Friday, October 30, 2009

More of KingT's Wing's & DRose

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

You might remember last year's post that included some wing recipes along with a '08-'09 Bull's season preview. Well the preview was more like a look forward to what Derrick Rose could be. So you can catch my upcoming season preview at the end of the article. Now on to the wings! I'm always looking for great wing recipes and I have a few more to share with you here today. Before I get to those though let me show you how I usually prepare my wings pre-sauce. I always use a standard rub for wings to add an extra coat of flavor before they tossed in buffalo sauce or whatever happens to be the flavor of the day.

The video I took below with my camera is how they should look before they come off of the grill. You cant time them you just kind of know when they're ready. It takes some practice like anything else. As long as that grill is snappling, crackling and popping like it is in the video you should be good to go after 20 minutes or a little after. I still haven't found anything near as good to the chicken drumettes offered at Whole Foods. They make GREAT wings.

Listen to that sizzle baby (wings with my rub ready to go)

Chicken Kings Rub

1 TBLS kosher salt
1 TBLS granulated garlic
1 TSP onion powder
1 TSP fresh black pepper
1 TSP cayenne

Kings Chicken Club Wings

So the first wing recipe I'm going to throw at you is a chibbqking original. I came up with this idea when I was thinking of a way to make wings that I hadn't tried before. An in the works BLT dippin sauce from Wiener & Still Champion gave me this idea. Chicken Club wings which is my wings rubbed with my standard recipe above and then grilled. I took some mayo and blended it with a few baby tomato's and tossed the sauce with fried bacon bits and chopped lettuce.

Bacon bits make everything better


Chicken Wings rubbed with standard rub recipe (see above)
mayo with some old bay seasoning mixed in (2 TSP is good)
baby tomatoes or half of a Roma chopped
4-8 pieces of fried bacon, chopped to bits
chopped lettuce

~Grill the wings until done

~10 minutes before taking the wings off blend the mayo and tomatoes and throw some bacon and lettuce on top and mix it up a little.

~Serve the wings with sauce on the side to use for dipping.

Chicken Wings with a BLT dipping sauce blend

These turned out surprisingly good and I'll be making them again...and again

Josh Bousel's Grilled Buffalo Wings

Next up is one of the best wing recipes I have found on the net. I got this from Serious Eat's and made it a few times this summer and have plans for them this weekend. Yes Buffalo wings are usually fried and in a sense they need to be. That's what I thought anyways. I love wings fried but I also love them grilled but I would say I prefer them grilled. One of the reasons for that is this recipe right here. When you char up some perfect looking wings and toss them with this super delicious sauce you get some of the best wings you can make.

Grilled Buffalo Wings
-Sauce recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated
-Recipe from Serious Eats


3 pounds chicken wings (18 wings), cut up
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup hot sauce, preferably Frank's Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

1. Mix together the cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture all over the chicken wings. Place the wing in the refrigerator until ready to use. (This can be done the night before.)

2. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the rest of the sauce ingredients until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When charcoal is fully lit and covered in gray ash, pour coals out and arrange them on one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty. Place the wings over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Move the wings to the hot side of the grill and continue to cook until the skins have crisped, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the wings to a bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings and toss to coat evenly. Remove wings to a plate and serve hot.

Grilled Buffalo Wings are a must for any tailgate

Baxter Road Grilled Chicken Wings

If your a BBQ junkie and you don't own the Barbecue Bible go get a copy. I've had one since it came out and I still love going to it for a recipe a few times a year. The author, Steven Raichlen, has traveled the globe eating BBQ and the recipes and info from this book, which he put together from those travels, is excellent. I'm eventually going to try all the recipe and I finally got to one that I had wanted to try since I first got the book. I'm always interested in regional eats and that includes all the countries. I especially love the Caribbean and I want to get to Barbados one day, especially after reading Mr. Raichlen's description. For now I had to settle for this recipe which is a take on the chicken served along Baxter Road to the party people of the island. It's served into the wee hours of the morning and is a Barbados staple. Click HERE for the excerpt from the Barbecue Bible. I might make it over there this winter. I used wings instead of whole chickens.

Recipe from The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen

Note: You can receive the full recipe with numbers from the excerpt page.

chicken wings
clove garlic, peeled
shallots, peeled
bunch chives or scallions, trimmed
green bell pepper, medium, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
rib celery, medium, coarsely chopped
scotch bonnet chile or 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced (for a milder marinade, seed the chiles)
tbs parsley, fresh Italian, (flat-leaf)
tsp thyme, chopped fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried
tbs lime juice, fresh, or to taste
tbs soy sauce
tbs olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Rinse the chicken pieces under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Place in a large nonreactive bowl or baking dish and set aside while you prepare the marinade.

