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Chicago Media Tasting: Baobing By Duck Duck Goat Launch Party

One of my favorite parts of Chicago is the West Loop, because it’s the foodie hub of the city. Chef Stephanie Izard has strategically opened up all of her restaurants there. Every restaurant she’s opened has unique twists on a variety of cuisines that inspire her and Baobing is her latest masterpiece.

Baobing Takeout Window

BaoBing by Duck Duck Goat
857 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
http://duckduckgoatchicago.com/

Baobing is a takeout window located on the Peoria St. side of Duck Duck Goat. Baobing is traditionally Taiwanese shaved ice, which the takeout window has, and it also has options for savory food items.

To start off the tasting, we had the Taiwanese Fried Chicken and the Fried Tofu. The Taiwanese Fried Chicken is delicious, and I love how the pickle relish helps balance the spice in the hot mustard aioli. The Fried Tofu sounds simple, but don’t be fooled. The vinaigrette, chili oil, and scallions give it plenty of flavor and I love the way they mix — this was probably my favorite dish!

Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Fried Tofu

We also tried the Beef and the Crispy Chicken Wraps, which were delectable. They are wrapped in Stephanie’s scallion pancake, a staple at Duck Duck Goat, and they are filled with different herbs. The Crispy Chicken Wrap has the same pickles as the Fried Chicken meal.

Beef Wrap
Crispy Chicken Wrap

Once we finished the savory dishes, then we moved onto the sweet ones. This was what I was most excited for — the Taiwanese-inspired shaved ice. We first tried the Rainbow Mountain which has soft ice cream, mango, blueberry, and cucumber snow ice; it has a great combination of flavors and is very refreshing. Then we moved onto the more savory dessert, the Sesame Sundae, which has a more unique pairing of flavors, but was a perfect balance of sweet and savory — definitely a favorite.

Rainbow Mountain
Sesame Sundae

The Mango Cloud City has a great mixture of fruit and who doesn’t love the flavor of mango in the summer heat?! I also loved that it has dragon fruit. The final shaved ice we had was the Blue Blue Lemon, and they definitely saved the best for last. I enjoyed how balanced the dessert is between the blueberry and lemon flavors- it is an art to accomplish this as seamlessly as Stephanie has. We ended with a savory dessert, the Jian Bing Thing, and it is possibly the most unique dessert I have ever tried. I would never have thought to pair soft ice cream with caramel, cilantro, crepes, wontons, and crunchy chili oil; however, the way this dessert is designed, all of the flavors work.

Mango Cloud City
Blue Blue Lemon
Jian Bing Thing

They open in the late afternoon during the week and mid-morning on the weekends, so you can enjoy great eats on the patio. If you’re looking for some great food in the West Loop at a great price, then I highly recommend Baobing!

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

Julianne: I woke up on the morning of Friday, June 8th, 2018 to a slew of text alerts from various friends and family. My heart sank because I just knew something terrible happened. I prolonged turning on the TV or even looking to see what these texts said until I’d fed my daughter and had a cup of coffee, cause sometimes, I preemptively “can’t even.”

The first alert I saw came from the TMZ app announcing that “Anthony Bourdain passed away at age 61” and I instantly hit a state of shock and disbelief. Was this an error in the TMZ app? There’s just no way this was real. After turning on CNN and seeing the news on TV, it all became very real. We lost him.

I watched the shows, followed his Twitter, admired him not only for his culinary genius but also as a male front-runner for the #MeToo movement. I realized he’s the only person I ever ate at restaurants because they made his show. My favorite being Nonna Betta in Rome which has his image all over the restaurant. Appearing on his show helped this business, as I imagined it helped many.

The famous Jerusalem Artichoke from Nonna Betta

This may be one of the first celebrity deaths to hit me hard. Sure, I’ve never actually met him, and I didn’t necessarily cling onto every single thing he ever said about food (especially his infamous thoughts on vegetarians), but he brought a lot of joy to his fans and had helped re-shape how many of us think about food.  

We’re still in a state of mourning here at Girls on Food, with the news of his death. Below, bloggers Sam and Iman remember the original culinary rebel with a cause, Anthony Bourdain.

Sam: Anthony shined a light on the culinary world, exposing it for all its glory; the truth about being a chef, the connections we have with food, of course, a few helpful tips to us aspiring young chefs.

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go,” Bourdain said, and it’s true now more than ever.

Much like the rest of the culinary world, it still hurts to know he’s gone; it hurts a lot. Finding out he passed away left me with the same empty, numb feeling as I found out when my grandma had passed away. I only met him once, for 30 minutes at most, but it was one of the absolute best 30 minutes of my life, and I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity that so many others did not.

The date was March 18, 2009. Bourdain was doing a presentation in Johnson & Wales University’s Xavier Auditorium. As students were lining up to get a good seat outside, there was one student in particular, while she might have appeared composed outwardly, was panicking internally (in the best way possible) because she was sitting with him backstage, talking to him and interviewing for the college newspaper. 21 year old (back then) Sam was so happy & grateful for those precious minutes, and now, 30-year-old Sam is incredibly grateful and appreciative of those minutes.

Anthony and Sam

We chatted about so much in those 30 minutes; we spoke of the fantastic adventures he’d gone on, the difficulties of being away from his (at the time) young daughter, and of course, the pleasures of sharing a meal with beautiful people. Yes, they’re documented in the articles I wrote about that event, some pictures too, and even an autograph in a book I nervously asked him for. However, they’re permanently engraved in my memory, like my initials in my knives, and I’ll cherish them for the rest of my life. Chef, we’re heartbroken that you’re gone. However, we’ll keep your memory alive and keep you in our hearts as we’re eating, traveling, eating, and sharing. Rest In Peace.

