Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Postcards from Bunny: Martha Stewart at Macy's

One of the downsides to Bunny's constant traveling is that there isn't always to cook for her and her husband.  "Even if there is a kitchen available, there's not always a lot of access to bowls, pans, and utensils in the middle of a dinosaur dig!" she says of her experiences trying to cook while on location at her husbands' archaeology sites.  Maybe this is why when Brandy informed her that the legendary Martha Stewart was going to be premiering her new cookbook, One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More, at Macy's on State Street, Bunny hopped on the first flight back to Chicago in order to attend.

Bunny has always idolized Martha Stewart, as do many crafty hopefuls, entertaining novices, cooking hobbyists, and home decor mavens all over the world for her classic style and easy-to-follow tips.  "There may not be a single person in America who doesn't know who she is, and with good reason!" as Bunny told her neighbor at the demo, "There may be those who pretend to not know her, but those people are only doing so because they want everyone else to believe that the hors d'oeuvres at their last party were their recipes and not hers...Ok, I may have done that once or twice."  

Luckily for Bunny, Macy's ran a promotion in which shoppers who bought $75 worth of Martha Stewart kitchen wares were given a free copy of the cookbook before it's official release (which is on Tuesday, September 23rd), so Bunny spent a good deal of time debating whether she wanted to get one of the beautifully colored enamel Dutch Ovens, the extra deep skillet, the non stick frying pans, or the gorgeous roasting pan.  "I'm leaning towards the Dutch oven, I think.  They may be a tad on the heavy side, but one should never travel without a Dutch Oven.  You never know when they'll come in handy for a spontaneous casserole!" Bunny explained.

As Martha herself entered the demo kitchen, a waft of sauteing bacon accompanied her, as if signaling to the crowd that she was there to take care of them.  She began by whipping up a wonderfully hearty Corn Chowder with Bacon and Shrimp in one of her stock pots.  As she prepared the soup, she told the crowd about some of the different products in her cooking ware line that could be used in conjunction with the book, also letting them know that she was in the process of developing a slow cooker and a pressure cooker to add to the collection.

The second dish was a simple Linguine with Tomato and Basil, where amazingly enough, the veggies were prepared right along side the pasta in one skillet.  "I grow basil in my garden, you know," Martha told the crowd, "I had to get up early this morning because there were two tour groups coming into my garden and I wanted to pick up a little before they got there.  I didn't want them to think I'm a messy gardener!" She also told the crowd how she drank her own mix of green juice every morning (complete with a good chunk of ginger) before working with her trainer and then heading into her test kitchens, where she works with hundreds of professionals to test and re-test recipes for her magazine and various media outlets.  "That's why we always say to follow a recipe precisely the first time you cook something," she said, "We've done all the work for you already, so if you follow it exactly, you can't go wrong."

The last dish was an Arroz con Pollo (or Chicken with Yellow Rice), which she demonstrated in one of the Dutch ovens, garnishing it with some briny green olives.  Bunny's favorite part of the demo was the fact that Martha then actually began to eat the dishes she'd prepared, a thing Bunny nor Brandy has ever witnessed at any cooking demo before!  "I'm always surprised the chefs don't eat their dishes when they're through!" said Bunny, "If I cooked up something that delicious looking, I'd want to dig into it right away!"

Martha then took a few questions from the crowd, giving them advice on apple pie making ("Use several different kinds of apples."), demonstrating how to cut a bunch of cherry tomatoes in half all at once, and letting everyone know that her favorite cocktail is a Polish or Russian Vodka Martini.  After the demo, she graciously stayed to sign cookbooks for the audience, though sadly, Bunny had to run out and catch her flight to meet Benedict at his next dig in Kuala Lumpur.  "The Dutch oven might be too heavy to take as a carry on!"  Bunny fretted, "Maybe I'll pack my clothing into it and tell them it's just an extra heavy duty carrier bag."

The writers of this blog have been compensated by Everywhere Agency for the information contained in this post, but the opinions stated were not influenced.

Friday, September 12, 2014

ZED451 or The Bounty of the Harvest

The Slow and Savory Review

Brandy has survived a lot of things in her life.  At one time in her life, avalanches, earthquakes, train derailments, jumping out of planes, off of buildings, and into canyons were all just a rather mundane part of her day.  But in recent years, she has found herself winding down some and being more content with a good book and a cup of tea as opposed to unexpected adventure.  "I leave the globe trotting to Bunny now," as she says, "She grew up in a convent in Devonshire, so she got a late start in adventuring, but now that she's accompanying Benedict on his archaeology trips, she's getting a good taste of what I already had.  I was born into adventure.  Quite honestly, I was.  My mother went into labor while skiing down the side of a mountain!"

