Category Archives: mystery spot
Leave it to a Second City sketch comedy writing program alum to turn his guest blogging opportunity into a script. I met the talented and hilarious Corey McKenna while performing as an actor in his Second City Writing 6 show, Sketches with Wolves last fall, and was thrilled when he guessed a recent mystery sign post correctly. For his guest post, Corey found a way to combine his love of sketch writing and El Mercado Meat Market empanadas…..
Hi, my name is Corey McKenna and here is a conversation I imagine us having. I am ME and you are YOU.
ME: El Mercado Meat Market on Southport and Grace. It’s Argentinian.
YOU: Ugh, not another Argentinian meat market. Those were cool back when I was into collecting stamps. Am I right? (laughing arrogantly)
ME: That’s an obscure reference. I don’t get it. What does that even mean?
YOU: Forget it. What’s in the bag?
ME: This bag is filled with empanadas from El Mercado Meat Market. Here, have the beef empanada. It’ll completely change your mind about Argentinian meat markets.
YOU: (with mouth full) Oh, wow.
ME: Isn’t it delicious?
YOU: Yes. The flaky crust is the perfect companion to the well-seasoned minced beef it envelopes. The peppered beef gives it a slight spice that I haven’t tasted in other empanadas made in the neighborhood.
ME: A very astute observation. Now try their chicken empanada. Isn’t it delicious?
YOU: (with mouth full) Are you kidding me? This is to die for. Hey, what’s that one?
ME: It’s the spinach empanada. Its filling is comprised of spinach, garlic and ricotta cheese. What do you think?
YOU: (with mouth full) Fantastic! But, what does it cost to put these empanadas into my stomach? Probably a fortune, right?
YOU: Get right out of town, this instant. $1.29? Amazing! Thank you so much for telling me about this, Corey! I will always remember you for this. If I ever have children, I will name every one of them ‘Corey’ to remind me of today’s conversation. Here, accept this [item of jewelry]. It runs through my family for generations. Take it. Wear it. And remember me. Now, forgive me, but I must go now.
ME: I graciously accept your [item of jewelry]. But why must you leave so suddenly?
YOU: It’s about time I dust off that stamp collection. Argentinian meat markets are back, baby.
El Mercado Meat Market, 3767 N. Southport
While I am not fast enough to jump on Baconfest 2011 tickets, my dedicated readers are! So when Jacky Hackett of cooking blog jaxhouse.com guessed her second post correctly, (this time the mystery goat), she asked if a post on Baconfest would be, er, Kosher? Since I didn’t get to bask in the bacon-ocity, I was happy to get her full report as well as some mouth-watering photos below…
“My husband and I were lucky enough to score tickets to Baconfest 2011. Baconfest is four hours of bacon goodness with some of Chicago’s greatest chefs preparing amazing dishes, and a few liquor sponsors provided drinks featuring bacon. But it’s not only about the swine, a food-drive is run at the event and a portion of the Baconfest proceeds are donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
We arrived at the UIC Forum to find a line winding around the block. Bacon fans poured over the menu to plot their strategy for working their way through the fest. The menu was an amazing read with offerings like bacon cotton candy, bacon biscotti, bacon-stuffed bacon, applewood smoked bourbon bacon jam, BLT martinis and bacon-infused rum. With more than 50 dishes it was a bit overwhelming; you truly did need a strategy.
We managed to hit about two-thirds of the stations. Even though servings were small, we got quite full after just a handful of dishes. A few of the chefs were out of food before we got to them, some just weren’t appealing enough to add to our overly full bellies, and a few we just overlooked. Choosing a favorite would be like choosing a favorite child, it just can’t be done…but here are a few we’re still thinking about..
Old Town Social (Jared Vancamp) served a Triple S Farms smoked bacon wrapped around a Monterey Jack-stuffed hot dog topped with pickled jalapeños, salsa fresco, and a lime aïoli. The hot dog can only be described as smooth, the bacon gave it a great smoky flavor and the toppings added a nice freshness.
Lillie’s Q (Charlie McKenna) served a pork belly and grit hash with a smoked gulf shrimp, bacon, on top of an ENC vinegar sauce. The pork belly and vinegar sauce were a match made in heaven and the grits were creamy and rich dotted with bits of bacon.
We also loved crispy pork belly with grilled ramps, peas, and farro drizzled with bacon agrodolce served by Gamba Ristorante (Tony Graves). Not only was it good-looking but the pork belly was cooked to perfection. The sweet and sour of the agrodolce balanced the rich fatty belly perfectly.
Magnolia Café (Kas Medhat) served their interpretation of Pork’n’Beans; white bean spread topped with thick cut bacon and greens on a sourdough bread.
Terzo Piano (Margaret Colleran Sahs) served an empanada with Dreymiller and Kray cinnamon bacon, dried seedling strawberry, toasted almond with a salsa verde. The empanada had just the right amount of sweetness with a touch of savory in the salsa verde. My husband described it as tasting like Christmas. We left the fest happy, full, clothes smelling faintly of bacon, and in desperate need of a nap.” — Jacky Hackett
Mystery candy post guesser Catherine was hell-bent on getting her guest post in by St. Patty’s Day, but alas, her healthy take on the sickly sweet McDonald’s Shamrock Shake took a few days longer than expected to perfect. Inspired by her love of all things mint, Catherine’s soy-based shake is a thinner take on the heavy (or “thick-ass,” as she put it) fast food shake, but 10-15 minutes in the freezer will thicken it up if that is your thang. Food coloring was added merely for photo aesthetics, and although she was ready to throw her impressive creation in a damn paper McDonald’s cup, I’m glad she opted for a tall and virtually unwaxy, glass, and she also gets photo direction props for the backdrop!
Catherine’s Vegan Shamrock Shake
Soy vanilla ice cream 1 cup
Soy milk, unsweetened (or vanilla) 3/4 cup
High-quality peppermint extract 1/2 tsp
Green food coloring (optional) 2-3 drops
Peppermint or spearmint leaves for garnish
Blend all ingredients and garnish with fresh peppermint or spearmint leaves.