We Try all of Rick Bayless's Frontera Salsas

I'm pretty sure that Trader Joe's fire roasted tomato salsa is a clone of either the mild roasted tomato salsa or the medium double roasted tomato salsa. I've never done a side-by-side taste test/label comparison, but they're pretty darn close to identical (and the TJ's version is a few $$ less expensive). Knowing how many deals TJs has with gourmet food companies (Amy's, Terra Chips, Vosge, etc.), it wouldn't surprise me if they are one and the same.

Pork belly in greater Chicago

Where have you looked? If you search LTHForum for "pork belly suppliers" you'll find an entire thread with sources.

Chicago Food Tours

I'm a Chicagoan and the only food tour I'm aware of is a Michigan Ave. chocolate tour. I could Google others, but I'm sure you've already done that.

Where do you live and where are you staying? If you can't find a food tour, we might be able to point you toward one or two neighborhoods that are worth checking out, or help you with a self-guided tour.

Chicago: Schwa or Girl and the Goat?

There's a good chance that Schwa will cancel on you, so the wise choice might be to keep both and cancel GATG if Schwa doesn't bail. That said, they're very different restaurants, so it's hard to say that one is "better" than the other.

Rehearsal Dinner Help! Chicago

I'm late to respond, but love a challenge. Any further parameters re. location, ambiance, per-person budget, guests' palettes, etc.? A few ideas:

* Some of the Chinese restaurants (Phoenix, Lao Sze Chuan) could accommodate you in private rooms.
* Balena, Balsan, Embeya, GT Fish & Oyster, Nightwood and Vivo all have private dining rooms that could hold you.

* Places like Ditka's and Harry Carey's could certainly accommodate you and out-of-towners will think of them as quintessentially Chicago (even if most of us Chicagoans don't eat there).

* Also, you might want to consider private clubs like the Metropolitan Club or University Club. Stunning rooms (and views, in some case) even if the restaurants aren't necessarily Chicago destination places.

Looking for Kuwaiti Schwarma Recipe

Where in the Midwest do you live? I have not had Kuwaiti shawarmas, but I lived in Saudi Arabia as a kid. Here in Chicago we have a several Middle Eastern places that are pretty good substitutes for the real thing (and I have other expat friends who agree). If you get to Chicago, try Al-Khaymeih on N. Kedzie.

broken meat-pies for sale...would you buy one?

Was your complaint primarily that they were broken? Or that they were outdated? If they were broken, complain to the store manager or the manufacturer. If they were spoiled, complain to the health department. Either way, exercise your right as a consumer and spend your dollars with another grocer.

Ask a Chef: What's Your Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish?

Oyster Casserole (aka Oyster Stuffing) is a mainstay on my family's holiday table, but Onions in Onions and Brussels Sprouts in Goose Fat sound pretty damn good, too. Also, here's a tip: Remove the skin before carving the turkey, put it on a baking sheet and stick it under the broiler until it's really crispy. Amazing.

Crispy Kale, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Hash

Great recipe, Kenji! At the risk of being one of "those people," I cooked up some bacon, used the rendered fat instead of vegetable/canola oil, and then threw in the crumbled bacon when the entire thing went into the oven. A terrific dish!

First time in Chicago

I'm going to take a completely different tact.

* Anything restaurant by Brendan Sodikoff rocks. Maude's, Au Cheval, Bavette's, you can't go wrong.

* Ditto for Chef Tony Hu's restaurants.

* Yeah, deep dish pizza, hot dogs, Italian beef & chicken vesuvio are what Chicago's known for, but does the hands-down best food in Chicago fall into one of those categories? No way.

* The sandwich a day series on Serious Eats highlights some awesome meals.

* We're also well-known for our regional Mexican food, Thai food and Polish food. Worth seeking out examples of one or several of these.

* Last but not least, Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Publican, Big Star, Avec, Publican Quality Meats) was just named the co-winner of the Outstanding Chef in America. Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat, Little Goat) won for the best chef in the Midwest. The Aviary won for best bar program in the US. All Chicagoans. Last year, Bruce Sherman (North Pond) won for best chef in the Midwest, Next won for best new restaurant and Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate) won for best pastry chef. Also Chicagoans.

First time in Chicago

I think meatntaters is joking...the Green Bay Packers are the biggest rivals of the Chicago Bears, and Chicago isn't known for deep-fried cheese curds.

You will be in Chicago for part of Craft Beer Week, so if you're a beer lover that will give you an opportunity to try a lot of fantastic local and not-so-local brews. (I'd also suggest skipping the Old Style.)