These were the types of stories Brandy was relating to a new friend, one Mr. Bari Bronzo, a muscle bound former personal trainer whom she had met recently at a charity cocktail party.  Mr. Bronzo was just beginning to find an interest in "extreme traveling" and someone had suggested he talk to Brandy about her extraordinary skill in lackadaisically surviving life's little surprises.  "But how do you keep your self prepared for the worst?" Bari asked Brandy.  "Always have a good brunch, of course!" she laughed, "That way you've had a good meal in your stomach that can last through almost anything."  Bari seemed to find this advice amusing, so Brandy challenged him.  "Alright, Mr. Know It All!  You come to brunch with me and I'll show you exactly what I mean!  I have the perfect place in mind too.  ZED451 is infamous for a very indulgent brunch buffet, so if you can make it through that, then you can make it through almost anything!"  "You're on, lady!" Bari responded.

The inside of ZED451 was truly astounding, not just because everything was so polished and pretty, but the actual expanse of the 18,000 space was simply breath taking.  On the ground floor there was a chic lounge with a fire place (fire, Brandy was told, was a major theme for ZED), comfy furniture, and a huge projection wall for showing sports on, as well as a beautiful, intimate wine closet that could easily host a small party of viticulturists for some tastings and sippings while they admired the selection all around them, not to mention toying with the interactive wine glass chandelier.  Upstairs, there was the gorgeous rooftop, complete with it's own bar, which not only gave patrons a stunning view of River North, but also housed a fascinating sky light into the main dining room, which at night would send a warm glow up and out onto the roof.  "Such a pretty spot!" Brandy exclaimed, "I'd be tempted to say that I'd come up here for drinks even in the dead of winter."  "Don't think you'd survive if you came up here during a winter like last year," said Bari, who was admiring some of the foliage.  "I might if  had enough drinks in me," Brandy mumbled.  Also upstairs were several gorgeous event spaces, perfect for small private gatherings, or even full wedding services, complete with ceremony and reception.  Back downstairs was the main dining area, which was already in the full swing of brunch service when Brandy and Bari took their seats.

First, they both started off with a glass of the Ginger Bourbon Lemonade.  The lemonade was actually a staple of the menu at ZED, though the flavors infused into the bourbon differed from season to season.  One sip of this refreshing, zingy concoction and Brandy was in love.  "Goodness knows I'm not a huge fan of summer, but I'll be damned if tasting this liquid sunshine doesn't make me a little sad to see it go," Brandy sighed, and the somewhat stone faced Bari agreed.

For the first portion of their meal, Brandy and Bari were set loose among the Harvest Tables, which consisted of several segmented curved buffets surrounding a huge circular fire pit, each of which was loaded with plates of salads, cheeses, sliced meats, desserts, and a few hot dishes. Brandy's favorites among the salads were the Sauteed Mushrooms, which were nicely rich and earthy, the Kale and Quinoa Salad, which had a nice nuttiness to it, and the Brussel Sprout Caesar, which was crisp and fresh tasting.  Bari loved the charcuterie table, which was beautifully dressed with a multitude of cheeses, sliced meats, pickles, olives, and other accompaniments.  "I could live on this spicy stuff," Bari said, brandishing a roll of meat at Brandy, "Protein is the key to a filling meal, after all."  The hot dishes on the harvest tables were favorites for both Brandy and Bari: the Vanilla Scented Oatmeal was creamy and hearty, the Duck Fat Home Fries were decedent, and the Panatone French Toast was eggy and full of fun textures.

