Menus for some fine final meals
We asked 12 local foodies — chefs, cooks and restaurant owners — what they would want on their plate for their last meal.
Black Dog in Urbana
"I would like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh-picked sweet corn on the cob. And duck confit with duck fat fried potatoes and green beans. Wait. I skipped breakfast — fresh tropical fruit salad, bacon with waffles and real maple syrup and maybe some scrambled eggs with truffles. And I'm not going anywhere before I have some prime rib and grilled lobster, and a pizza with roasted red peppers, spinach, mushrooms, goat cheese and capicola cooked in a wood-fired oven.
"This question is making me hungry. I should have some dessert — fried apple pie with whipped cream, and there should be some chocolate. Let's say a hot fudge sundae with pecans."
Just Hamburgers in Paxton
"For an appetizer, I'll have some 41/50-count breaded shrimp. Heavily salted. Might as well — if you're going out, what's it gonna hurt? I'll have two bacon double cheeseburgers with ketchup and onions and — since I can't eat fried food — fries, some onion rings and a large chocolate shake. And for dessert, a Samuel Adams Winter Lager in a frosted mug.
"I'm starting to salivate."
Milo's in Urbana and Escobar's in Champaign
"I would like to be riding my horse to an open fire to grill a live fish — simply with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper — while drinking Ron Zacapa XO Guatemalan Rum and smoking a Cuban cigar."
Bridget's Blarney Stone in Ivesdale and 3Ravens Food & Spirits in Monticello
"Standard Midwest steak and 'taters — a 12-14-ounce USDA prime Angus ribeye; a twice-baked potato stuffed with the standard bacon, shredded sharp cheddar, sour cream, sauteed minced shallots and red bell peppers; steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce; and for dessert, German chocolate cake from Jubelt's bakery in Litchfield.
"As for the wine, if I'm buying, I'd go with a 2007 Clos du Val Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. If you're buying, then damn the torpedoes, get online and order a Caymus Special Selection Napa Cab 2007 for over $225.
"It may be my last meal, but I still can't mentally justify thousands of dollars on a bottle of grape juice. Have to leave something to the kids, you know."
Apple Dumplin' in Urbana
"I'd have a house salad with ranch dressing, two rolls and butter, a prime rib prepared medium and a baked potato with butter and sour cream. I'm not a dessert person, but I'll take a big piece of lemon meringue pie. My last drink: a big strawberry margarita."
Maize in Champaign
"I share my love for pork like Anthony Bourdain — and like him, my meal would not need to be fancy in any way. I like my food simple, fresh and with lots of flavor. My dream is to try roasted pork from a place in Puerto Rico that my idol, Anthony, visited. Since it would be my last meal, I would import the roasted pork from Puerto Rico and Mexican churros and chocolate from Meson Agustinos in Morelia, Mexico. My choices are not very common, but it would fulfill my love of pork and delicious pastries from my beloved Mexico."
Cahill's in Danville
"I'm a comfort food type of guy. I like roast beef, turkey and dressing, fried chicken, waffles and scrambled eggs. But if it was my very last meal, I suppose I'd probably choose a surf 'n turf. I'd start wih a nice green salad, then have my small ribeye, medium-rare, and lobster with a side of rice pilaf, a potato and some nice asparagus spears. I'd top it off with a nice frosted cinnamon roll, like we make here at the restaurant."
Big Grove Tavern in Champaign
"I'd probably want to start with Dominique Crenn's 'A Walk In the Forest.' Eating this dish is like taking a hike in a California forest — the smells and flavors transport you. Then I'd follow with a big, comforting stew, like a Mexican posole, topped with a perfectly ripe avocado or a Japanese shoyu ramen with soft cooked egg. To drink, I'd want a bottle of great Russian River pinot noir. Dessert would definitely be ice cream — either mint or peanut butter cup.
"It's kind of all over the place and runs from very high-brow and highly technical to grocery store freezer section. Not sure what that says about me."
MARY MANZELLA RACZ
Manzella's in Champaign
"For my appetizer, Insalata Caprese — a fresh mozzarella ball sliced with fresh tomato, red onion, fresh basil and our homemade house dressing. We have on our menu a dish called Chicken Capperi, which is two 4-ounce boneless breasts of chicken marinated in a vinaigrette dressing with white wine, then cooked in a skillet. For my side dish, I would have steamed broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
"For dessert, I would like cheesecake with a drizzle of raspberry syrup and whipped topping. My favorite wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz blend, 2010.
"A cup of coffee with a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream would be a perfect finish."
JT Walker's in Mahomet
"I would start things off with a broth-based potato soup with chunks of bacon in it. For an appetizer, I'd have chorizo-stuffed mushrooms covered with melted mozzarella and topped with a bit of basil and chopped tomatoes. For my entree, a juicy 12-ounce New York strip cooked medium-rare with a Buffalo Trace mushroom bourbon sauce covering it. I would have my mother's twice-baked potato. It is fantastic. I'm not a huge vegetable guy, but I really like grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.
"I would pair my dinner with a great craft beer, probably something like Founders Backwoods Bastard. For dessert, chocolate and peanut butter pie with whipped cream on top."
Bayern Stube in Gibson City
"My last meal would be Beef Rouladen with a homemade potato dumpling and red cabbage. This is nothing too fancy in Germany, something Grandma would cook for Sunday afternoon dinner. Of course, it is unusual for other cultures. Simplicity is always best."
Timpone's in Urbana
"Just a bite of each of these: blue point oysters on the half shell with fresh lemon and black pepper mignonette; butter-poached Maine lobster with porcini mushrooms; Timpone's pizza with fennel sausage, red Onion and anchovies; pan-seared rare bluefin tuna with caponata, 100-year-old balsamico, ligurean tapenade; tajarin pasta with shaved white truffles and parmegiana-reggiano; seared lamb rib chops Marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger; assorted artisanal bread; and my wife's creme brulee with fresh berries.
"And just a sip of each of these: Champagne, 1982 Krug; Chardonnay, 1978 Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti; Pinot Noir, 1961 Bonnes Mares, Pierre Ponnelle; Sangiovese, 1990 Le Pergole Torte; Sauternes, 1921 Chateau d'Yquem; Syrah, 1978 La Chapelle, Jaboulet; Barolo, 1971 Monfortino, Giacomo Bologna; and Bordeaux, 1949 Chateau Latour."