2. Combine the garlic, shallots, chives, bell pepper, celery, chile, parsley, and thyme in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice, the soy sauce, and oil and process until blended and smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and lime juice as needed; the mixture should be highly seasoned. Pour the mixture over the chicken in the bowl and turn the pieces to coat. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 4 to 12 hours (the longer the better).

Sauce after blending

3. Preheat the grill, using the two-tiered method.

4. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate. Remove the chicken pieces from the bowl, reserving any marinade that has drained off. Arrange the pieces, skin side down, on the grate over the hotter section of the grill and cook. Brush the pieces once or twice with the reserved marinade, but not during the last 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the chicken pieces to serving plates or a platter and serve.

Baxter Road Wings

Last but by no means least are the best wings I had on the BarB this year. You can have them at home too. The only problem is your going to have to vacation in Negril and grab some jerk sauce from Bourbon Beach. I still have half a bottle left and these wings I marinated in them overnight were simply divine.

Grilled Bourbon Beach Wings

-Dish me out a combo: Food & Sports

The second year is the most telling year of a future NBA star. Almost all the stars stepped their game up a next level after being in the league for a full year. I think we saw the potential I expected and I still stand by him being one of the games next big things. An Eastern Conference All Star Starter (because he deserves to be not b/c the fans like him) and eventually an all out winner and possible leader of a Championship team. I think this years team is good enough for 5th or 6th seed in the East and may as good as fourth. They could win a series or two. I know we lost Gordon but Salmons is a player who's average has gone up every year in the league and I like him to keep that up this year. Whether or not Vinny's can grow as a coach is TBD. I do like the fact we are preaching D and the team is responding. I expect the Bulls to be much better on D which was our weakest problem last year.

Derrick Rose's Rookie Year Top 10 from

With the second year emergence of Rose tagged along with a rising legitimate player in Noah teamed up with Salmons and Miller (acq. at last years trade deadline) I think the loss of Gordon will help on D and hurt a little on offense. However I think it helps more on D than it hurts the O. I'm not sure about the Rook's, while I don't not like them I don't love them, but hey that's cause there rookies and a DRose only comes around once a decade. I expect Rose to step it up and take it to the hole very often and Salmons to find a home and others to contribute like Noah. I could easily see him averaging a double double this year and I am most impressed with his play this preseason. No one has made bigger strides than he has from the Celtics series up to now. I still think we need a experienced or an up and rising young coach who has served his time. Oh and a Boozer, Bosh or whoever comes on the block or hits FA next summer will really help too.

Remember the 90's? we have another franchise guy

I do expect a playoff series win this year and Rose to become one of the games best. I'm predicting 41 wins. We always have a brutal schedule to start the year due to the circus trip but this year is as hard as ever. Get out and get to a game. You'll be able to tell your kids you watched a legend grow. Chicago Bull's Basketball.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Little" Three Happiness

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

It wasn't hard to find what is most definitely one of my favorite Chinese joint's in the city. If you do a search for Chinese food in Chinatown you may find a few results that come from Well that's because LTH-as its known-is one of the great food boards on the world wide web. Its based right here in Chicago but it also has amazing info on "Eating out Beyond Chicagoland" and also recipes and all the general food talk you could ever care for. The regular posters over there take their food seriously and you can find everything from info on Coney Dog's to amazing pictures and better reviews of the high end joints like Alinea and everything in between. Including a great Chinese restaurant that also happens to be the sites namesake. You see there are two "Three Happiness" restaurants and they also happen to be not too far from each other. So the distinction between the two is too call the smaller one located at 209 w. Cermak "Little" Three Happiness. Its a place that specializes in Cantonese cuisine.

Big flavor happening inside this little Chinatown gem

LTH is a site where I find alot of info and always get an answer. You better believe that a food joint that is the namesake of a site with this much knowledge is going to be pretty damn good. Well its really good and one of my favorite eating spots in the city. There isn't going to be anything fancy about the dining room. It has maybe 10 round tables and there's usually Chinese programming on the TV next to the cash register. A few old ladies sit at one of the tables peeling vegetables or prepping things for the kitchen while watching the tele. It does a pretty good takeout business and is a great option for it but I try to go there with a few people so we can get a few things. Just like any other Chinese restaurant its about knowing what menu items to get. One thing I always recognize is the difference in the customer base. Everyone from White folks to Black families to groups of Asian friends eat here. It is loved by all. I cant imagine anyone going there and ordering the RIGHT dishes and leaving not liking what they had.

Little Three's GNR award (for being a great spot to eat at) from LTH

Since their is so much useful discussion on this excellent neighborhood joint, I'm going to show you some of my favorites and lead you to the posts that will give you all sorts of other rec's. If your going into Chinatown with a group of people and want to keep the price reasonable and the food great-then try LTH. Some of the dishes that are on my must try list are-Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Skin Chicken, the Roast Duck/BBQ Pork Fried Noodles and the Stir Fried Blue Crab-served dry. I always like to order some pot stickers and am a big fan of their fried rice. I consider both from LTH to be better than good.

