Archive for February, 2011

It’s the end of Restaurant Week in Chicago and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to write about food. During the last 6 months I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the US and visit some amazing cities. From braised rabbit in the Big Easy and homemade Italian in the Empire State to expensive steaks in Sin City and vegan food back home in the City of Broad Shoulders, I’ve made an effort to go out of my way and try new foods.

With Chiara and her family.

One of my favorite experiences was a cooking demonstration by Chiara Lima, the daughter of legendary Italian chef Mamma Agata, during her cookbook tour. While Chiara captivated the small group with stories about Pierce Brosnan, Jacqueline Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart, she showed us that it doesn’t take a Top Chef-esque kitchen to produce flavorful food. (Fun Fact from Chiara: Parmesan cheese does not belong on every pasta dish… I’m looking at you Olive Garden. On the wrong dish it can mask the chef’s flavors instead of enhancing them.)

Many of my favorite trips and dining experiences have been with male co-workers and college buddies. And while I love sharing a meal in the company of women, I appreciate the bond established with my guy friends over food and drinks. Those experiences becomes less about the conversation and more about the people there and the food we ate. When I think about these trips, I can remember where we’ve eaten, what we had, and who was there more than I can remember the topics we discussed.

Trying a new cuisine is exciting but it took almost a year for me to build up my nerves and try vegan food. The thought of tofu and seitan, appropriately pronounced Satan, masquerading as chicken, beef, and pork frustrated and scared me. Why would I give up real delicious ribs for fake ribs? Thankfully, an expiring Groupon and cute lady friend pushed me out the door and into a well-known vegan restaurant, Karyn’s Cooked. The meal wasn’t great but it opened my mind to idea of vegan food.

At N9NE Steakhouse in Las Vegas after consuming an unhealthy amount of red meat, wine, and whiskey.

Beyond the French menu tasting I went to before Restaurant Week started, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the week’s offerings. However, the idea behind Restaurant Week is for diners to try new menus and go to places they wouldn’t normally visit. This spirit of adventure shouldn’t be limited to just one week of the year and only certain cities. If you live in a city that doesn’t have a Restaurant Week or if you’re schedule didn’t permit you to participate, I hope you find an evening sometime in the next few weeks to try something new or go outside your comfortable level.

Cent Anni!

-Joe

(Cent Anni is an Italian toast Chiara taught my cooking group and it means, “May we have 100 years of life, love, health, and happiness.”)

“Do you remember our first date? It was a little awkward, neither of us knew what to expect, and we kicked around a couple ideas about the future.”

“We’ve had our ups and downs (a.k.a. not posting in over a month), but that’s because I needed a little “me time” to figure out where we’re going.”

“You’re right some things will have to change, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

This last month has been a whirlwind of activity everywhere except PeelingOut. Instead of blogging here, I’ve been contributing to other sites and trying to figure out what direction to take my blog. I’ve never been excited about my blogs theme and a few formatting things have been on my nerves… I’m talking to you super small font size and awkward spacing.

On top of that, I’m trying to find a new direction to go and an topic focus. Right now my posts are an awkward mess of public relations, food, travel, and a small slice of social media. To really have fun and be something I’m proud of, I think it needs to be focused on a few topics. I love writing about food and travel but I’m a little nervous because those topics are covered by so many people already.

I’m definitely going to stay away from PR and social media posts because those posts make me feel like I’m writing a text book… and I barely read all of my text books in college. (I’m just kidding mom.)

Thanks for hanging with me as I figure out a new direction, a new look for the site, and maybe a new name. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so feel free to drop them in the comments section below, send me a Tweet or shoot me an email.

Cheers,

Joe

p.s. You can check out my other work (blog posts, restaurant reviews, and funny videos) on the new “Beyond PeelingOut” tab at the top of every page.

Photo Source (Legs)

Photo Source (Donkeys)