Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cooking the Viking Way (Viking Cooking School)

Now I fancy myself an avid & skilled home cook & baker so when a friend asked me to go to the Viking Cooking School with her in Glenview my first thought was to pass. But when I mentioned this to some coworkers they wouldn't stop raving about how much fun it is as they all went on a company outing there before I joined the company.

So I decided to look a little further and perused their website: (be sure to choose the Glenview location). I was impressed at the variety of courses they offered, from the basic "I can barely boil water" to the advanced. Our class was $80 for the three-hour course and their prices & class length are varied depending on the class. They even have classes which aren't hands-on for the shy folks.

It ended up being four of us who attended the "Chocolate" class. We made the most scrumptious goodies from simple chocolate bark to chocolate balsamic truffle pops & Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cupcakes (which I dubbed the Elvis Cupcake). Our class was hands on so we each had a chance to "play" and we all got to take leftoevers home.

Some added surprise bonuses: it was BYOB so we enjoyed some champagne while we played with our chocolate AND students receive 10% off in the Viking kitchen store (love the gadgets!) the day of class.

Our instructor was fun and even her assistant who was "just there to clean the pots" gave us a few laughs. If you are looking for a fun alternative get together, especially as the weather turns cooler, check them out. You can reach them by calling : 847-350-0705 and they are located in Glenview at 1140 N. Milwaukee Ave (just south of the Abt Electronics store).

Hooray sushi -- Kyoto, Downers Grove

Shhh. I found a gem of a sushi place, hidden in a strip mall. It's surrounded by Best Buy and Disc Replay, but inside is a little oasis of calm and tastiness.

This is Kyoto, 1408 Butterfield Road, Downers Grove. Besides sushi, they also feature cooked Japanese and Chinese dishes.

I visited with my sushi partner-in-crime (not the husband, since he's not so much into the fish). The service was attentive and friendly, the food was fresh and delightful, and the atmosphere is cozy and comfortable.

We ordered:
- edamame
- 2 super white tuna, 2 red snapper
- California roll
- Mexican roll (tuna, salmon, avocado, jalapeno, fish egg & cilantro with hot mayo)
- Spicy Girl roll (tempura shrimp & cucumber topped with spicy tuna & tempura)
- a glass each of sake
- tempura fried red bean ice cream

Lotta food, right? And yet, pretty reasonably priced -- not wallet emptying! It was pretty much all delicious -- the Mexican roll was probably the most out-of-the-ordinary and had great flavors, but even the California roll managed to be special.  The white tuna completely melted in my mouth, and the snapper tasted like... the ocean. Not "fishy," just fresh and with a subtle but distinct taste.

The sake I ordered was apple flavored, and it tasted like wine with a jolly rancher melted in -- but it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. The red bean ice cream was great for desert -- subtle and a little fruity, a little sweet, not too rich or heavy. Just the right ending to a delicious meal.

While my sushi p-i-c and I have new frontiers to explore, I would definitely return to Kyoto.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mmmm, burritos ... Burrito Parilla Mexicana, Lombard

We have spent the last few weeks buying a house and moving, and now that we are all settled into Lombard, we have even more new and awesome places to explore!

One of our first stops was a little burrito place near Butterfield Road and Highland called Burrito Parilla Mexicana (2770 Highland Ave, Lombard).

It's a taqueria. A gussied-up, sleek, modern, "Highlands of Lombard" taqueria.

It looks Chipotle-esque at first, but you don't actually walk down the assembly line -- you order and pay, then wander down to get your drinks and have a seat. (Which, come to think of it, makes for some wasted counter space.)

I ordered tacos al pastor, with cilantro and onion, and my husband ordered carnitas nachos. We both went with water, although it's cool to note that they have horchata next to the soda fountain -- free refills!

While we waited for our food, we were brought a smallish bowl of chips and two kinds of salsa. The chips were slightly above average; the salsas were both fresh and delicious with a creeping-up-on you heat.

My tacos were quite tasty; the meat was a little crispy around the edges with a great flavor and I liked that they used lightly grilled red onions instead of white. The rice was nothing too exciting, but the refried beans had a great flavor to them. My husband's nachos looked very tasty and I snagged a bit of the guacamole, which was excellent.

Everyone was very friendly and we got offered multiple chips/salsa refills. The interior is sleek and comfortable, with huge comfy booths around the edges.

It's a little pricier than your average taqueria, but I attribute that to where it is -- and they do offer the free chips and salsa, which is a nice touch. Plus: It's walking distance of our new house! Score!