Tag Archives: chocolate

A Consistent Bacon Theme…with the Best Burgers in Chicago and Pies to Boot.

My fat-themed trip to Chicago began with K meeting me at O’Hare with a pumpkin spice latte (say what you will about Starbucks, but it’s become a rite of fall…), which was absolutely perfect as my flight from Denver left at 6:40 and I needed just a *little* more coffee to really feel like Lisa.

Our first stop was Vosges, a chocolate shop with the tag line “Haut Chocolate.” We were there specifically for a bacon bar, but discovered there were actually several to choose from — milk, dark and caramel toffee. I don’t actually remember which of the chocolates I liked better with the bacon bits (it’s sweet and salty…which is one of the reasons I used to love Take 5 so much…), but I generally like milk chocolate better, so that was probably it. The bacon caramel toffee was certainly good, but we couldn’t tell there was any bacon in it…which may defeat the purpose of actually buying bacon chocolate. But, in the end, neither one of us was compelled to buy a whole bar…in part because I could not tell how much they were…and if I had to ask, maybe I couldn’t afford it? (Turns out they’re about $7.50 each…so it might be worth it as a special treat for bacon lovers.)

From there, we stopped off at Dominick’s (…which sells Safeway products! A nice little kickback to my California roots…) for pie ingredients. K is participating in the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest on October 18 and wanted some pointers. I told her the one big thing I learned from the 2007 APC Crisco National Pie Championships — Plain apple won’t do it. You HAVE to have something unique and/or distinctive. — and we found a recipe on Epicurious for a Deep-Dish Caramel Apple Pie. (She actually used her iPhone to do it…which made me long for one even more…but then I worry that I will never be able to make calls in my apartment as the reception is so bad…and I continue to hem and haw…)

We used my aunt’s crust recipe…and, in all honestly, all I think K needs to do is practice a bit to get her confidence up…and *maybe* purchase a few tools (a pastry blender! a pie crust shield! a silpat liner!). Otherwise, the only advice I gave was the standard “make sure your water is really, really cold” and “don’t let the dough get too sticky.”

And…even though the recipe does not call for an upper crust, we improvised a bit and added one…and I think the pie was better for it. It was definitely a memorable spin on standard apple.

After baking, we hit up the Bristol…which allegedly serves a Bacon Manhattan for brunch. We thought maybe we could ask nicely and they would serve us one anyway for happy hour, but, alas, the barkeep said he did not have the right bacon-infused booze on hand. He later let me try some bacon-infused scotch (and the brunch menu says the Bristol’s Manhattan is made with bacon-infused Dewar’s, so…?)…and I told him I liked it better than regular scotch — the truth! — but I did not tell him that I do not like regular scotch. The bacon infusion sort of took the edge off of it…and totally made it drinkable. (Another bonus? They had duck fat fries…which I have been unable to try at Hot Doug’s for TWO consecutive Chicago trips. [They are only served on weekends.])

After meeting up with K’s new husband, we headed over to Kuma’s Corner for what was supposed to be one of the best burgers in Chicago. I don’t like eggs, so the Kuma Burger (with fried egg) was out, but it was really hard to decide between the YOB and Iron Maiden and Neurosis (among others). In the end, I went for the Iron Maiden and K ordered the Neurosis…and both were really, really good…on the order of not-much-talking, lots-of-eating kind of good. I was at Subway once with a guy (hey, big spender…) who was sort of shocked that I ordered a sandwich with everything on it…so, what can I say? I like lots of stuff. I actually kind of wish I lived closer to Chicago so I could try some of the other combinations at Kuma’s. Worth noting in so many words: Definitely worth the trip if you’re in the area.

With bellies full of burgers, K’s husband dropped us off at the Green Eye, where we continued to catch up and whatnot…and we were thrilled to see it had one of those collegiate banners hanging from behind the bar that said, “Bacon!” (The theme continues!) And…I’ll blame it on the bacon-infused scotch, I guess, but it maybe seemed like I had nothing to lose by contacting Wall-E at that point…although it was kind of weird when he showed up and I think I was maybe kind of mean and ignored him a little. So. There ended that.

The next day, our first stop was the Hoosier Mama Pie Company…which K had emailed me about long, long ago. We were both kind of sick of sweet stuff — we had, after all, had pie for breakfast — but they had a peach raspberry pie…which contains, like, my two favorite fruits of all time…so I couldn’t not get a piece. (K, for her part, got a slice of bacon quiche.)

