Tuesday, July 31, 2012


My trip to LA was a wonderful, fantastic blur of food, cocktails, friends, more cocktails, and more food. I have a ton to share about the places I ate and experiences I had and I will be sharing parts here as well as on the website The Daily Meal. It was fun being a tourist in a city I lived in for so long and I certainly discovered some new places during my time there. One of the most...interesting dinners I have ever had was our last hosted dinner at Wassada in Koreatown on Sunday night. By this point in the weekend, I was very tired and full from two full days of stuffing our faces. I knew what we were in for at Wassada, but I was still greeted with a bit of sensory overload. Perhaps you can see why in this video I was able to capture:

Wassada is known for serving live seafood. As far as I know, there is no menu. You choose what kind of seafood you want and for how many people and then they bring you out whatever they have made for the day. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy...well, as much as you can enjoy squirming seafood on your plate. This isn't everything that we had, but hopefully you can get a good idea of the experience from this post.

When you first sit, they bring you a spicy salad and a series of mostly forgettable banchan.

Spicy Salad

Boiled Peanuts

Then the seafood starts. They brought us two plates of octopus. One plate was quite calm, but the other plate was not so much. I was actually set to try a piece from the calm plate, but then the squirmy plate was put in front of me and I just couldn't do it. I'm not the best at chewing my food properly and knowing I would have to thoroughly chew the little buggers combined with the fact that they were practically climbing off the plate was just too much for me and I wimped out.

Live Octopus

I also opted out of the live shrimp.

Live Shrimp

But once they took the shrimp heads to the back and fried them, I was all about that seafood goodness.

Fried Shrimp Heads

They also brought out live lobster. I honestly didn't even realize this was on the table until they were taking it away to be steamed.

Live Lobster

I treated myself to a steamed lobster claw.

Steamed Lobster

We were served some of the biggest oysters I have ever seen.


As well as presented with the biggest sashimi platter I have ever seen.

Sashimi Platter

The monkfish liver was thick and smooth and went down easily (unlike the octopus in some people's case)

Monkfish Liver

I think everyone's favorite dish of the evening was the rice bowl with different types of roe, bonito flakes, and a sweet and slightly spicy sauce.

Rice Bowl with Fish Eggs

There are some other accompaniments to the meal like a platter of garlic and onions, potato and onion fritters and kimchi handrolls. I wasn't quite sure what to eat the garlic and onions with so I didn't. The potato and onion patties were nice and crisp, but lacked seasoning. The kimchi handrolls were nice and spicy and a welcome change from all of the fish.

Garlic and Onions

Onion and Potato Patties

Kimchi Handrolls

Just went I thought dinner was about to wrap up, the fried mackrel was brought to the table. I tried just a bite of the crispy fried fish and the accompanying baked clam casserole.

Fried Mackerel

I had a few spoonfuls of the spicy fish soup. It was quite comforting and reminded me of something my mom used to make whenever I got sick as a kid.

Spicy Fish Stew

There was also a burnt rice soup which I think was meant as a palate cleanser, but was just unpleasant. Again this dinner was overwhelming mostly because of all of the food I had consumed prior, but also because everything comes out really, really fast and it is hard to keep track of what is what. Wassada is a fun experience that everyone should try at least once. There are many braver souls than me that have tried the live seafood and lived to tell the tale. Plus, who can beat those bragging rights?

377 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 464-3006

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Tin Roof Ice Cream (Birthday) Cake

Tin Roof Ice Cream Cake

Today is my favorite day of the year. As a single woman, there are very few days to celebrate just me. I love celebrating my birthday. Whether it’s going out for fried chicken and beer with a few friends, to going out to dinner and a movie with just myself, I always find a way to make my birthday fun for me. Despite a recent setback, I am still going to make the most of it. Today I am heading on a plane to Los Angeles to escape the heat and humidity of Chicago (never thought I would say that). I’m going for a press trip for dineLA, but I am also going to squeeze in as much time with friends as possible. It will be weird to be a tourist in a city I lived in for ten years, but it should be a fun weekend and I am so excited. For my birthday, I normally bake a cake or cupcakes, but this year the thought of turning on the oven frankly, scares the crap out of me. Thankfully, there is ice cream cake, which is fun and easy to assemble and requires no oven. It has the addictive peanut butter and chocolate combination and the salty peanuts put it over the top. This recipe comes from Aida Mollenkamp’s fantastic blog and can be found here

