Pastry Post-Doc: Yemeni Hawaij coffee spice

flag-of-yemenIn Yemen, there are two famous spice blends called Hawaij (We thought it said Hawaii at first glance, too!): one sweet (for coffee) and one savory (for soup). We are familiar with other Middle Eastern savory spice blends like Za’atar or Ras-al-Hanout, but a formula for a sweet spice blend was something new to us, so we were totally intrigued. Hawaij coffee spice consists of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and clove (which I am betting smells amazing), and is typically incorporated into coffee as a flavoring. You can make your own spice blend with a recipe from A for Lifestyle or My Name is Yeh. We came across a lot of interesting non-traditional recipes incorporating Hawaij, including donuts, chocolate pots-de-cremesnickerdoodles and ice cream tarts.

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Hawaij Coffee Donuts from My Name is Yeh

 

 

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Zoss The Swiss Baker in Cleveland Heights

ZossswitzerlandWe are all about a good bakery, and though we have visited many Italian, Mexican, French and Portuguese bakeries over the years, other countries have flown under the radar. But here in Cleveland we recently came across a bakery dedicated to all things Swiss, Zoss Bakery (12397 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights). Who knew? The concept of the Swiss bakery reminds us of New Glarus, Wisconsin, a fully Swiss-themed town, which we visited many moons ago at the start of our ETW journey. Zoss Bakery is located in a small, nondescript building in Cleveland Heights, just east of Cleveland, and is helmed by an actual Swiss baker, Kurt Zoss.
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Though small, the bakery is well stocked with all manner of sweet and savory goods. There are many different types of bread on the back wall: baguette, honey wheat, sourdough, multi grain, brioche and the unusual Krustenkrone, a ring of bread composed of smaller rolls. There were also several types of croissants, both sweet and savory (almond, chocolate, cheese, ham, etc.), and Bavarian pretzels (we had to get both a croissant and pretzel – both of which were amazing). There are also more Americanized offerings like chocolate cookies, coconut macaroons and muffins.

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There is also a cooler with a variety of chilled desserts, which is where the really interesting stuff was hidden. There were a variety of Swiss treats including the classic chocolate and apricot Linzer torte, apple strudel, and a flourless chocolate torte. We were also intrigued by the most geometric dessert we have ever seen, the perfectly-triangular Nussecken, which was composed of two pieces of hazelnut shortbread with apricot jam, with a coating of chocolate – delicious! We were excited to sample some more esoteric Swiss treats at Zoss, and hope to be back soon for more inexplicably geometric pastries.

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Dim Sum Extravaganza at Dolo

chinaBrunch may get a lot of press in the US, but give us dim sum any day. We can’t think of any better way to take in a leisurely weekend morning, than by sampling a huge variety of small, cheap tapas-like dishes. Plus, it is good for groups – the more people there are, the more fun dim sum is – because you can taste a wider variety of dishes. With this in mind, we booked a dim sum experience at the newcomer Dolo (2222 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616) on Mother’s Day. Unlike the other Chicago Chinatown dim sum favorite Ming Hin Cuisine, Dolo takes reservations. However, when we got there, even though we had a reservation, we were just placed on a general waitlist with everyone else so, YMMV. Thankfully there wasn’t much of a wait, so we were soon on our way to dim sum.Dolo Continue reading

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La Lucha: The art of the Sandwich in Lima

peruWe are back from the culinary wonderland that is Peru, and what impressed us the most was the obsession Peruvians – especially Limeños – have for quality food, from the corner sandwich shop to the finest dining. So we started our adventure on the humble street corner with one of the many Limeño food obsessions, the sandwich. In Lima the classic sandwich is the chicharrón – fried pork, sweet potato slices and onions on a bun – and sandwich shops serving this variety and many others are on every corner. In our hunt for sandwiches in Lima, one name that kept popping up was La Lucha, a much-hyped sandwich place with locations throughout Lima (we visited one of the locations near Parque Kennedy in the Miraflores neighborhood – Av. Diagonal 308).

