BALLS!!!

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Hey!  Remember me?  I am still here.  I think.  So, fall has arrived in Chicaca.  School is in full swing for Otherhalf.  Blah dee blah dee blah. . .   Let’s get down to business, shall we?

We have been bad.  (This sounds vaguely familiar . . . )  Otherhalf and I have been eating a lot of desserts.  We got into the cinnamon rolls at Mariano’s.  Not the iced ones.  The ones with the cream cheese frosting.  This is all fine for Otherhalf, as he is training for the Chicago Marathon (which is next SUNDAY!!), and doing plenty of cardio.  He is looking real good.  I, on the other hand, have been lacking severely in the essersize department, and this girl is feeling icky and sluggish and gross.  I was hoping to train vicariously through Otherhalf by being supportive, but it don’t work that way.

Womp, womp.

But all is not lost!!  I actually got my ass on the bike yesterday AND today.  I am going to make it a thing!  And when I feel the need to eat better, I flip through the recipe notebook that Rinny and Nick shared with me through Evernote.  They do lots of Paleo recipes (which is pronounced “PAY-lee-oh” not “puh-LAY-oh” like I was saying in my head all this time), so there are some recipes I never would have searched out, but it’s nice to have some healthy alternatives to satisfy my wicked sweet tooth, and I’m usually game for something new to try.  I had a sweet potato that was sitting around, and a bunch of dates that I needed to use up before they expired, so I decided to try this recipe for “Chocolate-Mint Cookie Dough Bites” which came from THIS website.

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As did this lovely photo.

And it really really reminded me of Chef from South Park and his Chocolate Salty Balls.  Remember this guy?  Sing it, Chef!

Heeeelarious!

So I threw them together to try ’em out.  They were so easy to make.

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Process the bejesus out of 1 cup of coconut.  And then process some more, so it’s almost powder.  Add 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (I cut a small one into cubes and steamed it.  Took 5 minutes.), 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 3/4 cup chopped dates, a big ol’ pinch of sea salt, and 1 tsp. of mint extract (I didn’t have mint extract, I only had almond and vanilla.  I added 1/2 tsp of each as I think an entire tsp of almond extract would be gross.)  Process and scrape, process and scrape . . .

 

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lookin’ kinda chocolatey!!

. . . and process again until you end up with a dough ball.  Then roll that brown dough into some balls.  You can make big balls or little balls, but the best size is whatever fits in your mouth!  OH!

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Refrigerate these bad boys (yes, they are boys) and periodically grab one out of the fridge and pop in mouth.  I have had like 4 or 5 already this evening, which ain’t no big deal, cause they’re made out of sweet potato and dates!  They are in no way a substitute for actual real cookie dough.  But if you go into it knowing it’s a healthy alternative, they ain’t half bad.  Next time I am going to really actually use mint extract and see how that goes.

 

 

 

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Hot Diggity Dog!!

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It was announced a couple of weeks ago that a Chicago favorite, Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium, will be closing it’s doors in October.  Apparently Doug is ready to move on to something else, and while it’s disappointing that Hot Doug’s will be no longer, who are we to keep him from finding something else to rock?  After meaning to go for the longest time, I finally made a trip there to see what all the hype was about.  You gotta go on Friday or Saturday for the full experience.  They cook the french fries in duck fat those days.  And you gotta bring cash, cause Hot Doug’s don’t do plastic.  And you gotta go knowing that you may be standing in line for a while.  We got there about 10 minutes before they opened on a Saturday morning.  It was still quite cold out, so there was only a few people in line already.  I feel this was a very smart move on our part, as I have heard of people waiting in line for over an hour just to get in the door.  When they opened the door, we walked in and there at the counter was Doug, ready to take orders.  I recognized him from the TV, as he is a bit of a Chicago celebrity.  (I want to say something totally cheesy here like, “Doug is like the Oprah of hot dogs,” but I won’t.)  He seems genuinely happy to see his customers, and you better believe his customers are happy to see him!

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like this girl here

We placed our order and then took a seat and waited patiently for our number to be called.  The place is all bright and cheery, like a hot dog place should be.  You can see some of the decor behind Otherhalf.

