Eating at Alinea – A Magical Dining Experience!

Alinea Restaurant Exterior

Alinea’s nondescript exterior–it’s the gray building in the middle.

Alinea has been on my radar for a while now. I first heard about it in 2012 when one of my favorite food bloggers wrote about her experience. In 2013, Bon Appétit named Alinea the fourth best restaurant in America (see The 20 Most Important Restaurants in America). It’s also one of only two restaurants in Chicago with three Michelin stars, and it has been recognized as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants since 2007.

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Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Thai chicken satay is one of my absolute favorites! After grilling or broiling these strips of well-marinated chicken, the resulting dish is smoky, moist, and delicious. The peanut sauce only adds another dimension to this complex and satisfying meal.

The key to great Thai chicken satay is marinating the meat for several hours using a sweet, salty, and spicy marinade. (Spicy in the sense of flavorful, not hot.)

The marinade consists of lemongrass, shallots, garlic, red chilies, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, soy and fish sauces, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. This is quite the panoply of ingredients, but trust me, the result is worth it!

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Korean-Style Tuna Tartare + Why I Love Food

Korean-Style Tuna Tartare

Korean-Style Tuna Tartare with Avocado and Radish Slices and Ginger Dressing

Before I talk about this fresh and vibrant Korean-style tuna tartare, I’d like to share what fuels my passion for food. The sheer pleasure of it certainly plays a part, but it’s not the heart of the matter.

People, places, cultures, and connections inspire me to seek out world cuisines. Through food, one can gain insight into another culture and share an experience with the people who live there: “Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.” – Mark Kurlansky

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Ribeye Steak with Red Wine Sauce, Blue Cheese, Pancetta, and Candied Pecans

Ribeye Steaks with Red Wine Sauce, Blue Cheese, Pancetta, and Candied Pecans

Ribeye Steak with Red Wine Sauce, Truffle Mac and Cheese, Salad, and Red Wine

It’s not very often that a wine–or any alcoholic beverage for that matter–inspires what I cook. Normally, I choose a meal first, then think about the beverage pairing. But when Corey and I received a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon last summer, I made an exception.

Corey and I have very different wine preferences: I prefer light, refreshing German Rieslings with floral and sweet notes, while Corey prefers robust reds. When Corey mentioned this predicament to a colleague at his future firm this summer, she kindly sent him a bottle of Orin Swift Cellars Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012–a wine that we both adored.

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Russian Borscht Soup

Russian Borscht Soup with Toasted Bread

Russian Borscht Soup with Fresh Dill, Diced Hard-Boiled Egg, and Toasted Bread

Though it’s technically spring, it’s still quite cold here in Chicago and in much of the Northeast, which has kept me cooking all kinds of delicious soups. Last week, I made a Portuguese kale soup with chorizo, a creamy Thai coconut curry, and this robust Russian borscht soup.

Borscht is a very vegetable-heavy soup that features beets, cabbage, onion, carrot, and garlic. This combination results in a very earthy, sweet, and tangy soup. Some versions of borscht are completely vegetarian, while others incorporate beef, pork, or chicken. I like to add a little meat to borscht because I think it provides a nice textural contrast, but it’s great without it, so omit it if you prefer.

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