Friday, October 28, 2011

Postcards from Bunny

Yes friends, its time for another installment of Postcards from Bunny!  

As Bunny travels the globe with her dear Benedict, helping to uncover lost civilizations, she has found herself with quite a bit of spare time, some of which is spent scouring the Internet for food news from her beloved former home of Chicago.  Recently, she came across two very interesting pieces:

From Time Out Chicago, some ideas for places Brandy needs to visit, such as Bleeding Heart Bakery's new location that serves brunch every weekend for 57 hours straight (meaning Brandy could stop in Friday morning for some pasties, go to her Knitting Club meeting, come back at lunch for some pancakes, then see that new documentary about embroidery, finish up the day with a nice waffle, go home for a nap, come back for a midnight snack of donuts, then do the whole thing over again on Saturday and Sunday).

November's issue of Chicago Magazine features a mightily impressive list of the top 75 Breakfast spots in Chicago.  Sadly, neither Bunny nor Brandy were consulted in the making of this list (a slight Brandy has yet to get over, as she spotted several glaring omissions, like Bunny and Brandy favorites Hearty Boys and Socca.  Perhaps if Chicago Magazine had only browsed Our Ladies' guest blogging spot on Elizabites it could have spared them some research), but there were quite a few mentions that Brandy had not yet added to her wish list. 

Brandy has also requested that we share a couple of slide shows from some adventures she had over the summer that didn't quite fit anywhere else.  Enjoy some delicious photos from the Chicago Gourmet Festival and dinner at Blackbird with Chef Paul Kahan.

Along with her reading suggestions, Bunny sent along her admiration for her new coffee machine, the Dolce Gusto by Nescafe.  Coming in a variety of models (some with automated digital controls and some without) the Dolce Gusto doesn't just specialize in coffee like some other one cup coffee makers.  In fact, flavors for the machine go from standard coffee blends (the Americano, Cafe Lungo, Dark Roast, etc.) to more coffee house inspired beverages like frothy Mocha, Chai Tea Latte, and Carmel Latte Macchiato.  The machine can even make cold beverages, brewing things like Peach Iced Tea and Iced Cappuccino at room temperature so that they can go directly over ice.  Bunny's favorite is the Chococino, a wonderfully rich and and creamy take on hot chocolate.

So there we are, dear readers!  Make yourselves a cup of your favorite hot beverage and settle in for some light reading and picture viewing and next week Brandy will continue her regularly scheduled journeys through Chicago's brunch offerings!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bananas Foster Cafe or Back Where It All Began

The Slow and Savory Review

Where were you a year ago, dear readers?  Were you doing some early Christmas shopping?  Maybe you were putting together the perfect Halloween costume?  Or perhaps, you had just stumbled upon a blog about two friends going to brunch in Chicago.  That's right lovelies, this is the one year anniversary of Bunny and Brandy's Brunchtime Blog!

Missing Bunny especially on this day, Brandy asked Biscuit Brown to join her at the Bananas Foster Cafe (getting the idea from the wonderful cover article in November's Chicago Magazine which Brandy was sadly not consulted on), an eclectic bistro in Edgewater, which coincidentally stands next door to Bunny and Brandy's first ever post subject, M. Henrietta.  Arriving a little later than usual (Brandy likes to brunch promptly at 11:30, but a mistranslation of the address from the restaurant's website lead Brandy and Biscuit on a bit of an adventure, finally arriving at BFC around 1:00pm).  A fifteen minute wait allowed a little bit of exploration into the space.  The back room, which seemed to be more of a dining room, was laid with soft curtains and housed a chic banquet sporting willow branches at its top.  The front room and entrance to the establishment seemed more cafe like, with smaller tables pushed next to windows to allow room for the small open kitchen, which was at the room's center.  It was at one of these tables (one which was particularly drafty and hard to get into) where Brandy and Biscuit were finally shown to their seats.

