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Monday, November 29

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Brunch Thu Nov 21 2013

Brunch with Mom @ Kanela

Brunch is, objectively, the best meal of the day. It's the lazy meal meant to be enjoyed late and eaten slowly with a breakfast cocktail because today you don't have to rush anywhere.

I don't get to enjoy my favorite meal too often because I have one of those nine-to-five office jobs, which means I rush out the door with a slice of toast in my coat pocket. I'm actually a little baffled by restaurants that serve exclusively breakfast/lunch/brunch fare during the work week because aren't most of us tucked away most of the day? Turns out, a few retired people, a couple executive-types, and a smattering of others (including this lucky soul who took the day off because her mother was in town from Minnesota) take advantage of the laid back vibe at a weekday brunch spot.

My mom and I went to Kanela in Old Town (1552 N. Wells St), where we cozied up from the chilly day in one of their milk chocolate-colored booths. I quickly encountered my Big Brunch Dilemma: sweet or savory?

rsz_kanela_frenchtoast.jpgI'm always drawn to the sweet side (stuffed French toast, Kanela chip pancakes, strawberry waffle!), but I know I get overwhelmed by sugar halfway through and can't finish. I sometimes manage to talk myself into eggs but savorier plates just don't have the magnetic pull for me that French toast and waffles do.

The waiter/manager at Kanela spared me half an hour of indecision by presenting my mother and me with a French toast flight (which is the second best flight after wine flight). Four thick slices, some more cake-like than bread, of red velvet, poppy-seed, banana, and our favorite, an orange spice. I could have sworn the waiter said "pumpkin," but the bright, vibrant orange-colored slice tasted like orange plus cinnamon and fall. It made me want to order a hot chocolate and sit by a fire.

My mother announced red velvet was "the sexiest." It was, and with the cream cheese frosting, more dessert-like. I gravitated toward the poppy-seed with fresh blueberries while the banana was so moist it was almost a damp slice of banana bread. Neither of us needed syrup or butter with the French toasts, just the cream and powdered sugar already on the plate.

While my mother drank coffee, I tried not to guzzle the fresh-squeezed apple-berry-carrot juice, which was cool and refreshing on my sugared palate. I was thinking about ordering a Bellini when our savory entrees arrived.

My mother had ordered the salmon Benedict, the same dish I had zeroed in on. But two people eating out together just should not order the same thing and failing to convince her to choose something else, I picked the spicy feta omelet, one of the Greek-inflected dishes on the menu (with starters like bougatsa and loukoumades).

Between the two of us, I had the winner. It was also a monster and, with the sides of herbed red potatoes and toast, could have fed three people. The omelet had a pleasant crunchy texture from the red onions and was spicy in the way it added a kick of flavor rather than lots of heat. This is the kind of spicy I prefer, especially for the first meal of the day.

rsz_salmonbenedict.jpgThe salmon Benedict was a tall stack layered with spinach, pickled onions, smoked salmon and poached eggs which looked like perfectly round dollops of cream. There was a tad too much spinach, then again I've never been a fan of cooked spinach, but the rich hollandaise and egg were just the disguise that bitter, stringy vegetable needed.

I eyeballed the cocktail menu with the typical mimosas and Bellinis along with the distinct Spicy Politician (with Absolute peppar, house Bloody Mary mix, celery bitters, Sriracha, and Tabasco) and the seasonal Tipsy Rhubarb Palmer (with sweat tea vodka, lemonade, and rhubarb bitters) wishing I'd ordered one sooner as my stomach was reaching max capacity.

Both of us could only finish half our meals, but were reluctant to leave a second meal's worth of leftovers, especially those roasted potatoes, so we toted our eggs and scraps of French toast around the rest of the day while we went shopping.

Notes for next time: share portions. Half the group orders sweet, the other savory. And remember that Bellini.

Kanela Cafe
1552 N. Wells St., ph. 312-255-1206
3231 N. Clark St., ph. 773-248-1622

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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