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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a Lot
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Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a Lot

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:57 pm
by Party Flavor
(continued from Part I)

Jules and I arrived in Chicago on a Friday, just in time for lunch. We checked in early at our hotel downtown and headed out to Hot Doug's, The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium, which has been featured in a ton of culinary press and travel features on Chicago. It is also notable for leading the opposition against the foie gras ban in Chicago several years ago. You may recall it from the Chicago episode of No Reservations.

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We arrived fairly early in the lunch shift, but the line was already quite long. We got inside the door in about 40 minutes...

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The choices were varied and quite a few were very tempting, but we were there for two things -- duck fat fries and foie gras dogs (Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel)...

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In short... really Really REALLY liked it. Totally worth the wait, which was apparently about twice as long by the time we left...

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(As a side note, Doug is a really, Really, REALLY nice guy.)

We spent that afternoon hanging out with Diane, who was kind enough to meet us for drinks and a Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise (followed by more drinking :lol:). She was a great hostess for the afternoon and one of those people who feels like a long-time friend immediately upon meeting them.

That night, Jules and I were off to Blackbird, the flagship restaurant of James Beard Award-winner Paul Kahan (who was also featured on Bourdain's show).

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We had the tasting menu...

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I won't detail every dish because a) you can read them above, and b) you don't care that much. Let's face it, you just clicked the link to read about Stephanie saying "bunny."

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We capped the night with our first trip to The Aviary, as detailed in the previous thread.

The next day, we did some touristy stuff...

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... hitting the Shedd Aquarium, Signature Lounge, Magnificent Mile, and Lou Malnati's...

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... before our dinner at Next.

Sunday morning, we headed to another one of Paul Kahan's restaurants, The Publican, for brunch...

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The maple butter served with the buttermilk biscuits was amazing...

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I had the omelette (fried oysters, spring onions & tabasco crouton)...

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Jules had the red wine poached eggs (la quercia prosciutto, sourdough & bernaise)...

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Since we were in a restaurant known for pork in a city known for pork, we decided to share some maple breakfast sausage and maple syrup-braised Publican bacon...

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At one time, the bacon at Thomas Keller's ad hoc was the best I had ever had. I think the bacon at The Publican was even better.

We then headed out for some more touristy stuff - the very impressive Art Institute...

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(Hi, Dan!)

... and Millennium Park, home of "The Bean"...

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The skies opened shortly thereafter, and we were happy to duck into the Chicago Cultural Center across the street, which Diane recommended for its impressive stained glass domes...

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After that, we hit an outpost of The Spice House, which was featured in the fruitcake episode of Good Eats. (The Penzey family started The Spice House. Their daughter and son-in-law now own it, while their son went on to found Penzeys). I don't know how I've lived without white truffle salt before now. And yes, Martha, we got some tomato powder. Thanks. :)

After a little more Magnificent Mile shopping, we headed back to the hotel for a nap and to get ready for dinner. Jules managed to get us into Girl & The Goat, the restaurant run by Top Chef Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard, which was a James Beard Award finalist for Best New Restaurant. Stephanie was also recently named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs for 2011.

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The menu at Girl & The Goat is mostly comprised of tapas-style small plates meant to be shared. Beyond that, it's difficult to classify, as it seems to sample a bit from a lot of cuisines.

We started with Goat Chorizo Flatbread (ramp pesto, rhubarb, fresh ricotta)...

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... and moved on to Steamed Clams (rock shrimp, tarragon, pickled Fresnos, Chinese cruller).

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Smoked goat rilette empanadas (masala, ramp yogurt)...

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... and a specialty of the house, the wonderful wood oven-roasted pig face (sunny-side egg, tamarind, cilantro, potato stix)...

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Dessert descriptions were slightly intimidating, but very good. Bittersweet chocolate with shiitake gelato and toffee creme fraiche...

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... and sesame semifreddo with pork fat donuts and sambal pineapple...

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We noticed Stephanie milling about and asked our server if it would be possible to get her to sign our menu. Our server disappeared for a brief moment and then came back with two signed menus and said "Chef will be over in a minute." Cool.

Stephanie literally jumped into place next to our table and we spent probably ten minutes talking about the meal, her inspirations for the menu (basically the foods she likes to eat), our experiences in Chicago and in some other restaurants across the country, and her plans for a new breakfast/lunch place down the street (The Little Goat). And yes, she says "bunny" and all its derivatives... a lot. I think that that was touched on in the reunion episode of her season of Top Chef, but it's kind of funny to witness first-hand. She's really bubbly and sort of an "America's Sweetheart" type otherwise.

Maybe somewhat oddly, in the course of the conversation, I think the only mention of anything remotely Top Chef-related was that we had eaten at Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant. I suspect it's nice to be known for something outside the "reality TV" world, as her James Beard, Food & Wine, and other achievements support.

