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Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicago Memories

I'm such a blog delinquent this week! Things have been a little nuts. Not too likely to calm down before Thanksgiving, though, so I guess I'd better suck it up.

Chicago was amazing; it was awesome to see my friends and to have them with us as we tasted our way through some of the world's best restaurants. No exaggeration: Charlie Trotter's, Tru, and Alinea are each, in their own ways, totally top flight and fabulous.

At Trotter's, we sat at the Chef's Table, which is an experience I highly recommend if you're at all interested in the goings-on in a professional kitchen. This one was clearly very well run and organized, possibly aided by the fact that it's an all tasting menu, so there are a limited number of items available for any given table at any given time, which naturally cuts down on chaos. We were *this* close to real live working chefs!That right there is what is sometimes called "the pass", or where dishes are passed from the flat-top/oven side of the kitchen to the server side. There was very little of the shouting and drama you see on shows like Hell's Kitchen at Charlie Trotter's; it was much more like a well choreographed dance. Which is not to say that it operated in the zen-like silence many people have described in Thomas Keller's kitchens--there was a little laughter and joking, some back and forth and chatter. But for the most part, there was a comfortable air of good organization and calm focus.

The food? Oh, right! I guess you want to hear about that, too! *grin* Well, here's the menu, but it doesn't quite convey the delicious abstractness of some of these dishes, many of which involved combinations I never would've imagined myself. With a few exceptions, the surprising flavors paired up extraordinarily well--and speaking of pairings, the sommelier did an outstanding job of choosing the perfect wines to accompany each little bite.

Hmm. Can you read any of that? For the record, the best dish was the Grilled Rabbit Loin with Shallot Confit and Pickled Mustard Seeds--the rich earthiness of the perfectly tender meat was underscored beautifully by the caramelized sweetness of the shallot and the tiny-but-sharp bite of the mustard. A perfect dish.

For a more complete, detailed writeup of the meal, check out my food blogger bff's post. Meg is a great food photographer, as well, so mouthwatering images abound. Ditto to everything she said. ; )

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