we got the beets

my last night in chicago was spent like every other night whilst there, a whirlwind of eating, drinking and friends. we started out the evening walking a dog and enjoying some hot toddies. did you know that half a honey stick is the perfect amount of honey for a mug of hot toddy? finding ourselves lacking two essential ingredients - lemon and honey - we hit up a local produce stand/co-op for the goods. a jar of honey cost a whopping $4.29 but i knew i only needed a smidge. as i checked out i noticed a little jar of honey sticks - 25 cents each! i quickly put the overpriced honey jar back and spent a measley 50 cents on two sticks. the perfect amount of honey for four hot toddies (two double toddies each, that is). just a friendly heads up for your winter drinking pleasure!

once warm and toasty, we headed over to lula cafe in logan square. this place is basically the perfect restaurant, in my book. warm and cozy, but not TOO small, dark and ambient but with enough light for some decent picture taking, a price point that makes you feel slightly fancy without breaking the bank and a menu offering an amazing array of diverse options. and a seasonal menu at that, not to mention a charming wait staff and lovely decor. we started things off with a round of sangria and shortly thereafter we were surprised with a complementary amuse-bouche. i've never been to a place that served amuse-bouche and it was so tiny and special, how i like most everything.

you can thank the sangria for all my shoddy pictures
amuse-bouche of pomegranate salad

we then inquired with our waitress about the mushroom rilette. we were informed that a rillette is usually a dish similar to a pate with a layer of fat on top to seal in flavor......(eww). however, lula's rillette was made with four different mushrooms and a layer of house-cultured butter on top. ok, the butter was a bit much, but this was obviously way more my speed than cubed salted fatted pork. the rillette was served with a whole grain mustard, caperberries, a mixed green salad and toast. we TORE THIS UP so fast we had to ask for more toast. the mushroom rillette was coarsely chopped and full of mushroomy goodness. one of my favorites of the night.

my vegetarian dining companion and i decided to go halfsies on two very different dishes. i ordered (with strong support from the rest of the table) the beet bruschetta featuring olive oil marinated beets with goat cheese atop a toasty baguette and an arugula and red onion salad drizzled with roasted garlic vinaigrette. served with a side of crispy roasted fingerling potatoes. although this seemed like more of an appetizer, it was pretty huge and really filling. so simple. so delicious. my co-diner ordered the pasta yiayia which was bucatini (crazy pasta kind of shaped like a drinking straw with a hollow middle) with moroccan cinnamon, garlic, feta and brown butter. whoever thought of mixing cinnamon, feta and pasta can now take my hand in marriage.

finally, stuffed as we were, we somehow, some way, made room for dessert. when i was strictly vegan, dessert was something in which i didn't often partake. and usually i was way too stuffed anyway, so it didn't even matter. but being a bit more lax with my restrictions these days has opened up a whole new possibility for CRAZY FULLNESS. so i've been keeping myself in check in the dessert realm. this night, however, was an exception, especially after seeing the dessert menu. between the four of us we split two things: a brandied conserve crepe with toasted walnut ice cream, creme fraiche ice cream and clotted cream AND a rosemary creme caramel (think firmer than flan consistency) with pear and peppercorn brittle. dudes, this stuff was amazing. unabashedly freaking insanely good. no regrets. the crepe was maybe one of the best desserts i've had in my entire life. plus we had digestifs which is just adorable.

so there you have it. this trip to chicago was so successful in so many ways. good friends, good laughs, food, drink, coffee, animals, 'getting away from it all' and even some cultural activities thrown in for good measure! we're not just killing those brain cells, we're enhancing them first before they go. oh, and feeding them, REALLY well.



my royale bender

oh to be home, home again. unemployment v2.0 has been treating me rather well as i've decided to take a bit more advantage of this go round. trips to nyc, delaware and chicago these last few weeks have brought about good times, awesome food and friends. man, friends for days.

the amount of food and drinks i have imbibed in the last 21 days of unencumbered responsibility-free bliss is enough to kill a small animal. fortunately paired with [occasional, i'll admit] trips to the gym, i haven't suffered many consequences of such vague lushery.

