13. March 2006 14:14
Kristin and I have been wanting to check out Green Zebra
for awhile now. Typically it is referred to as one of the top (if not the best) vegetarian restaurants in the city, although they would say they are seasonal produce focused food. there are a few meat/fish dishes, but it is mostly veggies. We decided to go to celebrate our birthdays and actually managed to score a Saturday night reservation courtesy of OpenTable
. Sometimes it can take several weeks to get in. When we arrived we realized why, the place isn't very large at all. Very cool ambiance and design though. It was fairly noisy when we first walked in, but in our case it was nice to be closer to the back and the kitchen as we were isolated a bit from the main dining room and were able to have good conversation.
The nice thing is everything is small plates and while the portions aren't very large, they are big enough to get a good sense of flavors. And ideal for sharing, which is encouraged. Kristin and I shared every dish, which was very fun and romantic. I would definately recommend it as a good date spot. We paired everything with a Alsatian Riesling. We've tried several German and Austrian rieslings, but this was the first French one we've tried and it worked pretty well with everything. The menu is basically set up for 3 courses, ranging from lighter fare to more full-flavored. We ordered 2 items from each of the 3 sections and that seemed to work out well. Highlights were a Jerusalem artichoke soup just bursting with flavor, a Fingerling potato salad and a skate dish. The skate was falling apart tender and really tasty, better than I had expected. I've been seeing skate on a lot of menus, so it was cool to finally try some. We also tried some soba noodles with black bean sauce and wasabi, a blue cheese cake and a wild mushroom tart. They were all very good as well, really complex flavors with nothing too overwhelming, just a really great balance.
The pace was laid back and our server didn't rush us and was very personable, answering questions about ingredients and produce (a lot of it is from small local farms). It was great to just share food and talk and enjoy the evening. We are definitely interested in checking it out again in the summer when all the fresh produce will be in season. If the chef can do food like this with root vegetables, I can only imagine what happens in the summer.
7. March 2006 09:43
This post is going to seem all over the map, but it will have a common theme. Last night we did our monthly serving at Breakthrough, making dinner for the homeless guys there. We made pad thai for about 30 people, which took a little bit of coordination. I was responsible for the actual cooking and it was quite fun seeing it all come together and it ended up tasting pretty good. Not quite like what you'd get in a thai restaurant, but still pretty good. On Sunday one of our young theology students Dan gave a really inspiring message about loving our neighbor and how this should involve the disenfranchised and poor in our communities. He made an interesting point about how the social gospel of the 1920s caused a schism and ultimately caused the evangelical church to distance themselves from that movement because they felt the primacy of the cross and sacrifice of Jesus were being lost. But Jesus was about both things, he talks about the poor A LOT. I feel like I do a bit more than I used to, but still not that much in the whole scheme of things.
A couple Sundays ago, a guy came into the church before service, said he was a child of God and asked for help with a 7 day bus pass to get to work, claiming he had one more week until his first paycheck and flashing some sort of nametag. I didn't have a great feeling about the guy, something was off. A couple of my Breakthrough friends were there with Kristin and I at the time and it was kinda ironic to me that a (I assume) homeless guy was asking 2 other homeless guys for money. We all kinda looked at each other, not sure how to react. To make a long story short, we questioned his story and he got a bit belligerent with us before he left the church. One of the Breakthrough guys did give him a CTA card to get to work. A few hours later those same 2 Breakthrough guys found him a few blocks away panhandling and obviously not at his "job" like he claimed. It takes a lot of guts to walk into a house of worship, claim to be a child of God and ask for help when you are quite intentionally lying to take advantage of the good will of church folks. This is the kind of thing that tends to make me cynical, even though I don't want to be. In the city all types of socio-economic backgrounds are pressed up against each other and the needs are always in your face. It's hard to figure out what to do and so often I do nothing. This type of incident makes it harder to have a compassionate heart, even though many of the people asking for help have real needs.
Then this morning there was this report on CNN about another homeless guy getting beaten and kicked by 3 young guys. Other incidents like this happen more than we realize and those are just the ones that are reported. Reminds me of the hooligans in Clockwork Orange. What is our society coming to when people have no more care for their fellow humans? This is just as much a sanctity of life issue as abortion or euthenasia. And often these people have no choice but to sleep exposed on the streets. Dan mentioned some statistic like at any given time in Chicago there are 35,000 homeless people and only about 5000 shelter beds across the city. I might have the stats wrong, but you get the idea. I don't have many answers, but the one thing I can say is God expects the church to care for the poor and we will be held accountable if we don't.
4. March 2006 17:37
I decided to start a set of food photos. I've been taking photos any time I try some new recipe or even recipes I make on a regularly basis. Thought it would be cool to document my cooking experiments.