Pot Stickers

^The Pot Stickers aren't the best I've had but I really like them. A huge part of this is because I mix up the soy sauce, vinegar and Gary's chili oil. It creates a delightful sauce that pairs well with the crispy skinned pot stickers. Whats Gary's chili oil? click HERE to learn about that.

BBQ Pork Fried Rice

^If your a consumer of fried rice like myself then I imagine you've had some bad fried rice at one point or another. I don't know why it is but lot's of places screw up this simple dish. Not over at LTH where I have found their fried rice to be a very fine example of it. When you order the rice while dining in the plate is loaded high into the sky. Portions are very generous on top of the food being prepared very well.

Crispy Skin Chicken

^Another one of my favorites and almost always a must have is the CSC. I don't know much on the preparation of this Cantonese dish but I can tell you its good. I think they flatten a half or whole chicken and then cook it on high heat in a wok or something to that extent. Spices are also a factor and the end result is the most amazing crispy skin chicken with juicy meat inside. When you add the juice from the lemon and salt they provide it really goes from choice to crack. Its addicting and well leave it at that.

Salt & Pepper Shrimp

^The one thing I always know when I'm headed there is that I will be getting Salt & Pepper shrimp. The only thing that switches is whether I get it with the shell or without. With the shells they become messy but that's evened out by the extra flavor they pack. Yes I do eat the head. But if you don't like the shell then its also amazing without them. In case you don't know what S&P shrimp is-its fried shrimp (w or w/o head) stir fried to a beautiful color and seasoned with salt and pepper. It also has sauteed onions and jalapenos and is served with white rice. It just might be my favorite shrimp dish in the city. I cant think of one I like more. Little Three Happiness are experts at this popular Cantonese dish.

If you wanna know more about this Chinatown crowd pleaser with a cult like following then I suggest checking out the GNR page over at LTHforum. Just click HERE to do so. It will tell you everything you need to know and give you an idea if its your type of spot for Chinese. I didn't even get into the clam's with blackbean sauce Evil Ronnie style or the dry stir fried blue crab along with so much more.

'Little' Three Happiness
209 W Cermak
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 842-1964

Three Happiness on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beef from Rosangela's Pizza

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
as seen on 'What's Your Beef?'

Rosangela's is a pizza place in Evergreen park that also happens to serve a pretty good Italian beef sandwich. While its more like a seasoned hot roast beef sandwich in texture, flavor and preparation its still pretty damn good. You might not expect it to be much so it doesn't come with high hopes and it really exceeded my expectations on the particular day I visited. Just like I had very clear memories of eating at Rosangela's way back in the day I also had a memory that I really enjoyed the Italian beef as a kid. I remembered that I liked it because it was so different and the fact that the bread was toasted creating a crunchy exterior with a juicy interior.

Hidden beneath the pizza is a good beef

Rosangela's is known for great pie but the beef is damn good too

Just like I had remembered the pizza hadn't changed a bit the same goes for the Italian beef. Rosangela's offers up a homemade beef cooked in a subtle tasting red gravy which is served on the aforementioned toasted bread with some nice hot peppers which may or may not have been made in house. I have rule that I rarely if ever order an Italian beef from a non-beef joint. Despite the fact beef sandwiches are available on almost every Chicago fast food and pizza place in Chicagoland most of them are anything but authentic and more important- tasty. Rosangela's is an exception to that rule. I look at it as a "grandmas" beef, something that an Italian grandma would make for a Sunday night family dinner. I'm willing to bet that the Italian beef in general beef has evolved in some ways in Chicago and this might be the most classic example of an old school sit down beef that could be had at many of the pizza taverns around town in the 1950s. I have yet to find a better beef that comes with waitress service or a better appetizer at any of the great pizza places around town. Its worth getting a sandwich or two as an appetizer for your group before the pizzas.

half of a beef with hot from Rosangela's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 3
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3

Score: 14/20

Rosangela's Pizzeria
2807 1/2 W 95th St
Evergreen Park, IL 60805
(708) 422-2041

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mr. D's Shish Kabob's

-The Sammy's of Chi

I want to take this post to introduce to all those not in the know-Mr. D and his fine sandwiches and french fries. Located on Diversey and Normandy in the Montclaire neighborhood, it is the granddaddy champ of all street and sans type eating spots. The hugely popular and very small joint is run by Mr. D and his wife. Not only is the food where its at but the lovely Macedonian couple couldn't be any nicer. Its a place that many people drive by and might not even see and if you do, you might not be tempted to stop. It sits on the corner in a residential 'hood and is well known to its neighbors. Looks can be deceiving to those not in the know. In a spot with maybe four tables total it can get packed during lunch hours but seats always pop up and its never too bad of a wait and its just as good to go. Its a small storefront so they have a grill, a fresh cut fry slicer and char grilled shish kebab sandwiches, steak sandwiches, charred burgers and Italian beef and sausage and hot dogs. Not to mention what is most likely the best batch of fries in the city. No room for a pop machine so they also happen to have cans of that's my style.

