Loved trying out some new restaurants and very cool events this past month! I did so much that I’m going to split this into a two-part post. Here’s Part 1:
Latinicity– The highly anticipated Latinicity finally opened in early November at Block 37. It is compared to Eataly in many ways in that it houses a variety of dining options as well as a marketplace. But, after attending the media event the night before Latinicity opened to the public, I didn’t understand the comparison. I found Latinicity to be much more of a gourmet food hall than a true twin of Eataly. There is a small marketplace at Latinicity, but nothing that compares to the massive size that is Eataly. It didn’t matter to me at all, because I came for the food…and I loved it! I really enjoyed all the different counters ranging from tortas to tacos to sopas and so much more. One of my absolute favorite items of the night was a Latin-inspired vegetarian sushi roll made with asparagus-scallion tempura, avocado, roasted red pepper, cucumber, soy paper and topped with a sambal aioli. I seriously could not stop eating it…sooo good! Latinicity is definitely worth a stop and great for when you need a break from some holiday shopping.
Fig & Olive: The Cuisine of the French Riviera Cookbook – Most of you are familiar with the awesome and elegant restaurant Fig & Olive (NYC, LA, DC, Chicago) and if you aren’t, definitely check it out. I really like the food, drinks and ambiance at the restaurant and love that there are so many vegetarian options. Recently at a wonderful dinner to celebrate the release of the cookbook, ‘Fig & Olive: The Cuisine of the French Riviera,’ Laurent Halasz (the author and owner/founder of Fig & Olive) discussed his passion for food and his inspiration from his mother and her simple yet fresh approach to cooking and entertaining. It was such an honor to not only meet Laurent and his mother, but learn about their lives growing up in France and their dedication to share their family recipes with others. I was lucky to receive a copy of the cookbook, but have not had the chance to use it yet. I am definitely excited though because one of my favorite dishes on the Fig & Olive menu, the zucchini carpaccio, has the recipe listed in the book. So, who is coming over for dinner?
LuxeHome CHILL Event– This is the description on the website for this event, “LuxeHome®, in partnership with Wine Spectator Magazine cordially invites you to the Ninth Annual CHILL, an International Wine and Culinary Event featuring superb wines from winemakers worldwide paired with cuisine from distinguished Chicago chefs amidst the ambiance of the world’s largest collection of premier boutiques for home building and renovation all in the name of charity.” And, the tagline: “Over 50 Top Chefs, 150 Premium Wines, 3 Great Charities, 1 Fabulous Night.” Hmm, what part of ANY of that sounds bad? I’m a little embarrassed to say that I had never heard of this event before, but now that I know about it and have been to it, I will definitely be attending again next year. And of course, it’s all for some great causes (The Lynn Sage Foundation, Respiratory Health Association and Saturday Place). The best way to describe the CHILL event is like an indoor Chicago Gourmet at the Merchandise Mart. This event is one for the books and should not be missed if you are a foodie or wine connoisseur. Not only that, it was so much fun walking through all the high-end home stores in the Merchandise Mart and seeing beautiful home interiors. I was definitely mentally building my dream home as I walked through all those stunning showrooms!
Travelle Kitchen + Bar– Housed in the beautiful Langham Hotel is the wonderful restaurant, Travelle Kitchen + Bar. I had previously only been here for drinks so I was excited to finally have the chance to dine at the restaurant. And let me tell you, WOW! Our specially curated menu for the evening was amazing and of course Chef Tim Graham was able to accommodate any and all of the dietary restrictions with our group. Now, let me just tell you about one of the best parts of the dinner. It was when I turned around to see Chef Tim wheeling something out on a cart, and at first I didn’t really understand what it was, then when I looked closer, I realized it was a huge wheel of parmesan! And better yet, there was pasta in it?! Yes, Chef Tim prepared this amazing casareccia pasta with yellow tomato sauce and fresh veggies and then stirred it inside the wheel of parmesan. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life! And wait…it gets better. He then plated each serving of pasta and topped it off with a tarragon ricotta. Seriously, I can’t even make this stuff up. And I don’t want to, because you need to try this dish at Travelle. It was so delicious. I guess the major downside of knowing about this cool technique is that I am now going to always expect to have my pasta tossed in a giant wheel of parmesan. #foodieproblems
Bake 425 Pizza– A while back, I wrote about one of favorite places in Chicago called Homemade Pizza company (check out my write-up here). Sadly that Chicagoland chain closed, but I’m here today to tell you it has been revived under a new name, Bake 425. I was SO thrilled when I found this out and was super excited to try out some of the new items they have added to their menu. The bake-at-home concept is perfect so that you can eat your pizza when it is nice and hot right out of the oven and also customize it so it is cooked to the way you like it (I prefer my crust a little on the crispier side and I like to set the oven to broil for the last few minutes of bake time to get the cheese on top nice and bubbly). The great thing about Bake 425 is that they also locally source all of their ingredients; I definitely appreciate that. I recently tried their Farmers Market Pizza (tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, goat cheese, cremini mushrooms, brussels, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, red onions, garlic oil, fresh basil and parmesan (with no goat cheese for me since I don’t like it)), the Sunshine Salad (arugula, roasted butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, and pine nuts) and the bake at home chocolate chip cookie. Let’s just say heaven at home and so perfect for the upcoming Chicago winter. I know what I will be eating when it’s cold and snowy outside!
Please Note: While I was invited to these events, all opinions are my own.