August 13, 2008

julius meinl kaffeehaus

julius meinl is a leading manufacturer of coffee, based in vienna, austria. i was first introduced to meinl while meeting up with a good friend for a 10day vacation in austria. not only was the flagship store beautiful (and impeccably clean), but the little cafe section was lovely. on my last day in vienna, we made it back to meinl so that i could buy a few gift items, and to catch our breathe with a cup of melange and a pastry. yum!
back in chicago, on southport & addison ave, sits one of two meinl locations in the city. even though i live in the suburbs, and it's a good 40-50 min drive away, when i want meinl, only meinl will do.
so we make our way to the southport location and sit for an hour or so, enjoying peace and quiet conversation.. or live music if it's a weekend evening. it's just the perfect place.
now! to the food of course.
when i'm hungry for more than coffee and sweets, and we've made our way there around lunchtime or early evening, i pretty much get the same thing every time: frittaten soup & a pate finger sandwich. the combo just hits the spot. then comes the best part: dessert
if there isn't an interesting special going on, i get a small melange and the ever-popular mohr im hemd (think: chocolate lava cake, but better).
the melange is half coffee (or espresso), half milk. it's perfect and just the way i like my coffee - milky! :)
the mohr im hemd... you just have to try it. it's chocolatey, warm, gooey molten core, powdered sugar dusted on top. it's divine.
not only is the coffee selection perfect, but the pastry and cake selection is more than enough. even the cupcakes are delicious!

the photo below is of a special coffee they had recently. it's similar to a caramel macchiato, except a tiny version of what you order at your local starbucks. it's the right amount of bitter espresso, frothy milk and a punch of caramel sweetness.

>> a very important side note: meinl serves rooibos tea, in not only the plain traditional way, but also the following varieties:
* rooibos vanilla
* rooibos fitness
* rooibos caramel - my fave
* rooibos nougat
* rooibos orange-quince
* rooibos plum
* rooibos rising sun
* rooibos strawberry cream
* rooibos wildkirsche

enough variety for you? :) i love the fact that they serve my favorite tea leaf, from my south africa. and what's even better is that you can purchase bags of the loose leaf, a box of tea bags and replicate it at home.
if you can't make it to meinl (and, at best, the vienna location), think about ordering a gift basket for yourself to give it a try. i promise it will brighten up your morning routine.

cPe 2008

August 12, 2008

latin lunch

if i haven't premeditated the meal, i spend most sunday afternoons scanning my pantry and trying to match whatever i find to
the choice of thawed protein from my freezer. this particular sunday, i was quite indecisive and wanted little bits of different flavors... at least i decided the kind of flavors. :)
the menu: carne asada, garlic shrimp, black beans and homemade tortilla chips!

there isn't much of a recipe for any of these menu items... but here it goes.

carne asada
skirt steak
kosher salt
black pepper
asada spice mix (thank you archer farms)

season the steak. if you have time, let it sit for a bit so the spices can sink in. once you're ready, get a grill pan heated to high, brush a little olive oil onto the pan, and add the steak. skirt steak cooks quite fast, so i'd say about 3-4mins each side. once it's nicely grilled, set it aside for about 5mins before slicing.

garlic shrimp
1 bag of shrimp
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt

heat the olive oil on medium high. add the minced garlic and shrimp and toss to coat. season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. if you like, you could also add a little bit of chili flakes or my overly used spice: paprika. :)

black beans
1 can of black beans, preferably organic
kosher salt & pepper to taste

heat it up in a little pot. it's that easy.

tortilla chips - my favorite part
corn tortillas
kosher salt
1/2 - 1 cup veg oil

depending on the size of the pan you'll use, add enough oil to the pan so that it will be deep enough for the tortillas to float in. once you've added that much, heat it to medium high.
in the meantime, take a stack of 5 or so corn tortillas at once, and cut into quarters. once the oil is hot enough, start frying the tortilla chips.
have a plate with a sheet of paper towel ready, so that the chips can go straight onto that to drain off a bit. for each batch of chips that come out, sprinkle some kosher salt onto the hot chips, and once cool enough to handle, toss the salted chips into your serving dish.

put these 4 items altogether, and you have a delicious and satisfying, multi-flavored latin inspired lunch, or dinner. buen provecho!

cPe 2008