What neighborhood will you be staying in? What's your food budget per meal or per trip?


Upload your photos to Flickr, Photobucket or some similar site. That should generate a permalink for each image.

Holiday Bread: Traditional German Baumkuchen at Stork's Bakery

I was in Japan in the summer of 2010 and baumkuchen were everywhere. All of the department stores with food halls were making them and people stood in huge lines to get a piece. Starbucks in Japan were even selling prepacked slices. Not sure how long baumkuchen had been all the rage in Japan, but it felt like the US cupcake craze.

Holiday Giveaway: The Amazing Thermapen Thermometer

Serious Holiday Giveaway: The Baking Steel

Caramelized onions, figs & rosemary!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Zingerman's Camp Bacon Gift Box

A BLT with fresh bread and a tomato straight from the garden.

First time in Chicago (Michigan Ave) - what can't I miss?

One more tip: If money is an issue, you may want to think twice about parking at your hotel. If you're staying around Michigan Ave., you could easily spend $50 on overnight parking. You'd probably be better off looking into some nearby lots to find a place that's less expensive.

First time in Chicago (Michigan Ave) - what can't I miss?

Consider driving or taking the El to the Argyle St. station, which is our "new" Chinatown (though really more of a Vietnamese neighborhood). I'd strongly recommend banh me sandwiches at Ba Le. It's a cheap (but delicious) eat. For a bigger Vietnamese meal, head to Nha Hang Viet Nam.

For a great gastropub experience, I usually send people to Owen & Engine. Again, you'll need to drive, but it's well worth the trip. (Many say it's the best burger in Chicago.)

My go-to Korean place is San Soo Gap (sometimes spelled Gab) San. Another one that's a drive, but a fantastic cheap eat.

On second thought, I'm going to withhold Thai recommendations. TAC Quick has always been my go-to spot, but the chef recently left to open a new restaurant (Andy's Thai Kitchen). I haven't been to TAC since he left or his new spot, so I can't speak to the quality.

First time in Chicago (Michigan Ave) - what can't I miss?

Chicago isn't expensive compared to NYC, Miami and LA, but it's not inexpensive. Your budget limits you a bit. Will you have a car? Not surprisingly, restaurants near Michigan Ave attract a touristy crowd & can be a bit overpriced.

My first budget suggestion is that you eat Sunday breakfast or lunch at Maxwell Street Market. As you probably know, Chicago has some of the best regional Mexican food in the US. This outdoor street market (only held on Sundays and, despite the name, not located on Maxwell Street) features a number of Mexican food vendors who serve food on paper plates to patrons sitting at picnic and folding tables. Pick the place with the longest line or best-looking's hard to go wrong. Two people can easily eat for $5-10 per person.

Some of my favorite cheap eats in Chicago aren't necessarily iconic (pizza, hot dogs) by traditional standards. Would you be interested in Vietnamese, Korean, Thai or a gastropub?

Where should I have my (vegetarian) 30th birthday dinner in Chi?

Budget? Atmosphere? Favorite types of cuisine?

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Baking Steel

Caramelized onions with blue cheese and fresh figs

Chicago deliciousness

There are a lot of great threads on SE from people who have asked similar questions. I'm happy to make some new suggestions, but would need a few more parameters: Price point? What can you find at home that you don't want to eat in Chicago? Where are you staying? Will you have access to a car? How far are you willing to travel? Does "good Chicago food" mean Chicago-style pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef, or are you looking for great food in Chicago regardless of whether it's a dish that's closely identified with the city?

What/Where to eat in Dublin

@Sobriquet: If you're like me, the reason brown bread ice cream overshadows all other memories is because you ate it every day of the trip! ;)

A scoop of sea salt ice cream and a scoop of milk or dark chocolate ice cream was my runner-up favorite from Murphy's.

What/Where to eat in Dublin

I was there a year ago, so my suggestions aren't particularly recent, but we loved The Pig's Ear and Rustic Stone for dinner.

The Dublin Tasting Trail, which is a foodie walking tour, was a lot of fun. It led us to one of our favorite discoveries: Brown bread ice cream at Murphy's Ice Cream. (Dingle Sea Salt ice cream was also fantastic.)

Chicago Farmer's Markets

The Green City Market is my favorite all-round farmer's market because the vendors only sell stuff they've grown/made themselves. Too many of the others seem to have vendors selling stuff they bought at the wholesale market.

I do go to the farmer's market at Southport & Grace (Saturday mornings) because Big Head Farms is there and I subscribe to their CSA. Also the Nettlehorst Market (which used to be called the Nettlehorst French Market, though there was nothing particularly French about it--particularly once the French nuns stopped participating--so I think they've dropped the "French" designation), but it doesn't wow me.

