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Mariano's + Todd's BBQ

I'm lovin this equation. In Chicago, the Mariano's grocery store locations with "Todd's BBQ" are one of the best things that have happened in the past few years. Listen, I'm only in it for the spares and the real deal brisket. The pulled pork is obviously cooked at too high a temp it seems, (tried it at several locations, and it's always the same) and that's ok. It's just not for me. The brisket is the real star, and the spares are really decent for the price. I'm just wondering if any other peeps are digging on their Todd's counter. I've only had mac and cheese as a side, and was not overly impressed, but the brisket is crazy good, imo, and definitely priced well.

Aug 27, 2015
gordeaux in Chains

What's your favorite Indian dish to cook at home?

I'm a meatasaurus, so I dig on nehari, murg makhani, vindaloo (chicken thigh unless I feel fancy enough for lamb)

Saag paneer, and aloo gobi usually round out the feast.

I still haven't even tried making my own paratha, naans, or roti. Doubt I ever will, but I'd like to.

Aug 22, 2015
gordeaux in Home Cooking


Search for "giardiniera."

Aug 17, 2015
gordeaux in Home Cooking

What is up with Burger King?

I used to love a whopper or a whopper jr once in a while. They've totally given up. In my area, the new commercial on tv for 10 nuggets for 1.49 does not use the word "chicken" once. Even at the end of the commercial, on the screen, when they show the offer in writing, it's is, "10 nuggets for 1.49." Hilarious, imo.

My father used to tell me, "McDonalds says they make their hamburgers with 100% beef. They don't say what else they make their hamburgers with, but the beef that they put in them is 100% beef."

Jul 25, 2015
gordeaux in Chains

What are the best store bought flour tortillas?

Ha - nice. I get it. I'm from Chicago, and lived in NM for a few years. Flour has its merits for some applications. I prefer corn for the most part, but there are some flour that are actually decent - especially if you plan on not dousing them in sauce. I'll offer anyone who will listen: El Milagro Flour Tortillas Caseras "Fajita Style." They are thick and fluffy. And anyone who doesn't heat tortillas before use...well, they'll get what's coming to them.

For Nosey, however: I'd go to your Hispanic market. Hopefully they'll have a few fajita style (thicker) flour tortillas for you. I'd stay away from Mission brand anything unless it was a last resort, but I'm spoiled. We can get fresh tortillas still hot in the package from different factories at almost any store where I live. The stores here generally have a row of boxes in front of the butcher case with 10 or 20 different kinds of tortillas fresh from the factory. Not braggin, but it is sooo friggin sweet.

Jul 22, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

White Fence Chicken

Are you talking White Fence Farm? If so, and you are talking about the one with the petting zoo, and you have kids, then maybe. Otherwise, sorry if I upset anyone with fond memories of the place (I have very fond memories of ti when I was kid,)the food is not good. Some of it is gross. Well, MOST of it is gross, actually. Sugary "salads," the gravy on the mashed potatoes is just electric yellow salt goo, the chicken is either edible or inedibly salty, not sure how they work that out - some pieces are cringe-salty, and some have no salt. Their famous "fritters" are basically two bite fried donuts. I'd go for fritters and the petting zoo. Other than that, eat somewhere else. When I was a kid, I used to LOVE going there. I live about 4 blocks from a take out location, and I've gone twice in about ten years. The only reason I went a second time was to verify it really was that bad, and just not an off night. Take the kids for the petting zoo, and don't expect much else in the way of food, and you'll be ok.

Jul 22, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Costco Food Finds - 3rd Quarter 2015

Happy days are here again!!!
I can only hope that it gets clearanced out again. I'll buy as many jars as they have. I tried it on whim last year or the year before when it was clearanced out. I think the two pack was 3 bucks. Tried it that night, and went back the next day to buy the lot, and it was all gone. I balked at the regular price when I saw it, but I think I'm gonna splurge on it. It's essentially worth whatever the price is. Better be the same stuff I remember though. Crazy good, imo.

