Archive for Travel

Chicago: What I Ate

Ah, the Windy City.

It honestly wasn’t that windy while I was there, but hey–it was the end of July. It was more sticky and humid than anything else, actually. But that’s neither here nor there… what’s important here is food, people, the food!! BTW, I was in Chicago to attend Sage Summit, you can read all about that here.

palmer house hilton chicago

I first just have to shout out the amazing hotel I stayed at. If there’s one thing I love, it’s history and vintage, and Chicago is a town with some fantastic history and architecture. The Hilton Palmer House Hotel, where I stayed, was built 150 years ago, and it still has that elegant, old-Hollywood feeling. It was one of those hotels that managed to do everything right. Keep the old-school, retro feeling, but still not appear to be dated. It was gorgeous–touches of gold everywhere you looked, and the lounge! The pool might have been my favorite, though.

chicago archetecture

I mention the Palmer House not just because it was a fantastic experience to stay there, but also because of its location. Right downtown, in the heart of the city, just two blocks from Millennial Park. One of the advantages of staying here was that it gave me the ability to see tons of cool stuff all within an easy walking distance, like museums, art galleries, the park, and the Riverwalk, not to mention shops and restaurants, and just a block from the train station to O’Hare.

Okay. What I ate in Chicago.

Chicago Steakhouse

gene and georgetti chicago steakhouse

One of my first meals in Chicago was at Gene and Georgetti, one of Chicago’s oldest steakhouses. Now, I don’t eat a lot of steak, but they did have vegetarian and seafood options, so I was good. This place is super old-school. It’s kind of dark, and the waiters are all men in white coats. It goes on and on, as well. There are rooms upon rooms, dark paneling, books on the walls, hunting-lodge, man-cave style. Very masculine. I had these sauteed mushrooms that were so good, and a lightly-seared tuna salad. If you eat meat, though, you really should order one of their humongous steaks.

Coffee

I have to talk about coffee. I love Peet’s. And there was one just a block or two from my hotel. I was a very happy girl.

Baking

I was so happy to stumble across the Magnolia Bakery. This place reminded me so much of our own Butter Baked Goods. It had that charming 1950’s kinda vibe, and behind the counter, it was packed with gals making cookies, cakes, and pies. This was one place I would love to go back to again.

peets coffee and shake shack

Burgers

I’ve been trying out the veggie burgers at a ton of local burger joints here in Vancouver lately; 5 Guys, Relish, Mooyah, and the newly-opened CaliBurger. The CaliBurger one was my fave–it’s a deep-friend portobello mushroom. I hit the Shake Shake just around the corner from our hotel with Liz and Adrian one night, and their veggie burger was similar. So good. Also, the salted caramel milkshake, as one might expect from a place called “The Shake Shack” was off the chain.

Donuts

glazed and infused donuts chicago

There are lots of artisan donuts in Chicago, but possibly the most famous one is Glazed and Infused (best name for a donut shop ever, right?). It’s tiny, tucked away inside a restaurant inside a hotel, but holy smokes! The donuts! They had one that was a long john with an entire strip of bacon on it. I had a red velvet, with cream cheese icing…

Healthy stuff

Thankfully, I had a row of healthy fast-food places just around the corner from my hotel. The Protein Bar served up the most delicious avocado-matcha smoothie I’ve ever had (I’m working on getting you the recipe), and they also served Bulletproof Coffee, if that’s your thing.

baker and godess chicago

Right beside it was the place I ended up at the most; The Goddess and the Baker. Here, you could grab coffee, home-baked goods, juices, and other lovelies like Avocado toast.

Eataly: my version of heaven

eataly chicago

My face kind of says it all.

The pinnacle of my food experience in Chicago was, hands-down, Eataly. Eataly is Mario Batali’s two-story grocery/ wine/ charcuterie/ creperie/ restaurant. It is literally foodie heaven. They had counters with more charcuterie and cheese options than I think I’ve ever seen in my life, fresh produce, wines, a gelato bar, a coffee bar with desserts and sandwiches, several restaurants, and all the Italian food and the stuff to cook it with you can possibly imagine. If you are in Chicago, do not miss going here. And when I die, this is where I want to go. It was seriously my version of heaven. I went there three times in less than 24 hours, and I would have gone back if I had more time!

