cindy scores on the birthday dinners:
1. "I made my parents take me to this new place, Oceanaire, which is very post-modern in that it attempts to be a seafood restaurant similar to the one your grandparents would have gone to in 1950. They have all these retro dishes on the menu, like Shrimp De Jonghe, Clams Casino and Oysters Rockefeller, and the decor looks all swoopy like an ocean liner from the 30s or 40s. To start, we had an enormous shellfish platter filled with lobster, crab legs, clams, oysters, mussels and the biggest shrimp I have ever seen. I had the seared bigeye tuna from Hawaii with asian condiments (an enormous red slab, it was SO GOOD), my mom had troll-caught salmon and steve had these enormous crab cakes. We all split celeriac bolognese and fried green tomatoes with a mustard aioli. For dessert, baked alaska with huckleberry ice cream and a candle on top! It was so funny, almost like a trip back in time to the dishes that Marilyn Monroe would have eaten or something."
2. "So, a friend at work took me out for a birthday dinner at Dahlia Lounge last night. I must tell you what I had, because it was so good. For appetizers, we had shrimp and scallion dumplings with a vinegar chili sauce. Sooo good. Also we had a five-spice rubbed duck leg with little stewed pomegranate seeds all over it and a little sticky pinched dumpling hiding underneath. It was heavenly. For entrees I had crab cakes with lemongrass aioli and this divine little soy/ginger stir fry, and the whole thing had shavings of fresh coconut over it. Dave got venison served two ways - one was smoked and tasted SO good, like it had been roasting over a really smoky campfire or something, but tender - and then osso buco. With yummy veggies and some kind of rice pilaf or risotto. Yummmm. And for dessert, a mountain of coconut cream pie. It was divine!"
3. In honor of cindy's birthday and because I happened to run into john at critical mass, i ate dinner at lula cafe in logan square. self-described as a part of the "oozing crevasse of artistry, musicianship, lingual creativity, and general muse that the community of logan square generates so profusely," it was, despite heavy loads of pretention, wonderful, reasonably priced and "neato." i recommend it very enthusiastically. yes, the food muse is alive and well at lula's. i got the moroccan chickpea sweet potato tangine and a house salad. the tangine was a perfect post-ride dish...hearty and spicy. other folks with me ordered peanut satay sesame noodles which i normally find to be boring but which were divine, penne pasta with tequila-lime marinara--also usually boring but amazing here, and a winter squash dish. ah, good!
and, for the record, i made fried green tomatoes just the other week...tossed in cornmeal, salt and pepper. no mustard aioli, though.