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  1. Thanks so much! This will give everybody more crusty bits and make serving much easier than one or two big baking dishes.
  2. Can anyone lend any Pyrex or ceramic pie plates or similarly sized shallow casseroles? In order to do my dish conveniently family style, I need one for each table.
  3. You should expect to find all kinds of meat, seafood and produce. I would guess that beets and any other Midwest-grown fruit and vegetables will be best from the farmer's market, though. We'll be visiting three European deli/butcher shops, two Asian markets and a Middle Eastern store. I've scheduled so we'll have the most time at the largest stores, but you can see we aren't going to be able to spend much time at any one place -- with so many of us, just getting in and out and from place to place is going to take longer than I'd originally counted on. Now that the starting time at the church
  4. De gustibus. Do I recall correctly that you aren't a big fan of fennel in Italian sausage? That would account for your preference of Johnnie's sausage over Al's, which has a big fennel flavor. I definitely agree on the fries.
  5. Update: Ethnic shopping tour 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 (including lunch) Niles ethnic grocers (list) This tour will start off at 9 a.m. from Niles. Everyone on the list below should have received a PM from me with the meeting place and a link to further info, directions and a map. Plan to arrive early if you'd like coffee or a morning nosh before we leave. If you think you will have trouble getting to Niles, please send me a PM as soon as possible and let me know where you will coming from. Ethnic lunch will cost about $13 each, including a beverage, tax and tip. It will be easiest if ev
  6. Chicago is a big city with big-city issues, so you need to be alert to safety, but that applies not only on public transit but on the streets and in and around restaurants. Taking taxis isn't necessarily safer than transit, because you need to stand around and try to flag them. If you need a cab late at night, stay inside and ask the establishment to phone for one for you. Inside restaurants and bars, keep your purse where you can see it -- don't hang it on the back of your chair. Don't leave valuables in a jacket pocket and hang it on the back of your chair or in a coat rack. Don't flash a l
  7. That was my rec. They've always had it, as far as I know. You can also get good versions at Mapo in Naperville and at Ed's Potsticker House. Mapo Restaurant 1563 Naperville Wheaton Road, Naperville 630/420-1388 www.maporestaurant.com Ed's Potsticker House 3139 S. Halsted St., Chicago 312/326-6898
  8. Well, I did limit it to "the best place downtown." For the best beef anywhere, I'd probably give the edge to Johnnie's, although the one-two punch of Al's and Mario's is hard to beat. Taking the components separately, Johnnie's has the best beef and giardiniera and Al's wins on sausage and fries. But as I always say, Italian beef is more than the sum of its parts! PS-I'm also a regular user of the drive-thru at Al's on Ontario. But there I usually get just sausage with sweet peppers, neater to eat in the car.
  9. The best place downtown to get a beef or a combo would be Al's No. 1 on Taylor Street, a classic Chicago spot in the heart of Little Italy. An Italian beef sandwich (or just "a beef" in Chicagoese) starts with thinly sliced, seasoned roast beef, dripping with juices, layered on a long roll. For a combo, they'll add on a fennel-laced Italian sausage, grilled over charcoal. For the best version, ask for it "dipped." The counterman will also ask "sweet or hot?" which means do you want sauteed sweet peppers or a spicy hot-pepper giardiniera mixture on it. I recommend the latter, if you can take th
  10. OK, I won't count on your extra seats, but I do hope you'll will be able to attend. Tammy says she can drive, if necessary, so we can manage if you can't make it. Let us know when you know. If anyone else can drive, if needed, let me know. I will provide maps. The initial meeting place has a large parking lot, so if we need to we can reshuffle on Saturday morning. For efficiency's sake, I'd just as soon have the minimum number of cars we can manage with on the tour itself. Update: Ethnic shopping tour 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 (including lunch) Niles ethnic grocers (list) This tour will
  11. Totally off topic, but as a journalist, let me congratulate you on your decision not to try to get a job in that industry. Frankly, if it's not too late, I'd advise you to change your major now. Is your step-dad a member of a club that has a reciprocal arrangement with the Metropolitan or does he know a member who'll sponsor him? Otherwise, I don't believe you can just walk in and have dinner. These dishes are more or less unique to Chicago: * Deep-dish and stuffed pizza * Italian beef sandwiches (and beef/sausage combos) * Chicago-style hot dogs * Maxwell Street Polish * Shrimp de Jonghe * Ch
  12. Tea-smoked duck and lamb with cumin. I'm actually not a huge fan of the 3-chili chicken, which is made from chicken breast and is often dry.
  13. That is not quite correct. You may be looking at the information for users of Chicago Cards.If you use regular transit passes purchased from CTA station machines, the fares are: * One ride: $1.75 (bus); $2.00 (rail) * First transfer use in two hours: 25 cents * Second transfer use in two hours: Free After the free ride, an additional ride costs $1.75 and a new two-hour period begins. See http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/fares.html#cc
  14. You're probably looking at somewhere around $25 for a cab from the Hyatt Regency Chicago to Evanston, and if it's not prime commuting time, it will take about 25 minutes. That compares with $1.75-2.00 per person for the el. With the el, you're looking at a walk of between 1/4 and 1/2 mile at both ends, from the Hyatt to the el (the stops at Grand/State and State/Lake are about equidistant from the hotel) and from the el to the Evanston Farmer's Market and from the el to the location of the Heartland Gathering. The el doesn't go to Niles. There are also commuter trains to the northern subur
  15. A taxi to the northern suburbs will be quite expensive, so consider the L unless you really have too much to carry. For Niles, take the Red Line L to Howard, transfer to the Yellow Line to Skokie. From there, we may be able to get you a ride or else there's one of two bus lines. I'm working out the final itinerary and will send out PMs with the initial meeting place early in the week before the tour. We should also have coolers in the car trunks in case people buy perishables on the tour. I will bring a large one. Update: Ethnic shopping tour 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 (including lunch) Ni
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