THINGS I’VE MADE

As if dinner at Girl and the Goat wasn’t enough, I made a lot of yummy meals with Tanner this week too.

Like these calzones.IMG_0541

And these grilled cheeses!

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Both were made with the mozzarella cheese Tanner made and some other delicious ingredients we bought. Like normal people do.

To spread the love, here’s the recipe for that yummy grilled cheese above, out version of Grilled Cheese Social’s Beesting Remix. I could literally eat this sandwich every day. For every meal. Ever. Spicy crushed red pepper flakes, savory sausage, gooey mozzarella, and sweet basil honey?!?!?! Gah, I’m in heaven, and I bet you are too now. Or you will be once you try this.

adapted from The Grilled Cheese Social‘s Beesting Remix

Beesting Remix (remix)

Ingredients:

ciabatta bread (as many slices as you need for your sammiches)

butter + crushed red pepper flakes (mix these two together! add more flakes if you want more kick. we use a general 3:1 ratio of butter : flakes)

basil infused honey (mix 4 tbsp honey with a few dashes of basil. it would be better if it was fresh, and it would EVEN better if you did this part way before =hand so the flavors can mix. like the night or 8 hours prior to sandwich making)

3 thin slices of sorpressata hard sausage (or as much as you can fit on your bread)

slices of mozzarella (enough to layer twice!)

Directions:

1. Warm up skillet to about medium/medium-high. Have all your ingredients ready!

2. Start with one slice of bread. Coat one side in the crushed red pepper flake butter and then drizzle the basil infused honey onto the other side. You can just plop your buttered side onto the skillet and then honey up your other side, but I like making this part difficult so I have an excuse to lick my fingers.

3. Any way you do Step 2, put your bread butter side down on the skillet and add a layer of mozzarella. Then the sorpressata. Then more mozz. Mozz mozz mozz.

4. Coat your second piece of bread with the butter on one side and honey on the other, then place the honey side down on your last layer of mozz. Smush as you feel necessary.

5. Grill each side carefully, maybe about 3 minutes each. You have to be careful to not burn the red pepper flakes because they taste bitter if you scorch ’em. But honestly, I did that a little and it wasn’t so bad. You DO NOT want to undercook these babies because the gooey, chewy mozzarella part is arguably the best part.

6. Once your sweet and savory grilled cheeses are cooked to perfection, slap ’em on a plate and devour.

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GIRL AND THE GOAT

I’m still dreaming about this meal. 

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And mourning the future of my bank account.

But it was all so worth it.

As soon as I found out I would be working in Chicago this summer, I immediately made a reservation for Girl and the Goat. Like, seriously, I didn’t make a packing list or even find an apartment, I made a reservation for dinner. I wasn’t even sure what Girl and the Goat offered (although goat items was a guess). I wasn’t sure if I could afford to eat there (which is still in question). All I knew is that that is where everyone told me to wine and dine. But mostly dine.

So when the day arrived (yesterday), I could hardly believe I was finally going to the place I made a reservation at THREE MONTHS AGO. You plan things like vacations and class schedules that far ahead, not one night’s dinner. All the hype and anticipation only. The girl, the goat, and Maddie. Two girls and a goat. I like  made me more excited for my dinner with The Girl and the Goat. The girl, the goat, and Maddie. Two girls and a goat. I like it.

But in actuality it was just me and Tanner. And some goat.

I had had a pretty rough day by the time I got there, but suddenly the hours of AutoCAD and the sandstorm/sideways rain I had just endured were now unimportant. BECAUSE I WAS AT GIRL AND THE GOAT. The waitstaff were the most polite and attentive waitstaff to have ever waited on me, and I desperately wanted to be friends with our waitress, Danielle (is it creepy that I remember her name?). She was very upbeat and gave us great recommendations and explanations, even if she warned us that three plates each might be a little heavy. Haha, Danielle. You do not know the depths of my stomach.

And so, here it is, our feast line-up:

Blood and Goats. Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Leopold Tart Cherry , Savannah Madeira, Orange.

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Kona Kampachi Crudo. Crisp pork belly, chili aioli, caperberries.

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Goat Empanadas. Romesco, radish-endive slaw.

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Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face. Sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple, potato sticks.

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Peek a boo!

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Chickpea Fritters. Royal trumpet mushrooms, okra-tomato relish, mushroom aioli, prairie fruits chevre.

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Duck Tongues. Tuna & black bean poke, crispy wontons, piri pir.

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Crisp Braised Pork Shank. Grilled spring onion kimchee, buttermilk dressing, naan.

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Everything was delicious–especially the pork shank. Danielle informed us was a take on the chicken wing with a crispy outer skin and fall-off-the bone meat, complete with a ranch-like sauce and buffalo sauce.