Then the "sides" started arriving at the table.  These consisted of a few hot dishes brought directly from the kitchen.  The Tomato Basil Fritata was herbaceous and fluffy, while the Cinnamon Rolls envied Ann Sather's in both size and flavor (Brandy was so overwhelmed by food that she resorted to digging into the doughy center of her cinnamon roll to enjoy the best part of it's raisiny goodness).  But the true star was the Maple Cajun Bacon,  This, we assure you, was not your average side of bacon; this bacon was thick cut (hand cut, in fact, by the chef every day), coated in a secret Cajun spice blend, then doused in maple syrup, and served to crispy perfection in a cast iron pan.  Brandy and Bari stopped mid conversation as they both put that bacon to their lips and did not speak again until the entire pan was empty.  "That," Brandy breathed at last, "Was the single best piece of bacon I've ever eaten." she said, "It was smokey, meaty, salty, sweet, spicy... everything was just so perfect!"  Bari nodded in agreement.  "I might be ruined on bacon forever after that," he said, starring at the empty pan forlornly.

No with a taste for meat on their lips, Brandy and Bari moved onto the next phase of their brunch by taking two black stones from a small silver plate in the middle of the table and placing them in front of their plates.  This signaled to the multitude of white coated chefs circling the room to begin bringing over the proteins.  Huge chunks of meat of spits were brought to the table and carved before their very eyes: juicy Maple Bourbon Glazed Ham, succulent Buttermilk Herbed Bottom Sirloin, Roasted Turkey breast with Cranberry sauce, and Citrus Dusted Salmon all made their rounds to the table, leaving Brandy and Bari practically gasping for breath between each bite.  Two of the more original offerings were the Chicken and Waffles, a small version of the Southern favorite with a piece of barbecued chicken and a cornmeal waffle, and the Crab Cake Benedict, which made for a lovely little two bite delight.

Lastly, Brandy and Bari pried themselves away from the their seats to indulge in some of the desserts on the harvest tables.  Along with a beautiful spread of fruits and fresh yogurt, some less health options presented themselves.  There was a delightfully fudgy Brownie, a rich and indulgent Strawberry Cheesecake, a surprisingly light Red Velvet Cupcake, and a bright and lovely Lemon Lime Tart.  "I don't think I can take much more of this.  I mean physically," Bari moaned.  "I'm feeling just fine.  In fact, I might ask for some more of that bacon," Brandy said, to which Bari responded, "Ok, maybe I can make room."

ZED451 was most certainly one of the most unique brunch experiences Brandy had ever had, and at a very reasonable price of $34 a person, Brandy was sure she'd be having that brunch again.  The food was all beautifully presented, and the uniqueness of the table side protein service was simply stunning.  "Uh... I don't know if I can make it to the train station!" Bari Bronzo groaned. Brandy, gracefully rising from her seat said simply, "Well you're in luck!  ZED has a complimentary shuttle service that will take you anywhere in the downtown area!"  "Yes please," Bari whispered before falling into a deep slumber at the table.  "I probably should have mentioned to him that the key to surviving a brunch like this is to pace yourself on the bourbon lemonade," said Brandy.

The writers of this blog were invited by the restaurant to dine free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review

Zed451 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oktoberfest Dinner at The Bergoff

The fall always makes Brandy nostalgic for the time she spent in Germany many years ago.  The beer gardens, the hearty food, the Oompa music, all of which when combined with the incoming crisp autumn air can mean only one thing:  Oktoberfest!  Oh, the many evenings (and mornings and afternoons for that matter) Brandy whiled away with a pint of lager, a bratwurst in hand, and a delightful band pumping out "The Donkey Song" for the crowd's delight.  "I'm normally not much of a beer drinker, but Oktoberfest is a whole different ball of wax," Brandy says, "Fall may mean pumpkin flavored coffees for Americans, but for me it never feels like the end of summer until I have a frothy, malty, golden lager to sip on."

Luckily for Brandy, she recently had the opportunity (through her delightful friends at Chicago Food Bloggers) to preview the Oktoberfest menu at the world famous Berghoff, a Chicago landmark that generations of people have come to count on for traditional German food and beer.  Owned and operated by several generations of the Berghoff family, the restaurant is famously the first to obtain Chicago's first liquor licence after prohibition was repealed.  Though their focus is on traditional European fair, in recent years they have added bits to their menu to help contemporize and Americanize things just a tiny bit, but as evidenced by the popularity of their Oktoberfest celebrations, their roots and heart will always be in Germany.

The special Oktoberfest menu (which is available starting today, Wednesday September 10th) consists of a collection of seasonal beers and dishes, all perfectly and expertly paired.  Brandy was lucky enough to not only get a chance to sample five of the dishes, but also five of the beers, most of which were crafted by the Berghoff's own brewery.

