’ve had vivid dreams about the smoky tang I experienced there, sometimes to the point that I’m awakened from chewing on my own pillow.  Delish!

3- Terroni‘s mezzo mezzo - This appetizer platter is constantly changing, but always includes some meat, some cheese, some bread and some fruit or veg, plus a small dish of honey for dipping.  My favourite has always been the roasted pear that’s often a mainstay of the dish, and marries well with so many things.

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Tasty Tidbits

Garlic + Caramel = Yum!

As I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned before, when the Everyman and I were in Chicago last year I fell in love with a condiment at Mercat Ala Planxa; a roasted garlic dulce du leche.  The tasty treat had been served with a cheese and charcuterie plate that we’d ordered, but after a tiny nibble I had to put it on everything.  And then squeegee the dish with my finger once it was done.

Until now, I’ve been unable to recreate a suitable substitution, but last night all that changed.  It came about in the oddest manner, too.  Whilst at Cheese Boutique hoarding all the ramps on Sunday, I decided to pick up a loaf of their chef-made artisanal bread.  Since I hadn’t made up my mind by the time I got to the cash, I spit out the name of the first loaf my eyes landed on; a hefty, roasted garlic affair.  I’d had no plans for it at the time, but figured it would be good with just about anything.

Flash-forward to Monday morning, while packing lunches for the Everyman and I.  I slipped a few slices into our bags to accompany a container of homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  Roasted garlic is usually a very complimentary flavor to that, after all.  Well, this bread was so pungent that it permeated every other foodstuff in each of our lunchbags, to the point that I could smell mine on my desk from half a hallway away.  Not good.  On the drive home last night the Everyman commented to me that his apple had even absorbed a garlicky flavor… one he wasn’t so keen on either.

Arriving at home I resigned to tossing the loaf out, or at the very least turning it into rustic croutons, when the urge for something sweet struck me.  Rummaging around in a kitchen drawer I came across peanut butter, honey, jams, etc, but nothing that sounded appealing.  And then… lightbulb flash!  A jar of dulce du leche!  I quickly whacked it open and gave it a spread.  The first bite was like heaven, that familiar, sweet and savoury marriage I’d missed so.  I demolished the slice in no time at all and almost went back for another.  Now this was what I was talking about!  I’m sure at some point I’ll still try to formulate my own recipe for the combined flavor profile of a garlic dulce jam, but for now, this makes an excellent stopgap.  You’re scrintching your nose up right now (I can tell), but don’t knock it ’til you try it, and I seriously suggest that you do.

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National Grilled Cheese Month, You Say?

Sweavoury Sammy

News has been flying all over the interwebs lately that April is National Grilled Cheese Month.

By all over, I mean on foodie blogs, Tastespotting, Photograzing, Foodgawker et al.

It was first brought to my attention via a post round-up over at Taste T.O. - one that this blog coincidentally happened to be mentioned in…

Over at Closet Cooking, blogger Kevin opined on his combination of grilled cheese with a newly prepared mango cardamom jam.  More than anything, the comments left on his blog were what surprised me.  People seemed astounded to consider the marriage of the two, but I posit this; do you not enjoy Brie-like cheeses with tangy fruit compote, or a figgy jam with a platter of cheese and crackers?  The evolution of grilled cheese to include some form of fruit is pretty natural, and one I would consider borderline mundane.  It’s a pretty close relative to bagels with cream (cheese) and jam, after all.

His post did call to mind a peculiar habit I used to have of slathering my cheeseburger buns with strawberry jam, though.  I’ve often been one for somewhat off the wall flavour combinations; as a child I eschewed ketchup and preferred to dip my french fries in the chocolate shake.  When I moved out on my own, it wasn’t uncommon to find me slurping up a cone of ice cream doused with sriracha before bed or chowing down on a pork and peanut butter sandwich for breakfast.  After our lunch at Mercat Ala Planxa last year, I’m constantly dreaming about garlic dulce du leche every time I eat charcuterie, and the list could go on and on.

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I’ve Been Everywhere, Man, I’ve Been Everywhere…

It’s been quite a whirlwind lately.

Last weekend was the Everyman’s birthday – (and being the most awesomest girlfriend on the planet) I decided to take him to Chicago for Lollapalooza – to see his most favorite band (that he’s never seen before) – Rage Against The Machine.

Only, a trip that was supposed to be about enjoying some really good music strangely turned into a trip about enjoying as much completely satisfying food as possible.  Of the 120+ bands that were playing at Lollapalooza that weekend, we managed to catch two.  Yes, twoRadiohead on Friday night and Rage Against The Machine on Saturday.  It’s funny how that happens sometimes, isn’t it?  I guess I know how to Bogart things without even noticing it…

Anyhow, in some ways it was the impossible trip.  Our flight to Chicago was delayed by 3 hours, and by the time the plane came in we were told that it wouldn’t be going anywhere, because the crew couldn’t fly anymore due to flight regulations regarding their shifts.  These 2 crazy girls who were on our flight started freaking out about how they had a concert to get to and generally annoying the desk clerks.  Of course, we were also going to this concert, but we weren’t about to throw a hissy fit about it.  It all ended up working itself out in the end – the flight crew got back on board and flew us to Chicago double-quick, and we got free booze on the plane for our troubles.  Of course, by the time we got to Chicago it was almost midnight, but this was nothing compared to our trip home (more on that later).

Our first true meal in Chicago ended up being honey barbecue wings from room service at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart, and they were surprisingly tasty.  Honestly, at the time I thought my opinion might’ve been tainted by exhaustion and general frustration at that point, but we ended up ordering them again later on in the trip, and they were indeed delicious.  One order of wings is about 15 huge wings, which are both breaded and fried, and then doused in a tingly barbecue sauce.  They were unlike any wing I’d ever tried before.  The Everyman and I devoured the plate between us and then tucked in for some much needed shuteye.  We had a whole trip full of eating to get ready for, after all.

Like any good foodie, I’d researched the best places to eat in Chicago before our arrival, focusing mainly on downscale and delicious fare.  So when we woke up famished on Friday morning I knew exactly where to go.  Although, in hindsight, I might not have known exactly how to get there.  Overall during our stay I’d say I didn’t get us lost, but that I do have quite a knack of getting us to exactly where we needed to be based on hunches.  And when all else failed, we just grabbed a cab :)

Friday morning we headed to a diner called Lou Mitchell’s.  This place was a blast from the past.  When you walk in they offer you homemade donut holes and tiny boxes of Milk Duds to whet your appetite.  It was exceptionally busy, even though we arrived at 10:30 on a Friday, so I took that as a good sign that I’d made a solid choice.  I needn’t have worried.  I had a divine caramelized pecan belgian waffle, and the best chocolate malted I’ve had in years, with a side of smoky bacon.  The Everyman literally inhaled a stack of banana pancakes and a side of bacon (plus half of mine).  The one thing I began to notice about Chicago is that they love their large portions.  I was unable to finish more than half of my waffle or my malted, so when our waitress offered us complimentary homemade ice cream, I had to beg forgiveness.  She actually looked sort of insulted that I couldn’t finish my meal.  After the stuffening we hopped in a cab to our first tourist-y destination, the Shedd Aquarium.

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