A far heartier entree was beggar's purse, offered as a special the night we visited. Similar in concept to the British pub favorite, shepherd's pie, the dish was a casserole that comprised layers of sauteed and sauced ground beef and butter-rich mashed potatoes, baked until the potatoes were just crisp. Sides of firm, pale green chayote squash, a scoop of bland red beans and rice, and wonderfully crunchy, grease-free fried plantains completed the bargain. (The same side dishes accompanied all main courses.)
Delius Shirley is particularly proud of his newly licensed full bar, which includes a selection of beers from around the world and a list of French, California, and Australian wines. But a more stimulating beverage easily overshadows the wine. Chef Hutson is one of three well-connected distributors who import the prized Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee into the United States, and is therefore able to sell it "closer to cost." Which means you pay eight dollars for a three-cup French press, the only way the restaurant will serve it. As a bargain, it's debatable; as a delight, it's undeniable.
Jonathan Eismann, chef-owner of Pacific Time down the block, said recently that he would welcome fine-dining competition on Lincoln Road. He's got it.
At my bridal shower, I received one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Cooking in the Nude. The idea, I imagine, is to involve your mate in what is often a very sensual practice -- the preparation of food. And while my nosy neighbors can probably attest to the fact that I never use the book as it was intended to be used, I do leaf through it once in a while for...reference. Yeah, that's it. The culinary Kama Sutra. For those of you tempted to try this at home with your spouse or significant other, I have two words: Hot oil. Think about it.
Obviously my in-laws didn't receive this particular marital aid, or they might have happened upon this pleasure sooner. Now, after 36 years together, they're finally learning what they should have learned as newlyweds -- how to avoid stinging little spatters on sensitive, never-see-daylight flesh.
Naturally, I feel obligated to help in their endeavors, so I purchased them a class at Two Chefs, the brand-new cooking school owned by Jan Jorgenson (formerly of Janjo's) and Soren Bredahl (formerly of the original Food Among the Flowers and Dominique's). The pair offers demonstrations, hands-on classes including appearances by guest chefs, and a rent-a-chef service. Located at 8287 S. Dixie Hwy., the school doubles as a retail store, selling lux cookware lines, tableware, and homemade products such as balsamic syrup with cloves, tomato-mango ketchup, and tangerine marmalade. A call to 663-2100 yields a tasty schedule of classes and events, which are conducted, no doubt, in full dress. Grin and bare it.