a much needed, long overdue trip to visit friends in chi-town had me sampling the finest coffees, pastries, pizzas, beer/liquor and desserts of the windy city. it was pretty windy, so was my butt after eating all that dairy. oops. chicago didn't seem to be the most vegan friendly place, so i just ate whatever the hell i wanted. it was worth it, no regrets, no regrets. my chicago buddy has worked in quite a few service industry jobs, particularly coffee shops, so we drank coffee for free mostly everywhere we went. intelligentsia is a local coffee roaster with a bit of an attitude and a lot of coffee knowledge to back it. their "single origin espresso" made from an ethiopian bean was maybe the best shot of espresso i ever had!

lovely bakeshop and bakin' and eggs are two darling cafes/restaurants owned by a trifecta of awesome culinary minded people. i had coffee and pastries and a late lunch at lovely and breakfast at bakin' and eggs. not to mention took home some PRETTY killer pastries for the housies. i want to be these people when i grow up.

i stayed in a super adorable condo in hyde park, right near lake michigan. i guess most of chicago is right by lake michigan. we took a chilly walk my first day there and it looked like this:

i also spent the night with a pretty handsome chap while in town. i'm not usually wont to one night stands but i just couldn't pass this cutie up:

alright that's enough divulging into my life for one post. chicago part two features A TRIP TO THE ZOO and ONE OF THE BEST MEALS OF MY LIFE. see you then, kids.



royalety in chi-town

ahoy hoy from the midwest! i'm currently in chicago visiting some friends and getting the royale treatment. a friend is house sitting for his boss which mean staying in a SUPER cute condo in hyde park with two kitties and a sweet but whiny black lab. highlights so far have included: intelligentsia coffee and blueberry almondine at lovely bakeshop, buying tiny special things at renegade craft shop, new haven style pizza and microbrews at piece in wicker park, indian lunch at rajun cajun and midnight burritos after an awesome jazz show at the hideout.

my camera doesn't plug into this fancy macintosh computer, so you'll have to wait till i'm eastbound to see my pictures. but here is a picture from lovely website of some baked goodies and one of gable, chillest cat ever. see you on the other side!

chilly x's and o's,


back in the blog-ssr

forgive me dear blog readers,
it's been nearly two months since my last post. i had a job and a social life and i was kind of owning philadelphia, and in my whirlwind painting some areas of this damn town red, i forgot my camera and neglected to snap pictures and ate out a lot and just kind of dropped the ball in general. but....I'M BACK! and i'm going to do my best to stay on top of this here food journal. i hope you too will stay on top of reading it, because i have a lot to say.

as some of you may remember, i was unemployed for a bit back in october. oh, glorious [f]unemployment. but right around november, i started working at a new job.....in a cheese shop. this new position required me to try every product as part of my training. some vegans may have turned this job down instantly, but as a foodie at heart, and a girl trying to establish herself and move up in the food industry, i sucked it up and accepted the position. and i got to say, cheese is pretty yummy. i'm still in the process of figuring some things out about my diet and my relationship with it. i still cook and eat vegan A LOT and i still love veganism and vegan food and my vegan friends and restaurants. i just eat cheese sometimes. i hope that's ok with you. it's taken me a little while, but it's ok with me.

last weekend i took a much needed trip to NYC to visit some friends that were supremely missed. i visited high line park in chelsea, the chelsea market, the MOMA (my first time visit! check out the tim burton exhibit, it's rad) franny's in brooklyn, the whitney museum of american art, and finally, the vegan gourmet candle cafe, on the upper east side.

one of my favorite images from tim burton exhibit,
romeo and juliet

view from high line park,
photo courtesy of michael

(i cheated and stole this from high line park flickr page)

coff-skey at candle cafe
(whiskey spiked coffee)

speltberry salad with lentils, roasted cauliflower and butt-nut squash
over mixed green with a creamy shallot dressing

cajun seitan sandwich with steamed kale, carmelized onions,
avocado and ancho chili aoili on toasted focaccia

garlic-shallot-potato mash

besties, enjoying their grub

man, new york is freaking fun!! overall, candle cafe was pretty awesome. we have the candle cafe cookbook here at home and i've cooked out of it many a time, and eating at the restaurant was kind of just like that. not to frou-frou or fancy, a bit on the pricier side, but it's nyc so what can you do? one thing that stood out to all of us was the sauces and dressings. each sauce elevated the dish to the next level. kind of a weird observation, but we all agreed.

so, that's all for now. i hope you'll have me back, dear readers.