I’ve always thought the best way to eat a weiner here in Saskatchewan was with blackened edges and that unique smoked taste you only get from threading it onto a willow stick and holding it over a campfire. Winter or summer (and any season in between), that’s my favorite!
So what is the best way to eat a weiner? Why, wrapped in a pretzel of course! An Auntie Anne’s pretzel that is.
Okay, it was a surprise to me too, but one I had to try when I landed in Chicago O’Hare International Airport at lunchtime on my way home from the Travel Media Showcase.
And how was it, you ask? Well, delicious. The pretzel itself was soft and tasty, while the Nathan’s hot dog it was wrapped around received top marks from me for taste–not spicy, not flat, just a nice juicy hot dog.
Auntie Anne’s does provide nutritional information on their pretzel dog if you’d like to check it out at: http://www.auntieannes.com/Nutrition/PretzelDogs.aspx?Product=PretzelDog
Bossanova Restaurant & Lounge — Fried Green Tomato BLT
Fried green tomatoes are a Southern food I always enjoy–I’ve never run into this taste treat anywhere in Canada in my travels.
A BLT, on the other hand, is pretty standard on Saskatchewan restaurant menus.
So, when I saw Fried Green Tomato BLT on the appetizer menu at Alton, Illnois’ classy Bossanova Restaurant & Lounge, I had to try it. I do realize that if you’ve never eaten a fried green tomato the whole combo may not be appealing, but I can assure you it has a very tasty flavour.
This BLT is sandwiched, of course, between the two slices of panko (according to Martha Stewart), or Japanese breadcrumbs, covered green tomatoes. Inside, you’ll find the typical bacon, lettuce, and tomato (ripe red!) along with the Bossanova’s special ingredient, a balsamic rosemary ranch dressing.
While I didn’t dip my BLT, the sauce was somewhat along the lines of a light thousand island dressing.
And if you’re looking for the perfect drink to accompany this appetizer, give the Peach Hooch (if it’s in season) a try. And what’s that? Well, a full flavored drink consisting of American whiskey, peach schnapps, green chilies, fresh Calhoun peaches, and orange juice.
With an ever-changing menu, you’re sure to find some new combinations every time you visit Bossanova’s.
Castelli’s Restaurant at 255 — Homemade Toasted Ravioli
I’m not much of a ravioli eater (guess I’ve been turned off by the canned varieties!) even though it’s a fairly common menu option on the Canadian prairies, so I’ll admit to being hesitant to try this appetizer at Castelli’s Restaurant in Alton, Illinois.
Ravioli is typically made with the pasta dough of the chef’s choice and some kind of filling. Castelli’s ravioli was stuffed with a mildly seasoned meat mixture–it reminded me a little of the famous Lasyone’s meat pies in Natchitoches, LA, although Castelli’s seasoning was milder than the Creole mixture used by Lasyone’s.
The toasted outside of the ravioli provided a flavor superior to anything I’ve eaten that was steamed or boiled!
As well as toasting the ravioli, Castelli’s serve it with a Bolognese dipping sauce. While there are as many recipes for this popular sauce as there are chefs, I found Castelli’s to have a strong tomato flavor not overpowered with spices.
Since the Castelli family have been serving Alton and area since 1937, and toasted ravioli is one of the house favorites, it’s a time tested family recipe that’s sure to please diners.
Join Castelli’s Restaurant in this YouTube video as they celebrate their 75th anniversary!
Mississippi Half Step Restaurant — Mississippi Mud Cheesecake
Every list of great combinations of foods needs a dessert on it, and while I found amazing desserts at literally every restaurant I ate at in Illinois, I’ve chosen the Mississippi Mud cheesecake to share here.
Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, and the Mississippi Mud version served by the Mississippi Half Step Restaurant in Grafton, Illinois, is one of the tastiest–and most decadent–that I’ve eat.
The base of the cheesecake is similar to the traditional base of the recipe I use at home with the cottage cheese cake some of my family love–more of a cake/biscuit layer that lends itself to the chunkier texture of the cheesecake middle. The topping combines a caramel glaze with drizzled chocolate to add in some of my favorite flavors!
Grafton is at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, being Mile 0 on the Illinois River, so it was only fitting that this dessert was called Mississippi Mud.
The Mississippi Half Step Restaurant takes its name from a song of the same name by the Grateful Dead. Listen to a performance of the song on this YouTube video below:
Visit Illinois Restaurants
You can visit these Illinois restaurants at:
- Bossanova Restaurant & Lounge – Alton, Illinois
- Castelli’s Restaurant at 255 – Alton, Illinois
- Mississippi Half Step Restaurant – Grafton, Illinos