Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mid-day ice cream run

Never have I felt closer to an ice-cream hawker1—I'm literally standing two feet away from a cooler propped up next to the JBar entrance of David Burke's Primehouse, surrounded by co-workers who have followed me for ten blocks for supposedly great ice cream. I've dragged them there with promises of delicious and unusual flavors. It had better be worth it, or I'm going to be much reviled around the office.

Photo courtesy of Joyce, associate and amateur photographer extraordinaire

And it was! I had the old-fashioned (as in the cocktail) cone, comprised of bourbon brown sugar ice cream, orange sherbert, and bourbon-soaked cherries. It was one of the best ice cream cones I've ever had (although still not as good as Jeni's) and generous with the bourbon. You can try similarly unusual flavors every Friday from 3-5 at DVP's pop-up ice cream shop in River North. In addition to the old-fashioned, so far I've seen flavors like black velvet, margarita, boston cream pie, dreamsicle, and more. My coworkers have already repeatedly shown interest in future visits. I just hope the margarita flavor comes up again...

Find out the flavors for each week on twitter!—@DBPrimehouse

1 A Google search of 'what do you call someone who makes ice cream' revealed this as the most amusing answer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chicago Beer Week at Nellcôte

It's been a couple weeks since it happened, but our experience at one of the hottest new restaurants in town was interesting enough to warrant a late post. Matt and I went there for the glorious time of year know as Chicago Craft Beer Week. I'm not much of a beer drinker but Matt likes it and occasionally I'll find something that I enjoy.

The interior of Nellcôte was gorgeous and you could definitely tell that they had invested a lot of money in it. I think the last number I heard was around a million...well spent on antique wallpaper, designer furniture, and candelabras (actual candelabras, with candles, mounted on the wall). It was a little on the overly-trendy-but-somewhat-lacking-in-personality side, which for some reason always makes me feel self conscious. I think it's because I feel like I'm encountering society as a whole rather than an individual, and suddenly there's an overwhelming pressure to conform.

Fortunately, the food on the whole was tasty enough to allay any fears about Nellcote being a haven for the glitterati, although you wouldn't have guessed it from the first course. We started off with an asparagus shooter, and if that sounds disgusting, well, that's because it was. It was cold and a little oily and just generally unpleasant.

Thankfully, we soon got our drinks, two cherry lambics, the special beer for the night. They were very good, although Nellcôte can't take too much credit for that.

And post-shooter, the food was very good, especially the bread. Apparently they mill their own flour and make all the breads and pastas in-house, and major props to them for doing so. We had a selection of three breads, (baguette, brioche and focaccia) and all were deeply flavorful and tasted really different from one another, despite having a superficial resemblance. Following that we shared a taleggio, scallion, and pancetta pizza, more than enough for two people. And finally, to top it all off, we shared pineapple, chocolate and coconut sorbet, all three flavors of which were delicious.

Having gone back afterwards and read some of the critical reviews, it seems like Nellcôte is very well regarded for its breads and pastas and not so much for just about everything else. If you were to go, I'd recommend sticking to the rolls and spaghetti.

So tapioca is kinda gross

All right, so tapioca may not be gray. In fact it's a very nice shade of white but that doesn't preclude it from being gelatinous and downright weird.

In a previous post, I had mentioned that I was going to try a recipe for dulce de leche tapioca. I went through with it and, despite having a tub of uneaten tapioca in my refridgerator, I'm glad I did so. The tapioca tasted good but the texture was sticky and just kind of odd. Perhaps it would be enjoyable for others, but definitely not for me.

The only thing I really liked about trying out this recipe is the process in which the dulce de leche was made. Dulce de leche, meaning milk candy, is a sweet spread made by cooking milk and sugar. The end result is thick and rich and has a slightly nutty flavor.

To make dulce de leche you could, if you were so inclined, carefully cook the two ingredients together for over an hour, all the while monitoring it and adjusting the temperature to see that it turns out correctly. Or, if you're like me and don't feel like doing that, you could buy a 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk and boil it unopened for 3 hours. You just have to make sure it stays covered with about an inch of water the entire time and that you don't burn yourself at the end of it, and ta-da! You have dulce de leche. Stir in some salt and other flavorings (e.g. cinnamon or vanilla) and bam! You have flavored dulce de leche. It's so easy and really cool.