Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sunday: Family time

After our busy Saturday, we had a restful Sunday, with the family together. We went to church, then lunch at Culver's.

Here are DD1, P, and DD2.


Here are C and F-DSIL.


Here are my mom & dad... mom isn't too happy I am taking the picture.


Here are DH and I.


After lunch mom & dad left for Michigan, and the rest of us went home and spent the afternoon enjoying the porch together. There was a walk, with puppies, some skate board, some knitting, a nice fire in the chiminea, some napping, and general relaxation.

It was a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


We wanted my folks to experience the restaurant where their future grandson-in-law works, so we went to Senza. It was also my dad's birthday, so that was a very special treat too.

The minute we walked through the door they greeted us like long lost friends, and said happy birthday to my dad. Everyone was very welcoming, and they even gave me a hook to hang my purse from the table! The decor was updated since the last time we were there. They have walnut tables now, instead of the white plastic picnic tables, and a couple more of them. DD1 did the redesign, and it is very elegant now.

We had water, with a choice of still or sparkling. I can't remember ever having that choice before, but I chose still. Mom and dad had the wine, a different wine for each entree, chosen specifically to match the flavors.

My pictures are not the best. I didn't use my flash, so the colors don't pop, but the food was as beautiful as it was good. The description under the pictures is from the menu.

We had the 5 course meal. Between all of us we tried most of the items on the menu. We started with the amuse:

Amuse: hamachi, yuzu kosho, sweet soy. dashi

It was a bite of fish, and a swallow of cucumber ginger soda. The flower is a squash flower, and is edible too, but none of us ate ours. (This is a serving for 2 people.) It was good, and a good introduction to the rest of the meal. My mom's face after she tasted it was so funny... she was trying to figure out what the tastes were.

The next course was scallops for two of us, and petite greens for the other two:

scallop: fava, blueberry, onion caramel, oxalis

petite greens: crab, young coconut, peach, macadamia

The scallops were delicious. The caramelized onions were so good, the blueberries gave just a touch of sweetness. I used to eat oxalis in our yard when I was a kid; I always liked the flavor. Mom & dad had the greens. They had a little trouble eating it (it was hard to get a forkful in your mouth) but they said it was really good. Those are peaches, sliced so thin you could almost see through them.

The service made everything even more special. It was so fun anticipating the next course by what utensils were provided, all carried on trays cushioned with napkins.

This is the soup:

They bring it out with just the extra flavors and pour the soup into the bowl at the table:

vidalia onion: duck prosciutto, truffle, bianco sottobosco, corn

The pumpernickel was the crouton, the little white "blob" was ice cream (!), and the green is petite scallions. I think this was my favorite dish. It was delicious! The soup was sweet onion, and the other pieces just added so much interest and flavor.

My dad and I had the ribeye, and DH and mom had the agnolotti. This was the main course. It was served on such a large plate that it looked like not very much food, but there was plenty.

ribeye: cherry, black garlic, morel, mustard

agnolotti: maitake, juneberry, kumquat, thyme

The ribeye was so good! The meat was tender, and the cherries were the crowning touch. There was a little tiny cracker, and the mushroom (!).

The agnolotti is ravioli with mushroom, the kumquat added such a distinct flavor.

There was an extra course that we were not expecting at all. It is a cheese course. It was melt in your mouth good! Since it wasn't on the menu, I will have to depend on my memory. The cheese was served like whipped cream. It was almost the consistency of pudding, but still with a very strong cheese flavor. The eclair was stuffed with pureed raisin. Just wow!


For the final course three of us had the chocolate, and DH had the oatmeal. They brought dad's plate with a candle burning! (but they did not sing to him).

chocolate: coconut, banana, raspberry, pumpkin seed

oatmeal: pine nut, cherry, dreamsicle, apricot

The chocolate was simply delicious. It had just a touch of chili in it... I could feel it in my mouth afterwards, but it didn't make it hot. The coconut was just a mouthful of ice cream and there were a couple of little pieces of cake. DH had the oatmeal, and really liked that too. It had a contrast in textures, flavors, and colors.

Some of the combinations on the menu make you wonder how someone could even think of putting them on the same plate, but they all work so well! After the first bite my mom and dad stopped trying to analyze everything and just enjoyed. They raved about the meal all the way home. We were not blown away quite as much as last time, because we expected a out-of-this-world meal, and we certainly got it.

The restaurant is doing well, and the reviews have been excellent. I also highly recommend it. By the way, all the food is gluten free! But that is just an added benefit. You wouldn't know it by any of the tastes or even textures of the bread.

We got invited to return soon, and we certainly hope to.

Wonderful Family Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend. My parents drove down from Michigan, and spent a couple of days with us; we did so much I will have to divide the pictures into several posts to keep from overwhelming things.

Mom and Dad arrived on Friday, mid-afternoon, and we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the front porch. We went out for supper to Mishkenut, a very small local Mediterranean restaurant. I discovered my parents had never tasted hummus!? (I really can't say much, 10 years ago I had never tasted it either.) DH had the kufka, my parents had kabobs, and I had the fallafel.

Saturday morning, we got a moderate start and went out for brunch; then came home and rested. In the afternoon we went to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

(DH waiting for DD1)

We have been driving past this museum for years and years. A couple of weeks ago they did a "My Chicago" segment on it on the news, and I saw that it looked like a relaxing day; with plenty of places to sit; and it has a butterfly room! Our friends were giving DH plenty of grief about going to such a boring place, but it suited the day.

There were tons of butterflies!

On a docent's hand
The wings are getting raggedy
mom's arm

When you leave the butterfly room, you walk through the chrysalis room.
Freshly hatched!

We wandered through a couple of the other exhibits on the 2nd floor. These were some of DH's favorites:

They had some nice dioramas of Illinois flora and fauna. You can also take a wetlands walk outside too, but we didn't take the time. Just looking through the windows we saw geese, ducks, and I think a swan.

I walked through the exhibits on the main floor, and decided that we have to come back and bring C. She has raised butterflies, and her newest pets are turtles:


(these are sculptures, but there were real ones too.) I did need her along to find the creatures in their homes; she can always find the ones that are hiding.

After enjoying the museum we went to DD1's apartment to wait for the next exciting installment of our day. Three of the four visitors napped, I knit.

Stay tuned!