Category Archives: ..and more

Chinatown San Francisco

We didn’t hit up Empress of China or the especially intriguing Floating Sushi Boat Restaurant (see below pics) spotted in San Francisco’s Chinatown last night, but we did go a little nuts with the family-style at Oriental Pearl. I loved the prawns in candied almonds and orange rinds, and the chicken in a crispy potato nest (literally), but my favorite shots of the night emerged on the walk over.

Floating sushi boat?

Floating sushi boat?


Hopelessly drawn to strings of lights

Hopelessly drawn to strings of lights

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October!

Today is the first day of my favorite month of the year. October means it’s not quite cold enough for annoying hats, gloves, 10-minute car-defrosting sessions or teeth-chattering, shoulder-hunching why-the-f-do-I-live here trots to the car, but there’s enough of a chill in the air to constitute leather boots, long scarves and hair virtually unscathed by humidity. It means thermostats switched off, a sort of rich, golden light that fills the air on sunny days, and all things pumpkin. Speaking of which, October also means hot chocolate from Xoco (yeah, yum), bubble tea from Saint’s Alp, and homey, comforting dishes on restaurant menus. There’s plenty to taste around town this fall, and I’m open to hearing your suggestions, comments, concerns and general observations. Drop a line in the comments if there’s something you want more of, less or (more mystery? less random tables?), or a place/drink/vino I’ve got to try. Also! In honor of my favorite month, look to the right, scroll down and take a second to subscribe to the blog via RSS or email. It’s fun, free, and you’ll won’t miss a bite all fall.

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Big Al’s meat pies

Only in Wisconsin do you stumble upon a cooler filled with not just cranberry walnut and wildberry fruit pies with cookie crusts, but meat pies, including pheasant and bison, as well as 8-Oz bowls of bison and pheasant chili. I spotted this cooler in the gift shop of Rushing Waters rainbow trout farm in Palmyra, WI (full post of my City Provisions trout dinner with Three Floyd’s brewery to come this week!), and had to take a pic. I sort of regret not buying a couple just to try (my hands were too full with lemon and dill smoked salmon and fresh trout) but it looks like the Genesee, WI-based company, Big Al’s “The Wild Gourmet” ships. I like how they call the combo of a fruit and meat pie, “dinner and dessert,” and also note that each can feed either 4-5 or 6-8 people, and a portion of the proceeds benefit wildlife habitats. Has anyone ever given on one of these a try?

Wisconsin meat pie

Wisconsin meat pie


Fruit pies

Fruit pies

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Pomegranate meringues at Whole Foods

Pomegranate meringues at Whole Foods

Pomegranate meringues at Whole Foods

Not only are they a baked good I actually know how to make, but meringues are one of those sweets that are so light, you can scarf a few guilt-free. Although they end up only padding my already high lunch bills, I do love the pomegranate meringues at Whole Foods, and have yet to try the pistachio and caramel versions. Other recent discoveries during my lunchtime visits to the Whole: bbq beef brisket sandwich, 88% extreme dark chocolate bar, raw kale salad with cranberries..any others to report?

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Outdoor patio at Duchamp

View of the Duchamp patio from Damen Avenue last Saturday night. Here’s hoping for a long Indian summer of fleece-free patio nights. Duchamp, 2118 N. Damen, 773.235.6434

Come for the patio, stay for the killer Korean wings

Come for the patio, stay for the killer Korean wings

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Davis Theatre candy

Candy concessions at the Davis

Candy concessions at the Davis

I love seeing movies at old-school theatres like The Davis in Lincoln Square, that is until about 15 minutes into the flick when you’re wishing they made those extra padded, double-wide seats that recline in 1929. Alas, I love well-preserved, retro concession stands, and am guessing the theater’s low-budge constructed candy “menu” was easier than trying to shove the ever-growing varieties (neon sqworms anyone?) into a 80-year-old stand. Either way, looks like the perfect excuse to eat your way through every major candy group from chocolate-mint to gummy, sour, fruit and cookie dough. 4614 N. Lincoln Ave.

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Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A and waffle fries

Chick-fil-A and waffle fries

During those very rare moments when I find myself faced with no other eating options but a glowing fast food menu (road trip, 4AM airport layover, colossal hangover) I almost always go for the chicken product. Grilled chicken sandwich, chicken tenders, chicken nuggets, spicy chicken breast—I figure it’s usually more filling than a salad and a relatively healthy option if you omit the mayo, the bun, the fried coating and the fries on the side. But when a friend reminded of the only Chick-fil-A near Chicago (until an-Aurora location allegedly opens sometime in 2010), which is hidden away in a random mall in Racine, I knew a trip there would entail more than just another rubbery chicken sandwich or boot-shaped nugget, but hand-breaded, peanut oil-cooked masterpiece on a grilled bun that my 12-year-old self would trek to Milwaukee’s now defunct Northridge Mall food court to experience almost every weekend, waffle fries and all. 20 years later it was just as divine. Totally and completely worth the 80 mile trek (I have a friend who dons a Chick-fil-a T-shirt and takes a group road trip up there every 3 months). It’s fast food, but it tastes fresh, with a juiciness that only comes from thick, hand-breaded chicken breast that isn’t stamped into a circle or subjected to heat-lamp rubberizing. The lightly toasted bun is slightly sweet, buttered and laced with thin, juicy, dill pickle slices. Of course the skin-on waffle fries are a must, and rival any bar version I’ve encountered, and the made-from-scratch lemonade (with fresh-squeezed lemons and cane sugar) is also the only way to go. It may be hard for me to ever return to the Chick and not get the classic sandwich, but they do offer some pretty interesting items for a fast food joint, like a carrot and raisin salad, a chicken salad sandwich, a spicy chicken wrap and a peach milkshake “special” that seems to have found a permanent place on the menu. Besides the history this quick-service spot has affixed into my own childhood, I love how the Georgia-based company has been around since the 60s and pretty much was the mall-restaurant pioneer, and in my opinion, has reached chicken sandwich cult status today. And the fact that the locations are so few and far between make it that much better when you do actually stumble upon one. Unless, of course, you were founder Truett Cathy’s grandchildren who, according to a friend who grew up in Jonesboro, GA, had an actual full-service Chick-fil-A in their basement. Can you say lucky? Regency Mall, 5812 Durand Ave., Racine, WI 262.554.5009

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Iowa farm shots and more

A few more shots from my Soyfoods Council visit to Des Moines last week, including a farm lunch and tour at Kimberley Farms.

Corn fields near Kimberley Farms, Des Moines

Corn fields near Kimberley Farms, Des Moines


Silos and sky

Silos and sky


Soybeans about 3 months before harvest

Soybeans about 3 months before harvest


Cool tree shot on the farm

Cool tree shot on the farm


Close-up of a soybean plant

Close-up of a soybean plant


Soy lunch on the farm by Chef Terrie Kohl of Country Club Market; warm bean and arugula salad, soy pasta salad with edamam and tuna and bean wraps

Soy lunch on the farm by Chef Terrie Kohl of Country Club Market; warm bean and arugula salad, soy pasta salad with edamam and tuna and bean wraps

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