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Otherhalf is also excited, but he’s been here before and is not geeking out like me. This is his “politely letting the wife take pictures for her silly blog” face.

A bunch of the dogs are named for famous people, but the names change frequently.  And then they have specials.  We decided to get four dogs and some fries and do sharesies.  Otherhalf ordered a traditional Chicago dog, and the infamous foie gras dog.  I opted for a corn dog (because I freakin’ love corn dogs, and HELL YES I am going to try a corn dog at the Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium!!), and a fancy one (reindeer sausage maybe??) with smoked gouda and fig jam or something.  I don’t really remember exactly, but it was totally tasty.  And of course we got the duck fries.  Holymoly those are so good.

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GLORIOUS!!!

Okay, let’s talk about this foie gras dog for a minute.  I say it is infamous because there was this whole political controversy where foie gras was actually outlawed in Chicago for a couple of years thanks to an alderman and his buddy Charlie Trotter (may he rest in peace), and Doug was the first person who was fined for continuing to serve it.  He even named the dog after the alderman.  Like a boss.  You can read about it in the Wiki here.

So this dog is a sausage made with foie gras and sauternes (which I just had to Google – it is a French white wine) which is topped with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel (which I also had to Google – it is a fancy hand harvested sea salt).  It was freakin’ decadent.  And it only cost ten bucks.  Pretty sweet deal, considering.

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mmm . . . moussey goosey!!!!

And then they were all gone . . .

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killed it.

Overall, Hot Doug’s was worth the wait, and the hype.  This guy knows his sausages.  I hope to visit one more time before it’s all over.  Go get some before you can’t anymore.  Do it.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

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Hello readers!!  I am finally back to having the option to post after two whole weekends without internet.  (GASP!)  I know I haven’t actually posted anything since March, but in the last two weeks I really wanted to.  Probably because I couldn’t.  Funny how that works.    Anyways, here’s another ramen bit from Otherhalf.  He actually wrote this in March, which really is only noticeable in the parts about how cold it still is.  Even though it has been an unseasonably cold spring, today it was actually in the 80s.  (I apologize to anyone who I may have blinded with my pasty white legs today, because this girl wore shorts!!)  

 

“Waiting on Wasabi”  by Otherhalf

So daily temps are finally approaching seasonal norms and what better way to celebrate than with a super tasty bowl of ramen? And so we traversed the mean streets of Chicago through inane waves of never ending traffic, red light camera traps, and pot holes that seemingly serve as gateways to hell and arrived at our vaunted destination, Wasabi, in Chicago’s hip and trendy Bucktown neighborhood. I’ve been to this restaurant a few times with some close friends and family and was very grateful to be back as it had been over a year since our previous visit.

We arrived at seven on a Friday night and were greeted by a full restaurant with happy customers slurping away over their bowls of ramen amidst delicious appetizers and BYOB bottles of wine and beer alike. This is always a sure sign of a good meal ahead. It’s also a sure sign of the wait you may have to endure as Wasabi does not take reservations and only does walk-up service. Now as part of a group of 4, you have to factor in a pretty decent wait time especially since it’s 7 on a Friday night, the restaurant is full, and every other party ahead of you in line seems to be a group of 4. Surprisingly, the supposed “wait time” was 30 to 35-minutes, which is not too shabby considering the conditions. But as it always seems to happen when you are enjoying a wonderful meal, you take your time, which is what everyone in the restaurant seemed to be doing. In all honesty, it’s hard to blame them. You’ve put your name in with the host or hostess, you’ve waited in line, and now you’ve finally been seated. Time to savor this meal!

