Showing posts from September, 2023

New Pop-up Event: Formal French Dinner in Paris

What is the ultimate dinner experience? Some say it's the classic French gastronomic meal which starts with an apéritif (drinks before the meal), ends with a digestif (after dinner drink), and contains multiple successive courses in between all paired with specially selected wines. It is a festive meal bringing people together for an occasion to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking, emphasizing togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the setting of a beautiful environment. Since 2010, this traditional French ritual has been inscribed as one of UNESCO's "intangible cultural heritage of humanity." We're going to recreate this "formal" French dinner experience with seven courses right here in downtown Urbana for ten special guests. Instead of flying to Paris and paying $360 per person (without wine) at a fancy Parisian restaurant like Le Cinq , you can have the same experience for $90 per person (with wine pairings for every course). Best of all, y

How to make grilled octopus the Greek way

I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my tummy for octopus. Of all the different ways to prepare octopus, the grilled Greek version is my absolutely favorite way to eat this delightful sea creature. Every reputable Greek eatery worth eating at has this dish on their menu, and ever since discovering this dish in Chicago's Greektown restaurants decades ago, I have been religiously ordering it as a starter for every Greek meal. Deceptively simple to prepare, this dish delights all the senses -- from its smokey aroma to its garlicky tongue tickling zing, to the refreshing lemony acid infused dressing to the crispy charred crunch to the irresistible chewy texture -- I could go on. All I can say is that if you've never tasted this dish, you haven't really lived.  In the coming weeks, I'll be making this dish twice: once at our upcoming " Greek Sunset in Santorini " pop-up experience on September 17, and then again at Common Ground's Greek Meze Dinner co