Rise n°1 Round 2

New traditions can be scary, but not when they involve souffles.

First off, I can't get over how cute this place is. It's the little things that can make or break an atmosphere and their bread plates & cloth napkins make it. 

It all started off with some great bread (how cute is their bread board) and some prosecco. 

First Course
Tomato Basil Soup - Tomato basil soup with "marshmallow" souffles & pesto drizzle

Second Course
Crab souffle - crab, boursin cheese with red peppers & chives
Stuffed poblano - Poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp & grits with a goat cheese souffle

Third Course
Pumpkin Souffle - pumpkin dessert souffle with a cream drizzle & side of freshly whipped cream

Tacopocalypse

You can't quite call it a hole in the wall, but it's also not the biggest showstopper...but their food is. 

I was off to Des Moines to work the Iowa State Fair - now most people would be eager to get to the fair and have a fried frenzy of the day, however that is not what I was looking to do. I am fortunate enough to have a good work friend (James)that seems to love food almost as much as I do and we both decided, if we are going to DSM we are going to get some damn good food. 

Walking into Tacopocalypse, its nothing special - some cool art on the walls, walk up to order, serve yourself drink station, and you have to go through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. Of course I had looked at the menu before and planned on getting the taco bowl - a little boring, but I had a full day ahead. Thank goodness for my foodie co-worker, as we sat down he told me he ordered the ginger beef burrito & the Korean pork masa fries to share. Not quite sure what to expect, I was excited. 

First dropped off was my Korean chicken taco boat with a fried egg on top....

It was not only beautiful but delicious. I may be a little biased because I would probably eat anything with a fried egg on top, but the flavor of the chicken really came out to play too. 

Next was James' Ginger Beef Burrito...

They definitely use some magic when it comes to their presentation. It may have been a little daunting in size, but James powered through. Don't worry, he let me sneak in a bite or two. Being a ginger lover (the root, not the hair), I was pleasantly surprised that the ginger flavor was the lasting flavor after these bites. 

Last, but most definitely NOT least were the the Korean Pork Masa Fries...

Holy hell...I still think this may be one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life. The fattiness from the pork, the spicy from the asian dressing, the cool from the slaw, the creamy from the cheese sauce, and the texture from the masa fries. HOME. RUN. I just can't. 

All in all, I am obsessed. So if anybody needs a ride to Des Moines, I'm your girl. You can pay me in Tacopocalypse. 

Chicago

When your parents are only 3 hours away instead of 13, you jump in the car & head to the Windy City. 

I don't mind a mini road trip, but I need to be eating, drinking, or chewing gum the entire time. So Saturday started bright & early, car loaded with overnight oats, fruit, water, coffee, a Monster and a Spotify playlist ready to go. 

I headed straight to my Aunt & Uncle's and after a handful of hugs & kisses, we went off to the Lincoln Park Farmer's Market. It was pretty packed and full of fresh produce that could have filled up your local Aldi. We also got to see homemade crepes made on the fly as well as smell the Cookies & Carnitas. Dave (my dad) made a pit stop at this tent and grabbed two cookies: Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Dried Fruit. I could have gotten into some deep trouble if I was going to stick around, but I was off to meet a friend for lunch. 

My girl Max just started working at Equinox Gold Coast in Chicago (hit her up!) and we had to grab a quick healthy bite to catch up - Lyfe Kitchen was an easy go to. After (way too much) contemplation, I went for the Mahi Fish Tacos: (chayote slaw, avocado, cilantro, chipotle aioli & corn tortillas). This was just the right about of spicy & salty and creamy whenever you got a mouthful of avo. We paired up our lunch with a mimosa because it's taboo to cheers with water - sparkling or not. 

The night was young and we were welcomed into my parent's friend's house. Not only was this a beautiful home full of exquisite art work and the perfect blend of modern & cozy - they served up a great charcuterie board. With a few cheeses (including the goat cheese & jam preserve that was to die for), some hard salami, and more clutch grabs from the farmer's market...it was a spot that everyone naturally gathered around. 

Big John (my dad's friend) offered up his specialty, which is simple but perfection. Quality bread + Garlic + Olive Oil + Grill + Tomatoes +Balsamic vinegar + Salt & Pepper = Heaven 

16 hours & 10+ miles later, my nightcap was half of a margherita pizza, a few Trader Joe meringues and a comfy bed. 


