Cheers: To Mercury and Merlot
Last week my fiancé and I parted from Palm Beach’s brilliant and luxurious Breaker’s Hotel, making us very ambivalent about some very tough decisions. You see, aside from the stunning property and amenities themselves, the culinary experience alone is reason to stay there. My point exactly! How does one go about choosing the setting for his or her last meal there?
We had the outdoor dining at the Beach Club where Mediterranean sophistication meets casual Atlantic chic, or the casually elegant setting of the Seafood Bar, which had one of the coolest aquarium bar counters we’d ever seen. Secretly, the setting didn’t matter. All I could think about was leaving behind the truffle fries of the ladder choice, but somehow couldn’t get myself to vocalize it. We walked toward the Beach Club Restaurant since it was our last chance to sit outside and to our surprise it just closed. I was ecstatic and my fiancé had no idea! Seafood Bar and truffle fries here we come!
For this week’s #foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2008 Grgich Hills Estate Merlot, Napa Valley. The guiding philosophy of Grgich Hill’s wines is simple, great wines always begin with great fruits. This philosophy was so perfectly symbolic to the premise of our setting. Great relationships should always begin and continuously experience great dates. Today, we’re honoring the Seafood Bar for was simply an ideal place for the perfect first (or hundredth) date. Inspired by the breathtaking view of the Atlantic, the first thing we noticed was the aggressive monsoon outside the window. At that point, I was comfortable pinning the outcome on fate and Mother Nature’s way of sympathizing with our departure. However, the vaulted open beam ceilings, plantation shutters, and elegant furnishings created the perfect atmosphere for our unplanned final Palm Beach date.
Unlike the rain we had today, the harvest of this 2008 Merlot didn’t see a drop, making it one of the driest years since Grgich Hills began making wine in 1977. Due to this lack of rain, it created a wine known for heavily concentrated flavors, hence why complex aromas of cherry and dark berry, driven by vibrant acidity seemed to stand out. Known as a Cabernet lovers’ Merlot, we were shocked to admit that this was a Cabernet lover’s wine not to be missed! The wine’s firm tannins and food-friendly acidity make it the perfect partner with beef tenderloin and lamb, however we were on a mission to test this theory out at an oceanfront restaurant and raw bar. Bring it on mercury and Merlot!
After browsing the extensive menu of fish, clams, oysters, lobster, and shrimp dishes, we decided on Tuna Tartar Tostada, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Seafood Club and Salmon. These dishes offered some of the tastiest, healthiest and beautifully colored and textured fish, all served with a personalized touch. The Pistachio Crusted Salmon Salad, my personal favorite, was amplified by just the right flavors of Spinach, Avocado, Strawberry, Mango, Queso Fresco, Cointreau Reduction and Strawberry Vinaigrette, allowing the fish itself to be enhanced, rather than infused. The flavor of the Merlot was soft and smooth in texture, which helped to draw out the richness of the pistachio and clean, pure flavors of the fish.
Grgich Hills Merlot alongside the Salmon’s freshness, crunch level and even the temperature delivered a full spectrum of goodness that could not have been achieved standing alone. Although each delightful, the food and wine together helped to optimize the best of all your senses! You don’t need an excuse (or aquarium bar) to drink Grgich, but the marriage of Grgich Hills Merlot and Pistachio Crusted Salmon and Crab Cakes defeated all opponents on the table. Trust us, if you haven’t tried it, it’s time!
The best part… the bottom of the menu states: As a courtesy to our guests, please refrain from using cellular telephones in the restaurant. Thanks to The Seafood Bar at the Breakers Hotel and Grgich Hill’s Wine for creating a perfect food and wine pairing. Your philosophy helps to remind us of the real essence of life.
A tremendous amount of thinking went into where to eat our final Breaker’s meal, however, we realized that our best option would have been to just give praise where praise is due. The Truffle Fries! Thanks to fate, I didn’t have a meltdown. I ate my truffle fries and took my last sip of Merlot and thought about how our stay at The Breakers showcased everything in store for us after this season’s sought-after Chicago winter. Now summer, get here already!
