Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside, So Heat It Up Inside . . .


. . . with a significant other by cozying up to one of many events this weekend. You don't even have to wait until Valentine's Day!

Chopping Block's known for innovative cooking classes, so grab your honey and head to the Merchandise Mart location to whip up flavorful, spicy dishes like blackened shrimp with remoulade sauce; crawfish and Andouille sausage etouffee; and flambéed bananas foster with vanilla bean ice cream. 6pm Friday, Saturday.

Or if you're in the mood for more traditional dishes with a little bit of twist, make a date for the Lincoln Square spot. You will prepare spinach artichoke dip, smothered pork chops with caramelized onions, scalloped potatoes and a gingerbread pear cobbler. 7pm Saturday. All events are $75 per person.

More events where you can snuggle in the city . . .


Make your hot date right after work for Adam Seger's Hot Drinks Class at Nacional 27. The master mixologist will show you how to make his signature Hot Buttered Hum and Hot Agave Mocha, as you nosh on appetizers. 5:30-6:30pm. $27 per person. And if you stick around, we highly recommend you share a bowl of the black bean soup (with smoked chicken, crema, amontillado) and get a shot of 1894 solera sherry and spanish flor de sel for an extra $1.95.

Seasons Lounge's "haute" chocolate. (Photo: Tyler Curtis)

West Town Tavern's wonderful Pappardelle with turkey meatballs, roasted tomatoes, market veggies and mushrooms is not going to be one of those dishes you'll share with your sweetie. So your night will be fight-free, you both order it along with a bottle of 2006 Quinta de Cabriz Red.

Liquid lovers will certainly enjoy the sexy lounge at Sepia, where you can gaze in each others' eyes and sip the Hot Spiced Whiskey, made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, spiced honey, Grand Marnier and topped with Rooibos tea.


If it gets below 20 degrees tonight—or any night this winter—make your way to MK for a complimentary Hot Toddy.

Hot Toddies are also on tap at graham elliot, when it reopens tonight after a holiday break. Mixologist Lynn House's take on it is the Hot Crimson and Clover, made with Hum Liqueur, rum, Hibiscus tea, lemon, honey, clove rock candy syrup and garnished with a brûléed lemon.

Aja chef Joshua Linton offers a delicious chile-lime soup with hearty ingredients (charred chicken, braised pork and rice noodles) that's certain to warm you right down to your toes.

If you're on a budget, Chens Chinese and Sushi is the hookup for its variety of soup specials you can share, including the vegetable and tofu soup or chicken sizzling rice soup. Both are $6.95.

Aja's chile-lime soup with charred chicken and braised pork. (Photo: Aja)


If you're heading to the Mag Mile to finally spend those gift cards you got over the holidays, might we recommend stopping in Seasons Lounge in the Four Seasons for some "haute" chocolate?! It'll pair well with savory short rib sliders, the homemade all-beef hot dog or crisp pork belly flatbread.

Or, make your way down the street for Bistro 110's classic French onion soup that's made with Provolone and Swiss cheese melted on top of a medley of onions, leeks and homemade beef bouillon and served in a cast-iron bowl.

For guys who want to throw the smooth moves on a mama, take her to the new Elysian Hotel, where she's certain to be impressed. Right now what's hot on the menu at casual eatery Balsan is the duck cassoulet, made with cranberry beans (cooked with pork belly, bacon, chicken stock herbs), confit duck gizzards, confit duck leg, pork skin, duck heart and homestyle Toulous sausage. That's only $10 and serves two people. Skip dessert and instead opt for the Kentucky Cider, a delicious drink of bourbon, warm apple cider, cinnamon and star anise topped with whipped cream and shaved nutmeg. Get one more nightcap at Bernard’s, the delightfully decadent bar on the second floor. A Hemingway Side Car (cognac, Cointreau and lemon) or Brown Derby (bourbon, grapefruit, honey) would be the perfect way to cap off your evening.


Snag seats near the fireplace and get ready for a massive, all-you-can-eat brunch at ZED451, which is now $24 a person. Ideal dishes for winter include the vanilla-spiced whole-grain oatmeal; bourbon-glazed ham that's been roasted over a wood-burning grill; and duck hash browns sautéed with confit duck, shallots and fresh herbs.

And you can also cozy up to the fireplace at sola, where Executive Chef Carol Wallack's putting a Hawaiian and Asian twist on her comfort soups. Indulge in Carrot Miso or Parsnip Miso, her take on ‘French’ onion with pineapple (sweated in bacon fat) with gruyere croutons.

No comments: