ETW at Chicago Gourmet 2016 Recap

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One of the annual highlights of the Chicago food season is Chicago Gourmet! ETW is lucky to have gone for the last 3 years, and we always look forward to this veritable Disneyland of food. You pay a flat fee to enter and then the food and booze are free-flowing throughout the day in the enclosed event space in the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The theme of this year’s Chicago Gourmet was “Food is Art,” and there were sculptures throughout, including a giant waffle, which seemed to be a fan favorite (by sculptor Christopher Newman).

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Otherwise, the setup in 2016 was similar to that of years past: the wine distributors are in two rows the middle flanked by themed tasting booths, restaurants, and other exhibitors on the perimeter of the park. Each of the themed booths had two sessions, with 3 or 4 different restaurants appearing in each 2-hour block. One of the tips we learned from last year’s Chicago Gourmet was that you can’t possibly hit everything – or even most things- especially when it comes to the booze! We focused on going for international foods this year, as in years past, as well as seafood, which always seems to be a safe bet.

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The main place for international flair at this year’s Chicago Gourmet was the Chicago sister cities tent, featuring Chicago restaurants with cuisine from one of Chicago’s 28 sister cities. First up (above) was Kamehachi (representing Osaka) with tuna tataki tartare on a crispy sticky rice cake; Avli Estiatorio (Athens) with pork tenderloin over apple skordalia with a walnut dressing; an Indian/Latin spiced rib from Vermilion (Delhi); and an unexpectedly sweet egg bao from Imperial Lamian (Shenyang, China). In the second round (below) we were treated to a Nori and shrimp ebi poke from Arami (Osaka); charbroiled octopus on pesto from Filini (Milan); corned beef from the Canadian-themed Northern Lights Poutine (Toronto); and a refreshing mango and shrimp salad from Cochon Volant (Paris).

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One of the standalone booths with an international flavor was the Peruvian favorite Tanta, which offered burrata quinoa caprese-style salad and dulce de leche-filled alfajores. One of the other standout bites came from the American Express booth: butter and prosciutto toast topped with crispy radish from rising star Monteverde, with chef Sarah Grueneberg herself at the helm (below). We also sampled some of the Korean condiment Gochujang, and we have a hunch it will be the next Sriracha sauce. Some “big name” brands were there, too, including the Shop House Southeast Asian concept from Chipotle, Barilla, and Thermador kitchen appliances – which had a rotating dessert menu (including a giant platter of Stan’s Donuts) which turned over every hour or so!

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One of the most consistent (and crowded booths) was the seafood tent, so we made a beeline for there after each turnover. Some of our favorite dishes from the first round were found at the seafood station, Hugo’s Frog Bar’s pineapple and seafood gazpacho and Ēma’s elegant tuna crudo.  In the second round we had our favorite dish of the entire event, a tiny lobster roll from Smack Shack that was absolutely full of prime lobster, in a tasty dressing with fresh tarragon, on a toasted bun (below). We could have gone back for two or three more.

cglobster Creativity was also key at some of the booths. We loved Cafe des Architectes’ “burger” macarons – which were styled to look like sliders, complete with “bread” shells, and a chocolate filling. On the unique display front, Promontory had a little brick sterno grill with octopus and veggie kebabs in the Mariano’s tent. This location provided some of our other favorite bites, Dusek’s corn cream soup with chili oil; Nellcôte’s fig and blue cheese; and broccoli with nigella seeds from Ada St. On the BBQ front, there were assorted BBQ bites at the Big Green Egg tent, or at the more secluded second tent, which used to house the Sister Cities. One of the solid bites from this area was the ever-reliable brisket from Smoque.

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Overall, there were a lot of tasty desserts at Chicago Gourmet, maybe more than in previous years. Mariano’s had an entire gelato booth where you could get a scoop of their classics, like chocolate, stracciatella, pistachio, and even the more unusual Speculoos. There was also an Gelato World Tour voting tent (above) where competitors (including Gelato D’Oro, Volare, BomboBar and Coda di Volpe) vied for the top spot with their more unusual gelato flavors. Our favorites were the chocolate cardamom, “Breakfast at Nonna’s House” (red currant, fior di latte and granola) and pink peppercorn. The Macau tourism tent also has an interesting dessert offering from Fat Rice: a sweet/savory, nori rice krispie with pork floss, sesame seeds and caramel fish sauce.