LaLucha Ext La Lucha does a wide variety of “criollo” sandwiches, including the famous chicharrón. Other options included roast chicken, roast turkey (surprising!), roast pork, tuna, jamón Serrano, country ham and steak, cheese and avocado (between 6.8 and 17.3 soles). We ordered a roast chicken, since that is one of our favorite Peruvian staples (and you will see rotisserie chicken places everywhere!) and a classic chicharrón. The La Lucha location we visited was a walk up counter where you placed your order and paid at the counter, and later received your food at your table. La Lucha was packed with hungry students from the nearby university even at the early hour of 5:30 PM (much too early for a Peruvian dinner!), and the vibe was lively and colorful.LaLucha

Not long after ordering we received crusty rolls piled high with juicy roast chicken and cracking pork and sweet potato. They definitely didn’t skimp on the fillings! Though the sandwiches were delicious, what may have been the real star of the show were the fries made from the celebrated huayro potatoes, which were skin-on, crispy and piping hot. These were some of the best fries we have ever had, which makes sense given that potatoes are originally from the Andes. Plus, the fries came with all manner of dipping sauces (mayo, tartar sauce, olive, aji pepper, etc). La Lucha is also an excellent place to dip your toe into more unique Peruvian fruits including aguaymanto (similar to a ground cherry) and granadilla (similar to passion fruit) through a variety of juices and smoothies. If you are thirsty you can also get chicha, pisco or coffee. But most impressively, none of these sandwiches cost over $5 US! If we lived in Lima we would come here all the time. La Lucha is the perfect place for a quick, delicious meal, and to get a taste of what real Limeños eat on a daily basis. It’ a delicious introduction to Peru!

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On our way to Peru!

​If you’ve been keeping up with our Instagram, you will see that we’ve been featuring photos of the dinner we recently had at Next Resatuarnt in Chicago, with the theme of South America (specifically Peru). We really enjoyed the meal (review coming soon), and it helped prep us for our trip to Peru, which starts today! On that note, ETW will be taking a summer break until July 15. If you have any last minute Peru recommendations let us know!

Ceviche from Next Restaurant

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Taiwanese shaved snow at Snow Dragon Shavery

taiwanWe have been wanting to try Snow Dragon Shavery (2618 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614) for a long time. Their Technicolor treats have been blowing up Instagram for a while, and everything there looks so darn delicious. However, what we are really there for is the Taiwanese shaved snow ice, an enigmatic creation that is becoming more and more popular stateside. The inside of Snow Dragon is bright and colorful, and it is open super late – Midnight on Friday and Saturday – for all of those late-night ice cream cravings.SnowIceYou can pick your flavor of snow ice, one sauce and two toppings. Flavors of snow include traditional, vanilla, tutti frutti, key lime, mango and coconut and there was a complete toppings bar with fresh fruit, boba and candy. The combinations are nearly infinite but we settled on matcha green tea shaved ice, topped with mango sauce, fresh strawberries and chocolate chips. The texture of the snow ice is really unique, and almost seemed like flaky, layered sheets, which melt instantly in your mouth. Unlike a snow cone, the shaved snow also has more of a creamy taste and texture.SnowMacaronsThe menu at Snow Dragon is huge, and there is pretty much every type of icy treat you could want including a selection of FroYo, a rainbow of exotic macarons (think Ube and Passionfruit) ice cream, bubble tea, Indian kulfi popsicles and more. Perhaps the most notable (and photogenic) offering – other than the snow ice – are the overstuffed macaron ice cream sandwiches! We look forward to getting back to Snow Dragon to sample more of their eclectic, icy treats. And we even hear they now have an outposts in Navy Pier and Evanston!SnowDragon

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How to Celebrate Latvian Midsummer – Ligo & Jani

LatviaSummer is finally here! We recently wrote about the Swedish solstice celebration of Midsommar, but they are not the only game in town for Midsummer festivities. In Latvia, the celebration around Midsummer is the biggest holiday of the year. Latvians celebrate both the nights of Midsummer eve, Līgo (Ligo), and the next day, which is known as St. John’s Day or Jāņi (Jani). Like their Swedish counterparts, Latvians spend the day outside to take in the very late sunsets, weaving flower crowns, dancing, eating and drinking. However one major point of difference between the Swedish and Latvian midsummer table is the cheese! In Latvia, one of the signature dishes of Jani is the bright yellow cheese known as Jāņu siers (Jaņi cheese), flavored with caraway seeds. Not only eaten on Jani, this is a dish you will find on any Latvian smorgasbord throughout the year, and you can find a recipe to make your own at Latvian Eats.

