At first glance we thought Espumilla, sold from carts in street corners throughout Ecuador, was an icy treat, but it turns out that is all an illusion. Espumilla (which means “foam” in Spanish) is actually a meringue made from egg whites, sugar and guava juice – served at room temperature. How’s that for a trick? Espumilla is often displayed in huge vats (as seen below), and then is scooped into typical ice cream cones to munch on while you explore the city. Espumilla requires few ingredients, and can be made at home. Laylita’s Recipes, a site with tons of great Ecuadorian recipes, has a simple recipe for Espumilla, of you have guavas on hand.
When we lived on the North Side of Chicago one of our favorite specialty grocery stories was Patel Brothers on Devon Avenue (2610 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL). Devon Avenue, one of the most fascinating streets in Chicago, has large concentration of Indian and Pakistani shops and businesses (and at various other stretches is also home to Jewish and Slavic communities). For the Indian and Pakistani community, Patel Brothers served as the anchor grocery store in the neighborhood. You could find anything you wanted there, from frozen ready-made foods to bulk spices to obscure grains to fresh fruit to hundreds of varieties of packaged salty snacks (yum!). When we were in Jackson Heights in Queens several years ago, we came across another Patel Brothers and we realized that it was the same chain! Now in Cleveland, we are near yet another Patel brothers. Turns out that the Patel brothers we frequented in Chicago is the original, opened in 1974, by brothers Mafat and Tulasi Patel, who immigrated from the Indian state of Gujarat in 1968. The grocery store chain has since expanded into an empire of 52 company-owned stores, and into a line of foods that is sold elsewhere, Swad. It is interesting to learn that one of the strongest footholds of Indian food in the US originated in Chicago!
Forno Rosso (1048 W Randolph St., Chicago, IL) recently opened up a West Loop branch of their original Harlem avenue pizzeria, complete with a signature red tile oven (the titular “Forno Rosso”). Authenticity is the name of the game at Forno Rosso, and it is one of only three restaurants in Illinois to be given the official mark of authentic Neapolian Pizzas – the Verace Pizza Napoletana – which dictates the flour, cook time, oven, etc. needed to formulate the most authentic Neapolitan pizza. Despite its close adherence to tradition, this branch of Forno Rosso is brand new, and gives off a sleek urban vibe with muted grays. Continue reading
What to do when you are sick of macaroons and matzoh? During Passover leavened foods are no-go, but pre-made options can get a little old. For a change of pace, check out a delicious-sounding Tunisian lamb and artichoke stew, Msoki – seen below (another recipe here). Though the community is small now, Tunisia was once home to a large Jewish population with over 100,000 members, which gave birth to unique dishes like Msoki.
The appeal of fried dough seems to be nearly universal – and we have seen it pop up again in Tanzania as Vitumbua (though popular in Tanzania, it can be found elsewhere throughout East Africa). Vitumbua (singular: kitumbua) is a sweet, fried, rice and coconut cake flavored with cardamon. Vitumbua is usually eaten as a snack, but could even pass as breakfast for those with a sweet tooth. Vitumbua are sometimes cooked in special donut-hole shaped pans, a la Aebelskivers, but you could use muffin tins, or a regular frypan as well. Most of the ingredients in Vitumbua are pretty common (you may have everything but the coconut in your pantry already), so get your muffin tins out and try a recipe from Immaculate Bites.
The music world just lost another great with the passing of the infinitely-talented, prolific chameleon Prince. Already having lost David Bowie, this has not been a great year for music icons, and everyone is feeling kind of glum. So we thought we would dig into the archives for some more lighthearted foodie memories of Prince. An avowed vegan, Prince was always conscious about food, and was known to be a breakfast lover, in particular. In 2011, he even let Minneapolis-St. Paul food publication Heavy Table root around in his fridge. So what did they find? Homemade kimchi, a treasure trove of mustards, challah, yak milk and…Dunk-a-roos! Seems like Prince’s eclectic tastes also applied to his food.
We visited Ramma Cozinha Natural (Lorde Cochrane, 76 – Barra, Salvador – BA, 40140-070) so many times when we were in Salvador, it’s a great surprise that we never wrote up a post about it (seems like a lifetime ago!). Brazil is a country crazy for meat, and on top of that, Bahia is a state that loves fried foods and heavy palm oil – well, so do we, but sometimes you need a little something different. That’s where Ramma comes in, offering a vegetarian and gluten-free-friendly oasis in the thick of it all. Like many casual spots in Brazil, Ramma is a kilo restaurant, which means you select your food and, pay buy the pound. Check out our complete guide to eating in a kilo restaurant, and don’t be intimidated!
