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My Glorious Food Revolution- Day 1 in N. Korea

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Happy New Year to everyone out there!  Sorry for the long hiatus between posts, but I just returned from an insane vacation through North Korea and China.  I’m going to start off with North Korea since it is the more mysterious of the two countries, but if one is familiar with Korean food beyond the ubiquitous barbecue that everyone and their 엄마 (momma) loves, then you’ll see that my food adventures in the Hermit Kingdom really aren’t as exotic as one would think.  I’m going to do a day-by-day installation of the various foodstuffs and stuff they passed off as food whilst we were ushered throughout Pyongyang and Kaesong which is a city close to the DMZ.  I knew I was in for a doozy of a trip when I had my first encounter with North Korean food on the airplane.

Sadly, we were not riding on a Cold War era Russian plane en route to the Glorious Fatherland; then again, it’s not sad since I greatly value my life.  However, I questioned the safety of my G.I. tract when I was face to face with what I’d like to call the “enigma burger.”  I got a beer on the side since I was in a festive mood, and they seemed to have more of that than water. IMG_2847 It looked like a normal burger of sorts when wrapped, but after unwrapping it slowly I took a peak under its uniform top bun to find some sort of organic matter with some scraps of lettuce.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Your guess is as good as mine.

I assumed it was chicken, but when I bit into it I was greeted with an oddly creamy texture that kind of tasted like tuna yet had yellow flecks of what seemed like eggs.  Yet between my befuddled bites, it had tinges of chicken which made me somewhat relieved that my theory was correct…sorta.  It was a microcosm of one of the most isolated countries on earth:  nothing is really what it seems.  Overall, it wasn’t too bad, but it may have been overshadowed by my ravenous appetite.

When we landed in Pyongyang, we made history as the first tour group to ever been in North Korea during the New Year festivities, so even our guides were leading us into uncharted territory.  All of which obviously led to an even heightened sense of excitement when we started the night off right with some classic Taedonggang North Korean beer.  Taedonggang in Korean means “Taedong River” which is where we had our New Year’s Eve cruise through the middle of Pyongyang.  The story behind the beer is quite interesting.  A British beer company, Ushers, went bankrupt, so the North Korean government bought the factory.  They brought it over to Pyongyang, and now are churning out bottles of this delectable brew.  My first bottle was like heaven after months of drinking the dreadful triumvirate of Hite, Cass, and OB in South Korea.IMG_1546  It was a full bodied lager with a slightly bitter aftertaste which nicely complimented the eats at our little shindig.  It wouldn’t be my last time tangling with Taedonggang though during the trip.  The first food at dinner that I never saw before was this julienned potato dish that was delicious.  It was served slightly warm, and each starchy strand was soaked in a peppery vinaigrette that supplied my palate with a piquant punch with every chopstick clasp.  The other element of the meal that really caught my eye and tastebuds was actually a garnish to our main meal of fried rice:  a thousand year old egg.  Obviously, these eggs aren’t really a thousand years old, but they have been around for centuries in Chinese cuisine where they are known as   皮蛋 or pidan.  They are prepared by taking eggs and storing them in clay, ash, quicklime, and salt for months at a time.  What ends up happening is the whites turn a deep amber color almost bordering on black, and the yolk becomes a grey almost light green/yellow color which you can see in the photo.

Everyone was egging me on to eat it.  Yolks on them.

Everyone was egging me on to eat it. Yolks on them.

I saw them before in Taiwan, but I never got around to buying one while chilling in the 7-11.  So now I found myself on a boat in the middle of Pyongyang for NYE= YOLO.  I was the only one brave enough to pop the gelatinous slices in my mouth, and it really wasn’t that bad.  It just tasted like a hard boiled egg that got a brand new paint job, and they certainly didn’t taste as bad as the German cookies they were selling on the boat for snacks.  It was a great celebration where everyone enjoyed each others company in a unique environment.  However, the main thought in the back of my head the entire time was how much food we were being served while millions of people have died from famine in the very same country.  It added a somewhat sombre tinge to my perusing of Pyongyang’s culinary entries, but it was a sad truth that further added to the odd atmosphere that would continue in day two.

