Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogging By Mail: Little Things

I got my package today! The Blogging By Mail theme this time was "Little Things". I created mine on a "little things from Chicago" theme. I received an amazing mix of teas, chocolates and spices! I am a HUGE tea fan and this stash will last me a while. As for the spices, I received some really interesting Indian spices which I would not have purchased myself. I'm so excited to play with it all.

Little Foodie Things from Chicago

I signed up for Dispensing Happiness's Blogging By Mail several months ago. The subject this time is "Little Things". I decided to compile a package of "little things" from Chicago. While Chicago is probably best know for Deep Dish Pizza, hot dogs, cheesecake and Italian beef sandwiches, none of these things could be shipped internationally to my partner. Instead, I took a look back into Chicago's history and discovered that Chicago was once the "Candy Capital" of America. So I hope the recipient of my package has a sweet tooth! I have chosen items from companies based in Chicago or the Chicagoland area.

Wrigley - When I was growing up Wrigley was some of the only gum we could get. When I became a "tween" things like Hubba Bubba started coming out, but for a long time Wrigley was the only gum around. I have included traditional gums such as Juicy Fruit, Big Red and Wrigley's Spearmint. The company is still going strong and I have also included two of their newest gums, 5 Flame and 5 Rain. I think 5 Flame is the modern Big Red and 5 Rain is one of the modern mint gums. But they are all still good!

Tootsie Roll Industries - All little kids love tootsie rolls, mostly because they are small, sweet and individually wrapped. Tootsie has been a Chicago company since the 60's. In addition to Tootsie Rolls, I have included other classic candies from this company such as Junior Mints and Charleston Chews.

Crate and Barrel - In the 80's people used to come from all over the United States to shop at Crate and Barrel. Nowadays there are locations spread out throughout the US, but their headquarters and flagship store are still located in Chicago. While there are many household items available at Crate and Barrel, I included some cute cupcake papers, decorative stencils and some colored sugar.

Frontera Grill - Started by Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill is still one of the best restaurants in the city. In addition to hosting Mexico - One Plate at a Time, Rick Bayless has spread out and started selling products from his famous restaurant. I have included a salsa and a simmer sauce.

Ferrera Pan - Makers of classic "pan" candy, I have included boxes of Lemonheads, Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans.

Jays Foods - Jay's became famous for their potato chips. The interesting part is that the potato chips were actually the idea of Al Capone! The story goes that Capone tried them while betting on the ponies in New York. He liked them so much that and asked his supplier to start making them for his speakeasies. Jay's closed in December of 2007, but some of their classic chips are still around.

In addition to the foods listed above, I also included a little book on Chicago. It has pictures of Chicago "then and now" and really shows the growth of the city. There are also some other candies such as sugar babies and a candy bar from a chocolate factory in Chicago that I bought at the famous Chicago Theater.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Salmon, Cucumber and Tomato Snack

Tonight was a lazy dinner. Actually it was a snack. But a snack with some of my favorite things: smoked salmon, cucumber, tomato and sea salt. That's it. I cut up a large English cucumber and used it as the "cracker". I salted those well with my good sea salt. I used an entire 4 oz. package of smoked salmon and broke up the pieces to layer on top. Then I sliced up a tomato. Since it was round it wouldn't sit on top and I just placed the tomato pieces around the plate. It actually ended up more like a salad than anything else because I cut the salmon and cucumber pieces in half and ate it with a fork. Oh well, it was easy and I'm still full a few hours later so it was the perfect dinner after getting home late from work.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tilapia with Prosciutto and Sage

I wanted to make fish for dinner and I wanted an easy recipe. While searching online I found this recipe for Tilapia with Prosciutto and Sage at Epicurious. I knew I wanted to make it as soon as I read the simple ingredients because it was made of three of my favorite things: tilapia, prosciutto and sage!

The recipe takes a bit of time to prepare because after cutting the fish into pieces you then have to wrap them with prosciutto. Even though the recipe specifies using "not paper-thin" prosciutto that was all they had at the store. It worked fine for me. I really enjoyed the saltiness of the prosciutto with the flavor of the sage. You couldn't taste the fish all that much because tilapia is so mild and prosciutto has such a strong flavor, but the tilapia added a butteriness to it all.

I made the for my mom and I and while I really enjoyed she was not a fan. She picked off the prosciutto and said that she didn't like the way that the prosciutto tasted when fried. The fatty parts of the prosciutto crisp up a bit like bacon. However, the recipe was interesting to make and I like that it uses so few ingredients and yields such robust flavor.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dinner at Sixteen

Sixteen has one of the best view's in the City of Chicago. While you are in the dining room you are right next to the top of the Wrigley Building and all it's fabulous architecture. The restaurant recently opened and is on the 16th floor of the new Trump Tower which is still under construction in Chicago.

We did the 10-course blind tasting (with drinks) and it was $180! But we decided to do the major-splurge and taste everything the chef had to provide. A few of the courses we the same that were listed on the 6-course tasting so we were a bit disappointed that the blind tasting wasn't complete unique. One of the wines we LOVED on its own but felt that it really did not go with the food at all. In general the food was good but we were only blown away by about three of the ten courses. That being said - it was still good and everything served to the tables around us off of the regular menu looked good as well.

The wait staff is excellent and made sure we were well attended to. They said they were going to email us a list of the food and wines we had with the dinner (since they were not listed at they are with the 6-course menu) but I have not received it yet.

I would definitely consider this for a romantic or special date and even when taking people to dinner when coming from out of town. The hostess told me that in 2009 they are planning on opening the outside patio as a bar and serving tapas. I'll definitely go back to check that out.