Thursday, July 29, 2010

Secret Dinner Clubs

If you didn't know, secret eating clubs are all the rage right now. You pay a fair amount to go to a dinner/meal where the location isn't known until the last minute.
Two groups, graffEats and Silver.Spoon are teaming up to put on a "Gurrilla Dining Event" August 13 somewhere in the South Loop. You can buy tickets and learn more about the menu at the website:

graffEats, a Guerrilla Dining Society, is the anti-restaurant restaurant. Guerrilla dining is a return to the roots of what a restaurant really is. Society gatherings are locale driven, and a great place for adventuresome diners to satiate their urges.  graffEats, a charitable San Francisco based dining society, is committed to bringing guests the best in dining whether it be the local and sustainable products or a lifetime of fine dining experience behind the stove.  We can't wait to cook for you! /  / facebook page

Silver.Spoon is a new venture offering locals and visitors alike the alternative of guerrilla dining in Copenhagen.  Follow us as we show you the ephemeral restaurant where chefs, menus, venues, and themes come together for a single event before disbanding and moving on to reappear again elsewhere in various permutations.

We strive to satisfy your epicurean tastes by allowing up-and-coming chefs the creative freedom to design innovative menus using the freshest, most sustainable ingredients available.,  Quality dining for affordable prices at it's best.
silver.spoon /

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tanta - Lima, Peru

Our final meal in Peru was at Tanta, one of the concepts from Astrid Gaston. Gaston is the icon of Peruvian cuisine neuveu and is the most recognizable restaurateur in the country. His flagship restaurant in Lima is closed on Sundays so we went with what we had.

The setup is interesting, half coffee shop/bakery and half causal/fun eating spot. There were plenty of appealing dishes to choose from so we went with as many as our stomachs could fit.

We started with a trio of appetizers: chicken taquitos, chile relleno and fresh vegetable salad. Everything was delicious, especially the taquitos served with guacamole. The salad was a sight for sore eyes having been deprived of fresh greens most of the trip. The portions were large, and with the wine on the table our appetite for a main meal was limited. We kept it simple with their basic pasta (cheese, tomato and garlic), and loved every bite. I could have ordered another one on the spot, but our conscious got the better of us.

Reasonably priced by American standards, we were thrilled to finish our trip on a high note, the perfect transition from mountains and jungles to cities and work. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gaston invade North America at some point…

Food from the Inca Trail (and other home made encounters)

Our food on the trail was excellent by all accounts. These chefs are truly amazing at what they can prepare with the tools and constraints given. The three highlights include a breakfast with chicken rolled in a thin egg wrap, cake dessert with jello topping, and a stir fry lunch served inside a banana leaf (for disposal we tossed it into the river)

Finishing Up Peru Food

While I did a good job of sending back pictures on the fly from Peru, there are a few more meals to document.

We had two very good meals in Cusco at Los Peros and Nunas. The former was our final dinner as an entire group before people went their separate ways. The highlight from that meal had to be the house sized burgers some people ordered. They could have been the largest burgers I’ve seen with my own eyes. Needless to say they couldn’t finish half of what was ordered, and I can’t blame them. The meet was marinated in a slightly sweet sauce that made consuming mass quantities difficult. I ordered the Asian Flavors (Chinese style chicken with rice), and loved it. Consensus suggested I out-ordered most. We also enjoyed authentic Pisco Sours, as well as delicious vegetable wantons to start.

Nunas had been the best food of the trip at the time. Alyssa had a basic but tasty pasta dish, while I went with the signature beef dish served “lopez style.” I loved the spicy and complex seasonings and all the vegetables that accompanied.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cookie Bar

So if you buy 5 cookies and only 3 make it back home, something good must have happened. An amazingly simple concept of baking delicious cookies has come to Lincoln Park. At $1.25 a go they aren't the cheapest thing going, but don't tell the kids because they'll be begging mom every night for a trip to cookie bar. The 3 cookies features below are the snickerdoodle, peanut butter and butter finger. The two that didn't make it back in time were the sugar and Mackenzie (sp?). I'm not much of a dessert person but these were very tasty and fresh, even though we went 10 minutes before closing. Summer is the perfect time to take a stroll to the local sweets shop after dinner and get a nice stomach ache by the time you get home...

