Friday, August 13, 2010

La Madia

I've been so busy lately that I haven't been keeping in touch with some of my friends like I should. It is really a shame  because when you have a lot on your mind it helps to consult with those around you. I hadn't talked to my friend Megan in so long, and we both had some catching up to do - so why not do it around some wine and a good meal? Our friend Erin also joined in on the evening, which was even better. So now that we've secured a time and day ( always tricky to do around our busy schedules!)  it's now a matter of location. I've heard about La Madia from a few friends, saw it on Groupon (a way to get coupons on daily deals in the city), and I've walked by it many times. I never thought to check it out even though it is right under my nose! 

It was decided. La Madia. The place was surprisingly packed for a weekday- good thing I made reservations because we would have been waiting for over an hour. We got there a bit early and went over to Fado for a couple beers and pre-dinner chat. 

The restaurant self proclaims to be a "contemporary pizzeria".  The Ikea-style wall decor and giant brick pizza oven lived up to their motto. I am always weary of anything traditional followed by the word "contemporary", probably because you never know what you'll get. What happened to authentic? La Madia lived up to their description, and I instantly loved the atmosphere-contemporary done right! The crowd were certainly Groupon-ers - young business professionals off from work. It was loud in the main dinning area, but the back room where we were seated was quiet and just perfect for conversation. It was nice to catch up with the girls and the 5$ house wine helped. 

I loved the house red which was a 2008 Mesta Tempranillo- from Castilla la Mancha, Spain. It was perfect. Erin's house white which was a 2007 La Prendina Pinot Grigio from Veneto, Italy was just as good, if not a better fit for the hot day. 

We ordered the foil-Roasted crackling Ni├žoise Olives: yummy! A bit salty after the 10th olive but so good with a hint of rosemary. The toasted bruschetta with seasonal wild mushrooms, marsala glaze & whipped ricotta. For the pizza's they offer Red or White (with sauce or without). So first we ordered the triple pepperoni, tomato Sauce & mozzarella cheese, finished with white truffle oil. YUM! The truffle oil made it all the better, sooo good we all agreed it had amazing flavor. The second pizza was the housemade lamb sausage, fresno peppers, caciocavallo cheese & mint salsa verde. Certainly was the runner-up. The lamb was good, but next time I think I'll order something else. 

After a couple more glasses of wine and digesting our fest it was unanimous- we loved La Madia and will be back. 

Just a note: the service was a tad slow- it took some time to get our wines. 

La Madia on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 9, 2010

Calumet Fisheries

    Last weekend Sanaz, Johara and our friend Linsey went exploring to Calumet Fisheries. This little smoke shack might sound familiar as it was featured on Anthony Bourdain's visit to Chicago a few years back. I never really thought to make the drive down South to "95th at the bridge", but once Johara made the suggestion I figured -why not get out of the city. The drive itself isn't exactly scenic, and you might not want to pull out the Mercedes- since some of it can be sketchy. The white building is tiny, but you won't miss it as it's located right before the bridge. The line of cars parked on the side of the road should also be a give away. The tiny shop displays all sorts of crustaceans you can order by the pound, or full/ half order. The reviews, pictures of Bourdain, and articles boosting their James Beard award fill the walls. The reason this little joint is so well-known is because it is one of the few smokehouses left in Illinois. The fish is smoked on site with natural wood with no liquid or substituted fillers. They use oak logs to stoke their fire and to bring out their natural flavors.
    The very friendly worker took pity on our camera's and complete blank faces when it came time to order so he did a great job of suggesting their popular items. He even offered to take us out back to see the smokehouses.
    We walked out with 2 pieces of smoked salmon, smoked shrimp, and breaded oysters. I'm not sure I recommend the oysters (eating them in a hot car on the drive back to city wasn't as appetizing as we thought).
Just so you know the only way to go here is - to go. No seating in this little smokehouse.
Since we had no where to eat our newly smoked fish we headed back to Johara's where she had prepared an awesome spread of cream cheese, locks, veggies, and summer drinks. The afternoon was spent feasting.

Sometimes you need to get out of the routine of restaurants and BYOB's. Getting out of the city to enjoy great food is also about the experience and the adventure. I was surprised that I enjoyed smoked fish as much as I did. I probably would have never tried it if it wasn't for the lure of the excursion. I'd like to keep these  trips going so if you have any suggestions for another field trip let me know.

I'm thinking a return trip to Hot Dougs is in order.

Calumet Fisheries on Urbanspoon