Coming Soon: The North Clark Street Taco Crawl in Chicago

Mexico FlagWe recently returned from a trip to Mexico, where our love for tacos (particularly, Tacos al Pastor) grew ever stronger. Our favorite taqueria is in Pilsen, but sometimes you just get a taco craving, and driving all the way down to 18th street isn’t feasible. So we decided to give the North Clark Street corridor in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago a thorough exploration for tacos. You know, we feel pretty badly that we have ignored this teeming avenue as a spot for Mexican food for so long. However, slowly but surely, we are stating to explore the area, and with good reason – practically every 4th storefront is a taqueria! Do you have any favorites in the North Clark area you can recommend (especially for al pastor)?

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538’s International Food Association World Cup: Results are In

We wrote a little bit earlier about 538 Blog’s International Food Association World Cup, where users could vote for their favorite national cuisines. While the World Cup of Futebol has been over for a while, the Food Cup just ended. The four teams making it into the semi-finals were Italy, USA, Thailand and Mexico, which seems like a pretty solid match-up. The final round was between the USA and Italy, and Italy eventually prevailed. Not too surprised with the result – who doesn’t love Italian food?

Varieties of Rum Baba (and friends) in naples

Italian Pastries – just one of the country’s many culinary delights

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Kahk al-Eid: Egyptian cookies for Eid

flags_of_Egypt Today is Eid Al-Fitr - the breaking of the fast after the month of Ramadan. Of course, this means lavish, delicious feasts. Every country has its own food traditions to celebrate Eid, but all have an iconic dessert or two! Sweet rice/vermicelli puddings are found in India, Pakistan and Burma as a way to celebrate Eid. In Egypt there is a classic cookie: Kahk al-Eid (literally, “Eid Cookie”). These sugary shortbread-like cookies get their kick from a combination of spices including fennel and anise – which may be listed as “Kahk Flavor” in some recipes. Cookies may be made into small circles or can be shaped with a wooden mold, as in this recipe. A simpler recipe is provided by Food Republic, if you do not have access to Kahk spice.

Kahk

Egyptian Eid Cookies (Kahk) – by Lorenz Khazaleh

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Von y Carmen: Cooking her way through Puerto Rican Classics

Flag of Puerto RicoWe love our mofongo, and we are grateful that Chicago has a bunch of great Puerto Rican restaurants. Despite its deliciousness, Puerto Rican cooking flies a bit under the radar in the US. However, we have grown to love it and are looking for a good basic cookbook. Apparently much like Joy of Cooking for the US, Puerto Rico has an iconic tome, Cocina Criolla, by Carmen Valldejuli that has pretty much every recipe you need to know. This Puerto Rican classic has inspired journalist Von Diaz to get in touch with the soul of Puerto Rican cuisine by cooking her way through it, a la Julie and Julia.

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Masouleh, Northern Persian Cuisine in Chicago

Masouleh
6653 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60626

flag_of_IranWe’ve driven past Masouleh on Clark a thousand times, but it was only when we were seeking a spot for a low-key date night that we actually popped in – and we are glad we did. Named after a picturesque town in Northern Iran, Masouleh specializes in northern Persian food, a new regional specialty to us. Masouleh is a family place, and attracts a wide swath of neighbors, locals and Persian families making the special trip. Masouleh is not too fancy, but just a little bit romantic if you have a low key significant other (nice touch: flowers and candles on the table!).??????????????????????????????? The menu at Masouleh  is small and straightforward. You will recognize many of the main dishes from other restaurants, however we were also pleased that they had Northern Persian specialties. We started off with a cucumber and yogurt salad, which M devoured too quickly to be photographed. For mains we got fesenjan ($13) – chicken with ground walnut and Pomegranate sauce, served with rice (pictured below). The dish was simple, but hearty, and the sauce took on a deliciously creamy flavor.

For the second entree we decided to do a little something different. Every day there is a northern Persian specialty, and on that day it was an intriguing salty/sweet dish: Gheimeh Nessar, which is made of beef stew marinated with onions, saffron, split peas, sourberries, pistachios, almonds and orange peels served with white rice. The flavor combination had the potential to be overpowering but it was actually perfectly spiced and delicate. Both of our entrees came with a huge variety of side dishes, certainly more than we expected: pita bread, feta cheese with tomatoes, and a cup of the soup of the day, a hearty lentil. We were positively and pleasantly stuffed, but we decided to make a little room for dessert.

??????????????????????????????? To finish our meal, we ordered Persian Ice cream($3), which was flavored with rose water, saffron and pistachio. Maybe a little too much rosewater, but still very tasty. The table next to us got some tempting-looking baklava, and we are looking forward to trying that next time. We highly enjoyed our dinner at Masouleh, and we can’t wait to try some more Northern Persian food. If you’re looking to impress your foodie date, this is the place!

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How (fresh) Ramen Noodles are made

Japan[Video via Kottke] We spoke recently how authentic ramen restaurants were becoming increasingly popular across the US, and that trend has no sign of slowing down. Some of these restaurants make noodles in-house, but many buy them. Check out how fresh ramen is made for some of the most popular ramen eateries across the US, at Sun Noodle.

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Mexican Ice Cream shops – Neverias (and Paletarias) – in Chicago

Mexico FlagOne of our go-to places for a cool summer treat is Palateria La Monarca in Rogers Park (6955 N. Clark) – we usually get the lime and mango paletas. However, there are a whole variety of Mexican Paleterias (popsicle shops) and Neverias (Ice cream stores) throughout Chicago that we have not yet tried. Even just on the stretch of North Clark near Monarca we noticed a few new ice cream places popping up, including Las Delicias de Michoacan (6649 N. Clark).  However, shops aren’t just popping up on North Clark – it is a city-wide phenomenon! WBEZ’ Monica Eng has an article about the proliferation of Mexican ice cream shops, and more than a few recommendations of places/treats to try. In particular, Eng recommends the mangonada, a neveria staple of mango sorbet topped with mango slices and a sweet and salty pickled fruit sauce called chamoy. The mangonada is now on our summer bucket list. What’s your favorite thing to order at a Neveria or Paleteria?

Paletas from, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico

Paletas from, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico – by Dolanh

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