Tag Archives: food

Atwood Cafe in the Hotel Burnham

State Street Entrance

Gleaming floors and vintage Chicago warmth welcome you to the Hotel Burnham via the State Street entrance.  Just to your left in the photo (above) are the open doors that lead you right to the Atwood Cafe where you’ll find:

Cozy Views of State Street

Afternoon sunlight spilling in from Washington Avenue

Afternoon sunlight spilling in from Washington Avenue

Yes, we had to wait 90 minutes (this is how we spent it), but it was worth it!  (Make a reservation if you’d rather not take the scenic route to lunch!)  If you love food and quotes, the menus here will bring delight:


However, a bloody mary is only truly tempting if I can add fresh horseradish ~ and there was none available.  (Note to self: pack fresh horseradish.) Kidding.  I’d never admit that I would do that!

On to ordering:

Lemon poached loch duart salmon nicoise

VERY pleased with my salmon nicoise salad.  It was a “big salad” as stated on the menu and the salmon was perfectly prepared.  (Sometimes cooked salmon can get “fishy” on me and I love fish so it’s really off-putting when it goes so far that I don’t like it.)  You’ll note the pickle and onion off to the left side – garnishments of the angus burger across the table that didn’t have a chance of being photographed!  The salt-pepper fries were outstanding, too!

** I had a really tough time choosing: would love to hear if you’ve had the “crispy lobster rangoon” or the “graham cracker fried calamari”…**

We’d have ordered more main course food but it was the day after Thanksgiving and we thought we’d surely be satiated with what we’d ordered.  We were pleased that we underestimated our bellies since that left room for a bit of dessert (ok, we were plenty full but the dessert menu had so many options!)

Mid-way through warm Michigan apple-walnut dumpling

I show you this dish, already slightly devoured – an homage to the aroma, the appearance of this delectable dessert – irresistible.  I lost my head.  The camera-phone slipped to the floor.  It was the “When Harry Met Sally” Meg Ryan diner moment.  Phew.  Ok.  You get the idea.

Peppermint always brings a girl back to her senses, so it was the white peppermint hot chocolate for me:

That IS a giant homemade marshmellow!

In the end, yes, we felt like we could leave the table with an “oink” but we came in just under the advisory of a very well known celebrity:

Pig with sage advice

The quote above is from the dessert menu and is well heeded advice, there are so many desserts here I’d like to try.

Thanks in advance for recommendations ~ OR if you haven’t tried one, which one sounds too good to pass up for next time!?

warm roasted banana-white chocolate bread pudding
banana caramel
lemon-buttermilk panna cotta
summer berry compote, fresh mint
fresh key lime tart
toasted coconut crust, blackberry coulis
summer strawberry shortcake
vanilla-butter pound cake, lemon custard, chantilly cream
fried fresh peach pies
cashew brittle, bourbon sauce , vanilla bean gelato
brown sugar cheesecake
creamy butterscotch sauce
warm tart cherry dumpling
lemon curd gelato, apricot compote
vanilla bean crème brûlée
fresh raspberries
dark chocolate soufflé cake
rum zabaione, chocolate sauce
gelato and sorbet
selections vary daily
prairie fruits farm artisan cheese plate
little bloom on the prairie: Champaign, Illinois
krotovina: Champaign, Illinois
roxanne: Champaign, Illinois

FYI: The Atwood Cafe is located at 1 West Washington, Chicago, IL 60602


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Filed under Chicago, Food and Drink, Restaurants

A Week of Chicago Eats

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FAVORITE Chicago pizza, Giordano’s ~


Admittedly, there are a LOT of excellent pizzerias in Chicago but I find Giordano’s crazy-good, convenient, and consistent.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hope your Thanksgiving was grand.  Everything was excellent, but homemade cheesecake took the cake!



Friday – November 27, 20009

One of my favorite cafes, Atwood:

Black Friday Bloody Mary

More about Atwood later!

A late-day warm up: Vosge’s Haut Chocolat in the North Bridge Mall on Michigan Avenue.

All Kinds of Chocolate Bar

“Haut chocolat” makes wonderful “hot chocolate.”  I tried the “Bianca” white chocolate  with lavender and lemon myrtle.”  Ohhhhhh…I don’t have taste-buds sufficiently civilized to describe such savvy sweets!  All I give you is one word, “more!”  You can also purchase it to make it at home.

Oooh, but they have a “how to taste Chocolate guide” on-line!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I baked!

These are yummy white-chocolate-walnut-cranberry cookies.  More about this later…

Sunday, November 29, 2009 – A day of rest!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Great little treat at Bin 36!