First up there was the Pretzel with course grain mustard and Beer Cheese; a perfectly crafted soft pretzel with a nutty, full bodied yellow cheese dipping sauce.  This rich and salty dish was paired with the Berghoff Hopfenstomber, a lighter hoppy lager meant to counter balance the richness of the cheese.

Secondly there was the Bratwurst, which came served on a bit of rye bread with some sour kraut and a fresh pickle slice.  The brat itself was a white meat sausage with a mighty snap to the skin and plenty of spices.  This worked perfectly with this year's Berghoff Oktoberfest, which was rich in malty goodness.

Next was one of the vegetarian options on the menu ("A sign of the times, I suppose," Brandy said, adjusting her spectacles to make sure she was reading the menu correctly), a Quinoa and Grilled Vegetable Salad.  Though an unusual and not necessarily traditional dish, the quinoa had a very nice nuttiness that matched well with the freshness of the veggies and the bitterness of the endive leaf the whole thing came served in.  This dish was paired with the Berghoff Lager, a lighter, sweeter beer that served as a nice remembrance of summer's passing.

Lastly for the savory dishes was the Pork Stew, which was actually one of The Berghoff's new gluten free menu options (the current owner's daughter is allergic to gluten, so it was under her leadership that gluten free options became a part of not only the Oktoberfest menu, but the every day menu as well).  The stew was very hearty with surprisingly lean pieces of pork bathing in a lovely tomato based broth with bits of potato and other veggies.  The stew was paired with Omission, a gluten free beer the Berghoff brought in especially.  Being gluten free, the beer was a bit on the lighter side in terms of flavor, but it did match well with the rich stew.

Lastly was a little bite of Apple Strudel, which Brandy immediately wanted more of (we're talking a whole pan to herself).  The pastry crust was perfectly crispy and buttery, not doughy at all, and the filling had just the right amount of sweetness and spice.  This delightful little dessert was paired with the Berghoff Shambler, their take on a summer shandy, which had notes of fruit and citrus that matched the slightly tart apples in the strudel very well.

Though she couldn't make it to Germany for Oktoberfest this year, Brandy thought The Berghoff's selection of beers and bites was as close as can be expected on this side of the Atlantic.  And what with a lineup of musicians to supply the restaurant with some authentic Oompa, she can once again sit back with a lager, a brat, and kiss summer goodbye in her favorite way.

The Berghoff is located at 17 West Adams and is serving their entire Oktoberfest menu Septmeber 10th-12th outside, and inside the restaurant for lunch and dinner every day until October 1st.

The writers of this blog were invited by the restaurant to sample their Oktoberfest menu at no charge in exchange for an honest review

The Berghoff on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 8, 2014

Food News: Martha Stewart at Macy's on State Street!

Greetings, brunch fans!  Today, Brandy has asked us to let you all in on some super secret food news.  Next Tuesday, September 16th the Queen of Crafting, the Duchess of Decor, Her Royal Highness of Home Made will be in Chicago!  Yes, THE Martha Stewart herself will be at Macy's on State Street, giving a cooking demo and signing copies of her newest cookbook, One Pot: Easy Meals for your Skillet, Stock Pot, Slow Cooker, and More!  The book doesn't get it's official release until September 23rd, but attendees at the demo on the 16th will have the opportunity to get a free advance copy when they purchase $75 worth of Martha Stewart Home goods, and as if that wasn't sweet enough, they will also get a $10 Macy's Gift Card and have the opportunity to have Martha sign their books after the demo!  Here's all the info you need to attend:

When: Tuesday, September 16th @ 5:30 PM
Where: Macy's on State Street, Lower Level
For more information on the event, please click here

We do hope to see all of your there, but if you can't make it, be assured that Brandy will be posting a recap of the entire event right here soon after!

The writers of this blog have been compensated by Everywhere Agency for the information contained in this post, but the opinions stated were not influenced.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Crio or There's No Place Like Home

The Slow and Savory Review

As much as Brandy loves going out for brunch, sometimes it's just plain hard to leave the house.  "What I need is a private chef," Brandy has often contemplated, "I'd like to just wake up to a full gourmet brunch every morning.  Or better yet, be given a choice of brunch foods upon waking so that I can find something that suits my mood.  I wonder if there culinary students out there who would like a position like that..."  But until Brandy finds the right person to take the job, she still will drag her weary bones out the door every weekend morning in search of a brunch to fit her fancy.

