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Posts from the ‘Food Journeys.’ Category

Wine Tasting In Buenos Aires – Anuva Wines

Anuva Wines ~ Buenos Aires

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While in Buenos Aires, we wanted to do a wine tasting to experience some of the great wines South America has to offer. We came across a spot called Anuva Wines while doing some last-minute Google searches on the hotel WiFi and made a reservation for a tasting later that day. We spent the morning eagerly awaiting our first wine tasting of the trip, and it was worth the wait! Hidden on a side street in the midst of the fashionable Palermo Soho, we found a large, unmarked black door which led us up a steep staircase into an enormous, light filled room. There was a large table of people who looked just as excited as us to start sampling wines. The sommelier was named Diego, and he was great. He gave great explanations of each wine and was happy to refill our glasses as much as we desired, which made me happy. Each wine was paired with a small bite to eat to compliment the flavors of that wine. It was a truly delicious and fun experience. It was probably the best part of our trip to Buenos Aires. If in BA, definitely head over to Anuva Wines!

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The first wine that was poured was Las Perdices Extra Brut and my oh my, it was delicious. The wine had a subtle citric aroma and tasted of pear and apple. I drank mine a bit too fast, but it was so refreshing after walking around in the heat. It was paired with two types of crostini: ricotta and lemon & arugula, pear and walnut. We ended up buying a couple of bottles to ship back to the US, so can’t wait to open up a bottle of this once the weather warms up!

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The second wine served was Mairena Torrontés. This wine had an aroma of tropical fruits and lychee and tasted like grapefruit and apricot. It was was served with humita, which I had never heard of before. Diego was kind enough to write down all the ingredients of the dish for me so I could try to recreate it myself. It’s similar to a stew and is cooked with yellow corn, red and green bell peppers, pumpkin, basil, chimichurri, onion, milk and cheese. The chimchurri gives it a mild spiciness that paired perfectly with the citric flavors of the Torrontés.

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The third wine poured was the Mairena Bonarda. The wine had an aroma of pepper, dark fruits and vanilla and had a smooth and spicy blackberry taste. It was served with a selection of cured meats and cheeses. You really can’t go wrong with wine + meats and cheeses, it’s basically the best combination ever.

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The fourth wine was San Gimignano Syrah Roble. The wine had an arroma of vanilla, violets and red fruit and had a dark, spicy flavor. It was paired with a traditional meat and potato empanada. It was perfectly cooked and tasted great with the bold flavor of the wine.

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Last, but certainly not least, the fifth and final wine poured was a Carinae Finca Deneza Malbec. The wine had an aroma of leather and a deep, bold, tannic flavor. It was served with two delicious chocolate truffles. Now, by this point in the tasting, I was admittedly a bit drunk (and by a bit, I mean really) but even while intoxicated it was still so interesting to see how the tastes of the chocolate changed and enhanced the flavors in the wine. The sweet, rich chocolate was the perfect end to tasting.

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Soul Gastrolounge.

Soul Gastrolounge – Charlotte, NC

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Y’all. I can’t tell you how happy I am to find Soul Gastrolounge in my new home of Charlotte. Moving from Chicago, one of the things I missed desperately was the plethora of amazing food right outside my front door. Don’t get me wrong, the food in Charlotte is good and there are lots of yummy BBQ options, but let’s be honest, it’s no Chicago. Soul Gastrolounge is definitely up there with some of the best Chicago hot spots.

Located in the hipster-filled Plaza Midwood, Soul Gastrolounge is somewhat hidden and tucked away on the second floor of a strip of stores, restaurants and bars. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait at the bar where you can sample their delicious craft cocktails (the Tito’s Cucumber Mule is my personal fave.) It’s a small plate style menu so you can sample lots of different dishes – my absolute favorite. There are a lot of Asian influences on the menu including an enormous sushi selection but there are also dishes that have Greek and Italian influences as well. Below are some of my favorites from my recent meals there, although I’m still slowly but surely working my way through the menu!

Asian glazed pork belly tacos in flour tortillas with watermelon salsa: Can you say heaven? These are heaven. It may sound like an odd combination but the flavors are incredible. The watermelon is tart and tangy and the pork belly is sweet and salty.

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Korean BBQ wings fried and tossed in a gochujang BBQ sauce and scallions: I love any type of Korean BBQ. These wings are super spicy and jam-packed with potent flavor.

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Red Dragon Roll – Tempura shrimp, tempura salmon and cream cheese topped with spicy tuna, poki tuna and crunchy onion: This is my all time favorite sushi roll. It’s the best flavor combination. The crunchy onion adds an unexpected flavor and texture and the tuna is amazingly fresh.

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Dancing Tuna – Seared Tuna and avocado topped with spicy tuna, jalapeno, tobiko, finished with sriracha mayo and wasabi mayo: A close second to the Red Dragon roll, the Dancing Tuna roll is also delicious. I love the subtle heat from the jalapeno and the wasabi mayo.

