Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 12: Lincoln Square

I have been looking forward to this day for a long time, and finally I had plans that did not fall through. Everything went exactly as I had planned it, or rather, as close to the plan as one could hope for. Today was the day that I went out to Korean Barbecue in Lincoln Square, and it was probably the most interesting restaurant that I have been to thus far. Maybe Cuban food was better, maybe the atmosphere at Oak Tree is swankier, but this was such a unique experience. The restaurant is called San Soo Gab San, located at 5247 N. Western Ave, and I am going to guess that translated into English that means "delicious awesome barbecue delicious."

To get there took me over and hour and a half of buses, trains, and buses. I took the number 8 bus north on Halsted until Milwaukee and Grand, took the Blue Line train (which once again decided to become an express train right before my stop...) to Western, and then I took the number 49 bus north on Western until Foster, which dropped me off about half a block away from delicious awesome barbecue delicious:

Sidenote: You know those guys that hang out in front of stores or wherever else and ask for money because their made-up school's basketball team needs money to fund a trip to somewhere random because they made their fake league's playoffs? Well, there were two of those guys on the train today and a CTA employee was on my train car and he asked to see a flier. He read it and then said to the two guys, "Look, I know this is a scam." Blank looks. "Seriously, I know this is not real. I'm from this suburb and there's no school by this name. I know you're lying. So why don't you just get off the train at the next stop and I will pretend like nothing happened." The two kids left at the next stop. Sometimes there is justice in the world.

The only other experience I have ever had with Korean food was actually in Korea, so I consider myself quite the expert on Korean food. From what I could tell, this restaurant was very authentic, which was backed up by the fact that none of the waitstaff and the minority of the people in the restaurant spoke any English.

The restaurant is not elaborately decorated, but there are a few decorations that seem very Korean to me:

But the true Korean experience comes at the tables. In the back of the restaurant is one long table that seats large parties. This is exactly how it is in Korea:

In these large tables you sit on the floor, but in the smaller two- or four-person tables you sit in a regular booth, but the table has a giant hole in the middle:

The waitstaff then puts a pot of hot coals in the hole:

And then covers it with a grill and gives you a plate of meat that you had ordered before. Warning: they make you order at least two types of meat, and each meat can feed one person, and costs enough for one person. So, when you go to delicious awesome barbecue delicious, make sure that your eating-mate is not a vegetarian because your half of the bill will be very, very expensive. I learned that the hard way:

That's $40 of meat right there. Get a good look:

If I am not mistaken, the pinker meat on the right is beef ribs and the browner meat on the left is seasoned beef. Then, you cook the meat on the grill in your table:

Plus, you don't just get meat. The barbecue comes with about twenty tiny bowls of weird and colorful and aromatic ingredients:

I did not take a picture of the full table, but I think three to five more little bowls were added to the table after this picture was taken. Inside the little silver bowl on the right-hand corner was steamed rice, and a little later, the waitress brought me miso soup:

This miso soup contained zucchini, tofu, and onions inside the dashi stock. The rice bowl can go into the soup as well. Also, the twenty-something little bowls of ingredients can go in the soup or in the rice bowl:

Many of these ingredients are different types of kimchee. There are kimchee potatoes, kimchee cabbage, kimchee spinach, basically anything orange is kimchee-related. The row of greenish things behind the stacks of dishes are different types of seaweed. The thing that looks like potato salad is in fact potato salad. Other things that maybe cannot be seen very clearly are lentils, various anonymous roots, pickled things, and this weird black bean thing that was very strange but oddly delicious. All of this stuff, including the rice and the cooked meat can be dipped in the miso soup. That is what I did and it was really good.

Because of how much food you are given, and because of how much fun it is to grill meat, I strongly recommend ordering the barbecue. However, go with a large group because the amount of meat can feed at least two or three people, unless you are me and eat 2/3 of the meat yourself. And, like I said earlier, make sure that at least one person with whom you go to San Soo Gab San is an omnivore. Vegetarians make things expensive!

