Sunday, June 14, 2009
This is a very exciting entry for me because I am writing it on my new computer! I have always been a PC girl, but my last laptop was HP and it lasted for about a month and a half. So, out of spite towards HP for not making its products Aimee-proof, I decided to give my money to Steve Jobs.
Another exciting thing has happened recently. I added Google Analytics to my blog, which has been a reality check. Turns out I don't have zillions of fans, like I thought. I have twenty-seven. I know! I was as shocked as you are! However, two of those fans are from Argentina, which is pretty cool. So if you're reading this blog from Argentina, have a good winter!
A lot of my time lately has gone to setting up my computer: transferring files, determining whether Hannah Montana or Spock will look better as a computer background, and of course standardizing the capitalization of the titles of songs in my iTunes library. But I took time off of capitalizing today to go out to lunch with my family on the way to dropping off some furniture at my grandparents' house. Technically, this restaurant is in Chicago Heights, not Chicago, but as I am afraid of heights, in order to allay my fears, I will drop the "Heights" off of the city title. Anyway, it is called The Egg & I and it is located at 222 Dixie Highway:
However, I did not get here by public transporation, so I did not make any new friends today. Although I did meet some interesting characters on Friday. My mom and I went to see "Drag Me To Hell" (Not worth the opportunity cost of my time) at a movie theater on the way North side of Chicago. The theater was basically empty except for about 20 fifteen-or-so-year-olds who spent the entire movie on their cell phones, yelling at the screen, and practically playing tag in the aisles of the movie theater. Then, about thirty minutes into the movie I feel someone tap my leg and I look down and the girl in front of me is saying something to me. "Excuse me, are you eating popcorn? Because your chewing is really loud." I look at her and say, "Are you kidding?" There are people in this theater talking on their cell phones and yelling at each other, and you are worried about my chewing too loudly?" I spent the rest of the movie chewing on popcorn kernals with my mouth wide open. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
The Egg & I is set up like a cutesy little farm with talking pigs and walking eggs painted on the walls:
Is the point that bacon served at this restaurant is from pigs as cute as this one?
They also have little green street signs with cutesy names painted on them. We sat here, on the corner of Waffle Lane and Breakfast Lane:
The restaurant is known for its breakfast food. My mother and grandfather both ordered omelettes. My mother's had swiss cheese, avocados, and bacon in it:
I don't eat omelettes because eggs come out of chicken butts, but my mom likes to eat things that come out of the butts of birds, so she really enjoyed her omelette. Usually restaurants overcook omelettes, which is a problem because my mom likes her omelettes really soft. So usually she orders her omelettes soft, but restaurants rarely listen to her order. But at The Egg & I they actually listened to her and her omelette came back very runny, which is good. Plus they put a lot of cheese in there, which she also said was good. And I bet the bacon tasted pretty good because it came from really cute pigs. My grandfather also liked his omelette, but his is less festive looking because it was just a boring cheese omelette:
I did eat the hashbrowns on the side of my mom's plate, and they were very good. Although nothing can compare to the hashbrowns served at McDonald's. I wish I were kidding, but those sticks of butter with some potato chunks in them are totally worth the ten minutes of my life I lose with every bite. But these hashbrowns were very good.
Also, the omelettes were served with two pancakes each:
A lot of the other stuff on the breakfast menu is practically dessert. Basically any combination of fruit, chocolate, and starchy breakfast foods you can think of are on this menu:
Plus, the cute pigs make for really cute bacon:
In addition to the myriad breakfast foods served here, The Egg & I serves a lot of lunch foods as well. I ordered a California Turkey Wrap, but because I am a moron I forgot to take a picture of my food. So this is a generic turkey wrap that I found on the internet:
The turkey wrap that I ate came with turkey, cheddar cheese (I substituted that for swiss cheese), avacado, and sprouts. Do not assume that it comes with a type of dressing. It does not. The sandwich was the dryest thing I have ever eaten. I had about a quarter of the wrap when I realized why it was so dry, so I ordered a side of ranch dressing, and the sandwich tasted like a million times better. So, if you go to the Egg & I at some point in the future, I recommend this wrap, but only if you get the ranch dressing on the side.
