Friday, January 17, 2014

Mmmmmm... Maaaaaaarrrrrrrmalaaaaade...

Au Cheval: Roasted Bone Marrow and Beef Cheek Marmalade
There is something to be said about a great side.

My husband and I frequent a restaurant called Au Cheval in Chicago where they serve upgraded diner classics like scrambled eggs with foie gras, cheeseburgers with thick slices of pork belly, and-- my personal favorite-- roasted bone marrow with beef cheek marmalade.

I grew up in a household that ate bone marrow, so seeing it on the dining scene is no big deal to me. But there is something to be said about that beautiful beef cheek marmalade served alongside the marrow. IT IS SO GOOD! That marmalade is SO GOOD that I asked our server if they could put some in a jar so we could take it home with us (she laughed, shook her head and said no, and left me in my seat pouting).

Now I really can't have a post about the marmalade if I don't insert some rambling obsessed description touting its many glories, so here we go: the marmalade is served nice and warm and hits you first with the beautiful aroma of beef, onions, and seasonings that have been cooked and loved for a long time before making it to your plate. You absolutely have to take a nice big spoonful of the marmalade by itself (before, of course, combining it with the marrow and the toast) and let it sit and melt in your mouth. The flavors are deep, fatty, savory, sweet, rich, oniony, and caramelly. You are left with the need to close your eyes and really feel and savor the mouthful before it disappears, so delightfully, into your contented stomach. 

I think that description should do it... for now.  

Are you hungry for beef cheek marmalade yet? Because I know I am.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quit Yelping: The Ups and Downs of Using Mass Review Sites

I was having a conversation with one of my co-workers today:

"Have you heard of the restaurant, Jellyfish?" She asked.

"No," I responded, "If it hasn't cracked the Yelp top 25 in any category, I probably haven't heard of it or tried it."

She laughed and responded, "You need to broaden your horizons!," and then continued to talk about how she heard the place had a great ambiance, etc. and how she was looking forward to going there with her girlfriends for a girl's night...

I was a little taken aback by her response and started to think about my current restaurant habits and my growing dependency on Yelp. is a website that allows millions of users to rate their restaurant experiences and takes those ratings to rank restaurants in any given city. Nowadays, I often rely on Yelp to tell me where to go for dinner and, as I mentioned before, I tend to stick within the top 25 in any given restaurant category and rarely venture out of that range.

To me this makes sense. This is reasonable. If 500-something people gave a certain restaurant 4.5/5 stars, then that restaurant has to have good food right? So far I have not been disappointed. I've relied on Yelp numerous times and have gotten some pretty amazing restaurant experiences out of using the site.

But is this preventing me from tasting some really good food? I remember the days before Yelp when I used to just enter restaurants at random and order the same way. I remember going down streets around dinner time and entering the place that seemed the most crowded. I remember even giving very empty restaurants a chance, one time leading me to the best carne asada fries I've had in my life.

I probably won't quit Yelping anytime soon but it may not hurt to venture out again into the unknown and see where that takes me.