Because Linnea, today's eating buddy, is a vegetarian, it gives me the very expensive opportunity to tell you about Bibimbap. Which is totally worth the price because Linnea is an awesome eating buddy who has great taste in earrings. Oh, and it is also worth it because I was watching Iron Chef America the other day and Iron Chef Batali cooked Bibimbap, and now I know what it is, so this gives me an opportunity to brag about how much food stuff I know:

Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish that literally translated means "mixed dish." It contains rice, seasoned and sauteed vegetables, and is usually topped with some sort of fried egg. In this case, the bibimbap contained zucchini, carrots, soy bean sprouts, mushrooms, some green leafy things, onions, and a fried egg. There is another type of bibimbap (which I know about because Iron Chef Batali made it on TV) which is served with a raw egg inside of of a hot stone bowl. The raw egg is then cooked on the sides of this bowl.

By the end of the meal, we felt completely stuffed and we had hardly made a dent in our food. At least, it looked that way. I suppose I ate most of the meat and Linnea ate most of the bibimbap, but there was so much food in the small dishes that we maybe ate 40% of what was on our table. Our total bill came to $50 which is humongous and is mainly coming out of my allowance. $10 of that was Linnea's and the other $40 was mine, which makes me sound like a pig. I brought home maybe 1/3 of the meat, and I really should have only had to order half of what I ordered... but whatever. I'm not bitter...

Tomorrow I will be nearly-fasting because, true to my gender stereotype, I want to look super sexy for prom. However, Sunday I will be going to Old Town for either an awesome burger or for (American) barbecue. Actually, I have not done real Italian food yet, so if there is an Italian place in Old Town I would like to know about it. I do need suggestions for restaurants because I am not native to Old Town. And I only accept suggestions for awesome burgers. Be they less then awesome, I be angry. Anyway, until next time, happy eating!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 11: Downtown

It looks like I have more plans that fall through than I have that are successful. Due to two of my favorite people deciding that they should actually do their May Projects, I had to rearrange my schedule. Which should never happen, because my May Project should take priority over everyone else's May Projects. This is obviously not the general consensus, so, instead of eating Indian food today, I ate breakfast downtown at a restaurant called Oak Tree, located at 900 North Michigan Avenue. It is on the sixth floor of the North Michigan Avenue shops:

To get to 900 N. Michigan Avenue, I took my favorite bus, the number 8, north until the Chicago stop. From there, I transferred to the number 66 heading east until the Michigan stop. From there, I walked to 900 N. Michigan and then rode the elevator up to the 6th floor to meet Erica.

I think I am learning to love the bus, mainly because I meet such great people. I was riding north on the number 8 bus when a man walked on. The man was 30-something, attractive, and was holding a pink Nintendo DS. He sat down, turned the game on, and started to play Pokemon. I kid you not. Then a woman walks onto the bus right behind the man. She was 50-something, large, bug-eyed, and kept sticking her tongue out, as if she were a snake smelling the bus, although I do not know why she would want to smell a city bus... Anyway, a few stops later, The man with the pink DS and the snake woman exited the bus, one right after the other, and they started walking down the road side-by-side. They then turned and sat down together next to a building, and started making out! Why would anybody take a bus to a random place in the city to make out?

Then, I was riding east on the number 66 bus when I heard a siren. The bus pulled over and a blue, unmarked car pulled over directly in front of us and a man jumped out and walked on the bus. The man sat down directly behind me, pulls out his phone, and calls a friend. The entire bus listened as the man had a very loud conversation: "You'll never guess what just happened to me! I was on my way to work and I was running late. I was about a block away from the bus stop, and I was running to try and catch the bus. Suddenly this blue, unmarked car pulls up and two cops run out and say to me, 'Sir, hand us your backpack and put your hands on the vehicle. We're looking for a man with a gun, and you match the description.' So I got searched, and they obviously did not find a gun, and I was like, 'Great, now I have missed my bus. Can you at least drive me to work?' They're like, 'No, we can't take you all the way there, but we did make you late, so hop in the car.' They then turned the siren on, raced through traffic, cut people off, and then pulled in front of the bus that I had just missed. They let me off, and I turned around and ran directly into my bus." This must be why people take the bus; there are so many adventures to be had!