Also, the wrap comes with french fries. Again, please enjoy this generic picture of french fries from the internet:
These fries were less dry than the sandwich, but they were also beefed up a bit by the ranch dressing. My meal also came with a soup. I chose to order the tortilla soup. But it is not on the menu, so I can't remember if it was actually called "tortilla soup." But it was soup and it had tortilla chips in it, so I will continue to call it tortilla soup:
It was very good. The red white and blue tortillas gave it a bit of a patriotic crunch, plus the soup was a little bit spicy. It had corn and I can remember at least two different types of beans. It was very good, and I recommend this soup.
My grandmother ordered the taco salad:
I considered getting this salad, but I ended up not, so I am glad that my grandmother ordered it. The salad was in a corn tortilla bowl, which was pretty cool. Inside of the bowl was a bed of lettuce, chorizo taco meat, Greek olives, cheddar cheese, avacados, tomatos, onions, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa. It was really good, and I am a little jealous that I did not end up ordering the salad. Although once I added the dressing to my sandwich it was all okay.
My sister did not order anything because her bloodsugar was too high so she could not eat anything. I suppose she could have eaten eggs because eggs have no carbohydrates, but sometimes she likes to suffer.
I am not sure how much our meal ended up being, but it was probably something like $40 for four people... more or less. We did not order desset because we were stuffed (plus the kitchen was closing because we finished eating at like 2:45).
The next time I will post will probably be when my parents take me and my sister out to Fogo De Chao as a post-graduation celebration. So I am probably going to fast this whole week to save room for the fifty different types of meat that they serve there. Until next time, hapy eating!
Monday, June 8, 2009
Bad news, everyone. Since May Project is officially over, the anonymous donors funding my project have pulled out their support. And since I am but a poor teenager, I do not have the funds to continue going out to meals three or four times a week. Plus, I was getting really fat. This is the reason it has been almost a week since I have posted. However, I am going to try to post at least once or twice a week because, let's face it, there are not enough reality TV shows in the world to keep me occupied for the entire summer.
But there are some days--days when Hell's fire drops a few degrees, days when a mutant pig is born with vestigial wings--when my parents are willing to take me out to eat. Like today, for example. For some reason my entire family was free from work or school at about 3:00 PM, so we all went out for a really, really late lunch at a restaurant called El Taconazo located at 2350 W Cermak Rd. According to a woman that works with my mom, this is the best taco dive in the city.
The first thing you see when you enter the restaurant is a transparent plastic display case filled with weird orange desserts:
Aren't they bizarre looking? They look kind of like orange horse hooves! But they're not. They're called "Camotes" which means sweet potatoes, but they are not sweet potatoes like I eat on Thanksgiving. Well, the inside may be like what I eat on thanksgiving, but the outside is a sweet coating containing honey and butter. They are fairly common Mexican desserts.
Once you tear your eyes away from the orange horse hooves, you see the remainder of the restaurant:
The restaurant is covered in different decorations. The main one is not even a decoration at all, but rather one of three giant menus displaying all the types of food served at El Taconazo:
This menu is on the back wall of the restaurant, and another menu is on the front wall of the restaurant. You are never handed a menu, so instead, you read the different types of food off of the menu on the wall that you are facing, which was sort of interesting. I have never seen a restaurant work like that before. I guess it saves paper...
Upon being seated, you are served tortilla chips and three types of salsas:
The chips were good, but not fantastic. They were rather thick and kind of hard to chew because they cut the inside of my mouth. The salsas, however, were SO good, but SO spicy. My mom took a bite of one and started to turn bright red and started gulping water. Which actually does not help anything. See, things taste spicy because of chemicals, in this case capsicum, that react with your taste buds to make you feel like your mouth is on fire. So, your natural inclination is to drink water to put out the "fire" in your mouth because it is cold and your mouth feels hot. However, water just spreads the capsicum around your mouth. You really should swish your mouth out with vodka because the alcohol neutralizes the capsicum. The point of me going all Bill Nye the Science Guy on you was to inform you that drinking the water actually made my mom turn redder and cough harder.