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The Mexico tent was unusual in that it offered bites from both Mexican restaurants in Chicago, and some that are actually located in Mexico. The first round had a savory brisket taco from El Solazo; creatively-presented taquito shrimp and black bean cones from Lula Bistro in Mexico; and splashy yellow and green tequila macarons from La Postreria in Guadalajara. Round two (below) were chicken taco with crema and and chapulines (grasshoppers) from La Mezcaleria, white chocolate “Angel” mole from New Rebozo and a beef, mango and cotija tostada from Bar Takito.

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We are not wine experts, so frankly we feel that we are always a little behind when it comes to the wine potion of the fest. We hit up the Campari booth for a refreshing Aperol Spritz, and tried a number of wines from around the world. There were also a few unique nonalcoholic drinks including a turmeric chai from Rishi tea and the new-to-us Lemoncocco drink, based on lemon and coconut spritzers found at the Lemoncocco kiosk in Rome. We also got the requisite Stella Artois beer glasses, and attempted to savor some Glenmorangie and Glenlivet. Another drink hit was Punch House’s berry punch with basil, located in one of the main tents.

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This year’s Chicago Gourmet was a real success, and left us satiated with flavors from near and far. As always, we capped off our day with one final mini-cappuccino from Illy. Chicago Gourmet also signals the unofficial end of the summer – and we think we sent it off in style. We look forward to seeing you at Chicago Gourmet next year!

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Chicago Gourmet Recap Coming Soon + Aperol Spritz

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to Chicago Gourmet, an annual food and wine extravaganza that showcases some of Chicago’s best restaurants alongside international food and drink. As in years past, it was a wonderful time, and I am working on posting a comprehensive recap within the next few days. In the meantime, you can check out the ETW Instagram feed for some of my favorite Chicago Gourmet pictures.

We had so much delicious international food and drink, that is is hard to pick a single thing to use as a teaser, but we decided to go with something refreshing and Italian: The Aperol Spritz. Even though it is technically fall, it still feels pretty summery outside, so why not! The Campari Group had a booth at Chicago Gourmet, as in years past, and it always fun to try out some of the Italian cocktails there, like the classic Negroni. This year we went for the Aperol Spritz, a refreshing summer-y cocktail made from Prosecco, Aperol liquer, and soda that is one of Italy’s iconic beverages. Aperol is a liqueur made from bitter oranges, gentian and other herbs and spices, and is similar to Campari, but with a lower alcohol content.  We have only had it a few times before, but we are fans!

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Pastry Post-Doc: Moose MacGregor’s Apple Pie…in Namibia

namibiaIt’s finally fall! For us that mostly means it is pie season! Though you can find pie-type desserts in many countries, we are always surprised to find it in unusual places. For example, we recently saw apple pie being served in Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes in the Peruvian Andes. And now we think we have found it in an even more unusual location: Namibia. Moose MacGregor’s Desert Bakery is located in the tiny town of Solitaire in the middle of the Namib desert. So how did it get there? The outpost was opened 20+ years ago by Scotsman Percy Cross MacGregor, and the pie is an old family recipe for German Apfelstrudel (similar recipe here). Moose’s also offers other baked goods like cookies, brownies and muffins to hungry travelers. In Solitaire, which is on the way to Swakopmund and Sossusvlei, there is Moose’s Bakery, a gas station, and a general store, and not much else, but it is worthy stop for any traveler in the area (check out a video from 2012). Unfortunately, Moose passed away in 2014, but the bakery is still running as he left it.