Holidays, uncorked!

I snuck in here for a glass of wine to celebrate my NaNoWriMo win (I gave myself three “bys” and this is number 2, I had a glass on Thanksgiving Day).  I knew to skip the garlic hummus but I did try the Gougeres.  They were good but surprisingly somewhat “spicy” and my new friend agreed.  Sitting at the bar, I shared them with a visitor from San Diego and she shared her Salmon Salad with me.  You can’t beat meeting a stranger at the bar and sharing good conversation and appetizers!  (The Salmon Salad was excellent!)  The bartender couldn’t explain the spiciness of the Gougeres, he offered, “pepper?” Now as I re-read the on-line menu, they are termed, “Warm Gourgeres” ~ I thought it’d referred to temperature (hot, warm, cold) but perhaps it is meant as is “spicy” warmth?

Surprise Plate of Salmon Salad!

Surprise Smoked Salmon Shared With Me

The wine I’d chosen was the 2006 Tempranillo, Codice, from Caltayud, Spain, described as: “Sexy, supple texture, medium-bodied, with a fleshy red plum leather and mineral profile” but I didn’t find it as sexy as its description.  (Could my “wine taste buds” be out-of-shape!?)

I will go back to Bin 36 – it was a fun and lively atmosphere (especially for a Monday night) and their domestic cheese list is impressive ~ looking forward to some tasting!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

foodlife !!

At foodlife, Water Tower Place

foodlife is so convenient and reasonably priced, really (especially for Mag Mile eats.  You can also grab a glass of wine from $2.95, but no, I didn’t!)  The food selection is vast (Italian, Sushi, Soup Bar…I usually enjoy the Stir-Fry though!) The shrimp they add is very fresh-tasting, cooked to order!

eat foodlife

BTW – right now, they have $100 gift certificates, with a special “bonus” $25 gift that may be used at many “Lettuce Entertain You” restaurants, nationwide.  (The gift can only be used 1/1/10 – 4/14/10)  They’re available at the back of foodlife in Mity Nice Grill, (which I’ve heard from an “insider” has some of the city’s best French Onion soup – have you had it?)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Gage

Excellent Lunch

And yes, wine I did!  The most I’ve ever paid for a glass of wine is $15, until I yesterday, $16 very-buttery-worthwhile chardonnay.  (This wine was my third “by” –  and last – until after January 17th, 2010, so I wanted to go out strong!) The scallops : “perfect.”  Perfect portion, perfectly prepared, seasoned ~ wonderful taste and texture!  (This lunch was worth every penny – scallops $15 – however the alcohol, in general, seemed a bit steep.)

I bought their $100 gift certificate and received the additional $25.00 bonus (1/1/10 – 3/31/10).  The Gage will be a usual destination.  I enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the bar, while looking out at Michigan Avenue passers-by.  (Steps from Millenium Park.)  It was the perfect stop for me between the Chicago Cultural Center and The Art Institute.  The servers were pleasant and helpful, the manager personally checked on diners.  Thank you!

(I was curious how others received “The Gage” so I checked it out on TripAdvisor too.  If you aren’t in the mood for “very loud,” save it for another day.  I had a late lunch, about 1:15, and it was fine!)

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No-Bake Turkey Cookies

That’s right.  It’s that time of year again.  That time when people like me freak out because our kitchen skills are numbered and surely we have to bring at least a presentable dessert.

Not to worry for there is the adorable “turkey cookie!”  No baking involved.  Some assembly required!  (Good practice for the next big one, Christmas.)

These couldn’t be easier.  Here’s the metamorphosis from plain Keebler fudge stripe to able-bodied bird:

The “body” is a Milky Way bite-size.  (If you can’t identify the beak, even I can’t help you.)  The feet are Brach’s dark chocolate stars.

All you do is melt some chocolate (I use the leftover stars) – that serves as the “glue.” Press each piece together & wait for it to dry.  As shown, I place the chocolate star last and let them set like so:

(That way the star won’t be pushed forward – you want the star centered at the base.)

The most difficult part some years (I’ve been making them since 1988) is that I can’t find the components.  This year, Wal-Mart actually had everything.


Feet- Stars work best; I used Hershey’s kisses a couple times & those aren’t bad (Personal preference: dark chocolate looks better to me both on body and feet)

Bodies – The 1988 body style was a “coconut drop.”  Coconut drops come in bags with wax lining and I last found them at Walgreen’s, circa 2006.  Trouble was: a lot of family and friends weren’t crazy about coconut.  The 2009 body, as I mentioned, are milky ways.  (These are truly tasty and work well but you can’t put much pressure affixing the head otherwise the whole thing caves in a bit.)

