Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caliente Doug's

I had an epic day of sexploration yesterday, by which I mean I ate a lot of really good food. The first stop was the always disappointing Hot Doug's. Seriously, could there be a place - anywhere on the planet - more overrated? Above is a picture of the entranceway, a picture that took two hours to get. That's right, two hours of standing in line to get a couple decent sausages.

I ordered the Keira Knightley and the infamous (and rather heroic) foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage (with truffle oil sauce). Those are pictured below, along with the pommes frites en gras de canard, i.e. duck fat fries. I'll let you in on a little secret: Pied de Cochon's fries were cooked in only 50% duck fat and theirs were a lot better. I'll let you in on another little secret: Pdc's fries are only about as good as Nightwood's.

This sausage, however, was a work of art. It was a rib-eye sausage with black garlic aïoli and a double cream Brie. Not worth the wait, but definitely worth eating.

Following a few hours' cooling off in front of HGTV (I was the only guy, that's my excuse), we headed to get some dinner. Xoco was our destination, a place that I have been eager to try since last summer, despite a slightly blah review from a trusted source. Those in the know will be aware that Xoco is Rick Bayless' sandwich shop, serving tortas and soups for lunch and dinner, but also serving coffee, churros, and the most amazing hot chocolate on this side of the Atlantic. It's at Illinois and Clark, right next to Frontera Grill, and words and images really don't do it justice. Just go there.

The tortas we shared were a Yucatecan-style pork offering, called cochinita pibil, with the ubiquitous pickled onions on the side and a fiery (but sooooo delicoius) roasted habanero salso. This one is on the left in the picture. The other was a daily special of shrimp and bacalao (it being Friday), and it was simply good. The bacalao hadn't been oversoaked, neither had it (crucially) been undersoaked. Just two very well-conceived tortas. The chocolate, their Barcelona offering, was just bittersweet chocolate heaven.

All in all, an amazing day. Now I get to get up at 4:30 tomorrow and cook my own amazing food. Cheers.

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