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Month: January 2016

Review of Madison & Rayne

A few months ago, a picture of one of my favorite recipes won me a free week of Madison & Rayne meals.1 The New Year brought a lot of changes for me that even further limited my available free time, so this timing could not have been more perfect.

For those unfamiliar with Madison & Rayne, it’s a meal order service that comes only partially prepared. So you order by Saturday, and on Tuesday a little green bag arrives that is perfect for reusing when grocery shopping on your non-Madison & Rayne days. Then, the meal only takes minutes to make and you get to eat fresh, delicious food that’s likely better than whatever you would (or could) whip up in that time.

madisonandrayne

Along with the ingredients, Madison and Rayne sends a detailed recipe card that walks you step-by-step how you can make the perfect dish, including how to organize your work bench (much appreciated, since one of my biggest cooking flaws is starting to cook before laying everything out).

ingredients

For our first meal, both PIF and I got roasted salmon with chipotle squash & coconut soup, black eyed peas, and broccoli. I was immediately impressed by the quality of the fish. Seriously, look at that thick, fatty salmon.

Normally, PIF is the chef de fish, but I wanted to take shot at it. And, voila:

mealone

mealonecloseup
Look at that crunch

Meal number two, we decide to mix it up. Since PIF is allergic to shrimp and I don’t (usually) eat meat, I got lemon oregano shrimp orzo and PIF got pork posole soup, which officially marked the first and only time I’ve ever cooked meat for PIF.

posole

posolecloseup

shrimp

Because the first salmon dish was so amazing, we decided to go back to a salmon dish for our next meal. This time it was pan roasted salmon, avocado & pumpernickel panzanella, kale salsa verde.

salmonpanzanella
With all the energy saved on prep, I got to try my hand at plating. K, I’ll keep working on it…

Overall, my impression of Madison & Rayne was nothing but positive. It enabled me to eat gourmet, healthy, and delicious food even when I didn’t have time to run to the store or to tired to spend an hour cooking. I looked forward to seeing what was inside that little green bag and I even learned transferable skills. I most definitely would use Madison & Rayne again even if I had to pay for it, and in fact, probably will, likely under their chef tasting program, which you can customize and costs $14 per serving. And honestly, the quality is such that it’s better than what you’ll get pre-made for the same price and, if you like cooking, there’s some value-added from that aspect as well.

In summary, I was majorly impressed by the quality, convenience, and flavors of Madison & Rayne and highly recommend it for those who enjoy cooking but don’t always have the time to do it from scratch.

For $30 off your first order, check out this post!

 

1. Thanks, ChiataGlance for recommending I enter and for Chicago Food Whores for throwing the contest and selecting me! Check them out at www.chiataglance.com and www.chicagofoodwhores.com.

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Green City Market Haul 1/9/2016

Every Saturday I can, I grab my canvas bag with a kidney on it and head into Lincoln Park – the actual park, not the neighborhood – to the Green City Market. If you live in Chicago – especially in Old Town, Lincoln Park, or Lakeview – and have not yet done the same, you’ve been missing out on some of the best produce, meat, and dairy available within the city.

Every Saturday throughout the year, Green City Market comes into fruition. During the summer months, local farmers pitch tents in Lincoln Park, right across from Hotel Lincoln. In the winter, they pile into the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Needless to say, this is something I look forward to each and every week. And despite having gone a dozen or so times now, I’m still discovering all the great food available here. So, I thought I’d take a page from the book of all my sister’s favorite YouTube make up artists and do a “haul.”

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…IMG_7137
from left to right

Kinnikinnick Farms
Eggs
$6.00 for a dozen

1871
Whole Milk 
$7 for a 1/2 gallon, plus a $2 deposit for the jug

Bushel & Peck’s
Jams (Raspberry Habanero, Hedgerow, and Chipotle Cherry)
$8 each for RH & CC, $7 for Hedgerow

River Valley Ranch
Crimini Mushrooms
$12.50 for 2 baskets (I think ~2 lbs…I eat a lot of mushrooms)

For those who have been, share your favorite goodies. For those you haven’t, do the same once you try it out next Saturday. And don’t forget to bring a dollar for coffee while you roam around!IMG_7150Green City Market is currently in session from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays in the Peggy Notebaert Museum.

