Author Archives: Viola

Usagi Ya

Usagi Ya is a sushi restaurant in Noble Square/West Town/whatever name is in vogue that day.

Viola’s Take:

I’m not a fan of seafood.

I had to be bribed to eat it as a child or alternatively absolutely douse it in poppyseed dressing. When I decided to study in Rome I promised myself that I would try anything. It really changed my mind about certain foods but not about fish.  I’ll eat fish to be polite in most cases but its not something I seek out. I have only eaten sushi once before on one of my various terrible dates before meeting Blink and I saw a daily deal on this place and thought to give it a try as Blink loves sushi.

The results: Sushi-2 Viola-2

I have found that I like sushi that really doesn’t seem like sushi in my book. I liked the two deep fried rolls, Miami and Fire, much more than the Spicy Tuna and Green Monster. There was no fish texture in it really and thats normally the part that trips me up. Honestly, the Fire roll that I would eat on a regular basis. It was so spicy and crunchy and everything I didn’t expect from sushi but in a good way. Usagi Ya gets two thumbs way way up from me for those two

deep fried rolls.

Blink’s Take:

 

This was a great sushi restaurant. I was very pleased in not only the quality of the rolls, but the taste and presentation. It was Viola’s first taste adult attempt of sushi, so keeping this in mind I choose a few rolls… more her speed.

 

First was the Fire roll. It was a basic tuna, and from the picture above, you can see not the traditional fashion of roll. The fried tempura around the roll would help distract her from the raw fish as well as the spice flirt with her taste buds.

 
Next was the combination of the Miami roll and the Green Monster. I ordered the

green monster to help Viola get away from the fish and have a break if she needed it. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a true veggie lover. It was a bit much with the chewing due to the sheer volume of vegetables. The Miami roll was another attempt at tricking Viola, but the joke was on me because it was delicious.

Last was the traditional spicy tuna roll. I wasn’t sure if I should go for the a California, Spider or Philadelphia. It all boiled down to Viola again. I choose the one I thought she would like the most. This roll brought out the flavor of the tuna with a mild but prominent heat. I found it delicious but the tuna texture was a bit much so I finished it by myself… what a tough life I lead.

 

 

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Jam and Honey

Jam and Honey is a recently opened restaurant in Lincoln Park.

Viola’s Take:

I had heard that the food was pretty good from my friend Shaz who lives nearby. One day after housesitting for their staycation in a local hotel we decided to BYOB it up.  Oh, what a shame that things weren’t as good as they could have been.

BYOB restaurants are pretty kickass in my opinion. Its super lame though when a restaurant is overcharging for mixers like orange juice. We each got a tiny glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.  I’m not a penny pincher but it just seemed like an unfair price point for the amount we got. I should have heeded the warning of the internet that the service was lackluster as well. Our waitress stopped by 3 times total including order taking. I’m not a high maintainance customer but if I need something (like missing toast, ahem) I need someone to ask. And honestly if the food were good enough I would totally be cool with all of this. Sometimes shit like that is worth it for something that you would slap yo mamma to eat.

That just wasnt true unfortunately. Blink and I make a habit of ordering everything and then just splitting from there (post on the theory of this forthcoming). So we got the Chorizo Potato Hash and the Chicken and Waffles.

Firstly the Chorizo Potato Hash. Womp womp. The dish was full of roasted peppers and a bit of meat but honestly nothing tasted of chorizo. This is especially strange considering the amount of grease that looks distinctly of the paprika infused sausage. So without even the taste of chorizo and all that grease I was disappointed. In addition to that there was a significant execution flaw in my eyes, the potatoes. It’s sort of silly that the potatoes were grey in the hash. Not all of them but there was a greyish hue which indicates that they were probably cut early in the morning and not stored correctly.  Shame. Its a simple thing to cut a potato. Do it a couple times during the day or store your cut potatoes in water so they dont grey. Simple.

The chicken and waffles was average. I rather enjoyed slathering them both with the housemade orange marmalade. That was delicious and should be used more often in the dishes. Oh and the dollop in the center is a great honey vanilla butter. I wish I had more of it. Goodness gracious I would eat that slathered on bread any day of the week.