Sunday morning started off with an hour walk with my mom paired with a free Starbys (perks of being with mom), followed by a workout class with my Aunt at their gym, Lakeshore Sport & Fitness - it kicked my butt. 

The boys went to a Cubs game and The girls ended up back at the gym for brunch to enjoy the beautiful weather on the rooftop patio. I went for the fitness field greens salad...with a fried egg on top, because well...I can. 

Before I left the city, I couldn't pass up on National Ice Cream Day when I was only a few blocks away from Jeni's. The second I stepped in, I was torn with my excitement and my indecisiveness on what flavor to go with. From churro to whiskey pecans to wildberry lavender, there wasn't a drop of creativity missing. After trying a few flavors (with these cute little metal spoons that you get to keep...mini perk) I went with sweet cream & roasted strawberry buttermilk in a waffle cone. Gah I just love me some Jeni's, I want them all!! 

I couldn't be happier that I made the decision to go for the drive and have an amazing weekend in the city. It was full of family times, lots of hugs and of course amazing eats. The only Thing I regret is that I didn't get an extra scoop. 

Layers to Heaven

The best thing about birthdays, isn't the presents its the never ending sweets. 

Ethan's birthday was the 16th and his mom made him a cake, seems normal right? Well...Ethan's mom, Renee Holmes, owns a restaurant cafe in Fulton, Illinois called Krumpets and her version of a birthday cake isn't one of the norm. 

Let's rewind...

These were our two birthday cakes last year. Ethan's is on the left (a chocolate cake with hazelnut toffee cream filling with bits of homemade toffee & mine is on the right (a layered sponge cake with chocolate buttercream, hazelnut cream, white chocolate ganache, and more)

So, fast forward.... This year Ethan's parent's came in town post bday, lo and behold his mom came with a cake in hand. 

Beautiful cake using the "naked" method of frosting on the outside of the cake paired with chocolate frosting and chocolate covered strawberries. Of course, that's not it. wait for it...


...let me break it down for you

This gets real before the first layer of cake: 
•chocolate ganache
•chocolate french buttercream

•white chocolate strawberry ganache
Then the cake starts
•chocolate
cake layer
•chocolate French buttercream
•split layer of French sponge cake filled with:
        
•homemade strawberry jam
        
•white chocolate French buttercream
        •fresh strawberries
•layer of chocolate French buttercream
•layer of chocolate cake

The white chocolate french buttercream filled with the strawberries was beyond refreshing and sweet, it just craves to be devoured. Also, the chocolate french buttercream has this thick icing consistency (almost that of an ice cream cake icing). 

For a girl that loves icing, this cake is an absolute dream.

Rise n°1

I'm the baby of the family, which as much as I try to fight it...I am spoiled (sorry Erin & Lyndsy). I landed in sunny Texas for Christmas break and headed straight to my sister's gym to get in a quick workout. After that, Cindi (mom) had the rest of our afternoon planned - which meant we were going to her absolute favorite restaurant, Rise Souffle. I'm not quite sure if its her favorite because the food is amazing or because one time she saw George W. Bush eating there...its a toss up. 

For starters, the restaurant is so unique. It's like that person's house that seems completely chaotic and unorganized but somehow it all just works. First off was a bottle of Prosecco (mom's doing) and some bread. But this bread was completely salivating...you know those baguettes at Panera that are sometimes actually really doughy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside? Well think of that but 100x better. Plus they serve it on this cute little cutting board to serve yourself...we had two rounds. 

You order everything up front, since they are souffles, they have to time out when everything should come out. 

First up: Marshmallow Soup. 
Now don't be fooled like I was, the "marshmallows" aren't actually mallows. They are mini souffles placed on top of a creamy tomato basil soup followed by a drizzle of pesto. 

Second up: Truffle Infused Mushroom
First of all, can we look at this beauty? The real magic was when you would stick your spoon in it and see it all deflate. The truffle taste was streamlined throughout the whole souffle and the flavors literally just melt onto your tongue. 

Last but not least: Bread Pudding
There were too many tempting options for dessert, so after we went with the waitresses' request we went with the Bread Pudding. The server comes up and stabs the middle of the souffle and pour in this cream mixture that floats through the souffle. No words (other than the ones I already said).