Iman: Like so many others in the world, I was utterly blindsided by the news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. I’ve always loved and admired his television series No Reservations, The Layover and Parts Unknown, but I don’t think I realized how much he impacted me until he was gone.

I remember watching No Reservations during early morning appointments when I was 14 – so, I’ve basically been watching him for half of my life. I’ve always wanted to travel and explore the world (my list is endless), and through Anthony’s shows, I was able to explore places I never imagined and got to experience the world during times when I wasn’t even able to leave my bed. I was able to explore the phenomenal and the mundane with his narratives. His honest depiction of the culture and the worlds he was in is what drew me in. He wasn’t there as an expert of the food and culture; instead, he relied on experts native to the respective country to guide and teach him – and all of us. His shows combined history, food, culture, and politics while humanizing the people we got to meet every week on television.

One of my favorite episodes was the Punjab episode on Parts Unknown, where Anthony goes through the province and takes the train to Shimla. This province is where my family is from and where my grandparents grew up before migrating to Pakistan during the Partition of India and Pakistan. While watching with my family, I got to learn a lot about my grandparents and great-grandparents from the stories my parents told me throughout this episode. It was also important to me because he showed how vibrant and unique Punjabis are and that they’re more than our perceived stereotypes – like so many other people around the world.

I’ve also gotten to try a couple of places that Anthony has gone in episodes, such as Cochon in New Orleans. Though it’s known for their pork dishes (Cochon means pork in French), I explored other parts of the menu, such as their delicious short rib, rabbit, and alligator. Thank you, Anthony, for showing us how to travel – by immersing yourself in a country’s culture, experiencing new things with a sense of earnestness, and finding the commonalities between all of us. You will be dearly missed.

Beef Short Rib with Tomato, Squash, Pickled Okra, and Slow Roasted Grits from Cochon

We’d like to extend our condolences to Anthony Bourdain’s family and friends. 

If you’re struggling with thoughts of committing suicide, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

We are currently raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on our Facebook page. 

MEDIA TASTING: New Brunch Menu at Del Frisco’s Grille is Picture Perfect

Earlier this week I journeyed out to the faraway land known as the Westside and visited Del Frisco’s Grille at its ocean front Santa Monica location. A completely revamped brunch menu was awaiting and OMG- everyone needs to visit and experience the brunch that Instagram dreams are made of. Perhaps Chef Steven Quinn knew his new menu would be so aesthetically pleasing or maybe this gorgeous spread is just like those girls that are naturally pretty with full brows first thing in the morning. Regardless, the food is amazing and photographs better than Beyoncé.

Del Frisco’s Grille
1551 Ocean Ave, Suite 105, Santa Monica, CA 90401
https://delfriscosgrille.com/

To start of this exclusive tasting, fellow media influencers and myself were guided to the patio where the most magnificent spread awaited. Voila!

The spread that dreams are made of

Lions and Tigers and Bears right??? Actually its more like egg yolks and cocktails and greens! Inspiration for the new menu came from around the globe and incorporates food trends that we all want to indulge in. From Brooklyn inspired dishes to a nod to our California love of things gluten-free Chef Quinn really brought it all together beautifully for our enjoyment. I genuinely had sensory overload!

As we all mingled a bit, we were given the first cocktail to sip. The colorful Fruit & Flowers- Tito’s Vodka, St. Germain, blueberry, grapefruit and lime flavors make this a perfect light cocktail for the hot summer days we have coming our way. Plus is has a cute rock candy garnish for fun!

While very pretty, I wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular from the Smoked Salmon Tower. Unbeknownst to me, Del Frisco’s take on the classic lox bagel was a heavy hitter. Chef Quinn informed us all the fish was flown in straight from Boston from Foley Fish. ( yasss, that’s fresh AND fancy).  This smoked salmon was top-notch and took the bagel to the next level. The presentation for the tower is awesome with red onions, cucumber, tomatoes and capers but there’s two different kinds of cream cheeses provided which complimented the salmon exquisitely. One was a creamy plain spread and the other a unique “Everything” caper spread. Being the wise foodie that I am, I went half and half on the spreads since I couldn’t get full on the first menu item!

Smoked Salmon Tower + Fruit & Flowers

Nonna’s Pan Cinnamon Rolls were brought out and there were collective jaw drops around the table.  The bourbon espresso caramel sauce smelled like heaven and for an instant I had a clear image of the Italian grandmother who loved me dearly and baked this to comfort my bad decisions from the weekend. The toasted pecans sprinkled on top gave a great crunch and added protein to the dish!

Nonna’s Pan Cinnamon Rolls

For those admirable individuals who take the healthy route even during brunch you’re in for a treat. The Greens & Grains Bowl is the answer to your fit meal dreams. A cage free egg is awaiting for you to get the perfect boomerang of it being cut. Get that yoke ooze! Quinoa, charred broccoli, edamame, dried cranberries, roasted almonds, baby spinach and BEETS all drizzled with a sweet basil dressing are the rest of the elements in this awesome gluten free dish.

Greens & Grains Bowl

Chef Quinn has two other gluten-free options on the brunch menu: the incredibly photogenic Croque Madame and the delicious Eggs in Purgatory with their avocado flatbread side.

Croque Madame
Eggs in Purgatory

My fave dish was a tie between the Greens & Grains Bowl and the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Lemon curd, blueberry compote and fresh berries are the perfect summery brunch item to enjoy in the patio while people watching in Santa Monica. It’s on Ocean and Colorado right in front of the pier! 

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Del Frisco’s Grille quickly established itself as a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike and I can totally see why. Not only is their food incredible, the cocktails are so intricate and thought out that they deserve a whole post on their own! As any pro-bruncher knows, brunch is only as good as the booziness involved.

