Friday, August 17, 2007

Charlie Trotter Day

The City of Chicago proclaimed Friday, August 17, 2007, as Charlie Trotter Day - in recognition and celebration of Charlie Trotter's 20th anniversary.

Twenty years ago today, Charlie opened his restaurant at 816 W. Armitage when Lincoln Park was not the mecca neighborhood it is today. Now, Charlie Trotter's is a focal point of Lincoln Park and envy of the culinary world.

Congratulations, Charlie, and here's to 20 more!

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cab's Lollapolooza

On Thursday, August 2, at 6:00 p.m., CAB'S kicks off Lollapolooza week with an evening of wine, great food and live music! This year’s special event will provide a portion of the proceeds to benefit The Gwaimen Center in Nigeria. The Gwaimen Center helps widows and orphans of HIV/AIDS victims (learn more).

A reception starts at 6:00 p.m., with a two-hour appetizer/dinner buffet that will follow starting at 7:00 p.m. The evening's live music will start early and end late. The line-up of live music will include:

• Majors Junction (alternative, progressive country)
• Danny Draher (NYC Blues & Jazz Festival “Best Artist”)
• Uncle Boogie Pants (jam band and original rock & roll)
• D'mestic Haze (rock & roll classics)
• CAB'S House Band with Smokin Dave Mejia

Reservations are required. Call (630) 942-9463.

Tickets for this private event are $35 per person (plus tax & gratuity), which includes the buffet and live music. Wine and other beverages are additional.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chefs' Conference

I just returned from Orlando, Florida, where I was on assignment for my daytime job: I was attending the American Culinary Federation's National Convention.

Over the weekend, I'll post pictures of chefs cooking food, eating food and other cool food photos.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Grilling Flank Steak III

Well, here are the pictures of the marinated flank steak I grilled. It's super easy, but takes a little a little time to let the marinade do its work...about 12-24 hours. Oftentimes I find a great sounding recipe and will try it out the way it's written and then work from there in tweaking it to customize my own and families taste. For this particular recipe, I used one from the latest issues of Saveur (my number 2 cooking magazine...Cook's Illustrated is number 1). The July issue of Saveur is The Steak Issue...gotta love it for the summertime!

This first picture is the flank steak in the marinade, which is combination of several ingredients. The steak is about 2 pounds, which could serve 4-6 people.

Start by toasting the following spices...1 tablespoon of coriander seeks, 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 2 broken dried chiles, and 2 fresh bay leaves (I used dried). Toast them slightly in a saute pan to release some of thier aroma. Let cool and crush them up a bit to release their inner flavor. In a larger enough dish, put the crushed spices and add 1/2 cup of red wine (any kind will due...a merlot, cab or whatever you have open), 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of worcestershire, 4 crushed cloves of garlic and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (use fresh...dried just doesn't add the right amout of flavor), and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Mix it all up. Before adding the flank steak, cut off any excess fat and the skin that look silver (that's why it's called "silver skin...if you don't trim the silver skin off the meat will toughen up), and take a fork and poke the steak on both sides a lot (this allows for the marinade to really get into the meat and help tenderize it). Cover and put in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Every once and awhile, spoon the marinade over the steak, and in fact, I found it OK to turn the meat over so both sides get a good soaking.

When you're ready to grill, take the meat out of the fridge about an hour before so it can come to room temperature (don't worry, it won't go bad). Allowing the meat to come to room temperature lets the meat's muscle and fibers loosen and will help in the cooking process. Cooking a cold piece of meat will not give you full flavor.

The grill should be a medium heat. You could use a gas grill, but I found use a charcoal grill added a different taste.

Since flank steak doesn't have a ton of fat, it'll cook pretty fast...about 7-8 minutes per side (don't forget, once you take the meat off the grill, it'll continue to cook for about 10 minutes, so let the meat rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.) Serving flank steak at medium-rare to medium is ideal...the end pieces will be more medium, while the center cuts will be medium-rarer. Plus, letting the meat sit for 10 minutes will help the meat retain its juices...cutting into a steak that comes right off the grill will allow the juices to flow right out of it, which will leave with a dry piece of meat. Yuck!

