Tuesday, January 26, 2010
food type: Duh, Chinese
address: 3718 N. Elston ave. 773-588-6906(i have it saved in my cell phone)
neighborhood: Irving park east/Avondale
In the words of Rick James.... Changs, B*tch!!!
Just when I had all but almost given up on Chinese food my buddy invites me to lunch at Changs!
As soon as I walked in I knew I was in for treat. It smelled good and looked like it hadn’t been touched since the late seventies early eighties. It has old school Chinese paintings, red carpeting and it was cool to see those old school fringe style Chinese dragons hangin’ around. This spot is totally Americanized!
Anyway let me get to the food. Since everything I’ve tried there is excellent and I’ve tried everything from the "Moo Shu Chicken" to the #59 “Happy Family”(shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken and chinese vegetables) I’ll just list a few of my current favorites.
First I wanna mention the egg roll. They have an excellent crispy egg roll, it is so good, sometimes I feel like just ordering 4 of them and callin’ it a night. I am also big into anything there with vegetables, because their vegetables are so fresh, that they still have a snap to them after being cooked (still holding in nutrients). You really have to try the vegetable soup it is MONTE-RIFFIC! Even in the soup the vegetables have snap to them! Not to mention that the soup is loaded with huge veggie chunks of everything from broccoli to zucchini.
As for an entree, I am big into the vegetable or chicken "Egg Foo Young" with no msg. Again, the vegetables have a nice fresh crunch with every bite of the "veggie egg foo young. And the chicken in the "chicken egg foo young" is really fresh and they use all white meat. I have to admit, even though i like the brown gravy, it backs me up a little so I get on the side.
Most entrees are at or under $6.50, now that's "A Good Meal at a Good Deal!" Plus they have a bar if you like a little booze with yer food, and I love that you have to walk through beads to get to the bathroom. Old School.
I have to mention that if you show up early and it's the mom, the service will be slow, but if you wait till later in the day the owners son is the waiter. And he is easily one of the most prepared, professional waiters I’ve ever seen.
So go check out "Changs for Chinese."
Posted by Monte at 9:49 AM
Monday, January 18, 2010
Today (January 18, 2010) I learned the most valuable life lesson... how to make “Chicken Piccata”
This was one of my greatest life lessons, taught to me by good friend “Miro.”
Chicken Piccata: I know most people are familiar with this dish, but if yer not, it’s boneless chicken breast, filleted into cutlets, then lightly floured and pan fried, at a high heat, until golden brown. Sounds delicious doesn’t it? But there’s more!
Yes there is more, and that “more” is the sauce. The sauce is really what the meal is about, without the sauce, you have fried chicken. And you can get that anywhere. Here is what I learned tonight….
To make the sauce, you start by filling a pan with a generous amount of olive oil, and hit that $** with a high flame. Once the oil is hot, throw the onions in, remove the pan from the flame. Let the onions cook in the heat of the hot oil, not the oil and the flame. That is how you burn onions, we are just cooking them till they wilt to get the most flavor. Burning=bitter. After a few moments, put the pan back to the flame, then add the white wine, a generous amount, yer cooking out the alcohol anyway, you just want the flavor of the grapes is all. We cook this till it reduces to about half. Now we add the chicken broth, squeeze in fresh lemon, add capers and caper juice, and let it cook for a while on a high heat. You also want to add whatever is left from the frying pan you used to fry the chicken in. oh, don’t forget to add salt, and a little white pepper to yer liking.
After it’s reduced some more and has cooked to a nice brownish color, it’s time to remove it from the pan and drain all of the juices into another pan, now you only have the sauce, no onions, capers, pieces of fried flour, etc. all the essence from everything you cooked is now in that sauce and is full of flavor. Now you put that sauce in the pan back to a high flame and begin to stir in a half stick of butter, cold. Now you will see the sauce begin to darken a little and turn into a velvety, brown, sauce of goodness.
This you will pour over yer chicken and mashed potatoes, then add some crumbled bacon and freshly chopped parsley. Voila! “Monte-licious!”
This whole meal cost about $20. For three people to eat this good, you can not complain at all!