If that wasn’t enough, we also got dessert. And I wanted two.

However, Danielle, being the sweetheart that she is, took note when we said that we were celebrating our three-year anniversary and brought us a third dessert as well!

Strawberry Parfait. Buttermilk custard, shortcake crumble, salted pistachio.

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Miso-Butterscotch Budino. Bacon toffee, glazed pineapple, candied cashews.

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Goat cheese bavaroise. Sweet corn nougat, blueberries.

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Since I measure my nights in laughs had, calories consumed, and money spent, I’d say it was a night well spent. 

ALL YOU CAN EAT

Chicago has changed me. Suddenly, I’m content with a meal made up entirely off of rice, raw meat, and seaweed (aka sushi). I’ve come to actually LIKE this kind of food. So much, in fact, that I agreed to indulge in an all-you can eat sushi place for my anniversary dinner with Tanner last night.

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After not eating much all day, I was able to scarf down four rolls, thus causing me to fear for my health and mercury content. A list of the maki rolls Tanner and I shared were: Dragon, Godzilla, San Francisco, Crazy Chicago, North Carolina, Spider, Mango Tango, and Himawari (sunflower). I liked the Crazy Chicago least and my favorites were the Himawari and San Francisco.

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If you’re wondering what kind of place allows this kind of gluttonous, wonderful indulgence, it’s Wasabi Cafe on Lincoln Avenue. The $20 all you can eat deal also includes an appetizer and drinks, and you can BYOB too.

So go there. Now.

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We wanted to try some of the Guinness Ice Cream from Irish Bistro that we tried to sample at the Ribsfest last weekend also. Lucky for us, the restaurent was located right across the street. We waddled our full stomachs over there and shared a single scoop at the bar. It was malty and rich, even though I expected it to taste like milky beer. I’m glad it did not.

livin’ like a local

This weekend I totally felt like a local Chicagoan, and this time it wasn’t because all of my meals consisted of hot dogs with no ketchup and deep-dish pizza.

Saturday involved heading to the Near West Side for a volunteer day with archi-treasures. The event was cancelled because of rain, so instead I headed to the Loop to shop. That sentence sounds pretty casual, like I just walked down my neighborhood street to Snobug. But I was nearly sweating bullets about which train or bus to take, and my phone was acting like it only knew how to tell time. I knew that if I took the bus I took to get to the volunteer site I could get to a Blue Line stop, so I decided to go with that and see if I could get myself there. Fortunately I didn’t accidently end up in Oak Park or anything and exited the subway safely in the heart of the Loop. I could hardly believe that I had been able to do this at all, much less without using my phone. I found myself on State, a shopping mecca, but I knew I had to get some food first. I remembered that a place called Max’s Takeout was somewhere in the Loop, so I searched Google Maps for “food” on my phone. While my phone clearly doesn’t pick up on my anxiety towards getting lost, it certainly knows that a full stomach is my biggest priority and located Max’s a mere three blocks away.

That it where I encountered this, a Gyro Burger. Mmmmm…..

gyro burger

That baby supplied me with all of the energy and fat I needed to shop for the next three hours and head off a hangover from the night before. It succeeded in both, but I neglected to think about how bloated it would make me feel while trying on crop tops.

Next I went to get my haircut at Bello, a place that’s almost as north as Evanston but was rumored to only charge $20 for a haircut and still be great. So, although I had to sit on a train for an hour each way, I did get a pretty great haircut and some cool photos of my commute.

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I still find it so amazing to just hop on a bus or train and have it take me anywhere in the city. Sure, I put myself in the position of having to give a dollar to desperate accordion players and maybe sit next to someone smelly, but it beats having to find a parking spot or stress out about taxis cutting me off or accidentally dooring a cyclist.

The unique part of Chicago’s trains is that they aren’t completely underground–they come up for air most of the time, careening over streets and bridges, swerving through high-rises and houses, and giving glimpses of each neighborhood it passess through. I found it amazing to be at eye-level with somebody’s office while still in the loop and viewing the details of each building from a place that wasn’t on the ground or in the building itself. It was odd to be viewing something in a way that was so unnatural, yet obviously so commonplace for the city itself.

After becoming a food and transit connoisseur this weekend, I became an official Chicago library card holder, a true mark of my Chicagoan status. With this plastic, poorly designed (?) card, I have the freedom to check out all the books I want (limited to 5 within the first month, however). Getting this card was nothing less than a pain in the ass after needing proof of my residency, but acquiring it means that I can wear it as a symbol to all that I am, in fact, NOT a tourist.

