Saturday, January 28, 2012

One of our family's favorite restaurants is Roti.  It is one of the few places that all the kids and grown ups agree on.  They have a great deal there.  Our family of 5 can eat from there for around $20. That is crazy!  I get a huge plate of chicken, a large container of humus, 4 pitas, sumac onions (sumac is a Mediterranean spice) and Spanish eggplant and we have extra for snacking on the next day.  You can even gets sauces for free.  My favorite is yogurt (make with Greek yogurt) with cucumber and dill.  The chicken has "Mediterranean spices" on it. (Per their website - but no further explanation of what that blend is).  But it is quite healthy. A lot of protein with a small amount of carbs.  I like that combo.

Here's what my plate of food looks like.
The Spanish eggplant is so delicious.  It has eggplant, onions, green peppers and tomatoes.  The description also mentions a honey glaze, which I can taste by the sweetness in the dish.  It is served cold, but very tasty. To me, eggplant is more about the texture than taste - to me.

Oh, and I am going to La Luz tomorrow to get more tamales...and not for the dogs.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Our dogs ate about 6 of the tamales.....that is just wrong.  To waste such great food on the dogs.  I am amazed they ate the spicy chicken ones.  All that was left was the corn husks all over the ground!  User error - I get that, but just wrong!  I get that it was my fault for leaving them on the counter too long....but tamales?!  Really Jake and Shana?!?!  You had to eat these????

Everything happens for a reason "they" say.  Off to La Luz we go this weekend I guess....oh darn!

This is the brauns of the group....see that "who me?" look in his eyes?? Yah right!  This I do know...Shana couldn't have reached the tamales on the counter on her own.  She's just too small. Hhhhmmmm......makes you think.....Really Jake??
I think she is the brains of the tamale operation.  She even refuses to have her picture taken to protect her identity. Oh Shana......

Thursday, January 26, 2012

THANK YOU JUANITA!!!!!!  I work with Juanita and I asked her where she got the tamales that she had brought to our work pot luck on Christmas eve. She said La Luz and I am SO glad I listened and went there!  The tamales are only available on the weekends. They have pork, chicken and cheese.  We got the pork and chicken.  The chicken is more spicy than the pork.  You need to ask for them - they are not out in the open.
The orange ones are the pork filled tamales.  The others are chicken filled.
Here is the giant steamers they make them in.

Here are some more of the amazing pastries and breads they have there to choose from.  Everything is self serve.  Just pick up a pizza pan, tongs and go at it.  Just pick away.  They are also very helpful.  The lady working there walked through with us telling us what fillings was in what.
 Aren't these beautiful!
 Here is the tray of sweets we got.  See the one in the back left - what has caramel and vanilla filled. On the far right is a vanilla churro. The long twisty thing was flaky and cinnamony (is that even a word?) This tray full of yum place 1 dozen tamales was less than $20.  Amazing - the money goes right to the person making the food.  Not some corporation.  That is really important!
Look at these.  We didn't buy them, but they were so beautiful.  They are gelatin with edible flowers in them.  Can you imagine these all laid out on a table??  So gorgeous! These are just for decorations, I found out from one of my co-workers - not for eating like I thought.

La Luz
500 N Lake Street, Mundlein.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

News flash - I got a reservation at Charlie Trotter's!!!!  It closes forever in August and I got a reservation!!!!!
Speaking of getting out of a rut - we found a new place to eat Chinese food. Hong Kong Cafe - 1608 East Algonquin Rd, Schaumburg, IL.  We found it using Yelp.  I put a link to Yelp on my blog's links - on the left side of the page. If you are trying to get out of a food rut - Yelp is a great way to go.  You just put in the type of food you like and it pulls up different places.  The best part is the rating that everyone does. To make sure you have an accurate review, make sure the person whose review you read has reviewed places on Yelp many times.  Then you know it isn't the owner reviewing themselves.  I use Yelp when I travel too.  In fact, that is how I found the places we ate in Scottsdale, AZ.

Service was not so great - but the food was very good. As long as you are ok asking for more of whatever you need, it will be fine.  Just don't be afraid to ask for what you need (amen sister!). We ordered three dishes and hot and sour soup (which fed 5 people) and the total was only $36.   Very good price with good food.  Nice combo.  Here are a couple of dishes we ordered.
 This was Chicken Kow - with wide rice noodles.  The noodles were so delicious.  Crispy parts, soft noodles.  Light sauce.  Not too much celery (you know that can be a problem at some Chinese food places).
This dish was Mongolian Chicken.  Usually this is a spicy dish, and I am sure we could ask for that next time.  It was really good.  Nice amount of sauce with great flavor.  Good amount of vegis with good amount of chicken.