The theme of the night was “Share Your Dreams of Being a Celebrity Chef” and it was a blast! @DominoSugar and @candh_sugar are currently running a Celebrity Chef Sweepstakes where you can win a VIP trip for 2 to Seattle and be a Celebrity Chef for a day with Chef Nick Stellino. How cool is that?!
Another fun question of the night was Question 7, which was “If you published a cookbook, what is the one recipe you’d absolutely need to include?” I definitely need to get my hands on @HelenAgresti and @stacyssweetspot's signature recipes!
Also, tweet me at @RoryRoselyn and tell me your favorite thing to bake!
Cheers: To Proper Etiquette… Or Not!
These days, we have etiquette for everything. There are unspoken rules to follow regarding social media, “likes” on Instagram, returning a text message, wedding invites rules, etc. What ever happened to the way it was growing up, when the word “etiquette” was synonymous to table manners? I remember attending a class called “Feminique” (I think that stands for “feminine etiquette?”) where we were taught the ins and outs of proper table manners, like how to hold glasses, silverware, and when to use the proper utensils. Yet, somehow all I can remember as an adult was that I was always starving. Why the heck wouldn’t they teach us how to cut a steak using real meat?
I’ll never forget the day I was standing in the elevator with my fiancé and we ran into a father and his 3 yr. old daughter who occasionally eats at my fiancé’s restaurant. After admiring how cute she was, he looked at me and said, “She holds her fork and knife the same exact ways as you do.” At first I thought it was his of saying the little girl was exceptional, but later found out otherwise. Then, it occurred to me, maybe this was my way of rebelling against Feminique? Shock and embarrassment set in.
For this week’s #foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2008 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon (95 WS), from Napa Valley. This is a Proprietary Red which consist of 91% Cabernet and 9% Merlot with only 1,000 cases made. So, if you ever spot Cardinale on a wine list, order it! This beautifully aged, full-bodied wine hits the palate with booming properties of rich toasty characteristics and well-integrated tannins. Surprisingly, there was no mark up price on the wine either, which allowed us to reap the benefits of a “BYOB” policy without having to actually pay an additional corkage fee or pretend to know proper BYOB etiquette. Phew, I clearly wouldn’t remember anything in that department!
We know the key to learning about wine is drinking it, which should mean that the key to learning about good table manners is by eating properly. Tonight, we discovered that Hillstone Restaurant Group’s Palm Beach Grill is reason alone to do so. The Palm Beach Grill highlights the various arenas of proper etiquette that far exceed table manners. Here is where I give credit to a fiancé who finds humor in pointing out all the things that failed to register from my early days of Feminique. Thankfully, I was not squirming in this formal setting. Instead of looking down and wondering why there were so many forks, I stared at a range of cutlery, knowing exactly where to begin. Feeling proud (and a sense of relief), I excused myself to the restroom and returned to find a newly starched napkin folded at the table and a martini being transferred over into a freshly frosted glass. Talk about a way to add a striking visual and tactile element!
The menu extends far beyond the freshest of ingredients, so fresh that the only freezer in house is used to store ice cream. Picture super-flakey Fried Pacific Oysters with olive, caper, and onion relish and Prime Steak Tartar with a wine that’s so delicately elegant that we passed off our pre-wine martinis early. And if that’s not enough to justify the greatness of this fine red wine, we too tried to find some ingredient that would unevenly balance the flavors of a perfect food and wine pairing. The best test for whether or not versatility holds true for a wine is to put it up against potent, bold flavors like blue cheese. The Walt’s Heirloom Tomatoes with blue cheese, basil and Champagne vinaigrette, placed on a temperature appropriate plate next to the concentrated tannins of the Cardinale was simply perfection!
Our main courses for the evening were Prime Center Cut Filet, and Salmon grilled in Hickory wood and marinated in olive oil, garlic, turbinado sugar and soy. Both dishes paired with the wine yielded excellent, super distinctive results, however the grilled preparation of the Salmon against the elegant hints of tobacco and noticeable floral components made this more of an intense and wildly unique pairing. Due to the Cardinale being a selection of some of the best lots of grapes from six separate Napa Valley regions, versatility and ripe fruit concentration was on our side.
