I'm here to merely rhapsodize about what a great time I had, and how much I already miss the food.
Chicago was a long awaited and needed vacation for me and Mr. Icequeen. The first trip to the Second City for both of us. Every meal we had was good...but many were great, and more importantly...memorable. Pictured above are the simplicity of the homemade red hots and sausages from Hot Doug's. There aren't enough superlatives to describe how delicious all of it was. After standing in line for 45 minutes on a Saturday, surrounded by hipsters, we were able to inch our way inside the small but colorful eatery. All the hipsters would usually have deterred us, but the grizzled city police officer ahead of us gave us hope that we were in the right place. If I've learned anything over the years, it's that cops know the best places to get good food, for cheap.
My first,authentic Chicago dog. The snap of the wiener, the pickle, tomato, sports pepper, and that poppy seed bun, oh my! It goes against everything a West Virginia girl believes in when it comes to hot dogs. But change is a beautiful thing, my friends.
The bratwurst dog, and spicy red hot were both ordered with caramelized onions and mustard (yellow, as it should be). But most importantly, and the primary reason for the pilgrimage to Doug's....the duck fat fries. Which alone would have been worth the wait, but paired with the dogs, made for a gastronomic experience that I'd be willing to repeat again and again.
Some may see Hot Doug's as "touristy" and so, choose to steer clear of it. Please don't make that mistake, or you will miss out a spot that I feel truly reflect the true essence of Chicago's food scene. I have found my Mecca.
I want to take a few moments here to say that one of the greatest things about Chicago is feeling the buzz of a huge metropolis, but the interactions with the natives reflect that Mid-Western mentality. Everyone was incredibly friendly to us. It quickly felt like a second home.
But onto the pig!
The love that the husband and I share for all things pork is well known. And so, The Purple Pig was practically created with us in mind, it specializes using the pig from snout to tail. Located on the Magnificent Mile, we decided to stop in for a late lunch (unfortunately on a Sunday), to fill our bellies. The restaurant/bar was standing room only, and there was very little of that, and the noise level was through the roof (yep, I'm old). Much to our delight, the wait for a table was short, and our porky journey was about to get underway.
We began with the Testa, a house made cold cut, the primary ingredient being pig testes. Not bad, but a little greasy. Next, bone marrow with toast. Now we're getting somewhere! Bone marrow is one of my favorite dishes, and this did not disappoint. The fatty marrow, smeared on the thick, grilled bread, was lardy heaven. But I do have to note, pig marrow is not as flavorful as beef marrow, but I'll take what I can get.
The freshly made bratwurst, for me, was the star of the meal. Subtle seasoning in the brat, served over kale and sun dried tomatoes was such a perfect balance of flavors.
There was deep fried sow's ear. The ear cut into shoestring strips, then deep fried until ultra-crisp, served beneath a softly fried duck egg, and over thick cut bread and micro greens with a sharp vinaigrette.
I could keep going, but I don't want to bore you with each and every dish, but I will give you this....
if you go, save room for dessert. The grilled, Nutella, banana, and marshmallow creme sandwich is divine. Just the right blend of sweet and salty to wind up the pork-a-palooza.
Sometimes all there is to say is.....GO BEARS!!!!!
I could go on and on about Chicago. In fact, enough to fill several posts. But I won't. Because nothing I could say would do the city justice. The food, the history, the shopping, the architecture. So, I will simply take a chance and say......Oh Chicago, you and I are going to become close, close friends.