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Chicago in March


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#1 Kerry Beal

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 05:56 PM

At least 3 eG chocolatiers are decending on Chicago in mid march for a class at the French Pastry school with Jean Pierre Wybauw.

Classes start a 6 am and run until noon, so we won't be staying up late. I don't think we are planning any fine dining, but would love some suggestions for good ethnic or other interesting eats.

I know I would like to hit Penzey's while I'm there, but wonder if there are any other shopping suggestions for 3 serious foodies.

#2 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 07:29 PM

Kerry,

I recommend taking a look at these threads and maybe doing a search of the forum, or asking here, for anything specific you can think of:

Where are your favorite places to shop in Chicago?, Restaurant-supply stores?

Specialty shops in Chicago, Anything I shouldn't miss?

I hope that helps.

=R=
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#3 Kerry Beal

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 07:37 PM

Kerry,

I recommend taking a look at these threads and maybe doing a search of the forum, or asking here, for anything specific you can think of:

Where are your favorite places to shop in Chicago?, Restaurant-supply stores?

Specialty shops in Chicago, Anything I shouldn't miss?

I hope that helps.

=R=

View Post

Thanks Ron, I'll take a look through these.

One specific question for you, is there a supplier of pink salt in Chicago? Oh yeah, and a place where I could buy an inexpensive 5 lb stainless sausage stuffer?

#4 K8memphis

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 08:44 PM

Salt in Chicago in March? The streets will be full of it.

Dress like you're visiting Antartica. The old adage about the month of March where it comes in like a lion burger and goes out like a lamb chop (just to keep it on food) does not apply to the windy city. :biggrin:

#5 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 09:10 PM

One specific question for you, is there a supplier of pink salt in Chicago?  Oh yeah, and a place where I could buy an inexpensive 5 lb stainless sausage stuffer?

View Post

If you're talking about pink salt for curing, I get mine at The Spice House. Their Chicago location should be fairly convenient for you.

As for a stuffer, even in a town this size, I found that it was easier and cheaper to buy one on-line, which is something you may want to consider. Here's a link to a fairly informative thread about them:

Sausage stuffers - what to look for?, Recommendations, please

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#6 Kerry Beal

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 09:13 PM

One specific question for you, is there a supplier of pink salt in Chicago?  Oh yeah, and a place where I could buy an inexpensive 5 lb stainless sausage stuffer?

View Post

If you're talking about pink salt for curing, I get mine at The Spice House. Their Chicago location should be fairly convenient for you.

As for a stuffer, even in a town this size, I found that it was easier and cheaper to buy one on-line, which is something you may want to consider. Here's a link to a fairly informative thread about them:

Sausage stuffers - what to look for?, Recommendations, please

=R=

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I tried to order one from Northern tools, but they wouldn't take an order from Canada, and even when I tried to send it to a relative in the US, they wouldn't take my credit card cause I was Canadian. But I'll pick up some pink salt at the Spice House.

Thanks

#7 alanamoana

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 11:29 PM

More specifically, the school is located:

The French Pastry School
226 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60606 USA

at the above address and because we are just visiting, we'd love to have some restaurant recommendations that aren't too far. i don't think we're going to have a car but we're not afraid of public transportation either!

we'll probably be staying at the closest hotel which i think is a best western recommended by the school (it has special rates for students) which is located at:

125 West Ohio Street

any and all food recommendations are welcome! :smile:

#8 germuska

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 09:06 PM

Given where you'll be, ditch the Penzey's trip (mentioned in the first post) and go to the Old Town location of the Spice House (which I guess Ronnie suggested too)

Your hotel is smack in the heart of the River North tourist district, which means lots of traps like Hard Rock Cafe and Rainforest Cafe. I work very near there and generally feel pretty underwhelmed by the dining options, but you'll be very conveniently located to the original Pizzeria Uno and Due, which I'd choose for classic Chicago deep dish over Gino's East, which is closer to your hotel. There are lots of other places nearby, none of which really qualify as the kind of ethnic experience I think you had in mind... for those, you'll have to get out of the city center...

From the class location, you aren't too far at all from Greektown (less than a mile due west) and maybe only about two miles from the old Italian neighborhood around the University of Illinois-Chicago. I'm not qualified to make specific recommendations in those neighborhoods but if that's interesting, searching or further questions should get someone who can.

The south side Chinatown is within decent striking distance (probably a 20 min train ride, red line towards "Dan Ryan" to Cermak stop) from the general area and while it's not fair to compare it to NY or SF Chinatown, there are lots of good food options.

The north side Vietnamese/Chinese neighborhood is not too much farther the other way (Red line towards "Howard" to Argyle stop) and also has lots of good food.

Chicago has a lot of great Mexican, something visitors often don't realize. You can take the Blue Line (towards "Douglas") to the 18th St stop and Pilsen, a vibrant Mexican American neighborhood.

If you like sausage, you may want to try the notorious Hot Doug's, which is not too far from the Blue Line (towards O'Hare) Belmont stop. He's only open for lunch and has long lines on weekends, but you may find it worth the trip.

#9 Kerry Beal

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 09:14 PM

Thanks for the input, sounds like lots of good eating to be had.

Do you think the Spice House is preferable to Penzey's? or are there benefits to visiting both?

#10 germuska

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 09:44 PM

Do you think the Spice House is preferable to Penzey's? or are there benefits to visiting both?

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My suggestion was based more on the fact that the Chicago Spice House is a 15 minute cab ride from your hotel (less if traffic is light, and you could reasonably walk it if the weather isn't as bad as you've been warned)

The Penzey's in Oak Park would be a somewhat more involved train ride (green line), although Oak Park is not without its charms, especially if you like Frank Lloyd Wright. (I love his Unity Temple, which is just down the street from Penzey's, but I don't know what their tour schedule is like. If you get that rare beautiful spring day, walking around OP looking at FLW architecture would probably be pretty nice.) I don't know too much about food options in OP, although I've heard that Petersen's is a good spot for ice cream sundaes.

The only other area Penzey's is in Naperville, which is not a trip you'll be making without a car.

There was a Chowhound thread on comparisons between Spice House and Penzey's just last month... I've never shopped at Penzey's, but I'm a long time fan of the Evanston Spice House location. I imagine you'd find them similar enough to not make Oak Park worth the trip unless you have other reasons to go out there and little reason to try to visit both in one trip.

Edited by germuska, 08 January 2007 - 09:45 PM.


#11 CaliPoutine

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 09:37 AM

There was a Chowhound thread on comparisons between Spice House and Penzey's just last month... I've never shopped at Penzey's, but I'm a long time fan of the Evanston Spice House location. I imagine you'd find them similar enough to not make Oak Park worth the trip unless you have other reasons to go out there and little reason to try to visit both in one trip.



I think they are both owned by members of the same family. I've ordered from both and I much prefer The Spice House. I still shop at Penzey's when I go to Detroit, but I still prefer The Spice House.

#12 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 09:53 AM

I think they are both owned by members of the same family.  I've ordered from both and I much prefer The Spice House.    I still shop at Penzey's when I go to Detroit, but I still prefer The Spice House.

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This is true. The Spice House is owned by Tom Erd and Patty Penzey Erd, although from what I understand, the businesses are not technically affiliated.

Here's the primary difference between the 2 shops, in my experience. Everything at Penzey's is pre-packaged, whereas the stock at Spice House is kept in large jars and weighed and bagged to order. Does this mean that the Penzey's product is fresher? I'm not sure. But I do know that you can buy the precise amount of what you need at Spice House. At Penzey's you are forced to buy in the pre-packaged increments.

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#13 scordelia

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 01:04 PM

At least 3 eG chocolatiers are decending on Chicago in mid march for a class at the French Pastry school with Jean Pierre Wybauw.

Classes start a 6 am and run until noon, so we won't be staying up late.  I don't think we are planning any fine dining, but would love some suggestions for good ethnic or other interesting eats.

