Goan Dinner Party

I have wanted to cook Goan food since our trip to Austin, Texas and a visit to G’raj Mahal in February. The layered, warmly-spiced, creamy sauces are intoxicating. Goa, being a northern coastal region of India, incorporates a lot of chilies, coconut milk and seafood into their dishes. The heat of our current summer also made me want some spice and beer, to share with good friends on a lazy weekend.

Indian food is the kind of cooking I love. It begins with perusing my cookbooks and the web for recipes, a trip to an ethnic grocery store, and an entire day cooking in the kitchen. Zen.

Naan bread was purchased from our local Indian takeout joint. Unless you have a tandoor oven, naan is never quite right.

Our Menu

  • Naan
  • Chicken Makhani
  • Saag Paneer
  • Aloo Gobi
  • Goan-style Coconut Shrimp Curry
  • Coconut Scented Basmati Rice
  • Coconut Sport Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple and Candied Fennel Seeds

Chicken Makhani
(adapted from online recipes posted by Sayed Saquib)
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, slit to absorb marinade.

1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 cup yogurt (I used goat’s milk yogurt)
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp ginger/garlic paste (available at Indian grocers)*

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
1/4 cup grated khoya
1/4 cup ground cashews**
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, plus 1/4 juice
1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp all spice
2 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 cup cream

1. Marinate chicken for at least 15 minutes or longer. Remove from marinade and discard marinade.
2. Grill chicken on bbq for 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and then cut into large chunks and put aside.
3. Heat butter in a large saucepan and saute ginger/garlic paste until it begins to brown.
4. Add khoya and ground cashews.
5. Stir in remaining ingredients except cream and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
6. Turn heat to low and stir in cream.
7. Add chicken back in and heat through for 10 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice or naan bread. This recipe is even better if made in the morning and left to sit all day in  the fridge so the flavours can develop.

* Ginger/garlic paste is sold in small and large bottles. It is a nice time saver in many Indian and Asian dishes that call for both ingredients, and provides a more mellow flavor than raw ginger and garlic. You will not find yourself burping up garlic after the fact.

**I use an electric coffee grinder to grind spices and nuts (I don’t grind coffee in it ever as that would flavour both the spices and the coffee).

For a printable version of this recipe, click HERE.


Ginger-Garlic Paste – a nice time-saver.
Ground cashew – a wonderful, rich thickener.

Saag Paneer (adapted from Canadian Living Magazine, September 2009)
Serves 6-8

11 ounce pkg of spinach (baby spinach, washed and ready to use)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seed, toasted for about 10 seconds and then ground in a mortar and pestle
1 onion finely chopped
1 tbsp ghee or butter
3 tsp garlic /ginger paste or 3 cloves of garlic minced and 2 tsp finely grated ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp cayenne and a pinch of Kashmiri red chili powder if you have it. It adds a nice heat.
1/2 tsp salt
1/ tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch cinnamon
3 plum tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped***
Just under 1/3 cup of cream
1/3 cup roasted cashews, ground
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garam masala
8 ounce pkg paneer, cubed

1. In a large pot of water, blanch spinach until just wilted; drain, chill under cold water and drain again. Reserve a 1/4 cup of cooking liquid. Puree the liquid, cashews and spinach in a food processor or blender until smooth.
2. In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and ghee, cook until onion is golden, about 8 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium and stir in garlic/ginger paste. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in fresh cilantro, cayenne, kashmiri red chili powder, salt, ground coriander, turmeric and cinnamon. Cook, stirring until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and continue to cook until tomatoes break down, about three minutes.
4. Stir in spinach mixture, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until steaming hot, about more three minutes.
5. Measure out the cream in a small bowl. Whisk a little of the hot spinach mixture into the cream to temper it so it won’t curdle. Add to hot saucepan. Stir in lemon juice and garam masala. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and add paneer. Cook covered until heated through, about two minutes.

*** To peel tomatoes easily for this recipe, put a large saucepan of water on to boil (you need it to blanch the spinach anyways). Cut deep crosses in the bottom of the tomatoes. When water boils, drop them in for about 15 seconds. Remove and run under cold water while slipping the skins off.

