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Archive for September, 2009

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One of my favorite pieces of flesh to grill is a Kurobuta Pork Chop (aka Berkshire Pork). Those pigs are so tender and juicy, enough to make a fat man drool. About the only place I can regularly find Kurobuta is at Mitsuwa, so I almost always grab some when I’m up there.

This time I marinated it in the classic soy, sake, and mirin mix with some ginger, garlic, and stone ground mustard. Grill it up and it’s good to go.

The veggies are a saute of onion, enoki mushrooms, and bok choy in a little bit of olive oil. The other thing on the plate is a fish cake with peas and corn in it.

Round out the meal with some white rice and a simple salad of mixed greens with back porch tomatoes and you’ve got a well-rounded, fresh, tasty dinner.

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Here’s my first attempt at making Gyu-don, Japanese simmered thinly sliced beef with onions on rice. It’s surprisingly simple to make, yet full of flavor and easy on the wallet.

The trick is to get the beef sliced as thin as deli meat. You can get it at Mitsuwa, but I’m not sure where else to get good quality meat in this fashion. I’m sure it’s available. I do know that it’s near impossible to get such even thin slices at home with a knife no matter how sharp it is.

So, take put a little oil in a medium-sized pot and cook some ginger and garlic for a minute or two. Then add an onion thinly sliced and sweat it for a few minutes. Add a couple cups of water, a quarter cup each of soy sauce and mirin, a few pinches of sugar and let it come to a simmer. Then add your beef and let it cook until the liquid is reduced by 3/4’s.

All you have to do then is put some white rice in a bowl and top it with some Gyu-don.

I served it with a simple corn soup garnished with Thai basil and a salad that Yuki made. She tossed some mixed greens, julienned carrots, celery, and cucumber (I left the cucumber out of mine, vile phalis!) in a homemade hijiki vinaigrette. All washed down with a cold beer.

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My wife and I went camping at Starved Rock a couple of weeks ago. Unsure of the grill situation at the campsite we decided to bring our little propane burner. While they had a grill, I’m glad we brought the burner so we could use the grill as a campfire and keep the flames high as it got pretty cold at night. I’m also glad we brought the fixins to make some Soba Noodle Soup to keep us warm and replenish ourselves after a full day of hiking.

Before we left I had cut up some onions, carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage. We also brought some fried tofu, a delicious addition to almost any soup. So, when we got back to the campsite to make dinner, I got the fire going while Yuki started the soup.

She boiled the water with the veggies so that we didn’t need to add any oil. Once the veggies were tender she put the noodles in and then the tofu. That ‘s all there was to it. The only thing we would have done different at home would be to boil the noodles seperately to keep the soup from being starchy. It was a little starchy, but tasted great and was extremely healthy. It also wasn’t too heavy so we were able to sleep comfortably afterwords (although not as comfortable as our tempurpedic at home).

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Go camping, and eat healthy!

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Sepia

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday. My wife and I use birthdays as excuses to enjoy finer dining than a typical eve. Last night she took me to Sepia, a place that we’ve wanted to go to for quite a while now. While I would have liked to try Kendal Duque’s cooking, new Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman is definately his equal in the kitchen.

Sepia Interior

The interior definately has that old-world feel with lots of dark brick, leather tables, buffed mirrors, and large chandeliers. But it isn’t stuffy at all. The place was quite comfortable and not too loud like most exposed brick restaurants. But it was the food that stole the show, not the interior.

We started off with some Gruet Blanc de Noir. I personally think that New Mexico turns out some of our countries best bubbly. For apps, Yuki ordered the scallops. Two big, meaty scallops cooked to absolute perfection! A nice sear on top and bottom while nicely opaque in the middle. We both feel that they’re the best scallops we’ve ever eaten in this city. They were served with a sunchoke puree, marcona almonds, and some serrano ham on top with frisee.

I ordered the sweetbreads. I’ve never really been a fan of sweetbreads, but I’ve only eaten them once before. However, if I’m going to consider myself a foodie then I need to order the proper food. Damn glad I did! Damn glad! Those glands had a texture that was like a cross between scallops and foie gras. It almost had a scallop-like sweetness as well, but also the butteriness of foie gras. Chef served them with this orange-fennel sauce. It was thick, creamy, and you could really taste the bitterness of the orange. Perfect match with the sweet sweetbreads. (I get the sweet part, but it really is more like foie than a bread). Some frisee on top as well.

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For entrees, Yuki ordered the Pork Porterhouse served on some grits with a bourbon sauce and cherries. Again, perfectly cooked, nice and medium rare on the tenderloin side and medium on the strip side. The accompaniments also complimented nicely. Fortunately for me it was too big for her stomach, so I get to eat the rest of it today for lunch! We paired it with a glass of Dolcetto D’Alba.

I ordered the Duck. A perfectly cooked breast; the skin nice and crispy, the meat nice medium rare and juicy. It was served atop a medly of chantrelle mushrooms, green onions, marcona almonds (Zimmerman must love these almonds, but for good reason), and these little spongy black things that we couldn’t quite figure out what they were. Yuki thought they were little pieces of liver or something, I thought they were some sort of mushroom stem. It was killing us not knowing what they were so I asked the manager….duck gizzards. (Yuki was closer, she wins) That was the first time I’ve ever eaten duck gizzards and I gotta tell you, I love them! They added a deeper flavor to the dish that the mushrooms alone probably couldn’t provide. Delicious! I drank a glass of Portugese wine, and interesting red blend from the Douro Valley. Nice recommendation from our server.

The desserts were awesome too! We had the Ricotta Pound Cake with carmelized peaches, buttermilk ice cream, and pecans as well as the Blueberry Cobbler with sweet corn ice cream, lemon-thyme cookies. Of course, on my plate was the obligatory “Happy Birthday Dan” written in chocolate with some artistic design. Always a nice touch. The food runner also said he’d sing to me for an extra fee. I’m cheap (even though dinner was Yuki’s treat), so we declined.

All in all, I have to say that Sepia is one of the better dinner’s I’ve had a quite a while. It is easily in the upper-echelon of Chicago restaurants. Because of it I can’t wait for my next opportunity to munch on some sweetbreads!

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