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Piano lesson, AVEC

November 13, 2008

Let’s make this a quick one.
Breakfast: oats with 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup water, chopped up cinnamon roasted pear, almonds, and pear butter. (PS, I always add vanilla and cinnamon to my oats)
On the side: Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, and a drizzle of honey. Chocolate soy milk. A lot of it. This stuff is deadly because I can’t stop at one glass.
3rd period (was hungrier earlier today) snack: Kashi bar.
WAS STARVING BY 5TH PERIOD, which is English. I love discussion, but I was so hungry today for some reason that I could hardly sit still by the end.
Lunch: interesting variation on the PB and banana sandwich– peanut butter, 1/2 sliced banana, the leftover pumpkin from yesterday, pumpkin butter, and a thin layer of whipped cottage cheese, which is spreadable. It was delicious, but like most PB sandwiches, didn’t fill me up at all.
However, I had a lot of fiber on the side, so although I thought I was still hungry, I was able to get full later on–
Celery and red pepper with hummus
some lettuce with lentils thrown in, but for some reason it tasted weird and grassy, so I took about 2 bites and then put it away.
An Asian pear. These are so full of water that you might as well be drinking a glass of pear juice instead.
My body was definitely craving more carbs, since I usually have more than just this at lunch, but since I missed swim practice to make up the piano I’ll be missing on Saturday for Sectionals, I knew I didn’t need to eat more today.
I spent my free period working on my model city for my Sustainability project in art, but I don’t think this is how I’m going to end up assembling it– I’ll probably do an installation in a glass case where you can see it at every angle. Cool, right? It’s all made of recycled stuff.
After school I went straight to my music school, but I first stopped at Starbucks (did you know it’s named for Starbuck, the 1st mate, in Moby-Dick?) for a nonfat latte pick-me-up.
So basically I had an hour of piano duet and then an hour private lesson with about an hour and a half to kill in between. On Wednesdays if one parent is out of town we usually go out for dinner afterwards, but lately we found that we had just been getting home too late, so we decided to eat early. This was actually a perfect plan because my music school is in a really trendy restaurant neighborhood, and some of the restaurants don’t take reservations, so it’s hard to get in unless you go early. We went to Avec, which is hands down on of the best restaurants in Chicago. It can be pricey or moderate, depending on what you do. It’s basically tapas, but not necessarily Spanish food. There are small plates and large plates, and all of it focuses on rustic fare and fresh produce.
The restaurant looks like a wooden box. The seating is communal and it’s really noisy (you usually end up making friends with your neighbors). The back wall is completely made of green glass bottles, which is amazing.
I have to say, though, out of all the times we’ve been here, it was the worst today. I think it’s because they don’t actually have a lot of vegetarian options (because they use a LITTLE bit of meat in everything for flavoring, so there wasn’t much to choose. The last time I went there, I was definitely ordering the chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon (this was a LONG time ago… maybe 3 years ago, actually? God, was that really the last time I went there?).
We didn’t order a huge amount of food, but since I didn’t swim today, it ended up being okay. We ordered 4 small plates, one that my mom was skeptical about, but which turned out to be the best– house-made barley bread with their own cottage cheese and spicy quinces, with a salad of greens on the side. Of course, I realize that we could even make this at home with the cinnamon pears, but I had never had quinces before and they were great, not to mention really beautiful! Their soft, pink, silky texture reminded me almost of smoked fish on crostini. They were spicy with cinnamon, but also actually hot with what was probably cayenne. Even the cottage cheese was extra creamy, probably because it wasn’t low-fat (although cottage cheese IS already naturally low in fat).
My mom for some reason lately has been obsessed with trying dishes with salted cod, and so far none of her attempts have been successful– in Greektown she ordered what she thought was a casserole dish, but turned out to be fried fish, and at Avec she ordered the brandade, which she didn’t realize was a dip (I did). It was served with garlic bread, and was way too creamy for me– it tasted like fish, but was full of cream, onions, olive oil, and topped with little potato croutons. I took a few bites before I realized what it reminded me of: CLAM CHOWDER! I had hit the nail on the head… or I suppose it was more like clam chowder fondue. My mom didn’t eat too much more after I made that comment.
We also ordered an octopus dish in a spicy sauce with spinach. Originally the dressing had pancetta with it, but they were able to do it without. The flavor of the dish was fine, albeit a little salty (can you imagine what would have happened if they hadn’t left out the pancetta?). The problem was that unlike the octopus at Greektown, which was crispy and charred, this was too soft, so that the whole time you were eating it you were absolutely aware that you were eating octopus. Actually, I got a little scared when I saw the OCTOPUS HEADS at the bottom of the dish! I could even see the eyes!
One of the specials of the day was rapini with lemon and garlic, which is honestly exactly the kind of dish we make at home. Unfortunately, this was so bitter I could hardly eat it! It tasted like horseradish, or those crazily bitter mountain greens in China that even my dad couldn’t choke down.
We were rushed for time, but we probably wouldn’t have gotten dessert anyway (options that night didn’t sound that great). I realize that I’m really not doing this restaurant justice, but it really is wonderful. The chef also owns Blackbird, which is fancier. But just to put it into perspective, here are some other dishes on the menu that I would have ordered if I ate meat:
slow roasted crispy duck leg with marinated plums, tarragon, grilled onion and savory streusel
portugese mariner’s stew with tripe, manilla clams, rice and housemade preserved lemon sausage (not sure about the tripe though)
“la quercia” prosciutto with market pears, lemon, slivered almonds and marinated manchego 20.5
There was also a pheasant sausage dish with lentils that sounded really interesting.
So we rushed back to music, I had my private lesson, and came home, where, despite my smallish dinner (these are SMALL plates, and we didn’t eat everything), all I needed were some strawberries. See how much less I eat on days without swimming? I really do think that, counterintuitive as it seems, I might lose some weight when the season ends.
Jeez, that wasn’t that quick a post, was it? Good night.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Caitlin (see bride run) permalink
    November 13, 2008 4:16 am

    hahah “a noisy wooden box” i love it! do you have an about me page?

  2. Caitlin (see bride run) permalink
    November 13, 2008 4:48 am

    you can create a NEW blog called “Octopuscarwash’s Gourmet Adventures – About.blogspot.com” and then add a hyperlink to the new blog on your main blog page (see my blog).

    or you could transfer to a wordpress blog, which is so much easier to use.

  3. Santa Barbara Dreaming permalink
    November 13, 2008 5:35 pm

    Wow, I really like your food descriptions from your dinner. I felt like I could taste it just reading about it! I’m a huge fan of tapas food, but agree that it can get pricey, esp when you go when you’re hungry and/or order drinks!
    I really liked the sound of your sammie for lunch, I think I need to try it out next time! yummmy
    You’re a busy girl. Keep up the awesome job on the blog, I enjoy reading about it!

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