Cardinale’s Proprietary Red may not land on the tableside often, but when it does, you can be sure it will be elegant, exceptional, and delicious. After all, Chris Carpenter, a Chicago native himself, has been making wines for leading Napa Wineries for years. We cannot wait to meet him in person next month!
Thanks to great food, elegant flavors, knowledgeable staff, and our top-notch server Emily, the Palm Beach Grill is an inspiration to chefs everywhere. Having been utterly impressed by The Grill, we have officially decided that “Proper Etiquette Day” deserves to be it’s own national holiday and should be respectively celebrated every year on Palm Sunday at The Grill… when it’s snowing just about everywhere else.
Photo Credit: Jackelyn & Taki
If there’s one thing that the #Foodiechats community loves to discuss, it’s holiday meals! With Easter just around the corner, we loved discussing “Breaking away from Easter Classics” with our wonderful sponsor @IncredibleEggs!
We started the night with such a fun question! It was “You’re loading up your grocery shopping cart for Easter, what’s in it?” Let’s just say I wish I could be at @ApreaDanielle or @ant_kneee's on Easter!
How perfect is it that National Egg Salad Week is the week after Easter?! One of my favorite questions of the night was, “The week after Easter is National Egg Salad Week. What do you add to egg salad?” @diningonstyle and @JulieAnnPoll had some pretty delicious go-to ingredients!
@IncredibleEggs ended the night on a seriously drool-worthy note with their question, “#putaneggonit: What are your favorite foods to top with an egg?” @CherylStyle and @hungrytommy both speak my foodie language…that’s for sure!
A big thank you to @IncredibleEggs! We loved having you as a sponsor! Be sure to visit their website and try out all the recipes they share. If you need recipe suggestions for Easter brunch, there is no better site to visit!
I am STILL craving eggs after last night’s #Foodiechats. Tweet me at @RoryRoselyn and tell me your favorite way to prepare your eggs!
Cheers: To The Power Of One Liquid
What’s the key to learning about friends? You guessed right, wine. One way or another, it always starts with a group of friends and a sip of wine. That first sip triggers something deep and meaningful going on in someone’s life and before you know it, the entire group feels forever compelled to one another. Based off my experience, the abiding secret is that something really good can be learned from any wine you decide to drink, good or bad.
A group of my closest friends first met over for an impromptu sitting of signature cocktails and wine at one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago, Jelly Fish. Now, we are on the midst of a well-documented food revolution. Thanks to Jelly Fish, the basics of our friendship have been met and we’ve indulged in the ultimate of wine experiences, browsing and befriending our way across Chicago. This week we were led to Paris Club Bar & Bistro, a personal Lettuce Entertain You favorite, which naturally involved the opportunity to sample a wine that we all learned about and critiqued.
For this week’s #foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2011 Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly from Beaujolais, France. Beaujolais is an important wine region in eastern France, famous for its vibrant, fruity red wines. Very concentrated and elegant, with deep layers of floral characteristics, this wine should be reserved for an equally enjoyable setting. Touched by spices and solid tannins that grip the finish, we were excited to start placing flavors on center stage items that Paris Club Bistro had to offer. After all, they have an entire section of the menu that has been dedicated to shellfish, showcasing freshly shucked oysters, stone crab claws and an array of seafood dishes.
On the contrary, one of the dishes presented a tough challenge as to whether the wine paired perfectly with seafood or red meat. Someone at the table ordered a burger and quite honestly it was a hit. Paris Club, thank you for this intellectual challenge and sensational pleasure. Clearly, there was no argument about the Hand-Cut Steak Tartare either, however one cannot leave without Foie Gras Terrine, with quince marmalade and quatre spices, especially when paired with the Cote de Brouilly. Even though this wine was bold enough to distinguish itself amongst other ripe and palate expressive reds, it’s charm stood out amongst the more acidic seafood dishes.
