Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weekend of Food - August

So about once a month, I like to have me a Weekend of Food -- all out gluttonizing, indulging to the point of inducing food comas, usually trying some place new. It makes me happy and gives me something to live for during the rest of the month.

In early August, I took a Friday off from work along with the S.O. and went out for brunch. I'm not normally a brunch person. I have all sorts of issues over breakfast foods being eaten at non-a.m. hours of the day. But I sucked it up to try Stax, the new spot in the Little Italy area. The place was promising right from the start. They had Intelligentsia coffee, their own special brew made just for them by the company (Chicago's best coffee). AND the waitstaff walked around in shirts like this:

I like having things to read.

I couldn't make up my mind between the Banana Cakes and the Banana French Toast (stuffed with dulce de leche). Hey, I like banana. But with a name like Stax, how could I not order the pancakes, right? My banana cakes came with a macadamia nut crumble and were soooo good.

Moist, the perfect density. Real maple syrup at the table, not that fake crap you get at some places. A sprinkling of powdered sugar. And the macadamia nuts added this perfect crunch that I wouldn't have thought necessary. On a scale of "how full of saliva was my mouth as I looked at that plate?" -- it was a 4 out of 5.

On to lunch/dinner. If you're a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, you might have seen the episode where Guy Fieri visits Cemitas Puebla, this hole in the wall joint in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood serving up unique Mexican tortas that you can only find in Puebla, Mexico. If you've never seen it, here:

Holes in the wall are always fun. You never know what you're gonna get, just like Forrest's momma said. When the cashier saw that me and my plus one were taking too long to read the menu, she asked, "Have you been here before?" "No," we said, smiling. She seemed annoyed as she called out to the owner, a man I instantly wanted to call Welito. He led us to a table and brought over a cemita (sesame seed bread) and what looked to me to be a flour tortilla gone wrong. He told us we weren't there to have tacos or quesadillas. We were only to have the place's specialty: the cemitas and the tacos arabe. After he chastised Ray for not speaking Spanish, he gave us his dissertation on the cemita. The gist is this: It's made in Puebla. It's awesome. You gotta try it.

I ordered the cemita with carne enchilada. It's a pork chop marinated in chile guajillo slapped between two pieces of cemita bread slathered in avocado, topped with adobo chipotle peppers and doused with an excessive spread of Oaxacan cheese.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that sandwich. I wound up taking out some of the cheese. It was too much even for me, who snacks on cheese the way other people snack on nuts, but Oaxacan cheese is pretty bland. The marinade and the chipotle peppers really gave the sandwich a great flavor. Ray insists it was the best sandwich ever. I give it an A for avocado.

The chalupas we had, which I ordered just for the hell of it, were sad. I could make those at home. Green sauce and red sauce over a tortilla with cheese? Please. The tortilla was soggy, too. This calls for a "PUES NO," (the Spanish equivalent of 'oh, hell no').

The next day I was in the mood for some cow on a bun. Chicago magazine recently did an issue that featured the "best burger" in the city. I've been trying to hit up the spots featured in that issue. I've knocked Hop Haus and DMK off the list, and since Kuma is impossible to get into, I went for Epic Burger, where the focus is on all-natural ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. Holy cow, that was an amazing burger. They offered the fried egg as an optional topping to the burger, but I'm still not down with that idea. Why's it so popular? I just don't get it. Probably goes back to my breakfast foods issues. I went the plain route: all natural epic burger with epic sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickle with fresh cut fries seasoned only with sea salt.

We have a winner for best burger in Chicago...Epic, by far.

That night we tried this new brewery called Revolution Brewing. Tasty, tasty beer. My favorite was one called the Workingman Mild with hints of toffee and caramel. Man, I love toffee. But what I couldn't get enough of was the bacon popcorn. THAT should be what people snack on instead of nuts.

Yep, that's shaved parmesan up on top. Man, I drooled over that thing. Whoever invented that is a GENIUS.

So, there you have it. My August weekend of food. You should join me for my next one!!


  1. I love fried eggs. I would order a fried egg to top a fried egg. Also you might be disturbed to know that most of my breakfast eating takes place between 11am and 1:30pm.

  2. Lilly hates breakfast at times other than breakfast time.