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When you’re on the other side of the glass waiting though, all you can think about is why the hell can’t everyone inside eat faster?! At the promised 30 to 35-minute mark, it seemed that no one in front of us had moved. Now bear in mind, as much as temps have improved in Chicago lately, it was still only about 30 degrees or so, and after waiting this long, you start to feel it a little bit. Not only that but suddenly all you can hear are the conversations around you because you’ve used all your good material and can’t think of anything else except sitting down to eat because you haven’t eaten since a small snack earlier in the afternoon because you knew that you would do something Friday night but weren’t quite sure what so you didn’t want to ruin your potential appetite because you know you may be eating something or somewhere that had the potential to be awesome and once you’ve made the decision and you know where you’re going and what’s waiting for you when you’re finally seated, you’re thoughts become laser focused and that throbbing sound you hear is the repeated hammering of the word ramen, ramen, ramen as it is blazes across the depths of your mind. And then, your name (or phone in this case) is called and you and your group are now the chosen ones! Life is pretty sweet again.

Even though we waited over an hour to be seated, we were very grateful for it since it was placed near the back of the restaurant away from the riff raff that we were once a part of. In short, we didn’t have to worry about eating quickly and could enjoy a nice relaxing meal without any hint of guilt. Not that you should feel guilty about taking your time and enjoying a meal with friends and family anyways, but it’s always so much easier to do so in anonymity rather than in front of a large window affronted by groups of gawking, hungry strangers. It’s a comfort thing I guess. An added bonus was we got to sit in a booth instead of a table. All in all, the wait was worth it. The hostess was very gracious and apologetic about the wait, and the restaurant setting provided a feeling of warmth and comfort. Now… let’s eat.

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this is a view of the bar and food prep area from our cozy booth.

We started with some appetizers, which included pork belly buns (the light fluffy buns and crispy lettuce provided a great contrast to the wonderfully rich pork belly), skewered chicken meatballs (great chicken taste with a light grilled flavor finished with a brush of rich soy sauce), grilled asparagus skewer (good clean asparagus flavor with a light bitterness), chicken lollipops (fried chicken legs served with a wonderful creamy sauce), and a decadent piece of o-toro or fatty tuna belly, which was absolutely divine. In baseball terms, these appetizers loaded the bases full of runners for the vaunted clean-up hitter, ramen, to hit it out of the park and turn this dinner into a grand slam.

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these are the pork belly buns. and this photo is the reason there are no other food photos.

In this case the bowl of ramen was a tonkotsu style ramen. It’s a type of ramen that utilizes pork as one of its main flavoring agents, and boy did it shine through in spades. The ramen broth was opaque and somehow creamy, but without any fear of the ingredients in the broth settling, which to me is kind of remarkable. There seemed to be a density to the broth all its own that was packed chock full of a rich meaty flavor with a seeming tinge of seafood beyond that provided by the sliced nori topping, at least to my palate. In addition to pickled bamboo slices, the ramen was accompanied by braised pork belly that was absolutely majestic. Instead of being overly break apart tender, the braised pork had a wonderful chew and fatty marbling that provided a great companion to the ramen noodles. There was a very rich soy sauce and star anise like flavor to the braised pork that provided a savory almost barbeque type character. This flavor only served to fortify the rich flavor of the broth. It was a great combination. The noodles themselves were also really good. They weren’t too soft or overly firm. Overall, Wasabi is a great place to get a really good bowl of ramen.
While the wait wasn’t exactly fun, the resulting dinner was really wonderful. If you’d like a chance to experience some great Japanese fare that utilizes modern tricks and techniques to augment tried and traditional ways in addition to an absolute great bowl of ramen, give Wasabi a try. Don’t be disheartened by the wait, think instead of the great meal ahead.

No-Bake-Hippie-Cakes

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For the most part, Otherhalf and I try to eat relatively healthy.  Sometimes we do pretty good.  Often times we are very naughty.  Recently we have been on a cereal kick.  And I ain’t talking about no Kashi.  It’s all Cookie Crisp and Capt’n Crunch up in here.  The weekends are particularly difficult too.  We tend to eat out a lot and partake in highly caloric indulgences as a reward for getting through the week.

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Hey, we EARNED those hot dogs!!

I have been trying to add some healthy snacks to counteract some of the naughty ones.  Naughty like the two bags of Starburst Jellybeans I have almost finished.  And the Girl Scout Cookies.  And the Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares that one of Otherhalf’s students gave him for Valentine’s Day (and by proxy ME because he doesn’t really eat chocolates).  Oh, and all the cereal.