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Traditional Jani table in Latvia by Pablo Andres Rivero

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Ixcateco Grill: Our Favorite Mole in Chicago

Mexico FlagWhen we went to Oaxaca in 2014, we were obsessed with all of the signature moles (7 distinct genres of mole are found in Oaxaca) available. Now, there are plenty of places to find dishes with Mexican moles in Chicago – and we have sampled quite a few – but none really wowed us. However, we heard a lot of buzz around the moles at Ixcateco Grill (3402 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago, IL 60625), helmed by Anselmo Ramirez, a chef that had previously worked in Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill kitchen and is called a “Rembrandt of Mole.” After hearing that, we knew we had to try this place! Ixcateco is located on an unassuming corner in Albany Park, and is BYOB. The restaurant is relatively small, brightly colored, and with a casual and welcoming vibe.Ixcateco

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How to Celebrate Midsummer / Midsommar like a Swede

sweden_flagToday is the Summer solstice – the longest day of the year! That means it is also time for Midsummer / Midsommar festivals in Sweden and throughout Scandinavia. While you may not have access to a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång), get outside, put on a flower crown and serve up some delicious treats, and you will be celebrating Midsummer like a Swede (Kitchn called some actual Swedes for their take, and that seems to cover it). Midsommar festivals and meals typically happen outdoors, in order to full enjoy the beauty of summer, and the super-late sunsets. Herring is a popular dish on the Swedish Midsommar table, as are new potatoes, fresh strawberries and a little aperitif like AkavitTasting Table, Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and Saveur have Midsommer menus for your own celebration. I think tonight’s dinner is going to be al fresco.

Raising the Maypole by Joe

Raising the Maypole by Ellsbet.S

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Around the world at Algebra Tea House

Cleveland is celebrating their NBA win today, so it seemed only fitting to feature a longtime Cleveland hangout on the blog. Tucked away a few blocks from the bustling atmosphere of Cleveland’s Little Italy is the serene, bohemian Algebra Tea House (2136 Murray Hill Rd Cleveland, OH). Filled with custom, natural wood furniture, textiles from around the world, and handmade ceramics, you may just think you’ve stepped into a hippie retreat on the silk road. True to its name, the specialty at Algebra is tea, and they have a bunch of esoteric blends for drinking in house (and for sale, to bring home). A small sampling of the teas on offer included: sage herbal, hibiscus, house-made chai, Darjeeling, Dragonwell, Yunnan, Assam and White Pekoe. In the international tea section there was Moroccan mint tea, Turkish tea, Palestinian tea, and a wholly new variety for us: Libyan Tea.

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We didn’t go in to Algebra Tea House expecting to gain a new country  for our list- but we’ve never had any food or drink from Libya before – so we were really excited to see “Libyan tea” on the menu. Libyan tea is a blend of strong black tea, mint, sugar, and peanuts! Yes – the whole shelled peanuts are thrown right into the tea itself. The flavor is rich and peanut-y – and perfect as a pick me up. Along with tea, you can order house-roasted coffee  made in a variety of styles, caffeine-free milk drinks, and fruit smoothies.AlgebraThere is also a pretty sizable menu of Middle-Eastern food, including hummus, falafel, shewarma and ful medames (Egyptian fava bean dip). While we came for the tea (and the Libyan tea was delicious) we were also pretty impressed with their falafel, which was made in our favorite herby, Palestinian/Israeli style. Between the good food, tea and relaxed atmosphere we could have stayed at Algebra for hours. We hope to visit Algebra Tea House again soon to sample more of their tea (and food!) menu.

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Pamonha (Brazilian tamales) for the Festas Juninas

brazilJune 13th marks the start of the Festas Juninas (June Festivals) in Brazil, a huge celebration in the Northeast of the country that originated as a harvest festival. Food plays a huge role in the Festas Juninas, particularly corn, one of the major crops harvested at this time. One of the most popular corn-centric Junina dishes, and one you can make easily in the US, is the pamonha, a relative of the Mexican tamale. Though both are made from corn and steamed or boiled in corn husks, there are few differences: typical Mexican tamales are made with dried corn and steamed in dried husks, while pamonhas are made with grated fresh corn and cooked in fresh husks. To make pamonha you cut the corn kernels right off the cob, and Flavors of Brazil has a simple recipe for a classic pamonha. Pamonha varieties may be filled with meat, or there are even sweet varieties with coconut or condensed milk. Though strongly associated with the Northeast and Festas Juninas, pamonhas are now sold throughout the year by street vendors around Brazil. Boas festas juninas!

