Yearly Archives: 2005

6th Annual Feast of the Senses: Part 2

The second half of our evening at Feast of the Senses: The Marx-Saunders Gallery (230 W. Superior St.) hosted Wave restaurant of the W Hotel Chicago-Lakeshore. We spoke with Executive Chef Kristine Subido who was unfailingly welcoming and clearly proud of her work. And the fennel encrusted salmon with citrus and arak glaze we were […]

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jane - Gemma, even if I hadn’t already decided to move to Chicago, your food reviews and amazing photography (not to mention your cooking) would have swayed me. Your blog is fantastico.

tara - Once again, a lovely post. I’m thouroughly impressed with your eye for photojournalism styled food photography. You do a great job of capturing the moment, and still highlighting the food … which I will try not to salivate over, as it is an hour to lunch and my tummy is already growling!

gemma - Thanks Jane, I am so glad you will be moving here!
Tara, you make me blush with your sweet flattery. I am just beginning this journalism bit and I am quite enjoying it! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

thebizofknowledge - I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. A beautiful presentation really does enhance the dining experience. It’s unfortunate how many restaurants neglect this factor. Photos like these should be posted in every restaurant kitchen to remind staff that looks count!

night club africana - dfg34hdb

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6th Annual Feast of the Senses: Part 1

The Chicago Art Dealers Association: Feast of the Senses.  Food, art & wine. Thursday, July 14th John and I met in river north to attend the sixth annual Feast of the Senses.  This was our first.  The proceeds from this event were used to benefit three not-for-profit organizations: Purple Asparagus, Common Threads, and Slow Food. […]

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tara - Pretty, pretty photography!

gemma - Thank you Tara, that is especially flattering coming from you with your clear photography talent.

SHF#10: Honey, Pistachio and Rum Palmiers

Oh honey!  The Baking Sheet is hosting this Sugar High Friday and the theme is honey.  I decided to try palmiers.  You can see what others chose to make here. Honey Pistachio and Rum Palmiers 3/4 C pistachios (roasted and hulled) 1/4 C caster sugar 7 teaspoons Flor de Caña Nicaraguan rum 1 teaspoon cinnamon […]

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Nic - These look great, rather like a light version of baklava. Great entry – and thanks for participating in this month’s SHF, Gemma!

gemma - Hi Nic, thanks again for hosting this SHF! Yes, they are much like baklava, my boyfriend said the same thing. I like that they are cookie-sized to nibble on. I think the flavors are also quite a bit lighter and more delicate as well.

mindy - Mmmm. Unfortunately, I often am not around when Gemma is baking and since her wonderful treats don’t seem to sit around very long without being eaten, I rarely get to try some.
I was, however, fortunate enough to get to try some of these fresh out of the oven.
They were fantastic!
Thanks Gemma.

Don - As an aside, the brick wall behind the honey jar reminds me a lot of the walls in The Grind, off of Lincoln and across from the Davis Theatre.

gemma - Thanks Mindy! I am glad you were over when they came out of the oven.
Don, I love brick walls, they have so much character. This one can be found on our back porch (which is really just a glorified stairway, I suppose.)

Michele - Hi Gemma, they look fantastic, Im especially drawn to the addition of pistachios. Im glad that you mentioned that it would take well to substitutions, it looks like it would be fun to experiment with!

Ana - Great looking palmiers Gemma. Heavens, there goes the diet!

Jennifer - Palmiers are such a great cookie/pastry to make with honey…why didn’t I think of it before now? These look delicious!
Thanks so much for joining in on SHF!

gemma - Michele, I am all for substitution experiments. Let me know what you try!
Thanks Ana, diets are over-rated ; ) Nice honey cake on your site. I will have to look around it a bit more.
Thanks Jennifer! Your ice cream sandwichs look amazing. Thanks for starting SHF too!

Tiffanie - these are fantastic! I think these taste better a day old. I added some lemon zest to the honey/rum dipping sauce. Fantastic recipe.

Gemma - Hi Tiffanie,
I’m glad it worked out well for you! I love these. The addition of lemon zest sounds great. I will definitely try that next time I make them.

New York: Breads

I recently visited New York with my mother. (Like so many other food bloggers!) She retired this year and we took this trip with two of her long-time friends and their daughters. We all had different goals for the trip and I regret that I did not get to as many bakeries as I had […]

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Michele - A bread shopping spree! Its the stuff dreams are made of. I would be in heaven sitting on the grass with a bundle of loaves to sample. Even if there are some disappointments. The rosemary bread sounds fantastic!

tara - Oh I am SO very happy that I have a baguette in the house already … after reading this post, I couldn’t help but go and rip of a chunk!

Zarah Maria - I love how you go out and buy FOUR breads, just because you have to taste a little bit of each – I’d have done exactly the same!

Antonietta - the bread looks delicious!