For a printable version of this recipe, click HERE.

Aloo Gobi (adapted from www.quickindiancooking.com)
Serves 6-8

3 very large red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cauliflower cut into florets
1 tbsp ghee
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp garlic/ginger paste or 1 clove garlic minced and 1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup frozen peas

1. Heat the ghee and fry the onion and garlic/ginger paste. Throw in the potatoes, turmeric, chili powder, coriander and cumin.Add about a 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook the potatoes.
2. When the potatoes are almost cooked but still a little resistant to a fork, add the cauliflower. Cover the pot until cauliflower becomes soft. Be sure to add the cauliflower before the potatoes are fully cooked otherwise they will overcook. Toss in the frozen peas and heat through
3. Add salt and garam masala. Dish should be dry.

For a printable version of this recipe, click HERE.

Goan-style Coconut Shrimp Curry (Adapted from Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur)
Serves 6-8

2 pounds wild-caught gulf shrimp
1/2 tsp kosher salt plus 1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp black pepper plus a 1/4 tsp
1/8 tsp cayenne and/or Kashmiri red chili powder for more heat (this dish is not hot)
Juice of two limes
1/4 cup canola oil
4 dried red chilies
2 tsp garlic/ginger paste or 2 cloves garlic minced and 1 inch ginger, minced
1 sweet, white onion, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
8-10 curry leaves (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tbsp tamarind paste concentrate (available at Asian Markets)
1/2 tsp medium curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Peel and clean shrimp. Place in a resealable freezer bag. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, cayenne and lime juice. Mix well. Put in refrigerator and marinate for a half hour but not longer. If you need more time for prep or waiting on guests, take the shrimp out of the marinade at this time so the citrus does not “cook” the shrimp.
2. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, combine oil and chilies and cook for about two minutes. add 1/4 tsp black pepper and cook for another minute. Add garlic/ginger paste, onion, and 1/2 tsp salt. Saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground coriander, turmeric, shredded coconut and curry leaves. Continue sauteing for another minute until fragrant.
3. Reduce heat to medium low and add tomatoes and their juices and the tamarind paste. Stir, scraping sides and bottom of pot, for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
4. Stir in curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil and add shrimp. Simmer until shrimp are opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro.
5. Serve with basmati rice.

For a printable version of this recipe, click HERE.


Coconut-Scented Basmati Rice
Using the traditional stove top method or in a rice cooker, make enough rice for your guests. Substitute coconut water, widely available now, for the water or cooking liquid.

Coconut Sport Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple and candied Fennel Seed
Purchase cardamom, coconut (coconut “sport” or macapuno, being a mutant variety of coconut with softer, juicier meat), or mango ice cream, whatever your heart desires. Get a denuded, cored fresh pineapple at your grocers and cut it into 6 rings. Grill it to cook it and bring out its sweetness. Get some nice grill marks on there. Take it off the grill and cut it into chunks and toss with a little brown sugar and butter. Serve over ice cream and sprinkle with candied fennel seeds –  which Rob could not find at the Indian Food market but curiously found them at Loblaws.

The meal was a huge success. Here are our impressions of each dish:

  • Naan – We didn’t make this but it was great Naan – rich, slightly sweet and savoury and great for not wasting a drop of those amazing sauces.
  • Chicken Makhani – Rich and luscious.  The goat-yogurt marinated chicken was grilled before adding to the sauce, so the charred and caramelized smokiness was a great foil for the bright tomato and yogurt flavours.
  • Saag Paneer – This was surprisingly the spiciest item on the menu, no doubt, due to the Kashmiri red chili powder. This dish tasted like it had the most ingredients of the night. This saag was unlike others I have tried which tend to be simpler side dishes.
  • Aloo Gobi – Potatoes, cauliflower, chilies, spices, peas — yum. What’s not to like?
  • Goan-style Coconut Shrimp Curry – The star fo the show to be sure. Creamy, coconut-sweet, rich, spicy, but never overpowering the sweet delicate flavour of the shrimp. This is the style I yearned for the most since our visit to G’raj Mahal. The best of Goan-style cuisine.
  • Coconut Scented Basmati Rice – A great staple dish to carry the sauces.
  • Coconut Sport Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple and Candied Fennel Seeds – A fitting tribute to the tropical, coastal flavours of Goa.