Yep, beyond a doubt, Chicago is a town of great eats, and I only had time to scratch the surface. I didn’t even get a chance to eat deep-dish pizza! A return trip is definitely in order…

 

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Vegetable Fritters with Mango Mayo {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

So, I just came back from Chicago, and I’ll no doubt publish a post sometime soon about what I ate while I was there.

But first; a story.

When I arrived in Chicago, and was dropped off by my driver at the amazing Palmer House Hotel where I was staying, I noticed that The Book of Mormon was playing literally a half a block away. I had built an extra day into my schedule, a full day with no conferences or meetings, just to explore the city and see things. I had made no plans on purpose, as I wanted to go where the wind blew me (in the Windy City!).

egetable fritters with mangomayo vegan gluten free

The Book of Mormon, like many Broadway shows, has a special program to make theatre available to the people who might have a hard time affording it. This was a practice started by the producers of RENT many years ago. On the day of the performance, you can put your name into a draw, and the first two rows of the theatre are reserved for this purpose. These tickets sell for $25. So, I had to try. I had to put my name in the draw.

You have to be present at 5:30 when they draw, and the night I was there, they had more tickets to spare, so everyone got in. I got an amazing seat in row Q. But by then it was 6 pm or even later, and all I had time for was a quick shower before being back at the theatre before the curtain at 7:30.

I figured I’d get dinner after. It’s Chicago, after all!

The show was amazing. I won’t get into it. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know. But the show didn’t let out until 10 and by then I was starving.

All the places I thought I’d be able to eat, like the little bar across the street, were closed. I walked a 4-block radius around my hotel, but all that was open were fast-food places. I finally stumbled into one burger joint and asked if they could make me a grilled cheese sandwich. They could. I ordered a side of fries to go with, and they came sprinkled with rosemary sea salt. Sadly, neither the grilled cheese nor the fries were amazing, BUT they had this dip bar which included a bunch of different kinds of flavoured mayos, including a mango one. Mango mayo! This stuff is a revelation! I had to make it, and I had to find something tastier than fries to dip it in.

This recipe is inspired partly by pakoras. If you’ve never had this South-Asian treat, you’re missing out. They are deep-fried fritters that hide vegetables inside, usually cauliflower, bound together in a chickpea-flour batter.

I don’t deep fry, and I also wanted to make it vegan. The challenge with making fritters of this kind (vegan and gluten free) is that eggs bind the ingredients together. No one wants a falling-apart fritter.

Enter aquafaba! Yup, that magical bean juice is good for this kinda thing, too!

The full recipe is featured in my new cookbook: Aquafabulous!: 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba (Bean Water).

These are so good. Crispy and crunchy around the edges, but still soft on the inside. There is a slight sweetness from the carrots and yams, and the mango mayo is both sweet and tangy.

I dare you not to eat the entire batch. I most certainly did.

egetable fritters with mangomayo vegan gluten free

Vegetable Fritters with Mango Mayo {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium yam
  • 3 medium-large carrots
  • 6 green onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba
  • 2 tbsp vegan milk

Method:

  1. Peel all the vegetables. Grate the potato first on a box grater, and then dump the grated potato into a large bowl of cold water to soak for a few minutes while to grate up the rest of the yam and carrots.
  2. Drain the potatoes well and squeeze out as much water as possible. Add the yams and carrots and toss well together.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss. The mixture may feel loose and like it’s not binding, but you can add a little more chickpea flour if you are worried.
  4. Heat a large, cast-iron fry pan over medium-high heat, and fill up the bottom of the pan with a layer of oil about 1/2″ thick, just so the entire bottom of the pan is evenly covered. Wait until the oil is shimmery and hot.
  5. Take about 1/4 cup of batter and drop them into the hot pan. Allow them to cook and form a crust for about 3-5 minutes, then tamp them down a little with the back of your spatula. Allow to cook for another few minutes, and flip. Cook for an additional 7-10 minutes on the other side until both sides are crispy and brown around the edges.
  6. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towels, and finish with a little sprinkling of salt.
  7. To make the mango mayo: peel a very ripe mango, and cut the flesh off. Add the flesh, along with 1 tbsp of lemon juice, to a blender, and puree. Add equal parts of the mango puree to vegan mayo. Stir well, and serve as a dipping sauce for the hot fritters.

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