Even though I couldn’t partake in the meat dishes offered (I’m a pescatarian) the void was filled with cocktails! If mimosas or their signature Bloody Mary with Horseradish Wheatley isn’t up your alley there’s good kick in the  Crack Coffee. With its Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, chai tea syrup and Chameleon Nitro Cold Brew, you’re bound to wake up with this bevy. If you need some romance The Honeymoon in Paris will take you away to Providence in summer especially with its super cute sprig of lavender! Finally the crowd favorite at the event was the Watermelon Frozé! Rosé but better because you get a small serving of fruit, hooray! Mom would totally be proud.

Bloody Mary
Watermelon Frozé
Honeymoon in Paris

I’m super excited to hit up the Westside again for brunch. With the semi-new Expo Line Station a block away, there’s no need for a DD! Totally recommend it for all those who don’t want to worry about being stuck in traffic while in a food coma. Also, Del Frisco’s Grille is having a special 16 oz. 45-day Dry Aged Strip for the deserving fathers out there this upcoming Father’s Day ( yes, that’s tomorrow, Sunday 6/17). Fun fact, Del Frisco’s Grille is the cooler sibling of the widely praised  Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, so they know a thing or two about cooking meat.

Watermelon Frozé anyone?

Summer is here and so shall beach day brunches at one of California’s most iconic beaches. A million thanks to all who made this event possible and for everyone at Del Frisco who flew out from Dallas to spoil us with their new offerings. Chef Shawn Quinn really elevated the brunch game with such photogenic offerings. This place is ultimate #brunchgoals!

Thank you so much to Spin PR for arranging this media tasting. Although this tasting was comped, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

MEDIA TASTING: Chaya Venice Gets A Glow Up

I moved to Venice in early 2013 and Chaya became my main stomping ground after waiting tables at The Firehouse across the street. Regularly, I’d sit at the bar alone and enjoy their happy hour specials after a shift. I could only afford one cocktail (a Lychee Martini) and one Spicy Shrimp roll at the time. Want proof? Check out these fun (and low-quality) shots from my personal Instagram page, here, here and here. When I was slumped over at the bar, I’d dream of dining in the actual dining room. I was mostly lured in by the white tablecloths; since I was a child, they had embodied the word “fancy.”

Fast forward to last Monday night: I don’t live in Venice anymore and haven’t made it out to Chaya in ages. I am invited in to check out the newly renovated Chaya Venice for a media tasting and dine not at the bar, but in the proper dining room. With Danielle, my friend and owner of my favorite LA restaurant blog, Follow My Gut, I was excited to indulge in some nostalgia and taste items outside of the happy hour menu.

Chaya Modern Izakaya 
110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291
http://www.thechaya.com/

The original Chaya, a family-owned teahouse called Hikage Chaya, debuted in Kamakura, Japan in the early 1600’s. After centuries of reinventions and expansions into other locations, the Chaya group eventually opened a Venice location, under founding Chef Shigefumi Tachibe in the 90’s. Current Corporate Executive Chef Yukou Kajino and Executive Chef Joji Inoue are now leading the show.

The appearance of this longtime Venice favorite had not been touched but it finally got its LA glow up and the addition of “Modern Izakaya” to its name. Changes include swapping the vibrant red exterior for a light Japanese bamboo fencing, long communal cedar tables in the lounge, and a more intimate main dining room (they swapped 25 seats for a new banquet room). Sadly, my beloved white tablecloth is gone.

The zhoosh up

I’m not sure if the glow up was necessary for me, since the only reason I hadn’t been in so long is due to proximity. I prefer the former 90’s Japanese-meets-French brassiere vibe, even if was a little dated. I think there’s fun in being formal, in eating like a “grown up.” I realize the rest of LA wants all their favorite spots to be “mod upscale-casual” so I suppose they could make everyone else happy with it.

Although I noticed some changes to the Happy Hour menu — doing away with some of their beloved sushi rolls, like the Spicy Shrimp and the Chef’s Choice — I am happy to report they did not get rid of the classics like the Lychee Martini and the Mac & Cheese. They’ve also added nigiri and sashimi to the bar menu, which I don’t recall from my Firehouse days.

A view from the Kaisen Bar

The bar now boasts a larger selection of liquors, including more tequilas and a more developed Japanese whiskey program. Although I’m not indulging in cocktails (I’m breastfeeding, so beer and wine is more my thing) I will note the specialty cocktail list is perfectly updated with drinks for beachy, Westside vibes and not overly trending. At the Kaisen Bar, similar to a Chef’s Counter, guests can dine on a set omakase menu, featuring the freshest sushi and oysters made right in front of them.

Amuse Bouche

The wines are mostly California-based, with a few European options, and are perfect for pairing with the new menu items. Every dinner should begin with bubbles, so that’s how I started mine. The Schlumberger Grüner Veltliner Brut is minerally, high on effervescence and the floral notes work perfect for the Amuse Bouche and Big-Makase, a five-piece nigiri selectionThe Amuse Bouche of the evening (note: off menu item that changes every day) was an ample portion of a potato stuffed with mussels in a Pommery mustard sauce. If this was any indication of how the dinner would start, I knew I was in great hands. 

Big-Makase and the off menu mackerel roll

Based off image above, the nigiri in the Big-Makase is intended to be eaten starting left and working your way right. Each nigiri piece had a different sauce, starting with Maguro with a savory sauce, Hamachi with a buttery, smoky soy sauce, Sake with yuzu pepper sauce, seared Shiro Maguro with a garlic ponzu and Scallop with a plum paste. Danielle and I both agreed that while all of these were great, the Shiro Maguro (aka albacore) was our favorite bite. We tasted another off-the-menu treat, a roll of cured mackerel topped with ginger and shiso leaf. Fans of the pungent shiso leaf would love this one, since there is an ample amount in the rice, so be sure to ask if they’ll make it for you.

