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Everything’s Coming Up Roses

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Well, the weeks in October are just flying by.  I can’t believe that October is almost finished, and Halloween is a week away.  My Game of Thrones costume idea has hit a snag, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out in time.  If not, I’m really in for a scare.  However, one eatery that is anything but scary is Rose Angelis in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago.10542851_686606968094365_102258942_n

Chicago has a mountain of Italian eateries that run the gamut from bare bones like Bombacigno’s to high end dining like at RPM, so choosing one is an easy task.  However, finding one with high quality food at low low prices is often times a difficult task.  Enter the aforementioned Rose Angelis.  I had never heard of this place before I was being whisked away to it with my girlfriend for her bday din din with her girlfriends.  The outside was simple yet elegant, and the inside was just the same.  As we walked through the establishment, it was furnished with paintings of Italian landscapes and small white lights.  The Christmas light motif was continued outside on the patio which set the scene for the perfect date night if you’re looking to do one next year (let’s be real, there’s nothing romantic about eating outside in the middle of a Chicago winter).  They were strewn overhead from one end to the other as we took in the atmosphere and the menu.  After ordering a bottle of rose and chianti, we got an order of antipasti in the form of the melanzane miniature alla parmigiana ($7.95) and the caprese roll. IMG_4229 The former translated to inglese is just eggplant Parmigiana or bascially baked slices of eggplant topped with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.  While there was plenty to go around, I personally wasn’t wowed by this dish.  It was mostly well done aside from the eggplant which I thought was kind of on the mushy side instead of being firm yet tender. IMG_4230 I was more of a fan of the caprese roll since it combined fresh and slightly chewy buffalo mozzarella that then contained molto thin pieces of salty prosciutto and topped with basil leaves and a tart vinaigrette.  Then for my entree I ordered the pollo Florentino (chicken Florentine) ($19.95).  This dish was the embodiment of the abbondanza Italian food culture, i.e. lots of food=lots of love. IMG_4231 The two hulking panko-coated chicken breasts were napping on a puffy bed of risotto surrounded by semi-spicy marinara sauce.  When I cut into these giant piece of poultry, the provolone and spinach flowed forth like a rich artery-clogging river of deliciousness.IMG_4232  It was quite decadent, and if you aren’t super hungry, don’t expect to finish this meal in one sitting.  You will need a doggie bag…or two.  However, even though it was a giant plate, that doesn’t mean that the quality suffered.  The chicken was high quality and the risotto was delectable when combined with the marinara that had more of a smoky flavor than spicy.  As if that wasn’t enough, since it was my girlfriend’s birthday, they brought out a slice of cheesecake to celebrate.IMG_4234  I had a tiny forkful, but it was molto bene, i.e. just the right amount of creamy and cool cheese with crumbly but firm cinnamon infused crust.

In closing, Rose Angelis is one of those small Italian restaurants you’ve never heard of but with plenty of larger than life flavors and portions for great prices.  I highly recommend Rose Anglelis to anyone who loves Italian food and/or is looking for a romantic dinner date place.
Rose Angelis on Urbanspoon

Baycation Gone Wrong

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What’s up, y’all?!  I just finished my lengthy recounting of my Korean Thanksgiving abroad in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, so now I’m bringing it back to the Korean peninsula in Hongdae a.k.a. one of my favorite stomping grounds in Seoul.  It’s the local university neighborhood, so naturally it’s filled with young people my age compared to the ajummas scowling outside my apartment and the ajeossis getting drunk and visiting the love motels in my backyard.  This age difference leads me to frequent this happening student quarter, and along the way I manage to try all of the funky restaurants that cater to the young, restless, and hungry.  Today I’ll be talking about Burger Bay.  It’s located at Mapo-gu Seogyo-dong 362-7 Seoul South Korea.

It was actually quite an impromptu visit since I had originally just planned on meeting up with my friend Heidi to pick up my shipment of Sriracha hot sauce from the States.  Don’t judge me.  Korea lacks legitimately spicy sauces for everyday use.  After meeting up, we decided to grab dinner and catch up on our vacations abroad.  We ended up at Burger B because I had seen it many times during nights out and wanted to see the overall quality of the burgers they made.  So we walked into a very nicely decorated and arranged restaurant with no foreigners inside which was interesting for Hongdae since there are normally a lot of foreigners in the burger joints. IMG_0976 We sat down to look at the menu, and the waitress recommended the regular size for two people (read:  Korean people or anyone else who isn’t used to American sized portions).  Heidi just went with a regular cheeseburger while I went for the regular sized Bay Burger.  After a good amount of time talking about Korea and how it compared to the States/my Chinese adventures, our burgers emerged from the kitchen.  They were a sight behold.  I never saw a burger that larger ever in Korea.  It was like I was back home, but the size was more intimidating because the bun was quite thick which was a bad meat to bread ratio.  On the side we got a small portion of golden steak fries that were delicious  and lightly drizzled with a garlic aioli.  The jalapenos that came with it were also a big surprise since you rarely see them in Korea, but they were largely tasteless since they took away most of the spicy seeds.  The burgers, however, were the main talking point of this meal, naturally. IMG_0973 On mine, there was marinara sauce, hashbrowns, tomatoes, lettuce, and a thick juicy beef patty.  I didn’t really understand why there were hashbrowns and marinara sauce on the burger, and it didn’t make the burger that delicious.  It did make me think of the Korean propensity to always combine tomato based products with some form of potato like throwing potatoes on every form of pizza known to mankind.  I was somewhat pleased with my burger but not blown away.  Then there was Heidi’s burger.

Heidi's face sums up our feelings about this "cheeseburger".

Heidi’s face sums up our feelings about this “cheeseburger”.

Normally, a cheeseburger is just what it says it is.  Cheese+burger, but this was no ordinary burger.  When she lifted the bun, she found chopped almonds coating the cheese like a brown and white blanket of snow.

Nuts to that.

Nuts to that.

Why, Korea?  I tried a bite, and it was somewhat disgusting because the nuts were semi-sweet for some reason.  I don’t know how she ate 3/4ths of her burger but more power to her.

I’d say check out Burger Bay if you’re looking for a chill place that has an interesting mix of ingredients on burgers, but I’d recommend looking elsewhere for the best burger in Seoul.

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