When you do cut the meat, cut it on the bias (an angle) following the grains of the meat. If you cut across the grain, you'll tear the meat and it'll end up on your guests' plate looking like you already chewed on it. Double yuck! I'm sorry to report that my digital camera ran out of battery power during the slicing time, so I'll have to post pictures next time I make this dish.

The outcome is great! With combination of spices (the fennel gives an anise taste...hint of licorice, the coriander has mild flavors of lemon, sage and caraway, and the combination of rosemary and garlic gives a robust sense). The vinegar is one ingredient you really taste and gives a pleasantly pungent taste. The combination of everything is wonderful.

Next time, I'm going to add a bit more red wine vinegar (just one more tablespoon), increase the amount of spices by 1/2 tablespoon, and add three more cloves of garlic. I'll have see if these additions will be too potent, but that's what's cooking is all about...experimentation.

In fact, I'm experimenting by freezing one flank steak in the marinade, which I will make in two weeks. I'll take pictures of that meal, too, (including the slicing technique).

Oh, an easy side dish is boiled red potatoes with salt and butter! Asparagus is a great veggie, too.

Till then...Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Grilling Flank Steak II

There was glitch with the computer's server over the weekend, so I wasn't able to post the flank steak images yesterday. I promise to get to it tonight!

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Friday, July 13, 2007

Grilling Flank Steak I

I wanted to give you all a heads up that I'll be grilling a flank steak this weekend...after it's done marinating. Have I whet your appetite? Check back on Sunday!

If you have a favorite BBQ and/or marinade recipe, send it my way and I'll pass it along to my readers.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Foodie Web Sites

If you haven't noticed, I've listed a few of my favorite, most visited foodie web sites on the right-hand side on this homepage. All of them are great resources for taste-tempting recipes, news about the food world and other interesting places to visit.

What are some of your favorite foodie web sites to visit? Send me your list and I'll share them with the readers of this blog.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Friday, June 29, 2007

Live Music at Cab's

You don't have to to go far for live music. Cab's Wine Bar Bistro in downtown Glen Ellyn is a great place to enjoy great food, good wine and live music. Here the lineup for several bands that will be playing at Cab’s Bistro during the next few weeks.

—.D'mestic Haze will hit the stage this Saturday, June 29. The show starts at 10 p.m. (

—Friday, July 6, Majors Junction will perform. Their show starts at 10 p.m. They were featured on the radio station—WXRT’s “Local Anesthetic” this past week with DJ Richard Milne.

—Saturday, July 14, the Danny Draher Band (Winner Best Band—New York Jazz & Blues Society 2004) will be playing following the Glen Ellyn jazz fest. The show starts at 10 p.m.

Cab's Wine Bar Bistro is located at 430 N. Main Street (630/942-9463;

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Isabella’s Estiatorio's Wine Dinner

Geneva, Ill., is a great town to visit. There's the river to take walks and the downtown area is cute with shops. Swedish Days just happened this past weekend, which is always fun to sample different foods and visit street vendors.

But, above all, Geneva boasts a number of great restaurants. One is Isabella’s Estiatorio, which is hosting a dinner event this coming Wednesday, June 27—with Landmark Vineyards Wine ($85 per person; 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.)

Here's a peek at the menu:

Baked Cod, paprika pork belly, baby squid & chick peas
2005 Landmark Vineyards, Chardonnay,”Overlook”

Roasted Beet, Manouri, Candied Walnut Salad, Chive & Walnut Dressing; Orange Crème Fraiche
2004 Landmark, Chardonnay, Lorenzo Vineyard

Copper River Wild Salmon Pine wood scented, leeks gratin, fig jam, pine nuts pesto
2004 Landmark, Pinot Noir, Kastania Vineyard

Aegean spiced Kobe Short Ribs, creamy grits, roasted peaches, Kalamata olives, cured Meyer lemon
2003 Landmark Syrah “Steel Plow”, El Farolito Vineyard

Cambozola cheese cake with fresh glazed apricot
2003 Landmark, Chardonnay, Damaris Reserve

I'd go just to eat some more Copper River wild salmon...the fish is in season for a short time (I've already had it twice within the last week...once at Shaw's downtown Chicago and once at home). The fish is so fatty and full of flavor! Get some while you can!