There were three types of madness-inducing salsas. The first was salsa roja (red sauce) which is usually just tomatos, onions, chile peppers and cilantro (an especially disgusting and evil herb):
The next type of salsa was salsa taquera (or taco sauce) which is made with tomatillas, not tomatos, and morita chile:
The third type was salsa verde (green sauce) that is made from green tomatillos. This was the one that made my mom turn red:
According to the woman who recommended this restaurant to my family, El Taconazo sells the best tacos in the city. So between the four of us, we tried every taco that was not mondongo or sesos or lengua. But purely for educational purposes, here are what those three dishes look like:
Mmm doesn't that look good? Ooh that mondongo looks delicious; man do I love cow stomach... And the sesos... brains... And the lengua? Oooh, the best part is that it can taste me as I swallow it. Yep, stomach, brain, and tongue. This is why you should always read the descriptions at restaurants where you don't speak the language in which the menu is written.
My mom ordered two tacos. The one on the left is a carne asada taco, and the one on the right was a chile relleno taco:
Carne asada means "roasted meat" but usually it refers to roasted beef. It is usually either skirt steak or flank steak roasted with spices and put in a taco or a burrito or sometimes even eaten plain. The dish is primarily served in Northern Mexico but it has become very popular in America. The carne asada taco was very good. My mom's taco was served with an avacado covering it, which is awesome because avacados are delicious. I guess this was kind of like serving the taco with guacamole, which is a type of "mole" sauce (not the type of mole sauce served with cocoa that we are used to) made with avacados. I also ordered the carne asada taco, but I ordered it con queso, which means with cheese. So instead of an avacado on top, I got mine with cheese. This is carne asada without the lettuce, tomato, evil-herb covering:
The other taco is a chile relleno taco. Chile relleno literally means "stuffed chile" which is what a Chile relleno is. The chile is not always super spicy, but it could be. Usually, the chile is a poblano chile stuffed with cheese and/or meat. Chile relleno is not always served on a taco, in fact it is rarely served on a taco. But apparently sometimes it is served on a taco. But when it is not served on a taco, this is what it looks like:
My dad ordered three tacos. The one on the far left is the chile relleno (so we'll skip it) the one in the middle is a chorizo taco, and the one on the right is a barbacoa taco:
Chorizo is a Mexican pork sausage. It is usually pork mixed with pork fat, which means it is really bad for you. But like all bad-for-you foods, it is absolutely delicious. It is super salty, which means that I like it a lot, and this restaurant ground it up so that it felt like ground beef in texture, but it was much saltier and it was roasted so that it got a little charred, which is just how I like it. In case you can't tell, I certainly cheated on my meal with my dad's chorizo taco. This is what chorizo looks like:
The other taco was a barbacoa taco which is slow-cooked barbecue beef. Barbacoa was the original Mexican barbecue. It was originally made with sheep meat, but now it is made from cow meat. Barbacoa de cabeza is made from parts of the cow head. Mmm cranium...:
I also ordered three tacos. On the far left is the carne asada con queso taco. In the middle is a carnitas taco. On the far right is a picadillo taco:
The carne asada con queso taco we will skip since my mother had it. It is the same thing that she ate, except without the avacado and with cheese, or "con queso." So copy and paste the entry from above, and then add cheese. But the carnitas taco is new. Actually, it is not that new. Carnitas is basically barbacoa, but with pork instead of beef. It is cooked in the same way, seasoned in the same way, but it has a different flavor and texture because of the difference in the meat:
Picadillo is completely new. It is mainly ground beef with maybe a few vegetables, but it is very heavily seasoned. Picadillo comes from the Spanish verb "picar" meaning "to mince" or "to chop" which is what picadillo is; it is minced or chopped beef:
My sister ordered two carnitas tacos, but we have already talked about carnitas, so we can skip her.