I know I would like to hit Penzey's while I'm there, but wonder if there are any other shopping suggestions for 3 serious foodies.

View Post


Another fun spot for spice shopping is Patak on Devon Avenue, a couple of blocks west of Western. Take the blue line to Western, then take the 49 bus to Devon. You'll be in the middle of a vibrant Indian neighborhood full of interesting grocery stores and some great Indian food.
S. Cue


#14 alanamoana

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 02:42 PM

haven't checked in for a bit. sounds like there are some good shopping options.

please keep us posted. also, the three of us are staying at the Club Quarters which is at 111 W. Adams Street. it is much closer to the school than the other hotel and since we have to be there at 6am, we thought it best to be within walking distance.

thanks for all of the good suggestions so far.

#15 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 03:00 PM

Dining-wise, if those who are visiting can provide some parameters, I think the suggestions might flow a bit easier. It's hard to narrow it down because there's so much available (I also suggest that you browse the forum a bit too, for additional background and opinions).

What kinds of foods and eating experiences most interest you? Definitely, as germuska posted above, this is a great town for excellent Mexican at all levels of dining. Thai cuisine is equally strong here. 3 of the "Chicago" foods: hotdogs, deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches can be found in relatively high quality within a stone's throw of where you'll be. So many more . . . :wink: :smile:

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#16 Kerry Beal

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 04:11 PM

Dining-wise, if those who are visiting can provide some parameters, I think the suggestions might flow a bit easier.  It's hard to narrow it down because there's so much available (I also suggest that you browse the forum a bit too, for additional background and opinions).

What kinds of foods and eating experiences most interest you?  Definitely, as germuska posted above, this is a great town for excellent Mexican at all levels of dining.  Thai cuisine is equally strong here.  3 of the "Chicago" foods: hotdogs, deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches can be found in relatively high quality within a stone's throw of where you'll be.  So many more . . . :wink: :smile:

=R=

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Ron,

Tell us more about Italian beef sandwiches.

#17 John DePaula

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 04:23 PM

Dining-wise, if those who are visiting can provide some parameters, I think the suggestions might flow a bit easier.  It's hard to narrow it down because there's so much available (I also suggest that you browse the forum a bit too, for additional background and opinions).

What kinds of foods and eating experiences most interest you?  Definitely, as germuska posted above, this is a great town for excellent Mexican at all levels of dining.  Thai cuisine is equally strong here.  3 of the "Chicago" foods: hotdogs, deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches can be found in relatively high quality within a stone's throw of where you'll be.  So many more . . . :wink: :smile:

=R=

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Speaking for myself, I love the Chicago-style deep dish pizza, so that’s a must for me. Also, I crave just about any kind of ethnic food especially Malaysian and Thai and Indian and Mexican. Don’t suppose you have any Senegalese (W. African) restaurants? One of my favorite dishes is Smoked Chicken Yassa.

Usually I prefer a moderately priced place but occasionally something high-end is ok, too. Perhaps, I’d phrase it like this: if you were going to recommend two or three places for their outstanding value and quality, what would you suggest?

Thanks in advance!
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#18 nsxtasy

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 04:41 PM

Usually I prefer a moderately priced place but occasionally something high-end is ok, too.  Perhaps, I’d phrase it like this:  if you were going to recommend two or three places for their outstanding value and quality, what would you suggest?

1. On the low end, Chicago pizza. Definitely. There are really two popular styles of "Chicago style pizza" - double crust "stuffed" pizza, and single crust "deep-dish pan pizza". The big chains all have delicious pizza, and all have locations throughout the city and suburbs, including the River North area which was first asked about here:

Giordano's (stuffed pizza)
www.giordanos.com

Lou Malnati's (pan pizza)
www.loumalnatis.com

Gino's East (pan pizza)
www.ginoseast.com

I love Giordano's the best, because its outer crust is so delicious, but all are terrific, and you'll find lots of people who favor each of the three big chains (as well as some who like other places in outlying city neighborhoods and suburbs). Of course, which is the "best" is all a matter of personal taste. But you really can't go wrong with any of these three places.

