The week started off pretty well. Kyle and I went totally crazy at the Surdyk's wine sale. I was thinking about maybe getting six bottles, but when you're surrounded by carts filled to the brim with delicious and well-priced wine, well... you catch the fever. Since I don't often go wine shopping with my "big" camera, this iPhone shot will have to do.
Sunday night I headed to my first Gastro Non Grata. I have meant to go so many times in the past, and it never seemed to work out for me. Knowing that this week Doug Flicker would be present, I would be going come hell or high water. It did not disappoint. Though the smoked sturgeon he served was a mere amuse bouche (I ended up stuffing my face with poutine shortly thereafter), it reassured me that I need to get to Piccolo, and soon. Tune into City Pages next week to read Rachel Hutton's take on this rock-star chef.
Another highlight of Gastro Non Grata was meeting the "executive pastry lady" behind Miel y Leche Catering She warned attendees via Twitter that her surprise was going to be a bit wonky, but that's all part of the charm. Her amazing cupcakes are available at numerous locations around town, but watch out, next month she's planning to open a storefront! Cake Eater Bakery (2929 E 25th St in the Seward neighborhood) is scheduled to open for business April 5. Mark your calendar and get thee to a cupcake!
I knew I wouldn't get through Restaurant Week without going out to eat at least once, so when my BFF Claudia asked if I was up for dinner Thursday night, it was fate. I peeked at the menus of a few places she was interested in going, and Vincent's sounded right up my alley. Pork belly? Check. Duck soup? Cheese for dessert? Let's make reservations. We decided to get one each of the appetizer offerings... and were both sadly disappointed. The duck soup, which had so much promise, was comparable to a homemade chicken soup, sans noodles, with the addition of a few pieces of duck meat floating around. In one word: Fail. The pork belly, one of my favorite trendy indulgences, was mediocre at best and reminded me of pork tenderloin with a vein of fat running through it. We both opted to go with the salmon for our entree, as the chicken option was not tickling our fancy. It was good, but certainly not mind-blowing or in any way representative of what a James Beard nominee should be able to provide, even during Restaurant Week. Sigh. At least it was only $30.
Breakfast! And not just any breakfast. Breakfast made with "cream bacon" courtesy of Q-Fanatic. What the heck is cream bacon? I've been trying to find the best way to describe this earthly delight myself. Here's what I came up with: uncured pork belly that crisps up in minutes but maintains a creamy, fall-apart interior with just the slightest hint of barbecue smokiness in the background. Or simply: heaven. Then I fried my eggs in that leftover fat, and because I'm a good ol' Wisconsin girl, added Fayette Creamery Garlic Raw Milk Cheddar to the mix. And the traditional Sommers addition to breakfast, a side of refried beans. Go big or go home.