¡Hola from Chicago!

Another gorgeous, warm day in Chicago. Maureen wanted to shop for some Cowboy Boots and there’s a very large western wear outlet in a predominantly Mexican part of town, called Alcala. It’s bigger then the ones we’ve seen in Texas.

Now, Chicago is known for deep-dish pizza, Italian beef, hot dogs and bratwurst, reflecting the hearty European stock that settled the mid-west, and for the barbecue and soul food from its African-American population. Less well known outside of Chicago, but very present is the large Mexican community and the volume and quality of authentic Mexican cuisine they represent. So we thought we’d sample the Mexican food that Chicago offers today. We’re going to both ends of the spectrum, from the local humble taqueria to the internationally acclaimed powerhouse of Latin cuisine.

Great Urban Spoon reviews took us to El Taco Veloz for a late breakfast/early lunch. It’s exterior is brightly painted and festive. As we walk through the door we can see the small kitchen up front, in the window, where one of the cooks is cutting up a mountain of poblano peppers — a very good sign. The interior is as brightly coloured, the walls covered in what can only be called “Festive Mexican Amateur Tromp L’oeil”. The room was filling up with local road workers on lunch break and one poor hungover local next to us, with a comforting bowl of pozole with lime, raw onions and tortillas, as well as a side of grilled baby onions and lime.

Everything on the menu looks great and the prices were so low, we asked the server how much food people typically ordered. On her advice we orders two gorditas each with beans and rice. A gordita, despite what you’ve seen in the Taco Bell commercials, is a soft, puffy frybread made with masa harina (corn flour), fried on a flat top to “bake” and then sliced halfway through to accommodate all kinds of amazing goodies. Maureen chose one with pork al pastor and one with cheese and poblanos. I opted for the poblanos as well and one with “barbacoa“, which is beef cooked over an open fire that’s then pulled and is the origin of the word “barbeque”.

Each plate had refried beans, Mexican rice (complete with lima beans, peas and other veggies) and a small adornment of shredded lettuce. The beans were fine, but far from being the star of the show. The rice was classic Mexican rice — made by Mexicans — meaning it was hand made and mixed and built from the ground up.

The gorditas were soft and luscious. The poblano version was rich with melted queso and mild, fried poblanos, a tremendous combination. The pork al pastor was well-seasoned, although we couldn’t detect the signature pineapple flavour in the marinade or the sauced pork, but it was great nonetheless. The barbacoa was rich with char-grilled flavour.

Dinner is a reprise of a visit to Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, an upscale Mexican eatery, that celebrates the best of their regional cuisines and ingredients. We’re not going to give you the full run down because we’ve done it before.

After a couple amazing Micheladas, we settled into dinner, starting with  a trio of ceviches:

  • Frontera Ceviche (albacore, tomato, olive)
  • Yucatecan Ceviche (shrimp, squid, orange, cucumber)
  • Tropical Tuna Cocktail (big eye, avoado-tomatillo, mango salsa)

Maureen chose a main of Carne Asada Brava — Serrano-marinated, grass-fed Tall Grass flank steak, salsa huevona (hand-crushed, grill-roasted tomatoes, jalapeños). Grilled knob onions and sweet corn tamales with crema & fresh cheese. It was spicy, but well-balanced by the slightly-sweet tamale and cooled by the crema.

I had the Chipotle-glazed Gunthorp Farm pork back ribs, with tangy cabbage, black beans. The waiter warned us it was spicy. I like it spicy so I had a “bring it on” attitude. I figured I had the beans and the coleslaw to cool things down if it got out of hand. My first bite was of the beans. Damn, they were spicy. The next was of coleslaw, which was full of julienne jalapenos and Mexican chile-pickled carrots and they used the vinegar from the pickles as the dressing for the cole slaw. Turned out I was using the ribs, that I was warned were spicy, as a respite from the rest of the plate. They were spicy and smoky with enough sweetness in the glaze to give me some relief.  Well…that and the cold Pacifico beer I was nursing (or was it nursing me?). The ribs were wonderful.