Note that large pizzas take 30-45 minutes to bake at any of these places.

2. On the high end, a couple of recommendations.

Everest is one of the most creative and finest restaurants in the city, but it's not as outrageous in price as some of the others. The real bargain is that they offer a special pre-theater menu deal (I think it's $50) at 5:30 every day they're open except Friday, and also at 5:00 on Saturday in addition to 5:30. The food is sublime, the service is impeccable, and the view from the top of the Chicago Stock Exchange building is breathtaking. www.everestrestaurant.com

One Sixty Blue is my second recommendation. It's the kind of restaurant I love, where every bite of every dish is pure culinary bliss. It's not quite as creative as those uber-expensive places, but it's about a third the cost (figure $60-80 per person including moderate wine and tax/tip). The atmosphere is very hip and rather casual (jackets NOT required). www.onesixtyblue.com

Edited by nsxtasy, 19 January 2007 - 04:47 PM.


#19 nr706

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 04:31 PM

Don’t suppose you have any Senegalese (W. African) restaurants?  One of my favorite dishes is Smoked Chicken Yassa. 


A friend, who has extensive knowledge of African cuisine, highly recommends this place for Senegalese food:

Yassa African Restaurant
716 E. 79th St.
Chicago, IL
(773) 488-9630


Another friend wrote this review, from the Chicago Reader:

Yassa is run by a family from Senegal, a former French colony whose cuisine, apart from fresh-baked pain francaise, bears little resemblance to anything European. We started with thiebu djen, a fish stewed in tomato with onion, cabbage, and jollof rice; the last is typically "broken" by soaking and pounding with the hands or the butt end of a bottle. Yassa is grilled marinated chicken covered with a sauce of mustard, onion, carrot, and palm oil and served on a bed of rice. Senegalese couscous is made from millet, which gives it a deep flavor that stands up to lamb and vegetables in a thick and creamy peanut sauce. Fish grilled whole over charcoal had a golden red, deliciously chewy crust and white, firm flesh; debe, grilled lamb chops, were also very flavorful. Be sure to try one of the marvelous homemade African beverages: gingembre is fresh ginger root, pounded and sugared in Yassa's kitchen, bouye is the creamy sweet juice of baobab fruit, and bissap is a gorgeous rich red liquor made from the hibiscus flower. There's also jerk and other Caribbean favorites on the menu.



#20 alanamoana

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:03 PM

i definitely need to hear about the italian beef sandwiches AND chicago style hotdogs!

and i agree with john, it tends to be more about value and flavor than high end dining these days. i love ethnic food and the fact that it tends to be inexpensive makes it even more preferable.

i worked in new york with a sous chef who used to work at everest. he always had nice things to say about chef joho. i wouldn't mind giving that a go if kerry and john are willing...but that means packing something nice to wear other than chef's whites. :wink:

my husband doesn't consider chicago style pizza in the same family as pizza (he's a follower of new york style pizza...only), but i'll eat anything on/in/between a crust! we'll definitely be eating some chicago pizza while we're there.

thanks everyone!

#21 germuska

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:53 PM

i definitely need to hear about the italian beef sandwiches AND chicago style hotdogs!

...

i worked in new york with a sous chef who used to work at everest.  he always had nice things to say about chef joho.  i wouldn't mind giving that a go if kerry and john are willing...but that means packing something nice to wear other than chef's whites.  :wink:

View Post


They probably still expect more than chef's whites, but Joho has a more casual spot, Brasserie Jo which you might want to check out.

Re Italian Beef, the original Al's on Taylor Street is probably the most convenient to your orbit, but there are lots and lots of options. This blog post recaps Skillet Doux's in-depth investigation of the matter, or you could see what the LTHForum members found in their series of beefathons.

