Lobstah! (And other delights)

18 Jul

I’ve finally recovered from the epic Tour de Bèbè, our whirlwind visit to the US spanning from Boston to Michigan to Chicago to downstate Illinois. Traveling with a baby meant our dining choices were dictated by convenience, but I did manage to have some spectacular meals. Unfortunately, I was so busy with baby that I forgot to take photos half the time. I’m thinking specifically of when I took my parents to The Bristol, where a longtime friend has found his calling as a manager. (Ironically, when I first met him he was quite the picky eater, but living with me broadened his food horizons, which were further expanded by his now-husband.) In my defense, the restaurant was so dark that the photos wouldn’t have turned out anyway, but still…

Anyway, here’s what we ate: we started with a perfectly fried squash blossom stuffed with a cheese and chorizo mixture (much more delicate in flavor than one might envision from that description), a warm beet salad with a smear of miso and an intriguing “savory nori granola,” which tasted a lot like arare, and a charcuterie plate with…the baby was yelling (it’s his way of entertaining himself when he’s bored) so I didn’t catch the server’s explanation, but it involved a duck roulade, a pate, and a prosciutto-style cured meat. My parents eat like birds, so we opted to get a couple of pastas instead, and ended up with three dishes due to an ordering mix-up. (We had ordered ravioli, and got the raviolo.) Actually, I was glad for the mistake, because all three were delicious: the giant raviolo encasing a whole egg yolk that came oozing out, creating a decadent instant sauce; the house-made (but of course!) chitarra with rapini pesto; and the nettle ravioli with braised snails. We finished with a buttery Basque cake topped with strawberries, some of which made it into Baby J’s maw. My mom had been asking what gin tasted like, so I convinced her to order a cocktail, which she has done, basically, never. (Although she did surprise me by buying margarita mix from Williams-Sonoma once. I found it in the fridge a year later, mostly full.)

Hopefully the above will convince you to visit The Bristol when you’re in Chicago. It’s really lovely food, and one of the best examples of the whole seasonal/local/snout-to-tail cooking philosophy that’s so popular lately.

Lobster Roll

And if you’re on the East Coast, go eat a lobster roll! Somehow I managed to miss out on eating a “real” lobster roll during my last visit five years ago. I did make my own version with leftovers from the giant lobster we had gotten for my nephew’s birthday.

Underwater monster or delicious dinner?

Seriously, even with six adults and a lobster-loving three-year-old, we had leftovers for days. (I remember that I was the only one interested in eating the coral, and even I had to give up on finishing it.) I whipped up a homemade mayonnaise and tried to approximate a lobster roll. Alas, I was missing a crucial ingredient that makes a lobster roll a lobster roll, and not just a lobster sandwich: the roll itself, which is similar to a hot dog bun without the crust on the sides. The bun is buttered and grilled, offering a soft, pillowy counterpoint to the firm lobster meat inside. It’s like a poor man’s brioche, literally. I guess some lobster rolls include celery and such, but the version I finally had at the Lobster Pool was unsullied by such adulterations, just a pile of succulent lobster chunks with a hint of mayo.

Next time: German airport food — not nearly as grim as it sounds!

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2 Responses to “Lobstah! (And other delights)”

  1. me8ara July 29, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    The Bristol was hands-down the best meal I ate last year. I can still remember that roast chicken. Have they been given their much-deserved Michelin star yet?

  2. Sara August 3, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    The lobster roll looks really good.

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