visit from california

11:22 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

i have been slacking a lil bit with my entries. i promise i'll do better.

last weekend was uber awesome. my girl friends visited me from california for memorial day weekend and it was their first time in chi-town. there was so much things to do but so lil time to do it. so quick update about the weekend fun (i might delve in more details in my upcoming post about the visit)

saturday| downtown evanston was in the itinerary
01| arrival in the afternoon
02| visit to the vietnamese town, argyle for some roast duck (for dinner) and some asian pastries for snacks
03| exploring downtown evanston armed with a big cup of tapioca freeze from joy yee's
04| i cooked dinner for them - menu: wanton noodles, vegetable soup, marinated chicken and roast duck

sunday| i planned a day for downtown chicago
01| a trip down to downtown chicago via the 'L'
02| gino's east deep dish pizza for brunch
03| walking along magnificient mile for photos
04| chicago mix popcorn from garrett's
05| multiple stops at starbucks coffee (there seems to be one every few blocks or so)
06| cloud gate (or what i would call as beanie) at millenium park for picture taking
07| was planning to go to xoco but our plans were foiled cos they are closed on sunday and monday (i was a sad panda)
08| john hancock tower for the view of the city
09| thai sook dee for a thai dinner
10| whole foods for dessert. my friends were "craving for some cake" (more like plotting a plan - look at 12)
11| quick tour around campus and a quick stop to enjoy the lake
12| my surprise bday party (about a month earlier but i was definitely surprised)
13| what girls do best - catching up (you can call it gossip if you want)

monday| departure :(
their flight was scheduled for sometime pretty early in the morning. we made a pit stop at einstein bagels for some breakfast on the go. i miss them girls already :/

the weather throughout the weekend was amazing although i would have liked a lot more breeze under the warm sun. definitely not complaining though cos it was bright and sunny and beautiful - great weather to explore the city. my friends told me that it was warmer here than it was in california when they left. hehe. :)

anyway, in the food scene i've mentioned a few things i was going to try to make in my previous posts. 

one| seafood gumbo
i took no part in making this instead the cook of the day was ryan. we already had some ready made roux from louisiana in the pantry and i was too lazy too cook that day. we also had a bag of frozen boiled crawfish tails in the freezer and added some frozen shrimp into the mix to make yummy and awesome seafood gumbo.

the color of the gumbo was great and in my opinion tasted authentic, just like how his mom makes it. i gave some to my friends who had never had them before to try and one of them liked it but the other thought it was fishy. i think he probably meant the strong, intense flavor of the crawfish cos it was the predominant taste that i could recognize. but it is also the reason i love the seafood gumbo. i like seafood in general and i thought the gumbo was yummy in my tummy. i did request for some okra to be added but ryan was afraid that it may make the gumbo too thick so we decided to leave it out this time around.

two| burgers

the idea to make burgers two weeks ago came along when i was shopping for ingredients for my "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwich at fox&obel. i bought some really amazing burger buns from there since ryan loves it a ton but i didn't actually have burgers in mind then. i wanted to make the slow cooker brisket sandwiches and thought these buns would be perfect to soak up all the gravy. we had to postpone the brisket sandwich plan for a bit since i had other things i'd like to make first and so instead, we purchased some ground beef and made us some burgers.

it would have been much better with a fire grill but we put them on the foreman grill since that was the closest thing to the grill. we found a bobby flay recipe online we were interested in trying: hamburger with double cheddar cheese, grilled vidalia onion and horseradish mustard. we kinda modified the recipe to what we had in our pantry. we had the patties (not seasoned as called for in the recipe), purchased some actually very awesome cheddar cheese, had some vidalia onions in the pantry and substituted horseradish mustard with ramoulade sauce (well in my case it was sweet baby ray's bbq sauce). i also added some sauteed mushroom with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and made some caramelized vidalia onions on top of the grilled ones.

my idea of an awesome, ideal burger is crispy but soft warm bun, grilled to perfection patties (crust on the outside and juicy on the inside), topped with caramelized/grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, melted cheese, crispy bacon and the optional bbq sauce. this attempt of burger was not ideal nor perfect but it was close. it had everything except the bacon and the patties didn't have the crust i was looking for but it was juicy in the middle. i had bbq sauce on the side for dipping so i could take bites with or without the bbq sauce. it had a balance of flavor from the savoriness of the cheddar cheese, the sweetness of the vidalia onions and the combination of textures of bun, mushroom and cheese along with the meat. just talking about it is making my mouth water. haha.

three| grilled cheese sandwich
this will be covered in my next post :) watch out for my update!