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Pamonha by Crypto

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Pastry Post-Doc: South African Milk Tart / Melktert

South Africa FlagThe worldwide appeal of sweet custard strikes again (Chinese egg tarts, Creme Brulee, flan, etc.) – this time in the form of one of South Africa’s signature dishes, the Milktart (or melktert in Afrikaans). Having Dutch roots that trace back to the 1600s, the melktert pie is a sweet milk and egg custard filling (sometimes flavored with cinnamon) in a pastry shell, topped with even more cinnamon (which was first introduced around the same time from Indonesia). The dish is similar to a pastel de nata or Chinese custard tart, but with fewer eggs. Being such a popular dish, there are countless versions on the classic milk tart, all with similar principles of cream in a pastry shell.  But with changing tastes, you can now find recipes for vegan or crustless milk tarts.

Milk Tart by Cinnamon Box

Milk Tart by Anna @ Cinnamon Box

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Help us with Peru food and dining suggestions!

peruWe are about to embark on a 10-day-long trip to Peru in July, and we are so excited to see the sights, but we are even more excited about the food, which has long been one of our favorites (particularly for M). However, we are feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the choices for food options, especially in Lima, where we are looking forward to an abundance of ceviche. So we are asking you, dear readers, what are your favorite places to eat in Peru (in Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley)? Where (or what) should we avoid? We are thinking of one fancy meal – do you have any favorites? Thanks in advance for your help!

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Ceviche at Gaston Acurio’s Tanta in Chicago

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Fruit Chaat for Ramadan and Summer

India FlagpakistanIf you are familiar with Indian and Pakistani snack foods, chances are you are familiar with chaat! Chaat is a general term that encompasses dozens of varieties of savory snacks, often eaten as street food in India and Pakistan or in snack bars. Our picture of chaat has previously been heavy fried potatoes, breads, chickpeas or samosas, but did you know that chaat could be sweet and unfried? Enter fruit chaat, an Indian take on fruit salad, with chopped mixed fruits, topped with black salt and the essential element – fruit chaat masala spice mix. Fruit chaat is a traditional starter dish on the Ramadan iftar table, the meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast, though it is good to eat anytime. With the heavily spiced, tangy flavors, fruit chaat reminded us of gazpacho, a spicy Mexican fruit salad, a connection or friend Omnivorous Cravings made back in 2015! The combo of fruits an be pretty much anything you want like bananas, oranges, apples, mango, grapes, or whatever is in season. The fruit masala chaat blend varies across recipes, but includes some essential spices: ginger, cumin, coriander, black salt, chili pepper, amchoor (mango powder) and asafoetida. Here are is a recipe from Food 52, plus a few more recipes to make your own spice blend (or you could get a premade spice mix).

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Fruit Chaat From Food 52

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Slovenian Sausage – Klobasa – in Cleveland

SlovenianFlagOne vibrant ethnic community in Cleveland has that was not really present in Chicago is Slovenian! You can even get a Cleveland Slovenian pride T-shirt! However, where Slovenians apparently make their presence known in Cleveland in sausage-making. There are several places in Cleveland to get traditional Slovenian sausage, as well as at an annual Slovenian sausage fest.

czu.jpgThe most famous Slovenian sausage is called Klobasa and is similar to the more familiar Kielbasa. Klobasa is a smoked sausage made primarily made of pork, garlic and sometimes a bit of bacon. Some varieties of klobasa may even contain cheese. We sampled some Slovenian sausage for the first time at J & J Czuchraj Meats in the venerable West Side Market (1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113). This stand in particular has gotten a lot of accolades and outside notice for its smoked sausages, and we were impressed by the quality when we stopped by.

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However, J & J Czuchraj Meats is not the only game in town, another fine purveyor of local Slovenian sausage is Raddell’s (klobasa pictured above) on the far east side of Cleveland (478 E 152nd St., Cleveland, OH 44110) in North Collinwood. You can even purchase the smoked sausages to ship right to your door! Another benefit of Raddell’s is that they serve amazing Potica/Povitica, Eastern European nut bread. Azman’s (6501 Saint Claire Ave. Cleveland Ohio 44103) is another purveyor of Klobasa, and they walked away with the 2015 title at the Slovenian sausage festival. Where is your favorite Slovenian sausage made in Cleveland?

