Showing posts with label regional food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regional food. Show all posts

Monday, July 21, 2014

Osteria Langhe

-Grubbing in Chicago  
New to the 'Scene'

We're more than halfway thru 2014 and during the 1st half we've seen some great restaurants open up shop in Chicago. A few of them have very good chances of making it into the 'Top 11 of 2014' round-up with today's entry taking the early lead for eats within the city. We've seen an influx of Italian restaurants open up shop within the last year and there's more than likely more to come. It can be hard deciding which one to try when there's so many hitting the scene, but you can put them all behind Osteria Langhe in line. The newly opened Italian restaurant specializing in food from the Piedmont region dazzled us (my family) the other night.

Newly Opened Piedmontese Italian Restaurant in Logan Square

Though I needed no excuse to try a place which is taking a fresh approach by featuring a specific region of Italy's food, an area considered the best by many, it shot up on my list when a recent review by Mike Sula over at the Reader was published. I'd also heard good things over on twitter about the Scottish chef who's trained in Italian. This isn't his first Chicago rodeo. You can check out the article HERE to learn more. With the wonderful review came the people so they we're quite busy on this visit. Since we stopped in to see if they could take our party of 8 a few days before they had the large table in back ready. Small plates remain all the rage these days and that's what you're going to get here. I was fortunate to get to try a good chunk of the menu with all of the eating power at the table. We started off with the pane (bread) of the day which came with a vibrant topping of beets and greens. I found these way better than I anticipated. The Grilled Octopus was good though we found the 'Scallops with crispy sweetbreads, cauliflower puree, golden raisins, capers, hazelnuts' to be a better way to go. The other winner was the 'Anatra' described on the menu as "duck & pork puff rolls, foie gras, wild mushroom & marsala cream" I'd recommend either or but wouldn't skip either of them.

Excellent First Course Plates before Seconds

I went into this dinner knowing I would be trying at least one thing for sure. There's a small pasta portion to the menu and in his Reader review Mike gives deep praise to the Plin. He's the professional so I'm going to go ahead and quote him on it because I completely agree. "Delicate, almost transparent, egg-rich plin, a tinier cousin of agnolotti, are filled with deposits of molten La Tur cheese (made from goat, cow, and sheep's milk) that burst in the mouth with creamy, funky explosions. It's easily my favorite pasta dish in the city right now" My entire family had similar praise and both myself and my dad agreed that we'd be back for that dish alone.

Regional Pasta Dish

Not pictured is a salad special of the day that had the crispiest bits of pork belly paired with goat cheese that was another item everyone agreed to be a winner. A few people at the table had the steak which was liked but not as much as a couple of the other plates. As they said, it wasn't that it was bad, it was just that the main plates others ordered were better. One of those was the risotto of the day which on this night featured asparagus, wild mushrooms cooked in a pork jus and topped with a seared piece of halibut. For me it would of been my favorite but that honor goes to the 'Coniglio' aka rabbit. I'll order rabbit often down in New Orleans but don't see as many tempting plates featuring it here in Chicago. That said I've never had a dish made with rabbit this good, in New Orleans or anywhere. The loin comes wrapped in a very thin bacon and comes with a bell pepper puree and perfectly cooked pieces of pork belly and equally executed roasted potatoes. Easily the best thing I've eaten lately and I say this because I've been thinking about going back for it every day since. Now that I'm back in town that's going to happen sooner than later. We got a dandy here folks.

Tagliatta - grilled NY strip, thyme-roasted king oyster mushrooms, parsnip puree

Risotto of the Day

Coniglio - braised rabbit & bell peppers, pork belly, roasted potatoes

Osteria Langhe
2824 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 661-1582

Osteria Langhe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Milwaukee Daytrip

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Checking out MKE's up and coming Food/Drink Scene

Summerfest might be over but summer is not. I've long preached that one of the best daytrips from Chicago is Milwaukee and it only gets better with each visit I make. I cant say enough good things about the city. I love how I always find something new and intriguing on each visit. I love the architecture, much of the city was built by Germans who did great bricklaying. And of course, I love the food and drink. Both of those scenes continue to grow in Milwaukee thus it's only getting better. I stopped into three trendier spots on a recent trip up there.