Manila Clams

The next course was my favorite new dish of the evening. The Manila Clams are steamed in a green garlic broth and settle upon silky tofu. Be sure they bring a spoon, cause you’ll want to sip up that broth. Pair this one with the St. Urbans-Hof Black Label Nik Weis Estate Old Vines Riesling, since it’s a sweeter, fruity pour. 

Chrysanthemum Salad

There is now a larger selection of salads and vegetables added to the menu. The Chrysanthemum Salad is a meatier options with chewy bits of bacon, enoki mushrooms and bacon vinaigrette. It’s not listed under the salads but the Grilled Octopus is a lighter dish that comes with a filling portion of green papaya salad. If you’re on a date, don’t fear this salad — it’s less garlicky, compared to others, so you can confidently kiss at the end of the night.

Grilled Octopus

The octopus, braised for two hours with lemon and spices, then bincho-grilled, is charred around the edges but still maintains a marshmallow softness. Although I originally thought I’d be pairing a fuller white or even a sake with these two, server Marcel recommended the Banshee Pinot Noir, which was better since it’s a lighter, riper red, a perfect in-between.  

Pork Chop Katsu

The Pork Chop Katsu, served bone in, is crisp with panko on the outside but juicy on the inside. Since it’s a pork chop cut, it is quite thick and topped with a peanut-mole and Japanese mustard. I paired this with Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Syrah. It’s an intense, smoky syrah, perfect for meatier dishes.

Cherry Parfait with an Earl Grey Mochi Ice Cream

I’m not much of a dessert person but the Cherry Parfait, with mascarpone cream and light chunks of brownie was to die for. Ask Danielle, I inhaled it! The Early Grey mochi ice cream on the side was herbal, creamy and melts in your mouth. Make sure to save some of the syrah for this one, especially after it aerates even more.

The new menu is delicious, thoughtful and very modern, to match the new esthetic.

Thanks to Lawrence Moore and Associates for setting up this media tasting.

Although this dining experience was comped by Chaya Venice, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

MEDIA TASTING: The Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village, CA Brings Out The Kid In Us!

Los Angeles, I’ve just found your new go-to summer hangout! If you’re looking for good drinks, good eats, and fun games in a laid back but classy atmosphere, look no further than the Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village.

THE THIRSTY MERCHANT 

12430 Riverside Dr
Valley Village, CA 91607
http://www.thethirstymerchant.com

I enjoy watching and playing games as much as the next girl, but I usually avoid my local sports bar because I’m not interested in jockeying for a spot at the pool table with a bunch of annoying bros.

Thank goodness for the Thirsty Merchant. Not only are there plenty of games to choose from (bocce ball, foosball, corn hole, darts—even giant Connect-Four!), but the vibe is warm and inviting with an elegant Victorian-inspired twist. The bar is impressive, and they offer a wide selection of beers, but they also have an excellent wine and cocktail list for those like myself who aren’t into brews.

Hot Lips

Upon arriving, my companion and I settled into a cozy, dimly lit booth and perused the menu. We decided to start off with a couple of spicy drinks to get things going. He ordered a Hot Lips cocktail made with jalapeño infused vodka, mezcal, lime, pineapple juice, and vanilla simple syrup. I ordered a Merchant Mary with Bang Bang Shrimp Cocktail from the “Day Drinks” menu (which, by the way, accompanied a rather appealing weekend brunch menu that I intend to return for).

The Hot Lips definitely did as its name implied- it made my lips tingle with flavor. I know spicy drinks aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy heat, definitely try this drink out. It has a smoky taste on the front end, builds into a zesty jalapeño burn, and softens with the sweet vanilla finish. Delicious!

The Merchant Mary was also a very solid Bloody Mary, though after trying the Hot Lips, it didn’t seem spicy enough for my taste. But the mix is fresh and made in house and had all the right elements – including a refreshing celery flavor that I really enjoyed. Be careful with this one though… it makes for some really easy drinking, and I didn’t realize how strong it was until I finished it. Oh, and did I mention the zesty and meaty shrimp that was the prize at the end of the drink? (Or are you one of those people who eats all the garnishes first? No judgement here!)  

For an appetizer we tried the Roasted Shishito Peppers which were UH-MAY-ZING. Who would think such a simple dish could be so delicious? For me, it was all about the perfect char and garlicky vinegar dressing the peppers were dressed with, and the equally mouthwatering truffle aioli that accompanied them. I could have eaten a bucket of these, but I had to save room for the rest of the night. 

We also tried a Sonoma Salad before diving into the main course. This salad is a refreshing summer treat made with crisp butter lettuce, roasted corn, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries, tossed with a light champagne vinaigrette and feta cheese crumbles. It would make a great meal on its own with some added protein like chicken or shrimp. 

There were a lot of other appealing appetizers that would make for good sharing with a group of friends, such as steak tips and pan-fried dumplings, but we decided to order something more hearty for our main course. After trying the shrimp in the bloody Mary I was tempted to go with the Louisiana Bang Bang Shrimp, but ultimately I decided to go with the Bistro Burger. My companion took a Southern route with the Southern Livin’ fried chicken sandwich.

It was time for a drink refill while we waited for our food and I simply had to try another “day drink” selection, the Frosé (“God’s gift to your mouth” as the menu states.) I have to agree. This is the perfect summer treat. I’m a sucker for frozen drinks, and this one is a delight. If you love rosé, you’ll enjoy its crisp and citrusy flavor. Plus, it’s just plain fun to drink.  

My companion got a Hotsy Tosty – another spicy drink, but more fruity and sweet than the Hot Lips. Like the first drink, it’s also made with jalapeño infused vodka, but the difference lies in the fresh strawberries, agave nectar, and fizzy ginger beer. I liked this one even more than the Hot Lips – but I’m partial to sweet and fruity drinks. You can’t go wrong with either choice. 

