Friday, January 01, 2010

Pizza and streudel

J. and I spent a day and a half in Chicago while visiting my folks.  We try to visit the Windy City everytime we go up for a visit, since my hometown is so close.  This time around, we attempted a culinary tour of Chicago.  First up was Chicago-style pizza at the Gino's East restaurant near downtown Chicago.  It wasn't too bad, but I don't think it tops Giordano's.  We ordered a small, with 2 slices for each of us, and left with bulging bellies.  The crust of Gino's East pizza seemed to border on fried cornbread, which was a different touch.

The next day we returned to Chicago in heavy snow, which proved an adventure to slog through on foot in the neighborhoods of Chicago that we visited.  We intended to get pastries at the Swedish Bakery in the Andersonville neighborhood, but the place was a crammed whirlwind of customers waiting for their holiday orders.  The waiting lines made no sense, so we wanded back up the street to a cafe and got crepes stuffed with strawberries and nutella.  The main stretch of Andersonville, a historically Swedish neighborhood, was particularly picturesque that day, with fat snowflakes falling, mounding on the sidewalks and streets.  Buildings here and there were painted the colors of Sweden, yellow and blue, and the snow made it all look so cozy and festive.

After a detour to the REI store, we wound up in the West Town neighborhood, at Podhalanka, directly across from the Division station of the Blue Line train.  Podhalanka was a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, with 2 little old ladies working in the kitchen, icons decorating the walls, and an old TV set to the Polish channel.  We had a feast that warmed us up after a day of wading through snow and slush.  I got sour borscht soup, and we shared potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage rolls, and pierogi, which are dumplings stuffed with spiced meats, potatoes, and an interesting type of sweet cheese.  Quite delicious. 

As always, we also visited Christkindlmarket, for streudels and glogg, mulled wine that will put hair on your chest.  My introversion emerges in full force at this market, as people are packed like sardines among the booths set up on Daley Plaza, and I'm usually itching to leave almost as soon as we arrive.  I wish there was some kind of force field I could erect around my person--something that would force people away, or make them think of someplace else they should be whenever they draw too near.

Anti-social as always, but I still love to visit Chicago.

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