One of Chicago's great neighborhood joints

Lets start off with the perfectly fried fresh cut fries that come with each order. These fries are your typical "Chicago style" and the potatoes are sliced fresh in a slicer throughout the day. Since they are only open til maybe three its a lunch only spot and one of the best priced meals in the city. Each order comes piled high with the wonderful fries and nothing will set you back more than $7 or $8 bucks. In a feature on fries around Chicago in the Tribune last May, Mr D's was one of the stars of the article. The newspaper got this one dead on because they are the most consistent and tastiest fries in the windy city. They proudly display the article in a plaque on the wall and that's about as much decoration as your going to get here. So hipsters who care more about the looks and illumination of where they eat wouldn't be too happy. Until they tried a shish kebab sandwich packed with with those fries.

Fry town article in the Trib featuring Mr. D's

I have heard good things about the burgers and beefs but just cant ever pass on a kebab sandwich. The times when I don't order a shish kebab sandwich I will get a steak sandwich. The kebobs are marinated in a special sauce and grilled to order and the namesake of the spot is obviously the most popular menu item. You can expect tender pieces of meat loaded with flavor along with some lemon juice served on a French roll with tomato's and a wedge of lemon. The juice from the beef soaks into the bread making the first and last bites the best part of the sandwich. The bread holds up great and the outside stays crusty while the inside soaks up the gravy. There are times when I'm just fiending for a shish kebob sandwich when its after closing time and so it stays with me until I finally get one in me. I would easily put it in any Chicago's best of sandwiches list. Not to mention they also do a great steak sandwich served the same way with sliced onions in place of the lemon wedge. That sandwich is no joke either. If your going to be a little Ma & Pa type spot that's been open over 20 years than you must be doing something right. At Mr. D's they're doing everything right.

Mr. D's Steak Sandwich with fries

Mr. D's Shish Kebob Sandwich and fresh cut fries are the real deal

Mr. D's Shish Kabob's
6656 W Diversey Ave
Chicago, IL 60707

Mr. D's Shish Kabobs on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jerked Pork at Home (Part 2)

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

I got around to the next test in the quest to perfect Jerked Pork. Just last month I took myself over to Peoria Packing Company and grabbed a few pork butts for pulled pork and a few cuts of rib tips for jerked pork. Another thing that I need to start planning for is my trip to Boston Bay next year during my March trip to Jamaica. I thought the 1st jerked pork project went over pretty damn well but it still wasn't anything near what I'm looking for which is perfection. I imagine that when I finally make it to Boston Bay to experience the bona fide stuff that I'll just give up on ever trying to perfect this centuries old Jamaican recipe that goes back to the Maroons. The runaway slaves used to hunt wild boar and the jerking of the pig would preserve the meat. While alot of people in Jamaica don't eat pork in their diet there are still many who do.

Jerked Pork from Scotchie's in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Click here for more Jerked Pork pictures from around Negril

In case this your first time stumbling upon my site-this isn't the first time I have made jerked pork at home. As you can see from the report on my trip to Negril in March of '09, I have a deep love for jerked pork and it is one of my favorite BBQ items on the globe. As far as international BBQ goes, Jamaica can hang with anyone. I started making jerked pork after my first visit to Jamaica in 2004 and have been getting closer and closer to the real thing. Click HERE for the first chapter of the Jerked pork experiment and read on for the second coming.

My 1st recipe for Jerked pork @ home (Part 1) Click link for info

Its pretty hard to make authentic jerked pork and I for one haven't found anywhere that makes it up to par in Chicago so it was time for the next test. Like I said above I am very pleased with my tests and I sure haven't found any jerked pork in the states that taste anything close to mine let alone the real stuff on the island. So out came the old Weber and on with the project we went.

What a start and if you still want Orton (despite their start) over Cutler your a damn fool

Ingredients for jerked pork-part 2-(serve with rice and peas)

rib tips (end cut of whole spare ribs)
Jerk Dry Rub
1 bottle of jerk marinade-not paste
charcoal (if using a Weber)
hickory wood chunks/chips
1 spice bottle of whole allspice berries

The main difference in this recipe and the last is the cut of pork. I decided that rib tips would be a better example of my preferred style of jerked pork which includes a good amount of bones and cartilage. Also different than from the last time was that I used a dry jerk rub I got from Central Market in Dallas. The rub was on the sweet side but that would be neutralized by me brushing the tips with some Bourbon Beach marinade about 20 minutes before they came off.