Posted by Monte at 8:54 PM
Monday, January 11, 2010
spot: The Tamale Lady!
address: There is none! It’s in the “Discount Mega Mall” parking lot on the corner of Sacramento & Milwaukee 5 a.m. – 10 a.m. ish Every single day.
food type: Tamales. Only.
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Who cares about the “Tamale Guy,” when you got “The Tamale Lady!!!”
That’s right, “Tamale Lady!” I know everyone loves “The Tamale Guy” who cruises the Chicago bars with a cooler full of hot/warm tamales.
He mostly hits the Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Ukrainian Village neighborhood bars/nightclubs. “The Tamale Guy’s” tamales are good, but good at best. I think the lure is the convenience of being in a bar, drunk or drinking, and having tamales brought to you, ready to eat, immediately! And at a decent price too. I think you can get 6 tamales for $5. That’s fair, I have eaten them myself. But if you want a high quality, great tasting tamale at an even better price: The Tamale Lady!
“The Tamale Lady” has, and has had, a permanent set up in “The Discount Mega-Mall” parking lot on the corner of Sacramento & Milwaukee for over 10 years!! Yes, 10 years plus, and counting. And she is there everyday from 5 a.m. till she sells out, which is everyday, by or before 10 a.m. I don’t care if it’s storming rain, a snow blizzard, or extreme heat, she is there. And 7 days a week! Can the U.S.P.S. beat that?
The tamales are delicious too. They are never dry, or lacking of meat. The mild chicken tamales are “Monte-licious!” And these tamales have few, if any competitors. And you get a half dozen for $4!!! Inexpensive Yo! Also, “The Tamale Lady” serves up something you absolutely need to try, and that is a hot chocolate type of drink that is filled with rice. It is so freakin “Monte-riffic!” You won’t believe it until you try it. It is exactly what I said it is too: A really thick hot chocolate, filled with really, super soft rice. It’s almost like drinking hot, chocolaty, rice pudding. You will want to hug me for turning you on to this drink, it is that good.
And “The Tamale Lady” is Honduran, not Mexican! Can you believe that? The best tamales are not Mexican!! Whoa! Another thing you need to know, she barely speaks English. I had to look up what I wanted to say to her on the Internet, write it down, and read it to her when I got there. In Spanish.
Posted by Monte at 6:11 AM
Monday, January 4, 2010
spot: D’Amato’s Bakery
address info: 1124 W. Grand Ave. 1-312-733-5456
food type: Italian Bakery
neighborhood: West Town, West Loop
D’Amato’s Bakery for the best “Margarita” that’s not a drink!!!!
D’Amato’s Italian Bakery is easily one of Chicago’s best! And besides the bread and cookies, one of my absolute favorites at D’Amato’s has to be their one and only “Margarita” pizza bread.
This is basically like Foccacia, which is the really thick doughy type pizza bread that’s served with only tomato slices, olive oil, and Italian seasonings. And those are great, but you really have to wanna eat a lot of dough.
This is where my lovely little “Margarita” comes in. It’s pretty much the same as the Focaccia, but it’s only a little over an eighth of an inch thick. That’s it!! This also allows the bottom, as well of the rest of it to be a little crunchier, which I absolutely love!! And it really holds the olive oil into the dough better when it’s thinner, and that helps give it that extra juicy and oily crunch. Which is the perfect compliment to the soft and warm tomato slices on top, smothered in olive oil and Italian seasonings.
These aren’t the only goodies at D’Amato’s, they also have excellent pan pizza slices which are “Monte-licious!” Those are actually another one of my favorite things to get there. And they have terrific butter cookies, bread, rice balls, cannolis, etc. Nothing is over $4 or $5 And I think it’s the daughter or grand daughter who is there runnin’ the place most of the time, and she is really cool and as good looking as they come.
And lastly, this is huge too: They will try to bag yer goodies in plastic. NO!!!!! Plastic bags ruin the crunch! No crunch, no good. Ask for everything to bagged in paper. Yeah it can get greasy, but if you lose the crunch…. You lose everything.
Posted by Monte at 7:20 AM