Which Halsted farmer's market? Thelocalbeet lists one in Englewood and one in Pilsen. I know there's also one at the intersection of Halsted, Broadway & Grace(?).

Chicago RSS feed being duplicated in Required Eating RSS?

I read Serious Eats using the RSS feeds. Recently the Chicago feed has started getting duplicated in the Required Eating feed. Is that intentional/do you plan to continue doing it?

Two reasons I don't like it:
1. I have to scroll past each story twice. Once is enough!

2. Assuming you're doing it with Chicago, then presumably you'll start adding other cities' content to the Required Eating feed as you roll out additional cities. I already have more than enough to read and would unsubscribe from Required Eating if I suddenly had content from other cities I wasn't interested in cluttering up that feed.

Downtown'ish NYC restaurant recommendations for a group

A friend and I will be in Manhattan in February, and because time is tight, we only have one night to get together with all of our local friends. That means a group dinner is in order. Because it's an eclectic group, I'd love to get some suggestions from other SEers.

Here are the parameters:
1. Downtown'ish (west side, probably no further north than Union Square, since several will be coming from Battery Park or through the Holland Tunnel)
2. Able to accommodate a group of 8-12 on a Tuesday night in early February. (i.e., not a place where you need to make reservations months in advance).
3. Something a bit hip that will still appeal to the foodies. (It's a group that includes everyone from investment bankers to arts & entertainment folks to those who work 9-5 corporate jobs.)
4. Reasonably priced by NYC standards.
5. Some place that gives us food cred with our local friends.

Where would you go if you were pulling together this kind of group?

"Grainy" chili...what went wrong?

I made the mistake of trying a new chili recipe yesterday, and was profoundly disappointed. I used the Cook's Illustrated January 2008 recipe for Simple Turkey Chili with Kidney Beans and it was disappointing on a lot of levels. (Among them, that Cook's Illustrated recipes are usually so dependable.)

Two of the problems have obvious solutions. (It was too watery, and the meat was bland.) But third problem puzzles me. I'd describe the chili as "grainy," for lack of a better word. What I mean is that if you look at a spoonful, you'll see tiny particles suspended in the liquid. The ingredients didn't seem to meld together. (Obviously I'm referring to the liquids and spices, not the turkey meat, onions, tomatoes and beans.) The closest analogy I can think of, is imagine that you've made tea with milk and you add a squeeze of lemon. Suddenly the milk & lemon clots together and the particles are suspended in the liquid. Any idea what would cause this in a chili recipe?

(I don't want to violate copyright rules by posting the recipe, but I'm hoping some of you are familiar with it. It was a different process than chili I've cooked in the past. Onions & seasoning were first sauteed in oil, then meat was added to the mixture and sauteed until very lightly brown. (Obviously not drained after sauteing, since the onions & seasoning were also in the pan.) Diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, drained/rinsed beans and chicken broth were then added and the entire mixture was simmered. After about an hour, another pound of raw ground turkey was added to the mix and cooked for another hour.)


Romantic, upscale New Year's Dinner for 2

Rather than going out for an overpriced dinner for New Year's Eve, my boyfriend and I have tentatively decided that we'll celebrate at home with a fantastic dinner. The cost of ingredients isn't an issue, because I figure we'll still spend less than we'd spend at a restaurant, and we're both good cooks, so I don't think we'd be challenged by most recipes. That said, I'd love to hear your suggestions for a dream dinner for 2!

(I should also note: I'm from the NE United States, he's French, so neither of us have foods that are culturally associated with NYE except for champagne and foie gras.)

I'm not sure if we'll do a traditional meal, or a series of smaller plates.

Things I'm contemplating:

Caviar and blinis
Foie gras
Jamón Ibérico de bellota

Seafood paella (incl. lobster, shrimp, mussels and clams)*
Beef Wellington or Salmon Wellington (would need a side for this)

Alternate dish ideas if we went for a few smaller plates and skipped the entree:
Cheese souffle or Raclette
Some kind of salad
Some kind of light meat course--maybe baby lamb chops?
(though as I write this, I realize that the 3 would make a full plate for an entree course, but we'll probably be grazing over the course of several hours and would stagger these 3 dishes)

Cook's Illustrated no-knead bread v 2.0

Raspberry and dark chocolate semi freddo

Our wine collection is strong, so I don't think we'll have to buy any wine.

(*The only downside to paella or bouillabaisse is that we're probably leaving town on Jan. 1, and I'd hate to throw away what are usually fantastic leftovers!)

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