So when my coworker gave me a bag of chia seeds, I decided to give them a try.  They are supposed to be all sorts of healthy for you with the omegas and the fiber and they have hella calcium.  Basically chia seeds are the new kale (which was the new pomegranate).  I Googled some recipes, cause I’m not likely to sprinkle these mofo’s on my yogurt, thankyouverymuch.  The first recipe I made was these Lemon Chia Seed Muffins.

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They are just like lemon poppy seed muffins. With a lemon glaze. TASTY!

Then for my next adventure, I decided on these Raw Hemp and Chia Seed Bars.  I thought they would be good for us to toss in our lunches for a quick, filling, “energy packed” snack.  These are what I will share with you today.

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photo from Karielyn at www.thehealthyfamilyandhome.com
(this is what after photos are supposed to look like)

. . .

**Oh, and FYI, these are by no means low-fat or low-calorie snacky treats.  Coconut oil is super high in fat.  But it’s the good fat, and all the stuff in these bars is good for you.  I like to have one with the ginger tea I have been drinking lately.  I did not use entirely organic ingredients like the recipe asks, but I think both myself and Otherhalf will live.  So let’s get to it, shall we??

. . .

My ingredient pile:

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Hemp seeds, Almonds, Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds, Oats, Almond/ or Peanut Butter, Vanilla Extract, Coconut Oil, Honey, Apple/ or Applesauce
(Oh, and Unsweetened Coconut Flakes- not pictured.) 

First you put all the dry ingredients together.  The recipe calls for flax seeds to be ground up in a spice grinder, but I don’t have one, so I used my trusty mortar and pestle.  Well that was a pain in the ass.  I will be ordering a spice grinder for future hippie snack bar endeavors.

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Then you gotta pulverize the almonds in the food processor.

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Here’s my fancy dry ingredient class photo:

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. . .

Then it’s time for the wet ingredients.  After I got all the ingredients together for the initial photo, I realized I forgot to buy applesauce.  GAAAAHHH!!!  But it’s cool, I had an apple, so I just made the applesauce from scratch.

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peel and chop apple + cook with a little water for like 10 minutes + mash with fork + remember you have an immersion blender (!!!) + blend = Perfect Applesauce!

And then I was like, “If I can make applesauce, then surely I can just make the almond butter!  Duh!”  So I ditched the peanut butter and made almond butter too.  It was a very satisfying process.

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I heart my immersion blender.   Except that when I was making the almond butter, I may have been wielding my little blue spatula a little too close to the whirring blades.  Poor, poor spatty.

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This isn’t the first time I have maimed my cooking utensils. Remember poor spoonie?

. . .

Then I combined the wet ingredients

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Then I dropped my damn phone in the batter when I was mixing the wet and dry and trying to take a picture at the same time.  It turns out I am not very graceful in the kitchen.

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genius.

So once I got all the goo off my phone, and mixed the wet and dry together, I just pressed the mixture into an oiled pan and put it in the fridge to set.

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In the morning, I cut ’em into little 2×2 squares, and wrapped some of the squares in plastic wrap for transport.  These bars need to be refrigerated, otherwise all the coconut oil melts and they won’t keep their shape.  Then you would have to eat the bars with a spoon, which would defeat the purpose of having them in portable bar form anyways.  I took a bunch to work to keep in the fridge, and Otherhalf has a freezable/ ice pack/ lunch bag that he takes to school.

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TAH DAH!!

. . .

I gotta say, I am pretty happy with these little munchies.  I will be making them again.  They are definitely dense and will fill you up.  And then probably make you poop because of all the fiber.  I am not speaking from experience though. . .

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

A not so common bowl of RAMEN

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Hey y’all!  In the midst of my winter-that-is-lasting-forever blogging slump, Otherhalf has decided he has some things to share.  And so, without further ado, I present to you- my boo.

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Get out yer dictionaries! Otherhalf is in the haayouse!

It’s always the little joys that keep us going.  Some of these moments that make us want to skip with unadulterated ecstasy include the realization that the sun is finally up before 7 a.m. after a long bleak march through the throes of winter where daylight has been at a premium.  Or while aimlessly browsing the internet, you come to find out that your favorite author has a new book coming out shortly; August 12, 2014 cannot come soon enough Mr. Haruki Murakami.  And sometimes the little joys can be as simple as finding a maple seed pod when spring finally comes around and throwing it up in the air.   You watch as it twirls and dances back to the ground, and remember late afternoon sunlight in the backyard running around with your brothers and sister in a different time.  One of these joys for me lately is ramen. 

It was only recently that I decided that I would search out and find the best bowls of ramen in Chicago and write about the experiences.  This after having tried a few different places and watching several episodes of “Mind of a Chef” starring chef extraordinaire David Chang (definitely worth checking out if you have Amazon Prime) and subsequently purchasing his book.  These posts are not meant to rank or rate which place has the best bowl, but instead, it is meant to just give me a means to share my little joys.

What is ramen?  The uninitiated may say it’s an easy, cheap, and quick instant meal.  And there is truth in this.  There is no denying its versatility and worth as a source of sustenance and nourishment (whatever that may be).  It’s the meal of choice for large families, sleep and money deprived students and minimum wage workers alike as I can attest to having been a person who has walked all 3 paths.  Like many, ramen was known to me as a necessity and not necessarily as a source of pleasure.  So it was to my amazement and surprise when I learned what ramen could be first hand.

The first time I had what I consider my first “real” bowl of ramen was at a Japanese supermarket called Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights, a nearby suburb of Chicago.  So it seemed apropos that I should return to this special place as the subject of my first post.  Mitsuwa is located about 45-minutes out of downtown Chicago by heading north on the Kennedy before bearing left and heading west on to the Jane Addams Tollway.  Another couple of right turns off of the expressway and you’re in the parking lot of Mitsuwa about to have a great bowl of ramen.  It’s well within the driving radius of Chicago without being terribly cumbersome.

At the time of writing this post, it’s snowing yet AGAIN in Chicago, and a hot steaming bowl of ramen seemed like it would hit the spot so my wife, brother, sister-in-law, and niece climbed into the car and headed west. 

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looks like good ramen weather to me!

When we got to the supermarket, we expected a flurry of activity in the food court given its reputation as a place to get a great variety of Asian foods including the above mentioned ramen in addition to just the overall quality of food (not to mention all the cars in the parking lot) .  To our surprise, the food court was relatively tame and many open tables were readily available.   It wasn’t only that, but the usually long line at the ramen shop was virtually nonexistent!  Could it get any better?  Yes.  Yes it could.

I quickly went to the cashier at Santouka Ramen within the food court of Mitsuwa and ordered a large bowl of the shoyu ramen with extra roast pork or chasu.  Shoyu ramen utilizes soy sauce as one of the main tenets in composition of the broth but somehow seems less salty than the miso ramen.  After getting a numbered ticket (#55), I waited about 5 minutes or so until my number was inevitably called.  Needless to say an electric jolt of joy shot through my body as I heard “55” over the P.A. system and jumped to me feet to head to the counter.  Once back at my table, I began to dissect my ramen.

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The broth had a luxurious opaque quality with shimmering pools of pork fat dotting the top.  The broth clung to the noodles beautifully and coated each bite with a burst of rich, meat flavor.   Toppings included a slice of nori or dried seaweed, a slice of Naruto, which is a type of fish cake usually white with a pink swirl in the middle, pickled, julienned bamboo, 2 fantastically marbled slices of chasu, thinly sliced scallions, and sesame seeds.

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Check out the marbling on this pork!

The first taste of broth was absolutely marvelous.  There were just enough pools of luxurious lipids to really help the broth coat your tongue and telegraph the delicious and rich flavor.  The broth itself while opaque was extremely clean in the sense that there were no particulates swimming within it save for the sesame seeds that were served as a topping.  The broth was pure liquid gold.  After a minute or so, a sesame flavor slowly manifested itself but not in an overpowering fashion as sesame (especially sesame oil) is want to do when it is overused. 

