Let the Feasting Begin

Somehow, the past week’s calendar was crammed with social gatherings and tons of food and wine.

The tone for the week was set when a bunch of friends from Chicago, Chapter One, gathered. I.e. friends from before I left for Singapore and returned. In the intervening years, that old group has mostly disbanded, with Wendy in LA, Bruce in SF, Donny in NYC, Pauline in Santa Cruz etc. We haven’t kept up as much in contact as we might have with those still in the city. But with Donny and Wendy visiting, it was a good excuse to gather together again for some good food and wine.

Macku Sushi delivered that. A bunch of us chose the omakase menu, while the others chose alacarte. On hindsight, that might not have been the best idea since those without the set menu were done halfway through our multiple courses. But their creamy and nutty white asparagus soup was something special, and the sashimi and truffles were killer. Definitely a place to revisit.

The next evening, I caught up with Y and R at Sai Cafe – round 2 of 3 Japanese meals for the week!

Friday evening saw us with Eric and a new friend, John, at Bonsoiree, where the chef Shin Thompson was testing out recipes for his new restaurant in the south loop. The restaurant now offers a limited wine list, but is happily still BYOB, so we brought three of our own bottles to share (we brought a bottle of Carlisle Dry Creek Valley Zin from 2009 – intense, fruity, and smooth). Mmm. One of the standout dishes of the evening was the huge scallop cooked in an omelette – it reminded me somewhat of the zi char omelette we’d get at hawker centers or seafood restaurants in Singapore. I loved the kabocha squash and fuji apple soup with a slab of foie gras and seared trout. It was so soul-warming for a winter’s night! And nobody could find fault with the 60-hour wagyu short rib capped with stringy pommes frites. The beef was buttery and literally melted in our mouths.

Saturday, we caught up with Tracey and Roger at Union Sushi, their favorite restaurant in the city; not hard to see why as their cocktails are absolutely delicious! We arrived at 530, in time for their happy hour specials of $1 oysters and $2 tender beef cube skewers. It’s a great deal! We could have easily filled up on that, plus a couple – maybe 3 – of those cocktails. We did leave plenty of room to taste the other dishes though – including a yummy donut dessert that arrive hot and puffy and you broke apart to let clouds of eggnog cream slowly ooze out. Mmmmmmmmm.

We continued the evening at the R’s new house with a couple bottles of wine, including one of the Grant Burge 2002 that we had lugged home from Singapore.

The festivities continued Sunday afternoon, when Aileen and Sue came over to work on our bag project. We feasted on the refreshing watermelon feta salad and hot guacamole that Jeff had made, washed down with some stout he picked up from an impromptu tasting at WholeFoods.

In the evening, we met up with a new friend, Dot, whom a mutual friend in China introduced via email. It turns out, we have plenty of mutual friends in common – including my brother! Heh! It was another fun evening of great food (the squid ink pasta with crab meat and uni never disappoints, and we were impressed by the brussels sprout pizza), good wine (a Barbera d’Alba), and conversation.

But whew. I seriously need to detox Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before we descend on Thanksgiving food madness!!!


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