Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chicago: pizza and La Petite Folie

Deep-dish pizza

Hello from Rochester!  I was at the University of Chicago on Monday and Tuesday, my first trip (that I can remember) to one of the nation's best food cities.  The culinary highlights this time:

1. Lunch on Tuesday was deep-dish pizza.  My first thought upon opening the box was "Well, that looks pretty cute."  As for how it tasted, well, I was actually a little underwhelmed.  There was sauce on top, but none on the inside, which was layers of dough and cheese with intercalated sausage.  Based on what one of the current med students told me, this is the way stuffed pizza is supposed to be.  Definitely a fork-and-knife affair, if only to avoid spilling on one's clothing, and very hefty.  All in all, pretty good, but not my favorite pizza ever.  Is it heretical to say that I prefer Pizza Chicago in Palo Alto?

2. After I was done for the day, I stopped by Medici on 57th, a very appealing bakery+cafe.  Although I was tempted by the luscious-looking fruit tarts, I knew they would be way too big for me, and I instead picked up a pastry (cinnamon raisin) for breakfast the next day, and also got an "Orzata shake" (chocolate ice cream in almond soda, which I didn't know existed; not surprisingly, it tasted very chemical-ish).

Lovely fruit tarts
3. Dinner on Tuesday evening was a wonderfully memorable meal, thanks to one of the faculty members I met.  After finding out that I am a young foodie with some knowledge (if not first-hand) of the renowned Alinea - where he has dined multiple times -, he kindly invited me to join him and a visiting colleague for dinner.  We went to La Petite Folie, probably the best restaurant in Hyde Park.  I had actually Yelped this restaurant when I was considering where I might want to take myself for dinner after the interview day, so I was even more excited when we got to the door.

Frisee salad
My host ordered a white Burgundy that was both crisp and rich, and ended up pairing really well with the food.  My first course was a frisee salad with roasted pear, toasted hazelnuts and sherry vinaigrette, and my main course was canard (duck) a l'orange with green beans and gingered carrot puree.  Everything was delicious, especially the perfectly-cooked duck!  My host and his colleague ordered the same salad, mussels in cream sauce, beef daube Provencal, and lamb chops, and they thought their dishes were fantastic too.  We were all too full for dessert :-).

Canard a l'orange
I was also instructed to order some Spanish olive oil from La Tienda online - something to look into once I get back home!