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The nori added a slightly savory, fish flavor that blended seamlessly with the broth without overpowering it.  It creates a really unique flavor combination.  In addition to adding a wonderful visual element that is just as mesmerizing as the ramen is in taste (add Tim McCarver joke here), the Naruto slice also plays its role well as a teammate rather than captain.  The two slices of chasu were beautifully and evenly marbled.  However, there was no bite of the pork that ever felt like there was too much fat or not enough.  The roasted pork was moist and tender with a well-rounded pork flavor.  “What does that mean?” you might ask.  Well, it means whatever you want it to mean.  J  For texture, the pickled bamboo shoots added a chewy but not giving bite, which helped to add a counterpoint to the more giving but equally chewy noodle.

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Speaking of which, let’s talk noodle for a second.  If the toppings are teammates, the co-captains are the broth and the noodle.  While the broth packs a ton in terms of flavor and richness, the noodles act as the conduit that help to transport these characteristics while maintaining a unique character all their own.  The noodles were slightly yellow in color but retained a chewiness and spring that were not unlike al dente pasta if only somewhat more giving in terms of bite.  When eating ramen, there is no better way to eat them than to slurp the noodles.  For some reason, the act of slurping somehow makes the ramen taste better.  But maybe it’s just me.

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Slurp worthy!

All in all, the shoyu ramen at Santouka Ramen is a great bowl.  Some of my friends (including my sister-in-law), who have grown up on ramen as children and adults in Japan, consider the ramen served at Santouka Ramen some of the best in the Chicagoland area.   Go ahead and add me to the list of fans of this place as the ramen is indeed mighty fine and delicious.  And if you get a chance, make sure to swing by and check out the ramen.  It will be your initiation and open invitation to visit this wonderful place time and time again.

The Bad Apple

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Otherhalf and I have joined Amazon Prime.  It’s like Netflix, but through Amazon.  And we can stream it directly to our television.  So, we have been watching many, many, (many) episodes of Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives.  Which means we are fiending for OFF THE HOOK burgers in FLAVORTOWN lately.  BANANAS!!  So where do we go when we want a killer burger?  Well, there are a few places.  The one closest to home is The Bad Apple, which is where we went tonight.  I am currently rocking a Bad Apple foodbaby as I type this.  The Bad Apple is in Lincoln Square, which is just a hop and a skip away from our hood.  It’s a restaurant/ bar with a huge menu of adult beverages and decadent burgers.

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decadent like Nikko’s belly

. . .

They have like fifteen different kinds of burgers, and the menu rotates (quite) frequently as we found out tonight.  The multi-cheeseburger that Otherhalf was going to order this time, cause he didn’t two weeks ago, was not on the menu tonight.  (Yep, we were there two weeks ago.)

We often skip appetizers when eating out, but not here.  We always get an order of the fried cheese curds.  And these are not those frozen nuggets covered in breadcrumbs (barf), these are actual cheeeese cuuuurds that are freshly beer battered and deep fried.  I feel that I can best describe them as a delicate, yet sturdy web of honeycomb-like fried batter and melty cheese.  They come in several big clumps that you have to pull apart.  And then you dip them in ranch dressing.  They. Are. Awesome.

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Now if you know me at all, you know I am NOT a beer drinker.  But I so wish I was sometimes.  It would just make life so much easier.  I always give Otherhalf’s a little sip just to check, but it never fails that it’s always gross.  HOWEVER!!!  Tonight I actually ordered an Allagash White, cause Otherhalf always says how well the cheese curds go with a beer, and this is one I might could actually drink.  I finished about half of it.  Woot!  And here is proof!!

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Looky!   Drinkin’ a beer like a big girl!

. . .

Since Otherhalf’s previously mentioned burger with all the cheese was no longer available, he opted for the “That Sweet Hash” Burger- they all have witty names – which had house made panchetta, apple and sweet potato hash, and a fried egg.  It was super flavorful.  I didn’t take a picture of his, so here is one of another burger we had there on a different visit. This one is the “Slow Burn.”  It has bacon, white cheddar, and stout sauteed spicy chili’s and onion.  And I think this one was medium-rare, but it looks a little more on the rare side.  But it’s okay, I eat anyway!