Back to Milwaukee

Blue Jacket

I'd read great things about this semi-new cocktail bar not far from the lake. As the name suggests they have a Great Lakes sailor theme going on so many of the drinks are gin based. The selection of them is impressive and so were the cocktails they made them with. Also worth mentioning is their food. We had just ate so we weren't starving but found a plate of the fried Brussels sprouts looking to good to pass up. Best vegetable dish I've ate this summer. Perfectly made. Overall this might of been my favorite cocktail bar I've been in since the craze began. I loved the design inside and along with it the large open window in front. I like the light.

Fantastic Eats and Drink

Cempazuchi Comida Brava

If it seems like every city in this country now has a modernized taqueria that's because they do. I've been visiting many of them on my travels and decided it was time to try this East Brady street favorite. Like most of these places the inside is really pleasant on the eyes. We plopped down at the bar and enjoyed their house margarita and and order of the acos de Tio Isreael is a plate of three tacos made with fried lake perch rolled in blue corn meal served with a chipotle mayo and lime cabbage slaw with a side of beans and rice. Read all about them over at the Taco Tour headquarters.

Lake Perch Tacos

Odd Duck

Small Plates and Cocktails inspired by local ingredients in Bayview

Our final stop of this quick daytrip would be for dinner at Odd Duck. This is a popular farm to table type place that has a menu that's meant to be shared. Said menu looked pretty good so we took a table out back in the spacious patio area. I thought it was a really chill spot with some tasty plates of food to go with the vibe. None of the plates were more than $10 and I left very happy with my meal. Surprisingly the best bite might of been the plate we ordered off the non-meat part of the menu. The eggplant fries were a real winner but the housemade bratwurst dish was no slouch either. They need to keep it on the menu thru Fall as it would be great paired with an Oktoberfest on a crisp cool evening. I'll be back.

Hawaiian Spearfish Sashimi, Watermelon Relish, Fingerling Potato, Sesame Soy Vinaigrette, Radish Sprouts 

Honey Drizzled Eggplant Fries, Turmeric, Sesame Seeds, Fresh Mint

Grilled House Bratwurst, Butter Poached Red Potatoes, Red Cabbage, Dill, Mustard Emulsion 

Blue Jacket
135 E National Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53204
(414) 312-7098

 Cempazuchi Comida Brava
1205 E Brady St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 291-5233

Odd Duck Restaurant
2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207
(414) 763-5881

Monday, July 14, 2014

Daytrip to Cincinnati

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Local Eats in the Queen City

I spent the Fourth of July weekend down in Louisville and we decided to head over to that Saturday. I've never so much as to even passed thru the Queen City so it was something I really wanted to do. Only about an hour and 20 minute drive from Louisville it made for a great daytrip as we spent the afternoon wandering around the up and coming OTR (Over the Rhine) neighborhood. If you've ever wondered what the gentrification process of a neighborhood is all about then get over ASAP as you can watch it happening live before your eyes. Look no further than this picture below of a family taking a carriage ride past a burnt out loan shop.

Walking the OTR neighborhood

Our first stop of the day was for some goetta. What's that you ask? It's a popular breakfast item eaten in these parts. It's made with pork sausage that's binded together with pin-head oats and spiced with seasoning. This popular German-American breakfast snack is found all over Cincinnati. I had my eyes set on Tucker's Restaurant in OTR. I'd originally read about this Cincy classic over at Roadfood where they give deep praise to both the goetta and also their hash browns which many say are the best in the business. I'd be the decider of that.

Roadfood Approved

Tucker's is a no-frills type of place with a counter to one side and booths to the other. On this particular visit the clientele was very wide-spread. From brothers to bros and everything in between. I like spots like these. I decided to go with the breakfast plate and upgraded my hash browns to the deluxe variety. Phenomenal! Best breakfast I've had in some time, granted I'm not a big morning eater this was something I'd be in for often if I lived in the vicinity. The potatoes get topped with fresh mushrooms, basil and tomatoes from the market nearby and the goetta was similar to corned beef hash which is my favorite breakfast bite. As the Stern's at Roadfood said, it's worth the drive.

Goetta Breakfast Plate

Also on Vine street not to far from Tucker's is Holtman's Donut Shop. From the outside I assumed this place was a newly opened shop in wake of the craze for them but I was happy to see that they've been around since 1960 and have three locations here. I stopped in for a couple and came out with a wonderful chocolate frosted bite as well as a game-changing maple bacon peanut butter concoction. Good stuff and I feel important to point out there was no $3/each asking price.