Before long our food arrived. The Bistro Burger was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. The patty is ground in-house and crusted with pepper, topped with Boursin cheese and shoestring fries.

The burger was bursting with flavor – it had a hint of heat from the pepper tempered with creamy garlic from the cheese. It was as close to the feeling of having a fancy picnic with summer sausage and cheese as you could get in a burger. The shoe string fries were also perfectly crisp and the burger came with an additional side of them as well. I ate the whole thing, which is rare for me when it comes to burgers.

The Chicken Sandwich was equally amazing, but much heavier (as is to be expected with Southern-inspired cooking). The chicken was double-breaded with buttermilk and perfectly crusty on the outside and juicy-tender on the inside. The pimento cheese added a bit of heat, but the dill slaw provided a crunchy and satisfying cooldown.  

We were pretty stuffed, but we had to had to try the highly-recommended dessert: the Peanut Butter Pie. Trust me, you’ll want to order this one – it was so rich and delicious with its Oreo crust and creamy peanut butter filling. It even had a couple Reese’s cups as a topper along with crushed peanuts and a dollop of whipped cream. Peanut-butter lovers rejoice! 

I was honestly surprised by how good the food was for a place that offers sports and games. Oftentimes at bars like these, the food is an afterthought to the entertainment, but not so at the Thirsty Merchant. Come to watch your team on one of the many screens, or get a group together to share some apps and play a round of bocce ball (or three.) Or come with a date and snuggle into one of the cushy booths and enjoy a romantic cocktail. You can do it all at the Thirsty Merchant, and I for one will be making it one of my hangouts this summer. Connect-Four, anyone? 

Happy National Rosé Day – The Unofficial Beginning of Summer

Cheers with Summer Water!
Here are some answers to your questions about our favorite beverages, just in time for National Rosé Day this Saturday, June 9th! 
To add to the celebration, you can have your wine delivered directly to your door with $25 off your first purchase from Winc, and as an added bonus, when you build a 4-bottle box you receive complimentary shipping!
 
Work / Wine Doormat by 2BooeeHome
Which cheese plate items do you pair with rosé?
I love pairing rosé with milder goat cheeses (the creamy Goat Milk Brie and Aged Goat’s Milk Gouda Cheese from Trader Joe’s work perfectly) and fresh summer fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and raspberries. My go-to cheese plates essentials are the Trader Joe’s savory-sweet Fig & Olive Crisps and crisp green grapes.
My Summer Cheese Plate!
What wine glasses do you use for rosé?
For walks (or dances) on the beach, I love my stainless steel Stemless Wine Cups from Corkcicle because they keep the wine chilled for hours on the go. Because of the triple insulation, your hand won’t warm the wine, and it will stay the perfect temperature for up to 9 hours by the pool, on the beach, or at a picnic – even in the direct sun. You can also use all-purpose wine glasses, or you can invest in rosé specific glasses, which have a flared rim to direct the wine to the top of the tongue while the moderate width emphasizes the fruity aspects.
 Rosé All Day shirt by The Giftable Goodies and Stemless Wine Cups from Corkcicle
What non-food items pair best with rosé?
When drinking rosé I like to bring out my Marble and Rose Gold Hexagonal Coasters by LuKa Marble Designs that perfectly complement the color while keeping the perspiration from my chilled rosé off the table. The most appropriate top to wear when celebrating your love of rosé is, of course, the Rosé All Day shirt by The Giftable Goodies on Etsy, as the peach color perfectly complements the pink in your glass.  
Marble and Rose Gold Hexagonal Coasters by LuKa Marble Designs

Remember when we asked our readers what questions they have about rosé on our Instagram?

Winc Wine Director, Brooke Matthias, answers below!

Why is Rosé pink? – @damesnackerton
Where red wines ferment on the skin of red grapes, pink wine happens when the winemaker removes the juice from the red grape skins when he or she feels the wine has achieved the perfect color. Any red wine grape can be used to make rosé!

Why are rosés different in color, and does this have anything to do with taste? – @tintin_beligan
When picking out a bottle of rosé, I always look for one that is lighter in color and lower in alcohol. A deeper color tends to mean that a rosé is richer in body and has more sweetness, and I tend to prefer rosé that is dry, lean and higher in acid.

Yes Way Rosé Round Beach Towel

Why is there such an increase in rosé interest over spring & summer? – @olivedoesthecity
Rosé is synonymous with a summer state of mind, which makes it perfect for summertime activities whether you’re imbibing while barbecuing, lounging by the pool or sipping by the beach. The grapes for Summer Water were picked early in the season to achieve a natural acidity that’s ideal for summer drinking, and nothing pairs better with warm weather than a refreshing and chilled glass of rosé.

What is dry Provencal rośe, and is it really the best? – @thetaylordayne
Provence, located in the South of France, is the largest rosé-producing area in the world and consistently delivers dry and crisp rosés that are easy to love. Most are blends made from Rhone varietals, including Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. Provencal rosés, like Sauvetage, have a reputation for being delicious – but many other rosés, like those made right here in California, can be just as tasty!

What is the best rośe to make frośe with this summer? – @belynnburruel
It’s not summertime without frosé! When choosing a rosé, I look for rosés with lots of flavor and tart red fruit characters. I personally love using our Funk Zone Rosé or Ruza. Both are dry rosé wines, but once the other ingredients are added, it creates the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

Is rośe similar to white in the sense that it pairs well with fish and seafood, or are there other pairings more specific to rose alone? – @sassandcollegeclass
Rosé is a very food-friendly wine! Since it spends more time on the skins, it has a wider variety of food pairing options available ranging from poultry to sushi, but Summer-friendly fare like shellfish, ceviche, and salads pair swimmingly.

