October 15, 2020

Thanksgiving Traditions

October 15, 2020

Thanksgiving Traditions

It is so hard to believe that we are halfway through October and already thinking of Thanksgiving. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the traditions and memories associated with the holiday. My job as a kid was to set the Thanksgiving table. I took this job very seriously. When I was about 7, I made salt dough turkey cut-outs and then hand-painted them with my sister and cousin. My mom still uses them at every place setting to this day. As I got older, I was in the kitchen with my mom all week leading up to the big day and those are some of my favorite memories cooking all day with my mom.

Salt Dough Turkey

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September 6, 2018

Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder: An Ode To The Pizza Pot Pie

September 6, 2018

Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder: An Ode To The Pizza Pot Pie

If you are like everyone else in the world — you love pizza. There is just something about the way this gooey, cheesy delight satisfies the mind, soul, and body.

It’s this universal love for pizza that has restaurants all over vying for the title of best pizza pie.

With so many different opinions, it would be impossible to claim which pizza eatery has the best pie out there. But there is one thing for sure — Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder has mastered the pizza pot pie and made it on our list of Chicago restaurants we love!

Setting The Scene: An Authentic & Cozy Pizza Haven

This cash-only eatery sits inside a historic Chicago brownstone and is best known for its famous pizza pot pies.

Just as you would expect, the setting is intimate, cozy, and overwhelmed by the aroma of fresh pizzas.

There is limited seating inside so the wait for a table can be upwards of two hours — even if you go early! The hosts are old school and only take down names, remembering faces when tables are ready. Though this means no fancy pagers or text messages alerting you that a table is ready, it’s an intriguing experience to watch the host keep things going without a hitch.

By the time you sit down the urge to eat everything in sight is so strong that we recommend feeding your inner hunger monster with some of their fresh Mediterranean flatbread. The pizza pot pies take awhile to bake but the flatbread comes out quickly to satiate your hunger while you wait. It’s made from thin pita bread and topped with flaky cheese and fresh herbs.

Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder Menu: Sticking To The Basics

The menu is short and sweet, offering the following:

  • Salads
  • Mediterranean flatbread
  • Grinders (subs)
  • Pizza-pot-pies
  • Tortoni (Italian ice cream)

Pizza Pot Pie at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

(Photo credit: Chicago Pizza Oven & Grinder’s Facebook page)

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The hamburger is an American staple and can be enjoyed at restaurants around the world. Many chefs have tried to master the ultimate burger but Au Cheval has the battle for best burger under wraps.

Chicago is a city known for exceptional cuisine and although Au Cheval has only been around since 2012, it has more than earned its reputation. Patrons will stand in line for hours just to taste what Bon Appetit and The Food Network call “America’s best burger”. The lines may be long but we promise, it’s worth the wait. Locals, tourists, foodies, and celebrities all agree that if you’re going to eat a burger in Chicago, this is the place to go.

The restaurant is set up like a diner with long countertops and an open kitchen concept, making guests feel right at home. The menu serves up classics—but with their own twist. Patron’s favorites include Au Cheval’s crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy, scrambled eggs with foie gras, and of course, the burger.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Au Cheval

The famed Au Cheval burger is simple: it’s the combination of and attention to detail with ingredients that make it so great. Each and every ingredient adds another layer of flavor, building it up to masterpiece status.

The patty is made with prime beef and is grilled to a perfect medium rare (don’t you dare ask for yours to be “well done”!). After the meat is sizzling hot, a layer of American cheese is melted between each patty. The cheesy burger is then placed onto a gently toasted bun, delivered fresh from Z Bakery and then toasted under the salamander-like broiler, on both sides.

Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can order your burger naked or dressed. If you opt for the “dressed” route, expect a final product that’s smothered in dijonnaise: a dangerously delicious sauce made of lemon juice, mayo, and dijon mustard.

