You certainly don’t have to be British to like the idea of afternoon tea. What’s not to like about an afternoon snack of finger sandwiches, scones with jam or lemon curd and Devonshire cream, small cakes and cookies, and a pot of freshly brewed tea? Perhaps enjoyed with gossipy friends in an elegant hotel lobby or upscale restaurant? Just the sight of that three-tiered display of mouthwatering goodies makes it easy to imagine yourself trading witty bon mots in the library on Downton Abbey, or as a character in a Jane Austen novel or a Merchant-Ivory film.
Talk & Eat is a round-up of memorable dining experiences, perfect meals, and new and good eats around town from our guest bloggers, Tweets and Facebook posts that take you behind-the-scenes of Check, Please!, and weekly tips about what’s on the show this week.
“Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.”
— “Thanksgiving Song” (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Anyone who has ever prepared or partaken of a Thanksgiving dinner probably has a funny story about the experience – thigh-slapping tales of leaving the plastic bag of innards inside the turkey while it roasted, the family dog stealing the bird from the kitchen counter, the oven catching on fire, a crucial ingredient forgotten, etc. Perhaps you frantically dialed the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line so the dinner could be salvaged, or maybe you avoided the trauma altogether and gratefully decamped to a restaurant to let someone else do the cooking.
Japanese whiskey at Arami
Hello! This week on the show we take you to sample Japanese and Nepalese cuisine and even stop by one of POTUS’s favorite spots (Valois) when he’s in town! Our stops are Arami in West Town, Chicago Curry House in South Loop, and Valois in Hyde Park. I spoke with Ty Fujimura who is the owner of Arami, as well as a certified sake professional. He gives some guidance on how to have a fantastic dining experience at Arami, choose sake for you meal, and gives his advice on sake bombs.
A traditional Swedish smörgåsbord
“A fair is a veritable schmorgasbord, orgasbord, orgasbord” – Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
Merriam-Webster defines smorgasbord as “an often large heterogeneous mixture.”
The term, as it relates to food, comes from the Swedish smörgås (open sandwich) + bord (table). Its origins, as described by Kitchn, “are found in the upper class of 14th century Sweden where a small spread of bread, butter, and cheese was offered before mealtime. The smorgasbord grew to include meats, both hot and cold, and at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm it officially became the main meal instead of an appetizer. Its components generally include “herring, salmon, sliced meats, cheeses, boiled vegetables, and breads, while sweets range from fresh berries to pastries to porridge and jams.”
Buttered chicken at Wicker Park's Pub Royale
Hello! I’m just back from London, and pub and Indian food are still fresh on my mind! So this week I spoke with chef Nate Tano and beverage director Michael McAvena of Pub Royale, the anglo-indian pub in Wicker Park that was named one of Bon Appetit’s 50 best new restaurants across the country.
Mi Vit Tiem noodle soup from Thithi's in Evergreen Park
Merriam-Webster defines “fusion” as “a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole.” There’s nuclear fusion, spinal fusion, jazz fusion, and this: “food prepared using techniques and ingredients of two or more ethnic or regional cuisines.” Two of the restaurants reviewed on Check, Please! – Wicker Park’s Pub Royale (Anglo-Indian) and Thithi’s in Evergreen Park (Vietnamese-French-Thai), are prime examples of this trend, along with the previously featured de Quay in Lincoln Park (Dutch-Indonesian).
Matthias Merges, Chef & Owner of Hyde Park's A10 in Chicago
Hello! We visit A10 in Hyde Park, JAM in Logan Square, and Taste of Thai Town in Albany Park, and I was excited to talk with Chef Matthias Merges, who gained recognition as former executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s and has since become an award-winning restauranteur in his own right. Matthias adhered to and promoted farm-to-table principles long before they became ubiquitous in the industry. We chatted about opening his first restaurant on Chicago’s South Side and he shared recipes that are sure to take your Thanksgiving entertaining from simple to spectacular.
Malted Custard French Toast at Lincoln Square's JAM restaurant in Chicago
If there was ever a word that could make you forget that Monday morning is lurking right around the corner, it’s brunch. Yes, that convivial, starch-and-protein-laden repast that allows you to sit back, indulge, enjoy the company of friends and family in a cozy atmosphere, and recharge for the week ahead. And just maybe, dull the aftereffects of the night before.
Nasi Goreng at de Quay
Hey Chicago! What an exciting week it has been for us. Go Cubbies! In this week’s episode, we visit de Quay in Lincoln Park – on the only Dutch-Indonesian restaurant in Chicago. I spoke to David de Quay, executive chef and owner of de Quay, to learn more about what he’s cooking up at his spot and some tips for navigating the menu. And General Manager and Wine director Terry McNeese and Beverage Director Noel Catrambone chime in with some must-try beverage recommendations.