Blink’s Take:

I’m… gonna keep it short and not so sweet on this place. The location of this restaurant will keep this place limping on for ages. Our two dishes had nothing to set them apart. Whats more is there was a line out the door to eat here. WHY FOOD GOD? WWWWHHHHHYYYYYYY!?!?! The chicken was dry, the chorizo didn’t seem like it had chorizo in it and our waitress ignored us. I hope another more worthy owner moves in and serves some good food to the over entitled students that frequent their site.

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The Magic of Mitsuwa

Blink and I are very fortunate to live close by the most wonderful marketplace maybe ever. Like ever ever. Mitsuwa. It is the most magical asian market. You can get anything you want there, most of the packaging is in a different language but the staff is very willing to help your poor unknowledgeable american ass out.

Viola’s take:

My favorite part though is the mini food court they have. Theres a few different stands there and they all have so many good-looking options that it usually takes me two laps around to make my final decision. Based on this recommendation, I decided to get the Special Toroniku Shio Ramen from Santouka. That would be pork cheek ramen in a soulful bursting with umami broth. The picture looks good but it tastes even better.

On another visit I decided to get Dol Sot from Mama’s House, the korean stand in the food court. I love me some gochujang. Take everything you love about Sriracha and make it fermented and ugh lordy lordy…. its the sort of stuff I would lick off of people. But that’s basically my barometer for a good condiment. Moving on…. I love the little clay pots they serve it in too as I like my food piping hot and it has so much stored up heat energy its hot the WHOLE time you’re eating it. I forgot to take a picture before eating half of it I was so excited but it gives you a good idea.

Blink’s Take:

Ordered some duck lo mein from Jockey Express. I personally like the basic flavors this dish provided. The duck was very tender and juicy that is for sure. I would recommend this as a cheap and delicious meal. The leeks and presentation were far better before we took the picture… but I got excited. This comes with a very sweet and salty sauce to accompany it. I choose to

dip it sparingly as the basic taste was definitely enough to please my palette.

The thing I like most about Mitsuwa is the variety of products I cannot get for any sort of reasonable price. I love frying in my wok and to do it you need a butt load of peanut oil. They sell it here! A gallon for under $10. Take that grocery stores. It seems like its a novelty to have a food court in a store, but they definitely bring their ‘A’ game. There is a burger joint that has some less traditional variations but the real attraction of this place is their pancakes (Unfortunately not on their website). I know, pancakes at a burger joint? I just shuddered at the thought of the cellophane’d flapjacks at McDonalds and their stomach destroying contents. These are something on their own level. Think creme filled donuts, but make them pancakes. The two Viola and I tried were tea flavored and custard. I wasn’t wild about the tea flavored, but custard… I joy-gasmed before I even tasted them. I wasn’t disappointed.

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Valentines Day Viola Style

For Blink’s Valentines Day things I made him brunch and gave him a delcious box of chocolates. The chocolates were from a kickbutt local company that we both highly reccomend. Their carmels are something I tremendously enjoyed. (I’m not a chocolate person as a general rule)

For his brunch I planned to have some blood orange mimosas as booze needs to be reppin in order to qualify as brunch. Also because I had to use the blood oranges I impulse bought because they looked so yummy. The other thing I made was some candied bacon in the shape of a heart. We often make it for brunches. Simplest recipe ever. Oven at 350. Slap some bacon on a well lined sheet pan. Sprinkle some brown sugar and perhaps some maple syrup on it and bake for 20 minutes. Delicious. The bacon shriveled to a very awkward shape that was nowhere near a heart so I decided to spare anyone from having to see the pictures.

For even more Valentines day spirit I made pink tinged pancakes. Or at least tried to. I took this recipe and doubled the amount of raspberries. I think that made it purple more than pink as you can see. I didn’t cut them into heart shapes as suggested after the miserable disaster of the bacon. So good though. In hindsight I probably shouldnt have picked these pancakes for Blink’s brunch as they are more my taste than his but he enjoyed them slathered with butter.

The final thing that I  made is Bob’s favorite brunch dish ever. Corned beef hash. I used a recipe from my favorite site maybe ever, Serious Eats, and rocked it out. Blink was there when grocery shopping and he called corned beef has as soon as he saw me buying the cut of meat but he said that he was surprised with how I did. His favorite part was the addition of the poblano.

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Today in things I made but forgot to photograph….

I have made several desserts recently that I’ve either been too excited or too frustrated about to take a picture of. SO LETS GO!

Around the holidays I learned that you can make delicious liquors from (relatively) cheap vodka that are so much more than the sum of their parts. One of the things I made was creme de menthe. So when I had to make something sweet to contribute to a work function this recipe looked delicious. Since I used the high quality creme de menthe I went with the high quality chocolate to counteract the trashy nature of the base recipe. It totes was delicious but honestly the depanning of this was a complete mess. You have been warned.

Recipe

I saw the recipe and I fell in LOVE with it. This was the first of three treats I brought into work in one week. I fucked up and used a coarser grind of cornmeal than was probably recommended but I think it gave an unexpected earthiness.

Recipe

I had to make something for a coworkers last day sendoff type thing and I had the very general category of cookies or brownies to select from. The night before I ended up going with this recipe. First time using it and OMG was it awesome. Intensely chocolately with more of the texture of actual truffles than brownies. I ate two…. even on my diet.

Recipe

This is the recipe I was dreading speaking about the most. It had several iterations and didnt turn out how I was expecting at all. So I decided to sub Biscoff cookies instead of gingerbread because everybody loves them and I had two sleeves in the pantry. I borrowed the most bizarre tart pan from my mom. It required putting the crust in the turned upside down pan and baking it. Once done you flip it out and over then fill it and bake again. I got to flipping it out and it cracked into like a babillion pieces. Womp womp. So I reground up the cookies and put another stick of butter plus some speculoos (basically a peanut butter version of the Biscoff cookies). Because double the cookie flavor is always double the fun. This time I froze it and then flipped it out. Worked a bit better but still was crumbly. I refused to give up and filled it anyway.  I popped that sucker in the oven and promptly forgot about it until the timer went off. AAAAAANNNND the spread that happened on the poor tart. It filled up the entire pan pretty much. A layer of cookie with the chocolate on top. FINE it is now chocolate ganache with caramel cookie crust. They were well received even though they have a very different appearance than thought.

Recipe

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A Diatribe about Champagne

Quite possibly this is the most uppity thing I will ever post about but it bothers me. Truly, it does.

During the brunch that this blog was conceived at there was a table next to us. It was full of obviously well off upper 20 somethings who seemed impeccably dressed, if all you care about is labels, and picking daintily at their food.  We were in River North so I expected the this sort of people.  I noticed they had mimosas so I got jealous as I was under the impression that this was sadly a boozeless place. It apparently was BYOB but my anger reached a peak when I realized what champagne they were using.

Veuve clicquot.

My friends, I am a champagne drinker and that is not a cheap bottle. Like $40 at least. What in god’s green earth made you think fancy champagne was going to be enhanced by orange juice?! In the delicious mimosa equation (see highly technical diagram) the place to upgrade is clearly in the juice not in the champagne as any old bottle of Andre (~$6) will do.  Fresh squeeze oranges, import blood oranges from Portugal, at this point even gold leaf the fucking rim not waste an incredibly delicate well-balanced champagne.

To me it is a case of knowledge and class versus excess that you can afford. Just because you can buy several bottles of high-class champagne and drink it during brunch doesn’t mean you should. If you knew your ass from a hole in the ground, you would know that this isn’t a good place to spend that money. Buy your tiny little dog something diamond encrusted instead. A good place to spend money is on the accents that cost. Something like good olive oil, whole vanilla beans, the fancy not flourescent red maraschino cherries or if you’re THAT rich some truffle products.  Sigh. Money ain’t never bought class.

I had not yet mentioned any of this to Blink when they had finished that one and now brought out a bottle of Moet Chandon. I whispered my irritation and then proceeded to judge them for other things. Like how the overprocessed blonde was wearing 6 inch black leather platform heels with jeans and a sweater to brunch. You are not doing the walk of shame. Stop it. You are too old and too rich (obviously) for such tomfoolery.

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