Chicago’s autumnal wallet harvest.

deep dish pizzaMy beloved camera has been sent away for repairs, forcing me to use my little backup. Blame it and my amateur skill for the blur in these photos. I’d like to blame the camera woes for failing to post lately, but instead I’ll blame a recent trip to Chicago and my two main activities there: gluttony and prodigality.

Oooh, how I ate. Oh, how I spent! Living in a smaller city, I can’t buy much “fancy food” without paying high shipping costs, so I used this trip to buy every affordable non-perishable item that I’d ever yearned for. When I wasn’t enjoying a deep-dish spinach pizza from Caffe Florian in Hyde Park, an arbol chili dark chocolate pyramid from Bon Bon in Andersonville, or a raspberry petit four from Swedish Bakery, I was buying three pounds of fat chestnuts at the Green City Market in Lincoln Park, dried scallops in Chinatown, or exciting salts like earthy red Hawaiian, architectural Maldon, and sticky gray fleur de sel. You know you’re having a good time when you’re shopping at an organic farmer’s market, sample a sugar snap pea sprout (tastes just like sugar snap peas!), and trip over a pink fingerling potato. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever tripped over!

chestnutsThe fleur de sel was probably overkill, but because I couldn’t buy all the stinky cheese, delicate fruit, and pricey meat that I wanted for fear of spoilage, I comforted myself with foods that would last decades. Besides, I don’t drink. Think of the thousands of dollars that I’ve saved by not buying wine every week. Oh heck, think of the millions of dollars that I’ve saved by not buying cases of 18th century wine every day! Don’t I deserve a little hand-raked sea salt? The salt may still be around when I’m 80 because it’s too expensive to use. I’ll bring it out to show guests, but I’ll be sure to let them know that they’re not important enough to eat it. If anyone requests a taste I’ll say in a shocked tone, “You think I’m made of salt?” (Insert biblical spouse joke here.)

raspberry petit fourThe Amedi chocolate bar, salt caramels, and Trader Joe’s grade B maple syrup—I finally found grade B maple syrup—will disappear before the decade is out. I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do with dried white fungus, but I’m going to enjoy figuring it out. I know excactly what I’m going to do with the dried morels. (Hint: It involves the Italians and rice.) The Arbol chili pyramid is long gone, but the lingering heat kept me company for at least five minutes before it faded into a warm memory. Can you be addicted to a chocolate after one dose? And could the flavor be improved with a dip in fleur de sel? There’s only one way to find out.

chocolateI hope to go back soon clutching a new shopping list in my hands and wearing an extra-absorbent bib around my neck. After all, I still haven’t tried every deep-dish pizza in town, nor have I tried one of the famous hot dogs that you can’t order with ketchup or else an angry mob will drag you to the stocks to pelt you with lake effect snowballs. Also, the one store I found that stocked El Ray had run out of the white chocolate, I need to find a decent masala dabba in Indiatown, and I hear that Szichuan peppercorns packed in oil can knock a grown man into a stupor. Now that’s Chicago.

bullet Link du jour
Chicago-based Fancy Toast is a treasure of a food blog. It’s beautiful, hilarious, and a little—just a little—completely insane. I love it.

4 thoughts on “Chicago’s autumnal wallet harvest.

  1. Hi Annie,
    Thanks for linking to Fancy Toast! And thank you also for the link to Bon Bon…I’ve been looking all over Chicago for a place that sells good chocolate with chili. I’ll making a trip there next time I am on the north side. Who am I kidding, I can’t wait that long. I’m going to make a special trip just for it. And I’m going to bring both of my credit cards, yeah.
    Yay for Caffe Florian deep dish pizza!
    How do you know about all those great places for great food in Chicago?

  2. Hi Erielle! I haven’t tried a lot of chocolate with chili, so I don’t know if it’s really great or if I was just struck by the relative novelty of it. Hope it lives up to your standards. I purposely went there partly because it wasn’t as overhyped as some of the big places near the Mag Mile. Little “secret” places tend to please me more for special treats like chocolate. Swedish Bakery is only about a block south of Bon Bon, FYI.

    My brother lives in Chicago so I research like crazy before I visit. Other food blogs are a big help as well as Metromix and a couple travel guides written by locals. My brother didn’t even know he lived near a Trader Joe’s until I told him, lol.

  3. Julia: Thanks. :) I love chestnuts too, just wish somebody would invent a tool that would peel them in less than 5 seconds without burning your fingers, heh.

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