Monday, June 24, 2013

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette + Weekly Inspirations

We just spent a marvelous week in the windy city.  I believe I am now at 28 states with 22 more to go to complete my bucket list of visiting all 50.  Chicago is an amazing city filled with great restaurants, a drop dead gorgeous skyline, friendly people, history and culture.  It was an inspirational vacation on many levels and will share some of the highlights for my weekly inspirations.

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette 


4 Cups Shredded Brussels Sprouts (About 16 sprouts)
1/3 Cup Toasted Pinenuts
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the Brussels super thin.  Add to a large bowl along with pinenuts and parmesan cheese.


1 Cup Croutons – use a baguette and cut into ½ cubes
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
½ teaspoon Garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss well until all is coated.  Spread over a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Lightly sprinkle with salt right after removing from the oven and let cool.

Avocado Vinaigrette

1 Ripe avocado
4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
3 Peppadew peppers, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon peppadew juice
8 to 10 Grinds fresh pepper

Add all ingredients except peppadew peppers, to a food processor and pulse until creamy. Place into a bowl and mix in the peppadew peppers.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your desired levels.


Add the vinaigrette to the bowl of shaved Brussels sprouts and toss well.  Serve individual portions and sprinkle croutons on top for a finishing touch.  Inspired from RPM Italian in Chicago!

RPM Italian

RPM Italian was recommended by several individuals and is co-owned by Bill and Giuliana Rancic.  He won the first season of The Apprentice and she is a news host on E! News.  They met, fell in love, married and now are restaurateurs. It is stylish, glamorous, sophisticated and has a particular energetic vibe.  The cocktails are a spin on the classics and the food is certainly delicious.  First glance, the menu looks simple but the dishes are flavorful, inventive and well executed.  We particularly loved the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Avocado – so much that I came home and created my version of this tasty salad.  If in Chicago, put RPM on your list!


The word “consistency” was written on the white board in the kitchen.  We were lucky enough to have the table right in front of the open kitchen.  Chef Duffy runs an expert operation at Grace – hence the namesake – everything is done with Grace.  From the canap├ęs that arrive in synchronicity to the 8 courses that proceed after to the perfectly paired wines to the after meal "one on one" kitchen tour - this restaurant is on its way to perfection.  Whether you choose the “flora” or “fauna” tasting menu, the price is the same and worth every dollar you spend.  Someday sooner than later I predict, this will be a multiple Michelin Star restaurant and almost impossible to secure a reservation. This restaurant is not one to be missed!

Longman & Eagle

If you are into a hip restaurant, then don’t miss eating at Longman & Eagle located in the newly cool Logan Square neighborhood outside of downtown Chicago.   Oh, if you love whiskey they have 150 to choose from along with other interesting libations.  The food is imaginative, tasty, extremely appetizing and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  A bit off the beaten path if you are staying in downtown Chicago but completely worth the cab ride there to have a great meal. We had Mr. Toads Wild Ride cab driver and certainly needed a drink when we walked through the door. Thank goodness the selections were bountiful. By the way, don’t miss ordering the Warm Cheese Gourgeres with Gruyere Mornay Sauce that oozes onto your plate.  Simply out of this world delicious.

 Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago

The Donald certainly knows how to build, execute and provide the “wow factor” to his customers.  From the moment you walk into the lobby and inhale the beautiful scents emanating from the multiple burning candles to the warm hand towels offered while checking in that sit a top a marble tray with a fresh orchid to the high level of service provided by the person who delivers your bags to your room, we knew we were in for an opulent stay at the Trump Hotel in Chicago.  I even had Bill Rancic walk right by me while we were checking in - kept thinking he looked familiar.  Not much of a "star searcher" but it was fun to see him - he is certainly tall.  

We had a 700 square foot suite on the 25th floor (actual photo of our room) that overlooked the city and down to Navy Pier.  The room had a full kitchen with sub-zero fridge, nespresso machine and even china.  Oh the bathroom had a television built into the mirror and you had a pillow menu to choose the perfect pillow to be delivered to your room.  Donald – what haven’t you thought about?  The Terrace at Trump on the 16th floor was a frequent jaunt for an afternoon cocktail that also provided an outstanding view, cool tunes and great people watching.  Highly recommend you book your next vacation at a Trump Hotel – worth every dollar.