If you want to read more about the winery, visit; and if you want to learn more about Isabella’s Estiatorio, visit

The restaurant is located at 330 W. State St. (630/845-8624) for reservations.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What the hey!

I know, I know. What the heck! I haven't had a post since mid February. I've been busy. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I'm going to give it another attempt to post - not on a daily basis though - just when I cook something or go out to eat.

I do post on a weekly basis on, which is part of The Well Fed Network ( That's one reason I've been busy.

Talk with you soon.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Monday, February 26, 2007

Food/Cooking Conference

I've been at a food/cooking conference for the past several days, so I've been absent in updating the site ... my apologies. I'll shortly upload some wonderful pictures of the classes I attended (all about cooking lobsters and Vietnamese food). Tonight I have cooking school, so I'll update tomorrow evening.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Friday, February 16, 2007

Foodie Web Site - Well Fed

There are so many foodie Web sites to read, but one that you should bookmark is Well Fed ...

Within this one site, there are 15 other sites that discuss topics ranging from kids cuisine to spirits and beverages to restaurant reviews to a whole host of food topics. The writers are from all parts of the world, so the posts are very diverse.

If you have time, check out Well Fed.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hinsdale Cellars - Wine Shop

Valentine's Day is upon us, have you bought your sweetheart his or her present yet? It's not too late! Visit the Hinsdale Wine Shop and they'll provide you with the finest wines, chocolates, and accessories.

From wine, to chocolate, to gourmet coffee, they have a wide selection of gifts for you to choose from. WThey can even put together a custom gift basket for you, or stop in and choose a pre-made one!

Or, how about giving a gift that will give all year long - a year membership to their Wine Club! Every month, your loved one will receive two fantastic bottles of wine, access to member's only events, and a 10% discount on all purchases made in our shop!

Don't let the weather prevent you from giving a gift that will make your loved one smile! They are open 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Saturday and Noon - 6 p.m. on Sundays.

You can find Hinsdale Cellars at 12 E. Hinsdale Ave. in Hinsdale; or e-mail; or visit; or call 630/654-9862.

Happy Eating (and Drinking)! Mr. Foodie

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Salmon Patties 1-2-3 Easy!

We all know how healthy it is to eat salmom - the fish is loaded with omega 3s. And, if you're looking for new ways to cook salmon, don't forget about the tried-and-true method of salmon patties. There are only a few steps to this recipe, which I've made several times by seeing what ingredients are in my fridge and going from there. Don't be afraid to work without a's only food!

Here's what I used: 1 egg white (beaten), 2 tablespoons milk, either use 1 teaspoon of dried onion or 1 shallots (I prefer to use fresh shallots, because, one, it's fresh, and, two, they're sweet tasting), 2 teaspoons of dried dill or 1 tablespoons of fresh dill (again, use fresh dill because the flavor will be more intense), 1 7-ounce can of salmon (drained), 1/2 cup of wheat crackers (these type of crackers will also lend a taste of sweetness) or you can use bread crumbs and a touch of cooking oil or olive oil to saute the patties.

Here's a step-by-step view of the easy method.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg white, milk, shallot, dill and a pinch of black pepper (use freshly cracked if you can).

Drain the salmon, add it to a second bowl, and flake with a fork. Next, pour in the egg white mixture as well as adding the bread crumbs (I used Italian fine bread crumbs, because I didn't want the patties to be too mealy with chunks of crackers.) Mix thoroughly with a fork or spoon. I also added just a pinch of Kosher salt (use regular table salt if that's waht you have).

Use your hands (make sure you first wash them) and form about 3- to 4-ounce pattyies (I doubled this version recipe, so I was able to get five patties). I also rolled the patties in extra bread crumbs just enough to lightly coat them - not a thick coating. I find the light coating helps bind the patty, and this will brown the patty nicely.

