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Everything posted by elfin

  1. Went to Caputo's on Sunday. The place was packed. The fresh mozzarella that is made by them is incredible. The price on the various olive salads, fish salad and other treats was a few dollars a pound less than area stores. The pastry counter had a lot of selection but I still favor Palermo. Big selection of vinagers and oils as well as dried pasta.
  2. I had a African mask hand carved in Mali. I heard that to avoid termite or other critter infestation on carved wooden art from Africa, you must wrap it -air tight- and put it in the freezer to kill any bugs or eggs. It worked.
  3. We went to Pasta Fresh and just had the marinara sauce. The fresh pasta looked amazing (especially after reading Heat). The deli next door was superfriendly and the cheese selection was much bigger than Bari and Riveria. We did a comparison of the Italian sausage (hot) and Riveria and Bari fared just a tad better but the place is worth a revisit. It scares me to hear of these independents (Casa Nostra) closing. The prices at these places are so reasonable too-How good is the Mr. Beef at Montrose and Harlem?
  4. Have been making weekly trips to Harlem Ave. between Montrose and Belmont. Plenty of Italian eats and stores pack this stretch of Harlem. Our favorites so far are Palermo Bakery one block north of Belmont (east side of the street). The arinchini and sicilan style pizza are wonderful. We buy a few loaves of bread and a box of the freshest and most diverse display of Italian sweets and cookies I have seen. We then travel one block south on Harlem to visit Riveria Deli (west side of the street almost at Belmont). Wonderful salamis, homemade sausages,cheeses and subs made to order. Their marinara sauce in frozen pint and quart containers now excuses me from making my own pasta sauce. Our other favorite spot is on Grand between Milwaukee and Ogden-right along the Kennedy. D'Amato bakery on the corner has the most delicious cherry strudel-not too sweet and very good breads as well. They too sell cookies and some sweets but everyone goes there for the sicilian style pizza ready to go even in the morning. Next door is Bari-it looks like a regular storefront grocery store but go to the back and hit the deli. The sausages are homemade and the made to order subs are really good too. They have some prepared foods-the white beans with escarole is really good-even my kids eat it. (You can combine Bari/D'Amato's with a visit to Blommer Chocolate Factory store-plenty of good eats there.) All places are super friendly and cater to Italian speaking locals and regulars. Ciao!
  5. We are very tall and when we do our kitchen, we would like to make the cabinets taller/countertops higher. Can this be done using stock cabinets? Since we do not have tall ceilings, this could be a problem with the upper shelves. Also, the 30 inch vs 24 inch counter top depth referred in a post above-is the only problem with the 30 in. accessing the upper shelves? Are these the two standard widths? We have a tiny kitchen with little counter space. Is it better to get the countertops wider thus reducing floor space? I doubt we will buy a built-in refrigerator as the reduced interior depth is problematic.
  6. Canada's duty free offered the ususal suspects of alcohol. Saw John Lee Kentucky Bourbon. Never heard of it. It did not identify a distiller, location or anything other than it was from Kentucky and made under the supervison of the US government. It was also labeled as "Import for France". It is 40% and was only $14. It tastes like a watered down version of Jim Beam Black-sweet with no spice. Only reference I could find on the internet was in Europe and it was sold in block lots with other liquors. Anybody else try this? (Not recommended)
  7. OK, I am ready to get slammed but here I go. Is the premium designation based on Kurtis' fame or is the beef really that special?
  8. Do we need to make reservations if we dine at 5? Is it ok to bring two small children?
  9. My husband's beer of choice is Special Export. He was a big Ausberger fan until it declined and was bought out. Pilsner U. is his all time favorite but in Chicago it is difficult to get it when it is really fresh. This summer we are heading up to Stevens Point (Point run) for the Point tour- another favorite beer of his.
  10. Without Trotter FG would never have become a front page story in Chicago. Period. IMHO, Trotter needed the publicity.
  11. elfin