The Hancock Tower

The Hancock Tower is a must see iconic building at night.  You fly up in an elevator to the 95th floor to the Signature Room for a drink or two.  I recommend the Pear Martini.  You are treated to a view that is simply priceless and amazing to look at while you sip on your libation.

 Ralph Lauren Restaurant & Bar

If you are a Ralph Lauren fan, this is the store for you. We found out that this is the largest store in America and even includes a restaurant.  Within the restaurant is a small intimate bar that is encased in rich wood and the wall behind the bar is stacked full of any libation your heart desires.  We enjoyed an afternoon cocktail.  Who gets to normally do that during the week?  Not us, we are usually working.  What a special treat!

 Architectural Boat Tour

This is a tremendous way to capture the beauty of the Chicago architecture while strolling down the river and getting a guided tour of the history of Chicago.  Eventually the boat makes its way to the expansive lake and your view of the city becomes even grander and you can really comprehend the size and scope of this amazing city.  Loved every moment!

Chicago Skyline

Chicago is known for its buildings and skyline.  You must savor it from the street level, a boat, the top of a skyscraper or from the small window in the airplane as you descend into Midway or O’Hare.  Quite impressive and inspirational.

 Michigan Avenue

Not quite 5th Avenue in New York but I would garner that Chicago's Magnificent Mile is a close second.  You have Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Burberry and almost any other designer you love can be found here.  I was in awe of the planter boxes that had the most beautiful flowers and greenery in each one.  They were so lush and eye catching and reminded me of what you might see strolling the streets of London.  What a fun day of shopping we had!


  1. I love Chicago. When my kids were little I would go for the weekend and do all the sites. Since I live in St Louis, it was just a 30 minute flight on Southwest and they had rates back then, if you can believe this, of $30 per person.

    Your trip sounds great. I love this salad, especially the vinaigrette. I like that you added the Peppedew juice. Sounds like great flavor. Thanks for sharing your trip and this recipe.

  2. I love a shaved salad, this looks so tasty! I haven't been to Chicago but now I know just where to eat if I find myself there in the near future!

  3. What a lovely salad! Also, your trip looks like it was awesome!! So fun!

  4. Oh my, I'm supposed to be in Chicago right now but my flight was cancelled yesterday, just before we were supposed to board due to bad weather. I had to re-schedule the whole trip for this fall. I love Chicago and your photos are making me excited for when I do get to go. I love traveling and the culinary inspiration that comes with it. Your salad looks fantastic!!

  5. That salad looks awesome and those pics make me miss Chicago! I was just there and had such a fun time. Thanks for sharing :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  6. It been too long since we last went to Chicago.. We have family that lives there... we need to visit soon.

  7. Gorgeous salad - awesome photos! They make me want to revisit Chicago!

  8. I love Chicago too. I'm glad that you mentioned the flowers because I always comment to my son (who lives in downtown Chicago) that the flowers in Chicago are always so beautiful and well kept! Thanks for the great recipe.

  9. I love Chicago as well! We stayed at Hotel Sax just right beside the corn cob building (Marina City, I believe, is their official name?). How did we not know about RPM, which seems to be walking distance from Hotel Sax on N.Dearborn Street! I would definitely need to go back to Chicago! After all, I NEED to go eat at Alinea!!! In the meantime, I am loving all the shaved brussels sprouts posts! Will have to try soon (since I have more time on my hands right now...hehe).

  10. love this, my partner just loves Brussels sprouts.... I on the other when i saw this recipe ...i thought this maybe a way we can both enjoy this veg...thanks for the inspiration....

  11. Nice salad Lisa! I loved seeing all your photos on instagram and now these too. Chicago is a great city to visit, I've been there twice and plan to go in the Fall. Your stay at Trump tower looks luxurious.

  12. Lisa! So fun... I haven't been to Chicago since I was a kid and I've been itching to get back. Did you go to Rick Bayless's place? I keep hearing how amazingly good it is.
    Your salad looks delish! I've been on a serious avocado fest lately;)

  13. When I return to Chicago I'll retrace your restaurant steps. You haven't steered me wrong yet so I know it would be one feast after another.

    Love this salad, too. Gotta make it for the hubs--he's swoon with delight!

  14. I could visit Chicago anytime-one of our favorites...the restaurants are just amazingly good -it sounds like you experienced it all- definitely enjoyed the highlights! Thanks for the recap of your trip- will save this for our next visit to Chicago ;)

  15. Love Chicago! I grew up in Madison, about 2 hours from there. Such a fun city! I had a great time following all your pictures on FB during your trip.


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