Trendy and very good restaurants make presentation one of the cornerstones of great dining -the old feast for the eyes. Les Nomades* on the near north side of Chicago is one of the truly great restaurants.
The items are presented with all of the grace and dignity of the Three Magi before the Infant Jesus on the Epiphany. The very attentive stewards wait in anticipation of the seated's Oooos and Ahhhs. Succulent portions of fish, foul and hoofed cohabitants of our planet, are presented over a sauce that were it poured over my son Conor's aged Nikes, I would devour with relish.
Vegetables are roasted and or steamed to perfection and align the plate edges like Georgian footmen - attendant to crown roasts of lamb or the imperial lobster.
The elegant and beautiful woman who deigns to be seen in public with me is always appreciative of an evening's diversion at Les Nomades. The portions match her tiny alabaster frame and gustatory instincts.
I, however aesthetically charmed by Les Nomades wizardry, leave the front door with a desire to plunge my face into an Al's on Taylor Italian Beef and Sausage Combo smothered in hot Giardinara.
De Gustibus Non Est Disputandem.
Give me a bucket full of slumgullion any day and I will be as happy as the fabled swine in saga'd slough most noted.
After a day on 79th Street in the service of my God, Country and the heroic young gents of Leo High School, this lad is looking for a rib-sticking, back-to-school, double sessions, and working man's plate full of eats.
My Aunt cooked for the Augustinians at the Old St. Rita High School Monastery at 63rd & Claremont - the monastery actually butted up against Western Ave. She was a brilliant cook. She could satisfy a crowd of thirty or more black cowled priests and brothers with a feast at every meal. One her masterpieces was a variation on the Irish concoction that stands in for Mulligan Stew - Slumgullion.
The word evolved from the Irish word for mud -goilín and it may be prepared with any assortment of meats, pastas and vegetables. It is a rich, wholesome, tasty and satisfying meal.
Here is one such example of Slumgullion with a Polish twist. Prior to dining -put on your eatin' pants ( loose fitting sweats always a splendid idea)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, roughly chopped almost to the consistency of hamburger
3 cloves of garlic crushed
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2 inch long strips
2 Red Bell Pepper,cut into 1 1/2 inch long strips
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (16 ounce) package Bobak's kielbasa, roughly diced and chopped almost to the consistency of hamburger - that's almost. It goes to kielbasa hamburger you screwed up.
Six pan fried pierogis
Six Sauerkraut Pierogis pan fried in butter
Chopped chives for garnish
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium low heat, and stir in the onion.
Cook onion until tender and golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Place potatoes, salt red and green bell peppers into the skillet with the onion.
Cover and fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in ground black pepper.
Place the kielbasa pieces on top of mixture, cover and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir kielbasa into the mixture and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Allow to sit covered for an additional 15 minutes before serving.
Portion each serving with a topping of pierogi and dollop of sour cream
Garnish with nicely chopped chives.
Eat until you sweat; breathe deeply and if possible take a brisk walk to the couch and channel surf.
*Do get to Les Nomades if not for you, for the woman you love! It will set you back at least Three Yards ( $300) and change if you order wine, but who's counting? You are I know, the economy bites and all, but crack oen the wallet, at least once this year.
222 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611-3258