Sunday, June 7, 2009

Two States, Two Time Zones, Good Eating

Hello, dear friends -- yes, I know my blog is shamefully overdue. And I have nothing to say in my defense -- a long train of creative grilled cheese sandwiches made with Ezekiel bread and piled high with vegetables, Soy Delicious ice cream and multiple servings of Wild Alaskan salmon have been my solace and have stolen my inspiration. But somewhere in between a whirlwind two weeks where I have traveled from LA to Illinois, back to LA and then on to Seattle ... what can I say? I got my groove back.

You couldn't expect me to go to Chicago and not hit some good eats. Aside from the deep dish (which I got vegetarian style with low-fat cheese, and my friends didn't let me get away with it), Nigerian joloff rice with chicken, and a fun little joint called Flattop Grill where you can create your own stir fry, I have to say that the place that stole my heart was Julius Meinl. An Austrian shop featuring fine desserts and gourmet coffees, my normal dietary consciousness gave way to me hacking into two desserts simultaneously.

The esterhazy shown above contained SIX layers of a sort of hazelnut cream alternated with puff pastry, complemented with a fondant with a gorgeous design. The flavor was light and unassuming, crunchy and nutty.

The queen of the night, however was a slice of lemon lavender cake.

This light confection infused lavender (my favorite herb) with a white cake and lemon creme. In a word, it was beautiful -- like the city that I love so much.

After some serious meals, some serious working out to make up for those meals, a raspberry fizz 96 floors up from downtown Chicago,

the worst flight back to LA ever and an insane flight out of LA on Virgin Airlines (which is more of a nightclub than an airplane), I am now in Seattle, resting from a day of searching for good eats.

I had every intention of going to Delancey, Molly Wizenberg's new restaurant, but alas, it is not open yet. So I had to content myself with Pike Place Market's array of produce hustlers, offering kumquats that yielded a sweet and sour burst when popped in your mouth with the skin on,

pain au chocolat from Le Panier -- a buttery and flaky croissant wrapped around a rich chocolate center,

And fresh fish from Ivar's Seafood Bar in Coulon Park.

The weather was beautiful, visiting my family was lovely and the food was spectacular. And in the realm of the weird, while on my way to buy fresh asparagus and bell peppers from the produce hustlers, I saw an art wall on Post Alley made entirely of chewing gum.

It was so disgusting that I almost HAD to look at it. What do you think?

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