Does rosé always have to be served chilled? @heart_written_words
I definitely recommend it. To fully appreciate the crisp acidity of white wines and rosés you’ll want the bottles to be chilled before you enjoy them!  You can also use the Corkcicle Air+ stainless steel icicle to aerate and chill your wine with every pour.  Pop the Air+ in the freezer a few hours before you plan on enjoying your rosé, empty a few sips from the bottle before inserting the icicle, and pour-through the Air+ directly into your glass! 

Chill as you pour with the Corkcicle Air+

Editor in Chief Julianne’s Top 3 Rosés

Summer Water Rosé, 2017 – This California-based rosé is sweet but dry and very light. One sip and you’ll taste the notes of strawberry and grapefruit. It’s a fantastic wine to sip on its own or pair it with savory dishes. I’ve even paired it with a tuna tartare in the past and it played very well together.

Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières “Gris de Gris” Rosé 2016This is my favorite classic French rosé on the market! It’s perfectly fresh, floral, fruity and with a finish of minerality, so it covers all bases. I have paired it with many different dishes, but my favorite pairing is the classic Thai noodle dish, pad see ew with chicken.

Luc Belaire Rosé – This is the rosé that gets the party started, just ask Rick Ross! Next to Whispering Angel, this is one of those bottles the ladies will instantly recognize and gravitate to. The black bottle with pink lettering is also chic AF for a nighttime affair. It’s bubbly, has a strong floral nose and a sweet strawberry body.

Be sure to follow our Instagram stories on Saturday, June 9th for more #NationalRoséDay fun! 

Media Tasting: La Fête In West Hollywood

IB Hospitality Founder and Restaurateur Rohan Talwar, the team behind West Hollywood favorite Norah, introduced the neighborhood to an inventive extension, a cocktail bar called La Fête. This intimate addition to Norah is perfect for a French cocktail before or after your dinner.

La Fête
8277 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046
https://www.lafetelosangeles.com/

The cocktail menu, by Bar Director Dave Kupchinsky, brings a beautiful blend of France and California to his beverages. Instagammers, make sure you have your cell phone handy for their flower wall. I predict it’ll be on everyone’s feed soon!

But first, let me take a selfie! The Floral Wall is too perfect.

The first drink I had was the La Julep, a more Parisian take on a classic Mint Julep. Instead of mint, this vibrant, crushed ice cocktail is mixed with dry vermouth, Cherry Eau de Vie, house made raspberry thyme cordial, Salers Aperitif, and verjus. It’s light, not overly sweet from the Cherry Eau de Vie. It’s so easy-to-drink that you’ll probably crave another right after one sip.

La Julep

The La Daiq cocktail is very tart, but this is the perfect cocktail for those of you who love sour cocktails (personally, I prefer the sweeter ones). It reminded me of a Lemon Drop in a coupe cocktail glass. It consists of Rhum JM, Plantation 3 Star Rum, Calvados, Kaffir Lime Cordial, and lime. Perfect for fans of the pucker!

The bar was lively, packed with LA’s most prominent influencers in the foodie/cocktail scene. It was so much fun to watching Kupchinsky shake up two libations; La Spritz and La Frappé.

These two drinks are gorgeous, but I preferred the La Spritz, with Litlet Rose, Rhubarb-Sage Gastrique, Tonic and Cava. The La Frappé, with absinthe, dry vermouth, homemade matcha coconut crème, pineapple, and fresh orange juice is sort of like a licoricey Daiquiri. Those of you with a taste for a French-Polynesian sip would love it. 

The show-stopper of the evening for me (see video above) was the La Side Piece, which includes Bache Gabrielsen Cognac, Cointreau and Lemon Verbena. The Cognac isn’t so strong when mixed with these ingredients, since the lemon defuses the flavor. It makes for a lovely slow-sipping drink.

La Tuxedo, which is a part of their Martini Service, is for those who love a more stiff drink. This powerful concoction has Sipsmith, VJOP Gin, La Quintinye Dry Vermouth, Maraschino, Absinthe, and Orange Bitters. It also comes with a side car for extra pours and a side of house marinated Kalamata, Picholine and Castelvetrano olives.

La Tuxedo

My final drink for the night with the Pastis Special #1, a mix of Pastis, Strawberry Cordial, and soda. I am usually not a big fan of licorice, but since that pungent flavor was toned down with Strawberry Cordial and soda.

Pastis Special #1

Check out La Fête bartender Taemur in the video below! There’s no shortage of entertainment here from the speed-shaking bartenders.

Thank you to Lawrence Moore and Associates for inviting us to this tasting!

Check Out Chef Stuart O’Keeffe at Macy’s Herald Square, Presented by Macy’s Culinary Council

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

ATTN: NYC FOODIES!

Are you ready to fire up that grill and learn how to cook tasty summertime recipes with- Chef Stuart O’Keeffe?

Image courtesy of Macy’s Culinary Council

Our friends at Macy’s Culinary Council are hosting a live cooking demonstration at Macy’s Herald Square, in NYC.

Chef Stuart will be on hand, teaching you how to recreate his favorite comfort foods at home with admission of a $25 ticket (purchase here), you will get a seat at the demo (with plenty of bites along the way!), a $20 Macy’s gift card, a Govino wine glass and copy of his cookbook The Quick Six Fix! Plus, if you stick around, he will be signing copies in the home department.

BUT FIRST! HOP OVER TO OUR INSTAGRAM BEFORE MONDAY, JUNE 4TH AT NOON PST, TO ENTER TO WIN 2 FREE TICKETS TO THIS EVENT! 

When: Thursday, June 14th, 6 PM 

Where: Macy’s Herald Square, 

151 West 34th Street

DeGustibus Cooking School, 8th Fl

New York, NY 10001

Purchase admission and RSVP here to ensure a spot.