IMG_0434[1]Also, our library is ironically located in the Chicago Visitors’ Center. Even though this card is an obvious sign that I am a true Chicagoan (now), I didn’t really help my cause when I spent a good amount of time looking through Chicago brochures and attraction information.

ribsfest and iscream

While I have only recently become accustomed to the messy, savory phenomenon that is ribs, I have wasted no time in making up for the years I have not spent my days sinking my teeth into some grilled and barbecued slabs of meat.ribz

On Sunday, Tanner, his parents (who are visiting) and I went to the last night of Chicago’s Ribfest. Although it seemed as though half of the vendors were OUT OF RIBS, we still managed to snag some of the top-rated racks. Still, I cannot imagine how this happened. It’s a RIBS festival. It was disappointing to stand in line only to find that only mac and cheese was available, and I felt bad for the poor girl at the cheesesteak booth trying to get customers.

Gurl, you’re at the wrong food festival.

Still, we managed to get ribs from Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro which had the most delicious sauce. I recently learned a new phrase in Spanish (“Esta para chuparse los dedos,” which means “this is finger-licking good!”) and I thought this to myself as I used the bones of my ribs to lick off some more sauce from my plate. Yes, I was being as gross as that sounds.

We made our way through the crowded festival until we could find a renowned ribs vendor that still had ribs at all: Urban Bar-B-Que Company, which had a huge sign proclaiming its First Pace status. Somehow we managed to get two of the last racks of dry ribs, which we dunked in two kinds of sauce: Sweet and Sassy and Chipotle. The meat on these ribs was better than the first ones we tried, but I still longed for the sauce from the first rack.

Somehow we still had room for some more food in our bellies, so we went in search of ice cream. We stopped at the Irish Bistro, which advertised Guinness Ice Cream at Ribsfest but had run out. They didn’t have any ice cream at the permanent location either, so I used the Yelp App on my phone to find a nearby sweet shop. I was surprised to find that a place that was recommended to me–Margie’s Candies, was half a mile away! I couldn’t believe it. That little blue GPS dot on my iPhone guided us to the spot which was also conveniently AT A BROWN LINE STOP. We couldn’t have gotten any luckier. Margie’s had a huge line, and we suddenly realized why: ice cream is served in fantastic “shells” and you are given a little tin dish of hot fudge to pour over your ice cream. Also: the serving sizes are HUGE. While Margie’s boasts the Zombie, “the world’s largest soda,” and “the world’s largest sundae” with 1/2 a gallon of ice cream, my regular hot fudge sundae had at least 4 scoops of ice cream by itself.

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Following such a gruesome display of gluttony at the Ribsfest, you would think that I would share my sundae or opt for a frozen yogurt. Instead, I decided to take on the challenge and nearly finished all of it. Thoughts of swaying on the crowded subway ride home made me think that being stuffed would be a poor choice.

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Hawt Dawgz and ‘Za

What says “Memorial Day” more than a hot dog?

duck sausage

Nothing. So that’s why we decided to seek out one of Chicago’s finest favorite foods in honor of the holiday and the city we live in. Although I’ve been wanting to try out Hot Doug’s for awhile, we went to Chicago’s Dog House since it was one of the ony hot dog places open for the holiday. Plus, it was featured on the Food Network’s show Outrageous Food. While the Alligator Sausage Speciality Dog (deep-fried and layered with frips and a special sauce) was not on the menu that day, Tanner and I had some great dogs nonetheless.

Chicago and Chihuahua

I decided to go with the BBQ Duck Sausage (the first picture), which was topped with pears and caramelized onions. Tanner got a traditional Chicago Dog and the Chihuahua, which had guacamole, cheese, hot sauce, tomatoes and onions. Both of our meals came with frips, the curly combination of fries and chips Chicago’s Dog House is known for. They attach a kind of dangerous-looking homemade electric drill fitted with a spiral cutter to a potato to achieve the endless spirals of spud. They were pretty good, but it was difficult to dip into ketchup (all of the Chicagoans gasp!) and the fries looked better. Nice and potato-y and peppery.

This weekend we decided to have yet another Chicago specialty–deep-dish pizza.

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We decided to take a walk down the beach and head to Gino’s Pizza, which had a cool, dark interior covered with signatures and graffiti from visitors. We worked up an appetite as our Gino’s East Supreme Pizza baked for 45 minutes to an hour, completing all of the crosswords and mazes on the kid’s menu and playing several games of hangman. I also probably drank my usual 4 glasses of Diet Coke.

pizza piWhen our pizza did arrive, the waitress served us our first slices to make the process of carving out the mammoth-sized crust. The pizza was piping hot and had a thick layer of sauce with mushrooms and peppers. Under that was a full layer of sausage that coated the entire pizza (the traditional “patty” style) and a chewy, gooey layer of cheese. Finally, the crust was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, golden, and a perfect compliment to the toppings. I loved everything about this pizza, but I was completely stuffed  by the second slice.

breakfast zaHowever, cold leftover pizza makes for a great brunch.