And it inspired our food reporter to go hunting for a new restaurant in Mount Prospect, where half the emphasis is on ingredients from the earth.
The old Randhurst Mall is gone. In its place, Randhurst Village: a "lifestyle" mall that lured in the team behind Sunda in River North a few years ago. The menu is all over the place, but we were intrigued by some of their more veggie-friendly options.
This is not your mom's suburban mall restaurant. Earth and Ocean spared little expense when developers got them to open here a few weeks ago.
"When we took a look at it, they were like, we want someone in here who can basically put a stamp on and create some buzz out in the suburbs," said Chef Rodelio Aglibot.
Part of that meant - along with offering a dandy kid's menu- dishes that go way beyond boring salads. Take their smoked pea hummus, for example.
"We take shelled peas and we smoke them for about 45 minutes in our smoker in the back, and then we make a hummus out of it; we put a little tahini and emulsify that olive oil in there and season it," Aglibot said. "Needs a vehicle to be eaten, so rather than a pita bread or something, I figure well, something crispy and hot, how about some fried cauliflower."
There is a sushi bar, of course, but raw sashimi inspires a watermelon appetizer with more flavor than you'd expect.
"We compress it in a vacuum pack machine and so what it does it takes out some of the liquid and it really intensifies the flavor," he said.
The compressed wedges are drizzled with a sweet soy sauce, as well as a sesame glaze, then topped with a crunchy salad containing cabbage and fresh herbs. Also from the sushi bar, an "earth roll" that utilizes a soy paper wrapper, rather than the usual dark nori, or seaweed one.
"So it's a vegetarian-based roll and that comes with mango, herbs, spinach and greens, and we top it off with a salad," said Aglibot.
Earth + Ocean
125 Randhurst Village Dr., Mt. Prospect