Other tasty bodies are Reese’s peanut butter cups (if you don’t mind the milk chocolate look) or Mound’s (getting back to the coconut origin in case you can’t find the drops.)

Whatever you use…one thing’s for sure…these are as tasty as they are easy!!  All that’s left to do is to be thankful for “no-bake turkey cookies.”  Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Fall, Food and Drink, Off the Plate of a Culinary Illiterate

A “Balloon to the Moon” Dining Experience

OK, I haven’t talked about food OR service OR good business sense in awhile and I, myself, was starving for a nibble of all three.  When I read this:

With tantalizing entrees and sweeter afterthoughts, served up by exceptional people delivering extraordinary experiences. Avalon – where impassioned food meets gracious service – building relationships that inspire, stimulate, enrich.

I nearly fell to the floor (yes, like a lead balloon.)  WHAT?  This is either extravagant over-promising or…do I dare hope…

No!  I refuse.  I’ve been led down this road by imposters.  I will go to though, I will try the food, but I will NOT be lured in for a moment to think that

1.)  the entrees will truly be tantalizing

2.)  that dessert will be sweeter afterthoughts

3.)  “exceptional people” will be delivering to me an “extraordinary experience”  C’MON FOLKS

4.)  there will be “Impassioned food?”  DITTO

5.)  there will be Gracious service?  (So no sideways looks when I eventually request more water?  Not that one should have to ask…)

6.)  that RELATIONSHIPS (using the “R” word!?) are valued and will

7.)  Inspire (Like a true “Buddha in Business“?)

8.) Stimulate

9.)  Enrich

Sure, maybe two or at most, three of these can occur.  This is a lot of extremely high expectation-setting, blowing up a happy balloon.  There are many simple side-steps that can burst that lil’ balloon, that can stomp it into the ground.

But that little balloon, she did float right up high in the night, almost touching the moon.  Maybe had she left room for a “sweeter afterthought,” the moon is where she would have landed. With all her skepticism, maybe she wasn’t ready for the moon.  Brushing right up against it was satisfying enough.

It was so incredible, I didn’t even stop to take a photo.  Couldn’t be bothered.

As a matter of fact, I’m going to leave you now, as I have one of last night’s perfectly seared Maine diver scallops on mascarpone cream corn waiting for me in the refrigerator.  If only I had more of yesterday’s special soup, the decadent porcini-lobster bisque.  Rich, but not so as to overpower. Not the slightest hint of oilness which I’ve found can be a failure to any rich cream soup.  No wonder a chef himself brought it to our table; I would be proud too, had I prepared it.  If only I had time to tell you about the hostess who smiled and greeted us and, when our 8:00 table was ready at 7:45, gave a choice of seating preference.  I wish I’d found out if it was the manager or owner himself who’d come to our table to check on how everything was, but at the moment, I really didn’t care.  I was immersed in every aspect of what was promised, of what is, and dare I believe, of what will be another lunar adventure next time, Avalon.


Filed under AZ, Customer service, Restaurants

Oh, the Wine I Will Drink


Wine. I really like it.

I especially like the ones with a good finish. That said, I’m giving it up 100% while pursuing two other finishes: the 50,000 words in the month of November required to “win” NaNoWriMo and the 13.1 miles of the  P.F. Chang’s Rock-n-Roll half marathon in Phoenix on January 17, 2010.

I’m devoting most of November to writing furiously while living in Chicago (I’m calling it “ChiMo”), but will have to tromp back to Phoenix if I freak out from the cold weather.  To stay warm there, I’ll be running…the races I’m aiming to do in Chicago: The Trick or Treat Trot, The Turkey Trot and The Rudolph Ramble.  I was logging what I’m doing, (also logging at NaNoWritMo) and it occurred to me that I’m not logging what I’m not doing.  Drinking wine!

I thought that it deserved at least an “honorable mention” in this physical and writerly fitness endeavor, so I’m handling it here.

My wine-forgone diary:

October 17, 2009 – The Carefree Station – oh man, what an extensive wine list, actually, all types of wines, beers and spirits, not to mention many several dinner menus.  Highly recommended!

October 18, 2009 – Shugrue’s in Sedona – WOW, talk about a view! We came for lunch.  Incredible menu.  I had the ahi tacos & hub had the chicken fingers (cf). I wince when the cf is ordered on such an amazing menu…but the chicken had the last laugh. I’ve never called a cf “amazing” but these were.

Sipping Chardonnay...one day...