Jul 16, 2015
gordeaux in Chains

There's No Such Thing As Bad…

I think I've come up with two:

1. Any fresh fish. I am a sucker for fresh fish, and when I come across a piece of it that is pristine and well cooked (meaning not overcooked,) I'm thrilled. Even if the chef bathes it in some stupid overpowering sauce, I can be happy to scrape it off and enjoy the fish beneath. Now, mind you, I'm not talking about fish. I'm talking about when you get a real good piece of fish that was alive and swimming not long ago. I realize that fish can still be considered fresh after a few days, sometimes a week or so, but those times when you get a piece of mackerel that you KNOW was swimming a few hours ago. Or bluefish - even the ones that are considered to have "strong" flavor are sublimely mild when they are super fresh. You KNOW when you get a piece of pristine fish. As long as it's not overcooked, I can scrape off anything that's bad, or even if I don't like the flavoring that was added, I can still enjoy the hell out of the fish itself.

2. Ice cream. Even the crappy dollar store ice cream is probably good. Admit it.

Jul 16, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

Eating massive maki rolls?

I'd have no issue using my hands and taking two bites or stuff it in in one, but if the maki didn't have stuff I'd be interested in cramming into my pie-hole, then I'd just eat other stuff. Probably make a mental note of who ordered them, and if they really enjoyed those types of rolls.

Jul 12, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

New Glarus Beer/Wisconsin

I try several of their offerings every year. Their "Spotted Cow" is a cream ale, and is pretty "cultish" in the Midwest. It's VERY drinkable. It has a quick flash of a mild hoppy flavor, and then finishes extremely clean. Great summertime brew. Most of their stuff is pretty pricey, but they do some pretty notable brews. Hit or miss depending on your tastes, but they have a wide variety of offerings. I just found this listing from beeradvocate which comes in handy when navigating through a Wisconsin store that carries a lot of their products:

Jul 10, 2015
gordeaux in Beer

Best foods versus Heinz mayonnaise

In my area we do have Heinz and Hellman's, (not Best Foods.)
I don't know if regional recipes are different, but comparing Heinz to Hellman's is like comparing apples to ham. Heinz brand is loaded with some kind of sweetener. Real mayonnaise is not sweet. I've never understood the lure of sugary sandwiches, tartar sauce, or salad dressings. I understand that "it's me," but those sugary mayo substitute concoctions like Miracle Whip, "Salad Dressing", and Heinz Mayo give me the heebie jeebies.

Jun 30, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

Current restaurant pet peeve

Having the word "turkey" on the menu (like in a sandwich,) and serving me what people are referring to as "deli turkey" for some reason. I think I always mention this in these types of threads. I do not believe that the word, "turkey" is as open to interpretation as most people are. Turkey comes from a bird, not a laboratory.

Offering mayonnaise on the menu, but serving something like Miracle Whip instead. That's just gross negligence. Mayonnaise is not sweet. Stop it. Charge more for real food. Your customers will thank you.

If you do not know the difference between medium rare, and well, please get off the grill.

If I order for take-out, and you forget to put something from the list into the bag, and then charge me for it, I do not want a credit, and I do not want to come back and pick it up. I want you to hire people that can read a list, place the contents of the list into a bag, and then take my money and gratuity. I will easily find another restaurant that can complete that task successfully. Trust me, I will.

7 maps and charts that explain the looming egg crisis everyone will soon be talking about

Just a datapoint -
My Costco just west of Chicago recently went up drastically. I noticed my round the corner standard Mexican fruit mkt went up threefold two weeks ago, but my local Aldi is sitting around a buck fifty, which is only up a little bit. I sneakily have a private farmer I buy from. He has already promised me his prices will not go up, so I'm getting farm fresh, organic eggs for less than store price of conventional eggs.

Jun 16, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

Bingo Bar with Restaurant?

SCRATCH KITCHEN IN FOREST PARK. Thursdays, I think. Gotta get there early.
I'd get a Greek Burger, and tex mex fries with a side of giardiniera.

May 31, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Bitter enchilada sauce from scratch

My first thought is that you prefer a tomato based (or tomato included) sauce rather than the bitter, earthy, straight chile sauce that I absolutely love and seek. Your recipe sounds like something I would love because it is all chile. I'm always disappointed when I run into a tomato based enchilada roja sauce at Mexican places. I WANT that bitter sauce instead. Web up some more recipes. You'll see some that include tomatoes, and might be more to your liking.