Add enough olive oil to a non-stick skillet to lightly cover it (you do not want a lot of oil because you do not want to "fry" them), let the oil get hot and then add the patties (I got five in one skillet). Cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to brown. Flip and cook again for 5 minutes or until the brown. You don't want to overcook them, or they will dry out. Dried out salmon patties is like eating sawdust and cardboard. Since the salmon is already cooked, all you're doing is warming the patties (and cooking the egg white to atemperature about 120F.)

And that's it. You can serve with a cheese sauce (use sharp cheddar) or a relish of your choice.

Let me know what you think, and pass along your salmon patty recipe.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Chocolate Heaven is Here!

If you're a chocolate lover, you'll want to head downtown Chicago for a fabulous event: For the Love of Chocolate. It happens this Saturday, February 10.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, The French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago is proud to present the second annual For the Love of Chocolate benefit. Top chefs from around the country will join together to transform the celebrated South Shore Cultural Center into a decadent chocolate wonderland that could rival even Willy Wonka's factory—all to help inner city high school students achieve their dreams of becoming the "superchefs" of tomorrow. Intricate chocolate clothing, dazzling chocolate body art, amazing chocolate sculptures and a sensual and luxurious "Cocoa Sutra" room will be on display during the extravaganza. For the Love of Chocolate will benefit Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a national nonprofit which prepares at-risk public high school students for college and careers in the hospitality industry. Managing the largest independent culinary scholarship program in the United States, C-CAP has awarded 1,850 scholarships, valued at over $17.8 million, changing the way many underserved high school students see their future and making a difference between a job and a career for more than 100,000 students. All the proceeds raised from the event will enable C-CAP to continue offering scholarships and programs.

The list of top chefs, pastry chefs, confectioneries is mind boggling! You won't be disappointed...I guarantee it!

For more information, visit

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lamb II - Mediterranean Style

Here are a few pictures of the Mediterranean-style stuffed lamb loin's I cooked yesterday ... it's super easy to make, with a total prep and cook time of about only two hours. I used two loins for this recipe, but you could use a crown, Saratoga, or sirloin. My two loins served four adults nicely.

For those people that tend not to like lamb, two things. One, I used American farm-raised lamb instead of imported lamb. I believe American lamb has a much better taste then imported lamb, say from New Zealand, which tends to have that gamey taste people often say as to why they don't like lamb. Second, the combination of stuffing ingredients in this recipe melds so well with the lamb that there's an explosion of flavors in your mouth and no gamey taste at all.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (or shallot)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup shredded spinach leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded
2 tablespoons finely chopped sundried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts or sunflower seeds, chopped, toasted
2 teaspoons lemon pepper, divided (or lemon rind)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1-3/4 to 2 pounds boneless American Lamb sirloin roast ... I used loins

Remember, a recipe is only a roadmap, so you can make a change here and a change there to make it special for you. Here's a couple of tweaks you can make ... if up can't find fresh basil, just use dried which will work fine (just crush the dried leaves in the palm of your hand before using to release its oils); I toasted the pine nuts in a saute pan until the turned brown (be careful, to much heat will burn them and then they taste, well, burnt); instead of onions, I used shallots, which I believe have a sweeter taste; and, for the lemon pepper, I used fresh lemon rind and freshly cracked pepper instead of lemon pepper out of a bottle...the bottle version, I think, has too much salt and other ingredients...the fresh lemon rind and cracked pepper just gives that extra zing! But, use the lemon pepper if you have it.


In medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, cook onion and garlic over medium heat for 3 minutes. Mix in spinach, basil, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or lemon rind, salt and pepper). Cook additional 2 to 3 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Mix in feta cheese; set aside.

Remove all visible fat from meat; slice halfway through meat down center lengthwise. Cover with plastic wrap, and with meat mallet pound to 1-inch thick. Place filling down center of meat.