Finally, I made it to the restaurant. The place was very swanky and modern-looking inside:

This was not always how the restaurant looked. Oak Tree used to look like an oak tree. The old furniture was made to look like tree trunks and there were bird cages and stuff like that. But this is nice too, except it is not quite as thematic as it once was, although I guess the Rainforest Cafe has that covered. Although, the restaurant is still open, kind of like a treehouse. The first thing you see when you enter the 6th floor is the bakery of Oak Tree. Since there are no doors or windows in the restaurant, this is the view from outside of the restaurant:

Oak Tree still has maintained a bit of its former cutesy theme by displaying animal-shaped bread loaves in its bakery:

But that was the end of anything even slightly themed. The food was very traditional, but very tasty, breakfast food. Well, they serve lunch too, but we ordered breakfast food. So as far as you are concerned, they only serve breakfast food. I ordered the Brioche French Toast:

This was served with sauteed bananas and mascarpone. When you sautee bananas, you caramelize the sugar on the outside of the banana. The oil that it is cooked in makes the banana kind of slimy, but not in a bad way. This method of cooking the banana enhances the sweetness of the original food and gives it a different texture. Mascarpone was new to me. It is a sweet cream cheese that is easily melted and spread. It is usually served in desserts, like tiramisu. Although, if that is true then I probably have eaten mascarpone before, although never on French Toast. The meal also came with butter and syrup, but the french toast was so sweet anyway that it did not need anything else.

Erica ordered a Glazed Ham, Cheddar, and Scallion Omelet:

The french fry-looking things are hash browns. Actually, these look a lot like the fries that I could not take a picture of yesterday because of the specters that ate my camera. So, mentally copy and paste these hash browns into yesterday's post. Also, Erica's omelet came with toast.

I always assume that everyone knows exactly the amount of information that I know, which means, no one knows what scallions are! Turns out, scallions are green onions. They are more mild than regular onions, and they are often used in many Asian recipes. Also, scallions can be silly:

That was the first hit on Google Image Search for "scallion." I just thought I would show you.

Erica also ordered a strawberry smoothie:

Purely for the sake of research, I tasted her smoothie. It was delicious, and the fruit tasted very fresh.

It was a very good breakfast totaling to $37 for the two of us, and I brought home one of my french toast slices, so I can eat it for dinner tonight.

Tomorrow I will be going to Korean barbecue with Linnea. I WILL be going to Korean barbecue with Linnea. If I say it emphatically enough, I will not relive history and the plans will not fall through. Until next time, happy eating!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 10: Hyde Park

Just yesterday I was thinking to myself, "I have forgotten how much change Obama is going to bring to America!" Then I realized why; I had not seen an Obama bumper sticker in three whole weeks! I needed to remedy that situation, so I dropped everything and went to Hyde Park:

Hyde Park was founded by a man named Paul Cornell who wanted to use the neighborhood to attract businessmen and their families. Hyde Park hosted the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and the Palace of Fine Arts from the Exposition still exists today. Now, Hyde Park contains such Chicago landmarks as the Museum of Science and Industry and the Renaissance Society. But most importantly, Hyde Park is the home of the University of Chicago. Because Hyde Park is a college campus, there are not exactly a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Some of the classic Hyde Park favorites include the Medici, the University Market (or, as cool people say, the UM), and Istria. However, I have gone to school in Hyde Park for eight years, so I had been to all these places gazillions of times. So I decided to go somewhere that I have only visited a few times before. And as an added bonus, this restaurant serves an ethnicity of food about which I have not yet written. The restaurant is called Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen:

In case you noticed, this is not the front of the current Cedars restaurant. This is because I did not have my camera today... But it's not my fault! It was stolen! I was walking to the bus stop today when I tripped over my shoelace. Before I could get up, these three specters attacked me! But luckily I had my subtle knife inside my purse, right next to my wallet, my camera, and my spare Furby. But sadly, when I pulled the knife out, my camera fell out as well. The specters, obviously afraid of my knife, took my camera, snickered at me, and ran away. Bottom line: I left my camera at home, please forgive me, and I will have real-life pictures tomorrow.