Holtman's Donuts - Since 1960

Feeling full from a double dip breakfast we walked on over to the famous Findlay Market. This is "Ohio's oldest continuously operated public market  and one of Cincinnati's most cherished institutions. The Market is located just blocks from downtown in Over-the-Rhine, a dense historic neighborhood rich in 19th century architecture." I thought it was very similar to the Eastern Market in Detroit. Not quite up to par with the Reading Terminal out in Philadelphia but still something most any city would be happy to have. I tried my first mettwurst which is a type of smoked sausage with cheese that's another popular regional eat in these parts.

Walking the Findlay Market

Thirsty for something boozy we headed over to a popular place called Bakersfield OTR. It doubles as a taqueria and tequila sipping spot and like many of these modern taquerias throughout the country, they get packed. Many of the trendier spots in OTR close around 2 or 3p and then reopen at 5 or 6 but Bakersfield is open all day. The drinks were good but the tacos were even better. As good a trio as I've had at these modern taco bars that are taking our nation by storm. Both the fish and cochinita pibil were above average while the short rib was outstanding. I left impressed.

Taco Plate from Bakersfield OTR

A popular spot down by the river

The last food stop before heading back to Louisville was a place an old friend suggested we meet at. Eli's BBQ started off catering but became so popular that they moved into a brick and mortar. The line was reaching out the door on my visit but it moved fast. They have a huge outdoor dining area with large tents hovering over tables in the lot next door. You can eat inside if there's a table available.

Menu at the Register

I'd heard the pulled pork sandwich was where it's at so of course I chose to roll with that. Great deal as $8 nets you a sandwich overstuffed with meat and two large sides of your choice. The pork was sensational. I usually stray away from this at spots as I can make a pretty good version myself but this was wonderful bite and the sides were just as good, really enjoyed the cheesy jalapeno grits and thought they should of added a cheesy in front of the mac and cheese on the menu too. No doubt the kids love that version. I'd happily go back here as the line moved really quick and the food lived up to the hype. Looking forward to a return trip to Cincy soon, I really liked what I got out of it on this short daytrip. Unfortunately I decided I didn't want to add on the 40 minutes of driving time it would of took to go to Jungle Jim's and immediately regretted that on the ride back.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Tucker's Restaurant
1637 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 721-7123

Holtman's Donuts
1332 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 381-0903

Findlay Market
1801 Race St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 665-4839

Bakersfield OTR
1213 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 579-0446

Eli's BBQ
3313 Riverside Dr
Cincinnati, OH 45226
(513) 307-8318

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

5 More All-American Midwest Food Stops

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Some Midwest Americana

My favorite holiday of the year is approaching and with it we hit up five more classic roadfood type spots. Regular readers know I get around and today I share with you five places I've been to in the last year that are worthy of mention in this ongoing saga of food. So without further ado.

Fry Bread N Things Food Truck (Wisconsin)

First stop up is a food truck in Wisconsin. Fry Bread N Things specializes in...fry bread. They're open for lunch and dinner, both times in different spots. Here they serve an old Native American reservation favorite, fry bread. I've read that the now popular pow-pow food was created when the natives used the government issued flour and lard to create it. Nowadays these are found most everywhere in the land of the Navajo. I guess it could be considered a "contemporary dish".

Milwaukee, WI

Fry bread is offered in many ways with many topping options. I chose to go the traditional fry bread taco route rather than honey and powder or whatever crazy creation I could create. The small was $5 and more than enough, thus fitting right in round these parts. The traditional white trash nacho options of ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream and pickled jalapeno isn't something I'm 100% opposed, that's how they're served traditionally. The bread was pretty darn addictive, I'd try it in desert form next time. That cant not be good.

Navajo Taco

New Sandusky Fish Company (Ohio)

Over in Ohio there's a big love for Great Lakes fish amongst the communities on Lake Erie. One of the more well known spots is the roadfood approved New Sandusky Fish Company.

Sandusky, OH

With Lake Erie as it's backdrop this place has been operating since the 90's. Not far from the world renowned Cedar Point amusement park, this place is a popular summertime spot for locals and tourists passing thru. The fish is fresh and comes directly from a boat in back.

a peak inside

As expected a place like this does an excellent frying job. You have a variety of options but you're here for fresh caught Great Lakes fish. So go ahead and try either the lake perch or walleye or do like me and go with both.

