Thursday, February 25, 2010

How I got started as a "Professional" eater. And yes, I am a professional.

Well I have a few explanations as to why/how I became the eating machine that I am today. Let's just get to it then, shall we?

1. Growing up my father was involved in things I am not at liberty to speak of... He was a man of the 60's & 70's let's say. As a kid he always kept snacks in the house. There wasn't a day I couldn't find twinkies, chocolate chip cookies, candy bars, etc. littered throughout the house. Everyday was like a freakin Easter hunt, I loved it. A candy bar in between the couch cushions, a soda hidden behind a bag of veggies, a hot dog wrapped in towel in the back of the oven, the list go's on & on. I mean there were times we had the electricity or the phone turned off, but we always had sweets lurking around. How could a child resist? I became a complete junk food junkie! Addicted to the daily consumption of multiple sweets & greasy food products.

2. I grew up in the "Hermosa Park" neighborhood, and there used to be this excellent ma & pa diner in the early 80's on Fullerton Ave., near Kostner called Mr. G's. It was owned by a couple of sweethearts, Mary & George. I used to meet my mom there almost every Friday when she got out of work for our "Friday Night Dinner Out Of The House." We only really ate out once a week due to financial reasons. But this was my favorite night of the week as a child, I used to get anxiety walking there to meet her.

I couldn't wait to go meet my mom, she'd let me order anything I wanted off of the menu, and I did. I would order what I considered to be "Grown Up" meals, which was the dinner special. The dinner special was always something different form either baked ham with scalloped potatoes and fresh veggies, with white bread & butter, to pot roast with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies, with white bread & butter or the "Friday Fish Fry" during lent, which was fried fish with mashed potatoes, fresh veggies and white bread & butter.

We became so friendly with Mary & George that they offered mymother a running tab that she could pay off on Fridays. Can you believe it? A running tab at the best spot in the neighborhood!!! I went from going there once a week, to heading there straight from school almost everyday. I was in heaven. I just showed up on any day of the week now, and i got to order anything I wanted. I think that is where I really made the transition from being a slightly chubby cute kid, to a fat cute kid. I went from wearing "Garanimals" to shopping in the Sears "Husky" section in just months. And it didn't stop there....

3. My neighborhood went from being mostly European, to mostly Hispanic in just under 2 years. I now had lot's of Latino friends who's parents were cooking foods I have never really had to much of before. There was no tomato sauce and pork loin anymore, now there were enchiladas and mole sauces. Mole sauce, what the hell is that? A sauce made form chocolate? Are you freakin serious?!!! Where has this been my whole life? My Hispanic friends really opened my eyes to a whole new world of spices and flavors. I was curious for more, but I had no outlet. Not until...

4. I got my drivers license when I was 17, and that was it, I was a free bird. Gone. Sionara suckers! I wouldn't get home most nights till 3,4 in the morning. I went everywhere and anywhere. Now I was eating out All The Time! I didn't eat a single meal at home for years. I was always out on the road, but I was unemployed. I was living off of a weekly allowance of $20. I'd take the trash out, straighten up a bit, whatever they told me to do. And I didn't really do most of it, I was spoiled, but I still got my allowance. It wasn't much, so I had to eat cheap, dine & ditch, or mouch off of my friends parents. I would look for places that offered food specials like "Huey's Hot Dogs" had 3 hot dogs & fries for $1.99. that's a meal, and a snack. Or just drop by a friends for some steak tacos, and beans, I always managed to make it work. I ate out all the time!

5. Keeping with the driving theme... professionally, I became a driver. I drove an advertising truck for doritos, a doctor who made house calls, and I drove/drive people for a medical transport company. And all I do is look for places that I have been lead to by there scent, which I have followed for several miles to get to or maybe the place has just that right look to me that says "yeah, our food's pretty darn good" and it usually is.

These are a few of the reasons I believe I am the glutton I am today.