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. . .

There was a burger on the menu tonight called “Steven Seagal Power Kick.”  I totally almost ordered that one just because it’s hilarious, but alas I did not.  The one I have ordered more than once, and had tonight, is “Elvis’ Last Supper.”  It’s got peanut butter and bacon, and that’s it.  And it rocks my freakin’ world.

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GLORIOUS!!!!!!

Now let me try and explain how good this is.  You know how usually you eat peanut butter with something sweet like jelly, honey, bananas, apples, etc. ?  It becomes the savory salty bit.  Well, when you eat it with salty bacon and a meat patty, the peanut butter becomes the little bit of sweet!  And it’s delicious!  Also, it satisfies my neurosis for staying clean and dry.  I hate to be sticky.  I don’t know if it’s the way they cook their burgers or maybe the bread is magical or something, but with this particular burger the whole thing stays on the bun in a neat tidy package.  There is no meat dripping all over (I get mine medium rare), and it never soaks through the bun.  Maybe because there’s no sauce to drip, ’cause it’s just bacon and peanut butter.  The only mess on my hands is from the house cut fries, which you can get with all sorts of different seasonings if you want like garlic or truffle oil or old bay to name a few, but I have learned to just get ’em plain.  This place makes their own ketchup, and that’s all I need on my fries.

So yeah, that’s the first of my favorite burgers ’round here.  What did you have for dinner?

The Foooood Part

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This is a post dedicated to all the tasty things Sarah and I ate on our Goonies Adventure.  If you missed the first two posts about said adventure, catch up here, and here.

[Also, I feel the need for a little disclaimer, so here it is:  If you did the math, you may have figured out from the previous post that Sarah (who is due ANYDAYNOW with her first kiddo.  C’mon Mabel!!!) was in the very beginning of her pregnancy when we went on our trip.  She peed on a stick the day before we arrived just to check if she should avoid alcohol and such during our adventure, which was a real good idea since it was positive.  So, in the cases where there was wine or weird moldy cheese or raw fish, please know that she opted not to eat that stuff.]

Continuing on . . .

So you may recall that we spent our first night with some friends in Portland.  I have to say I had pretty high expectations for eating in Portland.  I just asked Mary ‘n’ Alex to take us to one of their favorite spots for a good meal.  They kindly obliged, and we were not disappointed.  It’s called Navarre.  It was a very minimal, beautiful space with huge windows in the front, and a whole crap load of mason jars lined up on the wall.  I would call it “Hipster Minimalist.”  Bonus points that it was only a few lovely blocks from their place, so we just walked over.  Additional bonus points that they have become friends with the owners, so needless to say (but I will anyways), we ate like kings!!

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yeah dude, that’s right, I see you watching me.

I didn’t take many pictures of the interior, as I feel like a complete tool sometimes.  It is a battle I wage with myself as a half-ass blogger.  Also, I just wanted to spend time with my friends and enjoy a meal.  Also, it was freakin’ dark really romantic in there.  See???

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We shared a bunch of little small plates.  We had a bread and cheese board with some real good stinky cheese, lamb with honey and apricots (sexy!), some kind of brothy clam dish, beets with breadcrumbs and lemon (dellishious!!), some carrot strings (gotta eat some veggies!), and a wicked good hangar steak.  Oh, and wine!

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Okay, I did get one loser picture of our stinky cheese board, which I had to lighten quite a bit, you know, because of the ambiance.

 . . .

Saturday morning Alex was off to school, so Mary, Sarah, and I walked over to a bright cheery neighborhood coffee house before we took off for Astoria.  They had a bunch of baked goods and savory breakfasty things.  Sarah had a breakfast calzone turnover thing.  It was turkey and veggies and eggs in a flaky melty crust with a (decaf) honey vanilla latte.  I had an orange-ginger scone with little caramel-ey bits and a crunchy sugary edge with a “caramel-sutra” latte.  I was seduced.  We sat for a while and chatted.  Mostly about babies and vaginas.  Mary is a labor and delivery R.N., and with Sarah in her newly found “family way,” we had a lot to talk about fer sher.

