Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Giveaway! Malicious But Delicious Dinner-- CANCELLED!!


Hey everyone!

I've got 2 tickets to give away to the upcoming "Malicious but Delicious" dinner July 9th from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. It's being held at COurses Restaurant downtown. I'm already attending and would love to meet some of my readers there! It's a 21 and over dinner, so please don't enter if you're not over 21. I think this sounds like a very fun event.  If you don't win the tickets, you can purchase them here:


On Thursday at around 5:00 p.m., I will randomly select one commenter from this post on to give the tickets away to. If you don't respond by Friday morning, I'll pick a new winner. Leave a comment and tell me which course you're looking forward to trying the most!

Here's the details:

Please join The Nature Conservancy and Sun King Brewing Co.  
as we raise awareness of the invasive species that threaten our native Indiana plants and animals and help eradicate them...by devouring them!
Dinner features invasive species and the culinary artistry of:
Students and Staff of Ivy Tech:  An amuse-bouche of pan-seared Asian carp with wilted garlic mustard greens  
Abbi Merriss of Bluebeard: A salad of crayfish, lambs' quarters, day lillies, and white mulberry vinagrette
Neal Brown of the Libertine: Intermezzo of infused cocktails
Craig Baker of Plow and Anchor: Thai red curry and Asian carp soup, garlic mustard kim chi, pickled forest floor, cilantro 
Jonathan Brooks of Milktooth: A pig in S#%t:  wild boar belly, Russian olives, Chinese water spinach, and wild parsnips
Nicole Ankney of Four Birds Bakery:  Financier with buttermilk ice cream, Japanese knotweed-blueberry compote, lemon crumb cake, local mint

All courses will be paired with Indiana beer and wine options.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Brozinni Pizza - Revisit

We had an opportunity to stop at Brozinni the other day when we were heading to Brown County, and I was thrilled. I figured, it’s been awhile since I wrote about it and everyone is always asking me what my favorite pizza place is---and well, it’s this place, so I figured it was time for an update.

You have to start with an order of garlic knuckles ($2.50 for 4, $4.99 for 8). These are basically just pieces of the pizza dough twisted into a knot and then coated in super garlicky, super buttery sauce. I love these things. Things like this are the reason I know I could never give up bread. Their dough is so good on the pizza, and this is the perfect thing to start with. Plus, you have to have the leftover garlic butter to dip your pizza crust in. You have to get some for that reason alone.

Brozinni is New York style pizza—huge slices of thin crust. I always get the same thing, a slice of red onion and mushroom (they will make you anything you want by just putting toppings and some more cheese on a slice of cheese pizza). I can’t find the exact pricing of this, but it doesn’t really matter, because you will be happy to pay whatever. It’s around $4 a slice though, and they are enormous slices—they take up two paper plates. The crust is just the right combo of chewy and bendable and has a nice flavor—they use the right amount of sauce to crust ratio and they chop up the onions nice and small. It’s the perfect slice of pizza.

I also got the chance to try a couple bites of a whole pie—or at least one half of it. Hubby and the friends we were with ordered a pie with two flavors—I had a bite of the “34th Street,” which is a white pizza. I had my doubts about white sauce in a NY style place, but it was pretty darn tasty as well. They make a creamy white sauce and put it on the pizza with basil, lots of garlic and mozzarella. I am pretty sure I got some ricotta in there too, although it’s not listed as an ingredient on the menu. The crust is really what makes the pizza at Brozinni and this piece of pizza just proved that to me—even with completely different toppings, I still really enjoyed it. Can’t say I won’t go back to my usual on a return visit, but I would happily eat this one if I got to eat here more frequently.

This place is practically in Greenwood, so it’s a trek for us, but it’s worth it. If you have not been yet, you need to go. Then you’ll understand why I am always complaining about pizza in this town. It’s the best. I still welcome feedback on what YOUR favorite place is though so please leave me a comment and let me know!

