By Benita Zepeda
I’ve found it’s sometimes difficult to justify traveling out of my way to get something I could walk a few blocks for, but some food shops are worthy of making a special trip. In this case, it’s to Allegretti’s Bakery in Norridge.
Last night, Jews around the world lit candles, spun dreidels and ate a boatload of potato pancakes, commemorating the miracle of oil that lasted eight days, after the destruction of their temple. Latkes, as they’re called, are one of my favorite memories as a child, because it was a time when my mom could cook and not really mess things up in the kitchen. What I mean is, they’re practically foolproof. The key is squeezing out all of the liquid before you fry, in order to keep them crispy. You don’t need a reason to make them of course, which is why I’m giving you a little recipe here in case you want to make them on your own. If not, then just head over to one of the two Bagel locations in Chicago, and have them do all of the heavy frying for you. Don’t forget the sour cream and applesauce. Happy Hannukah (or is it Chanukah)?
Incidentally, this is my final post of 2011. I’m taking the next week off, and will be back here with some delicious, crave-worthy posts on January 2nd. Happy New Year everyone.
- 4 large potatoes
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- Finely grate potatoes with onion into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Mix in egg, salt, and black pepper. Add enough flour to make mixture thick, about 2 to 4 tablespoons all together.
- Turn oven to low, about 200 degrees F
- Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drop two or three 1/4 cup mounds into hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2 inch thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown.
- Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain, and keep warm in low oven until serving time. Repeat until all potato mixture is used.
Typically, the heat of a new place determines the “see and be seen” (SABS) factor. If it’s new, and they’re serving sushi on backlit tables, then chances are there’s going to be a wait to get in. But there are roadblocks aplenty to achieving successful SABS status. Read More
While The Twisted Spoke probably gets more attention for their Smut & Eggs promotions (porn after midnight!) and in-your-face ads, the food has always been several notches above the usual bar food crap that most places offer only to soak up the beer and booze. The Fatboys (burgers) and bloody marys are almost legendary, but the shrimp po’boy is a more recent addition, and it’s stellar. So good, in fact, (and such a dark horse on the menu), that my brother-in-law called me last week, as he was grabbing a bite before the Kanye show at the United Center, and asked if it was, indeed, as advertised.
“The menu says it’s one of your favorites, is that true?” he asked me. They must have put that there since I did do a story about a year ago on it for ABC 7.
“Yep, it’s true,” I said. “It’s a legit po’boy.” Although sadly, nothing in Chicago even comes close to the po’boys of my dreams at The Parkway Tavern or Domilise’s in New Orleans, let alone the legendary ones I recall having at Uglesich’s many years ago. The key, of course, is the Leidenheimer bread. I thought Mac & Min’s on Madison had some pretty good ones, until they closed earlier this year. So for now, you’ll have to head over to the corner of Ogden and Grand, and check out the shrimp po’boys at The Spoke. Let me know what you think.
I love a good holiday cocktail, but the truth is, eggnog has become a bit of a cliché, especially at holiday parties. A cousin to the brandy milk punch of New Orleans, this only-in-December concoction always seems to have too much cream and nutmeg, not enough structure or depth. So we turned to Eric Hay, a mixologist and bartender with the Wirtz Beverage Company (formerly of Bar DeVille and Duchamp), who had a great idea for this throwback: add mole bitters to give it a unique edge your guests will truly appreciate.
Eggnog de Oaxaca
2 oz. Ron Zacapa 23 or Zaya Rum
1 oz. Heavy Cream
1 oz. House made spiced syrup*
1 Whole egg
2 dashes Bitter Truth chocolate mole bitters
Method: build all ingredients in a shaker tin and mime/dry shake (without ice) to whip contents. Add ice and hard shake for 8 seconds. Strain up into 2 glasses.
Garnish: Microplaned nutmeg over the top
*House made spiced syrup recipe:
Simmer 10 cinnamon sticks and 12 cloves in 2.5 cups of water for approx. 20 min. Remove sticks and cloves and add equal parts sugar to remaining hot spiced liquid. Let cool and then refrigerate. Can be used for up to one week.
Before we go any further, let me just say that if you have never seen the movie Tampopo, do yourself a favor and rent it. But before you do, make sure one of the five places below are open, because you’re going to be jones-ing for a bowl of ramen immediately afterward. True, most of the restaurants in Chicago don’t make the noodles themselves, but the good ones either have someone make it for them, according to their recipe (Takashi) or just have a great source from Japan they buy from (Tampopo, Santouka). Like a great pho, the broth in a ramen is key: sometimes it contains rich, fatty slices of pork. If you want to really dive deep into the world of ramen, pick up David Chang’s Lucky Peach Vol. 1. and geek out. Read More