Monday, April 27, 2009

Buitoni Angolotti recipe

The Buitoni folks might put a hit on me for saying this but portobello and cremini are not "wild" mushrooms. They are the same 'shroom at different stages of age, the common brown mushroom which has been used since the 18th century in America. Give it a marketing name and hey.... it's still a good product

But because I'm supposed to be a "Taste Maker" here's the RECIPE;

1 package of Buitoni wild mushroom agnolotti cooked per package directions
1/4 cup walnuts
California walnut oil
Some really good Roquefort cheese (if you can find it after the 300% tariffs)

While your Buitoni is cooking lightly toast the walnuts in a skillet. Remove that from the flame and heat some walnut oil in a larger pan. Once the agnolotti are cooked toss them into the pan with the oil. Finish with walnuts and and generous amount of Roquefort. This will take less than a minute.

This is not one of my typical "Recessionist" recipes but you have to live free or die of hunger. The Roquefort is a splurge but it's really good. Buy it before they take it away from us. Note to cooks: we didn't want to pile mushroom on mushroom for this. We thought about truffle oil. But we like the recipe above best.

And by the way we loved the years when Diego Maradona wore the Buitoni shirt for Napoli.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My kind of town part 33 1/3

Flora and Fauna.

Flora was easy to sum up. The ivy on the Wrigley Field walls was dead. One more month maybe.

Fauna: guys with gigantic t-shirt jiggling bellies, feeding their kids corn dogs. When Van Cleef and I were at Doug's there was a guy heaping on condiments like it was "all you can eat Ketchup day". But he's probably telling his kids that you need to store up lipids for the winter.

And so far nobody has correctly answered the Ramones question.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My kind of town, part 3

We go out blogging after midnight...

Another ball game at Wrigley but first we had breakfast and then hot dogs. We met up with Lee Van Cleef downstairs at Mercat. We couldn't figure out why the continental breakfast costs $18 and eggs any style costs $8. Well, it's the quality of the ingredients. Spanish chorizo, incredible cheese. Okay, we bought it.

Lee Van Cleef went out for a walk while Pierino went back to his room to read the papers.

Red line again, but this time we had to get to the shrine of all hot dogs. Pierino loves hot dogs and there is no better place to have a dog than Chicago. No better place in Chicago than Hot Doug's.

The Chicago hot dog is composed like this:
poppy seed roll
all beef frank in a natural casing (go for Vienna Beef)
yellow ball park mustard
green relish
chopped onions, lightly sauteed
dill pickle spear
one or two Chicago sport peppers
celery salt

No tweaking! Everything above is indispensible unless you are a total effing sissy.
Hot Doug's is on the northside about 3 miles from Wrigley. Go early and stand in line. They describe themselves as a "sausage superstore and emporium of encased meat". The Chicago hot dog will only cost you $1.75. But Doug (very nice guy) does real charcuterie. The "celebrity sausage" that day happened to be rabbit. $6.95.

Doug puts a lot of good things into a natural casing. Go visit him on N. California at Roscoe. We love this place.

From there it was back to Wrigley. Cubs lost again to a better team, the Cards. Pierino loved that the Cards' pitcher Weinstock was able to put down two sacrafice bunts to advance a runner each time. The Cub/Cardinal rivalry is huge. But we watched only two fist fights.

Back to the Blackstone for a couple more vodka tonics. Pierino's knees seem to respond well to warm temps and vodka.

Dinner at Shaw's Crab House for a little bit of old school. Scallops, shrimp and there you go. Kind of old Chicago atmo. Pierino gave up martinis a few years ago. But if you are up for them this is good place. They have two rooms; dining room and oyster bar but you can order from either menu in either room. Life is beautiful.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My kind of town, part 2

Wednesday morning Pierino woke up jet lagged, with painful and unreliable knees. We did have a great view of Lake Michigan although our early morning vision was a bit uncertain.

A few hours with the morning papers. We discovered that Marylin Chambers and Mark Fydrich had died. Phil Spector was convicted of second degree murder and sent to the Big House. Phil don't drop the Ivory Soap. It reminded me of a Ramones' song with the line; "It's the end, the end of the seventies. It's the end, the end of the century." How many living Ramones can you name?

Along with our friend who looks like Lee Van Cleef we walked to the Harrison Station and took the red line Metra to Addison for the ball game. We were at least an hour early but we wanted to pick up the vibe. It was overcast and cold, like very cold. But Wrigley Field is the shrine of shrines for baseball fans. Cubs have great fans who can combine the wit and stupidity of soccer fans in Europe. What a mix.

When we ordered our tickets we didn't know that it was going to be #42 day in honor of the late Jackie Robinson. "Who's in right?" Number 42 Fukodome. "Who's at first" Number 42, Lee. Whats on second and I don't know is on third.

Anyway Cubs, who don't look so good, lost to the Rockies. We also started the Giovany Soto index. How low could the Cubs' catcher's BA drop in two days. Dropping faster than the S&P.

Lee Van Cleef commented that, "they really drink a lot of beer here." More on that later.

Metra back to the Blackstone for some vodka tonics to unlock our knees. Dinner decision: Rick Bayless's Topolobampo. They weren't taking reservations but we were seated right away at what I think they call "the chef's counter" or something like that. It's right off the cooking line. In the morning your clothes have an aroma of ambient flavors. Lee Van Cleef ordered pig and Pierino ordered duck. Neither of us was disappointed, but we agreed that the pig was best. There is no better Mexican restaurant in America. And there may be no better Mexican restaurant in Mexico, because there really is no restaurant culture there. We had excellent service in cramped and hot conditions. Rick, we love you man. Wonderful flavors. Only the Two Hot Tamales can rival you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My kind of town, part 1

Tuesday, April 14 Pierino flew into Chicago with a friend for a couple of days of baseball and hot dogs. This time on the outbound flight we got the whole TSA body scan because we were wearing knee braces. We was crammed into a window seat with little leg space so it only got worse.

We cabbed on to the Blackstone on S. Michigan Avenue, great rates for an old hotel that has had a major makeover. Great rooms with views of the big lake.

Our friend (retired BofA exec, I'll give you his e-mail if you want to beat him up) and I took a stroll, for me a stagger, up Michigan Avenue for 1.25 miles---we argued about the distance. It was colder than f..k.

Anyway, when we got back to the Blackstone Pierino decided that we were not leaving. This turned out to be a serendipitous decision. The restaurant downstairs in the Blackstone became a discovery. Mercat a la planxa is wonderful. We haven't seen it reviewed before.

We enjoyed screaming hot scallops served in a cazuela, a fig salad wrapped in jamon that was like a log, a fragrant barramundi, and an arroz (bomba rice) with morels. When the latter plate came out the aroma was so strong that our friend asked "what's THAT"? I guessed truffle oil, checked with the kitchen, and was right even though it's not mentioned on the menu. Ample truffle oil.

Pierino would definitely recommend Mercat a la planxta to friends for its great Catalan style tapas menu. No foams, no jellies. No reviews.