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. . .

We bid farewell to Mary and my caffeinated ass drove us to Astoria, where we had an amazing lunch at the Astoria Coffee House & Bistro.  This place was pretty awesome.  They were rocking some fun eclectic decor, and a very delicious menu.

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decisions, decisions . . .

We shared an appetizer of fried calamari.  Boring, right?  Wrong.  This was a calamari unlike any calamari I have had before.  Well, except for the fact that it was fried.  But it was fried in a really light batter, like tempura, with capers and peppers and onions and it came with garlic aioli.  It was really colorful and super tasty.  This will be the calamari to which all future calamari will be compared.

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Then since we had all that fried, we went healthy with salads.  Except I don’t know if mine actually counted as “healthy” since it was covered in candied pecans and bacon.  (Yes it does.)

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Sarah got the chickpea/ tabbouleh/ flat bread salad.  It was really good too.  We were full when we left.

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Also, they had this cool piece of art in the bathroom.

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I always appreciate a well decorated bathroom in a public place.  Also I appreciate a hook to hang my purse or jacket. It’s the little things, ya know?

. . .

Then we were off for more shenanigans.  When dinner time rolled around, we were out at Cannon Beach.  We heard that we had to try the razor clams, cause they look like lady parts (!!!!!), so we had an order of those with some fries at a little restaurant/ ice cream shop.

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maybe if it weren’t fried you could see a resemblance. or maybe it’s better not to see. . .

And then we realized that perhaps if the place’s specialty is ice cream, it’s probably less than wise to order a seafood dish.  (But we are right on the ocean!!!)  Or maybe it has something to do with the lady parts reference.  We mostly just ate the fries.

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But the ice cream sundae did not disappoint!!

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FYI this is a black and white sundae:  scoopa chocolate with marshmallow, scoopa vanilla with hot fudge, and all the good stuff on top.  Aaawwwww yeeeeaaaahh!

THIS is what happens when we have ice cream for dinner:

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We don’t mess around when it comes to ice cream.

. . .

I will spare you pictures of the hotel’s continental breakfast the next morning (since I didn’t take any).  So let’s move on to Sunday’s lunch!  We went back to Cannon Beach again before we hit Ecola State Park.  This time we went to Ecola Seafood on recommendation.  This is a seafood restaurant.  We did much better here.  We split the captain’s platter so we could try a li’l bit of everything, and some clam chowdah.  Here’s what was on our plate:

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Fried oysters (which I kept calling fried muscles), a piece of whitefish, HUGE shrimps’s, the best scallop I have ever eaten (soooo buttery), clam chowder that was as thick as mashed potatoes, and a really bright, fresh cole slaw.  Oh, and garlic toast.  Can we take a moment here?  Now don’t get me wrong, the seafood was stellar, but that garlic toast was EPIC.  I so appreciate when the sides are as good as the main attraction, don’t you?

. . .

Then we ran around Ecola State Park and burned off some calories until it was time for our tired asses to drive back to Portland, where we met with my sweet cousin Leah and her husband Brad for dinner at Yakuza Lounge, another dark and romantic restaurant.  They picked out the restaurant for us, since it was near the airport and our hotel.  We were exhausted and hungry for something not fried.  This place delivered.  I guess you might call it a Japanese fusion restaurant. They have sushi AND burgers.  Pretty damn good burgers by the looks of the one Brad ordered.  Here’s what we ate (pardon the romantically lit pictures):

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Jicama and avocado salad with black sesame.  um, hello!  That was tasty.

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brussel sprouts and “foraged” mushrooms.  I like to imagine they were foraged in a magical forest by a spritely wood nymph- but they weren’t that kind of mushroom . . .

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A very bad photo of very delicious sushi rolls.  There is a spicy tuna roll in there, because I always order one no matter where I go.   It is my FAVORITE!

And that, my friends, is what we ate on our Amazing Goonies Adventure.  With our tummies full and our eyelids heavy, we bid farewell to my cousins and headed to our hotel, and then home the next morning.  So, do you guys plan what you will eat when you travel?  Or do you just wing it?