May 22, 2015
gordeaux in Home Cooking

Acme to phase out self checkout

Paying more workers means fewer boats for the execs, so yes, when pigs fly.

May 19, 2015
gordeaux in Chains

Have you ordered spicy hot food and then complained about it being too hot?

Double edged sword. I've never complained about something being "too hot," but I have mentioned to chefs that they are not supporting their heat with flavor. Too hot is not in my vocabulary, but it irks me when the chef is not balancing - it means they are not taking pride in their food.

On the other side of the sword, it's the people that complain about spicy food after they've ordered it that makes it difficult for me to convey to the restaurant that I would really enjoy the food they would normally prepare in their true style - especially Thai, Korean, and Indian/Pakistani. They usually "dumb it down" since they are tired of customers sending food back after they've ordered a spicy dish and can't handle it. If you have to ask "how spicy is it?" then it's not for you, OR you need to specify that you do not want it to be spicy. Please do not assume that other people can judge in any way how much heat your tongue can tolerate. It simply doesn't make any sort of logical sense, and also seems a tad imperialistic, imo.

And Ipse - when I use the term "you," I do not mean you specifically at ALL. I'm just replying to your comment because I think the reply fits for the thread.

May 17, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

Food recommendations for a solo foodie in Chicago

Al's on TAYLOR STREET is better by a MILE, in my opinion, however, Portillo's does a very respectable beef, and combo, and Chicago Style hot dog.

Al's has some other franchises throughout Chicagoland which I've never been to, but I have heard time and time again, that they pale in comparison to the TAYLOR STREET location. I can vouch for the TAYLOR STREET location being fantastic, if a little pricier than most. I'd be happy with a beef or a combo, or a hot dog at Portillo's or Al's (ON TAYLOR STREET,) but my preference is definitely Al's. On the plus side of Al's, there is another specialty joint right across the street from Al's on Taylor street - Marios Italian Lemonade Stand. If you do happen to try Al's, definitely hit Mario's as well.

Mario's and Al's are pretty close to Chicago's "Little Italy" neighborhood - lots of Italian restaurants - if that interests you.

If Portillo's will be closer to your plans, you'll be happy with their food - (just don't waste tummy real estate on their fries which are probably the weakest offering on their menu which is surprising since they have premium prices, and generally very decent quality.) Al's is better, imo, but Portillo's is just fine.

You'll be happy with either, but again, I really encourage you to look into other options for Mexican than Chipotle while you are here - especially if where you are from does not have a lot of options for Mexican food. Chicago has sooo many options. And plenty of them are absolutely fantastic - from dirt cheap to very expensive, and plenty in between.

A lot of times, it's easier to make recommendations here depending on where the requestor is from. So if where you are from has less options or no options of a style of food that Chicago is strong in, maybe we can point you in some direction that way? And that is not to say that Chicago has everything - in general we all know there are weaknesses or similarities here just like in almost every city, but that's just how it goes. So, for example, if someone from the west coast asked "what they should try," I probably wouldn't point them in the direction of sushi, tho we have some really good joints. I'd probably suggest pizza, and also Mexican food (which may be a surprise, but all my left coast friends concur that Chicago's Mexican scene is different, and many of them prefer what we have in Chicago.)

May 17, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Food recommendations for a solo foodie in Chicago

An Italian beef will definitely be a "winner." If you like spicy peppery concoctions, get it with "hot giardiniera," which is a brined, oily, mix of chopped hot peppers and veggies that any Italian Beef place you go to will have. Also, if you add an italian sausage to your beef sandwich, it's called a "combo." You'll see it on the menu. If you ask for for beef sandwich with "sweet" peppers, you'll get some steamed green bell peppers on it.

If you like Chipotle, that's one thing, but if you go to Chipotle for Mexican food in this city, that's another thing. I'd encourage you to skip Chipotle, and seek better (way, way, WAY, better) for Mexican food if you can.

May 16, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Acme to phase out self checkout

I hope my shops do not remove them. Even the produce is snap - just read the screen. It guides you through everything. Plus, since I'm just a dumb customer, sometimes chicken wings and onions are the same price - weird how that works, but it happens.

May 15, 2015
gordeaux in Chains

Looking for the city's best egg rolls.