Tickets are selling quick, so get on it!

I can’t wait to see you there! I’m so excited for this event because

  1. Stuart is ADORABLE!
  2. I’ve been wanting to cook at home more and his recipes are not just easy, but they’re perfect comfort foods.
  3. Macy’s Culinary Council hooks it up at their demos with fantastic bites. Nobody leaves their events hungry!

Running late to the party? Don’t panic! Pop by after to the home department and with any purchase of $15 or more you’ll still be able to meet Stuart and receive a signed copy of The Quick Six Fix!  

Be sure to follow along with us @girlsonfoodblog, where I’ll be posting live stories from this demo!

CHEERS!

Culinary Council is a collection of spectacularly talented chefs, pastry chefs, and food professionals that travel throughout the country and hold various tastings and demonstrations in Macy’s all over the U.S. Check with your local Macy’s to see if any are happening near you!

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Image courtesy of Macy’s Culinary Council. 


A Chef’s Perspective: CUT New York at Taste of Tribeca

CUT New York, Chef Wolfgang Puck’s first Manhattan restaurant, fired up the outdoor grill again this year for the Taste of Tribeca, lower Manhattan’s food festival that supports arts and enrichment programs at public schools. CUT’s menu highlights various cuts of the finest beef from regions across the globe, as well as local seafood and an extensive international wine list with over 800 wines.

Please credit: Shintaro Ueyama / Taste of Tribeca

This year, the team from CUT–Raymond Weber and Zairah Molina, a husband and wife duo who are executive chef and pastry chef, respectively– served grilled bone-in sirloin with Argentinian chimichurri. I sat down with the team to get their take on the event, their culinary dreams, and why they love food so much.

Girls on Food: Why did you decide to participate in this event?

Raymond: We at CUT really love being part of the downtown neighborhood–there is such a sense of community and we want to do our part to support it. We love the neighborhood’s history, and how quickly it is becoming both a residential and an emerging culinary destination.

Zairah: Taste of TriBeCa is such a fun event, and supports a great cause! We’re excited to come back for our second year. 

GOF: What is your favorite thing to eat that isn’t yours?

Zairah: Fried Chicken from Momofuku Ko

GOF: If you could go anywhere in the world for a culinary experience, where would you go and why?

Raymond: Peru. The food scene is vibrant and energized, the produce is amazingly fresh and great to create with. 

Please credit: Shintaro Ueyama / Taste of Tribeca

GOF: Where do you get your menu inspiration?

Zairah: At CUT NY, the menu is an adaptation of Wolfgang Puck classics combined with East Coast produce, seafood and meats.

GOF: Why do you love being a chef in NYC?

Raymond: NYC is full of all levels of restaurants from casual dining to omakase to long-standing institutions of fine dining–it has an energy to it unlike any other city. The constant change and competition of the culinary scene, combined with the challenge to be relevant, is what I love most about being a chef here.

Be sure to follow Taste of Tribeca’s social media pages and keep up with them for next year!

Hamming It Up At The Haam in Toronto

The Haam is the place to dine if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try unique mashups. Situated in the Entertainment District of Toronto, the vibes here are cool and homey while still pumping out the beats for a meal right before you hit the streets. In Korean, “haam” means to add more, additional to make the best (hence the plus symbol in their logo); they definitely add that extra oomph to make their dish the best that it can be. Keep in mind, that The Haam does love to experiment with different dishes and techniques, so they will be having a rotating menu and these dishes may or may not be available; which does make it even more exciting to visit!

The Haam
342 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1R7
https://www.instagram.com/thehaamtoronto/

Seabass: gochojang, cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, fish skin

The mixture of the balsamic vinaigrette and gochugang (Korean red chilli paste) gives you a nice combo of sweet and spicy that complement the clean seabass crudo. Grab a complete bite of the sauced up seabass with the refreshing cucumber, and crunchy fried fish skin; it’ll hit all the taste buds and provide all different textures that will leave you satisfied.

Scallop: ikura, red onion, yam, avocado, shallot

This scallop plate is super refreshing with a light and citrusy dressing. The fried shallots provide a bit of crunch, the ikura (salmon roe) gives a little bursts of flavour and saltiness and the yam smear ties the entire dish together with a bit of sweetness.

Macbokki: gochujang, cauliflower, smoked cheddar, provolone, gruyere, za’atar

The Macbokki, is probably my favourite item we had. This is a tteokbokkif (Korean rice cake) version of mac and chesse but gochujang style. So creamy with the just right amount of spice (from the gochujang), not too rich with all the cheeses but there is a slight sweetness that just rounds out the dish. To top off the dish are the huge taro chips that are just so much fun to eat with.

Fried Chicken: curry, sambal, mint

Now, who doesn’t love fried chicken?! For those that are a bit uncertain of the dishes above, this one will soothe your soul. Hearing of the combination of the three sauces may sound strange but amazingly enough the three combined create a symphony of sweet, minty and spicy. Alternatively, all three sauces are just as magnificent on their own! Also cannot forget about the super crunchy chicken that is perfectly friend and is straight up KFC (Korean Fried Chicken).

Holy Crab!: Soft shell crab, scallop, shrimp, squid

This rice dish simply reminds me of a seafood paella. My most favourite seafood paella that I had had a sweetness to it that just combined the seafood along with the rice in a way that I just wanted to keep on eating it; this dish plays that exact same role. There’s just a sweetness that just makes you want to keep eating until every last grain is complete. To help balance the sweetness is the fried soft shell crab that provided a bit of saltiness and that crunch factor that is needed in all rice dishes.