We couldn’t eat it right then and there though — so we dropped off the baked goods at K’s house and headed downtown…where K had the brilliant idea of eating at Rick Bayless‘ new restaurant, Xoco. We had to wait in line for a good long while (and a ballsy woman pulled up in a Corolla and wanted someone to give her menus and phone numbers)…but it was totally worth the wait. (Plus, RICK BAYLESS HIMSELF was working in the kitchen…so we were sort of able to gawk while we waited…) K had the choriqueso, I had the milanesa…and by the time we actually had seats, it was another one of those no-talking, more-eating moments. We were approached by a WGN reporter at the end of the meal who wanted to talk about our food. Unfortunately, nerves got the better of me and I sounded like that version of myself that I hate…and even though it didn’t come out very clearly to WGN, it *is* true that my mother LOVES Rick Bayless and that my torta was really good…I just couldn’t think of any other way to describe it while on the hot seat. Perhaps I’ll give it another go here: it was kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, but with this tomatillo sauce that gave it a little zing…or maybe you could even think of it as a Mexican spin on an Italian cutlet sandwich?

K and I did some kind of arty, shoppy stuff in the afternoon…and then, finally, we more or less ended everything with a trip to (O)enology at the InterContinental Chicago for — that’s right — more chocolate-covered bacon. One of my classmates had tweeted or Facebooked or somethinged about trying chocolate-covered bacon in Chicago…and so we knew we had to add ENO to our fat list, too. And, you know what? It had one of those menus that seems like it would be really fun to write (Another? Le Peep.) and I would totally dig a job like that…except, even though I realize they have a schtick, I might feel kind of like a schmuck with the whole “Wine. Cheese. Chocolate. Sensation.”-thing. Regardless, the chocolate-covered bacon was only available with the “Wine and Swine” Chocolate Sensation…and so that is what we ordered (along with flights called “Tickled Pink” and “Ring Around the Rose”). It also came with a shiitake truffle…which I was not sure about…but our waiter (who looked like Bradley Cooper from afar) assured us we’d wish it had *more* mushroom. I can’t say I really tasted any shroom…it was pretty much just chocolate. And the chocolate-covered bacon was, you know, good. Same sort of sweet/salty combo as before…but perhaps with more salty this time as there was more meat…and it was covered in dark chocolate…which I suppose was a nice complement to the higher chocolate:bacon ratio?

And then that was it. I had to go home and eat leftover burger and pack so I could wake up super-early and fly back to NY. (And I will share my thoughts on *that* momentarily…)

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Filed under beer, chocolate, eggs, frying, gadgets, grilled cheese, hot dogs, pie

Fat Chicago

So…I am about to go to Denver for a friend’s wedding. And…when I was booking my ticket, I noticed that American Airlines routed me through Chicago on the way back. And it just so happens that one of my favorite people lives in Chicago…and the last time I saw her, she was getting married…so it didn’t really count as a Seeing K trip, you know? So…I asked if she minded if I stay with her for a few days on my way back to NY…et, voila.

Then — the power of social networking! — I saw on Facebook that my friend J had tried chocolate-covered bacon…and so I told *her* how exciting it was to hear as I had missed the chocolate-covered bacon at the Wisconsin State Fair…and she said she had it in Chicago! So! It appears I will have another shot at chocolate bacon!

I wasn’t sure how K would feel about the bacon as she seems like a woman of refined taste. But she didn’t flinch. In FACT, she pointed out that there is a brunch spot in Chicago where you can get a bacon martini…and that because there is so much fat and so many fat people in Chicago that we could do an entire fat-themed trip!

Which clearly is amazing.

Last year, an editor suggested I get the duck fat french fries at Hot Doug’s in Chicago (and I can’t not point out after linking to it that the Web site says it is “The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium”)…but, alas, Doug only serves those fries on weekends and so K and I were out of luck. I am going to miss them *again* on this trip (I guess me and duck fat aren’t meant to be…), but I am optimistic there’s plenty of other fat to choose from on weekdays. K even dug up this milk chocolate bacon bar at Vosges. It turns out this is *not* the same as the chocolate-covered bacon J referenced — she said she had it at the Intercontinental? But J *also* said she was going to recommend Vosges. So! Small world.

Do *you* have a tip about what to do on a fat-themed tour of Chicago? Tell me! Don’t be shy!

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July’s Most Memorable Food…

Well, here we are: August and I haven’t posted nothin’ in a real long time.

I have another good excuse though!

I mean, partially it’s because I feel no one in the universe reads this except for my mother (which is a scene right out of Julie & Julia! Except that in the Nora Ephron/Julie Powell version, people actually *do* start reading eventually)…

But it’s also because I’ve been on the road. With my mother. In a giant trailer. (You know, like you do…)

And I certainly can’t sum up the whole trip in a measly blog post…but I can hit some highlights.

