Chef Julius (2)
Valentine’s Day is a day designed to show yourself or the person you are involved with some level of appreciation. Yes it does get a bit “overdone” with trinkets, gifts and other types of craziness. However, mistakes are accepted as long as the effort is there. What it really boils down to is sharing. I feel the best way to share is through cooking. Our relationship with great food is what connects all of us. Everyone can remember a great meal. Going out or staying in, Valentine’s Day is the best day to put that effort forward. Elevate the at home experience of making dinner for that special someone by pairing with wine. You can follow a few simple rules about food and wine that will make you an expert… for the night at least.
First, stick with 3 courses. It’s no fun being in the kitchen the entire time. My 1st Course is a soup or bisque. This will be served hot, which requires the other person to cool it off and there is slurping, so it’s sexy. Remember to keep this light and try to make it vegetarian. It will pair easier with light wines:
Roasted Red Pepper & Sun-dried Tomato Bisque – Pair with Amado Sur Torrontes or Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc
The 2nd course is where you can flex a bit more. This is a steak course. If you want to go with chicken, use dark meat. If fish is the choice, go with something really rich…and the sauce MUST be a bold one.
Peppercon Crusted Ribeye Steak or Balsaminc & Brown Sugar Roasted Chicken or Lemon Curry Salmon with Truffle Honey Drizzle…plus Duckfat Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Charred Broccoli – Pair with Amado Sur Malbec or ANY Concha Y Toro Carmenere
For my 3rd course, I don’t play around. It’s chocolate ALL DAY! I like to make dessert, cover it and hide it in the refrigerator. Dessert on Valentine’s Day has the strongest lasting power and CHOCOLATE always works. unless the person is allergic J
This might a bit adventurous for the average home cook, order from us, visit a local bakery or Mariano’s and pick up a dessert like this.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Compote & Chocolate Mousse – Pair with Casillero del Diablo “Late Harvest” Sauvignon Blanc
There are plenty of ways to have a meal like this at home. You can order our “Valentine’s Day Take Home Menu”. You can also check various food websites for recipes. Still I encourage not to do too much, too fast. And if you want to just go out and not deal with the clean-up after making a meal like this, visit us at www.taleof2chefs.com and purchase tickets to our Valentine’s Day Pop-Up Restaurant.
Happy Cooking and Happy Valentine’s Day from Chef Julius and A Tale of Two Chefs…
Yes! It's back people and NO I am not talking about the McRib. Chicago Restaurant Week is back!
For those of you that are not familiar with this wonderful event, allow me to share. February 1-10, more than 250 of Chicago's best restaurant come together in a citywide food showcase. The featured menus are prix fixe and start at $22 for lunch and $33/$44 for dinner (not including beverage, tax & gratuity).
To some this may not seem like a big deal, but most of Chicago's best and brightest get in on the fun. This is the most affordable way to see how Chicago has become a world-class dining destination.
There are several "Michelin Star" awarded places participating this year. It's the easiest , affordable "date-night" with incredible food. I have listed a few personal favorites that I consider "can't miss" dining experiences. These are a few places that I try to visit on my nights off and will definitely hit a few during Restaurant Week.
Baume & Brix (New American: the "jars" are a must try)
Bistro Margot (Classic simple French – my year-round spot)
III (3) Forks (I LOVE this steak)
GT Fish & Oyster (Classy, slick & BEAUTIFUL food; unlike any bar you have ever eaten at)
BOKA Restaurant (Michelin Star food and service – a personal favorite)
Mercat A La Planxa (Spanish/Tapas)
Michael Jordan's Steak House (If offered, GET THE BURGER!)
Sable Kitchen & Bar (Contemporary American – Sweet Corn Crème Brulee)
Table Fifty-Two (Upscale Southern Comfort, Hummingbird Cake, Chicken & Waffles)
Tavernita (Spanish/Tapas, but can get a bit loud and clubby)
Nellcote (Ridiculous Pasta)
Piccolo Sogno Restaurant (Wonderful Italian with well priced wine list)
Quay Restaurant & Bar (stop playing and get the gnocchi)
Perennial Virant (Seasonal, local, fresh and beautiful)
The Lobby at The Peninsula Hotel (You will NOT have a better roast chicken)
Topolobombo (High profile Mexican by Rick Bayless)
RPM Italian (New kids on the block doing Italian right)
Oceanique (Fresh Fish Evanston – usually $100+ per person)
Markethouse (Heirloom Squash Risotto...they even let the farmers in the kitchen!)
Also, there are few rules when it comes to dining during restaurant week.
1. Use a reservation service or call ahead. Don't expect an available seat on a walk-in for the higher end places.
2. Start your dining earlier in the week. The server energy is better, the food is executed better and people are excited.
3. Inquire about taking pics of the food during the meal. Some places frown on this.
4. Look to see if your dining destination has additional specials with "social media check-ins" (discounts on wine, dessert, etc)
5. Try new things. This is an opportunity to eat some of the food you see on the cooking competition shows from high profile restaurants. Dine with passion and adventure
6. Lunch is always an easier ticket than dinner
You can see the full list of participating restaurants and reserve your space at EatItUpChicago.com
Enjoy and Happy Eating Chicago!
Chef Julius Russell