Tin Roof Ice Cream Cake

One year ago: Thirty One
Two years ago: Dirty Thirty
Three years ago: Root Beer Cupcakes
Four years ago: Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Favorite Summer No Cook Recipes

The recent heat wave has left me with little to no desire to cook. I can't bare the thought of spending time in the kitchen right now, so I either order in, go out, or eat something like a banana and a cold glass of wine and call it dinner. However, you need not resort to such drastic extremes to come up with a great meal. Here are some great recipes that require no cooking time and can be prepared with minimal effort:

This peach and tomato salad with burrata is like summer on a plate. Juicy peaches and tomatoes are paired with creamy burrata and a basil oil to highlight all the fresh and light flavors.

Peach-Tomato Salad with Burrata

I have been known to eat an entire cantaloupe in one sitting. However, instead of displaying that particular talent, how about trying it in this refreshing salad. With a bit of salty prosciutto and fresh mint, you will feel cooled down in no time.

Cantaloupe and Bocconcini Salad with Mint

It's hard to play favorites with summer produce, but I think tomatoes are at the top of my list. I love this bright salad with different types of tomatoes paired with spicy arugula.

Mixed Tomato Salad

I don't normally like cold soups, but this gazpacho is kind of irresistible. It's tangy and fresh and filling as well.


Keeping all of the ingredients ready in my fridge makes these Mediterranean-style turkey wraps a snap to prepare when I get home from work. When I get home from the market I spend a little extra time slicing everything so I can have dinner in minutes.

Mediterranean-Style Turkey Wrap

At the end of a meal, you may still want a sweet treat. Here is a great no-bake option with sweet figs, creamy ricotta, and crunchy pistachios.

Figs with Ricotta and Pistachios

My "signature" drink a couple of summers ago was this watermelon cucumber cocktail. With or without the booze, it is one of the most refreshing ways to cool down quick.

Watermelon Cucumber Cocktail

Are you like me and avoid the kitchen when it is hot, or do you ignore it and press on? I would love to hear about some of your favorite ways to beat the heat so leave them in the comments!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Peasantry

My friend Andy was recently in town for an extremely brief visit. However, in less than twenty-four hours, we managed to cram in some insanely good eats. We started at The Peasantry, a relatively new restaurant by the owners of Franks 'NDawgs just a short walk from my apartment. The Peasantry calls their cuisine “elevated street food”. It’s fun and affordable in a very relaxed setting.

 The Peasantry

There is a selection of gyros on the menu, but none resemble the street meat I ate several times on the streets of Mykonos. The baby octopus gyro ($11) comes out more like a flatbread and filled with tender hunks of grilled baby octopus, house-made chorizo and a fingerling potato and grape gremolata.  In spite of the meat and potatoes, the dish feels light with the impossibly delicious octopus.

Baby Octopus Gyro

One of the specials of the day was the curried flatbread ($11). It came topped with a light curry sauce, thinly sliced pears and radishes, arugula, and two sunny side up eggs. As well as being pretty, it was delicious. The curry had just the slightest hint of heat and paired well with the sweet and crunchy pears and the drippy egg yolk.

Curried Flatbread

The dish that impressed the most was the duck burger ($14).  It is a duck and coriander burger with apricot and orange marmalade, mustard greens and a tarragon and foie gras torchon. It was full of orange flavor and was perfectly cooked. The foie gras didn’t add any additional texture, but provided the burger with an intense richness that we all appreciated.

Duck Burger

The pasta in the rabbit pasta ($15) was house-made and perfectly al dente. The tender pieces of rabbit were nice, but the wine used for the sauce was too light and fruity. A heartier wine would have made this dish a winner.

Rabbit Pasta

We couldn't resist an order of triple truffle fries ($6). Waffle fries are not usually my jam, but with truffle butter, truffle salt, and truffle salt, these were impossible to pass up. 

Triple Truffle Fries

We saved a little room for dessert. The macadamia nut crusted churros ($6) are served with a white chocolate and hibiscus anglaise sauce. The bright hibiscus cuts through the sweetness of the white chocolate and there was a light fresh crunch in the churros.

Macadamia Nut Churros with White Chocolate and Hibiscus Anglaise Sauce

I am thrilled that The Peasantry was as good as I had heard and I am so happy that it is so close so I can stop in any night I am too lazy to cook…which in this crazy heat we have had, seems to be all the time.

The Peasantry 
2725 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 868-4888

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