Craft Beer in Korea? Once In A Brew Moon

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Annyeong hasayeo to everyone out there and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today’s post is a bit different because it deals with a subject that Korean culture enjoys greatly.  No, I’m not talking about K-pop super groups or overly cutesy-wootsy cartoon animals that could cause diabetes with their saccharine antics (although these two elements really do permeate every part of life in Korea).  I’m actually talking about drinking alcohol in social settings.  However, instead of calling attention to Korean classics like soju and makkeoli, I’m going to shed some light on the craft brewing scene in Seoul.  No longer do you have to suffer with the anemic attempts at legitimate beer in the form of a cold Hite or Cass!  First, we shall take a jaunt down to Craftworks in Itaewon.

Craftworks is located at 651 Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (http://craftworkstaphouse.com/), but it’s a little hard to find since it’s wedged behind another restaurant in an alley.  Even though it may sound a bit seedy, in reality it’s a hidden gem of a gastropub.  When I first walked in, there was a 40 minute wait, and I could see why.  First, there is their beer menu that is filled with homemade craft brews that are named after Korean landmarks and range anywhere from IPAs to Weisbeers to Dark Ales.  Then there are their menu offerings which include barbecue, wings, build your own salad, sandwiches, and some desserts that made me think of home when I was waiting for a table.  There in front of me in the entryway was a glass case which contained a lattice topped peach pie that was as big as a hubcap and right beside it, a decadent red velvet cake.  I must have died and went to the American enclave of heaven.  It was a definite contrast to the Korean dried seafood and rice cake bonanza that was being displayed in the metro station during my commute to Craftworks.  Eventually, my friend Nate showed up, and we got a table.  The interior was very classy with a dark-wood bar and large glass windows that opened up to a mini patio. craftworks-taphouse-and Definitely the perfect ambiance for enjoying a hand-crafted beer on a cool night.  I started off with the Jirisan Moon Bear I.P.A (7,500 W).

Couldn't wait to get my paws on this bear

Couldn’t wait to get my paws on this bear

The name is interesting since Jirisan is a region in southern South Korea and has one of the three most important mountains in the country.  As for the Moon Bear, it’s a reference to the the Asiatic black bear whose bile is (controversially) consumed for traditional medicine to cure a variety of ailments.  Animal cruelty aside, the beer itself was quite surprising since I’m not the biggest IPA fan, and don’t worry, there wasn’t any bear bile in it.  It had clear citrus notes throughout the body, and the aftertaste did not possess an overwhelming hoppiness.  I then moved on to my soft spot:  dark beers.  I went for the Geumgang Mountain Dark Ale (6,000 W) which checked every box which I look for in a quality beer.IMG_0252  It was darker than a black hole, and the flavor was relatively free of hops.  Plus, there was a slight smokiness to the aftertaste along with chocolate undertones.  Once we had our fill in the wonderful ambiance of Craftworks, we made our way over to Oktoberfest in Hongdae.

Oktoberfest is an all German affair located at 162-6 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu (마포구 동교동162-6); +82 (2) 323 8081.

Main beer hall

Main beer hall

 Their beer selection isn’t as wide or as creatively named as the libations at Craftworks, but they serve some German classics like Pilsner , Weissbier, and even a half beer, half Sprite Radler in sizes from small (300 ml) to large (1,000 ml).  However, I went with a small glass of Dunklesbier or dark beer (5,000 W).IMG_0257  It was not as fierce as the Geumgang Dark Ale, but it was very smooth with a malty aftertaste.  It also lacked the distinctive smokiness of the Dark Ale.  Next time I think I will try the Radler since it is rarely seen outside of Germany, and I do love my Sprite.

So there you have it, folks.  There are many other craft beer breweries in Seoul that I still have to visit, but I hope this entry has shed a little light on the beer scene in Korea and provided a glimmer of hope for those who want to move beyond weak, fizzy beer.

Troika: Hunger Sleigher

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Hello to everyone out there who has been waiting for a new post and those who are visiting my site for the first time.  Welcome to Mastication Monologues!  Today I will be talking about dining at a restaurant in Seoul’s Itaewon district that was a bit of a spur of the moment decision. The establishment in question is the Russian restaurant Troika located at Seoul, Yongsan-gu Itaewon-dong 119-29 2F 서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 119-29 2층.  Here’s their website:  http://www.troikaseoul.com/

Originally, the night began with my friend Aaron and I planning to try one of the hottest Mexican restaurants in Seoul, Vato’s Tacos.  Unfortunately, I should have heeded my Korean coteacher’s warning that we should have called for reservations at least one day in advance.  I walked up their stone stairs to be greeted by a crush of Koreans waiting to get their hands on some comida mexicana.  There was a two hour wait, so we decided to cut our losses and find somewhere that wouldn’t be overflowing with people.  I will return there to try their tiny tacos, so it’s not adios but hasta la proxima, Vatos Tacos.

