Summer Travels

Kids, this has been a busy summer. And I mean that in the best possible way.

First there was Chicago in June, then NYC for a week in July, followed by two back-to-back wedding weekends in Panorama, B.C. and Ottawa.

Consequently, there has been very little cooking or baking in the Patent and the Pantry kitchen. Luckily, there has been some amazing eating in all these great cities. And I thought I would share some of the highlights.

I’m going to be honest here, there aren’t photos of every meal because I kind of just enjoyed having a few meals with no camera in tow, savouring bites without worrying about natural light and flash and angles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that I do love to photograph food, but, occasionally, I just want to be in the moment of a fine meal.

Chicago

This was never a city high on my list of places to go, but when a friend moved there I was happy to have a chance to travel to a new town. And then I fell in love with the Windy City, owing, I’m sure, in no small part to the oh-so-good eating I had there during my first trip in February. When the chance came to head there again in June, I jumped at it.

I was eager to have another dinner at Avec. And I was equally eager to try out a few new places. Luckily, my friend Suzi always has good suggestions, including a trip to Franks n’ Dawgs, a neat little joint that takes the humble hot dog to a brand new level. Think bratwurst with sauteed morels, a beef and curry sausage with orange marmalade and raisin slaw, and andouille with gumbo sauce. And, people, they do truffle waffle fries. Seriously. *Drool*

We had the Lamb Keema, a “Middle Eastern lamb sausage with English peas, cucumber salad, caramelized pearl onions and Socca strips.”

Lamb Keema hot dog

It was fantastic; my favourite of the hot dog trio we sampled.

Still, the others were pretty good too.

This was the Turdoggen: a turkey and date sausage with crispy duck confit, herb garlic aioli, house pickled onion relish and pickled carrots.

Frank n' Dawgs hot dog

and this was a Kobe beef Italian sausage topped with the restaurant’s marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, caramelized portabella mushrooms and basil.

Pizza dog

But, did I mention the truffle waffle fries? Yeah. Seriously.

On another sunny afternoon, we headed to The Purple Pig, another small plates establishment, this one on the Magnificent Mile. They basically had me when I saw we could have pork fried almonds with rosemary and garlic. With a glass of rose (which I drank pretty much exclusively while in Chicago; such a perfect wine for hot summer afternoons!), I also chowed down on salt-roasted beets with whipped goat cheese and a pistachio vinaigrette, a dish of asparagus and snap peas, as well as a cheese plate.

For dinner one night we had pizza from Great Lake, a very odd little restaurant with almost no seating and a somewhat perplexing service system. When we went to order from the limited list of ingredients (owing to them using only local and fresh ingredients, which I can’t really criticize), each ingredient we asked for was “sold out.” That said, the pizza was fantastic. We ate it sitting at a park bench outside in the dark with some cans of pop purchased from the corner store. I don’t think we spoke for a full 10 minutes except to exchange “mmmmmms.”

Ok, it wasn’t all eating. We did take an architectural boat tour one hot afternoon, taking in the stunning buildings along Chicago’s river. The architecture in this city is stunning and well worth a boat tour if anyone is heading there in the summer months.

Chicago skyline

Chicago architecture

On the last day, just a few hours before flying out, we went to the Art Insititute of Chicago to wander around in the modern art wing. But first, a little more eating. This time at the Terzo Piano, the institute’s restaurant also in the modern wing. It’s a lovely, bright, airy room with a fairly impressive menu. But, well, I just couldn’t stay away from the idea of the burger trio: one shrimp, one beef, one lamb. They weren’t fabulous, but they weren’t terrible.

On the other hand, the bread that came before lunch was fantastic. And I loved the presentation of serving it with unsalted butter, flaked salt and parmesan crisps. That, with another glass of rose, was my favourite part.

Bread, butter, salt

Rose in the afternoon

New York City

Owing to some very good luck, I was able to head to NYC for a week to stay with my friend Julie in a Soho apartment. It was hotter than all get-out and the humidity meant I had to finally give up on wearing my bangs down, but it was an excellent trip. Due, in no small part, to the fact that Julie was willing to try out a lot of the restaurants I had on my list.