With burning lips, we went out to enjoy our last night in the city.

A Diner with ‘tude!

It’s another gorgeous summer day in the windy city. We have a leisurely start and decide to take a mini road trip to Wisconsin for a late lunch. Frank’s Diner in Kenosha has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. Frank’s covers “diners” and “dives”.

The drive to Kenosha is unremarkable highway. The Smith Falls-sized town is pretty in parts especially along the lake shore, where the mighty Lake Michigan is an incredible jade-green blue. Frank’s resides in a less picturesque part of town, the part that time left in the dust. The residents have not forgotten however, and Frank’s, a narrow, oak, ancient train car diner is orchestrated chaos at lunchtime. Diners are lined up behind the row of counter stools waiting their turn amid shouts to clear the door way that leads to a narrow addition added on to provide minimal booth seating. Outside tables are also available but you really want to be inside at the counter where the action is. And by “action”, I mean a high-speed ballet of cooking, plating and food delivery that is remarkable in such a tiny space.

Took this when we left – AFTER the lunch rush. It was far too packed and chaotic when we arrived.

From our counter stools we have a perfect view of the ancient kitchen and the short order cook. There is no room for a mise en place. Another woman reads the order tickets and places what the cook needs beside her for each order. The menu is fairly extensive for the size of the kitchen. Meanwhile, three to five others shout, take orders, berate customers, take payment, deliver plates, clear plates and grab ketchup. Barely organized chaos. But they still have time to chat and make sure each customer is happy and looked after.

Frank’s is decorated in – layers. Layers of cooking oil, layers of kitsch, layers of attitude. The patina of grease cannot be faked. Even my lungs are coated. Smoke hangs in the air over the flat top. This is no faux diner. A customer at the counter wants ketchup. The counter guy gives him a good-natured hard time. Another diner asks him if he is the owner. He asks her why she thinks that. She says “because you sound like a guy who would own this place.” He distainfully says “no, I sound like a guy with a few more years of school left then I’m outta here.” It’s that kinda joint — fast moving fast talking, slow food cooked to order.

Rob and I order the house special: The Garbage Plate. You can order half, so we each ask for half. Hash-browns, eggs, cheese and meats of your choosing, peppers, onions – jalapenos if you like. I choose cheddar with their homemade corned beef hash and Rob orders sausage and pepper jack. While we wait a server dances by briefly holding cinnamon rolls under our noses. “Yours?” No, but wow…wish they were. We continue to watch the short order cook load order after order on to the flat top….several garbage plates, burgers and pancakes one inch thick cooked to golden perfection. The show is worth the drive. I’m thinking the cook is surprisingly efficient but really she can be nothing but. The kitchen is so tiny the deep fryer is out back somewhere.

Our food arrives and it is hot and melty-delicious. Jalapenos add a nice heat. The plates come with delicious homemade toast that has been slathered in butter with an extremely heavy hand. A little grape jelly sends the toast into another dimension.

Yes. This is HALF a garbage plate.

After lunch, since we are in Kenosha, you have to visit the Jelly Belly factory in the neighbouring town of Pleasant Prairie, don’t ya? It’s on the way out of town so we stop for the 15 minute tour on the Jelly Belly Express, an interesting “Mr. Roger’s style” look at the factory that produces the tiny flavoured beans.

We learn that many flavours contain natural elements – coconut contains coconut flakes for example. I am hoping it doesn’t, but I didn’t ask if the Harry Potter vomit flavour contains any. The signature is stamped on in cornstarch ink, and that the rejects are called belly flops. All in all it was a fun tour and the factory shop has a sample bar and tons of goodies to purchase. Cue Homer Simpson voice: Mmmmmm…chocolate-covered Very Cherry Jelly Bellies.



Lou Mitchell’s & Berghoff

We woke to beautiful, warm, sunny weather on our second day in Chicago. Local Eats and a bit of research has us heading off to Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast. We are finding parking is a bit of an issue here in the windy city and opt for a nearby parking lot. The attendant says we have to leave the keys but Rob doesn’t want to. He tells us to go across the street to another lot, but then changes his mind. We park and the younger thug feels it is necessary to “escort” us around the corner to Lou’s. I try to get some distance from him but we can’t shake him. He holds the door open and Rob hands him a few bucks. I look at him incredulously. He replies ” he knows where our car is.” Yup.