    Vietnamese Coffee

    I am a cafe su da fan. When I make it at home-only on the weekends- I find I have a barely used can of condensed milk. How long does the stuff keep in the fridge?
  12. Stayed at a major chain hotel this week and on the breakfast table were 4 jars of preserves-marmalade, grape, boysenberry and strawberry. These are the mini jars for one time use. I wanted to take them home (unopened) for two reasons-my little girls would have gotten a kick out of them either for eating or playing with their play kitchen and tea sets. The other reason is a jar of jelly simply sits in our refrigerator until it grows green and I throw it out. The small one time use jars are perfect for our occassional need. I am not one who pilfers sweet n low packets or other things that restaurants frequently find missing. I could have opened them all and 'sampled' them on my toast thus the hotel would have thrown them out anyway. I am sure that if I asked the server if I could take them she would have said yes. But I left the table empty handed. Would it have been ok to take (or ask to) the jars home?
  13. I have travelled to over 100 countries and always hit the markets. I have seen the dirtiest of the dirty. I shop at ethnic markets in the Chicago area for value and unique foods. On Saturday morning, we walked into an "African and Caribbean" food market which I had often seen for over two years but never visited. As we walked into the store my 4 y.o. repeatedly shouts "It stinks in here!" There was a butcher cutting meat, a fish monger and plenty of dried fish cling wrapped. The place really did stink like something died. I checked the aisles and produce sections- as the fish looked past prime and the meat was mostly goat legs, hooves and other bony cuts. Frankly, I would be reluctant to buy meat there based on hygiene factors The floor was filthy and the cramped shelves had pretty raunchy looking canned and boxed goods. The produce prices were high compared to another market (Hispanic- with butcher and fish monger) located in the next block which was really clean. Two blocks away there is a Vietnamese grocery store with a butcher, fish monger, dried fish and produce. The place does not stink. The store is cramped and not the cleanest but the fish and produce I have purchased there were fine.
  14. I am a HUGE Julia fan. I read Appetitie for Life and although very wordy and filled with IMHO unecessary facts i.e.what someone wore to an event- I learned a great deal about Julia and admired her more so. My favorite part of AL was her years in France . I wonder if the new book is repetitive in this regard. Anybody read both to make a comparison? It is on my list to read after a few other foodie books.
  15. Birthplace drinks are over-rated. Havana's La Bodeguita del Medio (mojito) and La Floridita (daquiri) are fine but somehow the combination of the tourist crowds and premium price taint the experience. Pat O'Brian's' Hurricanes suck.
  16. elfin

    Melon Disappointment

    When buying a whole melon (watermelon, cantelope or musk) at the store, I always look at the fruit that is already sliced in half and cling wrapped to ascertain ripeness. The store takes it from the same fruit bins. It has saved me from buying pink rather than red watermelon and you can tell the ripeness of the other melons by the color (more bold and soft). Either the melons are rock hard or over ripe.
  17. I wonder if there will be FG shops lining the Chicago borders like the Fireworks places located over the state line. Seriously, not only is the ban ridiculous it requires vigilante patrol and reporting.
  18. Travelling independent of a tour group, cruise ship and preset packages automatically makes it your own experience. Weather conditions, expectations realistic or otherwise, tourist traps, high season crowds, holidays that shut down shops and transportation, aggressive touts and illness all make travelling a crap shoot. I guarantee that you will not get the same experience returning to a favorite place. We have been to over 100 countries and have done it on our own. Riding rickety buses sitting next to chickens and (un)friendly locals and eating crap or fantastic food does affect one's impressions of a place. Expensive cities on a budget can suck as you are forced to avoid pleasures that would enrich your experience. (I bet Ramsey's is terrific but a good fish and chips is tasty too.) Sharing travel tales provides an insight to the place and the person. Watching these shows brings back memories of our trips and frankly, Tony's take is pretty spot on.
  19. elfin

    Azorean beer?

    My husband thought the beer was fine-he certaintly drank enough of it!
  20. Interestingly, there was no preclosing media reports (Trib and SunTimes) that focused on or highlighted the labor issue. It also did not want to get Landmark Status so that it could sell the property unencumbered (the feds have been eyeing the land for some time). Now there is no sentimental attachment to "11 West" that would raise protests/challenges for a land sale down the road.
  21. elfin


    Anybody have a link re this stuff?
  22. Blak was promoted/ distributed for free on the streets of Chicago this week. Grabbed two bottles. Very, very sweet-won't quench a thirst. Taste cola going down with a coffee candy finish. Does remind me of Thai (not Vietnamese) ice coffee. If you like Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke or Vanilla Coke or even Black Cows it may be more palatable.
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