Showing posts with label festivals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festivals. Show all posts

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Nosh at Wicker Park

-Feastin' at locals favorite festivals

There's been some really good eating going on all summer in a parking lot in Wicker Park. The Nosh Food Festival in Wicker Park takes place every Saturday, while weather allows, and features some local mom and pop food spots sporting their goods. Located in the parking lot of the AN Pritzker school I encourage all to get over there for lunch while the season is still in swing. With the ludicrous rules by the city of Chicago and its mayor we elected from the suburbs in place against food trucks so we need to support fests like this.

Early Afternoon at Nosh fest

The fest itself might be 1/50 the size of the Taste of Chicago, but with all the politics not involved, the food vendors are much better. In fact on my trip there last weekend I wanted to try food from every single one. It all sounded good and most of the offerings weren't your average fair food. Take Pizzeria Valentino for example. Jeff is a friend of mine but that's because we share a similar love for Italian food. You might of read about his top notch pastas over at the Reader where they come heavily praised. Recently Jeff put the pasta on the back burner to focus on his wood fired mobile pizza truck and I was lucky enough to see what was up when I stopped by last week.

Jeff took a ton of time trying to figure out how to get his flour just the way he likes it and boy can you tell. Regular posters over at LTHforum are raving about the place and these people know their pizza.

"This pizza reminded me very much of my favorite style of pies found in New Haven, CT such as Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern Apizza...only better.' - Pigmon

"I was extremely impressed. The crust had a lot of flavor, nice chew, and I'm always a sucker for some charred bubbles on the edges. Really just a fantastic crust" - BR

"Stopped by the Nosh and had a wonderful funghi pie. Outstanding crust- only wish I would have asked for some olive oil to dip the pizza bones in like I always do" - Jazzfood

Not much more I can add except to say I totally agree with all of the above as did at least three other groups of people at the Nosh who came back to tell Jeff how much they loved the pizza especially the crust element. Like him, I like some crispy bits from the aforementioned charred bubbles. Sausage is always my topping of judgement and his with a nice fennel kick was great. Pizzeria Valentino is available for catering and you can call (815) 250-7206 to make that happen. Looks like I'm going to be needing to make an excuse to have a party sometime soon.

Sensazionale Salsiccia Pizza

As good as Jeff's pizza was I had to contain myself from ordering another so I could try some of the other offerings around. Regular readers know my go-to cuisine of choice is Mexican. If there's a list out there that ranks gringos who consume the most Mexican food in order from top to bottom I guarantee I'm near the top. One of my favorite eats from that genre is Cochinita Pibil. So when I saw that Mixteco Grill was serving a torta with the spicy shredded pulled pork which is a specialty of the Yucatan, I had to have one. Served with a black bean spread, pickled red onions, mayo and salsa for $6 this was so good.

Cochinita Pibil Torta

We don't have many places offering the awesome cuisine of Indonesia here in Chicago. But we do have a place that does pop-up dinners featuring some of the foods from the southeast Asian country. The Rice Table has been on the scene for a while now but I never got to try them until Nosh last week.

Indonesian Eats...Charcoal Grilled Chicken Satay

Rice Table changes up their menu each week at the Fest. Last week they had some really tasty sounding items so I was tempted to get a sampler plate which had some of everything but I'd just ate what you already saw. So me and her decided to split a Roti Babi Petis sandwich which was sensational. Indo spiced pork was put into a bahn mi roll and topped with pickled red onion, cilantro, cucumber and papaya. On a hot summer day, this sandwich was the perfect bite for it.

Indonesian Roti Babi Petis Sandwich

Then last but not least is Zarlengo's. If the name sounds familiar you might of seen their stuff at some food stores of late or remember them from the Italian ice roundup I did last summer. One of my favorite spots in da 'land for Chicago's signature summertime treat they also do some really good gelatos which Tommy has been pushing. I'd heard over twitter how good the sweet basil offering was and was excited to see it being offered on a stick at Nosh. So as it turns out, they pack quite the 1-2 punch out there in Da Heights. My only complaint is why cant I get these by the box full somewhere near? They'd make for a great late night sweet snack. Thanks Tommy!

Sweet Basil Gelato Bar from Zarlengo's

The Nosh at Wicker Park
Saturdays While Weather Allows 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Long Grove Strawberry Festival

-Feastin' at locals favorite festivals

Festival season is in full swing. I didn't get a chance to go to many last year. I just wasn't in a rush. But I did attend both the Strawberry and Apple Fest in the historic suburb of Long Grove last season. Strawberry Fest is coming up (June 21st-23rd) so I thought we would get this up a week early so families and couples could make plans.

Long Grove, IL

About 30 minutes from Chicago in Lake County sits the affluent suburb of Long Grove. Its one of the cutest little suburbs in the state. In the 1950's they passed an ordinance that opposed major developments so it's charm remains today. There's a covered bridge, ponds and some beautiful old buildings and homes to be seen as well as a quint little shopping district downtown. That's where they hold their annual Strawberry and Apple festivals (Sept.).