Lou’s an honest, old school diner at the start of old Route 66, opened in 1923. It is pretty much full on a Wednesday morning at 9:45. We are greeted by a hostess who demands we take a fresh donut hole. She shows us to our table and hands us menus and mini sized box of milk duds. The table hosts a variety of condiments including their house blend of maple syrup and home made preserves. Lou’s has it’s own in-house bakery, but I’m not big on pastries or sweets for breakfast. We both opt for one of their fluffy omelettes. I choose gardiniere and cheddar, because the spicy pickle mix on Rob’s hot beef yesterday was so yummy, and Rob orders the salami and swiss. The eggs come with hash-brown potatoes which are sliced thin and fried on the flat top. You can request your omelette “hobo-style” as I did and have the potatoes folded in.

After we ordered and the waitress brings coffee and fresh squeezed OJ, I start thinking about how I’m always enthused by the long list of omelette combos on breakfast menus and how I am always disappointed. Today our omelettes are delivered in skillets. They are a nice size but not huge. I dig in to my fluffy eggs and am very pleasantly surprised. This is probably the best omelette I’ve ever had outside of my own kitchen. The eggs are not overly stretched with water or milk, the good-quality cheddar is plentiful and melty-good, and the gardiniere provides a nice spicy, vinegary, green bite . The potatoes add flavour and texture. A dollop of sour cream lends a bit of creaminess to cut the heat of the peppers. A+.

Rob’s had the same fluffy texture, but good diced salami and cheese provided a richness that rounded it out nicely. The omelettes comes with a side of excellent, egg bread toast which is made fresh on premise daily. It comes slathered in butter. Grape jelly and homemade marmalade are the jam options on the table. The jelly is good but the orange marmalade is fabulous. Lou’s makes it, and we can only assume it is created from the rind and pulp leavings of the juicer machine and a little sugar. It is tart and full of intense flavour. They do sell it and we did purchased some but had to decline it because it comes in a pint sized ice cream container that would not survive the plane trip back in a suitcase.

Lou Mitchell's on UrbanspoonOur afternoon is spent shopping, taking photographs and visiting the Navy Pier. Another parking rip-off is to be had here. The Pier’s parking is unavailable due to construction so we park at a nearby garage. We tool around the tourist trap of chain restaurants and souvenir stands and enjoy beautiful Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Getting back to the car and pay for parking, we’re charged $18 for an hour and a half. Taxis from here on in – they’re way cheaper than parking.

Back at the hotel we have a few seconds to catch our breath before hoping in a taxi for an early dinner at The Berghoff and a night of comedy at The Vic. The Berghoff is a Chicago institution. Opened in 1898, the dining room still carries the ambiance of early twentieth century.

The walls are paneled in golden oak, a twelve foot mirror graces one wall while others are adorned with murals of Chicago and curiously Rome and Venice. Big band music serenades. Stained glass and inlaid wood scenes complete the picture. The ambiance is marred only by the very casual clientele at this early dinner hour. People should be waltzed across the ballroom-esque floor by tuxedoed waiters.

The menu has been updated in recent years we are told by our Korean taxi driver, but the classics remain and are indicated as Berghoff family recipes. We both choose the sauerbraten this evening as well as two house-brewed hefweisens. An assortment of very excellent cheese crisps, rye and molasses breads are delivered to the table while we await our mains.

Our dinner arrives on white Berghoff signature dinnerware, looking deliciously home cooked. We are not disappointed. I have limited experience with German cuisine. This is my first sauerbraten and I declare it excellent. The gravy is tangy and a little sweet and nicely complements the tender, sliced beef. Asparagus and green beans are cooked tender crisp, as are the carrots. The carrots are real, peeled and sweet. One of my pet peeves and for which I will strike a restaurant from my consciousness, is an establishment that cheaps out and serves fake baby carrots that have been “babyized” — cut to size and peeled by an ammonia process in a factory somewhere. I swear this brought the venerable “The Mill” to it’s knees despite Lowell Green’s shilling. Where was I? Ooh! The mashed potatoes — creamy, smooth, buttery, just like my mom makes. Not the lumpy, dirty with skins, lazy “smashed” potatoes I make, but honest to goodness mashed deliciousness that no one takes the time to make anymore. Just as well because there was probably as much butter as potato in these.

