Friday, February 4, 2011

What about those resolutions?

2011 is almost over (really, time flies), so how did I do with my New Year's food resolutions? If you remember, I had five: try at least one new food and one new restaurant per month; entertain more at home; bake more; and visit American foodies' Meccas.

In terms of new foods, I think I am doing fine. I have tried a couple of vegetables that I had never heard in Italian or French. The sweetest surprise was parsnip (which, for you Italians out there, translates into "pastinaca sativa": if you tell me you regularly eat this at home in Italy, I will assume you are a weirdo into funny stuff...). I kept on hearing people saying that they loved parsnip, turnips, and rutabagas, so I decided to try them out. And it turns out I really like parsnips: they are a sort of white sweet carrot.

I have also tried bone marrow. This is something I have been uncomfortable with for the whole of my life. My mother eats osso buco with risotto alla milanese pretty often. And I recall trying it when I was a kid, but the texture of that osso buco - soft, gelly - put me off big times, because it reminded of brain. You see, in Italy we often eat sheep or cow brain, mainly fried. When I was a little kid I used to love fried brain. I would wake up in the night and go stuffing my mouth with the left overs of fried brain, thinking that my parents would never realize. Too bad once I did eat too much of it, and I had to be taken to the ER. Since then, I cannot stand either the smell or the texture of brain. So bone marrow has always been a no-go.

In spite of all this, I felt brave a couple of weeks ago, and I tried it on a toast at a local restaurant, and I liked it. It was very different from how I remembered it: it was more like a pate'. But still, deep in my mind I felt the urge to throw the table away and get sick, even if my taste buds were telling me everything was alright. The mysteries of the human mind...

And last but not least, I have had my first home made Persian dinner, cooked by a friend. The flavors were nothing I was expecting (I thought they would be a mix of Indian and Middle Eastern, and they are not), and they were delicious!

In terms of restaurants, I have done pretty well. I have tried three new places. Although going to a steakhouse on a diet is like going to a brothel as a monk, two of these new places are actually steakhouses: Chicago's cut and Ruth Chris.

Chicago Cut is a sleek new place that opened recently. It was good, but WAY overpriced. The place is beautiful, but I didn't like their attitude: every table has an iPad where you can go through the wine list...apparently iPad wine lists can increase sales of wine by at least 10%. But I call this BULLSHIT. Especially because you still have to order that bottle via a server. As I said, BULLSHIT: give me a freaking paper menu and don't give me attitude. I am not sure I am going there again, although they seem to have a patio by the river that should be delightful during the summer. And if you are single and you want to mingle with beautiful ladies, that's the place for you.

Ruth Chris is a chain with multiple locations across the Nation. It was good, but not fantastic: they have a different way to cook their meat, as they broil it, not grill it, at very high temperature, and then cover it in butter. Good, but not my cup of tea. I do prefer the flavors that the grill brings out. They did serve a crab and corn chowder that was phenomenal, though. But you don't go to a steakhouse for their chowders.

Then I tried Gilt Bar, a nice place with good American food, and a nice bar and vibe. That's where I had my bone marrow.

I wasn't particularly good in the entertaining sector, although we did have friends over once. And I didn't bake anything, with the exception of the chestnut flour cake castagnaccio. The problem is baked goods are a lot of points in my Weight Watchers diet, so I am trying to avoid temptations.

And no new foodies Meccas yet: but last night I booked our flight for New Orleans: creole and cajun food, here we come!

All considered, I would give myself a B.


Russ C said...

I follow your blog now and again. I used to live in Chicago but moved recently to Minneapolis. I was very into the food scene in Chicago and enjoy reading your "foodie" pursuits. Anyway, that trip to New Orleans will be great. If you don't do this already, I would suggest checking out the LTHForum thread on New Orleans before you go. It's very recent and well researched. Here's the link:


Tuscan foodie in America said...

Hi Russ C, thank you for your comment! Minneapolis is a fun city. I visited it only once, but I remembered I had a good time. I am planning to go back again this summer for the State fair...

Thank you for the New Orleans thread: this is precious!

Russ C said...

Ah yes, the State Fair. Before you come up, shoot me an email and I'll give you a handful of places to visit (food places). There are a few decent restaurants here (not nearly as many as Chicago) and some local, ethnic food destinations. There's a huge Hmong population here (think Vietnamese), as well as Somali (camel burger anyone?). Of course, the Fair has all sorts of fried and novelty items. Enjoy New Orleans...


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