Roll and tie with string at 2-inch intervals. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or lemon rind, salt and pepper). Place on rack in roasting pan and roast in 325 degrees F oven to desired degree of doneness: 145 degrees F for medium-rare, 160 degrees F for medium or 170 degrees F for well (I have to say that well is too done for'll be dry and leathery, with an almost kinda liver taste). Cover and let roast stand 10 minutes before carving. Internal temperature will rise approximately 10 degrees.

Here's a picture of the lamb cut into 1-inch slices. Look at the chunk of feta. The vibrant colors of the red sun dried tomatoes, the toasted pine nuts, brilliant green spinach and white feta is so appetizing. I cooked the lamb to 140 degrees F and then removed, let it sit for 10 minutes, which brought up the temp about 10 degrees F. The meat was medium...perfect. Lamb too well done is tough, and then it turns gamey.

Don't forget dessert!

This was delicious; oh, I served a nice full-bodied Cab, and the side was organic long grain rice with golden raisins that were soaked in Port. Go to your local butcher (Wheaton Meat Market is awesome) and ask them for some lamb.

Let me know if you make this dish, or what other lamb dishes your prepare.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lamb I ... Mediterranean style

I'll be preparing a Mediterranean-style stuffed lamb loin's this weekend, which includes spinach, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and feta cheese. It sounds so yummy, and it's a meal unto itself. I'll also serve a side of wild, long grain rice with macerated golden raisins. I'll take pictures of me making the dish and will post them on Sunday.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cab's Bistro on Main St., Glen Ellyn, Spanish Wine Food Pairing

Can you ever have enough wine and food? Of course not! I've been receiving more announcements about wine-food pairings, and here's another one. Cab’s Bistro on Main St. in Glen Ellyn, just south of the train tracks, is a great restaurant to spend an evening having dinner or just stopping by to enjoy a glass of wine at the bar.

But, on Tuesday, January 23, Cab's is hosting their "Spanish Wine and Food Match!", which will feature a special four-course dinner paired with wines from Spain. The menu is still in the planning stages, but I wanted to give all of you a heads up on this event because it will sell out. Cab's is fabulous, cozy and afffordable.

The Spanish wine and food pairing event is only $65 a person (plus tax and gratuity) ... that's a bargain. A reception will start at 7:00 p.m., with dinner beginning shortly thereafter.

Call for reservations at 630/942-9463 for reservations, and visit for a peek at the menu. Cab's is located at 430 N. Main Street, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137.

Also, here's a lineup of other events during January and February at Cab's not to be missed:

CABS is pleased to celebrate the nomination of Zora Young as "Female Blues Artist of the Year" by presenting a special show this Saturday, January 20 at 10 p.m.. "Zora Young UnPlugged" features this exciting blues singer in a special night of acoustic music "in the round". Don't miss this show that includes Mike Rizzman (Uncle Boogie Pants) on lead guitar and a number of great musicians. Zora's nominated album "Tore Up From the Floor Up" will be featured and available Saturday night. Reservations suggested.

Also mark your calendars for Saturday January 27 for the return engagement of Uncle Boogie Pants.

February 2 and 3 brings crowd favorites Lost Identity back for a weekend of great music featuring Crosby, Stills, Nash, the Eagles, and their blend of harmonies and music from the Woodstock era. Call ahead for reservations as these nights fill up very fast.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Door County Road Trip Dining Suggestions

Ron "Hungry in Lincoln Square" asked me about places to stop and eat on his way to Door County this coming weekend. Here are few of my favorite rest stops.

1. The Brat Stop in Racine on Hwy 50 right off of 1-94 (exit 344). This big bar setting offers the finest in native Wisconsin bar food from burgers to fried fish to steaks to salads ...

2. The Port Hotel in Port Washington. You have to drive a few extra miles off of I-43 into Port Washington, but the extra minutes is worth the drive ... The menu is a mix of land and sea, and the dining room is very nicely appointed. (This is a good half-way point from Chicago, too).

3. The Kohler Club in Kohler, which is right off of I-43. There are 11 restaurants at the Kohler Club, from fine dining to casual to pub ... all of them are first rate ...