We intended to go to breakfast before our flight home on Monday, but we slept in instead. I think we earned it. :lol:

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:40 am
by okbye
"Let's face it, you just clicked the link to read about Stephanie saying "bunny."

I just wanted to know who Stephanie was, then why she had a bunny problem. :lol:
I like to read your descriptions and see the pictures but tiny food isn't for me. Breakfast looks much better, that bacon looks awesome.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:00 am
by n8urebabe
I didn't know who Stephanie was and the F-word doesn't really fascinate me.

I am curious what eucalyptus tastes like. I can't believe they'd put it in pea soup if it would taste like vicks vapor rub and that's what I imagine it tastes like. :lol:
Sometimes, I just feel stupid reading these threads because I usually have to google something, but I still read them because I like them and I never think it's a bad thing to learn something new. :D
I swear my mouth actually started to water when I read maple butter. That just sounds so good.

Those stained glass domes are amazing. I love the zodiac one. :lol:

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:25 am
by haleoalau
n8urebabe wrote:I didn't know who Stephanie was and the F-word doesn't really fascinate me.

I am curious what eucalyptus tastes like. I can't believe they'd put it in pea soup if it would taste like vicks vapor rub and that's what I imagine it tastes like. :lol:
Sometimes, I just feel stupid reading these threads because I usually have to google something, but I still read them because I like them and I never think it's a bad thing to learn something new. :D
I swear my mouth actually started to water when I read maple butter. That just sounds so good.

Those stained glass domes are amazing. I love the zodiac one. :lol:



^ What she said! :D

Well, except that F-bomb part, as discussed in a QOTD a few days ago. :P

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:37 am
by Party Flavor
okbye wrote:I like to read your descriptions and see the pictures but tiny food isn't for me.


Most of the time when I post these threads, they're from a "destination" restaurant -- often some place we may never have the opportunity to visit again (which is why it's nice to photograph the experience in the first place). Given that it may be my only chance to sample a particular chef's work, I like when tasting menus are available because they go a long way towards showing a chef's range and ideas about food in just a single visit. If you're serving 8, 10, or 26 courses, each portion obviously can't be huge. Other than at Morimoto, though, I can't say I've ever left one of these meals hungry.

So yes, if one's greater concern is how to get a full stomach in a minimum number of plates, that's cool -- they shouldn't waste time on these threads. I'll let ya know when I visit the Big Texan or anything else that's been on Man v. Food.

n8urebabe wrote:I am curious what eucalyptus tastes like. I can't believe they'd put it in pea soup if it would taste like vicks vapor rub and that's what I imagine it tastes like. :lol:


There wasn't a flavor I could obviously pick out and say "A-ha, eucalyptus!" I'd probably have to taste versions with and without to know what I was looking for. Nothing identifiable as VapoRub-y, though. :lol:

n8urebabe wrote:Sometimes, I just feel stupid reading these threads because I usually have to google something, but I still read them because I like them and I never think it's a bad thing to learn something new. :D


I often don't know what half the stuff is, either, just that it usually tastes good. :lol:

Honestly, I think some people poo-poo "fine dining" because it intimidates them. They're concerned that they won't know how to pronounce something on the menu, or won't know which fork to use, or will send an escargot sailing across the restaurant. That's unfortunate. Some of the most relaxed dinners I've had have been "fine dining" experiences. No one has ever made me feel uncomfortable or that I didn't belong. You're not a patron; you're a guest. It's a service industry, and that notion is evident in the vast majority of such restaurants. If they make guests feel uncomfortable, they won't be around very long.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:21 am
by Butterbean
What? No mention of the Signature Lounge? :P

Seriously, you had me at Hot Doug's. Very nice account.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:25 am
by Chef Mongo
The hot dog place makes me want to book a flight to Chi-town right now.

The haute cuisine next in line, not so much. Just my taste. I prefer simple dishes, simply prepared and presented well. Anything that looks like it took almost as much time sculpt as it did to cook isn't my cuppa.

You went to Maltnati's without me, and now must die.

The bacon at the Publican caused a physical reaction that I cannot describe on a family website.

If you were to set that pig face with egg in front of me, and then do anything but tell me I could start eating immediately, it would become an ugly scene. That looks insanely good. Best-looking dish of the trip, for me.

And, yes, all chefs say bunny a lot. If they don't, they're not working hard enough. :)

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:14 am
by okbye
Party Flavor wrote:
So yes, if one's greater concern is how to get a full stomach in a minimum number of plates, that's cool -- they shouldn't waste time on these threads. I'll let ya know when I visit the Big Texan or anything else that's been on Man v. Food.


That's not the point, it's if they serve me something I like I'm gonna want more than a tablespoon of it. In my world the tasting menu would work like this - they bring you tiny food until you get to a dish you really like then you stop the line and they bring you a regular plate of it.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:37 am
by sadiedog
:shock: Woooooooooow. So pretty, I would love to have tasted every single thing. What a wonderful sensory experience. (Pig face made me smile. Who names something "Pig Face?" I would have ordered it just for the name.)

So glad you guys had a good time. Love these threads. Your picture taking is fantastic.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:04 am
by DitsyD
I love reading about all of the food.

Blackbird's "bourbon barrel wood ice cream" ~ I'm intrigued.

Jules, how was the red wine poached eggs at The Publican? Looking at their brunch menu, that looks the most interesting. :)

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:59 am
by Party Flavor
Chef Mongo wrote:And, yes, all chefs say bunny a lot.


On the line, I suspect many probably do. Chatting with customers, not so much. At least that's not been our experience (not that we mind). I've seen enough mentions of Stephanie's vocabulary that I'm pretty sure it's exceptional, even among chefs.

On a somewhat related note, I think most people would be surprised at how quiet, calm, and efficient the kitchens are in most of these places. There's no chaos and almost no talking, let alone any yelling or screaming.

okbye wrote:That's not the point, it's if they serve me something I like I'm gonna want more than a tablespoon of it. In my world the tasting menu would work like this - they bring you tiny food until you get to a dish you really like then you stop the line and they bring you a regular plate of it.


I suppose it's easy to think that small portions would leave you wanting more, but I've found that the size of the dish is generally just about right. It's very true that the first bite of something is the best and that it's better to have one bite too few than one too many. If you value the experience as much as satiety, any momentary "disappointment" about not having another bite quickly disappears with the excitement and anticipation about "What's next?" If you don't value the experience, then yes, you'd be better off at a buffet.

Our history has been that we really like a vast majority of dishes and some that have turned out to be my favorites aren't ones I would have necessarily chosen if we'd ordered à la carte. If I would've gone by the "I'll sample until I find something I really want more of" idea, I would've stopped with dishes like Oysters & Pearls at The French Laundry, A Tin of Sin at The Inn at Little Washington, or Zucchini in Textures at minibar. Then I would've missed some of my favorite dishes - the quail at TFL, the duck at I@LW, and cigala with horchata at minibar.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:13 pm
by kookinforreal
Thank you, I appreciate these. But I would need a different wife to partake in a tasting menu. She is very strict on what she eats and how it is prepared. Going out can be quite frustrating at times.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:18 am
by carla
Thanks for your wonderful documentary tales!

"In short... really Really REALLY liked it. Totally worth the wait..."
Great to hear that the foie dogs and fries I fantasize about are that good! Of course I would not know of them if not for Bourdain's show.

"...you don't care that much. Let's face it, you just clicked the link to read about Stephanie saying "bunny."
Nope, sorry. I clicked the link to see food porn pics! (Finished the thread & now I know who Stephanie is. And I curse too much as it is, I don't need to hear someone in a public eye/niche do it too. :P)
Yep, I'm lazy -- I missed your captions on the yummy beautiful Blackbird photos. :oops: :lol:

Thank you both for the detailed posts and delicious and enticing food pics and the non-food photos too.
I need a whole 'nother meal now -- or at the least, some very good pastry.

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:52 am
by carla
Party Flavor wrote:I suppose it's easy to think that small portions would leave you wanting more, but I've found that the size of the dish is generally just about right. It's very true that the first bite of something is the best and that it's better to have one bite too few than one too many. If you value the experience as much as satiety, any momentary "disappointment" about not having another bite quickly disappears with the excitement and anticipation about "What's next?"

Sensuality.

Whoops! Wrong thread, where's that one word thread?! :P

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:12 pm
by todd
AWESOME POST!!!!
Thanks for sharing
. 8)

Re: Chicago Trip Pt. II - Foie Dogs & Steph Saying "F*ck" a

PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:16 am
by Jules
DitsyD wrote:Jules, how was the red wine poached eggs at The Publican? Looking at their brunch menu, that looks the most interesting. :)

PF wrote:Jules had the red wine poached eggs (la quercia prosciutto, sourdough & bernaise)...
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I was really glad that I decided to order this. The size of the slices of onion and amount and flavor of the bernaise were GREAT compliments to the creaminess and taste of the eggs and the wine (I guess it was the wine anyway) provided just the right touch of acid ... it was a great dish. The star of the show for me, actually, may have been the prosciutto which was slightly sweet and wonderfully buttery and just a bit of "salty" and ....... well I all but ignored the maple butter and the bacon to just happily focus on that prosciutto. (Oh - and the bread on my plate, by the end of the meal, had softened while capturing all the flavors and sauces and it was just a great "sponge" to enjoy.)

*ALL that being said* ... if one lives within 90 minutes of Hot Doug's :shock: and they don't go there at least every other month?
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