Aburi Chirashi: uni, tuna, salmon, shiso, ikura, garlic mayo, truffle

To wrap up our entire meals is the final touch of the Aburi Chirashi. A traditional chirashi consists of sushi rice and fresh raw fish. This dish consists of a bed of the sushi rice with fresh uni, tuna and salmon laid at top of the rice, topped with garlic mayo and torched to perfection (aburi). Aburi (torched sushi) is a very popular style here in Toronto and this dish is definitely a unique and different take on it. The torching provides a melt in your mouth feel that just with every bite you feel like you are eating something so decadent and it feels so wrong but tastes so good.

The Haam makes you feel like you’re at home and your mom/dad decides to come up with an experimental meal to wow you; except, that The Haam does wow you every time without fault. They have only been open for a bit over a month now and I can tell you that you can expect some fairly unique (and even daring) dishes coming out of this little spot. I cannot wait to see what other creations they have in store!

Media Tasting: TŪMBI Craft Indian Kitchen in Santa Monica

There’s a new restaurant, blending authentic Indian and haute dishes located in the heart of Santa Monica, that opened a month and a half ago called TŪMBI, owned by RJ Singh and menu by Chef Ali Imran Mookhi. With a modern-industrial interior, designed by Architect Sat Garg, the main room intimately seats about 42 guests and there is a private room that seats 14. This is the perfect location for the Westside of Los Angeles, because on a sunny day, you can also sit on the patio and enjoy some lasi, wine, beers, and craft beers.

TŪMBI
115 Santa Monica Blvd Santa Monica CA 90401
https://tumbibar.com/

Singh has been in the hospitality industry most of his life, but after traveling all over India, tasting foods from every avenue from street food to 5-star restaurants, he created the Tantra in Silver Lake and India’s Oven, and is the owns SIRTAJ Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Me and my Pani Puri

I tasted 6 categories from the menu- Start, Street, Tandoor, Dosa, Pot, and Sides. The Pani Puri comes in a shot glass, which is a fun way to enjoy this street dish. It’s a puff pastry, with mung bean, chickpea, and shallots with tamarind-mint water in the shot glass. To enjoy this, remove the puff pastry from the shot glass and pour the liquid into the puff pastry. Then swirl it around pop the whole juicy, spicy pastry into your mouth.

Heirloom Tomato & Caramelized Pineapple

Our next dish reminded me of an Indian version of caprese. The Heirloom Tomato & Caramelized Pineapple has turmeric yogurt, crispy shallots, and mustard oil. Since it’s so light, this is a great dish to have for those who want to watch their figure.

The Roasted Beet Soup had my favorite style of presentation. A heather blue bowl is dressed with shallots, curry leaf, and garlic. Next, they pour over the orange malai-yogurt, which is blood red and is striking in color. Although this was “mild” in spiciness, but for me it was still a bit too spicy. However, the plating made it worth a try.

The Butter Chicken is my favorite dish here, I took one bite and I was in heaven. It is juicy, tender, and flavorful. The Chef Ali uses juicy boneless leg meat and pairs it with a butter tomato curry. One bite and my eyes lit up because it literally touched my soul. This is when I knew I needed to come back in, I think it’s going to be their most popular dish.

The second dish that I would recommend is the Bihari Smoked Kabob. When Chef Ali walked over with the wood platter and glass cover, I sensed a meaty, spicy fragrance would emerge. You can see the smoke hovering over the butchers beef kabob and as he lifts the cover it swirls around over the meat.

The Super Size Paper Dosa is a rice & lentil crepe and served with sambar, coconut and tomato chutney. You can eat it with or without the dipping sauces- it is just as tasty plain. This definitely gets a lot of attention with their customers because of its massive size.

Other fantastic dishes I sampled include: Goan Prawn Masala, Delhi Khumb Korma, Palak Paneer, Aloo Gobi and Dal Bhukara. So come on in and check out this ultra chic and innovative Indian restaurant, and delve into Chef Ali’s wonderful dishes, the food is unequivocally divine. Thank you so much to Kim Koury of Spin PR for the invite.

Between the Buns Slides into Home Plate with Their Inaugural Slider Event

Last Saturday the Dallas Observer and Whole Foods held the first annual Between the Buns – Slider EventThirty of Dallas’ hot spots were busy cooking some of their most tempting treats for the taking. Seriously, there really isn’t a better biteful than a slider and a great vehicle to pretty much get anything into your mouth! 

Between the Buns
Dallas Farmers Market
920 S. Harwood St.
Dallas, TX 75201

There were sliders for every taste and eater. Here are some of the best bites of the day….

Hutchins BBQ – Pulled Pork
If there is one thing Hutchins knows how to do it is BBQ and this slider was no exception. Sauce-laden and juicy to the last bite with a nice crunch from the coleslaw.

Full Circle Tavern – The Italian Stallion
The Italian seasoning was spot on and the peppers added a little bite. Mamma Mia!

Arepa – BBQ Jackfruit Arepa
Shout out to all my vegan and gluten-free foodies! This fluffy corn cake was stuffed full of seasoned jackfruit and jicama slaw. A great change from beef or pork.

Snuffer’s – Bacon Cheddar Slider
Man, I love a poppy seed bun! his baby was filled nicely with a beef patty smothered in Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon.

Dot’s Hop House – Club Schmitz Burger
Dot’s Hop House pays homage to a Dallas legend with their namesake burger. Two patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and housemade pickles. Club Schmitz would be proud.

Easy Slider – The Mini Mac
Move over golden arches there is new burger in town that has you beat. This double-decker has two angus beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and special sauce. It is small in stature, but mighty in taste.

The Dapper Doughnut – Strawberry Bella Mini Doughnut
After all that savory goodness it was time for something sweet. Warm and yummy, this mini doughnut was just what I needed to finish off the bevy of burgers.

The inaugural Between the Buns is in the books! Clear your calendars for next year’s event.