Category Archives: Restaurants

Chicago Day 1: Sepia Restaurant

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts.

If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

From its hidden-away front door to its sexy bathroom, Sepia is a treat for anyone who finds it. Every detail is important to the ambiance of this West Loop restaurant carved out of an old print shop. Its cocktails are creative and delicious and its wine cellar is carefully curated to match the menu. Even the coasters (which I desperately wanted to steal but didn’t) are thematic. Sepia is a total experience.

And the food speaks for itself. The Sepia menu is seasonal and inspired.

House made charcuterie selection

Carnaroli risotto, beets, walnuts, pecorino pecato, pickled lemon

Grilled albacore tuna, squid ink couscous, berbere spice

Halibut, sweet corn, fingerling potatoes, crispy onions, curry

Selection of three domestic cheeses

Our anniversary dessert — a nutella mousse

In addition to the beautiful main dining room, Sepia also has a private room available for rent. I took a photo through the door and even empty, it was stunning.

Sometimes I wonder if celebrity executive chefs (Iron Chef) actually are a part of the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, but it seems that Andrew Zimmerman really put his heart and soul into Sepia.

P.S. I’m still struggling with the gaucheness of taking photos in elegant restaurants, and we took these photos with my iPhone. I know they’re not perfect, but they didn’t cause the other people in the restaurant to roll their eyes at us.

October 2012 Challenge

I’ll be linking up with The Nester again this year for the 31 Days Challenge — and what better travel destination to choose than my own beloved city? I’ve combed through my archives and I have lots of beautiful Chicagoland sites to share with you, as well as a whole bunch of restaurants. Some will be new to you and some may be old favorites.

If you’d like to join me as a cheerleader for the home team, I’d love some guest posts about your experiences in our fair (but sometimes windy) city. Just email me — my link is in the contact box on the right. Just send me your photos and text, and I can format the post for you.

Last year I just about killed myself with magazine-style articles about places in Europe that we visited. I’m hoping to keep this year’s posts shorter, with lots of photography. You know that I love a challenge; I think I’m ready to introduce you to my Sweet Home Chicago. See you Monday!

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I just had to share more Tony B. stories

You know how much I love Anthony Bourdain. Well, I guess he fooled us here in the Windy City while filming for his show The Layover. Here’s the story

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Food Cult: Dinner at Plum

One of the best parts of traveling is meeting new restaurants. For Tech Kid’s birthday, we went to a highly touted Oakland restaurant, Plum. I’m still struggling with my cameras, but I just had to share photos of the inventive work of Plum’s chefs.

Beet Boudin Noir, with brussel sprouts and turnip

Avocado Risotto with pistachio,lemon, and cucumber

Raviolini with mixed milk ricotta, nettles, and green shallots

One perfect raviolini

Samples from the Plum Charcuterie with pickled vegetables and violet mustard. I’ll leave you to guess what’s in these delectable morsels.

King Salmon with fava, potato, radish, and vandouvan (curry-like spice blend).

Roasted Pork and Belly with young chard, new onion, and mustard

I’m not sure what this wonderful dessert was — it was ordered specially for the birthday boy.

This lonely little turnip is all that was left on the plate when we finished this sumptuous and scrumptious meal.

If you are visiting Oakland, I highly encourage you to seek out this very good restaurant (make reservations!). The portions are on the small side, but every bite is full of interest.

Food Cult: Sweet Home, Chicago

It’s plastered all over my media; it’s on my lips pretty much constantly. We’re going back to France next spring and I can barely contain my excitement and anticipation of a very good time.

Every chance I get, I’m looking for French inspiration around me in my suburban Chicago “real life.” While friends were visiting last month, we discovered a new-to-us French restaurant one of Chicago’s trendy downtown neighborhoods. Kiki’s Bistro was fabulous.

The Thursday special was bouillabaisse…

And the salads were fresh and also creative…

From the minute we walked in, dressed in our mixed bag of work and tourist clothes, we were treated as friends. Kiki helped us choose wines, and our waitstaff could not have been friendlier or more knowledgeable. It was a wonderful experience; put Kiki’s Bistro on your bucket list for your next Chicago visit.

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Food Cult: The Perfect Beef

I already blogged about our gastronomic extravaganza at the extraordinary Richard Phillips restaurant at Chapel Down Winery just outside of Tenterden, in Kent. Unfortunately, in checking my links, I found that the restaurant just closed. So, so sad. I hope you enjoy the photo anyway. It makes my mouth water for a taste of that perfectly cooked beef.

Does your blog need a restaurant bucket list? The idea’s not mine; I really appreciate the link-up at Hamburgers and Hotness!

Food Cult: Avocado Couscous at the Three Chimneys Freehouse, Biddenden, Kent

Whilst staying at the sublime Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, we dined three nights at a local pub just a mile down the road (or a good hike across the fields) from the bed and breakfast. I’ve talked about our Sissinghurst experience here and here and here, but I couldn’t resist showcasing this beautiful piece of food art again.

The bottom layer is a vegetable melange with eggplant, zucchini, and onions in a tomato sauce. Next is the couscous mixed with avocado. Then there’s a slice of potato that’s not overdone, so it can hold up the next layer. It’s topped with goat cheese and it looks like it was torched because the cheese would likely melt in the broiler.