#22 John DePaula

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:14 PM

Don’t suppose you have any Senegalese (W. African) restaurants?  One of my favorite dishes is Smoked Chicken Yassa. 


A friend, who has extensive knowledge of African cuisine, highly recommends this place for Senegalese food:

Yassa African Restaurant
716 E. 79th St.
Chicago, IL
(773) 488-9630


Another friend wrote this review, from the Chicago Reader:

Yassa is run by a family from Senegal, a former French colony whose cuisine, apart from fresh-baked pain francaise, bears little resemblance to anything European. We started with thiebu djen, a fish stewed in tomato with onion, cabbage, and jollof rice; the last is typically "broken" by soaking and pounding with the hands or the butt end of a bottle. Yassa is grilled marinated chicken covered with a sauce of mustard, onion, carrot, and palm oil and served on a bed of rice. Senegalese couscous is made from millet, which gives it a deep flavor that stands up to lamb and vegetables in a thick and creamy peanut sauce. Fish grilled whole over charcoal had a golden red, deliciously chewy crust and white, firm flesh; debe, grilled lamb chops, were also very flavorful. Be sure to try one of the marvelous homemade African beverages: gingembre is fresh ginger root, pounded and sugared in Yassa's kitchen, bouye is the creamy sweet juice of baobab fruit, and bissap is a gorgeous rich red liquor made from the hibiscus flower. There's also jerk and other Caribbean favorites on the menu.

View Post

You are Kidding! I thought it was such a long shot to find a restaurant from Senegal... Wow, THANKS! :biggrin:

ETA: I just visited their web site: Yassa African Restaurant.
How very, um, odd...

They get so many complaints that they have hired a separate company to deal with them? Mystere et boule de gomme.

Our dedication to Customer Service makes it a Must to us having the valuable customer support of Central Customer Care® a whole independant body, for our customers complaints in addition to those being dealt within as a matter of fact.


Edited by John DePaula, 21 January 2007 - 01:42 PM.

John DePaula
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#23 John DePaula

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:33 PM

i definitely need to hear about the italian beef sandwiches AND chicago style hotdogs!

and i agree with john, it tends to be more about value and flavor than high end dining these days.  i love ethnic food and the fact that it tends to be inexpensive makes it even more preferable.

i worked in new york with a sous chef who used to work at everest.  he always had nice things to say about chef joho.  i wouldn't mind giving that a go if kerry and john are willing...but that means packing something nice to wear other than chef's whites.  :wink:

I'd never say "Non!" to a good French restaurant!

my husband doesn't consider chicago style pizza in the same family as pizza (he's a follower of new york style pizza...only), but i'll eat anything on/in/between a crust! 

I'm with you on that, Alana! Love NY style pizza but love Chicago style, too.

we'll definitely be eating some chicago pizza while we're there.

thanks everyone!

View Post


John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#24 little ms foodie

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:37 PM

I'm in Chicago frequently on business and some of my favorite places are Frontera Grill for great 'real' mexican or next door at Topoplombo (wow how bad did I spell that?? lol!) for really beautiful mexican food and wine pairings!

I like Lou Malnati's and Giordanos

One of my favorite dining experiences has been at Schwa- you need a cab but it's worth it. great food, great price, byob.

last week my collegue and I had dinner at Vivo which was good but not exceptional- I really loved the space and the service- and again it was good italian just not earth shattering.

#25 Kerry Beal

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:57 PM

Ok how dressed up do I have to get? I don't do high heels.

I'm certainly interested in the Senegalese, gotta try the pizza, gotta check out the italian beef sandwich.

I am really looking forward to this trip, not only for the chocolate class!

#26 John DePaula

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 02:03 PM

Ok how dressed up do I have to get?  I don't do high heels. 

Neither do I, Kerry. Well at any rate, very very seldom... :laugh:

I'm certainly interested in the Senegalese, gotta try the pizza, gotta check out the italian beef sandwich. 

I am really looking forward to this trip, not only for the chocolate class!