Brozinni Pizza
8810 S. Emerson Ave
Indy IN 46237

Thursday, June 25, 2015


My daughter and I were up north running errands and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to try something new. As I often do, I took to twitter and asked for suggestions. A couple of you suggested Jaggers, which I had never even heard about! That alone made me want to try it. Plus, it’s a burger/chicken sandwich joint, so I knew my daughter would be happy.

It’s not quite fast food—you order at the front and then they bring your food out when it’s ready. It wasn’t very crowded when we were in there, but I think it’s fairly new. The staff was all very friendly as well. According to their website, they don’t freeze their meat at all, and they bake their buns every day.

I had the crispy chicken sandwich ($3.99). I went with the standard basic to start with to get a sense of what they do with a chicken sandwich—they have spicy versions, and versions with additional toppings. They also do a grilled chicken sandwich.  The basic sandwich comes with pickles and Jaggers sauce. The sauce is a combo of BBQ sauce, mayo and sour cream. The sandwich was quite tasty—the chicken was nice and tender and the coating really crispy. I liked the way the breast meat didn’t get all tough and hard to eat the way thick chicken breast sandwiches can be. I liked the pickles for some acid. I think the Jaggers sauce is a matter of taste—it’s a distinctive taste, a little on the sweet side with the BBQ sauce but with a little tang from the sour cream. I found with a little more mayo on there, I liked it.  I can’t say I was in love with the sauce though. The chicken itself is really tasty and the freshly made buns are really good—very soft and light.

My daughter had a cheeseburger ($4.99 for a single plus fries and a drink for an additional $2.99). Honestly, I may have liked the cheeseburger slightly more than the chicken sandwich—same yummy bun and very juicy beef that they ground in house. For a fast food-ish place, they do a lot of things in house, which I appreciate. They call the fries shoestring—I think they aren’t that thin, but they were tasty. They are lightly battered and were nice and crisp, even if I have my doubts that they are making those in house.

My daughter had a chocolate milkshake ($2.99)—it was fine, nothing that really made it stand out. The menu says they’re hand-dipped but it tasted pretty one-dimensional.

All in all, for a quick meal that’s not quite fast food, and extremely family friendly in Noblesville (and not a chain, or at least a very small one-looks like there are two), I think it’s a good option. I could see eating here fairly regularly with my kids for a quick lunch if it were in my neighborhood. Nothing mind-blowing, but all good quality. And I really enjoyed the buns.

14570 Mundy Drive
Noblesville IN

Click to add a blog post for Jaggers on Zomato

Monday, June 22, 2015

Road Trip:Chicago, IL--Yusho

Our last meal on our recent trip to Chicago was to Yusho—a place I’ve heard about for awhile. It was a Sunday night, and on Sundays they offer a special menu where you get a choice of several noodle bowls (or a burger), a (non-alcoholic) drink and the daily flavor of homemade soft serve for dessert for $25.

Of course, there were also snacks on the menu, and because we were with our friends who like to eat all the food, we ordered some of each of them. The fried chicken was delicious ($8) with a chili dipping sauce that was flavored with lime and green tea. Super crunchy pieces of chicken that were nicely seasoned and salted, but still pleasantly tender inside. Of course, since the pieces of chicken were good on their own, you couldn’t really go wrong with taking one of them and turning it into a fried chicken bun either ($6). They put the chicken in the soft bun and added Old Bay aioli and kimchee. Perfect mix of salty and briny with a bit of heat. I really enjoyed all the sauces that they use here. They were also offering a special pork belly bun that was also quite tasty, this time with a creamier sauce—these were more like the buns I have had in several other places—with a big hunk of soft pork belly with crisp edges.

We couldn’t pass up the “skin trio” ($8), which was chicken skin, pork skin, and salmon skin with a fermented black bean aioli. The pork and the chicken were really good—nice and savory and super crisp. None of us were as big a fan of the salmon skin though. For me, the fishy flavor isn’t a benefit. I really enjoyed the aioli though which had a slightly funky flavor—which especially with the chicken, you wanted as it didn’t have a ton of flavor on its own.

Just so everything we got wasn’t fried, we also got the pickle plate ($7), which was one of the better pickle plates I have had. It was a nice variation from the fried, rich items we were eating and we enjoyed the variety of things in there—we all commented on the daikon. The selection varies daily, but it was a nice balancing dish.

We were pleased with everything we had had thus far, and then hubby and I got our ramen and realized this was truly the reason for coming. We had the Kunko ramen, which includes porchetta, black and red miso, pickled garlic and mushroom, and truffle hijiki. For an extra $2, I added a slow poached egg (would there be any doubt I would do this?) This was the best ramen I have had to date. The broth had a depth of flavor beyond any I have had. It was rich, and salty and just downright delicious. I think it was the first time every single drop of broth was eaten. I also liked that they used a couple pieces of very tender porchetta—which is a type of roasted pork. I liked that it was so tender, it just sort of fell apart as you ate it, making it much easier to eat than some of the fattier pieces you often see in ramen. The egg was perfect (guessing they have this down to a science at this point). Hijiki is a kind of  sea vegetable—almost like a slightly denser seaweed. I loved the salt and brininess this added. I liked the nice pieces of mushroom as well. There were also fresh, crisp scallions and bean sprouts giving I just the right amount of crunch. Like I said, to date, the best bowl of ramen I have had.
The soft serve cone on this night was root beer flavor. My body doesn’t love dairy, so I only had a taste (I was also really full). It’s kind of a fun touch, but not something I personally would order if it didn’t come with the meal.

All in all, I look forward to going back to Yusho—they have 4-5 different flavors of ramen and I would like to try them all!

2853 N. Kedzie
Chicago, IL  60618
Click to add a blog post for Yusho on Zomato

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Cake Bake Shop

I may be the last one in the world to go to Cake Bake Shop, because everyone has been mentioning it to me, and I mean everyone, so after a dinner with the kids at The Sushi Bar, I thought, hey, we need some cake. My kids, never ones to turn down any type of sweets were totally game.

This place might just be the cutest little place ever. It’s in an old house on Carrollton Street in Broad Ripple, a little off the restaurant beaten path, but easy to find. You walk in and there are fluffy pink flowers everywhere, mirrors, white marble, twinkle lights, and cutesy French items like an Eiffel Tower and a Ferris wheel. Maybe I am jaded, but I was thinking wow, this place must have cost a fortune, and I bet the cake does too. And I wasn’t wrong. The first time we just had the cake (and I had a glass of bubbly). Two pieces of cake and a glass of sparkling wine—I think it was like $36 before tip. 

How does it taste you ask? The cake was delicious. My daughter had the s’mores cake and my son the Earl’s Court chocolate ($10.50). And they are enormous slices. Between the three of us, we didn’t begin to finish them. I loved the extra touches—the crunchy layer of graham cracker in the s’mores cake that tasted like it might have a bit of salt in it to cut through all that decadence. The roasted marshmallow icing was soft and delicious. A really good take on a s’mores theme.  My son’s cake was a little more straightforward but had a nice variation in chocolates, one of the fillings with a malt flavor and again, a sprinkle of salt on the top, making it stand out above many cakes. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

My daughter and I decided to return to have lunch (she is really enamored with the décor and the almost magical feel of the place). I was interested to see how they do with savory items. Each day they offer one soup, one sandwich, and one quiche. We had one of each. The quiche ($10.50) was superb—really tender and not at all dry, which is the downfall of bad quiche for me. On the day we were there, the quiche of the day was mushroom and feta. The crust was nice and flaky, and the nice hunks of feta melted into the light moist egg filling was perfect. A really good quiche. I liked it with a bite of the lightly dressed arugula salad that comes on the side if you don’t get the soup combination as I did. (Our sandwich came with the salad though).

The soup was a tomato basil soup and was strange. It had a weird consistency to it that made me think it was blended with some sort of root vegetable or something—almost a mealy, thick texture. The flavor of it wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t really get past the texture. I asked what was in it and was just told it was a cream based soup and that was it, so not sure what made for the strange texture. I also was not a fan of the chicken salad sandwich, but this is probably purely a matter of taste. It had grapes in it, and if you know me at all, you know I can’t stand fruit in my chicken salad. It also had a ton of celery in it, which also isn’t my favorite either, especially when the celery almost outnumbers the bits of chicken (which was nice and tender). It was a mayo base, but very light, and was flavored with tarragon. The croissant it was on was something they also sell, and was delicious. We ended up mainly just eating the croissant and the quiche, but were happy with those. I would happily eat the quiche for lunch again—and some of the other sandwiches that have been offered sound promising. I also had hot tea ($6), which is from London and was really quite good—it was their version of English breakfast—very smooth. My daughter had a hot chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream ($5.50) and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. (Side note, the cute little marble tables are sweet, but almost not big enough to hold two lunches and two drinks). 

On that second visit we also had a peanut butter/chocolate cupcake that was disappointing because it was pretty dry—I think sticking with cake is a better bet. The large lemon bar we got to go was very good. The perfect combination of tart and sweet, just how it should be. Oh, and my son wants to make sure I mention they have the “good ice.” Those soft little tubular pellets of ice—you know the ones I mean. He is ready to go back just to get more ice.

All in all, the Cake Bake Shop is all about the experience for sure. The place is truly adorable and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to some French scene from a movie. But with all that cuteness, there is a price. Luckily, most of the desserts are good enough (and large enough) to be worth the occasional splurge.

Cake Bake Shop
6515 Carrollton Avenue
Indy 46220

Monday, June 15, 2015

Road Trip: Chicago--Trenchermen

On our recent trip to Chicago, we ate brunch at Trenchermen. This place is very cool inside—it was originally a Russian bathhouse and there are still remnants around of the original tile. There is one large bar space and one large restaurant space. The bar space is beautifully done.

And get this, it’s a brunch place on the weekends and it takes reservations! I know, shocking right? (Please Indy give us some more brunch spots with reservations.)  We were sat in a booth and were all starving because we had skipped breakfast. 

I love the look of this menu for sure and had a hard time deciding what to get. I decided on the “Kyle’s breakfast sandwich” ($12) (which I am pretty sure was called the breakfast Reuben when I was there). It is eggs, pork shoulder and Swiss on an English muffin topped with caraway sauerkraut and mustard aioli. They also give you housemade chips on the side. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the sandwich was fantastic. I loved the acidity of the sauerkraut and the fact that it wasn’t on rye bread, which is the reason I don’t typically order reubens—it’s not my favorite. It was cheesy and eggy and I loved the sharp mustardy aioli with it. I also really liked the way the shaved pork shoulder made it easy to eat and wasn’t chewy the way pork belly or even thinner bacon can be. It wasn’t a runny egg, but it was still a very juicy sandwich. When you actually think about it, it was a pretty genius sandwich.

One friend ordered the white corn grits and pork belly with Kim chi pimento cheese,  a fried egg and lightly pickled cucumber ($12). When you think about this, it’s pretty genius too. They mixed the pimento cheese into the grits, giving them a more distinct taste than just plain grits. Again, the cukes and Kim chi gave it a hit of acid and the egg was perfect. This dish was also as beautiful in its presentation as it was in its taste. I would happily get either dish again