Fried Walleye

I didnt like the walleye as much as I enjoyed the sandwich. Just like those found at the not far Jolly Roger Seafood House in Port Clinton, these were extra simple but so good. Fresh baked bun, freshly caught and fried lake perch with homemade tartar sauce is all that's needed. Excellent eats.

Fried Lake Perch Sandwich

Hot 'n Now (Michigan)

There was a time when this hamburger shop was once a thriving chain. I remember going to one in Michigan City, IN during my youth and according to the internet they grew to over 150 locations after their start-up in 1984. Is there anything more American than a hamburger chain?

Bay City, MI

To my knowledge this is one of two remaining Hot 'n Now hamburger stops. It's never a good thing to see a business go under but part of the allure of this place was their buildings, not necessarily the food. Perhaps the most noteful piece of information about this place is it's place in history with both Pepsi and the mega Southern California chain In and Out. When Pepsi bought Hot 'Now and put locations in California, In and Out took it as an insult and switched over to Coke products.


Heston Supper Club (Indiana)

Supper Clubs are a big part of Midwest cuisine as they extend throughout the region. Sure wisconsin is most well known for them but they're found all over. Take the Heston Supper Club in LaPorte Indiana as example.

Down a long dark road off US-12 in La Porte, IN

I stopped in a while back and enjoyed the ride down some random road with no other businesses around in getting there. This is also the case for many supper clubs found in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Upon pulling up it had the feel of an authentic supper club and sure enough on that Saturday night around 7p it was packed with only a few parking spots in the large lot next door.

Sitting down at the bar

You get the same authentic feel when you walk inside the building that was once the center of town in Heston, Indiana. At first a creamery it then turned into a general store followed by a tavern and now its a supper club. The original Heston Bar was purchased by the current owners in 1982. They added 'supper club' to the name in 2000 when they decided to add that element to their property. They got the vibe and good practices of great supper clubs down pat. Just like a few other supper clubs I've been to there is no eating at the bar which is used for those waiting to be seated but still in need of a drink.

Some of their popular cheddar spread w/ crackers and enough butter to make Paula Deen wonder...

Right after your menus are brought out upon sitting down the sharp cheddar spread comes shortly after. Good stuff similar to Merkt's although they make theirs themselves. This spread is common in these parts of Indiana. The menu is what you would expect and includes a perch dinner which I got to try a little bit but it was just ok compared to other places I've been. The prime rib however was top notch and as good of a piece as I've had in a while. I'll be adding the Heston and their perfect piece of red meat into the rotation of summer spots to eat at while kicking it in Long Beach. With my meal came a choice of soup and their beef vegetable with hunks of prime rib was very hearty. The only thing I wasn't able to confirm is if they make an Old Fashioned the right way. Next time.

The "small" cut of Prime Rib w/ mashed potatoes and horseradish sauce was what I want from a supper club


Blue Springs Cafe (Illinois)

Highland, IL

Last summer while on a trip down to St. Louis we made some food related pit-stops in random towns. One of them was this popular cafe in Central Illinois that my friend had heard good things about. While the menu looked very comforting as far as old school classic go, we were there for their famous mile high pie. The actual establishment is over 100 years old but the pies didn't come into play until 1979 when current owners Brad Michael and Loren Siever decided to venture into the woods to purchase Diamond Mineral Springs from Bob Landolt. After several years of struggle, they asked for the help of Brad's wife and her sister. The sisters remodeled the decor along with the menu, adding the now-famous Foot-Hi Pies in flavors of banana, chocolate, and coconut crème, as well the lemon meringue. They were pretty damn fantastic.

Coconut Creme and Lemon Meringue

FryBread N Things Food Truck

New Sandusky Fish Company
235 E Shoreline Dr
Sandusky, OH 44870
(419) 621-8263

Hot 'n Now Hamburgers
3900 Wilder Rd
Bay City, MI 48706
(989) 686-1690

Heston Supper Club
2003 East 1000 North
La Porte, IN 46350
(219) 778-2938

Blue Springs Cafe
3505 George St
Highland, IL 62249
(618) 654-5788


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