- - Oh, so many breads and all of them are white. Why not try a dense and dark bread packed with flavours. Once you have converted to dark breads there is no way back – at least not for me. They stay moist and are so much better for you too… but maybe it’s hard to find good dark bread in the states? Is it?
Anyway, the rosemary bread looks beautiful!

gemma - Michele, Tara, Zarah, Antonietta- Thanks! My mother knows that I review breads, however I think that she was a bit alarmed when she saw me buying loaf after loaf. I just can’t help it though!
Hi Anonymous: I love all types of breads. (If you are new to my site you can look through my bread review archives, I review many bakeries). While I love dark, dense breads I also love whites, ryes, semolinas, etc. Much as you can’t imagine going back to white breads, I cannot imagine cutting out a whole section of breads! I find the full spectrum to be fascinating, tasty, and quite complex and I would never choose to ignore any of the many varieties!
Thanks for stopping by. Do you bake breads? I would love to know what types of breads you are most interested in.

- - Yes, I’m new to your site, and hope I didn’t offend you cause it was not my purpose, I just pretty much say exactly what is on my mind and sometimes people take it the wrong way. And regarding this subject, people often seem to think that white bread is all that is out there, which makes me tired and hence my post. I did actually look at your archives and it was lots of beautiful breads but (except for the Irish bread) it all looked white to me. But maybe I jumped to conclusions, sorry :) Anyway, it’s your blog! I’m not the one to tell you what to do with it, just wanted to encourage people to try more dark breads.
I do eat white bread as well cause it is better for some stuff, like crostini. And I love turkish flat bread which is indeed, very white. But can’t agree with you on white breads being comlex though… would say they are tasty but pretty “easy”. I guess I think that dark bread has personality and will grow with time, while white bread might be pretty and seem fun at first but then there is just air and no substance (for the reckord: I’m still talking about bread) But hey, I’m blond and get judged for that a lot, so maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge the poor white breads…

gemma - Hrmm. . ok. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree here. I love all kinds of breads and I can’t agree with you that white breads can’t be complex, that they are ‘easy,’ and that they have intrisically less personality than white breads. I’m also somewhat intrigued that you seem to see such a clear distinction between white and non-white breads. Most breads use a blend of flours, not all white flour, so your stark distinction is kind of lost on me… In any event, feel free to share recipes of breads you find to be worthy, because as I said I love all breads. Also, I would encourage you to experiment more with white breads, because I think there might be a whole world of things to appreciate about breads that you may have written off.

- - I think you get me wrong. As I said, I do eat white bread as well. I’m not ignoring any breads and try all new ones I get my hands on (white or not) and usually enjoy them all. Just cause I find them easy doesn’t mean I don’t like them! But I do think people seem unaware that there is other breads than the airy white ones (which dominates the market completely in most countries I’ve been to).
So, all I wanted was to encourage people to try more dark breads cause frankly – people don’t eat them a lot and I think they are missing out. What is regarded as dark in most countries aint dark to me (the Irish bread you had pictured, that looked like dark bread though). An airy bread with a mixture of flours that might be stated as dark is not dark in my opinion, it has to be dense as well. So again, sorry if I sound like a dark-bread-fascist cause I’m not! Just want to open peoples minds to try dark bread (or darker if you prefer).
Haven’t done any baking with yeast yet (except for a foccacia once). So what I have done is, of course, scones and biscuits but also a beer bread and a non-yeast dark fruit and nut loaf. It is easy as, and I can share that with you if you wish.
Cheers :)

Molly - I’m so sorry to hear that Amy’s Bread was a bit of a disappointment! It had been on my list for my June trip to NYC, but I passed it up in favor of other places–and happily so. I, like you, prefer breads with much more character to their crusts. Those look a little too light and shiny. Hmph! Did you, by chance, get to try Balthazar Bakery? They make a pain de seigle that has a fantastic crust–thick, crisp, and chewy. Mmmm…

gemma - I was disappointed too Molly, but perhaps it was a blessing in the end because I easily could have put away a loaf or two if it had been tasty and would have regretted it an hour later when we went to Tavern on the Green for lunch. . The breads definitely had that distinctive “I have no character” sheen and lack of heft. Oh well.
I didn’t get to Balthazar, it was on my list. . . as were way too many things.
I have fallen for NYC a bit, so I will return soon and hopefully dedicate this future trip to more bakery visits. I will keep in mind your pain de seigle recommendation. Thanks!

Bonnie’s Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

For much of our childhood my brother and I were members of 4-H.  If you know anything about the organization you are most likely conjuring up images of cattle, funnel cake, and horse shows right now, however we started our own little group and we were more involved in arts and crafts and service projects […]

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Emily - First off–delurking to say ‘Hi’ and ‘I love your site’ and ‘thanks for writing about all the yummy options in Chicago’.
As a fellow 4-H veteran of both the baking and the State Fairing (mine was in clothing and arts and stuff), I just wanted to congratulate you, many years later, and ask you if you stayed in the (prison) bunks when you went. While 4-H teaches one all sorts of useful things, it really hammered home just how much I don’t want to experience prison.

Michele - Hi,
I just found your blog today and have eagerly read through your recent posts. The muffins looks wonderful and you’ve got me tempted to try a recipe for gougeres in one of my new cookbooks!

gemma - Thanks Emily! I’m glad you have been enjoying the site, and no worries, I lurk other places too. And yes, I DID stay in that prison lodging! What a weird place! I did some clothing a few years as well, I bet we crossed paths a few times there.
Michele, I am glad that our blogs found each other, yours is also excellent and I have enjoyed looking through your archives. Give the gougeres a try, they are so delicious. Let me know how they work out!