A massive menu listing choices from the very British, to the classically French, to Southwestern twists was presented to the pair.  Some warm drinks were ordered (a thick and rich white mocha for Biscuit and a creamy and dense Chai for Brandy) to sip on while navigating across all the choices, which included a breakfast buffet for $12.95 a person.  Brandy was surprised that the pressure of both keeping a buffet stocked and filing orders for such a diverse menu was put on such a tiny kitchen.  That pressure did present itself in a long wait for food.

Brandy decided to try something more adventurous than the buffet and ordered the Ploughman's Omelet, a very English combo of green apples, cheddar, and bacon with some straight from the UK brown sauce relish.  The dish also came with two sides, so Brandy chose Bubble and Squeak and a fruit cup.  The omelet was flavorful with the smokey bacon and the tart apples mixing nicely, but it really livened up with the addition of the vinegary brown sauce, taking the dish from delicious but traditional to a real winner.  The fruit cup had a nice variety of pieces, including orange, banana, and grapefruit as well as the usual bit of melon, berries, and grapes.  The bubble and squeak (a combination of mashed brussell sprouts, potatoes, peas, and other veggies for you non-Brits) was a lovely change of pace from regular breakfast potatoes.  The absolute Britishness of the plate seemed to bring a tear to Brandy's eye, though she insisted it was just a waft of chopped onions from the kitchen.

Brandy also decided to indulge her sweet tooth with some Orange and Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast, which came lovingly presented with some whipped cream and orange zest.  The toast was very tender, though not soggy, and the filling had the perfect level of sweetness.  Though the flavor combination is certainly one that Brandy had seen before, it certainly made for a very unusual and tasty bit of French Toast.

Biscuit chose the Cowboy Benedict, one of BFC's many twisted versions of Our Dear Bunny's favorite dish.  This came served on Texas Toast instead of English Muffins ("It's like regular toast, but bigger, because they like things bigger in Texas, you see?" Biscuit tried to explain to Brandy, who just shook her head while mumbling something about fixings things that aren't broken) with skirt steak taking the place of bacon and a red pepper hollendais.  Biscuit also ordered some Home Fries, as her dish did not come with any sides.  The first thing Biscuit noticed about her chosen breakfast was that the portion was rather small for being supposedly "Texas Sized."  Not only that, but the three tiny medallions of steak on her plate hardly warranted the $10.50 price tag, especially since it didn't come with a side dish (for reference, Brandy's omelet was $9.50 and came with 2 sides).  Regardless of size, the non-traditional Benedict did serve up plenty of flavor, thanks to the red pepper hollendais, which was nicely bright and rich.  The toast did go a bit soggy though, but Biscuit cheerfully used her home fries (cut into rounds and fried to a nice crisp, Brandy originally thought they were pickle chips) to lap up the sauce.

With good, though maybe slightly over priced food in their stomachs, Brandy and Biscuit headed for home.  As she passed the buzzing place next door, Brandy caught a glimpse of the table she and Bunny had shared when they first started their adventure a year ago.  She flashed upon all the waffles and pancakes, all the French Toast and fried dough, all the eggs, all the potatoes, and of course all the Benedicts and she thought about what a rich and wonderful year this has been.  Brandy thought of how lucky she has been to spend time with all her friends like Our Dear Bunny, Biscuit and Birdie Brown, Barry and Blanche Black, Bailey Blue, Mama Bee, and all the others, and how many people she's been privileged to meet through her adventures.  And so let us all raise our mimosas in toast to Brandy's adventures booth past and future.  Here's to Brunch!

The Short and Sweet Review

Bananas Foster Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Red Canary or Life Inside the Guilded Cage

The Slow and Savory Review

"Carb Loading Friday," as the Friday before the Chicago Marathon is known, has always been a joyous day for Brandy.  Often she will go out to an Italian restaurant of some sort and watch all of the well toned athletes gobbling down plates of pasta (probably their only taste of pasta for an entire year) without abandon.  Once, she even witnessed a particularly thin young woman place an entire serving of spaghetti in between two pieces of bread and eat the thing as a sandwich.  Brandy has always been more than happy to join in with these sorts of festivities, however, it doesn't seem to have ever occurred to her to run the marathon afterwards.

