Meanwhile, I've been traveling to Chicago to visit family. I decided to drive the 6 hours since I would probably spend that much time in airports traveling and besides, I love to drive. Just the act of backing out of my driveway and knowing I am going somewhere gets me in an adventurous spirit...that and having a SUNNY driving day. I now sport that "drivers" tan..you know the one? Where your arm is hanging out the window and you forgot the suntan lotion, because, really? Why would you need it? You are only driving west 6 hours in bright sunlight? Ouch. Thankfully the other arm now has the same hue, since it was sunny driving home. Note to self...suntan lotion is a must in the glove compartment.
Since venturing into downtown Chicago wasn't going to happen, checking out restaurants in the suburbs was interesting. Downer's Grove offered up this little gem: Parker's Restaurant & Bar. My dinner at Parker's was very simple, yet brilliantly done. My appetizer was a duet of golden and red beets, chevre, pistachio and cherry balsamic reduction. The freshest piece of Alaskan Halibut was grilled on a cedar plank and paired with simply sauteed garlic and spinach from the Chef's Garden along with mashed potatoes. Too full for dessert we opted for a DQ hot fudge sundae an hour later. Yep, the ying and yang of eating :)
What I really like about Parker's is they source some of their produce from Chef's Garden, a specialty farm that supplies some of the most well known restaurants, based in Huron, OH.
Back in the early 1980's, when Lee and Bob Jones' business was known as Farmer Jones, I would drive up to Huron and bring back loads of farm fresh produce for my catering clients. Those were the days of baby vegetables, squash blossoms and heirloom tomatoes, items now taken for granted on many menus. How times change and so has Farmer Jones..that's another story.
How to roast beets:
Strangely enough, an important tip was left out of this tutorial. Either use a paper towel to take the skins off the beets OR wash your hands immediately after working with cooked beets, or you will have the most lovely pink colored fingertips and hands for at least the next few hours!
My Beet (called Beetroot in other parts of the world) Salad Recipe:
- Chunk or slice your beets and toss lightly with a simple vinaigrette of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar of choice. Or you can just drizzle them with some walnut oil and sherry wine vinegar.
At this point you could add the following based on your preferences
sliced orange segments, orange zest and some chopped chives
bits of local soft goat cheese or feta, gorgonzola is great too
arugula or rocket
Here are some other delicious and different beet recipes.