Moose MacGregor's Desert Bakery in Namibia

Moose MacGregor’s Desert Bakery in Namibia photo by Simone Swarts

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The hidden spot for the best authentic Indian cuisine in NYC

India FlagWe think we have found the best Indian food in NYC – in the basement of a Hindu temple. The Ganesh Temple Canteen (45-57 Bowne St, Flushing, NY 11355)  is tucked into a quiet, residential neighborhood of Queens – you wouldn’t know the temple was there until you drive right up to it and see the ornate architecture up close. In order to reach the canteen, you descend the stairs to the basement, where you are greeted with a vast, simple cafeteria, complete with linoleum floor and buffet line. But don’t let the humble presentation fool you! At almost any part of the day, the cafeteria will be packed with worshipers and non-affiliated neighborhood folks alike. The canteen has been churning out food since 1998, and attracts crowds a all times, even at breakfast.

ganeshcanteenThe focus of the canteen is vegetarian South Indian dishes, in particular: dosas. The vast range of dosas, thin wheat crepes, come with a variety of fillings from spicy potatoes, to lentils and chilis, to paneer cheese. And you’ll be pretty pleased about the prices, too (nothing is over $7). You wait in line to place your order, and while in line you can check out at the menu on a suspended flat-screen TV and consult with the dosa experts in line. There are also a range of appetizers like iddli (steamed rice cake) and vada (savory fried dough) to go with your dosas, as well as a selection of sweets and mango lassis. There are also a few additional temptations while waiting: little boxes of sweet and savory snacks for sale to take away. Looking around the room, you will notice some hints that the restaurant is attached to a Hindu temple, including the prominent statue of Ganesha.

ganeshWe ordered a side of tamarind rice, two masala dosas and a Pondicherry dosa. After no more than 10 minutes, our food came out, fresh off the griddle. Dosas are usually pretty generous in size, and these were no exception. The dosas themselves were butter and flaky, and were completely packed with delicious vegetarian fillings. The potato filling of the masala dosas were perfectly spiced – just the right amount of heat. The Pondicherry dosa was also filled with green chilis and onions, which added an extra kick. We also appreciated the soupy veggie sambar and coconut-yogurt sauce that came alongside. We washed everything down with a mango lassi (which is a bargain at $2 – you may want a second one).masaladosaThe Ganesh Temple Canteen may be a little out of the way for most New York visitors, but it is definitely worth the trip for the great hospitality and the tasty dosas. This is some of the best Indian food we have ever had, and definitely the best we have had in NYC. Plus, you’ll get a huge amount of food for the price! If you stop by, don’t forget to indulge in a mango lassi (or two).

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Bagna Cauda at Della in Brooklyn

Italy Bagna Calda / Bagna Càuda is a homey Northern Italian dish from Piemonte made primarily with butter, oil, garlic and anchovies. It is a mainstay at our own family celebrations, but we have never seen it on a restaurant menu… until now! We were at Della (1238 Prospect Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218) in Brooklyn with friends, when we spotted the bagna cauda on the menu, and we just had to order it. Della has a homey Italian-inflected menu of fish, hearty meat dishes, homemade pastas and some unusual appetizers (case in point).  The homemade pasta was delicious, but the bagna cauda was even better. It came served in a small bowl, with endive, radishes and chunks of bread for dipping. We had to ask for more bread to sop everything up- delicious! We encourage you to make bagna calda on your own for your next party – it couldn’t be easier. Even if you don’t normally like anchovies, you can’t help but love the salty, garlicky goodness!

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Pastry Post-Doc: Courting Cake from Northern England

englandLooking to make something sweet for your sweetheart? Why not a courting cake – a Northern English confection made with a dense sponge cake with a layer of berries and cream. Until I watched the BBC’s Great British Bake-Off  (anyone else love that show?) I had no idea what a courting cake was. Turns out making the cake is a symbolic Northern English tradition where a girl would bake a cake for her beau after they had begun “courting” to show both her affection and skill in the kitchen. Nowadays, I imagine that any partner could make the courting cake for their significant other. The courting cake also experienced a bit of a revival due to the fact that Prince William and Princess Kate received one on a visit to Lancashire! You can try your hand at courting cake with recipes from EpicuriousFood.com and Northern Soul (plus a mini version), though I imagine it is especially nice in the height of summer when strawberries are fresh.

