Dear Saturday brunch at The Southern,

Short rib hash from The Southern. Pick the best pieces from every meal and you have this glorious concoction. Photo/Dear Food

Short rib hash from The Southern. Pick the best pieces from every meal and you have this glorious concoction. Photo/Dear Food

Brunch is my favorite activity. I have a developed skill set for brunching on the weekends. I’ve seen it all, I expect it all. But nothing could have prepared me for this.

Many Chicagoans know about you, The Southern. Nestled in the hip and trendy Bucktown, you do all the food things that food people love to see: Fresh and local ingredients, high-quality craft brews and cocktails. You combine the best of southern living with a big city twist. So, I was ready for the wait. I was ready for the one-page brunch menu (because why not make a few things really well instead of 100 things mediocre?), but I was not ready to want every single item on that one-page menu.

Dear New Valentine’s Plans,

First order of business: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Whether you’re with your honeybee or checking into the heartbreak hotel, no one should have to be alone on Valentine’s Day. For those who belong to the latter category, please don’t panic. For every misfire of Cupid’s hopeful arrow, the boomerang of unexpected virtue will always come back around. Whether or not you’re “in a relationship,” don’t forget the other miracles in your life: friends, family, teachers, coworkers. Anything goes.

pear and cherry cobbler

Dear brunch cobbler,

pear and cherry cobbler

It was billed as good for ‘those who don’t like baking’ but I still loved making this cobbler.

It all started when we decided to have brunch on the rooftop. This Chicago summer has been unusually cool and extra rainy, so a beautiful sunny morning meant going outside and staying there. And what’s my favorite outdoor activity? Brunching.

But I wanted to change it up. We all know my love for bennies but it was a low maintenance kind of morning: no toting fragile eggs up to the roof. And Bon Appetit had the answer: brunch cobbler.

It’s billed as a ‘easy bake’ type of recipe. It’s kind of like kitchen sinking: Toss everything in a bowl, put it in a baking pan, then make some delicious dough that bakes up so fluffily and pop it on top. Done.

Pears are truly the forgotten fruit. Even when they’re not quite ripe, they bake so perfectly keeping that stiffness of something crunchy while being absolutely chewy at the same time. I also misread the label and got dried cranberries instead of cherries, but I feel like you could put any fruit in this and it would come out amazing. And when you reheat it, it’s like you just pulled it out of the oven again.

But if there’s one thing that really pulls this recipe together it’s the vanilla bean ice cream.

Love,
A

Dear bloody Mary at the Burger Stand,

Call me whatever you want, it won’t change the undeniable fact that I. Love. Brunch. Mostly, I love brunch because I love bloody Marys.

But I’ll be honest, when I first saw this bloody Mary, I was a little apprehensive. I mean, when you’ve had a bloody with a slider on it, it’s kind of hard to go back to regular ol’ olives, lemon and lime. But Burger Stand did not disappoint. In fact, I’d say that it reminded me that what really matters is on the inside (of the glass).

You can order a basic bloody for $4 at the Burger Stand (sidebar: The restaurant occasionally has a full bloody Mary bar, but temporarily suspended it because, well, most people don’t know how to mix a good Mary). And if you’re daring enough, you can replace regular vodka or tequila with their special pepper-infused vodka or tequila.

Talk about caliente. It was as amazing as it sounded. It was firey but not painful, and flavorful without trying too hard. And of course, it didn’t need much garnish (but the last-minute addition of beef jerky log definitely helped).

I love you bloody Mary. Never let go.

Love,
A

Beef jerky. On a bloody Mary. You win, Burger Stand.

Beef jerky. On a bloody Mary. You win, Burger Stand.

Dear Parisien Eggs Benedict,

Eggs Benedict

It’s a travesty that all eggs benedict do not come atop a croissant. A crime, actually. La Madeleine must have read my mind because truth is, I’ve been dreaming of a breakfast this perfect since I could speak. Usually, ordering eggs benedict means two out of three things will be good: the egg, the hollandaise sauce, the toast or muffin it comes on. Lucky for me (and the world), La Madeleine gets all three right. The eggs were poached just right, the hollandaise sauce perfectly creamy and lemony, and the croissant…ohhhh the croissant. So flaky. So buttery. It was made for eggs benedict. And this eggs benedict was made for me. If you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of this cafe, you can’t get there fast enough. Run to the eggs benedict. Run! And then bring me an order.