To get to Cedars I took the number 12 bus east on Roosevelt until the Michigan stop and then walked to the Metra train. I took the Metra heading south until the 55th/56th/57th street stop. At 1206 E. 53rd Street you will find Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen. If you are looking up this restaurant online, you may have some issues with finding a correct address. 1618 E. 53rd Street is NOT the correct address. That is the address for Cedars of Lebanon, which is currently a pile of rubble. That was the name and location of the original restaurant, but it has since moved to 1206 E. 53rd Street and changed its name to "Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen." However, because the old restaurant was named "Cedars of Lebanon" I am able to call the food that I ate today "Lebanese" food, even though it was really the third time that I have eaten Greek-y food thus far. Well, that is not exactly true. Cedars serves Middle-Eastern food. The owner of the restaurant is from Jordan, but the food served at his restaurant comes from all over the Middle-East. Items like couscous are North African, hummus and dolmades are served everywhere from Greece to Turkey, and some of the foods are even Indian.

The food at Cedars is delicious. One good thing about my project is I am required to try as many items on the menu as possible. So, purely for the sake of research, my mom and I ordered the Cedars Sampler. This consisted of four dishes, the first of which was falafel:

Falafel is a ball of fried chickpeas mixed with spices. Falafel is originally from Egypt although it is served in Greek and Turkish cuisines as well. Falafel is sold as a fast-food side dish, sort of equivalent to an American french fry. The next dish on the plate was hummus, which is very good to eat with falafel, but falafel can also be served with tahini or even a salad. If you order falafel at Cedars, you should eat it in a sandwich with the pita you are served at the beginning of the meal. It is also good to put some of the hummus or the salad in the sandwich as well:

The next dish on the plate was tabbouleh:

Tabbouleh is a Leventine Arab dish. It is basically a mix of herbs, usually parsley and mint, and other spices with some tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil. I am pretty sure cilantro is used in most American tabbouleh, which is a crime because cilantro is disgusting. In Middle-Eastern cuisine, tabbouleh is its own dish, and is usually served upon a lettuce leaf. However, in America, we usually eat tabbouleh as a dip. Sidenote: the largest bowl of tabbouleh as recorded by Guinness World Records weighed 1514 kilograms. I would have thought the world would have imploded with that much cilantro in one place:

It really is an evil-looking herb, don't you think?

The next dish on the plate was dolmas, also known as dolmades. But I have already written about dolmas, and I do not want to bore you, since you were kind enough to read my self-indulgent one-sided conversation about my lunch, so I will move on to the main meal. We ordered the Mashawi platter, which was another combination platter. Mashawi literally means "mixed grill" in Arabic, and a mixed grill is what we got. At Cedars, the Mashawi platter comes with three meats, the first of which is lamb and beef shawarma:

Beef and lamb shawarma is very similar to the Greek gyros meat, however shawarma is seasoned slightly differently, and it is pieces are shaped differently. They are usually smaller and chunkier. Also, because they are smaller pieces, the outside is roasted more than it is in gyros meat. Gyros is usually slightly greasier and it is softer than shawarma. However, gyros meat is always a mixture of lamb and beef. Shawarma can be anything from lamb, beef, goat, chicken, or a mixture of these meats. The second dish on the Mashawi platter at Cedars was chicken shawarma:

The third meat on the Mashawi platter was a kefta kabob:

Kefta is usually a meatball mixed with various ground meats and spices. However, in a lot of Middle-Eastern cooking kefta is served not as a ball, but as a cylinder on a stick, making it a kebob. The kefta kabobs at Cedars are served with roasted vegetables in between chunks of meat. The vegetables are delicious, as well.