Courting Cake from Lancashire Life

Courting Cake from Lancashire Life

 

 

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It’s Pawpaw Season!

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Paw paws by WFIU Public Radio

It’s Pawpaw Season! Now, if you’ve never heard of pawpaws, you’re not alone. This forgotten fruit used to be grown throughout the American Midwest and South (Thomas Jefferson even grew them at Monticello), but have all but vanished from the public imagination. The flavor of the paw paw is tropical – and is variously described as a mix between a mango and a banana – and the texture is custard-y, like our Brazilian favorite, the sugar apple. However, the paw paw is hard to store and ship unless frozen, making it ill suited to large-scale distribution. Andrew Moore recently wrote a book on the mysterious fruit, “Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit.” Turns out Ohio is right in the heart of Pawpaw country, but they are sadly nowhere to be found in the Cleveland area. However, if you are going to be near Athens, Ohio next weekend – it is the annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival! We hope to make a pilgrimage there in future years. In the meantime, you can try foraging for your own pawpaws!

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Pastry Post-Doc: Mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival

chinaIt’s almost time for the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and Vietnam (September 15 this year), which means one thing – mooncakes (yue bing)! Mooncakes are round, molded pastry cakes with dense fillings, and have been eaten in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival since the Ming Dynasty. Mooncakes, as befits their name, are said to represent the moon, and are traditionally imprinted with the Chinese characters for longevity or harmony. Mooncakes are made with pastry crust and are traditionally filled with red bean or lotus paste with whole egg yolks, but the fillings vary wildly, depending on location. You can buy pre-made mooncakes with countless crust and filling types at most Asian grocery stores or bakeries (and even more elaborate varieties if you are in Hong Kong), but you can also make them on your own! Andew Gooi has a lovely video of how mooncakes are made, which you can see below.

Mooncakes are traditionally shaped with wooden molds, but you can also find some plastic or silicone (round or square) online. Making mooncakes is a multi-step process and may require some special ingredients from a well-stocked Asian grocery, like golden syrup, which you can also make on your own. China Sichuan Food and House of Annie have recipes for a traditional Cantonese version with egg yolk and red bean filling. Serious Eats has a recipe without the egg yolk. If you are feeling lost, Omnivore’s Cookbook has an extremely comprehensive recipe and step-by-step guide for the mooncake newbie newbie. If you are in the mood for something avant-garde, Christine has a recipe for for the more modern green tea custard or pandan snow skin mooncakes.

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Our Favorite Cafe in Salvador, Bahia: Cafe Terrasse

brazilToday is Brazilian Independence Day, which is making us nostalgic for our time in Brazil. If there is one place we miss most from our time in Salvador, it is Café Terrasse (Ladeira da Barra, 401, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil). We can not think of a better place to enjoy a cup of coffee, in all of Brazil (or anywhere else for that matter). Check out the view below and you’ll know why we’re having saudades. Cafe Terrasse is located inside the Aliança Francesa da Bahia in the Barra neighborhood of Salvador. We did not even know it existed on our first visit to Salvador, and it definitely made our second trip infinitely better (we visited at least once a week).cafeview2

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Pachapapa: Wood-fired Peruvian Cuisine in Cusco

peruPachapapa (Plazoleta Plaza San Blas 120) in Cusco is a real retreat from the hustle and bustle of Cusco, with an attractive outdoor dining area in the quaint San Blas neighborhood, enlivened by a Peruvian harpist and a wood-burning oven in full view. Pachapapa’s name is a riff on Pachamanca, a traditional Andean meal, cooked in an underground oven. You can sit either in the outdoor courtyard at large wooden tables, warmed by heat lamps, or in one of many comfortable, indoor side rooms.

