Bucket List: Alinea in Chicago!

Alinea has been at the top of my restaurant dream list since it opened a decade ago.  On my recent trip to Chicago, I was lucky enough to score a table.  What an incredible night!

Founded in 2005 by Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the dining experience at Alinea combines delicious modern cuisine, art and theatre all in one.  One of only 12 restaurants in the United States to earn the coveted Michelin 3-Star rating, Alinea currently ranks as #9 on the 2014 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.



Our tasting menu consisted of 20 seasonally driven courses, lasting over 4 hours, and even included an edible balloon!

Below are my photos of the entire menu.  The kitchen is having so much with food.  Keeping their diners pretty darn happy too!

To begin, traditional OSETRA caviar


SALSIFY root hidden in a branch camouflage

FullSizeRender_3SKATE with brown butter, lemon and herbs


PEBBLE ebi, ogo, clam shells


TAI SNAPPER with white pepper, Vietnamese coriander, broccoli

FullSizeRender_6SUNCHOKE with hazelnut brittle and white truffle vinegar


EGGPLANT, banana, cocoa and curry


CHICKEN SKIN with Thai basil, mint and cucumber

TAMARIND young coconut, nam prik num

SIAM SUNRAY with lemongrass, chili and soda

FullSizeRender_9SUCKLING PIG Puerto Rico


HAMACHI with shishito, bean and a pine branch cooked over table side fire


MAITAKE lobster, dashi and shisho


BEEF parsnip, black trumpet and kombu


HOT POTATO and COLD POTATO with black truffle and butter


SQUAB with beet, orange and dark flavors


BLACK TRUFFLE explosion, with romaine


CHOCOLATE frozen distillation in a gorgeous ice sculpture

GRAFFITI pistachio, périgord and balsamic


QUINCE almond, grapefruit and oxalis


BALLOON with helium and green apple (great fun breathing in the helium and chatting away!)


TROPICAL FRUIT rum, vanilla and kaffir lime


A huge THANK YOU to everyone at Alinea for making the night an unforgettable one!



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Eataly in Chicago!

I am so in LOVE with this place!  I’m obsessed.  An absolute must for any food lover visiting Chicago, I went three times in a week on my recent trip to the windy city.  A culinary mecca!


EATALY is a 63,000 square foot epicurean paradise.  Owned by a partnership that includes beloved Italian chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, the team delivers the highest quality Italian foods and beverages.

Boasting over 20 exciting restaurants and bars, EATALY is also the grocery store of your dreams offering up meat, fish, produce, breads, the greatest cheese selection I’ve ever seen, pastries, chocolates, gelato, endless aisles of pasta, sauces, oils, jams, wines, kitchen supplies, even a Nutella Bar!  Seriously, how can all of this deliciousness be under one roof?

Eataly cheese

IMG_6729IMG_6726IMG_6724IMG_6721IMG_6725IMG_6727For lunch, a signature dish at La Pizza bar: Margarita Pizza paired with an afternoon glass of Brunello di Montalcino red wine …


Preach it! …



EATALY in Chicago

45 East Ohio Street


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Sweets to the Sweet… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Looking for something really unique to do this Valentine’s Day?  How about a Dessert Wine & Sweets Paring? If I do say so myself, this episode of Sugared is just plain awesome!  I teamed up with some gal pals- the best in their fields- to make this dessert pairing party phenomenal.  From Bon Appetit Magazine, wine columnist Heather John picked out some of her favorite dessert wines and Valerie Gordon, owner of my favorite chocolate shop in town – Valerie Confections – was on hand to pair the perfect treats with the perfect wines.

I can’t describe how much fun we had!  I mean, come on!  Chocolate, wine, giggles.  Think about doing your own tasting at home.  Invite a group of friends and have everyone bring a dessert wine and a paired sweet. Watch this latest episode of Sugared below for tips on how to pair and what to think about when doing so.

Here’s a complete list of our parings in the episode:

Robert Mondavi Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2000 paired with a Rose Petal Petit Four

Justin “Obtuse” Paso Robles Dessert Red 2008 ($24) paired with a Chocolate Tart filled with milk chocolate ganache and topped with grey sea salt

Fonseca LBV Port 2003 ($22) paired with a Blushing Berry Chocolate Bar

La Tour Vieille “Vendanges” Banyuls 2006 ($18-25) paired with Orange Toffee covered in 61% Valrhona chocolate and topped with candied orange peel

Broadbent 10 Year Malmsey Madeira ($40) paired with a Caramel Parfait and Almond Fleur de sel Toffee

If you live in Los Angeles, a trip to Valerie’s confectionary gem is a must.  But you can also find her sweets online at valerieconfections.com.  And be sure to check out Heather’s amazing food AND fashion blog The Foodinista.

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Dishing with Jessica: The Valentine’s Day Menu

Cooking on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family”…

JC appearing on HOME & FAMILY Tuesday 2/10 10/9c on Hallmark Channel.

… cooking up Crème Brûlée French Toast with Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines.  Be sure to tune in!  Find us all on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and let us know how you like the recipe! HOME & FAMILY

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Here’s an easy soup to make on a cold night.  Roasting the squash is the secret to bringing out the best flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Makes about 6 servings


2 medium sized butternut squash

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

the juice of one orange (or 1/2 cup orange juice)

4 cups low salt chicken broth

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika

1 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup chopped, crisply cooked pancetta to garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice squash in half, scoop out the seeds, rub with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap each half individually in foil and place all 4 slices, cut side down, on a baking sheet.  Roast for about 1 hour or until tender.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Sautè onions, garlic and ginger until soft- about 5 minutes.

Scoop out flesh from squash, discarding skins, and add to pot along with orange juice, chicken broth, and smoked paprika.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Add mixture to blender.  Add crème fraîche and puree until smooth.

Pour soup into cleaned pot and bring to a simmer.  Adjust seasonings along with more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve into warm soup bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of pancetta on top.

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“How Much Longer???…”

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

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SUGARED: The Christmas Episode

Watch this step-by-step video for making my White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt.

Happy Holidays!!!

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