Recently while running errands in Lincoln Park, Brandy came across Crio, a Latin inspired gastro pub, on an off the path corner of Clybourn.  Liking the bright red exterior and colorful chalk boards out front, she decided to head inside for a little mid morning refresher.

Crio's interior was definitely a little darker than is usual for a brunch spot, but Brandy couldn't help thinking what fabulous atmosphere the place must have had at night.  "I wouldn't mind sitting across from some young chappy under lowered lights in this place, let me tell you!" Brandy mumbled to herself.  The walls were partly exposed grey brick and partly darkly painted backgrounds with bright, intense murals and paintings, and although the large windows at the front of the dining room let in some sun, Brandy found she liked the fact that the light didn't brighten up the cavernous space too much in an unnatural sort of way.

She started off right away with a Bottomless Mimosa, which certainly did prove to be bottomless as one of the extremely kind and personable managers kept delivering a new glass every time she was halfway finished with her current one.  The drink itself wasn't particularly special as mimosas go, but had a nice brightness to it without being too sweet.

For her sweet course, Brandy chose the Guava Pancakes, simply because she'd never seen such a concoction on any menu before.  "Banana?  Sure.  Chocolate chip?  Of course.  Blueberry? Naturally.  But Guava?  Now there's something original!" as Brandy put it.  After the first bite, she found she was utterly in love with these pancakes; their texture was impossibly light and the guava syrup they were topped with packed plenty of fruity deliciousness to each mouthful.  Brandy even detected notes of coconut and cinnamon, but above all was the absolutely delightful tropical flavor of the fresh guava slices on top.  The kicker to everything was that the pancakes came topped with a scoop of marscapone cheese in place of butter, a touch that had Brandy positively swooning.  Just as she was starting to worry that she would run out of the delicious syrup on the side, a second full cup was delivered to her table before she'd even had a chance to lift her head to look for someone.

The savory dish of the day was the Steak Skillet, which consisted of roasted corn, asparagus, potatoes, bacon, and slices of flank steak cooked to order.  Everything in the skillet had the perfect texture, from the silky potatoes to the crisp corn kernels, the tender steak, and the succulent asparagus.  The flavors were all very vibrant, yet distinctive, and everything had a nice garlicky punch to it.  Brandy very much appreciated that there was no attempt to incorporate eggs into the skillet, as a lot of other restaurants would have tried to do in order to make it more "breakfasty."  "Don't get me wrong, I love a good egg where it's appropriate," Brandy said, "But what some places don't understand about brunch is an egg isn't always necessary.  In this case, It would have been superfluous, as the dish is so rich already, so I'm happy there's none to be found."  The only downside to the skillet was the rather large puddle of oil at the bottom of the dish, which did require some maneuvering around to scoop up forkfuls of the corn and bacon without bringing along a lot of grease, yet somehow, Brandy still managed to get almost every morsel into her mouth.  "I like people like you who clean their plates!" The kindly man who had been seeing to Brandy proclaimed as he removed the dish from the table, which instantly endeared him to her forever.

As a special treat, the restaurant actually sent a dessert to Brandy's table without her even ordering it!  The stunningly beautiful plate presented to her was described as "a pudding made with heavy cream and sour cream" topped with a strawberry coulee.  Though incredibly full from stuffing both entrees down her gullet already, Brandy could hardly turn down such a generous gift, so bravely she soldiered on.  The pudding tasted like the child of a cheesecake and a flan; a firm, creamy texture with just a little bit of tang to it, and the bright, acidic strawberry sauce provided an excellent counter balance.  

Coming back around to check on her, the kindly man asked if Brandy lived near by.  "No, dear.  Just happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to pop in," Brandy smiled through the haze of at least four mimosas.  "Well, you know where your new home is now," he smiled at her, and Brandy smiled back at him.  True, the food at Crio was absolutely outstanding and the atmosphere quite aesthetically pleasing, but the thing that really topped the bill for Brandy was the service.  Every single thing during that brunch was done instinctively and with a genuineness that is very difficult to find even in the most high end restaurants.  "You better stop re-filling those mimosas," Brandy kidded with the man as he delivered yet another glass, "Or you'll never get rid of me!  I'm serious, is there somewhere I can take a nap?"

The Short and Sweet Review 

Crio on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dinner at Azzurra

There are may secret societies in this world.  Free Masons, The Priory of Sion, the Illuminiati; the list goes on and on.  Some are more secretive than others, and some are operating under the very noses of the general public.  How many of these organizations Brandy is a part of, she will never admit to, but there is one not so secret society she will proudly proclaim her membership to: The Chicago Food Bloggers.  When gathered together, the members of this prestigious organization perform secret rituals (known as the Dance of the Cameras), speak in code ("Where have you been lately?" is their traditional greeting) and plot world domination one plate at a time.  Wait... forget we mentioned that last one.

Recently, a group of Chicago Food Bloggers were invited to dinner at Azzurra in Wicker Park and Brandy was positively honored to join them.  "I know my main expertise is in brunch, so I don't always get these invites, but everyone's got to have dinner eventually," as Brandy said, "And what better time to have it than with a group of Grade A food enthusiasts?"

The evening started off with a quite lovely bread basket for the table and some sparkling rosé.  The group took the time to admire the beautiful interior of Azzurra, which gave the impression that one was dining al fresco by the seaside in Tuscany.  Several bright paintings of beaches and oceans hung on the white washed walls and the gorgeous antiqued tin ceilings held blow glass light fixtures that looked as if large exotic flowers were blooming from it.

The first course consisted of four dishes: a Market Corn Bruschetta, a Watermelon Salad, Grilled Octopus, and Fried Zucchini Blossoms,  Everything was so incredibly fresh and light that the daunting task of trying all four dishes for one course of what promised to be a multitude of deliciousness to come soon seemed a simple task.  The Watermelon Salad was a refreshing mix of melon, tomato, cucumber, basil, and goat cheese, which made everyone sigh about the last vestiges of summer fading away.  The Corn Bruschetta was a lovely twist on a classic, making use of the corn's inherent sweetness as well as a nutty and buttery shaved cheese on the top to counteract the smoky, toasted bread.  The Grilled Octopus was possibly the most visually appealing of the dishes, being small tender pieces of octopus mixed with thinly sliced fingerling potatoes, herbs, red onion, and olive oil.  The favorite of the table by far was the Fried Zucchini Blossoms, which came stuffed with ricotta cheese and served with a chunky tomato sauce, which were so light, crispy, and creamy that a request for seconds of these delectable bites was inevitable.

A glass of a crisp white wine was served as the next dishes made their way to the table.  The second course consisted of two beautiful pasta dishes: a Bucatini (which is a sort of hollow spaghetti) with pea shoots, crushed fennel, and pecorino cheese and a Cavatelli (a rolled shell shaped pasta) with tomato, pesto, and Parmesan cheese.  While the cavatelli was a beautiful, clean mix of classic Italian flavors with a perfectly al dente pasta, the favorite amongst the group seemed to be the bucatini, which had an amazingly fresh smell (it reminded Brandy of a grassy hill in spring time) from the pea shoots and fennel, as well as an earthy taste from the perfectly portioned cheese.

The diners then enjoyed a full bodied red wine as the third course was presented as a parade of entrees: Brick Grilled Cornish Hen, Grilled Trout and Fresh Vegetables, and what was being called a "True" Eggplant Parmesan.  The trout was very tender and flaky with a nice char from the grill, which matched well with the cornucopia of vegetation served along side it.  The Cornish hen had a sort of herbed crispy coated skin and was amazingly moist and succulent on the inside, while still maintaining a soft crunch on the outside.  Brandy's personal favorite was the eggplant parmesan, which to her mind resembled more of a lasagna, but really had a nicely firm eggplant as it's layers, topped with a slightly sweet tomato sauce.

As the group groaned for mercy, the final course was served: dessert.  First there was a lovely, rustic Berry Cobbler, made with strawberries and blueberries and topped with some vanilla whipped cream.  Again, this dish seemed to set the group into lamentations for the end of a beautifully mild summer.  Lastly was what several people at the table descried as the best Tiramisu they'd ever had.  Fluffy, light, yet still rich and full of coffee flavor, the dessert was the perfect end to such an extravagant dinner.

As the group relaxed with coffees and some of the house made Nocino (a potent liquor made with walnuts), Brandy couldn't help but nose around a bit.  This was when she discovered that Azzurra served brunch!  Making a careful note in her book to come back as soon as possible for said brunch, she and the rest of the Chicago Food Bloggers waddled off into the night.

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at Azzurra at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Azzurra EnoTavola on Urbanspoon