Thursday, August 23, 2012

Next Stop: Monteregie, Quebec



Next week, I'm off to the orchards and vineyards of the "Garden of Quebec," as Monteregie is called. Located just southeast of Montreal and filled with natural and gourmet delights, Montergerie is noted for wine, ice cider and tantalizing regional restaurants. My media tour includes visits to five vineyards, three cidreries, one chocolatier and one cheese maker so expect lots of dish sampling, cider sipping and wine tasting posts.  I'm also excited about biking along the St. Lawrence River, visiting a butterfly orchard and learning about the region's 18th century history. So stayed tuned for my exploration of Quebecois culinary culture.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chicago Haute Dogs


It's a cute idea. Gourmet hot dogs add a little style to this basic fast food and Chicago boasts quite a few eateries offering their take. Frank N' Dawgs' adventurous menu intrigued me the most. Smoked tofu? Scallop sausage? Kimchi?  These aren't your typical hot dog ingredients and I was fascinated to discover if they actually  tasted good. So I headed to Frank N Dawgs with my skeptical hubby.


I laughed at this sign that greeted us, above. In case we didn't know, there'd be no typical dogs with peppers and relish here.


Who can think about humdrum dishes when there's triple truffle fries?  Slathered in truffle butter, truffle oil and truffle salt, we almost forgot about the hot dogs as we (mostly hubby) gobbled them down.


I opted for fried green tomatoes to accompany my dog. I liked the idea of crunchy, cornmeal covered tomatoes to offset the heaviness of the dog but the cornmeal didn't quite stick to the tomatoes. So I ended up eating the green tomatoes and then the cornmeal.


 We weren't brave enough to sample the smoked tofu or kimchi and braised short rib dogs but we did explore. This is the Lamb-orghini, lamb sausage topped with chili aioli and deep fried basil that my hubby ordered.


I tried the Tur-doggin, turkey and date sausage sprinkled with crispy duck confit, herb garlic aioli and pickled carrots. The highlight of these dogs was the soft, gently toasted and buttered rolls that they nestled in. I could eat the rolls alone and be happy. Hubby wasn't as impressed, chiefly because the two dogs, fries and tomatoes costs almost $40. That's pretty steep for what amounts to a fancy snack but high style always costs.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Fly Multitask Remedy


It happens to me all of the time, especially when traveling.  I'm scrambling to catch a flight, my hands are filled with my carry on, blanket and purse when my phone rings. Lots of fumbling and dropping of stuff usually follows before I can grasp my phone. It never occurred to me that there might be a solution to this not-enough-hands quandary until I was contacted to check out Flygrip. I'm not typically a huge gadget fan but the name alone intrigued me--Fly girl using Flygrip!


Cute name aside, I was interested in how this accessory would make traveling and multitasking easier. The colorful clip attaches to smart phones, e-books and tablets with detachable adhesive strips. Secured to your hand, the device allows you to text, read, tweet or take photos without worrying about dropping your phone.


Flygrip clips your phone to your fingers so that you still have your thumb and other hand free. I tried it out during a walking tour of Chicago's Gold Coast. My hands were clutching a parasol (100 degrees in the shade) and my bag filled with water, camera and sunscreen. Flygrip allowed me to tweet photos without worrying that I would drop my phone. I have unfortunately experienced the horror of hearing my screen shatter on the cobblestones of a Montreal street after I dropped it while attempting to take a photo. So I know firsthand the importance of securing your phone while multitasking. You can also use the attachment as a kickstand to stand your phone up for photos or videos. Flygrip comes in eight colors with three sizes to accommodate different sized fingers.  I'm not sold on Flygrip's $30 price tag but I think it's a clever and useful addition to any travel arsenal.