We did not order dessert because we were very full, however there was a station at the front counter where you could order flan:
Flan is the most spectacular dessert every created. It is kind of like cheesecake mixed with creme brulee. Creme brulee is an egg custard covered in a caramel top that has been hardened, usually with a blowtorch (hence the "brulee part"). Flan, on the other hand, has a soft caramel top, sort of like cheesecake. Flan is eaten all around the world and goes by many different names, such as "creme caramel" or "caramel custard." In many Spanish-speaking countries, or rather, where it is called "flan," it is served with dulce de leche:
Our meal totaled to a little under $30 for four people, so it is cheap and well worth the trip. I strongly recommend that people go there. And when you do, please tell me how the sweet potatoes are! Oh, and also, let me know how the beef stomach tastes!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
From now on I am never going to say that I am going to Old Town because whenever I say that I am going, I jinx it. Eventually I will go and have a fantastic dinner and get back in the running in the friendship competition, and everyone will be pleasantly surprised.
But I am not complaining. We ate a lot of good food. When we sat down, we were greeted with what looked, smelled, and tasted, like Mexican corn tortilla chips. In fact, they probably were Mexican corn tortilla chips:
If nothing else, I suppose this puts the picture of the cacti into perspective.
First, we ordered a side Cucumber Salad:
This was basically cucumber and a few onions with a sweet and sour sauce dressing. Then, after we had eaten a few bites of the cucumber salad, our waitress came over with our entrees and knocked an entire pitcher of water onto my mother:
She had a puddle sitting at the bottom of her purse, she looked like she peed herself, our cucumber salad had drowned in the deluge, and worst of all, our waitress did not even give us free sexy Pad Thai!
After we were all dried off, we started to eat our food. Even though we shared everything, each of us ordered our own dish. I ordered the Yellow Curry with chicken:
The term "curry" usually refers to a variety of spiced dishes. "Curry" is a Tamil word, usually understood to mean "gravy," not "spices," although typically curry dishes are spiced with cumin, turmeric, coriander, or red pepper. Curry is in many types of Thai cuisine, although curry has become popular in other places like Japan and even Britain. Thai curry comes in three color-coordinated flavors. The curry pictured above is yellow curry, but red and green also exist:
Thai red curry is usually made with coconut milk and/or fish sauce and red curry paste. Green curry typically has coconut milk and/or fish sauce, green curry paste, and pea aubergine. Yellow curry, on the other hand, is usually creamier because it contains both coconut milk and coconut cream in addition to the yellow curry.
My moist mother ordered pork Pad See Ew:
Anybody who is on the Lab School math team has eaten my body weight in this stuff. It is a Chinese-influenced noodle stir-fry dish served with meat (in this case pork), egg, and broccoli. Pad See Ew is typically a street food served in Thailand. Now, don't get me wrong. Noodles, etc. has a special place in my heart. But this pad see ew was the best that I have ever had. I ate about half of this dish by myself, and it was a big dish.
Robin ordered Bamee:
Bamee is the Thai name for a type of noodle called Lo Mian. Lo Mian (not to be confused with lo mein) is a type of hand-made or hand-pulled noodle. This is the type of wheat flour based noodle from which ramen is derived. This bamee contained chicken, garlic, peppers, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, bean sprouts, cilantro, and crushed peanuts. It was a lot less soupy than I have seen in the past and it was really, really good. But I think the highlight was still the pad see ew.
Because the only thing snail-y about this restaurant is the speed of the service (except when they are spilling water on your mother) by the time we had eaten our lunch it was already 1:00 and I had to be at school to discuss this lovely blog to the nice eighth graders that I met today at 1:15, so we did not have time for dessert. But if we had I probably would have tried some sweet taro root with ginkgo nuts. Seriously, doesn't that make me sound super-Asian?
So we had to leave without dessert, but that saved us like $4.00, so I guess it is okay. Our bill totaled to about $33 for three people. Plus, we took home enough food for at least one more dinner. I am beginning to notice a pattern... I think I bring home more food than I actually eat.
