Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FoodBuzz Community Table: Chicago TRU

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Chicago's culinary scene encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals who dabble in the world of food. Aside from the obvious industry folks, there is a great food blogger scene which is larger than I even realized last night. Thanks to FoodBuzz and Visa Signature, Chicago area food bloggers came together to experience something delicious at the famed TRU restaurant in the Streeterville neighborhood.

Attendees included food bloggers who are part of the FoodBuzz community, a social network of food minded individuals. Making their rounds throughout the country, they bring together food bloggers with a dinner so that folks can meet face to face and share their experiences in the blogosphere. Last night was a wonderful opportunity to exchange our culinary viewpoints with fellow bloggers, talk about food blogger topics and really form a closer sense of community with others who understand food blogging as a whole.

Our dinner did not disappoint and the staff at TRU were once again exceptional. Here was the menu we all indulged in over the course of 4 hours... and many of us didn't want to leave when it was all said and done!

Canapes
Scallop & Lemon Wonton
Mini-Beef Wellington

Cauliflower Sphere
The scallop & lemon wonton was delicate, crispy and had a nice salty bite.
The mini-beef wellington was my favorite - a delicious bite of beef encased in buttery dough.
I did not try the cauliflower sphere, since I left my seat to mingle!


Wines
Alma de Blanco Godello Monterrei 2008
Nieport Twisted Douro 2006
Both wines were amazingly smooth and perfectly paired with our meal!


Amuse Bouche


Peeky Toe Crab

proscuitto, pequillo, cantaloupe-cava consomme
This was a unique dish where the consomme was served tableside and poured to surround the beautiful mound of peeky toe crab. To eat, the mound is broken down and combined with the consomme. It was absolutely delicious how well all these flavors worked together.

Frog Leg
roasted garlic, carrot, watercress
It's been said that frog legs taste very much like chicken however I didn't quite get that in this dish. Instead the frog leg was slightly bland and wasn't as flavorful as it could be. Similar to our Peeky Toe Crab course, the accompanying watercress puree was poured tableside, which made a striking presentation of color.

Olive Oil-Poached Scottish Salmon
granny smith apple, coconut, thai long peppercorn
This was one of my favorite dishes of the night since the salmon was beautifully prepared and so moist and flavorful. Who knew that apple, coconut and peppercorn could lift the flavors of salmon to a whole new level?


Braised Beef Short Ribs
unagi (eel), scallion pistou, miso emulsion
I'm a sucker for beef short ribs and wondered why I was even provided with a knife to eat with. The meat was so tender, it flaked when it was touched and the saltiness of the unagi enhanced the beef. Another one of my favorite courses of the night!



Seedling Farms Plum
sarsaparilla cream, milk chocolate, ginger lime meringue
Head Pastry Chef, Meg Galus, does it again with her sweet concoctions. This dessert plate had quite a few flavors and textures going on and they worked out nicely. It was a great way to prepare plums and opened my tastebuds to flavor combinations I never would have thought of!


Mignardises
Ah, the ever popular mignardises TRU serves up to end the meal. Dark chocolate ginger cream cups, apricot gel candies, pistachio meringues, almond puffs were a few of the offerings, accompanied with coffee service.


After our dinner, we were quite a talkative bunch at our end of the table and if we weren't prompted to take their kitchen tour, I'm sure many of us would have stayed longer! The kitchen tour was a great treat - a tour I've taken when I dined at TRU previously. It's all very well laid out and immaculately organized, which is no surprise! Here are some pics of the TRU kitchen:


Glassware Case
When you first step into the kitchen, this is what you see - a beautiful display of glassware that are all handwashed. On the lower shelf to the right, you'll also notice Versace cups, often used for soups.

Bar Window
As patrons of the restaurant come in, you'll notice there is no visible bar in their lounge area. The bar is actually part of the kitchen where orders are processed here at this window and the bartender prepares them to order.

Meats Station
Here, the kitchen staff prepares the meats and seafood portion of the dishes. Extremely organized and nicely laid out, the chefs have enough room to work and create such beautiful presentations of food.


Food Prep Station
In this area of the kitchen, you'll find chefs preparing for the day's meals as early as 9am. From produce, meats and everything in between, its prepped here for the kitchen to use when the kitchen is open for business.


TRU's Kitchen Table
Tucked in the back of the kitchen is this private dining area where diners can enjoy their meal while watching the kitchen prepare it. To the left, diners can watch the pastry chefs create desserts and immediate in front, diners can watch the kitchen staff perform their culinary ballet.


Pastry Station
Here is where Chef Meg Galus and her staff creates her sweet works of art! How I would love to just sit there and taste test everything they make!


TRU's Famous 'Caviar Staircases'
The top 4 steps hold various caviars while the remaining bottom steps hold the accoutrements; all served with a Mother of Pearl caviar spoon.


TRU Kitchen
This is a great view of the kitchen from the back, in front of the pastry section. It's a gleaming space where culinary magic happens nightly.

If you'd like to get other perspectives of this dinner event, please check out the blogs of my fellow Chicago Foodbuzzers!
Thank you once again to FoodBuzz and Visa Signature for a wonderful evening full of food and new friendships! As a result of this dinner, many of the Chicago area bloggers are joining together to maintain our new found friendships through a new social networking group dedicated to Chicago food bloggers. If you are a Chicago area food blogger, please check out our group - Chicago Gastro Bloggers. We'd love to have you join us!