Like Shake Shack.

What? Please, everyone who reads this blog by now knows I have an undying love of burgers. As if I was going to go to New York and not go to this famous burger joint. Pshaw.

I spent the morning in Central Park, checking out Bethesda Fountain, the Ramble and then lying in the grass at the edge of the great lawn to read under a blue sky. And then it was off to meet up at Shake Shack for a cheeseburger, krinkle-cut fries and a lemonade, all eaten sitting on a bench across the street.
Shake Shack burger

We went to Momofuku twice, though only the Noodle Bar owing to the fact that I really wanted to try a few dishes and, hey, when is the next time I’m going to have a chance to go there? The first night we had the scallion-ginger noodles, sauteed corn with potatoes and the dreamiest, mouth watering-est pork buns. Slabs of rich pork belly stuffed into a pillowy soft steamed bun with scallions and hoisin sauce. If I wasn’t so full at the end of that meal, I would have ordered more of those. They were definitely the best part of that dinner, though the noodles were a close second.

The next time I had the ramen, which was also delicious. Though I have to say that I had some fantastic ramen when I lived in Japan. This time we tried the chicken buns and they weren’t bad but the pork buns remain my favourite. In fact, my mouth is watering a little bit right now just remember them.

New York was a lot about the desserts too.

We had Magnolia cupcakes.

My cupcake

And made a trip to the Momofuku milk bar where Julie agreed that we needed to buy the Franken Pie. That’s two pieces of each of their four types of pie, clockwise from the top: cinnamon bun pie with a cheesecake filling; grasshopper pie with mint cheesecake and brownie filling; Momofuku’s signature Crack Pie ®, kind of like butter tart but none of those pesky raisins; and the candy bar pie that has a chocolate crust, caramel, peanut butter nougat and a pretzel.
Momofuku Franken Pie

Crack Pie

I know Crack Pie is what Momofuku is known for, but I was completely won over by the candy bar pie, which was the perfect combination of salty and sweet and oh-so rich.

To cap off the week, we had a decadent afternoon tea at the Plaza. This was absolutely luxurious. The setting was stunning, the service lovely and the food delicious.

Menu

Ceiling in Knife I

Cucumber Sandwich I

Pastries

Of course, it wasn’t all eating… there were shoes that needed to be bought!

So, I’ll share two pairs that are my faves from the trip.

Some Betsey Johnson satin, leopard-print platform peeps:

IMGP3757

And these beauties from Kate Spade that were
a) red platform peeps
b) 50 per cent off
and, perhaps most importantly, c) their style name was Gwen.
That, my friends, is what I call shoe fate.

Kate Spade shoes

Anyone interested in checking out more photos from either of the trips can feel free to check out my flickr.

  7 comments for “Summer Travels

  1. August 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    oh my god, the pies! i sort of want to make crack pie at home, but i can’t get past having to bake up a batch of oatmeal cookies…and then crumble them up for the crust.

    i’ve just googled for the candy bar pie recipe with no luck!

  2. August 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Our first meal at Momofuku was one of my favourites in NYC. Those pork buns were amazing!

  3. Sandi
    August 23, 2010 at 4:13 am

    I love fancy food, unfancy food and everything in between but those dogs and burgers have me drooling…that and those red shoes! Hot cha cha!!!

  4. Chris Lavelle
    August 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Gwendolyn, such a pleasure your site is… I see we have quite a bit in common from beyond love of food/wine… and a snappy delivery. Just started looking through the blog… but I’m very much enjoying it. You’ve a clever and refreshing way with words… rather like that feta-watermelon salad. I definitely explore you more.

    Chris

  5. Kim T
    June 15, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I love shoe fate experiences!

  6. September 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    If you are ever in Chicago again and want an amazing meal, try Alinea. It may be pricy but it has 3 Michelin Stars and the chef, Grant Achatz is a genius. Although I have never been there myself, I would still recommend it!

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