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Bean Town Roll – Tuna, salmon and avocado topped with spicy shrimp, green onion, fish roe and crunchy onion: This was one of their specials when we dined there. It was fresh and delicious with lots of different textures and flavors.

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A Baby Shower.

A Baby Shower for Bridget.

My friend Brittany and I threw a baby shower at my house a couple weeks back for our friend Bridget. I’ve never hosted a baby shower before but I love planning parties and decorating, so it was really fun to get creative with Brittany (who is a baby shower expert) on ideas for the decorations and the menu. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a baby shower – we were lucky enough to have beautiful weather with temperatures reaching the 80s. It was such a great day filled with friends, food and sunshine!

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The Decorations

We wanted to go for a shabby-chic theme for the decorations. For the flowers, I got blue Ball jars (she’s having a boy!) from the hardware store and tied a bow around the top with twine. This created a super adorable vase at a super affordable price. We did two kinds of white flowers to keep it simple. For the other ideas and decorations, Etsy and Pinterest were my go to spots for ideas. The baby shower banner was simple and sweet (found here). We also hung twine and used clothes pins to hang onesies around the house for another fun touch that also doubled as a gift for Bridget. For the cupcakes, we topped them off rubber ducky toppers (found here).

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The Food

This was my favorite part of the shower, of course. I wanted to make food that was easy to eat and could be eaten at room temperature so I didn’t have to worry about keeping it hot, so I made different types of salads and sandwiches.  I made two different kinds of mini “slider” sandwiches that were delicious and adorable – a BLT with avocado herbed mayo on slider buns and tomato, mozzarella and basil on french bread. I also made a sun-dried tomato and artichoke pasta salad, a Brussels sprouts and arugula salad and a lemon potato salad. We also had a drink station with citrus infused water and mimosas which were perfect to keep us cool in the hot weather. Stay tuned… the recipes will be up on the blog soon!

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Take Me Back To Taste of Peru.

Taste of Peru – Chicago, IL

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Gareth and I saw this restaurant, Taste of Peru, featured on a TV show called Hungry Hound several years ago and I have wanted to go there ever since. We FINALLY made the trip there this summer (not sure why it took us so long!) and it was so incredibly delicious. It was so good, in fact, we went two weekends in a row for lunch! Nestled between a nail salon and a laundromat in a strip mall in Rogers Park, Taste of Peru is a no frills kind of place. But don’t let the exterior scare you away, the service is excellent and the food is amazing and authentic. When dining there, you absolutely have to order the Papa Rellena appetizer that was voted “Best in Town” by Hungry Hound. It was also a favorite of Guy Fieri when he visited the restaurant on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The combination of ingredients may sound a bit odd, but the flavor is fantastic. My favorite entrée we had was the Lomo Saltado, which is their #1 best-selling entrée. All of the food on the menu looks good, so my suggestion is to order a few things to explore the tastes of Peru! I think I may actually do this myself (again!) this weekend. Mmmmmm.

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Papa Rellena: Mashed potato stuffed with a mixture of seasoned rib eye steak, walnuts, eggs, raisins, & olives.

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Arroz Con Pollo: Peruvian-style chicken and rice. cooked in a cilantro-based sauce, the chicken absorbs the entire rice flavor from being cooked in the same pot.

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Lomo Saltado: #1 Best Seller- Sautéed rib eye beef cut in strips, cooked with tomatoes, onions and French fries and served with white rice.

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Seco De Cordero: Lamb cooked in red wine, beer, chile ancho, red peppers, pumpkin and served with white rice and beans.

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Boston’s Coppa &Toro.

This is a much delayed post from our weekend trip to Boston this past February. The trip was one of the most food-filled, scrumptious trips that I’ve ever had and I ate some of the best meals of my life. These two meals, at Coppa and Toro, were among the best of the best and were both recommended to me by friends who live in Boston. We ate at Toro for lunch and Coppa for dinner on the same day, so needless to say, it was a rather gluttonous day that ended in a major food coma. Ken Origner and Jamie Bissonnette are the Chefs at both of these restaurants. Toro is a tapas restaurant and Coppa is an Italian enoteca. Both menus have great options for ordering several smaller plates to share. I highly recommend both of these restaurants. All of the food we ate was delicious, but at Toro, my favorite dishes (tied for first place) were the Maiz Asado Con Alioli Y Queso Cotija and the Cauliflower A La Plancha.  My mouth waters just thinking about them. At Coppa, my favorite was the Manatelle Nero. It has a really rich, unique flavor and the homemade squid ink pasta is so good. I can’t wait to go back to Boston to dine at these amazing restaurants again! If you go to Boston, you must eat at these restaurants!