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Pastry Post-Doc: Filipino Ube Macapuno Cake

philippinesUbe is having a moment in US food culture. The sweet purple yam flavor seems to be popping up all over in the US, in cakes, ice creams and donuts, mirroring its popularity in the Philippines, where it is incorporated into any sweet treat you can imagine. Ube is truly, shockingly purple, so you definitely won’t be able to miss it. We first had ube-flavored desserts at Village Creamery in the Chicago burbs, and we were hooked. Ube is a traditional flavor in the Philippines, and one of the most popular uses for it is in Ube Macapuno cake (ube = purple yam, macapuno = preserved coconut), a light and fluffy frosted cake with tons of bright-purple goodness. It is getting easier to find ube itself in the US, and you can also find ube powder in some well-stocked Asian groceries. Macapuno, preserved coconut, may be a little harder to find, but the Phil-Am Foods site has both ube powder and macapuno for sale online. Bake Happy has a recipe utilizing Ube Powder (seen below) and Bakanista has a recipe for a cake made with fresh ube (in some places you can even enhance your recipes with McCormick Ube Essence).

UbeCake

 

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Where to get Poutine in Toronto

canadaPoutine – a delicious combo of cheese curds and gravy over french fries – has become a fast favorite in the US, but its roots are undeniably Canadian. When we were in Toronto recently, we thought it would be the perfect chance to try poutine in its homeland (though technically poutine is from Quebec, we’ll let it slide). There are a ton of poutine-specific spots in Toronto, and everyone has a favorite. However, on the recommendation of a friend, we ended up at Poutini’s House of Poutine (1112 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1H9). This is a small cash-only spot, with tables for only 8 or so people, and poutine is the only thing on the menu.
PoutinisThere are several varieties of poutine on offer – including traditional, bacon and sour cream topped, mushrooms, BBQ pulled pork, and smoked meat – each of which comes in regular (all less than $11 Canadian) and “mini” size (less than $8 Canadian). We were also pleased to see they had vegan and vegetarian varieties. Lucky for us, since the friend we visited the restaurant with is a vegetarian, and this was her first poutine!  Another nice feature is that you can get vegetarian, beef or gluten free gravy on any variety of poutine.

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We sampled the classic, bacon and vegetarian varieties. The mini size wasn’t small and actually was perfect for one person to enjoy for lunch. The poutine was made to order, and each version was a great combo of freshly-cooked, twice-fried skin-on fries, piping hot gravy and squeaky cheese curds. The vegetarian gravy was tomato-based and didn’t sacrifice any of the flavor of the beef gravy. This was the best poutine we ever had! If you ever find yourself in Toronto and want some real-deal poutine, this is the place! Where is your go-to poutinerie?

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Koko Bakery for sweets and bubble tea in Cleveland

chinaKoko Bakery (3710 Payne Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114) has a little something for everyone, and is a great place in to get your bubble tea fix, and follow it up with some egg tarts and sweet red bean buns. Koko Bakery reminds us of an amalgamation of some of our favorite spots in Chicago: combining the Chinese buns from Chiu Quon Bakery with the huge bubble tea menu of Saint’s Alp, all in a clean, simple cafe that has an almost-intimidating variety of treats (and free wifi).
kokobakery Along one side of the restaurant, there is a bakery case with all sorts of Chinese, Hong Kongese, and Taiwanese pastries, in both sweet and savory varieties – all you do is pick up a tray, and start using the tongs to pick out which items you want (most priced under $2). We tried the red bean bun, the Char Siu Bao (BBQ pork bun) and the egg tarts, and all were quite good (and super cheap). Other varieties of buns and pastries included bo lo (pineapple bun), taro, cream-filled, strawberry, peanut butter, scallion, cheese, beef, chocolate and coconut. Koko also has frozen buns to take and bake, sweet cakes in flavors like Ube and green tea, and a second bakery case filled with Asian and European inspired petit fours: from mango and chocolate mousses to mooncakes to mini cheesecakes. It seems like pretty much every surface of this modest store is covered in baked goods, and on the right side, you will find other non-refrigerated sweets like sesame cookies and loaves of milk bread.