I'm not going to even pretend like I am going to have time to post again until this weekend, and maybe not even then. And since May Project is officially over and real life is starting again, my posts will become more and more sporadic. I don't think I will stop posting any time soon because I have received so many recommendations from my gazillions of fans that I will need to at least continue through the summer. And like I always say, I have to eat anyway, I might as well write about it! But there will no longer be a strict schedule for posts. So, keep checking back here every few days to update yourself. OR if you want to make things easier, you can become a follower of my blog, or you can even friend me on facebook (if we are not already friends) and you can receive updates about my blog in your newsfeed. Until next time... happy eating!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Going to Avondale may seem like a cop-out since I ate Polish food in Avondale last week, but I'm going to tell you why it isn't. The Polish part of Avondale is sometimes considered a separate neighborhood from Avondale, sometimes called The Polish Village, and sometimes called Waclawowo. Or at least I think that it is separate. Please don't be mad at me if that was misinformation, and today really was a cop-out. So, because I needed to go to actual Avondale I went to a cafe there called The Grind (not to be confused with the show on MTV that was previously hosted by a shirtless Eric Nies, who was also on "The Real World" and "Confessions of A Teen Idol. That last bit was just in case you are ever questioned about MTV mini-celebrities when you are a contestant on Jeopardy) located at 4613 N. Lincoln Avenue:
Erica and Caroline (my dates for the day) told me that this was where we were going to meet our future husbands because apparently one of the women who wrote a review online met her husband here, so I was totally pumped to meet the man I would spend the rest of my life with! The food was good, but sadly I did not make any romantic connections...
To get to The Grind, I took the number 8 bus north until the Lincoln/Fullerton stop, and then I took the number 11 bus north on Lincoln until the Wilson stop. Sidenote: the Halsted bus was completely empty when I got on, but within about three blocks it got uncharacteristically crowded. But, since I was seated towards the front I got a first-row seat to the people-entering-the-bus show. This family-- a mom, dad, and a kid in a stroller--entered the bus about a mile after I did. The mom had about four teeth and the dad was carrying a toddler in his arms, but pushing an empty stroller, which I thought was sort of weird. So, the dad has the stroller sitting in the middle of the aisle so no one can walk through, but he lets the kid stand on this counter-like thing in the front of the bus. The dad lets go at some point just as the bus is lurching to a stop. The kid falls off of the counter-thing and directly into a woman in a wheelchair's lap. The dad picks up the kid (does not apologize because he is rude) and laughs as the kid bites one of the plastic handles that people hold onto when the bus is moving, which is disgusting in at least two ways. Then, he lets her walk on the ground. The kid proceeds to walk up to the lady across the aisle from the woman in a wheelchair and pulls up her skirt. The mom notices this, picks up the kid (does not apologize because she is rude) and puts the kid back in the stroller, just as a man with a practically no hair and a Hitler-looking mustache walks on the bus. As the mom is putting the kid into the stroller (finally, because the stroller is taking up room anyway) she bumps into the Bald Hitler. Then a brief fight breaks out between the dad and the Bald Hitler because the Bald Hitler "intentionally" bumped into the mom because she and her four teeth were so good-looking that the Bald Hitler could not control himself. The bus driver then kicks the mom, the dad, the kid, and Bald Hitler off of the bus, as they yell and curse. As the doors close the spectators starts to applaud, and the bus driver takes a bow and continues driving. Next time I'm bringing popcorn.
Even though none of us met our soul mates there, The Grind was a really great little cafe. It is very artsy and cute inside. The walls are covered with pictures of punk-rock people:
But of course, my favorite part of the decor was the dessert and pastry bar that is the focus of attention (or at least the focus of my attention) when you walk in:
It looks so delicious...