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Best of 2015

Now that 2015 has come to an end, I thought it was time to reflect on the best (and worst) places I tried in 2015. I’m keeping this list to Chicago, though everyone knows some of the best food I’ve had this year was in Austin.

Avec

Other than an extensive cocktail menu, Avec has it all. It’s perfect for dinner, brunch, and a relatively quick and reasonably priced lunch. They also feature an amazing Friends of Avec brunch series one Sunday a month and, of course, the chorizo stuffed bacon wrapped dates that sabotaged my pescetarianism of 5 years.

Kai Zan

PIF and I try to live by the rule that we should only eat dinner out when it’s something we can’t make at home. Kai Zan, more than anything else in Chicago, fits that description. Simply put, it is the best sushi in Chicago and a lesson that some things are worth the money.

Tanta

Amazing cocktails (we recommend El Chingon) and delicious, unique food. Also a favorite for family dinners, especially if yours is as loud as mine.

The Betty

My favorite bar in Chicago. What can I say? I love gin & tonics and not having strained vocal cords at the end of a night out.

Beatrix

Quick, healthy, and on the way to the Loop, Beatrix tops the list of best places to get breakfast before work.

Pub Royale

Tired of omelets and waffles? This brunch is for you.

Whole Foods 5 for 5

Every Friday at the DePaul location, you can get 5 glasses of wine and five small plates for $5. And, if you keep your glass and bring it back in the future, you can get it all for $4. Perfect after a long week of work and for those on a budget.

Embeya

Unfortunately, we only got in here for lunch this year. But Embeya is truly a gem. During our short visit before the office noticed I was missing, we had 4 dishes, all of which were amazing, learned all about the interior décor (which is to die for) and even got the recipe to their green papaya salad dressing.

The Cliché Locations We Tried and Loved

The Aviary

Think a $20 cocktail isn’t worth it? Trust me. It’s worth it.

Alinea

As young 20-somethings ooing and aweing, we probably stuck out like sore thumbs. But unlike many gourmet restaurants, Alinea didn’t make us feel as though we were any different than the high rollers across the way (well, besides that they got a special menu). The sommelier, who is absolutely wonderful, even informed us that we’re welcome to share the wine pairing on our next visit.

Topolobampo

Surprisingly hearty portions. Brightly colored food. A brilliant sommelier. Topolo is unpretentious, completely unique, and downright fun gourmet.

Nico Osteria

Great ambiance, wonderful for a celebratory dinner. Prepare to shell out, though.

Cindy’s

Got tourists? Hit up Cindy’s on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association for brunch or drinks.

The Disappointments

Blackbird

We came for Prix Fixe lunch, but even so, Blackbird was a bit boring and a bit salty.

Naha

I met my dad and his client here for lunch. She’s Brazilian, so they arrived about 30 minutes late for a 1 o’clock reservation when lunch service ends at 2. However, the way Naha rushed us (I’m talking three servers standing nearby and staring as we ate) was frankly unprofessional and deeply uncomfortable. Especially for the Michelin stars and the price tag. That said, the food was worth a re-do, once I get over the pain of the bill we paid for such an awkward meal.

The Office

I get it. I’m on a budget and not ordering $150 glasses of green chartreuse (as much as I wanted to!) nor can I afford the $300 white truffle risotto like the group of bankers nearby. But don’t make me more conscious of this fact than I already am! You don’t know what my future holds! (or is it that obvious…)

The Wiener’s Circle

I summed up my feelings earlier this year in a Yelp post and do not want to exert further energy on this hellhole.

Overeasy Cafe

HORRIBLE and enough to make me renounce Yelp FOREVER! Taste like hospital food even though it looks good. DON’T BE FOOLED!

New Rebozo

I’m still not over the worst $50 I ever spent. Good thing I invested in oil.

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