Po Restaurant

>> Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What I love about my real job is that it affords me the luxury of living in one of my favorite cities and visiting my all-time favorite city, New York. Not to mention the fact that some of my co-workers are serious foodies and give me great suggestions of new places to try like Po (thanks Megan!). Po is a quaint little place in the heart, and I mean heart, of the West Village. Tucked away on the adorable Cornelia street this tiny eatery boasts fresh Italian cuisine. According to their website most of their ingredients are hand delivered to the restaurant from the surrounding shops. With such greats as Murray's Cheese, Amy's Bread etc. near by, you know you are in for a treat.

I was meeting my two dear friends and serious foodies, Maggie and Brad. Before trying out a new restaurant I always feel a tinge of pressure - what if it's not good? Do I pretend I hate it so I don't look like a fool or take it down in flames with me? Lucky for me this was not a problem at Po.

I was greeted by a warm host who offered to take my bag and my jacket immediately (a big deal in the North, especially for me because I hate feeling bulky and bad service). I walked quickly to the back of the restaurant where Maggie and Brad has already ordered the white bean bruschetta. The creamy white beans and the tang of the fruity olive oil was a big hit with my taste buds. Not to mention the bread was chewy and delicious.

After several minutes of debate we all decided on our main courses. All three of us opted for something different:

  • Renee: Pappardelle with duck confit ragu
  • Maggie: Porcini Crusted Cod, borlotti beans, kale and Sweet red pepper vinaigrette
  • Brad: Braised Short Rib soft polenta and sweet carrots
Honestly, everything was perfection. I am a big fan of a salty and sweet combination and my pasta was giving me just that. The salty duck with the sweet pasta made for a very rich and hearty dish. I was full about half way through, but it was so good I pushed through the pain and finished the entire dish. There really is nothing better than fresh, homemade pasta.  Maggie's porcini cod echoed the same flavors of salty and sweet, with the salty porcinis on the sweet cod mixed with bitter kale and sweet red pepper vinaigrette.  Brad's braised short rib dish was a very full and robust dish. The meat was sincerely sliding off the bones and was so tender no knife was needed. The polenta was so creamy and meshed perfectly with the meat. For me the carrots were a nice side note, but definitely not the star. 

Probably the best part of the meal was receiving the check and having sticker shock - but in a good way. For all three of us to eat this fabulous meal with appetizers, entrees, and several glasses of wine was about $40 a person; unheard of by New York standards. Po will be my new go-to restaurant when people ask me for amazing Italian in the city. 

31 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014 


Green City Market

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green City Market - Fall 2009 by greencitymarket.

For me, I always associated farmer's markets with spring, summer and fall; so basically just not winter. When I moved to Chicago I was so excited to try out the Green City Market. Having heard so much about it and seen the bounty of produce on shows such as Top Chef, I knew this would not be a regular's farmer's market. However, I moved in the middle of fall with a swift (and I do mean SWIFT) transition into winter, I feared that I would not be able to taste fresh produce for a while. So you can imagine my pure delight when I learned that the Green City Market extends through all seasons and in fact provides an inside facility near my apartment in the winter!! Just pure elation.

Over the past few weeks, I have purchased a wide variety of root vegetables, breads, meats, poultry. Tried cheeses from all over the Midwest and had the delight of meeting the proud farmers and producers of these great products. While it is only every two week the Green City Market is often the highlight of most of my weekends.

The market goes beyond just a traditional produce stand; it offers chef demos, recipes, scholarships and volunteering efforts etc. Check out their entire list of programs here.

If you are in Chicago, this is one event that should not be missed. Even if you are here on vacation - it's a great way to taste the local produce and learn more about the Midwest.

Their logo reads "Fresh. Local. Delicious." I couldn't agree more. For dates, locations etc. check out their website here. You can also follow them on twitter here or look at their pretty pictures on Flickr.


Happy Birthday DAD!!!

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday to my dear OLD Dad :) He turns 51 one today and just got a great report on his health and we couldn't be happier! 