Step 1 (1 day ahead of cooking): Rub the tips with the dry rub and put in the fridge overnight if possible but not necessary.

Step 2: Prepare charcoal for the grill or if using a gas grill light both the left and right ends but not the middle and make sure you have a smoke box for the wood. When charcoal is ready spread it on the left and right sides for indirect cooking leaving the middle empty. Put a drip pan with water or red stripe in the middle and layer the charcoal with some wood. Put grill grate back on and place tips in the middle and let cook for 2-4 hours or until the meat starts to pull away from bone. You really cant time BBQ, it will tell you when its ready. Every half hour or so put a spoonful of allspice berries on each side of the fire to give it a scent to penetrate the meat.

Jerked tips smokin' in the Weber (BBQ pork butt in center)

Tips ready for the machete

Step 3: When tips are cooked bring inside and get your largest most heavy knife or a machete if you got one and start chopping. Bones and all chop the tips into little square pieces like those seen below. Serve with rice and peas or anything to your liking. Just make sure you got something to drink.

Just cut and ready for chowing

Tips with the fire sauce from bourbon beach layered on top...don't choke

Close up of smokin' pink perfection

Stay tuned for the 3rd time as we make a boneless style similar to Ragabones in Negril.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Gluttony does Katz's Deli in NYC

-Snoopin' around
a peak into my favorite food sites

Outside Katz's world famous deli in NYC (Pic from: The Gluttony)

I got some good friends on both sides of the coast but I haven't been able to get out to Southern Cali or NYC in the last few years and I need to switch that up real fast. My man Kellan aka K-RO aka K-REEZY, runs one hell of a site called "The Gluttony" and he comes from Southern Cali and lives it up in Hollywood and its no Perez Hilton so don't expect any sightings of Jon & Kate reuniting over sushi or Lindsey Lohan getting down at the club to be reported. Well maybe the Lindsey doing deadly sins story but none of that Hollywood gossip shat that the media considers news now. The site also happens to be a great source for good food stops in Southern Cali and the West Coast and about as he documents them during his travels while working for one of the fashion games dopest teams in agenda. The food stops are featured in the "Eat W/ Reez" installment. Check out my mans sick photography skills and a West Coasters visit to one of New York city's most famous eateries. Click HERE for the scoop. See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More al pastor from mi Amigo's

-Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City

If its one particular cuisine that Chicago is rich in than Mexican would be the first type that comes to my mind. Its pretty obvious to me that the reason I love Mexican more than any other food has alot to do with where I'm from. Because Chicago has the most Mexicans east of LA and has more Mexicans from the 31 Mexican states than any other city, we are rich in its food. It was in Cancun of all places that I fell in love with tacos al pastor. One of Mexico City's signature food items they are said to be a Lebanese/Mexican hybrid of a taco and gyro or shawarma. The problem is that while many and most Mexican taquerias around town serve tacos al pastor 9 out of 10 of them don't make them the proper way which makes them anything but authentic. For the taco to be real AP it needs to be spiced pork shaved off of a cone and not just pieces of it fried up on a griddle. The difference in taste and texture is huge when done one way and the other. What makes AP so good are the crispy charred pieces of pork that are cooked on the spit and cut off and thrown over tortillas as soon as its ready. Unfortunately too many places these days don't do it the right way unless its what they specialize in. We do however have a few that do it up right. In the next installment of the great al pastor hunt I present to you El Burrito Amigo. Located on Grand ave. just west of Laramie its a place that is always packed with people and most are from Mexico.

Don't let the burrito in the name fool you...this is a locals type spot

For the taco to be real AP it needs to be spiced pork shaved off of a cone and not just pieces of it fried up on a griddle. Many places in Mexico City will also put a real chunk of pineapple on top of the meat and cut pieces of it off and add them into the tacos too. The difference in taste and texture is huge when done one way and the other. What makes AP so good are the crispy charred pieces of pork that are cooked on the spit and cut off and thrown over the tortillas as soon as its ready. What exactly constitutes an authentic taco al pastor is up for debate. Some places use just cilantro and onions with an option of salsa. Other places like in Mexico City sometimes mix the onions in with the layered pork and cook them into the meat and always include shaved pineapple. One thing I know for sure is that unless they have a spit with pork layered on it that is being cooked while rotating and pieces cut off as they are crisped it isn't the real version. Another problem with finding the perfect al pastor is you kind of have to be there at the right time to get a faultless taco. So the best time to go is when a place is busy and the best time to order them is if you can see them in action doing it the right way upon entering a taqueria. At Buritto amigos they have a cartoon right in the window letting you know that they do fresh al pastor from 5:00 to 9:00 Monday thru Saturday. Just for the record though sometimes that's not the case.