**Live Show Announcement**

I have a live show of "Off the Eatin Path with Monte" coming up... April 8th. & 9th. 2010 at "The Lincoln Lodge" 4008 N. Lincoln Ave. $10 admission, 9 p.m. show time.

And as always I will be serving up a "FREE" sample of food from one of the nights featured spots! To R.S.V.P. 1-773-251-1539

"This is "Foodie" comedy show that is fun, entertaining, and delivers a "Free" sample of some of "Chicago's best food! I just love this show!"

---say's Monte, from "Off the Eatin path with Monte"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Come for the Steak & Eggs, stay for neighborhood.

spot: Johnny’s Grill
address/info.: 2545 N. Kedzie Blvd. 773-278-2215
food type: Basic Diner Food e.g. breakfast, burgers, soup, etc.
neighborhood: Logan Square

Come for the Steak & Eggs, stay for neighborhood.

Johnny’s Grill is a Logan Square Treasure. It’s a great little diner in the middle of one of the more “Hipster” neighborhoods in Chicago. Surrounded by some swanky little food spots “Johnny’s Grill” holds down the corner just fine with excellent steak & eggs, and delicious waffles & burgers.
This place has been around for years!! Just how many, I am not totally sure, but I have been eating there for over 15 years! And the cook who is there during the morning shift, the large Spanish guy who stands with his hands at his hips while he’s resting, has been there as long as I’ve been going there. And in my opinion, he makes some of the best skirt & eggs I have ever had. And I’ve had it at a lot of places.
To me, there’s nothing greater then sitting at the counter watching a beautiful piece of skirt steak fry up under a heavy iron weight. And at “Johnny’s” I can sit and stare all day. That steak looks so freakin “Monte-licious” with all the oregano, pepper, and other assorted spices on top of it while it’s cracklin up from being fried. And the aroma it releases while cookin up…. I wish I could eat the air it smells so good! Then it comes with three eggs, hash browns & toast. And I like to let the juices from the freshly fried steak soak into the hash browns, then I break the over easy eggs into the hash browns and mix it all together. Sooooo good!!
And after you’ve had this amazing breakfast, if you like, you ca walk around the Blvd. and check out some of the “Hip” little shops in the area, or go the big church at the corner that hogs up all the parking on Sundays.
I’ll see you at “Johnny’s!”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Go in for the kill at the “Two way grill”

spot: Two Way Grill
address/info.: 4351 N. Elston Ave. (773) 545-3881
food type: Yer usual Greasy spoon with excellent burgers, breakfast, and soups.
neighborhood: Irving Park

Go in for the kill at the “Two way grill”

People, today I am talking about “Biscuits & Gravy” Mc Davy! That’s right, some good ol’ B&G at the “Two Way Grill.” Which you can only get between the hours of 11 p.m. – 11 a.m. The “Two Way” is that neat little burger/breakfast spot at Elston n’ Pulaski, it’s a cool building right on the corner of a diagonal street giving it that triangular look/feel.
Well, enough about the freakin building, on to food! B&G, if yer not familiar, is biscuits (buttermilk are best) covered in white sausage gravy. That’s it, plain & simple. What really makes B&G better or worse from one place to the next is usually the gravy. I mean, you want a good biscuit, but even a stale biscuit covered with enough gravy will still taste pretty good. But that will never be yer concern at the “Two way.”
The gravy has a nice thick consistency, with a very generous amount of breakfast sausage mixed into it. That’s also important, to much or to little sausage really matters. Too much, gross. Too little, unsatisfying. The “Two Way” has just the right amount of sausage, you will not be disappointed, and it is “Monte-licious!”
Last but not least… most of the people I have met that either work there, or are regulars there, and the “Two Way” has a surprising amount of regulars, have all been really cool, and down to earth. Which adds an element of comfort that I appreciate. See ya there!
Did I mention the fact that they serve fried bologna?!!! They do! Great for all yer buddies who may have just been released from “Penn State.” ; ) See ya there!