First? Nick’s Bar-B-Q & Catfish in Carlisle, Arkansas. Whoa. SO good. I felt like I was back at Penn’s in Brandon, Miss. A welcome change from all the McDonald’s (remember, kiddos, we were 52 feet long and needed big parking lots that were easy-on, easy-off…), but also one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Everything was fried though — fried catfish, fried pickles, fried okra and fried pies. Well worth the splurge…though it’s probably a good thing I don’t actually live there. It was so memorable, in fact, that I brought my catsitter a bottle of Nick’s barbecue sauce. (Even though I didn’t try the barbecue…)

Next? Chocolate-covered bacon at the Wisconsin State Fair. They also had TONS of fried goodies…from s’mores to cheese to green beans. In fact, I tried my first fried Snickers bar at this fair (which my mother kept calling “frickers” and “frandy bars”)…and I had part of the traditional cream puff. I was really excited about the chocolate-covered bacon though — totally intrigued. It seemed like one of those things I had to try so I could report back to everyone who was sending me links to news stories about it…but, alas, the chocolate-covered bacon stand did not immediately make itself known to us…and after a long day at the fair, most people in my party were ready to head home. And since, like Nick’s, I’d probably already consumed well over my standard daily caloric intake, I opted to head home without complaint, too. Maybe next year.

And…finally, there’s boeuf bourguignon, which I feel I have to make after seeing the aforementioned film. (Although I’m not totally a fair-weather Julia fan! I’ve read both of the books and liked them a lot!) I’m a little nervous about it — the first step, for instance, is to cut bacon into lardons. Yikes! And I’m not sure I have a 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole dish that is 3 inches deep. But I think I can handle drying 3 pounds of lean stewing beef. And, you know, perhaps this act will help me commune with Julia and Julie and find some sort of meaning and purpose in my life, too. (For the record, I’m still searching. And, to that end, it’s been a little tough being back in NYC…)

(Ooh — I also really enjoyed it when we were at a restaurant in Norton, Virginia and the waiter described a salmon special with haricot vert…but I’d need sound effects to truly make you appreciate it…)

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Filed under Brooklyn, candy, cheese, chocolate, fish, food on a stick, frying, Mississippi, pickles, pie, weight loss, wine

Cupcakes, Cakes, Cookies & Some Combination Thereof.

PeepsNo news this time. Just a little catching up.

So…there was an auction earlier this month for Social Media for Social Change and my baking lesson was won by a woman who had a birthday around the same time, so…long story short, I made some cupcakes to say thanks for bidding on me. She apparently really likes vanilla…but her husband already had a cake in the bag, so I ended up doing yellow cake with white frosting. And it was a convenient excuse to use up more of those heart-shaped decals from Auntie Leslie. (The winner, like, Auntie Leslie also happens to be a big Peeps fan…so I think we’re going to make Peeps pie during the lesson…even though it requires melting down some Peeps and I wasn’t sure how a diehard fan would feel about that.)

But! The Peeps don’t end there. On Friday, the biggest frosting fan I know and I (but mostly the frosting fan) put together a cake party at our very favorite restaurant at 27th & 3rd (like the pie ones…but instead with, you know, cake). I saw a recipe for a Peeps sunflower cake on Easter Sunday, so on Monday I hit up all the CVSes and Duane Reades and Rite Aides in the area…but all I could find were pink Peep chicks. So…I decided that maybe I could still do something floral? (You can see for yourself. It was a bit ridiculous. Though individually placing those chocolate chips in the center wasn’t as time-consuming as I thought it would be.)

I also brought along the cookie recipe I was hoping to enter in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I did an informal poll and it seems peanut butter is what a lot of people like in cookies…and so I tried to put a fun spin on chocolate-peanut butter cookies…but then one of the cake guests pointed out that the winner last year did a peanut butter cookie and so the odds of them picking *another* peanut butter cookie are probably slim…so I did some wild last-minute tweaking and created what I think is good combo of two of my favorite Epicurious recipes: Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies and Peanut Butter Pie. We’ll know in September whether I’m going to Orlando again!

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Pie News: An Astro’s Guilty, Lots of People Don’t Have Jobs, Astronomers Had a Big Find in the Desert, & Shackling & Biting is No Way to Solve an Argument.

Javier Lopez’s former teammate, Miguel Tejada, was sentenced to probation and community service for lying to Congress about performance-enhancing drugs. As he prepares to return to spring training and ultimately talk to young people about his inspirational life story, I’d suggest — don’t hate me — Apple-Pear White Wine Pie. There’s a lot of juice (get it?), but he can also pair it with the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc or other fruity white wine that he uses *in* the pie. Not only do I love pie/booze pairings, but it might take the edge off if he’s nervous about speaking in front of crowds. A nice (and legal!) bonus.

In other not-so-happy news, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefits is now 5.56 million — the highest ever (or at least in records dating back to 1967). Ken Haedrich calls the Coconut Cream Pie in his book “uncomplicated, delicious and simple” and that seems to me to be appropriate.