We will definitely be coming back to here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In Scottsdale we had a yummy breakfast. The Orange Table was the name of it.  It was hard to find, it an office complex, on the first floor, so kind of weird.  We both ordered the same thing....White Flannel.  Which is corn beef, mushrooms, onions, potatoes and garlic.  This is topped with sour cream and I had it with poached eggs that I put onto the dish and broke them open to ooze all over.  I liked it, but my husband didn't.  He said his had too much garlic.  It was ok. I really liked the olive bread I had with mine.  It was fresh and not too salty from the olives. And as you can see - there were nice big chunks of olives in it.  Yum!
Getting in a rut just sucks.....and finding a way out sometimes is tough.  Ruts can come in many forms....clothes, friends, food you cook, places you go eat, weather, where you live.  Routine....though good and a necessary evil is also dangerous.  It can make us complacent, apathetic and therefore not in the present.  Just going through the motions.   Doing something new, going somewhere new opens new paths in our lives and in our minds.  I have been hankering for some changes....changes that I control though.  I think that is all part of it.  Change is fine, but usually best when you choose it and it doesn't choose you.

We just came back from a work trip to Arizona.  What a drastic change from around the Chicago area!  And I loved it!  Breathing in the warm air, the cacti (plural of cactus I believe), the food.  It was SO different and I loved it all!
We ate an amazing restaurant called The Mission.  It is in Scottsdale, AZ.  They bill themselves as "modern latin" and I got that vibe.  We had a great server, Johnathon.  He offered to order our dinners for us if we were willing to answer some questions.  Sure!!  We are always up for surprise good food!  Here were his questions - all on a scale from 1 to 10.  How hungry are you?  How spicy do you like your food? Which kind of meat....shellfish, pork, steak or chicken?  He asked those of both my husband and myself and off he went.  And he nailed it!  Impressive!
We ate outside.  Having come from -20 windchill weather into a air temp of 65 degrees, it was the only way to go.  And it was a lot quieter than eating inside.  In fact, the inside was so loud, it would have bothered me and got in the way of dinner.  There were heaters outside take the chill out of the air.
 This was our first dish.  They use the mexican cola as a syrup, boiling is down until it gets thick.  The pork belly was nice and crispy.  The sweet of the cola, the tang of the lime, the cold of the lettuce, the hot of the crispy pork.  Great way to start this meal.  We had no peanuts since my husband can't have them.  They were not missed.
Crispy Cola Pork
pork belly + cola + lime + chiltepin + peanut + pickled red onion + gem lettuce
Here was what I had as my main course.  It was delicious.  The ham was crispy bits of salt, the octopus was more dense of a bite versus the scallop, so they worked well together.  The brown drizzle on the plate tasted similar, just not as sweet, to the cola used above, which was fine with me.
Diver Scallops*
citrus white bean puree+ sherried queso azul+ serrano ham + grilled octopus
 I asked specifically for these since I love grits.  They were very course, which is fine (no pun intended!) with me.  Not too spicy.  Just right.  I had left overs and ate them cold the next day.  Just as good which is the sign of a good dish.

Poblano Grits
grits + roasted poblano + horseradish + butter

 This was my husband's dish.  The strak melted in your mouth.  And I love tomatillos.  They are tangy and a nice firm texture playing against the steak that was so tender.  Very tasty dish!!
Chimmichurri Marinated Hanger Steak

pan de bono + charred leek & scallion soubise + tomatillo salad

 Ok...this may be my favorite dessert EVER....yes, I said EVERY!!  The bananas were wrapped in some kind of this dough and fried....I could just stop there, but no......the middle glob is peanut butter mousse and the final piece to this perfect dish was the cinnamon gelato.  Just take a hot, crisp banana, dip into the smooth peanut butter mousse, dip into the cold cinnamon gelato.  And if you want to even go further, do a swipe into the dulche de leche that is drizzled on the plate.  WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fried Bananas
butter + nutmeg + peanuts + dulche de leche

This was a wall inside the restaurant.  It is some kind of salt rock, illuminated from behind. Beautiful!