It was during this year's "carb loading" that Brandy met a lovely young woman named Barbie Q. Brass, a breeder of British bull dogs from Boston who was in town to run the marathon dressed as one of her pups to raise awareness for so called "Bully" dogs, or in other words, breeds of dog who seem to have obtained bad reputations.  Brandy was so taken with her cause that she decided to invite Barbie to join her for brunch before the big run, to which Barbie responded, "Wicked!" and Brandy took to mean "yes."

The two were joined by Brandy's old friend, Birdie Brown at The Red Canary, a so called gastro-lounge in the River West neighborhood.  Brandy very much appreciated the aesthetic of the inside of Red Canary, which was done in a sort of Gothic vintage with a huge and impressive chandelier, rounded red clothed cushy booths, a mirror backed bar, and photographs of beautiful women made to look like the silver screen sirens of old (in fact Birdie claimed to have met all of the women on display at a USO show in Berlin.  Brandy seemed to doubt this).  As the weather was so lovely, the trio forwent the gorgeous interior and chose seats on the patio, which was equally as beautiful.  Surrounded by ivy covered walls and encasing some lovely trees and flowers, the spacious patio held more than enough tables, chairs, and even a few lounge areas from which to choose. 

After settling in, a few cocktails were ordered; traditional mimosas and bloody Mary's were the only things on offer, which Brandy found surprising, as the title of "gastro-louge" surely implied not only gourmet food, but luxurious and exotic cocktails.  The reason for the short list might have been under staffing, as the lovely hostess seemed to be not only seating parties, but also taking all the tables' orders and mixing the drinks behind the bar, while food runners from the kitchen delivered everyone's meals.  In fact, the food took quite a while to finally reach Our Lady and friends' table, which was surprising, as there was not exactly the largest of crowds.

Once the food finally did arrive, everyone was more than pleased.  Barbie had ordered the Chicken and Waffles with a Cheddar Biscuit on the side.  The chicken, which came in three huge chunks, was mouth watering tender, with a crisp yet light breading, almost like a tempura.  The waffles, which Barbie fund to be just the right consistency, were really only there to serve as vehicles for the delectable bourbon vanilla syrup that came with the dish (the syrup was so desirable that Birdie ended up putting it in his coffee).  The biscuit came served with a lovely jam an some amber honey, which Barbie found particularly "Killa."  Brandy assumed this meant "good."

Birdie went the sweet route with some French Toast, which also came with the miracle syrup and blackberry compote.  Birdie said the dish could have used a little more of the molasses like syrup, though Brandy supposed if he had been brought another side of it, he might have just drunk it straight from the ramekin.  The blackberry compote was bright and fresh, helping to pick up the toast, which Birdie felt was bordering on being dry.  "It's not as eggy as I would like," he said between sips of his syrup-laden coffee, "I preferred my French Toast to be slapping me in the face with egg, just like a real Frenchman,"

Brandy's choice was the Canary Benedict, with a dish called the Mixed Berry Martini on the side.  The Martini, which despite its name was not a drink, was presented in a martini glass and consisted of a jumble of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries which had been mixed with a sort of lavender-tasting syrup and topped with some vanilla whipped cream and a sprig of mint.  While the berries were beautifully sweet, fresh, and bright, Brandy couldn't help thinking that $7 for such a dish was a little steep.  The Canary Benedict, the house twist on the old favorite, was made with slices of steak in place of the Canadian bacon and a Cheddar Biscuit instead of the English Muffin.  While the steak looked slightly over cooked (or perhaps had been sitting under a heating lamp too long?), it was still perfectly tender.  The poached eggs poured their yolk over the biscuits, mixing with the sort of goopey and tangy herbed hollendais sauce.  The biscuit was the true standout, being tender, light, and surprisingly sweet.  The side potatoes were also a great surprise, being soft and perfectly spiced while being served up with peppers and onions for color and extra flavor.