Berghoff on UrbanspoonOff the the Vic Theater (American spelling because that’s its name), to see our first performance of the Comedy Festival: Patton Oswalt.



Chicago: Pizano’s & Popcorn!

When we wrapped our monster road trip last summer in Chicago, we knew we’d have to return. We’re here for the Just For Laughs festival, an extension of the iconic Montreal comedy event, and also to check out some of its iconic eateries and famous food.

Arrived in the windy city just before noon on a pleasantly cool summer day. Our flight was at a civilized 9:50 am, and oddly, there was no one behind us or in front of us at check in, security or immigration AND our bags were the first to come off the carousel on the other side. Quickest airline experience ever. After an uneventful flight, the best kind, we arrived in Chicago and checked in at The Wit Hotel. We were eager to hit the bustling streets and enjoy the city. Conan O’Brien is taping his late night talk show ight next door this week and carrying out his antics on the State Street Bridge which we have a view of from our hotel room on the 24th floor.

We walked snapping pics until we got hungry. We decided on Pizano’s simply because it was in front of us at the moment of need. It was well after 1 pm and the place was hopping inside and out. We opt for a seat inside. It is rather cool outside and street traffic is heavy. Turns out to be a good choice and we have a great view of the street from our table.

The restaurant is decorated in “amateur Italian mural” and the walls are adorned from the bottom up with framed sports figure photos and local celebs. Baseball and football have a huge presence.  The Blackhawks have disturbingly little love from what I can see on this my second visit to the city. They won a cup in very recent memory. What have the Cubs done? I digress.

Our friendly waitress starts to rhyme off what she has on tap. We stop her at Blue Moon. Two refreshing glasses of this delicious wheat beer that is unavailable north of the border. Our beers come and she answers our menu questions. I order the Italian sausage sandwich which is her personal favorite and a big seller. Rob is determined apparently to find out what all the fuss is about Italian beef, a Chicago special. We had it on our last visit and declared it to be ….well….awful. He believes we had a bad one and are missing out on something. Our waitress agrees with him and says their Italian beef is excellent. Turns out they were both right.

We have time to finish our beers before our food arrives. This is a good sign. They are making stuff fresh in the kitchen. Our plates come heaping with excellent fries, crispy, skin on, perfect. A very good vinegar coleslaw and a decent dill accompany both sandwiches. Mine comes with a small cup of very good meat sauce and Rob’s comes with au jus dip and and a sport- and cherry-pepper-laced gardinere.

My Italian sausage is juicy but a tad salty. The bun is perfectly toasty, warm and chewy but not tough. A little cheese and an excellent tomato sauce makes this a great choice. Rob gives me a bite of his Italian beef and I have to admit…he was right. We just had a bad one on our first try. This is beefy, tasty and spicy hot with piles juicy beef, sweet peppers and a generous application of hot Italian gardienere. The bun is as mine was, toasty and nicely chewy. The sandwich was not pre-dipped and therefore not a soggy mess, which some Chicago native’s find a plus. It comes down to personal taste and this was more to our taste.

On our walk back to our hotel we stopped in at Garrett Popcorn to buy some of their famous Chicago Mix popcorn. Lucky for us there were no lineups today. Sometimes they go down the street. Garrets famous blend is completely addictive and made fresh without preservatives every day.

Pizano's Pizza & Pasta on Urbanspoon


The Chicago Blend is a delicious blend of cheesy and caramel popcorn. The caramel coating the kernels tastes lightly of burnt sugar and the heavily cheesy corn of cheetos. OMG delicious. BEST. POPCORN. EVER. I cannot stop eating it and my fingers are permanently stained orange.

Garrett Popcorn Shops on Urbanspoon