4. The Inn and Cedar Crossing in Sturgeon Bay, right at the onset of Door County. This restaurant (and hotel, too) is very warm and inviting - and it's on the National Historic Registration. The menu is full of steaks and seafood ...

Please call the restaurant to double check on their hours ... they should be open for lunch, but be on the safe side.

If there are other suggestions, please post them in the comments section.

I hope this helps, Ron. Enjoy Door County!

Happy Eating, and safe travels! Mr. Foodie.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Making Smashed Potatoes ... Which potato is the best?

Todd B. from Glen Ellyn sent me an e-mail asking which potato was the best to make mashed - I prefer to call them smashed - potatoes?

Guess what? There is no one ideal, perfect recipe to make smashed potatoes ... just a bunch of different recipes and personal preferences.

The key ingredient is the potato ... there are ones that are high in startch (russets and Yukon Gold), and there are less starchy ones like the round white ones and waxy potatoes. My preference is the high starch potatoes because the more starch, the fuller the actual cells of the potato resulting in a fluffier texture. I think they tend to be creamier than other potatoes, too.

On the other hand, some chefs I've talked with like to you use the low starch potatoes because they absorb less water and hold up better when cooking. They also think they have more flavor and less "starchy" taste.

So, there's really no right or wrong answer, Todd.

One thing I do is not to peel the potatoes before I boil them. I like the rough appearance of the smashed potatoes and the skins give a contrasting texture and mouthfeel against to the creamy potato. My favorite ingredients to add is unsalted butter (lots of it), kosher salt (not table salt), freshly cracked pepper (I toasted my peppercorns first and then add them to my peppermill, which gives them added flavor and aroma), and whole milk (don't use 1% or 2% milk ... you might as well just add water).

Hope this helps. If you have any food questions, send them to me and I find an answer.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Cellar Door's Tasting Challenge tonight, Downers Grove

I know this is the second wine notice this week, but I couldn't I resist.

If you live in Downers Grove, you must visit The Cellar Door at 5150 Main St. tonight. They are having a blind tasting challenge that starts at 5 p.m. and last until 9. What the challenge entails is tasting 4 wines - 2 reds and 2 whites. How hard could it be? Tasters (that's you) will be asked to guess the grape varietal, the country of origin, the region of origin, and the age of the wine. Are you up for the challenge? The taster with the highest score at the end of the evening will receive a $25 gift certificate to The Cellar Door (the winner need not be present at the end of the evening when we tally scores...they will contact the winner).

To help newbie wine enthusiasts, The Cellar Door will also provide you with a "cheat sheet" on wine tasting to aid you during the tasting. The cost of the blind tasting is only $5.00.

So, pull out that dusty copy of the Wine Lover's Bible and start reviewing today! What a great way to start your Friday evening. Stop by before you head out for dinner.

For more information, call 630/241-2030 or e-mail

Happy Eating (er ... drinking this time)! Mr. Foodie (See you there.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Courtright's Restaurant Winter Wine Dinner, Feb. 23, Willow Springs

William and Rebecca Courtright own and operate one of the finest restaurants in the Western Suburbs of Willow Springs to be exact - Courtright's Restaurant. I've dined at the award-winning white table cloth establishment, and executive chef Jonathan Harootunian does an outstanding job with every aspect of his menu. They also an outstanding wine program. One part of Courtright's that I enjoy is the restaurant hosts special events all the time.

The next one will be held Friday, Feb. 23 - it's their Winter Wine Dinner. The five-course wine dinner will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a reception featuring Kim Crawford's 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) and passed hors d'oeuvres (gougiers with vella dry jack, tuna sashami with soy and ginger, and baked Manilla clams with garlic and chilies).