Pistacia Vera ( 541 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43215) in the quaint German Village neighborhood of Columbus is an immaculate example of a neighborhood French bakery. There are cases and shelves full of any number of dazzling French pastries and cakes, and hoards of Columbusites of all walks of life noshing on coffee and perfect croissants and quiches. We knew we were going to be spending some time here – especially when we got a tip that the macarons on offer were second-to-none. Continue reading
We are all about the ice cream treats from all over the world. One that has caught our eye is Thai rolled ice cream, which looks unlike anything we have ever seen! Plus, it is a perfect way to celebrate Thai New Year, Songkran. Thai rolled ice cream is made by spreading ice cream and fillings on a round cold plate, where it is then re-frozen and rolled up into the signature shape. Thai rolled ice cream is now finding its way onto restaurant menus across the US, with Thai-style rolled ice cream joints opening up in NYC, Philly and LA. Has it made its way to your city yet? We can’t wait to try it in Cleveland or Chicago!
Every time we are back in Chicago we are in the mood for tacos! We take music classes on Armitage, so when we are in the area we usually stop at El Azteca aka Taqueria Azteca Poncitlan (4158 W Armitage Ave.) for some tacos. A caveat: there are about 4 different signs indicating different names for this place some say Taqueria Poncitlan, others say El Azteca. Our hunch is El Azteca moved into the space formerly occupied by Poncitlan (the sign says it has been there since 1987), and didn’t change the main sign… but who knows! You’ll know when you are there. The inside is cute, if a little cheesy – with brightly painted carved tables and chairs and carved wall art.
I read a fascinating article a week or so back in the New York Times about Persian-Jewish Passover traditions, and how these have survived in the Diaspora (in the LA area alone there are 40,000 Jewish Persians). We are fans of Persian food in general. and so were intrigued to learn more about Jewish Iranian foodways. Though many dishes resemble other types of Persian food, One specifically Jewish dish, is gundi, a riff on Matzoh ball soup, which is instead a chicken and chickpea dumpling flavored with cardamon and turmeric. You can make your own gundi with a recipe from Savuer, or try Persian charoset, called Haleg (seen below, on matzoh). More Persian Passover recipes from Reyna Simnegar can be found on her blog.
When we set out to New Orleans we were excited to stuff ourselves with as much Cajun and Creole food as possible (which we did), but we are always open to a good international meal, no matter where we are. Little did we know that we would get an authentic taste of Africa right in the middle of New Orleans, and actually gain a new country in the process – Gambia! Turns out New Orleans is home to a stalwart African restaurant with roots in both Gambia and Cameroon – Bennachin (1212 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116).
The Pastry Post-Doc has been a recurring feature on ETW, and now I am bringing it back on Fridays as a weekly feature – highlighting a dessert or other sweet treat (pastry or not) from around the world. This week I’ll be featuring the intriguingly-named “Wedded Bliss Cake,” or “Happy Marriage Cake” an Icelandic confection whose real name – Hjónabandssaela– translates to just that. Though not associated with weddings, the theory is that the name comes from the fact that it can be made with ingredients that are usually on hand in a Scandinavian pantry: oats, sugar, cardamon and rhubarb. Outside Oslo has a recipe to make your own rhubarb jam, along with the cake itself (pictured above). If you don’t have rhubarb, you can probably substitute another flavor of jam or jelly – maybe the favorite of your significant other!
Emojis have saturated our texts and tweets, and everyone is familiar with perennial food favorites like the coffee cup and the bowl of noodles. Some food emojis are more esoteric, however, and we needed a little help to decipher them (most are Japanese snacks that are not as common in the US). However, Bon Appetit may have just uncovered the most esoteric food emoji of all: an emoji with a moon, grass, and what appears to be a basket of eggs. However, this emoji actually references a fall Japanese moon-viewing ceremony, Tsukimi. And the basket doesn’t contain eggs, it is full of mini mochi (rice cakes)! Tsukimi is celebrated to honor the autumn harvest, and includes food, drink and tables covered with tall grasses, and bowls of mochi and chestnuts. Yum!