The platter was also served with really thin french fries, which were, of course, part of the reason that we ordered the dish. These fries are almost like thick, greasy potato chips because of their size and shape. I wish those specters had not eaten my camera; the fries looked kind of interesting...
For dessert, I had, once again, baklava. But this time, I had it with pistachios:

Pistachio baklava tastes very similar to walnut baklava, however pistachio baklava tends to be served with the pistachios showing because pistachios have such a nice color. Also, pistachios do not absorb moisture as well as walnuts do, so the pistachio baklavas are not quite as juicy as walnut baklavas.
Cedars was a very good experience. Our service was speedy, however our diet virgin Cuba Libres were served with Pepsi and not Coke, so a few points were deducted for that. Many people compare Cedars to The Nile, also in Hyde Park, which also serves Middle-Eastern food, but I prefer Cedars. The prices are comparable, but Cedars has a better atmosphere, and a wider variety of food. Plus, the food is just better. Our total meal came to $37, for two people, but then my dad and I both ate the leftovers for dinner, so really it was $37 for four people.
Tomorrow I will eat either Korean food or Indian food depending on what Johnny Depp, my date, is in the mood for tomorrow. Until next time, happy eating!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 9: Avondale/"Polish Village"

So, apparently yesterday was some sort of holiday? I was going to eat dinner in Old Town, but because of this alleged "holiday" my family thought it would be nice if we ate dinner together. I agreed with this sentiment and thought that we should go out for barbecue in Old Town. But, my parents said no because apparently we are in some sort of recession? Bottom line: I did not go out to eat yesterday. Sorry to disappoint.

Today's neighborhood was the Polish Village, also known as "Jackowo," located inside of Avondale. Jackowo is one of Chicago's most vibrant "Polish Patches." The street is covered in Polish restaurants, Polish laundromats, and even Polish dollar stores:

Like many of Chicago's ethnic patches, Jackowo is currently experiencing gentrification, however it has managed to retain enough of its culture to feed me today.

Due to a last-minute cancellation of my plans with Chris Pine, I had no date for lunch today until 10:00 this morning. Luckily, my grandparents found time in between their many doctor's appointments to eat lunch with me at The Red Apple, also known as Czerwone Jabluszko, located at 3121 N. Milwaukee Ave:

In order to get there, I took my favorite bus, the number 8, north until the Milwaukee/Grand stop where I took the Blue Line towards O'Hare, and got off at Belmont. Once at Belmont I walked west for about 6 blocks to reach the Milwaukee/Belmont intersection. Then I turned onto Milwaukee and walked south for half a block until I reached today's restaurant. Sidenote: I lied to a busdriver! When we were waiting at a red light right before the Milwaukee/Grand stop, I saw two entrances to the Blue Line, one on either side of the street. Because I'm kind of an moron, I asked the bus driver, "Which entrance leads to the train heading towards O'Hare?" The bus driver looked at me, smirked, and said, "They both lead to the same place," his voice dripping with disdain. I smirked back at him and said, "Well, I'm from New York, and in New York, the trains on either side of the street head in different directions," with identical disdain. He looked shocked, appologized, and said, "Did you just move here?" and I said "No, I'm going to the University of Chicago next year and I'm just here visiting." Then the light turned green, we pulled through the intersection, and I exited the bus. That man will never mess with people from New York again!

The Red Apple is a buffet-style restaurant that serves massive amounts of food. For $9.49 a lunch, and $9.99 a dinner, you get all the pierogis and schnitzel you can force down your throat. The restaurant itself looks like any buffet-style restaurant, with generic-looking tables and chairs, but a few Polish adornments:

This is actually an enlargement of the coat-of-arms that is pictured on the Polish flag:

The food at the Red Apple was very good. The buffet was huge, filling up one whole room and spilling over into the next room:

Polish food is very interesting because it is a mixture of many different cultures. Since Poland was passed around from country to country throughout much of the last 200 years of history, Polish food tends to contain a lot of German or Russian dishes like schnitzel and borscht.