Our favorites included the Steamed Mussels with shallots, vermouth and parsley, Salmon with lentils, and Trout Amandine with toasted almonds and tomatoes.
We finished off our delicious and elegant candlelit dinner with the most mouth-watering dessert trio, the highlight of which was the Salted Caramel Profiteroles. For the record, salt makes red wine tannins come forward! Your palate will salivate at the genius combination of sweet and salty flavors even though this trend has been hitting the desert industry by storm recently. Not the newest of ideas and yet, still this one never popped up until now. Oh, and there’s no reason to try and lick the warm chocolate remnants off your fingers right away either. Your reflexes will be working in high gear and it’s impossible to stop!
When passion and dedication come together, great things are possible. The dining experience at Paris Club Bistro embodies just that sensation. From the beautiful classically inspired French flare, to the naturally pleasant staff, every detail was delightful and relaxing. This gave us the perfect setting to share personal stories and fun details!
Some friend’s take part in boutique browsing, in which case they talk about staple piece’s of clothing and new pieces of jewelry. We on the other hand still shop, but we also have the bragging rights of being able to offer a complete selection of food and wine samples to pair with almost any deep and meaningful conversation piece.
Friends, when we’re old and gray and still dining around Chicago, at least we’ll have an unrestrained quest of wine knowledge and memories to look back on.
Not many liquids have that kind of power!
We can all agree that a cookie is one of the best treats around! With that being said, we also love crunchy chips. This week, we featured @EatCookieChips and they give us the best of both worlds!
@EatCookieChips offer the perfect combination of sweetness and crunch! We love the fact that we can get our cookie fix in delicious chip form! Flavors include Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Sugar, Original, Chocolate Chip and Sea Salted Peanut Butter. These things are addicting, and it is not uncommon to finish a bag in one sitting!
If you love chips and cookies, then there is no better treat for you than @EatCookieChips
We loved seeing the reactions of our #Foodiechats friends as we introduced them to @EatCookieChips. We have a feeling a LOT of people will be having cookies for lunch today!
They are all delicious, but we recommend starting with Sea Salted Peanut Butter. Consider yourselves warned that you won’t be able to stop eating them!
Last night’s #Foodiechats was certainly one to remember! Our sponsor was the wonderful @LundbergFarms and they came up with a great theme, Family Feasts!
The #Foodiechats community is filled with @LundbergFarms lovers and we loved seeing all the excitement that followed when we announced our theme and sponsor!
@LundbergFarms came up with great questions for the night. One of my favorites was Question 6, which was “There are 120,000 varieties of rice worldwide! Which is your favorite?” Can you believe there are that many?! @healingtomato and @connitalupita had great answers!
We loved all the reactions of our #Foodiechats friends tonight! We loved hearing from @dominickcosta, @lisaburbach, @ItsToni and @the_potlicker! The #Foodiechats community is certainly the best community around!
Thank you so much to our friends at @LundbergFarms for sponsoring such a great chat. It was an absolute blast! I can’t wait for my next trip to the grocery store to stock up on Lundberg products!
Is there anybody out there that doesn’t like pizza? Here at #Foodiechats, we certainly don’t think so, so we loved getting to feature @HomeRunInn and their delicious frozen pizzas as well as their restaurants!
If you live in Chicago, then you know that @HomeRunInn makes the best frozen pizza around! This deliciousness is available in 30 states and they have so many options for Classic, to Ultra Thin, to Ultra Thick.
@HomeRunInn is a family owned and operated establishment. Along with their frozen pizza, they have 9 restaurants. We love family owned companies and the face that @HomeRunInn still makes their pizza according to the original family recipe.
Ingredients are key to a good pizza, and @HomeRunInn always gets it right! Their dough is buttery and flaky, their sauce is made from the ripest tomatoes in Modesto, Californina and their mozzarella cheese is shredded daily to maximize freshness.
One of our favorite parts of doing Features is hearing back from our community. We loved seeing who was a current @HomeRunInn fan and who was planning on trying it for the first time!
It has been a pleasure featuring @HomeRunInn! All this pizza talk has sure made us hungry!