One of the best style of tacos around (Pic by kudho from

Also up for debate is who exactly introduced these tacos and where they did that. There is a Mexican chain called El Tizoncito which was founded in 1966 and they claims to have introduced the taco al pastor to the people. Unfortunately too many places these days don't do it the right way unless its what they specialize in. While the name of Burrito amigo may sound like your average Big-10 burrito joint its really not. Most of the people that eat here are locals from the neighborhood and most of them tend to go with the tacos al pastor but many other items are ordered. Its nothing fancy you get your food on a paper plate and hope to find a seat. In the summer they have a few picnic tables outdoors. If the spit is on and they are cutting from it then these can be some of the best tacos al pastor in the city. The problem is there are times when they pre-cut it the meat drop it into a bucket and then recook the pieces on the grill. This takes away juices, flavor and that crispy texture that is so perfect for them.

Running spit at EBA with the condiment topping bowls in front

I mentioned above how what exactly belongs on a taco al pastor is up for debate and that different places use different toppings. Such is the case at Amigo where they offer traditional cilantro and onions however the onions are grilled and not raw. They also put a nice amount of cooked red salsa at request that I think is really good on them along with a few roasted jalapenos and sliced radish and limes. I always order at least three since they are just tacos and I always get everything on them with one of them including cheese. I must say that when this place is on these are some of the tastiest tacos in town and also one of my favorites. Check it out.

Tacos al pastor with everything from Burrito Amigo

El Burrito Amigo
5238 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60639-3044
(773) 637-2188

Friday, October 9, 2009

Oktoberfest & Other Fun in WI

Touring the Tavern's
& Drinking Joint's of America

-La Crosse, Wisconsin (Labor day '09-with food too)

Its my second favorite month of the year and that means October is here. In fact I've been waiting for October since this past Labor Day. Oh and in case you were wondering, July is the best month in the year and also my favorite. However October is a close second in my book and part of it has to do with the weather and beautiful scenery and change in colors but most of it is because of the beer. Since I am a big beer connoisseur and have no desire to drink Bud Light, Bud Wheat or any of that garbage, I enjoy October and the festivals that come with it. So with October also comes the peak season for beer drinkers like myself. As you already know Oktoberfest is a 16 day festival held in late September into early October every year in Munich with other parties being held throughout the globe. So with this also comes Oktoberfestbier from 100's and 1000's of international breweries. I was reminded why I love Oktoberfest beer so much on a recent trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend.

G. Heileman Brewing Company (La Crosse, WI)

Anybody from the Midwest especially Chicago has heard The "G. Heileman Brewing Company, La Crosse, Wisconsin" guy before. After every Old Style commercial from every Bears and Cubs game back in the day it is and always will be etched into my memory. The city of La Crosse has about 100,000 plus when you include the entire county and over 50,000 within city limits. Its also the home to UW-La Crosse which has over 9,000 students. The area is in the beautiful Mississippi River valley nestled between the River and a ridge of majestic bluffs. When we arrived in La Crosse from Chicago we hopped onto the Great River Road Byway for a scenic drive through the area we were staying in and we were immediately greeted by a wonderful smell and then BOOM! outta nowhere it appeared. It was as magical a feeling as I remember. The same type of ecstatic chills raced through my body like when the first time I saw Mt. Rushmore as a kid on a road trip through the Dakota's.

The World's largest Six Pack

"Motorists driving past the Heileman's facility in LaCrosse were greeted by a billboard reading, "Shhh...slow down...Heileman's aging here." For many years, the large storage tanks on the street side of the brewery were painted in the can design of "Old Style," the flagship brand of the brewery. With the rebirth of the brewery as The City Brewery (a tip of the hat to the original name used by Heileman's), banners were wrapped over the tanks in the style of La Crosse Lager beer." From Wikipedia.


La Crosse lager...How I wish it was still Old Style

The G. Heileman Brewing company was an independent brew firm that existed in La Crosse from 1858 to 1996 which was the year it was bought out by Stroh's Brewery. How the whole thing plays out is really interesting and quite complicated. As of today G. Heileman's Brewery names and intellectual properties are owned by Pabst Brewing Company. However the brewery where Old Style was once brewed is now owned by City Brewing Company. It was founded in 1999 and they brew La Crosse lager which is brewed to the exact specifications as the original recipe for Old Style lager. Now get this, City Brewery company agreed to purchase Latrobe Brewery in Latrobe, PA and later signed a deal with Boston Beer Company to produce Sam Adam's. So Old Style and its name and trademarks are still around however the real recipe for it which includes Fully Kraeusening, whatever that is, is no longer used by Old Style. But if you want to drink the original recipe for what was Old Style then you need to try La Crosse lager. I told you it was interesting.