View Post

My sentiments exactly! :biggrin:
John DePaula
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--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#27 little ms foodie

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 02:21 PM

nice jeans, a cute top or sweater maybe a casual jacket if you like.

#28 LAZ

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:06 PM

Shopping.... Chicago is a great place to shop for ethnic food ingredients although the best stores tend to be out in the neighborhoods or in the suburbs.

It is, though, absolutely worth it to find a way to Niles to visit H Mart for Korean foodstuffs and all kinds of produce, for example, and to head to Devon Avenue for Indian food shopping (Patel Brothers made the Saveur 100). Depending on your enjoyment of grocery shopping and interest in the cuisine, it might be worth a trip to Arlington Heights for Mitsuwa (Japanese) or to one of the various Uni-Marts (Filipino) or even to drop into a Treasure Island for a unique urban shopping experience.

We have wonderful sausage makers of almost every ethnicity, some top-notch cheese purveyors, and interesting delicatessens and groceries of various types. If you have particular ethnic interests, there are other places that merit visiting. For example, a terrific store for smoked fish, open weekends only, but you'd better know what the kind you want looks like or be able to read Russian.

We also have some excellent chocolatiers and ice cream makers. Provide some more specifics on your interests and you'll likely get better recommendations.
LAZ

#29 John DePaula

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:14 PM

Shopping.... Chicago is a great place to shop for ethnic food ingredients although the best stores tend to be out in the neighborhoods or in the suburbs.

...

We also have some excellent chocolatiers and ice cream makers. Provide some more specifics on your interests and you'll likely get better recommendations.

View Post

Well, I think I speak for all when I say we're interested in the small artisan chocolate makers of Chicago. Any recs?
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
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When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#30 nr706

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:31 PM

Well, I think I speak for all when I say we're interested in the small artisan chocolate makers of Chicago.  Any recs?


Belgian Chocolatier Piron is a small shop in Evanston that has been well-reviewed nationally and internationally. An example from SavoringChicago.com:

Belgian Chocolatier Piron
From Issue No. 9, Feb 05 – Chocolate Shops
There are Chicagoans who have traveled to Europe and fallen in love with the chocolates in Belgium. What they discover when they return home is that they didn’t need to stock up on all those boxes of chocolate at the Brussels airport; they can get the same—some say even better—chocolates right here in Evanston at Belgian Chocolatier Piron. The minute you walk into this charming small European-style shop, the aroma of fresh chocolate wafting from the kitchen in back beckons you to ogle the beautiful assortments of chocolates stacked neatly on small gold-ruffled trays displayed in two cases. Some 30 varieties are offered, with most available in milk or dark chocolate. As far as what to expect, “Belgian chocolate is very delicate,” explains co-owner Bob Piron. “And they have to look as good as they taste. That’s one of the Belgian philosophies.”

And they do. There are beautiful marbleized Fruits de Mer in the shape of sea shells, prawns, and escargot filled with a divine chocolate hazelnut praline. The Paté de Noisette are exquisite—chocolate diamonds filled with a blend of milk chocolate and hazelnut praline laced with diced pecans. Insanely good chocolate Marzipan rectangles—so hard to find—are decorated with fine white stripes. Unsweetened cocoa dusts the very popular truffle made with a milk chocolate cream center dipped in semisweet chocolate. A perfect chocolate rosette coiffs the Grand Marnier semisweet chocolate cup.

The Pirons use only the best, purest ingredients, including fresh butter and cream (and never any tropical fats, preservatives, stabilizers, or extenders), as well as fruit compounds and liqueurs imported from Europe. “We use the real deal,” says Bob, “and that makes all the difference.” The chocolate-covered candied orange peels, for instance, are made from a Spanish orange, which the Pirons find to be less bitter than others. The dipped glacéed apricots are of a premium quality from Australia. And the chocolate-covered cherries are a French Morello cherry soaked in brandy. It’s hard to go wrong with anything you select here.


Belgian Chocolatier Piron
509-A Main Street
Evanston, Illinois 60202
Phone: 847-864-5504