RaeRenee. SWEET. I love good egg rolls, and finding good ones is hard to do these days. I don't even really have a place for a favorite myself, but I love this thread on lthforum, and will try the ones noted when in their area if possible. I believe Kow-Kow is a board favorite if it's still open, but I've never been.

Apr 15, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Off the beaten pah Chicago eats for a first timer

If it's your first time, I'd really suggest an Italian Beef sandwich with giardiniera and sweet peppers. More than likey, you'll be able to score one at the hot dog place you visit. Without knowing where you'll be going/staying, Nsxtasy is right on with Portillos for that. It's totally casual order at a register, and they'll call your number for you to come get it type place. Fries are totally forgettable (get the onion rings instead) but they do a solid rendition of a classic Chicago dog, AND an Italian Beef with giardiniera (salty, oily, hot pepper mix.)

Which cuisines are you into and not into *right* now?

Texas BBQ
Middle Eastern

Not Into:

Mar 15, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

Salsa recipe?

an avocado
Juice of a good lime
decent amount of cilantro
few tbs of olive oil
serranos and jalapenos (adjust to YOUR heat preference, not someone else's)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Water for blending to viscosity that will coat a spoon (or tortilla chip)

The fresh chile bite will smooth out as the flavors meld. It'll need half a day in the fridge.

That's my new second favorite to standard salsa roja in the blender, which, for me is just fresh pico de gallo, blended.

Mar 14, 2015
gordeaux in Home Cooking

Asian Birthday Dinner for 6? Chicago or suburbs

San Soo Gab San
Cho Sun Ok

Both for Korean bbq, but they also have the Korean standards, as well. Great for groups celebrating with drinks, imo. Neither are "upscale," like Arun's, however.

Mar 03, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Source for Patak products in or near Oak Park

Well, Tony's had a sign with a sale price on it for the hot curry paste, but the shelf was bare. Looks like they were sold out. Neither Tony's nor Meijer had the vindaloo, however. I saw no shelf signs for it. Both had other Pataks jars, just not the vindaloo. If I see Tony's has restocked, I'll post something.

Jan 07, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

I tend to agree with bada bing on Chicago and Philly. Once you delve into the Chicago neighborhoods outside of the tourist areas, you'll be blown away by all the little ethnic joints with truly marvelous stuff. I'd guess that I'd check on what types of food you wanna get into, and cross reference with what the area has to offer. Seeing as you're in SF, however, I can definitely see the need for visiting the SE for the southern style eats experiences.

Jan 04, 2015
gordeaux in General Topics

Source for Patak products in or near Oak Park

I bet you were as disappointed as I was when the Grand Mart on North Avenue shut down almost seemingly before the shelves were fully stocked (if you were around back then.)

I haven't been there in years, but maybe that Food 4 Less on North and 25th might have it? No idea.

I'll still check on Tony's and Meijer within a few days, probably tomorrow.

Jan 04, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Source for Patak products in or near Oak Park

Hi Masha -
Tony's North Riverside, and also Meijer on Harlem and Cermak.

I'm not sure if they have those exact flavors anymore today, as they scale back and change stock as well, but I guarantee I've seen both at each place in the past. I go to that Tony's at least once a week, so I'll check and post if they have them on the shelf. If you've never been to Tony's, you are about to be a fan. It's not fully comprehensive for ethnic by any means, but they do have a decent amount of some of the more standard items to get in between stock up trips to true ethnic marts. I'd be surprised if you couldn't find both Patak's Vindaloo and Hot Curry if you visited both places in one trip - they are only a few blocks apart. What sucks is that neither carries curry leaf. If you do visit Tony's you'll definitely see the Indian section on the shelf, but do not miss the frozen Indian section as well. Some interesting stuff there, indeed. Again, not comprehensive by any means, but there's some stuff there you might not expect from a standard grocery store. I'm a big fan of Tony's if you haven't caught the drift, lol.

P.s. - I think Priya in FP is no more.

Jan 03, 2015
gordeaux in Chicago Area

Costco party fare?

The hummus tray with the three or four different flavors is totally edible.

Chicken salad placed in mini rolls or halved croissants would be easy. They normally have tubs of tortellini salad at my Costco as well- right next to the chicken salad. Never tried it tho.

Dec 11, 2014
gordeaux in Chains