The Old tanks have made a return (Pic from

"Old Style was first brewed in 1902 by the G. Heileman Brewing Company in La Crosse Wisconsin under the name Old Style Lager; it was popular in Wisconsin, the Chicago metro area, Minnesota, eastern Iowa, Lincoln, Nebraska, and southwestern Michigan. The original Heileman's Old Style brewery in La Crosse is now owned by the City Brewing Company. It brews La Crosse Lager, which is based upon the original Old Style recipe and is krausened for 30 days. This beer may also be the basis for the brewery's nationally-distributed DB Hobbs brand. Old Style also is a long-time sponsor of the Chicago Cubs." From Wikipedia.

The Original building where Old Style was brewed

The City Brewery and whoever its current owners are have done a very nice job in keeping everything intact and its a fun place to visit for 15 minutes or so if your ever in the area. Its worth a trip to this area during the summer for all the great state parks and scenic drives and outdoor activities it has to offer. The fall would also be a great time to make the trip out there and see the change in colors and explore all the river towns of Wisconsin. Here are a few pictures which you can enlarge by clicking on that tell the brewery's story and take you back to when it was a power in the beer game.

Little history lesson for ya (click pic to enlarge)

The original mansion built by the Heileman family

Little history lesson for ya (click pic to enlarge)

The original brewhouse is a beautiful building

Little history lesson for ya (click pic to enlarge)

The King of Beers statue

I don't what that means but it sounds good to me and it better to you too

Bodega Brewpub (La Crosse, WI)

That's enough to get me in anytime, anyday

When we arrived in La Crosse it was just about happy hour time and the people I was traveling with were getting cranky and needed some food and to get out of the vehicle. So we did a little drive around downtown and came across the Bodega Beer Bar and it was an immediate no brainer as to where our 1st stop of the day would be at. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon when we walked in but there was still a nice crowd of people enjoying the many, many selections of beer. I took a seat at the bar and took a look at one hell of a menu. This thing was categorized from ABC order to country of origin to style of beer. I was very impressed to say the least. So I decided to start off with one of my favorite Oktoberfest brews the "Staghorn Octoberfest" from New Glarus Brewing company (available exclusively in WI) which they also happened to have on tap.

The beer selection reminded me October was around the corner

The bar was very chill and all of the dudes with me agreed that it was a really dope bar that we would frequent often if we lived in the area. Its a large space and I guess they've been around since June of '96 and they do a really good job with creating a top notch beer bar atmosphere with a great selection of beers in house. Its a chill spot with drink specials along with lots of seats and plenty of games for you too play with your friends. A real nice bar for some daytime drinking.

I was told by the bartender that different brews arrive almost daily

Check out the selection of 'toberfest beers and this was just over Labor Day wkd

I wanted to try as many beers as possible that I hadn't tried before and also ones that I might not be able to find around Chicago. I also made sure to keep it to independent American Craft Breweries since we were in a hotbed area for great beer from our country. I asked about the Minnesota breweries I saw on the menu and the very helpful bartender suggested I try a Summit which iss brewed in Minnesota which is just across the Mississippi river from Wisconsin in this part of the state. As soon as I saw the bottle and the label I knew I had tried many of beers from Summit and didn't remember not liking them so I was happy to try their Oktoberfest. I thought it was pretty damn good just like every other beer of that style.

Summit Brew's (St. Paul, MN) Oktoberfest from Bodega Brew Pub

We all know a few of a! I'm talking to you Blondebeard! argh!

Although I don't know what you would want to waste stomach space for on food when your at this beer bar, they do have it. I decided to stick to beer for my lunch but my buddy ordered a turkey sandwich from the sandwich bar in the back. It seemed like a nice little spot with a variation of many different sandwiches for you to eat alongside your beer. Since I didn't try it I cant tell you how they are but my friend who ordered it said that it was pretty good and he didn't have any complaints.

Turkey Paninni with soup

Check out the Bodega if your ever in La Crosse, WI

Aside from drinking and eating, and yes in that order, our plan for the weekend trip was to check out Perrot State Park. Located about 30 minutes up the river from La Crosse in Trempealeau, Wisconsin I had read that it along with Devil's Lake are two of Wisconsin's better state parks. Since I know how great Devil's Lake is having hung out there when I was in Madison for five years in school, I knew that Perrot would be pretty panoramic and a great place to spend a summers day exploring, grilling and enjoying some brews. So after a nice lunch and a relaxing hour or two at the Bodega we took off and headed up river to check out the scene and see what we would be doing the next day.

I've always loved the scenic drives Wisconsin has to offer

The Great River Road byway along the Misssissippi River is one of the best

I plan on doing the whole thing next summer. It was really cool going through all the little towns and seeing what they have to offer all while the mighty Mississippi is always at your side. On top of all this its one hell of a scenic area with a great state park and quite a few things to do on the 250 mile drive along the Wisconsin west border.

