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I've done quite a lot of culinary exploring lately, so it's time for an update.

A couple weeks ago, Jim and I went to Blue Nile, a new Ethiopian restaurant, with Andrew and Cinnamon. We got the usual alichas and wots and whatnot, but in addition to my veggie dishes, I wanted to try their asa. All the asa I've had before has been in the form of a stew -- chunks of tender whitefish with a lemony-garlicky sauce. This place just brought the whole fish. In the photo, you can see how Andrew cleverly used a bit of injera to cover the gaping, burnt eyehole that was keeping me from even looking at the plate much less digging in. It really was ghastly, and it reminded me why I became a vegetarian in the first place, and why the "fish exemption" I've been living under really is a glaring inconsistency. I always feel kinda bad and guilty after eating fish, but seeing this poor perch's entire body (save eyeballs) laid out before me was deeply unnerving. I ate some anyway, because it probably would have been rude and weird not to at that point, but yeesh. I was creeped out.

The rest of the food was quite tasty! And the proprietors did what they could to make the strip-mall space feel cozy and welcoming. So, I would totally go back -- and stick to the veggies.

Next up: Taste of Peru. Jim and I wanted to explore what might become our new neighborhood, so last night we went to dinner at this well-reviewed little place. And I do mean little! The 12-table space was packed at 5:30, with the only empty tables already reserved. When a four-person table opened up, the waiter asked us if we would be willing to share it with the two-person party in line behind us. So that's how we ended up having a lovely meal with George and Greg, two confirmed bachelors of a certain age who were also trying this place for the first time.

For nearly two hours, we laughed and talked and enjoyed our giant plates of food and listened to the band -- an acoustic guitarist and an older man crooning in Spanish while slapping his hands on the wooden box he sat on, like a sort of makeshift conga. The atmosphere was festive and friendly, and the food was delicious. Peruvian cuisine is, apparently, equally influenced by Europe and Asia. I had the tallarines saltado, sauteed veggies and shrimp (there's that fish exemption again) in an oil and garlic sauce served over spaghetti -- like Chinese Italian food. Jim had chicken in peanut sauce with rice, which he said was not sweet like Thai peanut sauce but more savory. We washed down our meals with Inca Kola, the national soft drink of Peru, which was bright yellow and tasted like melted Dum-Dums. The sweetness made my head spin.

So, thumbs up for Taste of Peru! We're both looking forward to going back.

This morning, new restaurant #3: Tweet. Tweet is run by the same fine folks who own Big Chicks, the gay bar next door. I remember back in the pre-Tweet days when Big Chicks used to do a Sunday brunch on their back patio -- I went to that with some of my troublemakin' friends back in my old Women's Action Coalition days. I've been meaning to try this place for years.

Tweet makes big, fresh, tasty brunch food the way the Baby Jebus intended. Little bites of cranberry coffee cake -- on the house -- greeted us at our table, followed by gorgeous little fruit cups for everyone. I got four mugs of tea out of this teapot! I ordered the quiche platter, which involved a slice of tomato-basil quiche the size of my head, a freshly baked croissant (still hot!), a pile of organic greens with vinaigrette, and another pile of fruit -- the grapes were as big as eyeballs. I could only get through about half of everything, and I was still full until dinner.

So hooray for Blue Nile, Taste of Peru, and Tweet! And hooray for Chicago! And for you, dear reader. Hooray for you.

Replies: 5 Confessions

yum yum yum!
Have yo guys found The Heartland Cafe? That place rocks. We used to have breakfast there all the time.

the other amy @ 03/26/2007 10:35 PM CST

Oh yeah, we love the Heartland. The place we're thinking about getting is four blocks from there, another point in its favor.

Amy C @ 03/27/2007 04:33 AM CST

We ate at the Blue Nile this weekend and loved it. Yum yum!

I think the Heartland is overrated. I every time I have had breakfast there, I have been disappointed. They have done only slightly better by me for lunch. When we first moved to the 'hood we went there a bunch of times in futile hope that we would discover why people rave about The Heartland. Now we don't bother. There are a few places closer to us that have better food, and better service for less money.

shechemist @ 03/28/2007 11:20 AM CST

And what are those places, please? I'm always looking for more restaurants to try!

AmyC @ 03/28/2007 11:27 AM CST

Our live-in maid is Peruvian. People with Chilean maids are jealous because the Peruvians cook so much better. Peru is a bright spot in barbecue-happy world of South American cuisine. Enjoy your Taste of Peru and remember if you ever see a restaurant called Taste of Uruguay, run the other way (unless you have changed your mind about meat).

Doug @ 03/29/2007 02:54 PM CST

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