Cookie Bar on Urbanspoon


I admit I'm woefully behind on updating a few restaurants. I went to Cumin in min-June before heading off to South Africa for the World Cup. It also happened to be right after I returned from Nepal and India, a true comparison indeed. Since it has been a long time, my memory on individual dishes is a bit rusty. I was surprised to see too that Cumin has gotten a lot of good press since I've been there. All in all the food was tasty, but there was a lot of front of house and service issues that needed ironing out. We were seating for a very long time before any service came to us with menus, and our wait times just kept on increasing throughout the night. Once we did order, we had a tough time with the language barrier. Yes, a language barrier in an ethnic restaurant in wicker park. When we finished ordering we got a look that suggested we asked for a whole goat in Chinese. Everything worked out in the end with pretty good food to boot. I wish we would have tried some of the Nepalese dishes, but people felt more comfortable with Indian dishes like tandoori or masala vegetables. We scored a good one with the vegetarian monsoon platter. 
Maybe the service issues were opening week bugs and have since been corrected. The food is worth a second look the next time I'm craving Indian and Nepalese cuisine. Cumin also offers lunch buffets and delivery.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pesto Peru Style

My benchmark for value has been permanently altered. Here in Cusco,
Alyssa and I needed a mid day pick me up. For 11 soles ($4), we
enjoyed a 3 course "snack" including salad, soup and entree. I choose
a family comfort food favorite of pesto pasta. Though not even close
to as good as my mother's recipie, it was comforting none the less.
Finding good food for cheap never gets old.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More Peru Food

We had our best meal so far last night (7.9.10) with the whole group.
I wasn't too hungry so I only needed one dish. Our server sold me on
his favorite, a beef dish served "lopez style." I can't remember every
ingrediant but lots of tasty spices on the onions, peppers and
tomatoes all served on rice and fries.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dinner in Puno

We had a very nice meal in Puno last night at Keros. It started with
an authentic Pisco Sour and vegetable soup. The table ordered fresh
delicious ceviche and my main course was a surprisingly tasty mango
chicken dish. So far so good.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Peru Food

I'm going to try and post more frequently while in Peru. Wifi seems
accessibile and I'd rather not have a back log.

Our first meal was a small snack in Puno at Colors. I had a tomato
soup and chicken pesto sandwhich. Not bad though not authentic. That
should change soon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

No Rest for the Weary

Leaving the country again, off to Peru this time. Lots of updating to do when I get back, especially my meal at Alinea last night. It's a must do for any food enthusiast. I would describe it as an experience and not a meal. It truly is an art form and performance. 29 courses in pictures to look forward to when I get home.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Big Star

 If it wasn't already known, I've been on the road a lot. I have a few things to post from last month, and I hope to get those done before I leave tomorrow morning for Peru. I also have good stories with food from South Africa, a great eaters country.

While Jed and I were running around before leaving for the World Cup, we stopped into Big Star to have a drink and snack, and finally cross it off my list. I'm glad we went, the food is good and the drinks are fantastic. Like most people have already noted, I'd go to Big Star for the drinks/atmosphere first with the added bonus of tasty food. The prices for individual servings are reasonable ($2-3 per taco), most people I know need a few of those to feel satisfied. The bill can quickly go from cheap night out to standard Chicago bar and food establishment. Not that I felt there was poor value, just a slightly contrary opinion to what's out there.
As for what we actually ate, my small snack included the Tacos De Borrego (marinated, braised lamb shoulder with radish, roasted scallions and queso fresco), and an order of guacamole.

I really liked the guac, lots of avo chunks and nice spices. The taco was tasty and a little messy. The radish is a nice touch that I wouldn't think to add to a taco. I was dissapointed with the "salsa" or sauce, as well as the hot sauce provided. Neither of the sauce options had any flavor or spice, so you're stuck with what you get. It should not be too hard to find some good and spicy red sauce to make available to customers.

I forget what I ordered to drink, but I do remember my first choice of Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Root-beer was not available. All the drinks are delicious and reasonably priced.

I'm glad to finally make it to this buzz worthy spot, and I recommend checking it out for the honky-tonk atmosphere and laid back scene. They serve great drinks with tasty food. FYI, cash only so leave the plastic at home.

Big Star on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Back Home, For a Day

Just got back from South Africa, Paris and the Netherlands. Will post pictures to the travel blog and have plenty of good meals to write about, though I'm not sure when I will have time to do so. The food in South Africa was surprisingly good. We ate very well for great value.


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