The food is mainly vegetarian, with the exception of a tuna sandwich. I was sort of surprised at this, and possibly a little disappointed, however when I actually ate my sandwich I could hardly tell. It was so flavorful and yummy that I did not notice:
It was tomato, lettuce, smoked mozzarella, and this pesto sauce that was really good, probably because they make it fresh there, all on ciabatta bread. The salad came with all of the sandwiches, and it is just a simple lettuce and cucumber salad, but you get to choose from three dressings. The one pictured here is balsamic. I think it was the pesto that made me not care that there was no meat on the sandwich. It was really good pesto.
Erica ordered Sue's Bagel, which is similar to what I had, but it was on a bagel. Actually, reading the description on their menu, I kind of wished that I ordered Sue's Bagel instead of what I ordered... but no matter:
The bagel contained the pesto from my sandwich that made me swear off men and switch to loving garnishes, but it also contained baked goat cheese which is awesome. Also, this salad had a raspberry dressing. Or at least, I think it does. The online menu does not mention dressing types for side salads. Also, Erica ordered a Red Smoothie:
The Red Smoothie contains raspberry, yogurt, honey, and orange juice. I did not taste the smoothie because I am a moron, however the reviews, and Erica, tell me that it was very good.
Caroline ordered the Italian Med sandwich:
Actually, reading the ingredients of this sandwich makes me kind of want to cheat on my sandwich and Erica's sandwich. The Italian Med contains hummus, feta, artichoke salad, cucumber, and lettuce on the same ciabatta bread that my sandwich was on. If only this sandwich had a little bit of pesto...
Caroline also ordered a drink:
The drink is not on the online menu, so I can not be certain about the name of the drink, but if I remember correctly, it is called a Lemon Fizzy. I think it is basically just lemon juice with sparkling water, but I think you can order it sweetened. Caroline not order it sweetened, which I think she regretted, but I tasted it and it tasted pretty good. Very refreshing, but not as sweet as lemonade or as a lemon-flavored soda. Not that I've ever tasted lemon-flavored soda. Why don't they sell lemon-flavored soda?
Remember how I said that the dessert bar drew my attention from the second I walked into the cafe? Well, this chocolate chip cheesecake dessert kept calling my name throughout all of lunch. So I felt like I owed it to the cheesecake to buy it:
So, I did. The cheesecake part was really good. Very rich in flavor, if not exactly creamy. But the crust was sort of weird. In theory it was a regular crushed graham cracker crust, but it tasted kind of like granola. Maybe it was granola... but it was not a very good crust. Maybe I would have liked it better if I knew what it was.
I do not know exactly how much we spent as a group because we all ordered separately. However I know that my meal, between the sandwich and the cheesecake was about $13.
After lunch, we still weren't sick of each other! So, to celebrate this achievement, we went to the stores across the street from the restaurant. My favorite was this comic book store. I wish I remembered the name. I'm going to guess that its name was "Comic Book Store." So, we walked into Comic Book Store and immediately, I knew what it felt like to be Leonard from The Big Bang Theory:
Although, I guess Leonard would never have taken the action figures out of the boxes. Anyway, this store had some pretty ridiculous collectables. Some of the highlights were The Chocolate Mpire:
But my personal favorite had to be P.J. Sparkles. If you hug her, she lights up with LOVE! Only a few people can do that:
Oooh! And her party dress becomes a nightie! I don't know anyone who can do that!
So went my day in Avondale: sandwich and cheesecake, P.J. Sparkles, and 45 minutes of playing 20 questions in the Old Town School of Folk Music while listening to a 20-something year old try to play "A Whole New World" on what I can only assume was a dying cat. It was a good day.
Considering how unreliable I am, I may or may not have a post tomorrow. May Project is winding down and there a few... um... requirements... that may need to be tweaked just a little bit. If I do go out for food tomorrow, it may finally be to Old Town. But now that I said that, I totally just jinxed myself...
One more thing: I have decided that I will continue this blog after May Project is officially over. Whenever I go out to dinner or lunch or some place interesting, I will tell you all about it. So, keep checking back, or even subscribe to my RSS feed or become a follower of my blog. That way you can passively stalk me instead of actively stalking me. Trust me, passive stalking is way more fun. Until next time, happy eating!