If you’ve read my SWEET page, you’ll know that I am a “foodie.” I subscribe to food blogs – Seattle’s Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, Alberta’s Dinner with Julie, and NYC’s Smitten Kitchen, I’m a Slow Food member, and my favourite shopping excursions are to local food markets (and I don’t mean Safeway). My most memorable occasions are marked by the food I’ve prepared, eaten, shared. And a dream is to eat every meal al fresco for at least 4 consecutive months of the year, without wasps, mosquitoes, flies, wind and thunderstorms.
The Scientist and I discovered “paradise” just down the street within hours of arriving in Chicago, Fox & Obel Food Market. Shelves and counters abound with wonderful food of every description, most of which is fresh, all of which is delicious and wholesome. The Scientist, on a mission to find me a healthy and tasty yogurt for breakfast, struck gold discovering the best in the world, no fat, all naturally flavoured and sweetened yogurt – Siggi’s (some of you are no doubt smiling) – based on the Icelandic skyr style. Rich and thick like its distant Greek cousin, I feel I’ve been transported to Santorini as I savour a cup of either the acai, grapefruit, blueberry, orange ginger or pomagranate-passion fruit flavours. That’s how I started my first ever Monday in Chicago… and we struck gold again with dinner.
Our “longest” friend and champion for my culinary adventures, C, tapped into his Seattle network for restaurant recommendations. A friend of a friend of a friend, who lives here in Chicago, offered several, including her favourite, SEPIA. In the meantime, we’d invited long time friends, here too from Edmonton attending the same professional conference, to join us for dinner. Her friend of a friend insisted on – low and behold – SEPIA.
Closed to the public last evening to celebrate its 3rd anniversary in collaboration with Slow Food Chicago, Sepia magically secured a table for our party of five (our friends and their lovely daughter) in a private little room…thankful as the noise level grow with every sip of the “high octane” cocktail that greeted each guest upon arrival.
Dinner was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, exquisitely prepared and plated, every taste and sip an even more exquisite rendering of paradise. Quoting from the evening’s menu: “this five-course meal, prepared by Chef Andrew Zimmerman showcases seasonal ingredients from local farmers and is paired with small production wines” from all over the world. Voila…the Chef’s beautifully written course descriptions accompanied by my “work in progress” food shots:
Carpaccio of Confit Octopus – watermelon, cucumber, sesame, kimchi, served with NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs, New Mexico
Ratatouille Tart – roasted zucchini, sweet peppers, eggplant marmalade, prairie fruits farm chevre, parmigiano sable, served with 2007 Ermacora Sauvignon, Colli Orientali del Friuli
Pan Roasted California White Bass – three sisters’ sweet corn, chanterelles, bacon, fine herbs, served with 2004 Chablis Mont de Milieu 1er, Maison Verget
Lamb Loin Wrapped in Cured Lamb Belly – lamb neck bisteeya, vadouvan, pistachio, served with 1999 Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley
White Chocolate Marscapone Tart – cherry raspberry compote, lemon verbena syrup, buttermilk ice cream, served with 2009 Elio Perrone Bigaro Moscato/Brachetto, Piedmont
And the final morsels of magic… tiny madeleines and chocolates.
And who said there are no fairy godmothers….