And…astronomers say they that for the first time they have matched a meteor (full of tiny diamonds!) in the remote Sudan desert with a specific asteroid — in other words, they caught the first shooting star ever. (Making Simply Red incredibly jealous?) That would make this the perfect time to indulge in some 5-Star Chocolate Delights, no? This Candy Bar Pie sounds a lot like Take 5, which was once my favorite candy bar of ALL TIME.

And in odder news, a Connecticut woman was arrested and charged with assault after handcuffing herself to her sleeping husband to resolve an argument and then biting him. Such a crazy, desperate act deserves a dramatic pie like a meringue. But since she’s out on $400 bond, I’m going to assume she has a lot on her mind, so I’d recommend Haedrich’s 10-Minute Lemon Meringue Icebox Pie. He says it’s a “embarrassingly good facsimile” and requires very little work. (The secret? Store-bought curd and graham cracker crust.) It might also do her image some good to “waltz in, the very picture of composure, carrying a fresh-from-the-oven lemon meringue pie.” Although I imagine her husband maybe won’t be one of the people at that dinner party.

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Pie News: Happy Birthday Gloria, God Save the Papers, Boom Goes the Mountain, Hello Space People & Bye Bye Denise.

In Pie News today…

Happy birthday, Gloria Steinem! I wish there was some sort of fish- or bicycle-themed pie…but, sadly a search for “bicycle pie” turns up this. “Fish pie” is a little more helpful: We get Jamie Oliver‘s Fantastic Fish Pie. But if I was Gloria, I’d want something a little sweeter to celebrate my 75th. So…this is where it maybe gets a little mawkish, but I’d say she’s a pretty strong lady, so I’d recommend Apple and Dried Apricot Pie. Haedrich says dried apricots have a strong flavor that can dominate the apples…but you can tinker with it by poaching the apricots in apple juice. However, should you *like* strong apricots, you can up the ante and poach ’em in apricot juice. The world’s your oyster!

And…as a quote-unquote journalist, I can’t not acknowledge Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin introducing a bill that would allow newspapers to restructure themselves as nonprofits that would earn tax breaks. So…how about baking a pie from his home state — the Catoctin Mountain Apricot-Blueberry Pie? I have read that in the western part of the state, there is plenty of farmland and lots of orchards where you can pick up fruits for this pie..when you’re not reading the Baltimore Sun, that is.

And…waaay up north we have Alaska’s Mount Redoubt erupting (and then quieting down a bit). If you’re stuck inside (or just watching from afar), I’d go for the Mocha Turtle Baked Alaska Pie. Sure, the Alaska part is obvious…but there’s ice cream in it — because it’s so cold there for so much of the year! — and ALSO one of my favorite Alaskan restaurants is Fox, Alaska’s Turtle Club.

Back here in the Lower 48, we have Obama and Washington-area middle school students talking to astronauts. If they could shoot a pie into space, I’d recommend a Lemon Chiffon Pie. Not only is it light and fluffy, but it’s totally reminscent of Tang.

Finally, there’s poor Denise Richards. Not only did she not produce Charlie Sheen’s male heirs, but she was voted off Dancing with the Stars in only the second week (*and* before Woz). To lift her spirits, I say Denise roll up her sleeves and make Rice Krispies Marshmallow Mud Meringue Pies with her kids. The book says this recipe is kid-friendly as it does not have a traditional pie crust…but Ms. Richards should note she needs to be careful and supervise the browning of the meringue.

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Filed under Alaska, blueberries, feminism, fish, ice cream

Breaking Pie News: Liddy Eats Humble Pie…And So Can You.

So…a friend suggested a good feature for the ol’ blog here would be to do a segment on Pie News. Which is really quite brilliant. Like, for example, I could totally talk about AIG’s Edward Liddy last week and how he had to eat some humble pie in front of the House Financial Services Committee (that was it, right? I could just say, “Congress,” but “House Financial Services Committee” is so much more interesting. Plus, I – heart – Barney Frank a little.)

Sadly, a literal search for “humble pie” in my pie books is, um, fruitless…but there are a few on the Internet. Like, say, this one: Humble Pie.

But if I wasn’t going to do a literal humble pie, I might go with something simple…like even the new state pie of Indiana: sugar cream. I didn’t actually get a chance to try this one on Pi(e) Day (which went quite well! MUCH different than January 23. Calmer. More space. More food. I owe a big thank you to AG & Choice Kitchen!)…but I’d say it’s a good candidate for a humble offering if that’s what you’re going for.

I still have the video camera from the Dia del Pole-Dancing (that I haven’t even used yet!)…but I am not sure I would be the most dynamic on-air presence. Which is not to say I won’t *ever* do it…but I have to let things percolate for awhile.

PS: In my Pie book, I caught sight of a Tar Heel Pie…which will be very fun to make if UNC emerges victorious in this March Madness business. Ken Haedrich says it is essentially a brownie in a crust!

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