While some dishes on the menu did seem a little over priced, the final bill was definitely not an eye popper.  After wishing Barbie good luck on her run ("How in bloody hell she's going to win that thing with three waffles, fried chicken, and a biscuit down her gullet while dressed like a bull dog is beyond me," Brandy said) Birdie and Brandy headed to their respective homes to cheer on the more athletic from the comfort of a recliner.

The Short and Sweet Review

Red Canary on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blokes and Birds or A Foggy Day in London Town

The Slow and Savory Review
It seems the British have become fashionable once again.  From the Beckhams to the British monarchs to that lovely gentleman who plays Dr. Gregory House (whom Brandy oddly claims was once her dog walker), one cannot avoid the latest infestation of the British into the United States of America.  Even right here in Chicago, there has been no shortage of British themed gastro-pubs popping up all around the landscape.  One of the latest to hit the scene is Blokes and Birds, an establishment with as much emphasis on its gourmet menu as on its extensive beer list.

Brandy reunited with old friend Biscuit Brown to sample these oh so fashionable and gourmet British offerings.  The interior of the gastro-pub was covered in interestingly slatted wood panels, but other than that was rather stark and unremarkable.  The tables were nicely spaced, with seating for every taste: booths, tables, and stools.  With no wait for a table, the duo took their seats and ordered drinks.  The usual selection of brunch cocktails was on offer, so Brandy chose the classic mimosa, while Biscuit picked the Bloody Mary.  The cocktails turned out to be rather impressive, with the Bloody Mary being served with all manner of snacks on a stick, and the mimosa presented with some berries, chopped pineapple, and a spring of mint, giving the drink more the look of a glass of Sangria.

To share, the ladies picked the day's special French Toast, which came served with peach and blueberry compote.  Though the corners and edges of the toast were very dry, the middle was nicely moist and soft, and the fruit added a lovely brightness.

Biscuit chose the Duck Hash, a hearty plate with potatoes, bell peppers, shredded duck meat, and two fried eggs.  The duck meat proved a little disappointing, being dry and unremarkable, in that any other meat really would have sufficed in the dish, but the peppers lent a very nice flavor and the potatoes were brilliantly creamy.  The meal also came with a very lovely and colorful little fruit cup to help cut the richness of the duck fat.

Brandy picked the rather un-English dish of Shrimp and Grits.  The grits were wonderfully cheesy, soft, and light in texture.  Biscuit, as a true Southern, thought the grits were a little undercooked, but Brandy rather liked the bit of texture in them.  The shrimp, though perfectly cooked, were sadly under seasoned and flavorless.  Brandy wished for a bit of garlic butter or lemon juice at the very least.

A bit on the pricey side (two drinks for each lady and three entrees came out to be about $80) and not all authentically English, Blokes and Birds did fulfill the promise of gourmet offerings along side interesting drinks.  Brandy has already reserved herself a bar stool for the next World Cup, when she will be sampling as many of their beers as possible, only stopping when her hand held Union Jack flag droops below sea level.

The Short and Sweet Review

Blokes & Birds on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Postcards from Bunny!

It has finally happened friends!  We've heard from our beloved Bunny!  The poor dear has been stuck in the catacombs underneath the Paris Opera House excavating with her darling Benedict for the last month and has only now been able to send off messages to the outside world, and she has asked us to forward on a little surprise for all of her dear fans!

In honor of dear Brandy's favorite wine, Bunny is offering all of our readers a prize pack from Robert Mondavi Winery!  The prize pack includes a charming key chain, a lovely wine thermus, a fashinable apron, and a cook book by Food Network Favorite, Ted Allen.  Here's all you have to do to win these fabulous prizes: Email us at and tell us exactly what is Brandy's favorite wine?  If you are a true fan of Bunny and Brandy, you won't have to look far for the answer!  But do make sure and EMAIL us, as posting a comment will give away the answer for others.  The fifth person to email us the correct answer will be contacted for their information and have these most divine objects sent straight to them.

In the meantime, make sure to check out and tell us what your favorite wine is!  Brandy's always taking suggestions!