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The bubble tea menu is also massive! You can get all different varieties, from iced fruit smoothies to sweetened coffee to the Hong Kong style milk teas (in flavors like matcha, mango, melon, Thai tea, lychee, etc.), and you can also customize the sugar level and type of bubbles you want. Just when you thought you couldn’t eat any more, Koko also has substantial savory meals, and Taiwanese shaved ice, though we have never tried these selections. Koko Bakery is a solid Chinese bakery in Cleveland, and you can be assured that there will be something new to try on each visit!Koko2

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Pastry Post-Doc: Vietnamese Banh Tieu Donuts

vietnamWe’ve made it to Friday – time to celebrate with donuts! This week we are featuring Vietnamese hollow donuts – Bánh Tiêu. Banh Tieu are crunchy, hollow donuts covered in sesame seeds, with a light texture. The technique is a bit harder to master than an American donut, but if you have already attempted deep-frying you have a leg up. I am a Food Blog and Vicky Pham have good recipes for Banh Tieu to try at home. Banh Tieu are found throughout Vietnam as street food, and you can also find them at some Vietnamese markets or restaurants in the US and Canada, especially on the West Coast.

Bahn Tieu

Banh Tieu by Tran Khal

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What is Estonian Kama?

EstoniaOne of our friends is taking a trip through the Baltic countries and put out an open call for recommendations of unique things to do, and foods to try in the area. We must confess that we don’t know that much about Baltic food, but are always eager to learn more. One of the most intriguing and unusual Baltic foods we learned about was Estonian Kama, a flour mixture that is nostalgically revered among Estonians and expats. That’s right – a flour mixture! Kama is made with a mixture of roasted roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flours, and can be eaten as is, since it is pre-cooked. Kama is nonperishable, so it made sense for travel or in lean times. During Soviet rule, Kama was even used in “chocolate” bars as a substitute for the more-expensive cocoa, and this nostalgic candy has actually made a comeback in recent years. Nowadays, kama it is mostly enjoyed as a home-style breakfast, mixed into buttermilk or yogurt and topped with berries. If you can get your hands on some, Nami Nami has a recipe for a dessert mousse using Kama.

640px-Kama

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El Rey del Taco: Our Favorite North Clark Street Haunt

Mexico FlagWhen we used to live on the north side of Chicago we tried ton of a taquerias up and down North Clark street in Rogers Park (you can read about some on our Taco Crawl post). We did find a favorite though: the bombastically-named El Rey Del TacoKing of the Taco (7138 N Clark St). We were first intrigued by two unique non-food-related facts – that it is open 24 hours and has a parking lot – both major bonuses and rarities. The menu at El Rey Del Taco, like other places in the area, is overwhelmingly huge, and you can get seafood platters, soups, burritos, huaraches, tortas and the like, but what we always come here for are the tacos, which never disappoint. The tacos come in at a very reasonable $2.25 apiece, and if you dine in, are served on a real plate with lime wedges, grilled green onions and blackened hot peppers. The little corn tortillas for the tacos are good, and the tacos are dressed simply with cilantro and onion (how it should be!).
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We have tried the tilapia, al pastor, steak and chorizo tacos, and while they are all good, our two favorite varieties are the al pastor and the steak. The al pastor is well-charred and spiced, and comes with slices of seared pineapple, which is a must for the whole al pastor experience. Though this is not our favorite al pastor in the city, it is a great option on the north side. So do they have a trompo? Well, sometimes. We have indeed seen the trompo in action on a few occasions (see below), but have gone back other times to see no trompo in sight.

Trompo

These is something at El Rey del Taco for everyone, at all times of the day, including an extensive breakfast menu. If you want to pop in after work, it is also a perfect place for happy hour, with margaritas, beer and horchata on offer (and don’t miss flan for dessert). We have even had meetings here, and they are nice about letting you linger for as longs as you want. We have seen some complaints about their delivery, but we have only ever eaten in, and have never waited too long (though you get free chips and salsa while you wait), and received friendly service. Now that we don’t live there anymore, you can take over and make El Rey del Taco your new north side taco haunt!