Shugrue's...sipping Chardonnay...one day...

If you’re in the Valley, Northern Arizona, Chicago-land/suburbs, or Las Vegas, where’s a great place I can go and not have a glass of wine?

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Filed under Food and Drink, Wine-forgone diary

Weekly Sushi Fix

Sushi.  Can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it yet.

White Monster Roll at PURE

White Monster Roll at PURE

It’s my thing.

I also appreciate the decor in sushi places.  Contemporary, clean, minimalist.  Except for the places that are strip-mall tiny with plain chairs that have those burgandy color seats which stick to your legs when you wear shorts. Plain restaurant chairs with anything but plain restaurant food.  That’s strip-mall sushi.

Tonight’s venture was not strip-mall sushi, it was to “PURE” (north).  We were complaining that we were really in the mood for “Kamehachi,” a restaurant in Chicago, but tonight were we in Scottsdale.  We’d never been to PURE so we decided to check it out and we weren’t disappointed!  The decor was minimalist but interesting.  Mixtures of different wood tones, white leather and dark chairs, mirrors, “trees” and interesting lighting, but not so interesting as to be distracting.

Light, wood, reflections set the mood at PURE

Light, wood, reflections set the mood at PURE

The right balance, it was, just like the food and the service.  (Pic doesn’t do justice)

The server knew her wines and her sushi.  She described three chardonnays clearly and concisely.  (I go “buttery.”)  I asked about raw instead of baked ahi on the “White Monster Roll” and she said, “of course, that’s the way I always do it.”  The other roll we had was the “Fire Dragon Roll.”  Just the right amount of fire!  Note: mushrooms in the miso soup.

The alcohol was a bit spendy ($15 for my buttery) and $6 for a bottle of fat tire, but other than that, prices were reasonable.  Definitely will check it out again & even better, at happy hour!


or at Kamehachi: Sushi Restaurant Chicago | Delivery | Sushi Catering | Corporate Catering Chicago | Sushi Chicago

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Filed under Restaurants, SUSHI

Figured It Out

I hope you like the title but if not, it should be discarded with its source, the fig:

TJ's fig: day one, bitter; day two, slightly sweeter but mushy

TJ's fig: day one, bitter; day two, slightly sweeter but mushy

I’ve been to three local groceries and gotten three different reject-a-figs: bitter, mushy, or bland.  (This came as a sharp surprise because the one I’d had last Saturday in Las Vegas was incredible, awesome.  If a fruit can be “decadent,” this fig was that!) The one above is from Trader Joe’s and it was my third attempt at finding a fine fig.

A fine fig apparently looks like this:

Fig in salad at Carnival of Cuisine

Fig in salad at Carnival of Cuisine

The fruit is bright red.  Firm but supple, juicy.  I confess, I’d never before, to my recollection, eaten a fig!  Where had I been?  It was delicious.  I didn’t make much mention of it in my other post because I figured most people already know about the fig.  Then I tried to find an enjoyable one locally and I couldn’t.  I never thought the fig would be shifty!

Wait.  I’ve just maligned a fruit without doing but cursory research.  I’m going to pop online to see what’s up with the fig…

OH!  It isn’t “shifty” as much as it is “delicate”: last section from FIG Fruit Facts

Commercial potential: Because of losses in transport and short shelf life, figs are a high-value fruits of limited demand. The best outlet is direct sale at roadside or farmers markets, but do not permit handling of the fruit. Figs for shipping are collected daily just before they reach the fully ripe stage, but yield to a soft pressure, usually indicated by small cracks in the skin. They should be immediately refrigerated. For commerce, choose a cultivar that parts readily from the branch and does not tear the neck.”

Well, that explains it.  It figures that I’ve fallen for a fruit that, in its most palatable form, will be hard to come by.  It’s a fussy fruit; I can respect that.  All the more reason to appreciate when paying restaurant prices for the fine fig.

This experience reminds me of times when I’ve tried a food in the past and not liked it.  I wouldn’t try it again!  Luckily, this time, I came across the fine fig first.  Had I come across the supermarket figs, I would have forever dismissed them as “awful” and never looked back.

What I’ve figured out is a new mantra: “I’ll try everything not just once, but until I’m satisfied that it’s not wonderful.”  There’s new hope for sauerkraut and peas!

These figs have shared their secret, “Something can be both awesome as well as awful.”  And you?

I know it’s crazy, a “fig poll” right?  But, my experience has shown me, there is great wisdom in the fig.  I want to know more.

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Filed under Food and Drink, Off the Plate of a Culinary Illiterate