Food Reviews by My Cousin

Check out the video below featuring my lovely cousin Dory, dishing about three delicious recipes. She has a great expressive face and not very good at lying, so you know these products are good :)



Valentine's Day Revisited

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day is one of those days that I am ambivalent about. Single or in a relationship who cares? All I know is that on this day that everyone feels they need to be flamboyant about their love I would rather stay in and be with people I care about. With that said I have pulled some recipes (old and new) that I think will go perfectly on this day and at the end a special dessert that will put you in a food coma :)


  • Truffled Mushroom Bruschetta - this recipe is still one of my favorites and a definite crowd pleaser. While this is a little heavier, it's a perfect start to any meal.
  • Ricotta and Honey Toast - this recipe is essentially a lighter version of the one above. They both involve ricotta (one of my favorites) and toast, however this will start you off more on the sweet than the savory side. 
  • Butternut Squash Ravioli - the brown butter sauce over the smooth, light raviolis still makes my mouth water. This is staple in my kitchen when I have guests over or in from out of town. It's fairly easy and always delivers.
  • The Perfect Sirloin - while this isn't the most "exciting" thing that I have to offer, it's incredible good. The technique and flavors are simple, but when you have a good cut of meat you don't need any more. I love this recipe! 


So this is a recipe that I was inspired to create by something I saw in Bon Appetit. Thier recipe look good and intense. I wanted to take is down a bit and just concentrate on the flavors. After one successful attempt I created the blackberry jam and lemon ice cream masterpiece...

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pint of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 container of blackberries
  • 1 cup watter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Graham crackers (optional)

Listen. This is pretty straight forward and bottom line, look at those ingredients. Can you really mess this up? If you can I would like to know because everything on that list is sheer heaven. Sugar, ice cream, blackberries - COME ON!

Let the ice cream become soft and transfer to a bowl. Add the zest and juice of one lemon to the ice cream and mix together. Place the ice cream back in the freezer. 

On the stove add one cup of water and one cup of sugar. Keep stirring the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in your container of blackberries (after rinsing of course) and then bring the entire mixture to a boil. 

Once the mixture has started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring every few minutes or so until the "jam" has reached your desired consistency (I like to let mine simmer for an hour).

After your delicious meal, take a scoop of ice cream and a hefty spoonful of our blackberry mixture and create a sundae. Crumble graham crackers on top and there you have it - the dessert that is so good you won't be able to move afterwards.

No matter what you do, I hope you have a wonderful weekend with whoever you spend it with :)   


Lito's Empanadas

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

I recently ventured out into the blustery cold and tried this local neighborhood eatery, Lito's Empanadas. Not knowing much about empanadas I knew I would be up for an adventure (they kind of reminded me of big deep fried dumplings or a really awesome hot pocket - so what's not to like?).

Walking into Lito's I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and open the restaurant was. It reminded me of the little shops in New York that are just barely big enough to hold 10 people (this Caracas Arepas) with a counter in the front and clear shot to the kitchen in the back.

After speaking with the kind person taking my order I decided to try three of their most popular items:

  • BBQ Chicken - slow cooked chicken with potatoes
  • Beef - ground beef, olives, raisins, potatoes, tomato, onion
  • Chicken champion - chicken, and cheese, with sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes and onions
In order for me to fairly review this I had do some research about this little treat - I mean sure it tasted good but is that how it's suppose to taste? Empanadas started in the Spain/Portugal region but their influence has spread across Europe and South America. Empanadas come from the Spanish verb empanar meaning "to wrap" so an empanda is a filling wrapped in bread or dough (look at us learning!) Each region has their own personalized fillings and essentially use the dough and technique as a blank canvas.The empandas I had were from the Colombian, and feature the staples of ground beef, shredded chicken and potatoes.

Through my learnings a empanada should have a light, flaky crust and should proportionate to the fillings. Lito's did just this. The BBQ chicken was very sweet and tangy and when combine with the Lito's homemade hot sauce it was as an amazing combination (I love spicy and sweet!). I will have to say that the beef was the least favorite of the three. I felt like the filling kept falling out and it was too much beef to the other components. Don't get me wrong - it was good and I ate it, I think I would have liked a little more potato and onion. Finally, the champion chicken, and what a champion it was. The cheese, the mushrooms, the tomatoes, all of it just blended so well leaving my tummy so full and happy.

Lito's makes all of their empanadas daily so you know you are getting a top quality product. Even better - one empanada will run you about $2.50, I mean, can you beat that? I ordered three and still had left overs for a little snack. If you are ever in the Lincoln Park area I would definitely suggest you check it out.

Lito's Empanada
2566 N. Clark
Chicago, IL 60614



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