Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:
One of the things we miss about Dallas is the availability of Tex-Mex restaurants. Â Although Mexican food (as we know it) is not nearly as prevalent here in Chicagoland, we look forward to trying it when and where we can find it. Â While running errands last weekend, we drove out to a shopping area called The Glen, for the sole purpose of trying the Mexican restaurant there called El Jardin. Â It wasn’t quite as good as some of our old Texas favorites (Mi Cocina and Chuys: Â you are sorely missed), but El Jardin met several of our Tex-Mex requirements pretty well — balanced margaritas (not too sour, not too sweet); salsa with fresh-roasted flavor; well-seasoned chicken in the flautas and excellent char-grilled flavor on the carne asada. Â We’d go back there.
We’ll also go back to The Glen for the shopping opportunities, including a shop that sells a wide variety of olive oils and vinegars. Â It was interesting to taste some of the different oils and pick up subtle flavor notes and profiles — almost like a wine tasting. Â According to the sales clerk, the taste of the olives can be influenced by other types of trees growing near the olive tree. Â I used some of the olive oil we bought that day to make this vinaigrette the next evening, and Dan picked up a very slight apple flavor in the salad, even though there were no apples in it. Â Dude either has a really sophisticated palate, or a very active imagination.
We took advantage of balmy temperatures in the 30s (did I really just type that?) and calm winds last Sunday by walking over to the lake to see how much of it is frozen. Â From what we could see, a good bit of the lake is iced over, with huge snow drifts along the banks and ice crystal formations at the edges. Â It was really beautiful to see.
A couple of slightly warmer days this week also meant that Dan could be outside on our terrace — without coat, hat, gloves and scarf — to grill our dinner. Â The BBQ game hen was the perfect little sneak peek into what will surely be an amazing start to the grilling season this spring. Â In about 3 more months.
We don’t currently have a backsplash in our kitchen, which doesn’t really bother me at this point, except for the wall space above the kitchen sink. Â Until recently, doing the dishes involved staring at a blank white square that was slowly acquiring splatter stains and spots (and was slowly driving me insane.) Â So I stuck a big, faux marble-patterned bandaid on the problem by hanging our old magnetic dry erase board in the space. Â I tried to make the board look more kitchen-y and less office-y by covering it with self-adhesive contact paper in a marble pattern (found at our local Lowes.) Â We can’t write on the board, but the magnets still stick through the contact paper so we can use to board to put up notes, our grocery lists and our weekly menus. Â And I can just wipe down the contact paper if anything splatters up there from the sink. Â Sanity saved. Â (For now.)