Let us let you in on a little secret – we know where they have the best pie in New York City: Petee’s Pie Company (61 Delancey St, New York, NY). Petee’s is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small shop on the Lower East Side, and we make it a point to visit it each time we are in NYC. M has gone far enough to say that this is his favorite pie ever. Knowing how much M loves pie (and how many pie places we have tried), this is a pretty bold claim. Petee’s is run by Petra “Petee” Paredez – who has pie-making in her blood – her parents own the Mom’s Apple Pie Company in Leesburg, Virginia. We are loving the proliferation of pie shops around the US and are so happy that the quality keeps going up as more people- even city dwellers – are becoming more discerning about pie.
We have been to Petee’s several times, and every slice is better than the last ($5 for a slice, $30 for a whole pie). On our last few visits we have tried Rhubarb, Salty Chocolate Chess, Cherry Crumb, and Blueberry, each of these pies has been absolutely delicious. M has even become a rhubarb convert due to having one of the pies here. In particular we are fans of the flaky, tender crust that is neither soggy nor too crisp. We always look forward to visiting Petee’s because there is always something new, and the seasonal flavors are a must – the Cardamon Pear we had in October was scrumptious.
There are also savory, vegan and gluten-free pies (and even cheesecake) at Petee’s as well as an assortment of tea drinks. You can even get a frosty glass of cold milk along with your pie, which M considers to be a must with every pie experience. We are also particularly grateful to Petee’s for introducing us to the concept of the pie fork, a once-popular utensil that has one extra-large tine for cutting the pie and scraping the plate. We look forward to visiting Petee’s the next time we are in NYC, and you should go too – tell them we sent you!
We are loving the proliferation of Salvadorean pupusa places in Cleveland, and the latest stop on our pupusa exploration is Pupuseria La Bendicion (93685 W 105th St, Cleveland, OH 44111) on the southwest side of Cleveland. There are so many quality pupusas here – stuffed masa patties – that we have switched over to pupusa craving in Cleveland, leaving the taco cravings to Chicago. However, you usually have to get off the beaten path to get your pupusa fix in Cleveland: like Katerina’s, Pupuseria La Bendiction is in a semi-industrial location near the airport. The strip mall location is small, but when we entered on a weekday night, it was nearly full, and pupusas were in full production. Rest assured, the pupusas are made to order – we even heard them! There is nothing like hearing the reassuring “pat pat” as the pupusa are being made by hand and tossed on the griddle.
One of the big events in town this Spring is the Ancient Egypt exhibition, Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt, at the Cleveland Museum of Art. M has always been a huge fan of ancient Egypt, and now the whole city has Egypt on the brain. A box of these gorgeous Ancient Egypt-themed chocolates from Maggie Louise Confections would be the perfect treat before the show – when they popped up on my Instagram feed I was instantly struck by their gorgeous colors! We didn’t find any Egyptian traditional recipes that called for chocolate, but if you are in Cairo, be sure to check out House of Cocoa for all things chocolate. However, there are plenty of other Egyptian desserts that would be great to try including Basbousa, an almond semolina flour cake and Umm/Om Ali, a bread pudding made with nuts.
The West Loop is on fire! Well, not literally, but it seems that a great new restaurant is opening up nearly every week, from Japanese to small plates, to Italian. When I was searching for good birthday-appropriate brunch and lunch options, my search led to many options in the West Loop, where we landed on the relatively-new Bar Siena (832 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL), a venture from Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani.
Happy Dyngus Day! Dyngus Day (Easter Monday – from the Polish Śmigus-dyngus ) is huge celebration in Cleveland (music automatically plays) and throughout Polish American communities, especially in Buffalo, New York . Typical Dyngus Day celebrations include pierogies, polka, krupnik a parade and all things Polish. Similar celebrations occur. Food and drinks are of course a focus, but so are other traditions – like attempting to soak the neighborhood girls with water and swatting them with pussy willows (yikes!). Traditionally, the girls retaliated by doing the same to the boys on Tuesday, but nowadays the retaliation occurs on the same day (how could you wait until the next day anyway?) If you are not in the area of a Dyngus Day celebration, why not celebrate with some pierogies, Bigos (Hunter’s) Stew, Haluski and Polish sausage.