My very first event in the last month of the year was the VIP launch party for Eden, the newest restaurant addition to the West Loop. At this grand opening, guests got the full flavor of the restaurant’s American and Mediterranean themed menu and exquisite bar program.
As we ate, drank and celebrated at this very fun party, we also got to tour the venue which was bustling. The décor presented a relaxing summertime atmosphere and for a few hours I forgot it was snowing outside.
Lots of featured dishes that Chef Quinn was himself serving. Now I may be biased, but I think I’d have consensus that the Escolar was the best dish of the night. Prepared with sand pear, scotch bonnet, cilantro, pomegranate, celery and calamansi, its taste was tangy and ceviche-ish. There was something so fresh about this dish!
Another dish that I couldn’t stop going back for was the Butternut Agnolotti with turnips, ricotta, hazelnuts topped with a grainy coffee soil. The coffee was a unique touch for both the taste and texture of this dish.
There were also tables of beautifully displayed cheese, fruit, and charcuterie that guests nibbled on while sipping on fun cocktails like their signature Eden, which I had. I absolutely loved the mint and celery in my drink and was happy to indulge in some Pimm’s after a long time.
Great vibe, great food and great drinks! I’m looking forward to going back and putting Eden on my list of favorites!
The following weekend, I made a trip with a few of my girlfriends to Rushing Waters Fisheries (just north of Lake Geneva), and finally took advantage of a standing invitation from owner Peter Fritsch to visit their farm for a tour. The tour named Hook & Cook, included fishing followed by lunch at their restaurant, The Trout House.
About a two-hour drive from Chicago, the girls are I were excited for our field trip! When we arrived, we were greeted by their Manager who had all the fishing gear ready for us to catch our fish, which would also serve as our lunch. It does not get fresher than that! But that meant the pressure was also on, especially for someone who has never fished in her life.
I must preface that it was an extremely cold day, but we braved it. And after a few hook, line and sinkers, we caught our first trout. Actually three! We were excited, but much credit goes to our very patient fishing guide who steered us throughout.
Soon after, we headed to the restaurant for lunch. The menu looked amazing and the little fishing we had done had worked up an appetite. Craving something warm, we started with the Smoked Rainbow Trout Chowder, which also sounded really good! The whole milk gave a creamy touch to the bold flavors of the trout and was generously loaded with onions and potatoes. A beautiful, full-bodied soup and a nice savory start to our lunch.
For starters, we also asked to try a smaller portion of their Smoked Fish and Cheese Board, which came out with mini servings of their smoked trout, smoked salmon, smoked trout pate, house-made crackers and an assortment of the yummiest Wisconsin cheeses.
And I must not forget the Hand Battered White Cheddar Curds, which came with a ranch dipping sauce. We had been craving cheese curds the minute we saw the Welcome to Wisconsin sign and were really thankful they had them on their menu. But these curds far exceeded any expectations we had. Not sure what was in the batter but they were light & airy and with some highly skilled frying. The platter of yellowish-orange fried cheese was swiped clean, and fast.
Our main meal was our fresh catch of course, which we alternated in the beer battered and pan-fried preparation to try a variety. The gorgeous fillets of the trout (we had just caught) were brought out with lots of accompaniments. On our plate was a pile of coleslaw, rye toast, seasoned vegetables, applesauce and tasty potato pancakes. This is every pescetarian’s dream!
Oh and we did end with dessert. Both the Chocolate Coconut Walnut Bar and the Tiramisu were phenomenal and a nice finish to our very lavish meal.
Following lunch, the manager took us out on the farm tour and we were more than happy to get moving to digest all this food.
Rushing Waters is essentially a trout farm in an immaculate setting in the Kettle Moraine State Forest spanning over 80 acres. I hope that paints a picture of just how beautiful our setting was. The very cold waters (naturally around 50 degrees year round) also provide the most ideal environment for healthy Rainbow Trout.
We got a sneak peek of the hatchery where the fish are farmed and it gave me new appreciation for responsible sourcing and sustainable foods. For me, it enhanced even more the value of good quality meat and seafood, and my seeking the awareness of what I put in my body.
What a fun day! And although it was a cold one, it didn’t bother us . I would definitely love to go back in the summer because whether you’re into fishing or not, the scenic beauty of this fishery is unmatched. And what is cool is that if you wanted to do just the ‘Hook’ portion of the tour, they will clean and pack your catch for you and put it on ice for you to take home. And I can assure you it is run by the some of the nicest people I’ve met.
Pescetarians, listen up! Take a day out and make a trip here! You will love every minute of it!
I love it when restaurants do focused seafood events, such the Feast of Seven Fishes put together by Trattoria Gianni.
There is also something comforting about dining at a traditional Italian restaurant especially in the winter. They just always present such a warm and cozy atmosphere that makes you want to never leave. Trattoria Gianni is exactly that type of place.
This family-run trattoria had the right idea when they decided to host the Festa Dei Sette Pesci, an Italian-American vigil held during the Christmas season with meals comprising fish. Sounds good to me and sign me up!
The idea was to feature different types of seafood dishes in celebration of this ’holiday,’ and I was invited to try it.
I indulged in a variety of dishes starting with Polpo Affogado (Baby Octopus served in a garlic flavored cherry tomatoes sauce, sautéed with capers and black olives. I forgot how much I love capers and relished the tang. The Calamari Del Nostromo was amazing also. Whole stuffed calamari came filled with assorted seafood, breadcrumbs and herbs and was cooked in a white wine broth.
Owner Gianni urged me to try the Riostto Frutti Di Mare before the entree and it ended up being my favorite. Such tender carnaroli rice with mussels, clams, scallops and scampi in a nicely done cherry tomato sauce. I was also impressed at how every tomato based dish I ate at this restaurant had unique flavor. A great sign fora restaurant.
For my Secondi , I tried the Branzino Alla Grigliawhich was pan-grilled with EVO, garlic, fresh herbs and grilled vegetables. On the side I asked for the Insalata di Barbabietole comprising of roasted beets, organic arugula, blue cheese and an orange balsamic, which added a really cool floral taste to the greens.
As you can imagine I was stuffed beyond words but still managed a few bites of their Tiramisu. To me the perfect treat after a fine Italian meal. It just goes together. I’m still wonderinghow they made that mascarpone filing so light and airy.
I thought the feast celebration was a great way to integrate tradition while showcasing good food. And I’m a sucker for new cultural experiences and eveready to partake in them. This was so much fun! Put this trattoria on your list this holiday season. It's perfect for family gatherings too.