The first thing you hit in the buffet are salads and fruits, and other icky stuff like that. Some of the foods in this section included fermented roots like shredded cabbage known as sauerkraut:

Then the next section held the meat and potato entrees. Due to the weird heat lamps above the buffet, the pictures that I took look sort of discolored, so most of the pictures posted are courtesy of Google Image Search. *Thank you Google Image Search!*:

The next section held the most delicious stuff, with these delicious apple pancakes, potato pancakes, cheese blintzes, meat pierogis, potato and cheese pierogis... everything was fantastic and super greasy. One of the highlights was the schnitzel:

Schnitzel is typically a German or Austrian dish, although it can also be Polish. Schnitzel is a thin slice of veal coated in breadcrumbs and then fried. Polish schnitzel is very similar to the Austrian schnitzel, which, when it is not served in a buffet, is usually served with potatoes and a lemon slice. This schnitzel was sort of weird because it was very circular, and schnitzel is usually very flat. But it tasted good, so no matter. The best part about eating schnitzel was that I finally understood the part in that song: "Schnitzel with noodles and whiskers on kittens, something and hayballs and something with mittens... la la la something, and poodles with strings..." Real schnitzel looks like this:

When the schnitzel is made with pork instead of veal, it is called kotlet schabowy, or pork cutlet. This was the traditional Polish dish before the German influences kicked in.

Another highlight of my meal were the pierogis. Oh. My. Pierogi. These were fantastic. There were two types, meat-filled and cheese and potato-filled. The cheese and potato-filled ones were so tasty I wanted to cry:

Pierogis are kind of like Chinese potstickers. They have dumpling wrappings on the outside and various types of filling on the inside. There is a restaurant called "Pierogi Place" that I considered going to today that served 15 different types of pierogi! Some of the more delicious-sounding flavors were cherry, sweet cheese, blueberry, and some of the more traditional ones contained spinach, mushrooms, meat, or potatoes. I decided not to go to that restaurant because there did not seem like much variety, but I kind of regret it now because pierogis are so fantastic.

They were not serving borscht today, which I was sad about because I would have loved to taste it:

Borscht is a cold beet soup that is also served in Russia. I have always been slightly afraid of the thought of a cold beet soup, and I was eager to conquer that fear today... I guess that is one reason to go back...

The apple pancakes were another highlight:

These are much denser than typical American pancakes. It is a very thick and heavy dish that is sometimes served with sour cream or applesauce. They usually contain a fruit like apples or peaches, but sometimes they contain cheese. These cheese-filled pancakes are similar to cheese blintzes. The blintzes that we ate today were boiled, but sometimes they are fried:

There was a section of the buffet dedicated to dessert, but only a few of them were traditional Polish desserts. One of the traditional ones is called kolaczki:

These are jam-filled cookies typically served at Christmastime. Another dessert that is only served once a week at The Red Apple is called a ponczki:

Ponczkis are jam- or custard-filled Polish donuts that are heavier than our American donuts. They are usually eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland, which is the last Thursday before Lent. These were not served today at The Red Apple, but, again, it will give me a reason to go back.

It was a very good and inexpensive lunch, and I ate so much that I will most likely not be hungry for dinner, or for breakfast tomorrow. Lunch was about $40 for the three of us, and we had a great time, so it was worth it. Tomorrow I will be eating in Hyde Park, perhaps at Cedar's. However, I am up for suggestions for tomorrow because all I really know in Hyde Park is the Medici and the Subway on 57th street, and the cafeteria at the business school.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 8: Little Italy

At the beginning of this project, when I had decided that one day I should go to Little Italy, I pictured an area of town very similar to the Little Italy in New York City:

This could not be further from the truth. Little Italy is basically one street in Chicago, Taylor Street, that happens to have a few Italian bakeries and restaurants. The reason it is called Little Italy is because of its history. When Italians first started to move to Chicago, they moved to Taylor Street. By 1927, most of the grocery stores and restaurants were owned by Italian immigrants. That is why so many of the stores in this area are Italian in theme. Actually, this is the neighborhood in which Jane Addams created Hull House:

Because of the area's primarily Italian history, the neighborhood does contain many Italian restaurants, although many are fancy and expensive, and are frequently described as "romantic." Since my usual date, Brad Pitt, was busy, I had no need to go to a "romantic" restaurant. So, instead, I took my mom and my sister out for pizza. Ha! I said that like I paid. We went to a place called Damenzo's Pizza located at 2324 W. Taylor Street:

To get to Damenzo's, the internet told me to take the number 12 bus from Halsted and Roosevelt to Taylor and Ogden and then walk to Damenzo's. But, since I believe myself to be more clever than a bus, my sister and I walked. My mom, the lazy bum that she is, drove.

