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Exploring Chicago/Chicago eats by foot

A dining companion had some Pho, so I did get to taste it. It was excellent. I can get decent Pho in Pittsburgh at one of the two Vietnamese restaurants in the city, and actually eat it about once a week for lunch, so I wanted to branch out a bit.

Nov 17, 2008
paulmtl in Chicago Area

Exploring Chicago/Chicago eats by foot

Thanks for your suggestions!

Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate for extensive walking with the cold and wind.

Saturday we ended up at Frontera Grill for dinner, and it did not disappoint. Had to try the guacamole, and also had an order of scallop ceviche, choriso quesado (which I had seen called "choriqueso" in D.F.), and an order of their tuna "carnitas". All exceptional.

On Sunday we were hoping to walk to Pilsen to explore the murals and Mexican shops and restos, but we only made it as far from the loop as the Maxwell Street Market, which blew our minds. Chowed on churros, elote, barbacoa, mole, quesadillas over several hours. Also purchased a few LPs, and some antique jewelry. It's safe to say that there probably isn't another place in the world where you can sit down on a near-freezing day and enjoy that kind of Mexican food off the street. Unfortunately after that much time outside, we were too cold to continue with our walk.

Sunday night we headed up to Argyle St and ended up at Tank Restaurant on the corner of Argyle and Broadway. Amazing menu. I think we counted something like 247 items. I wished I lived in the area so I could come back a few times a week, as there was so much I wanted to try. Had to settle on a vermicelli bowl with grilled pork, and a pineapple smoothie. Both were excellent), and I'll definitely be playing around with the concept of the vermicelli bowl in my kitchen in the upcoming weeks/months/years. I wanted to get a banh mi to go to carry on for my flight home on Monday, but the kitchen was closed by the time we were leaving.

I wish I had a longer visit!

Nov 17, 2008
paulmtl in Chicago Area

Exploring Chicago/Chicago eats by foot

My ladyfriend and I are going to be exploring Chicago this weekend. Our hotel is in the loop, but we'd like to get away from the city core into some more interesting areas where Chicagoans of all persuasions actually live and eat.

Any suggestions for interesting neighbourhoods to explore with good affordable food options? Places with a lot of energy and a somewhat unique Chicago vibe are what we have in mind.

We wouldn't mind walking upwards of 8-10 miles a day, stopping for a few meals and interesting snacks as we go.

All types of food welcome.

Nov 15, 2008
paulmtl in Chicago Area

Pittsburgh: Sunday brunch and Saturday lunch

I second Enrico's as a choice for Saturday lunch. The food from their wood-fired oven and small selection of seasonal dishes are always excellent, the ambiance is great, and its well worth spending a few hours exploring the adjacent stores and cafes in the strip district before or after lunch.

My favorite spot for Sunday brunch is Coca Cafe in Lawrenceville, about a mile and a half east of the strip, which has a great menu and ambiance.

http://www.cocacafe.net/

Jul 09, 2008
paulmtl in Pennsylvania

Help me solve a Poblano mystery (pepper related) [Moved from Mexico board]

I only hope that my tasting notes were accurate. They may have been blurred by a several month lapse between the tasting and being moved to start this thread. At the time I was eating them, I didn't think of trying to recreate it myself.

I will see what my local Mexican food store (there is only one decent one that I know of here in Pittsburgh with our virtually nonexistant latino population) can provide in terms of ingredients but I am immensely thankful of your offer to help fill any gaps from Chicago. I will keep you posted!

Jun 27, 2008
paulmtl in General Topics

Help me solve a Poblano mystery (pepper related) [Moved from Mexico board]

Thanks so much for this amazing wealth of information. I'm heading back home (to Montreal) for the Canada Day long weekend but when I settle back in my kitchen next week, I will give this procedure a try and update you with the results.

Thanks again!

Jun 27, 2008
paulmtl in General Topics

The Strip Worth A Trip ?

I agree with Rick's suggestions, and definitely think it's worth a trip, especially on a Saturday when the area comes alive. Some highlights for a Saturday afternoon:

- Enrico's cafe fires up their wood-burning oven and produces amazing pizzas,

- Reyna foods across the street churns out piping hot tortillas

- A women one block to the east hand assembles excellent Vietnamese subs to order (the name of her store escapes me at the moment).

- The wholesale produce stalls on Smallman street are open.

- If the planets are aligned (I've only seen this twice), you can buy handmade pierogi from two old grandmothers in the lobby of church on Smallman and 21st street that are unbelievable.

My favorite stores to visit are Pennsylvania Macaroni, Wholey's and Lotus, which is an excellent Asian grocery store. All of these places are on Penn Ave between about 16th - 21st streets.

Jun 25, 2008
paulmtl in Pennsylvania

Help me solve a Poblano mystery (pepper related) [Moved from Mexico board]

Thanks for the insight, Richard.

One of my traveling companions remembers it being slightly sweet, so this sounds like a good possibility. It was definitely unlike any canned chipotles en adobo though in that the rehydrating liquid was water-based, and not tomato-based. It also had much less heat.

Jun 25, 2008
paulmtl in General Topics

Help me solve a Poblano mystery (pepper related) [Moved from Mexico board]

Thanks again for your insight. I'll give steaming a shot and update with progress. This was the only time I ever came across re-hydrated dried chilis in a plastic cup. I certainly saw no shortage of dried peppers.

Jun 23, 2008
paulmtl in General Topics

Help me solve a Poblano mystery (pepper related) [Moved from Mexico board]

Thanks for the insight. I will give that a try (I actually have a few dried anchos in my freezer from a previous chili). Are re-hydrated dried chiles a common Mexican condiment?

Jun 23, 2008
paulmtl in General Topics

Help me solve a Poblano mystery (pepper related) [Moved from Mexico board]

I recently spent an amazing week with friends in Mexico (DF and Puebla). I ate a ton of great food (from escamoles to tacos arabes) but one meal stands out above all others: a home-made sandwich assembled from ingredients gathered in a Poblano market.

It basically consisted of two types of cheese (rope-like mild Oaxaqueno and a harder, salty, feta-like cheese, creamy melt-in-your-mouth avocado, mystery peppers, all coated with a generous squeeze of lime on fresh, crusty rolls.

You can see a picture of this amazing lunch here:
http://flickr.com/photos/paulmtl/2604...

I would love to relive this experience at home in the USA, but have been unable to figure out exactly what the peppers were in this sandwich. They were purchased in a covered clear plastic cup filled with liquid from a market stall in Puebla. They had a mild-medium heat without being overpowering, and a gentle smokiness and acidity. If I were to provide a vague description, I would guess that they were some kind of dried chipotle pepper with the seeds removed, soaked in a diluted vinegar until they were soft enough to easily chew.

Does anyone out there have any ideas on what these peppers might have been? Even better (since I have never seen anything like this for sale elsewhere), how I might be able to make my own batch? Thanks!

Jun 23, 2008
paulmtl in General Topics