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El Pan de La Chola: Bakery Paradise in Lima

peruThere is nothing we like more than a good bakery, and we stumbled upon a great one in Lima, Peru’s Panadería El Pan de La Chola (Av Mariscal La Mar 918, Miraflores 15074, Peru). The closest analogue to El Pan de la Chola we know of is Zak’s Bakery in Miami. Like Zak’s,  El Pan de la Chola, is a bright, airy bakery which serves up breads, sandwiches and coffee in a friendly rustic-chic environment to a enthusiastic crowd of local and expat cognoscenti, students and families. The bakery is run by a British expat, Johnathan Day, who realized his dream of opening a bakery in Peru.PDCBread

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Pastry-Post Doc at the Olympics: Ethiopian Pasti

ethiopianFor the final country represented on the Olympic Refugee Team – Ethiopia – we decided to dig a little deeper into the county’s cuisine. Now we adore Ethiopian food, but we were wondering about traditional Ethiopian desserts (since we have never encountered any!). Turns out, we weren’t missing a hidden dessert culture – the whole concept of dessert is pretty much an imported one. However, with the influx of sugar into Ethiopia in the 20th century, desserts started cropping up. One of the most popular desserts now in Ethiopian is the pasti, a sweet, fried dough dessert influenced by Italian food, sold in small shops called Pasti Bet (pasti houses). Here is a simple video recipe for pasti from How to Cook Ethiopian, with the video in Amharic and English text below. Pasti is even popular enough to have an Ethiopian R&B song about it!

 

 

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The National Dish of Brazil: Feijoada

brazilSo what is the national dish of Brazil, the host of the 2016 Olympic games? Feijoada – a hearty stew of sausage, carne seca, various cuts of pork and black beans. This is the type of post that we are surprised we did not write earlier – living in Brazil, feijoada is an integral part of the national cuisine and culture. Feijoada is the type of slow-simmered dish that you make on weekends for your family a la “Sunday gravy” in Italian families. On a larger scale, samba schools in Rio hold highly-anticipated “feijoada” for their entire communities and there is food, music and merriment. The whole point is that you don’t make feijoada alone, it is  group endeavor. Legend has it that feijoada originated as a way to use up all the “other” parts of the animal after the good cuts had been used (or were too expensive to buy in the first place), but that theory has been disputed by some that see the dish as a more direct descendent of Portuguese stews. A really traditional feijoada will include ingrediants like pig trotters and ears, but there are a hundred variations, and everyone has a slightly different spin. Taste of Brazil has a traditional version and Maria Brazil and Simply Recipes have versions with ingredients you can find in most grocery stores.

Feijoada

Feijoada from Estilo Brazil

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Syrian Food in Rio de Janeiro (and Brazil)

syriabrazilThere are two athletes from Syria on the Refugee Olympic Team, and two others on the team who currently train in Brazil. However, the connection between Syria and Brazil is not new. When we were in Brazil, we were pleasantly surprised at the number of Middle Eastern restaurants, from high-end fine dining to humble corner shops. We love traditional Brazilian food, but we like to try something different every once in a while, and we often turned to Syrian or Lebanese food for a change of pace. This is not just a cuisine trend in the country, there has been a large Syrian population in Brazil for over 100 years, and they are one of the most deeply established immigrant communities in Brazil. Now, there is a newer wave of immigrants fleeing the current conflict in Syria. One of the ways that this new wave of Syrians is contributing to Brazilian culture is through their food enterprises, such as Ahmad Ryad Hamada’s Syrian snack cart and Anas Rjab’s catering service, Simsim.

Kibbe

Kibbe at Al-Kuwait in Rio

Even before the newest Syrian arrivals, you could find foods that are traditionally Levantine all over Rio de Janeiro, as well as other places in Brazil, especially São Paulo. The first time we had the national food of Syria – kibbeh – was actually in Brazil! You will find kibbe and esfiha (small triangle shaped filled dough) at snack shops throughout Brazil, whether or not they have primarily Middle Eastern menus, showing how much Brazilians have adopted Syrian dishes as their own. Syrian influence can also be seen in that pita-like bread is called Pão Sirio (Syrian Bread) in Brazil. There are tons of great places to get Levantine food and spices in Rio, but here are some of our favorites: Al-Kuwait for Kibbe and Esfiha, Quiosque Arab for ambiance and Casas Pedro for spices and Pão Sirio.

Casas Pedro in Rio

Casas Pedro in Rio

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Filed under World Eats