The restaurant itself is kind of funny. The left half is the pizza place that we went to, but the right half is a Mexican restaurant owned by the same people. Damenzo's is a hole in the wall, but with a lot of heart. Our waitress got really excited when I started taking pictures and took me on a tour of the restaurant. There is an area where you can go up to a counter to order pizza to take home:

I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but the walls are bright green! If you choose to eat there, you sit in a different room with plain white walls and plastic chairs. The inside atmosphere is not the greatest, however, if you want to have a party at Damenzo's, there is a nice patio area:

But, you probably would not go to Damenzo's for the atmosphere; you would go for the pizza. And the pizza is very, very worth it. The waitstaff is very conscientious and very friendly, but once you order your food, it takes a while to arrive. But that is just because they make the pizza fresh in the restaurant. At some pizza places (and by pizza places, I mean Little Caesar's) there are pizzas sitting around in boxes under heat lamps. But at Damenzo's, the pizza tastes fresh because it is fresh:

It was absolutely delicious. We ordered half pepperoni and half cheese because they do not offer pineapple, garlic, goat cheese, lemon peels, plastic, or propane, which are my personal favorite toppings. The bread was very fresh and soft, and the cheese was very greasy and thick, which is my favorite type. All three of us ordered diet virgin cuba libres, but we were all disappointed that they were made with RC Cola, which is kind of gross. Our total bill was $25 for three people. Plus we took about a third of our pizza home for leftovers.

For dessert, we went to an Italian bakery called Ferrara's Pastries located at 2210 W. Taylor Street:

I could live in this bakery. They had brightly colored cakes and cookies and candy... I'm getting food-horny just thinking about it:

So many of the baked goods looked fantastic and colorful and inviting, but I went in with a plan to order a cannoli, so I did:

Cannolis originated in Sicily, although they are considered a general Italian pastry. The name cannoli means "little tube" in Italian, which is exactly what a cannoli is. It's a flaky pastry tube filled with a ricotta cheese, chocolate, vanilla, and other flavorings. Sometimes chefs will put chocolate chips in the filling to add a little bit of texture. The ends of the cannoli (the cheese part that spills out of the tube) are typically dipped in some sort of nut. In this case, the cannoli is covered in peanuts, but in many cannolis, pistachios are used:

The pistachios add color to the cannolis. As you can see in the picture above, sometimes maraschino cherries are placed in the filling to add even more color. Cannolis can be dusted with powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or even dipped in chocolate.

After my cannoli, I was stuffed. But luckily, my sister does not like cannolis, which gives me the opportunity to tell you about Chicago's top Italian lemonade spot. It is called Mario's Italian Lemonade, and is located at 1068 W. Taylor Street:

It is structured like a lemonade stand that I set up when I was a kid. It has a giant sign above the counter that looks almost hand-made. But Mario's Italian Lemonade has been written up in many Chicago newspapers. They are busy throughout the entire day, and on especially hot days the line can be very long. But lines always seem to move quickly at Mario's. My sister ordered orange lemonade (orange-ade?):
The lemonade is always made from fresh fruit, which is very apparent with certain flavors. For example, in the orange-ade, you can clearly feel and taste the pulp. The man who was right in front of us in line ordered watermelon-ade, which had giant black seeds in it. The Italian lemonade cost only a dollar, and I thought it was delicious, but my sister got sick of it about halfway through.

Tomorrow I will be indisposed all day, but never fear, I will be back on Monday. However I do not know what I will be writing about. Perhaps I will be in Old Town on Monday. I guess it will be a surprise... Until next time, happy eating!