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Pastry Post-Doc: Pavlova from Australia and New Zealand

AustraliaNew Zealand FlagIn the realm of foods named after famous people, none may be more famous than the Pavlova, a round meringue cake topped with whipped cream and fruit named after the famed Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. The dessert is said to have been specifically created for the wildly-popular ballerina during her tour of Oceania in the 1920s. Though the exact origins of the cake in either Australia or New Zealand are still unknown (I definitely feel unqualified to rule on one vs. the other), the pavlova is deeply ensconced in the cuisine of both countries. Others hold that the cake is actually based on a older German recipe, later making its way to other countries. The structure of the Pavolva can vary somewhat, as can the toppings and flavors, though Pavolva in New Zealand is more likely to be topped with kiwis! Allrecipes has a classic version of the Pavlova, and here is a slightly more unique version topped with lemon curd and blueberries or one with three layers.

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The history of Chow Mein in Calcutta

chinaIndia FlagThis fascinating Telegraph India article weaves the long and winding history of Chinese Chow Mein noodles in Calcutta (seen below), which was first popularized in Calcutta’s Chinatown and has now become one of the city’s most iconic and popular street foods. If you don’t have a trip to India in your future, here is a recipe for Indian-style chow mein.

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The Best Butter is from… Iceland?

icelandWhen we starting making Southern-style buttermilk biscuits for brunch last year, we really started to appreciate the importance of good butter for slathering on a fresh biscuit. The grocery store varieties wouldn’t do – so we needed an upgrade. We started out buying Chimay Belgian salted butter from the grocery store we loved in Chicago, Fresh Farms. However, we couldn’t find it in Cleveland, so we switched unsuccessfully to salted Amish butter roll butter (too pale) and more successfully to Trader Joe’s cultured French butter (pretty good, especially for the price), which tasted similar to Chimay. However, when our last stick from TJ’s ran out we decided to do some sleuthing. Could we do any better? There were many fans of Kerrygold, the Irish butter, but some expressed dismay that the cows’ diets were being changed from grass-only.

SmjorOne name that seemed to rise to the top in discussions of butter was Smjör – an Icelandic butter that contains milk from 100% grass-fed cows. We found Smjör at Whole Foods and it was about the same price ($4.99) as a regular box of Land O’Lakes butter, which was a happy surprise. We tried out Smjör on our latest batch of biscuits, and we can attest that it is as delicious as its reputation! The butter had an appealing, bright yellow color and was smooth and spreadable, instead of flaky as butter can sometimes be. There was a hint of salt, but it was not overpowering. Overall, the taste was really clean and buttery – butter as it was meant to be! You can also get unsalted Smjör at Whole Foods, which may be good for baking. The quality was much greater than the typical grocery store brands, and the price was not much more, so there’s no reason not to stock up. I think we have found our new go-to fancy butter!Smjor2

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Pastry-Post Doc: Ma’amoul From Lebanon

lebanonOne of the food groups I didn’t grow to like until my adult years were figs and dates (perhaps it was all the little seeds) – but now I love them. Figs and dates are found commonly as cookie fillings throughout the Mediterranean, and one of the most popular varieties is Ma’amoul from Lebanon. Ma’amoul are sweet semolina flour cookies filled with date paste (the filling may also include pistachios or walnuts), and usually shaped in wooden molds (though they can also be made and decorated by hand, as below). In Lebanon, they are popular around Easter, but they are now popularly eaten in the region to coincide with other holidays as well. So nowadays you can find Ma’amoul pretty much any time of the year! Here is a recipe with variations for date, pistachio and walnut filled Ma’amoul, and a version that combines dates, pistachios and walnuts into a single filling.

Maamoul by

Ma’amoul by Hisham Assaad

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Mabel’s BBQ puts Cleveland barbecue on the map

Barbecue aficionados are familiar by now with the main styles of American BBQ: sweet, saucy Kansas City and Memphis ribs, mustard-based South Carolina pulled pork, tomato-based Texas brisket, and vinegary North Carolina whole or chopped hog. But a new BBQ place in Cleveland is hoping to both invent and put “Cleveland Style BBQ” on the map. Mabel’s BBQ (2050 E 4th St, Cleveland, OH) is the brainchild of Cleveland-born chef Michael Symon, who decided to up and create “Cleveland-style” BBQ based on the diverse cultural influences in Cleveland cuisine. The downtown restaurant opened about two months ago – after nearly a year-long delay – to much fanfare. As a result, waiting times have been long since the opening.

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