If you are feeling fancy, you can even add on a fried egg (au cheval translates in French to “on horseback”, or in this case, refers to “a fried egg on top”), some thick-cut bacon, or three ounces of silky foie gras. You’ll also have the choice between a single (two patties) or a double (three patties). The burger sits high on its white throne, next to a crisp pickle. If you still have room left, give one of their thick, creamy floats a whirl.

Located at 800 W Randolph St., if the line doesn’t catch your eye, the smell certainly will. So, next time you find yourself in the windy city, add Au Cheval to your list of restaurants to visit.

May 8, 2018

Chicago Serves Up Winners at James Beard Awards

May 8, 2018

Chicago Serves Up Winners at James Beard Awards

For those who know the Chicago culinary scene, it is no surprise to see restaurants, bars, and professionals in the food and beverage world named among the best in America by the James Beard Foundation. Known as the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards are among the highest honors for those in the food and beverage industry in the U.S., from chefs to food journalists.

The Windy City had no issues blowing the competition out of the water in the “Best Chef: Great Lakes” category with 13 out of 20 individuals named showcasing their work in Chicago. However, the city’s dominance extended far beyond regional success.

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, of Boka Restaurant Group, made the list of “Best Restaurateurs”.

Michelin-starred Boka was the groups’ first restaurant, opening in 2013. Today, it is one of 19 individually crafted, conceptually unique entities under the group’s umbrella. Also in its impressive portfolio, you’ll find Girl & the Goat (one of the most difficult places to get a reservation in the country—but worth the effort) and GT Fish & Oyster.

Chicago’s culinary scene also saw a couple rising stars make the list of “Best New Restaurants”. Chef Diana Davila brings to life a whirlwind mixture of regional Mexican specialties, Mexican fusion, and established favorites at Mi Tocaya Antojeria. Last year, Eater named Mi Tocaya Antojeria as “the new star of Chicago’s Mexican scene”—and it seems that those handing out awards at the James Beard Foundation were keen to agree.

Also on the list of best new restaurants in the nation was Lost Lake, which plates up a “tropical oasis-meets-flotsam strewn island hut” vibe.

However, it was North Pond, headed by Chef Bruce Sherman, that stepped up to make the list of “Outstanding Restaurants” in this year’s awards. In the middle of Lincoln Park, the restaurant serves dishes inspired by ingredients found in local markets at the height of their season, creating complex, subtle layers of flavor.

Though Chef Sherman’s restaurant might have garnered a prestigious JBA accolade, Chef Tony Mantuano, of Spiaggia, and Chef Carrie Nahabedian, of NAHA, made it on the “Outstanding Chef” list.

Operating Chicago’s only four-star Italian restaurant, Chef Mantuano is no stranger to the receiving a JBA, having secured “Best Chef: Midwest” in 2005. Prior to opening Spiaggia in 1984, Chef Mantuano worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy. Clearly, there really was no surprise to see him among those honored with a JBA this year.

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There are essentially two pizzas in America: New York and Chicago deep dish. Though the pizza war will continue to rage as long as these two great cities remain, there’s never a doubt who’s king of the deep dish in the Windy City — Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

According to the Food Network, the buttery, crisp dough and rich tomato sauce are what gave Lou’s son Marc Malnati the edge over Bobby Flay on Throwdown in a deep-dish pizza competition. This fact alone, not to mention that family-owned and run pizzeria is the oldest name in Chicago pan pizza, justifies them selling more than a million deep-dish pies a year. The pizzeria has also been featured on The Steve Harvey Show, Food Wars, and Pizza Wars.

Lou Malnati's Famous Deep Dish

This is, in fact, the pizzeria that defended Chicago against the verbose and misguided attacks of renowned New Yorker and comedian Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Unfortunately, Stewart appears incapable of understanding the magnificence of good deep-dish pizza.

On March 17th, 1971, Lou Malnati and his wife Jean, opened their first namesake Italian pizzeria in a Jewish neighborhood in Lincolnwood, IL. The opening party was crashed when a car came flying into the dining room during the Irish holiday. Of course, when you’re producing pies as good as the Malnati’s, a little car crash isn’t going to stop business from booming.

Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza Chicago

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