The Three Chimneys Freehouse is a very special place, hidden away in the heart of Kent, and is frequented by locals and the guests at the Sissinghurst Castle B&B. Although we ate there three nights, enough to be recognized and seated at “our table” by the hosts, we barely scratched the surface of the delectable menu. We highly recommend The Three Chimneys if you are near Sissinghurst Castle.

You’ll need reservations — a fine restaurant in the country fills up — so call ahead if you find yourself in the neighborhood of The Three Chimneys at suppertime. It’s worth the trip.

Another hint — I keep Pinterest boards for all the areas I want to visit on vacation. You might want to start one for Kent in southeast England!

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Food Cult: Thai Food in Vienna!

It was a nasty rainy night in March, and the restaurant was close to our hotel and close to the Opera house. Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name, but this is probably the restaurant. Whether it’s the right one or not, there’s nothing like a spicy satay and some Thai egg rolls to warm the cockles of my heart.

I’ve never actually been to Thailand, but in my somewhat limited experience, Thai food is pretty much Thai food, no matter where you go. If you’d like to try to make these luscious little morsels, here’s a recipe from Temple of Thai where you can also buy the makings if you can’t get the Thai ingredients where you live. Actually, I imagine you could probably live without the dried tree ear mushrooms and sub them out with some other kind of fungi. 🙂

I could barely type up this post without ordering out — we have a favorite Thai restaurant nearby and thankfully I don’t have to go to Vienna or Thailand to satisfy my egg rolls and satay cravings. Do you have a favorite Thai restaurant to share?

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Food Cult: Zum Huth – Im Haus der Musik, Vienna

For this week’s photo story, we’ll travel around Europe to visit some fabulous restaurants and revisit some extraordinary food.

Our first stop is in Vienna, where we spent a romantic dinner overlooking the rooftops from the restaurant-cafe Huth in the Haus der Musik. The Sound Museum is an often overlooked but wonderful museum that is centrally located near St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna Opera.

If you are traveling with me, don’t be surprised if I order the cheese plate at every meal. This one was extraordinary.

These photos were taken in 2003 with our brand new Olympus digital camera. It has since gone to digital camera heaven.

HAUS DER MUSIK is an interactive discovery museum located in the heart of Vienna’s first district nestled between St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera. A host of interactive installations playfully communicate openness to new things, understanding and enthusiasm in approaching music HAUS DER MUSIK was awarded the Austrian Museum Prize for its innovative design and is located in the formerPalais of Archduke Charles. You will find all 67 of its new inventions here. A total of 5,000 square meters has been set aside exclusively for areas dedicated to a wide array of approaches to music, and most of all, to the experience of music.

At one time the former Palais of Archduke Charles, today’s HAUS DER MUSIK was also the residence ofOtto Nicolai (1810 – 1849), who composed the opera “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and founded the Vienna Philharmonic concerts here. This connection provided the impetus for the Vienna Philharmonic, with itsHistorical Archive, to make HAUS DER MUSIK its new home. Here, the scientific documentation of this world-famous orchestra continues and is made available to the public. On the “Beletage” first floor, the only historically preserved rooms in the house, the Vienna Philharmonic present original documents from their history.  Source


Last week I stumbled on a blogger with a fun way to link up photos on Fridays that fits right in with one of my RENEW goals for 2012 — using my cameras more thoughtfully and intentionally. The challenge is to photograph the week using only the camera on my phone. And yes, I know it’s Saturday.

Normally I’m not a late starter, but with spring break and all, it took me a while to get into the groove, so I didn’t actually take my first photo until Monday. The re-entry back into my real life as a teacher and the inevitable early morning wake up was hard, very hard.

On my arrival at school, I discovered that my promised laptop had not been delivered over spring break. I have mixed feelings about it anyway, so I wasn’t heartbroken.

On Tuesday, one of my students was playing with this mirrored Rubik’s Cube. He said he needed a greater challenge… and then showed us that he marked up one side with dots to help him solve it. 🙂

Since it was grades week and I was feverishly trying to get everything done before the Friday holiday from school, I didn’t do much photography. On Friday, we met out-of-town family members for museum-ing. I took this photo from the window of the Chicago Cultural Center because I have never seen the Bean (Cloud Gate) from this vantage point. The yellow tint comes from the protective film in the windows.

I also took this photo of the stained glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center. I know it’s not perfect — I took it with my iPhone, for goodness sake — but it gives an idea of the beauty of this often overlooked building among Chicago’s museums. The web site says it’s the tenth most popular museum, but in a city of museums, how many people actually get to the tenth one?

I didn’t take this photo, but I thought you might want to see a well-photographed picture of the Tiffany glass dome that is also in the Cultural Center.

Lest you think I’m trying to cheat on the InstaFriday challenge, here’s my photo of the Tiffany Dome.

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this quote in the new modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.  When I looked up the attribution, I found that it was actually supposed to be a work of art. Silly me, I thought it was just an interesting quote on the wall.

It turned out to be one of those beautiful Chicago spring days — crisp and sunny. On such a day, it’s impossible to take a bad picture of the skyline, even on a smart phone.

If it’s Friday, it’s pizza day. We also had the double whammy of entertaining out-of-town guests, so it had to be a Chicago pizza day. We found a pizza place by the Art Institute that we’ve never been to and were happily surprised by both the food and the service.

A week that started pretty slowly ended up with a warm gush of family togetherness and yummy wine and pizza. It was another hot time in Chi-town after all!

Please stop by Life Rearranged and meet some new blogging friends. Everyone appreciates a little comment love.

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