Many little towns to stop in and get a change of pace from the city hustle

An impressive sunset in Onalaska, Wisconsin

Beedle's Bar & Restaurant (Centerville, WI)

Just as you would expect I found a great little food/drink stop in between La Crosse and the Perrot state park. It was in Centerville, Wisconsin that I spotted a cool looking authentic Wisconsin tavern. In the land of the taverns it looked like a must visit in my book and so we pulled into the parking lot and decided to do dinner at Beedle's Bar & Restaurant.

a good stop along the River Road byway (Centerville, WI)

I love the houses turned bars through the state

Don't drink and drive

The outside of the tavern made for a good feeling that it would be a nice place to stop in and eat and drink before the sunset and we headed back to the hotel. It was immediately upon entry that I also got the feeling it was authentic. It felt like a classic Northwoods tavern and we grabbed a table from our waitress who also happened to be a beautiful Sconnie. Beedle's is a family owned and operated joint who's hosts and owners, Anne and Brad, have only a few goals-to make amazing food and drinks that will keep you coming back again and again.

Old School Wisconsin tavern

Even though the Bears and Packers have played each other more than any other two teams the hatred is also there between the Packers and Vikings. So as we already know the hatred is at an all time high with #4 going from green and yellow to purple and white. Considering that Minnesota is right across the river you can imagine the heat runs deep around these parts. This little painting below was right next to our table where we ordered some drinks and checked out the menu to see what kind of food they had to offer.

Round 1 goes to Favre and the Vikings...haha, now that's funny

When in Rome...KingT takes a City Light for the 1st round

I checked over the menu and I at first considered getting the Prime Rib but didn't want that much food and also wanted to try a few of their specialty's which were labeled so on the menu. I also knew prime rib was one of those specialty's. I decided to skip on the classic Wisconsin supper club style salad bar followed by prime rib but my buddies on the trip with me all went for it and loaded their plates with a little bit of everything.

Salad Bar Plate

I knew that I would be starting with a Coulee Combo. It consisted of a half order of each of their cheese curds, onion rings and mushrooms. The menu bragged the fried curds were "better than the state fair" and that everything was hand dipped the old fashioned way. It didn't take much for me to know that I would be starting with a coulee combo and I decided on a Reuben sandwich with housemade corned beef as my entree. The sandwich was good and a fine example of what a Reuben should be, but oh those curds. Let me tell you something. I spent five years living in Madison during my college days and I traveled the state and tried so many cheese curds from so many places that I've had more than some Sconnies. Well these were the best cheese curds I have ever had the pleasure of consuming and I would drive back tomorrow for more if I could.

Beedle's Reuben Sandwich

The Coulee Combo (fresh dipped cheese curds, mushrooms & onion rings)

Fried Heaven Perfection: Curd (L) Shroom (M) Ring (R)

After the very satisfying meal we headed back into town and spent the night out and about around La Crosse hanging with the University kids and enjoying some drinks and talking to the blondes. Pretty much every girl I talked too had said that Perrot state park was beautiful and a great place to spend the day. So the next day we got up early and headed to to the park for a day of summer before it was over.

Perrot State Park (Trempealeau, Wisconsin)

"Native American tribes have lived here for centuries: Archaic, Early Woodland, Hopewellian, and Effigy Mound cultures were some of the earliest residents. Burial mounds can be seen throughout the park and displays in the Nature Center present information about these early cultures." From the Parks website.

Where two rivers meet

"Perrot State Park, where the Trempealeau River meets the Mississippi River, has 1,270 acres of diverse ecosystems. The river bank and surrounding wetlands provide wonderful habitat for the many migratory birds that travel through this area twice a year. Hardwood forests with mature black walnut, oak, and hickory are home to many animals, birds, and woodland wildflowers. Unique to southwestern Wisconsin and Perrot are the goat prairies perched high on the bluffs." From the Parks website.

View along one of the easy hiking trails

I was very impressed with the parks beauty and was disappointed we only had one day to spend there. I thought it was a spectacular place to camp for a weekend or spend a day if your driving through the area. Along with camping there is also hiking, kayaking, fishing, cross country skiing and snow mobiling and all sorts of other outdoor activities to do there. I already plan on returning next summer for a longer period of time so I can see everything the park has to offer.

Cave along the trails

View from the grill we set up shop at

City Brewery Tour Center
1111 3rd St
La Crosse, WI 54601-4412
(608) 785-4283

Bodega Brew Pub
122 4th Street
LaCrosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-0677

Bodega Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Beedle's Bar & Restaurant
W24966 State Rd 54/93
Galesville, WI 54630-8242
(608) 539-2251

Beedle's Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Perrot State Park
W26247 Sullivan Rd Off Rte 1
Trempealeau, WI 54661
(608) 534-6409‎


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