All things Strawberry

I couldn't figure out why these weren't melting on a hot summer day

Last year we attended Strawberry Fest and it was hot as hell out. The weather should be better this year if what we've had so far remains. While you might think attending a festival in a small suburb would be much less stress than the city that's not quite the case. They come from all over for this and every last parking spot available is taken during peak times but people come and go so getting  a spot isn't too hard. I enjoy it because of the charm of the area. You feel light years away from the city when visiting. Its a great place to spend the day walking around while enjoying the weather.

Strolling around

Of course the other fun things about festivals are the food and drink. I love festival food and I aint afraid to admit it. There's some good options here as far as food goes. Then there's also the Village Tavern where you can step inside away from the heat and drink some refreshments while cooling down. They get into the theme too and have strawberry brews and cocktail concoctions. The beer garden is next door and all the food stands and bands line the streets of downtown. Enjoy the tour.

Cooling down at the Village Tavern

There's some good festival food to be had here

Good Eats

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Passing thru Central Illinois

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

-Breakfast, Pizza, Tenderloins and the IL State Fair

The 2012 Illinois State fair is set to begin this week. For those of y'all that were thinking about heading down and all others who may some day find themselves down around Central Illinois we have some spots that you should check out for chowing down. Lets start off in Springfield which is the home to the Land of Lincoln's state fair. We all know the fried and unhealthy goodness that goes hand in hand with state fairs and all there is to eat at them but lets start off eating a big breakfast before we get to walking around the fairgrounds. This morning we'll head over to longtime locals and visitors favorite Charlie Parkers Diner.

"Eat it and beat it" (Pic from: Roadside Trail Mix)

Charlie Parkers is an institution down this way and it's well known outside of town as well. It's been featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives and is a popular stop for those on the campaign trail (Romney stopped in recently) and those in office down in Springfield. I'm not a big breakfast guy but I liked what I tried.

Pancakes as big as your plate

The pancakes are what most people here really enjoy due to both the taste and I'm sure size and I thought they were good. The Corned beef hash wasn't the best I have had but it's always great when it doesn't come from a can. I hear their fried chicken special is also very worthy. I'll be stopping in again sometime when the chance allows me too. Expect the place at most times as it's already popular place when stuff like the state fair isn't going on.

Corned Beef Hash from Charlie Parkers Diner

The Illinois State Fair

I got back to the state fair last year after a 10+ year hiatus from when I went as a kid. As an adult I will say it sure is alot more fun when your a child and get to run around and go on all the rides and eat the food your normally told you cant have. However I was still glad to go and we had a good time while there. I encourage anyone who's never been to at least experience it once. The same goes for Springfield so why not do it all in one go? Here are some sights from there.

Riding the ride that overlooks the fair

You name it, someones most likely frying it...

Some of the great rides in Illinois

Vose's Corn Dogs

As far as food goes there's one place that's a must and that's Voses. This is where you can find the best corn dog in Springfield and for those not in the know, it's where the Corn Dog was born. Voses is located at the Grandstand and is a fixture at the fair. They use their own secret batter which is the best you can get. Then they freshly fry them and you proceed to burn the roof of your mouth because your unable to wait since it smells so good. If your only going to eat one thing make sure its a corn dog from here. Good luck to you on only eating one thing though.

Voses Corn Dogs and lemon Shake Ups are where its at

Corn Dog from Vose's

Men at work


The State Fairs annual Butter Cow

Pork on a stick from the IL pork producers is my other eat of choice...

...unless your brave enough to try the Meat Man Parfait

The Illinois State Fair

Bernie & Betty's

After all the walking around and resisting the urge to order bacon fried bacon dipped in chocolate it's nice to have a place you can go sit down at and enjoy a cold one and get something that's not fried and served on a stick. Many folks down in Springfield would recommend Bernie & Betty's for their Midwestern tavern style thin crust pizza pie.

a locals favorite in Springfield

The inside of the place

Bernie & Betty's has that classic old school Italian restaurant feel. You can still visit 100's of places like this throughout the Midwest and most of them have been around for a while. The same goes for Bernie and Betty's. All of us who were eating there last year agreed that it was a great pie and something to seek out if you enjoy Midwest tavern thin pizza pie like we do.

Sausage Pizza from Bernie & Betty's

For more famous/popular eating stops in Springfield click HERE

Jones Boy Market

We stopped into Jones Boy last year after a day at the 2011 IL state fair. I forget where but there was a booth set up at the festival that was giving out samples of foods made from around that way. They had cut up chunks of brats for sample from Jones Boy and we really liked what we ate. They gave us a card and we took the 30 minute ride Northwest of Springfield.

Ashland, IL

Another great stop which if your near there is worth the detour. This was as old school of a meat market as I can remember. Just look at the old meat lockers and wooden cutting boards seen below which by the looks have been around for a while. Jones Boy is run today by John Jones. He describes himself as " is a 4th generation business owner in Ashland, a 3rd generation market owner, 2nd generation meat cutter, and a 1st generation Brat/BBQ Rib Specialist" There's a nice article from the Illinois times circa 2008 HERE.

