Saturday, October 26, 2013

A visit to Chicago

A few weeks ago I went to Chicago for the very first time. Neither my sister, nor I had been there before, so we decided to meet up there. We stayed there for only one night, but we had a great time. Despite the short stay, we got a good sampling of the Chicago food.

One of the places I really wanted to try in this Midwest city was a Mexican restaurant called Frontera Grill, haha. But it's no ordinary Mexican. The owner is Rick Bayless, who has been called the Julia Child of Mexican food. He lived in Mexico for a long time, and prepares authentic Mexican dishes. Unfortunately, his restaurant is quite popular, which meant that there was a long wait even late in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner hours. Fortunately for us, there is a cafe attached to the restaurant (Xoco) which serves more street food-like versions of the dishes at Frontera Grill. So, my sister and I ate there. I ordered the suckling pig torta, and Pumpkin got the seafood caldo. My sandwich was great. I loved the grilled bread. Its crunch made it sturdy enough to hold the pile of meat that was in the middle. The pickled onion was a great addition because it cut through the richness of the meat. The sandwich came with a spicy salsa that was REALLY spicy. At first I scoffed at the warning by the server, but this is seriously the spiciest thing I've had. One drop was enough to set my mouth on fire for half a sandwich. I wish they would tone down the heat a little. Pumpkin's caldo was also hot, but in terms of temperature :P Compared to my sandwich, it was very light :) Yet, the broth was very flavorful and refreshing.

We also got the Mexican hot chocolate because I was curious what the original thing tastes like. And OMG, it was AMAZING! It tasted as rich as if you were drinking molten chocolate, but it was a lot more liquid to be simply that. However they prepare it, I can see why the Aztec rules loved it so much.

Of course, our other meal in Chicago had to be deep dish pizza. We went to a place called Giordano's that a friend of mine had recommended. We ordered the original deep dish pizza as it was our first time trying it. Pumpkin was a little worried whether the small pizza would be enough for the two of us, but as soon as we saw the pizza, we realized that there's no reason to worry. The pizza is GIANT! It's as thick as a cake. It has a crust on the bottom, then layers of cheese, peperoni and bell peppers, and another layer of cheese that acts as a top crust. Pumpkin and I ate a piece each, and we are stuffed. Rather than not being enough for one meal, we got three meals out of it over the next few days. I did like the deep dish pizza, but I prefer the thin crust ones. Sorry, Chicago...

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I love the concept of tapas: you get to try several dishes at once. Even though Eclipse di Luna is a popular place for tapas (and late night dancing) in Atlanta, I didn't get to go there until recently. I met up with my friend Ems one last time before leaving for Cleveland. We started the night with some cocktails: I had the lychee martini, and Ems got the grapefruit martini. My drink was really good. It was slightly fruity, but because the lychee has a tart flavor, it didn't taste too cloying overall.

In an attempt to find crispy potatoes (patatas bravas) as good as the ones at Loca Luna, I was really excited to try the ones at Eclipse di Luna. (Side note: what's up with having the word "Luna" in both tapas places???) There are a couple of things that must be done right with the patatas bravas. First, they need to be CRISPY on the outside, but not drenched in oil while frying. Having some good seasoning on them is also nice to have. Second, the Romesco sauce on the side needs to be both creamy and spicy. Well, I'm happy to say that the patatas bravas at Eclipse di Luna perfectly satisfied both of these requirements! :) They were as good as the ones at Loca Luna that I love so much, and I couldn't find any difference.

The other two dishes we decided to try were the fried goat cheese with caramelized onions (seen above with the potatoes) and the pulpo salteado (octopus "hash"). The goat cheese was good, but not exceptional. I guess it's hard to change its potent taste into anything else. And the taste is the reason why I got it anyway. The octopus wasn't really hashed, but that's what it reminded me of. It came sauteed with potatoes, onions, capers, peppers and lemons. The octopus itself was cooked really well and was not chewy. The poptatoes were crispy and contrasted the soft peppers and onions. And the acidity from the lemon made the dish really pleasant to eat. In summary, it was delicious!

I can honestly say that I loved Eclipse di Luna. I think I might like it even more than Loca Luna. My only regret is that I didn't know how good it was until now, when I'm about to leave the city :(