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Ensalada Cortada: romaine, tahini-miso dressing, croutons, grilled corn, cucumber, radish, tomato and mahon cheese

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Datiles Con Jamon: medjool dates with marcona almonds and cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in jamon Serrano

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Cauliflower A La Plancha: cauliflower with pinenuts, golden raisins and pimento

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Pato Con Membrillo: smoked duck drumettes with quince glaze

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Maiz Asado Con Alioli Y Queso Cotija: la especialidad de la casa. grilled corn with aioli, lime, espalette pepper and aged cheese

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Patatas Bravas: fried potatoes with aioli and spicy tomato sauce

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Coles de Bruselas a la Plancha: Brussels sprouts with olive oil and sea salt

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Coppa

Meatballs al Forno:  Wood roasted meatballs with tomato gravy

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Insalata di Scarola: Escarole salad with carrots, aged Provolone and creamy caper vinaigrette

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Arancini: Traditional fried risotto balls with fontina


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Manatelle Nero: House made squid ink pasta with octopus, Castelvetrano olives, black garlic and tomato

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Funghi: White pizza with Miatake mushrooms, burrata, crechenza, ramp vinaigrette and a farm egg

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Mouthwatering Korean BBQ: Del Seoul

Del Seoul is my new favorite spot in Chicago for a no-fuss, affordable, delicious meal.  In the heart of Lincoln Park, Del Seoul offers a casual dining experience that’s perfect for lunch. There are no waiters, you just order/pay for your food and then they bring it to you when it’s ready.  The flavors of all the dishes are robust and amazing. The tacos are my personal favorite (the shrimp taco is the BEST) but you really can’t go wrong with any item on the menu. I highly suggest dining in the restaurant rather than take-out so you can experience their cast-iron plates and hot stone bowls—your food will come out steaming (and still cooking!) and the rice gets nice and crispy on the bottom. It’s a great spot to go with a few people so you can share lots of the items and taste all the deliciousness. I can’t wait to go back again to try some new items on the menu!

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Korean BBQ Tacos (From left to right)

Kalbi (Grilled Beef Short Rib): grilled beef short rib, cilantro onion relish, secret slaw, toasted sesame seeds

Sesame-Chili Shrimp: hand-battered panko shrimp, cilantro onion relish, sesame-chili aioli, slaw, toasted sesame seeds

Sambal Fish: tempura haddock, pickled red onions, Napa slaw, spicy sambal sauce

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Korean Specialties

Hot Stone Bowl Bibimbop: Korean-style rice bowl with seasonal vegetables, ribeye steak, egg and Kochujiang sauce

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Korean BBQ Plates

Korean Ribeye Steak (Bulgogi): ribeye steak with sweet-soy, soju marinade

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For Sharing

K-Town Chicken Wings: spicy, lollipopped crispy chicken wings with a sweet soy, chili seco, Sichuan peppercorn glaze

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Seoul Style Street Dumplings: steamed handmade pork dumplings with sake-soy dipping sauce.

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Hot In Cleveland: The Greenhouse Tavern.

 The Greenhouse Tavern is an exceptional restaurant located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Jonathan Sawyer creates delicious eats with a green twist. The Greenhouse Tavern was the first certified green restaurant in Ohio and follows a “farm to plate”  mentality. Chef Sawyer, a 2012 James Beard award nominee, was awarded Bon Apetit’s Best New Restaurants in 2009 and Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2010. We were lucky enough to eat at the Chef’s table in the basement of the restaurant with close access to the kitchen. One perk to eating in this area are the surprise plates that you get throughout your meal. We were given several dishes to taste throughout our dinner in addition to what we ordered. The menu changes often with the season and has a variety of options including some vegan and vegetarian dishes. The dishes are original, creative and flavored to perfection. The service is beyond excellent and the atmosphere is fun and lively. You can really taste the love and effort put into each dish. Simply put, The Greenhouse Tavern is a phenomenal dining experience. I highly recommend every dish we had, shown below.

Shout out to Jamie and Karen Morse – Greenhouse Tavern’s two best customers! Thanks for taking us for a lovely dinner.

Crispy Chicken Wings Confit with roasted jalapeño, lemon juice, scallion & garlic.

Spicy Raw Fermented Ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, onion & tomato.

Jean Louis Chave & Mushroom Risotto with porcini & wood ear mushrooms.

Properly Cooked Heirloom Ohio Bean Salad with extra virgin olive oil, pinto, turkey caw & calypso.

Pan Fried Pork Chop Saltimbocca with sage, country ham, pomme purée, scrapple & red eye gravy.

Strongolopretti Pasta with red beets, pecorino, day old bread, parsley, blue poppy seeds & brown butter.

Strip Steak Frites with Ohio only certified Angus beef ®, pommes frites, parsley, shallot mignonette & buerre rouge.

Raw Apple and Celery Leaf Salad with Rittman orchards apple, walnut tahini, radish, Mackenzie’s goat cheese, cracked fennel & almond.

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Roasted Squash Double with amoretti bread crumbs, sage & love.

A Very Merry Un-Birthday Cake with aerated sponge cake, cake batter ice cream, vanilla frosting & sprinkles.

Smoked Malt Walnut Financier with chocolate cremeux, toasted oat, lemon & parsnip puree, almond crunch & candied walnut.

Vegan Huckleberry Sorbet with huckleberry and juniper sorbet, toasted almond cake, coconut whip, chia seed & house made muesli.