Dinner will follow at 7:30 in the restaurant's private dining room, and will include the following:
- cold smoked salmon served with yuzu and celery root salad, salmon caviar gelee and celery leaves, and paired with 0'Brien Chardonnay 2004 (Napa Valley)
- pan-seared quail served with truffled lentils, bacon and rapini and a black peppercorn beurre blanc, and paired with Costa de Oro Pinot Noir 2005 (Santa Maria Valley)
- grilled cocoa-dusted Denver venison served with butternut squash ravioli, Chinese long beans and a smoked fig and aged balsamic reduction, and paired with Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (Napa Valley)
- chocolate tea ganach tarte with an almond sorbet, and paired with Dows 10-Year Tawny Porto (Portugal)

This is quite an exquisite dinner, and it is reasonably priced for $95 (all inclusive).

Courtright's Restaurant is located at 8989 Archer Ave. in Willow Springs. You can call them at (708) 839-8000 for reservations (and I just know this event will book quickly). Also, visit their Web site at to see the restaurant's full menu and to read more about this gem.

On a scale of 1 fork to 5 forks (1 fork is not good), I give Courtright's 4 1/2 forks.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie

Friday, January 5, 2007

Sante Fe on Main Street, Glen Ellyn

First, Happy New Year! Everyone makes New Year's resolution while trying to leave behind the past year. However, when it comes to food and the eating of it, let's not forget some of the restaurants that continue to serve quality food year after year.

Sante Fe Restaurant in downtown Glen Ellyn (and in Sandwich) is one of the restauants that you can count on for consistent quality - for basically everything on its menu. I have visited Sante Fe on countless number of ocassions with my family, and the place is always bustle with people at the bar enjoying housemade margaritas by the glass, full pitcher or half pitcher and ordering from the appetizer menu (you can order a full meal, too). There are the traditional apps of nachos ($5.15), chile con queso ($5.95) and guacamole dip ($5.65), but don't pass on the shrimp nachos which is what you think it is ... a traditional nacho order but this one has shrimp ($9.45). In addition to the margraritas, the restaurant also offers a full line of Mexican beers (as well as domestic brews), tequilas, wines and soft drinks.

Consistency, consistency, consistency is what I truly enjoy about Sante Fe. They have it down pat each time I visit. The dinner menu offers all of your Mexican favorites - from the a la carte side ... enchilada ($3.05) quesadilla ($3.25), taco salad ($5.75) and more. My favorite is the taco longy style, which is a corn torilla fried in margarine! Forget the diet, take two Liptors and enjoy! The taco is filled with a mixture of ground beef and American cheese (I find this a little strange instead of using a Mexican cheese), lettuce, and tomatoes. It is good.

There are also dinner items, which is everything and more on the a la carte side, but you get rice and beans. The seafood enchiladas are good, which include a combination of sweet shrimp and succulent crawfish ($8.95), and the steak chimichanga will not leave you disappointed - chunks of steak and onion wrapped in a flour torilla, deep fried and served with sour cream and guacamole.

There's also a separate section for chicken, steak and vegetable dishes. All of them are good, ranging in price from $8.15 (chicken) to $15.65 (steak) to $6.95 (vegetable).

If you want to try something special and are up for something spicey, try the chilaquilles ($5.95). It's Mexican sausage, chorizo and chips cooked together and served with refried beans, sour cream and torillas.

Desserts span the traditional fare of flan ($2.95), sopapillas ($4.25, fried dough served with honey and chocolate sauce...yum!), empanadas ($4.25, ranging from strawberry or apple and served with vanilla cream and topped with whipped cream...yum, again!) or canelitas ($3.85, flour tortilla, deep fried, and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon...they're fun to eat, especially if you send another buck for a scoop of ice cream).

As you can tell, the prices on all of the entrees are very reasonable, and the portion sizes are big enough for some people to ask for a doggie bag.

Service is always friendly and attentive, and the kitchen is very quick in getting hot food to your table. One aspect I very much like about Sante Fe is that as soon as you sit down complimentary housemade chips, salsa and bean sauce is brought to your table.

For more information, go to 426 N. Main St. in downtown Glen Ellyn, or call (630) 790-3311.

On a scale of 1 fork to 5 forks (1 is not good), I'd give Sante Fe 4 forks. Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie.