O-M-G! When I tell you that Chef Julius Russell and his staff serve you the finest in foods and wine, I mean just that.
Saturday, August 31st, an intimate group was invited to another one of his pop-up restaurants. We gathered at the Centered Chef in the West Loop, where singles paid $85 and couples $160 in advance for a seven-course meal inspired by the traditional family-style Sunday dinner and enhanced by top of the line wines from Chile and Argentina.
If you’ve ever experienced a Chef Julius pop-up then you know there’s nothing really traditional about anything he puts his expertise to, even the simplest dish will have a unique spin to it that makes it memorable.
The Sunday Dinner themed event offers a great mix of socializing, laughter, food and plentiful wine. Before indulging in the menu, you have to understand the greatness of Chef. They say that the key to making any amazing dish is love and after experiencing two pop-ups and a cooking demonstration led by Chef Julius at this year’s Taste of Chicago, I totally get it. Not only is love concocting the meals, but the audience receives knowledge about the food, its origin and why it’s cooked and prepared the way it is.
For example, we were served Confit Chicken with Nola Succotash & Chicken Demi Glace (France/Italy). While explaining the dish, we discovered that the confit chicken is marinated in its own fat, cooked very slowly and then dashed with salt and pepper. At first bite, the chicken tastes rather salty. However, we learned that it is supposed to be mixed and eaten with the succotash to balance out the taste. Chef insisted that we had wine in our glass to further complement the meal.
It’s always a good thing to arrive to these events on time because you never know what treats you’ll receive while mingling and waiting on the first course.
While sipping on our choices of Casillero del Diablo, a red blend wine with an intense deep purple color; Trivento Amado sur, a deep red wine with violent hues; and Amado sur Torrontés Blend, a delicate yellow wine with refined green tones, we were served appetizing bites of Lavender Honey Miso Glazed Chicken Wings and Mango Jerk Lamb Lollipops. (More info on the wines: www.ExcelsiorWines.com)
Unfortunately, I missed the chicken wings, but arrived just in time for a serving of the Lamb Chop Lollipops paired with the Red Wine Blend, it was perfection. The Red Blend has focused aromas of ripe black fruit, plum and black cherry with hints of dark chocolate which causes for a balanced and smooth texture. It’s my favorite.
Herb & Parmesan Arancini with Blistered Sun Gold Tomatoes and Herb Salad (Italy)
Young Carrots with Tropeas and Merken (Italy) – the veggies were fresh and in-season. Every bite was delicious. This was one of my favs.
Lobster Croquettes with White Truffle Butter & Grilled Baby Scallions (South America)
Butternut Squash Ravioli, Sweet Pea Puree with Candied Walnuts (Italy)
Duck Confit Etoufee, Goat Cheese Cornbread Crutons (France/USA)
Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Avocado Mousse (Chef Ricky)
Confit Chicken, Nola Succotash & Chicken Demi Glace (France/Italy)
Calvados Apples or Tres Leche Pound Cake
One of the ultimate joys of attending a Chef Julius Pop-Up is connecting and socializing with familiar faces and getting acquainted with new ones! The decor is always nice and elegant, food is always delicious, wine is continuous and there’s always anticipation for the next one. Well done!
Keep up with the Chef: www.taleof2chefs.com.