What’s next?

I haven’t posted in a little while. Life has thrown me some major curves of late. The kind of curves that can radically alter the course of one’s life. As I rethink my priorities, I weigh the importance of this blog and wonder if it will matter to me in the next six months, the next year, and so on.

I did have fun cooking up a delicious balsamic mushroom chicken recipe I found online. I didn’t have the exact ingredients, and I was only making a half portion but the dish turned out great. The side dish I threw together on the fly was the real winner; a simple pasta and broccoli topped with an olive tapenade from a jar. This was our first time using this new buckwheat pasta we found at Dominick’s. It’s part of a new batch of house brand gluten free products with moderately reasonable prices. Cathy enjoyed it so much, I cooked her another batch, with peas this time, and bought her another package before she asked for one.

I’m looking forward to getting in the kitchen more this fall. The cooler weather means more chances to cook without dreading the heat in the kitchen. I’ll have to whip up some posole very soon. Plus, I really want to get a separate freezer so we can stock up on more frozen ingredients at home.

I’ll also take some time to make a decision about this blog going forward. Since I don’t go out to eat as often as I had, I might want to retire this and move on to other endeavors. I don’t feel like I have as much to offer as a culinary creator, since I’ve always seen myself as more a consumer. I sometimes forget that I was supposed to fill in the times between new outings with recollections of past outings, but all the distractions lately have me feeling less motivated to talk about food and more interested in spending time on other pursuits. Until then, I’ll keep posting when inspiration strikes. Enjoy!

My Sushi Valentine

I finally got a chance to get some sushi again yesterday. My good friend, Martin, who pretty much introduced me to sushi many years ago, invited me to check out Hakuya in Buffalo Grove.

It was lunchtime, so we started off with two combo plates and some ala carte unagi. They brought out complimentary miso soup and ginger house salad. The soup was standard, but the salad offered a nice variety. My plate was a four piece nigiri and spicy salmon roll. Martin had the six piece with a spicy tuna roll and a shrimp tempura roll. All the nigiri was flavorful and tender, the white tuna was especially delicate, while the red snapper was a bit chewy for my tastes. The unagi was great, nicely prepared and topped with just a smidge of scallions.

After that, we ordered two signature rolls. One was the house signature Hakuya roll, which was excellent, packed with flavor and generously portioned. The citrus vinaigrette added a nice creaminess. The other roll was a new one, called the Valentine. This one came out with each pair of nigiri prepared in such a way so that the two halves formed a heart. The flavors on this one were exceptional as well, and the presentation was better, but the cilantro was a bit dominant on the Valentine, so it didn’t have as diverse a flavor profile. I was still torn as to which roll to make my last bite but settled on the Hakuya to finish out an awesome and reasonably priced meal.

So if you’re looking for a new sushi place to try, Hakuya is worth the trip. Enjoy!

Tipping Alternatives in Fine Dining

Tipping Alternatives in Fine Dining.

The debate continues. On the one hand, gratuity can drive ambition, innovation and service excellence. On the other hand, a fair wage can do the same thing. Serving is an occupation that is best staffed by those who genuinely care about others enough to offer a quality experience independent of compensation, but even the most selfless still need to provide for themselves and their families.

I’m convinced that any significant change in the status quo in America would never happen overnight. It nearly always takes a significant event to spark radical change and what significant event could possibly do away with gratuity without sacrificing the business models associated? So long as service is primarily a job and not a career for the majority of Americans employed in such work, the notion that we could successfully follow a European model is ludicrous at best. Enjoy!

Update: The tipping debate continues and the IRS gets involved!