We also ordered sides of breakfast potatoes ($4) and a pork flight ($14) to split between the four of us. The potatoes weren’t bad—pretty crisp on the outside, but nothing that made me crave more than one or two. The two types of bacon on the pork flight were good—there was Beeler’s bacon and coffee-cured bacon—both had nice flavor and the coffee-cured was interesting, giving  a little bitter touch to the salty bacon. The two types of sausage were less interesting—the links didn’t have a ton of flavor and the house made patties weren’t overly memorable. About midway through the meal we all also decided to go ahead and add a pastry flight as well ($13) and this was a solid choice. I would probably just go with that over the other sides in the future. They were all really quite good, my favorite was probably the ham and Gruyere croissant with mustard and rye because I tend to go towards savory things over sweet, but it was still super buttery and delicious. The rye flavor wasn’t very strong either. But trust me, that pecan glazed doughnut with miso caramel was a knockout too. I love the way they add bit of “umami” flavors into all their dishes to really take it up a notch. And I certainly could not complain about the iced banana bread or little sweet muffins (can’t remember the exact name) either. I was actually surprised by the fact that I really liked each new one I tried. They are doing a great job with their pastries—and like I said, these aren’t typically things I order.

They had some unique breakfast cocktails as well, and our service was quite efficient, even if not super friendly. I really like the interior of this place and I really enjoyed most of the food and the fact that they take reservations. Again, I would love to go back and try a dinner here….if there just weren’t so many places in Chicago to try! But I recommend this place for sure.

2039 West North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

Thursday, June 11, 2015


We had an old friend from California visiting us the other day and he was intrigued to try Giordano’s because there’s not a lot of Chicago-style pizza in the Bay Area. Hubby and I had only had it once since it opened here in Indy, and that was carry out, so it is hard to say if it was as good as it could be (plus it was when you had to order it like 5 days in advance and they were so busy, I think they were making them well in advance).

Anyway, I wasn’t surprised when on a Sunday evening they told us there would be an hour and a half wait. I was surprised when they texted 30 minutes later to say our table was ready. We scrambled over there and got our table. It looks like the wait times have decreased a fair amount—after we were seated there were a couple of tables that sat empty for a while.

We ordered our pizza right away—we were warned that they take 45-50 minutes to prepare. We decided to also go ahead and order an appetizer to share as well since we were all pretty hungry. We ordered the bruschetta appetizer ($8.50), which was toasted bread, a slice of mozzarella, and a huge mound of marinated diced tomatoes with basil and a drizzle of balsamic. Honestly, It was better than what I was expecting. I mean, the tomatoes are done about as well as they can be when they aren’t really in season. But the olive oil, basil and balsamic glaze added nice flavor. The bread stayed crisp throughout—helped along by the layer of mozzarella in between preventing the liquid from making the bread soggy. I also liked the added soft, but slightly firm texture from the cheese.

It was still enormous though, and you have to be careful because then the pizza comes and you really need to save room for that. Unfortunately, our app came only like 10 minutes before our pizza (service was a bit off) so we didn’t get to stave off the hunger waiting for our pizza that much. The pizza came and our server served each of us a gigantic slice—we split a large (there were 5 of us) and had half spinach and half sausage ($25.75). Having the pizza at the restaurant was much better than carry out—the crust stayed crisper on the bottom and flakier on the edges (I also recommend against getting mushrooms as we did the first time because they contributed to soggy crust syndrome I think).

The pizza is good, but honestly, I can’t get as excited about it as some people seem to. My favorite part of it is the sauce, which has a nice acidic savory kick—it isn’t sweet like some pizza sauces are. I was kind of overwhelmed with the amount of cheese on there—I think about 80% of the pizza is cheese—and it’s a thick pie. There was a thin layer of spinach (or sausage) underneath all the cheese. I think the spinach was the preferred topping—everyone thought the sausage was kind of bland. I also had a side salad—the harvest salad (still quite large) ($5.25). It was mixed greens with blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried fruit, pear and balsamic vinaigrette. A little heavy on the dried fruit for me, but it served its purpose—cutting through all that cheesy pizza with some hits of acid.

I think we all decided we wouldn’t wait an hour for it, but it’s an okay option if you’re in the mood for a giant cheese bomb. I know you are all going to probably tell me I’m crazy, but I just don’t think it’s all that.

4100 East 82nd Street
Indy 46250

Monday, June 8, 2015

Road Trip: Chicago--Next (Revisit)

We got an opportunity to go back to Next in Chicago with our foodie doctor friends who have season tickets. We got to go to “Chicago Steak” with them last year and we were really impressed. Next picks a new cuisine to showcase 3 times a year and totally changes up the menu. This time it was Spanish tapas and I was excited because good Spanish tapas are hard to find, particularly in Indy.

I won’t go through everything, because, well, it was tapas and there were a ton of smallish things and it would take me forever. I will say, overall, they were on the fancier side for what I was expecting—more Alinea than Spanish bar snacks, but it was fun to see what was going to come next.

I think we all agreed on some of our favorite courses—we all really liked the crazy tender bits of octopus served with eggplant in a savory, earthy foam. Seriously, those bits of octopus were delicious. With that course, they also served some mussels that they prepared in house and then put into little cans that you popped open. Cute presentation, but the mussels themselves didn’t really do much for us.

One of the more traditional dishes- the Iberico ham (this was jamon iberico de belotta, was one was probably also one of our favorite dishes. They served a large platter of the super finely sliced ham with this cool dish of “pasta” made with shaved asparagus and little lightly fried potatoes (“patatas bravas’) with cheese. They were interesting little plates to eat together, even if the “pasta” seemed a little out of place with the others. The ham itself was pretty spectacular.

I did enjoy the intermezzo course of grapefruit and pinenut shooters with the little walnuts filled with chocolates. That was an interesting course, although sort of a randomly placed sweet one, followed by a pretty meaty one. I guess it was a sort of palate cleanser.

I also enjoyed the more straightforward dish of “chuleton” or ribeye steak in this case, and Next’s version of a Spanish tortilla, which is sort of like an eggy potato quiche. In this case, they explained the eggs were meant to be pretty runny, but you had to scoop them out quickly from the hot pan to keep them that way—or if you preferred them cooked more, you could leave them in. You could then use the pan to further cook your steak if you wanted. Hubby and I pulled the eggs out quickly and enjoyed their softness with the rare beef. It was a tasty, if somewhat simple, course.

One of the first sweet courses was the one that no one at the table liked. In fact, I am pretty sure all of us strongly disliked it. It was a raw shrimp served with strawberry sauce—the body that is. The head was filled with a form of ice cream. Ok, I am game for whatever, but this was just gross. The shrimp had a slimy texture and I don’t know, being coated in strawberry didn’t help. They did give us a big branch of olive to find bars of white chocolate in though—and the white chocolate was tasty.

By the time we got to the last dessert, which was good, I was so full that I could barely try it. It was a Spanish-style cheesecake with this chocolate, blueberries and hazelnuts. The chocolate was in a bowl, and you could kind of smear some on the cheesecake. They both tasted very good, but I wished I wasn’t so full. 

Sadly, our service suffered quite a bit for some reason as well. Tables who came in after us finished before us (and we’re all eating exactly the same thing). It almost seemed we were forgotten sometimes. At one point we worried our server had had a medical emergency. This contributed to the overfullness I think, because we had so much more time to digest all that food, by the time dessert got there, I was done. Like I said, there were many more courses (some of which I have pictured here). The rest were all not bad, but didn’t make it to my favorite list, either as most favorites, or least favorites, so I figured I spare you all the details of a very long meal.

I don’t know, I am torn about Next. The first time, I couldn’t wait to go back. This time, I’m not sure if I want to pass on trying some place new instead. Of course, the menu completely changes every few months, so who knows what the next one will be like?

953 West Fulton
Chicago, IL 60607

charred porkbelly and croutons with romesco
grilled stuffed leeks
El Bulli-style "olives" (served in the actual spoons from El Bulli)
fried egg yolks
brandade with fried cod skin