Image Image
Image Image
The Views inside with some pork cutlets and bacon made in house

It's the brats he makes that we ate which brought us here to his store. John makes many types of bratwurst including a cherry dipped brat, a prime rib steakhouse style and even an old world Swedish recipe with potatoes mixed in. But the star of the show and most popular brats here are his apple ones. I'm usually an original recipe guy when it comes to brats and tend to stay away from the ones stuffed with stuff or with different flavors meshed together but these were great. Its hard to declare one thing the best with so many options around. But these were some of the best non-original brats I have had. The bacon was also really good and those cutlets made for tasty breaded tenderloins. I recommend stopping in if your ever near here.

Jones Boy Apple Brats on the grill at home

So if your riding to the State Fair I have you covered on not just where to stop at with a cooler so you can bring home some fun stuff for the grill but also where to eat at en route there or back home. Most people associate either Iowa or Indiana with the breaded tenderloin but its not all horseshoe's, corn dogs and chili down in Central Illinois.

Hallie's on the Square

Longtime favorite on Route 66 in Lincoln, IL

Hallie's on the Square is the "Home of the Schnitzel" and its been family owned since 1945. It's history goes back to an old place called "The Mill" It was there in Lincoln where patron could get sandwiches anytime day or ight. The building was in an old farm house and had a dutch them to it. over the years they became well known for their famous breaded schnitzel and it was very popular up until the late 80's and then it was abandoned by 1996. However the owner of Hallie's on the Park is related to one of the people who ran the Mill and they serve the same famous sandwich at Hallie's here today.

Famous Schnitzel Sandwich

Whats the difference between a tenderloin and a schnitzel? Not too much as far as I'm concerned. Now I'm no Tyrgyzistan when it comes to tenderloins but damn this is one exemplary example of a slab of fried pork, which to me is a tenderloin. But then again I've only had a few while in Iowa and those beer battered ones from over there look like they could be my first ex wife. Hallie's schnitzel wasn't really edible as a sandwich but was a perfectly fried butterflied 'loin with the batter having a really nice spice kick. I liked each bite dipped with the slightest bit of their famous sauce which tasted like ketchup kicked up with fresh ground pepper.

The insides

Ariston Cafe

For those headed home the opposite way of Chicago I finally got the chance to stop in at the oldest restaurant along Route 66 recently. The Ariston Cafe located in Litchfield, Illinois has been up and running since 1924 when it was founded by a Greek immigrant in Carlinville. The Cafe moved to Litchfield in 1929 and then into its present location along old Route 66 in 1935. It's been all in the family since day one which means it still is today.

The Oldest Restaurant on Route 66 (Litchfield, IL)

Along with us on this Sunday afternoon there was an eclectic mix of local families there for some after church eating and bikers riding the old road. It seemed to me as if most everyone in there had been at least once. They were doing good business and most people there seemed to be enjoying their weekend brunch buffet which I guess is really popular with the people of Montgomery County. Add that to the fact it is said to be the oldest running restaurant and it's in the Route 66 Hall of Fame and you can see why while lots of other places are long gone Ariston Cafe remains.

Our view from a booth

Ariston doesn't open until 11a so they don't have a breakfast menu. Except they do their buffet on Sundays which was an option and looked/smelled very tempting. My buddy said he was going to go with the breaded tenderloin and how that's pretty much what he always goes with when he's down in Central Illinois and is eating at a bar or regular old restaurant. He told me that tenderloins too are very popular down there and usually very good. Our waitress confirmed his thought when she rec'd that as her favorite thing there. I went with an old diner classic, open faced roast beef sandwich served with real mashed potatoes and real gravy. We split the two in half to share.

Open Faced Roast Beef Sandwich

The roast beef was very good and downright comforting. About everything you could expect. But I left wishing I had just got a breaded tenderloin of my own instead. They had a nice example. It was definitely hand battered while being perfectly fried and a pleasure to eat the half I was allowed. It was big enough to still go outside the bun but not to the point where you couldn't eat it as a sandwich because of it. The people working this place were all very nice and welcoming and the tenderloin is terrific. I would recommend a stop to anyone passing thru hungry for some non-chain food. I look forward to finding out where the other great places with top notch breaded tenderloins are at down in Central Illinois. Happy Cruising and Enjoy Illinois Y'all.

Breaded Tenderloin from Ariston Cafe

Charlie Parker's Diner
700 West North Street
Springfield, IL 62704
(217) 241-2104

Bernie & Betty's Pizza & Fine Food
1101 South Spring Street
Springfield, IL 62704
(217) 528-1821

Jones Boy Market
201 West Editor Street
Ashland, IL 62612
(217) 476-3914

Hallie's on the Square
111 South Kickapoo Street
Lincoln, IL 62656
(217) 732-6923

Ariston Cafe
413 N Old Route 66 (at Route 16)
Litchfield, IL 62056
(217) 324-2023


Related Posts with Thumbnails