We decided to take a back street that a lot of people were coming out of, and we were thrust immediately into a very cosmopolitan street that was lined with restaurants from all corners of the globe from Brazilian to Greek.  I wanted to try one of the Brazilian steak houses, but they were a bit too expensive for our liking.  Instead, Aaron saw a Russian sign that said, “Troika” and asked me about Russian cuisine.  We settled on trying it, and immediately we were worried when we walked under the sign.

A stairway to culinary heaven

A stairway to culinary heaven

Instead of there being a storefront, there was a long and dimly lit flight of stairs with some grafitti adorning the walls with a woman dressed in Russian traditional garb at the top.  I found out later that Aaron thought that we were going to walk into a den of inequity since a lot of Russians in Korea are brought over as prostitutes, but thankfully we were greeted with a small restaurant that was interesting to say the least.

We were immediately seated by our waiter who was dressed like someone straight out of one of Chekov’s or Gogol’s novels, i.e. like a Russian peasant complete with valenki (boots) and a flat cloth cap.  The waitresses were also adorned with the traditional women’s dresses and headdresses.  The interior of the restaurant is also decorated like a dacha or summer cottage that many Russians go to in order to escape the madness of big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Where's the vodka?

Where’s the vodka?

So if you’re into Russian kitsch like Matryoshka dolls and paintings of bears with balalaikas (like me), this is your heaven.  Also, the name of the restaurant, Troika, is a three horse sleigh that is a symbol of Russia.  Before ordering my waiter asked me if I was Russian due my general appearance, and it seemed that the only foreigners who came in were Russian.  The rest of the patrons were Korean.  I ended up choosing the Kartoshka po Derevenski (14,300 W) and a Baltika Russian Porter (8,000 W for a half liter).

When they both came out, I was extremely excited.  First, there was the beer. IMG_1719 As I have mentioned in previous posts like “Hair of the Waygookin“, Korean beer is like drinking carbonated, yellow water, i.e. a beverage devoid of any real flavor.  The Baltika number 6, however, was as dark as night and possessed a flavor that was full-bodied yet understated in true Russian fashion.  Then there was my meal that came out in a large, hot skillet.

Definitely will make you strong like bull and good on plow

Definitely will make you strong like bull and good on plow

It was the Russian version of an American skillet where there was a base of fried and seasoned potato slices which were covered in tiny pieces of fried pork.  On top of this carb and protein mountain resided a fried egg and tiny green onion slices.  It even came with the ubiquitous cup of Russian sour cream on the side.  I just had to take a long look at my meal because it was so non-Korean it hurt, but I got down to business quickly.  The potatoes were expertly fried and not greasy at all.  The pork crumbles were not seasoned but provided a bacon flavor profile to the dish.  As for the egg, it was a bit like gilding the rose because it didn’t bring much to the meal aside from more protein and presentation points.  The same could be said about the green onions.  Then again, I love green onions, so I wasn’t complaining that they were there.

In the end, stumbling upon Troika was a wonderful episode of happenstance.  If you’re looking to try a new type of cuisine or just are looking for simple, old-fashioned meat and potato type fare, give Troika a try.

Hair of the Waygookin

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  However, this is not any regular edition of my wonderful food blog, but rather it is my 60th post.  I never honestly thought I would stick with writing a food blog for this long, but when I realized that people from all over the world enjoy my food adventures, I kept the reviews and ideas flowing.  So if you have any suggestions for new restaurants and/or new foods to try, please send them my way.  I appreciate all of the views my blog has gotten so far, thanks! Anyway,  I decided to do something a bit different for my 60th post where I would comment on the different types of drinks I have tried while living in Korea.  First, I’ll go for the lifeblood of Korean nightlife:  soju.

King of Korea

King of Korea

Soju is an interesting character in comparison to all of the other types of  drinks I have tried.  I had briefly tasted it stateside when I went to a Korean restaurant/noraebang for karaoke, but I didn’t really remember it making much of an impact on my palate.  However, upon arriving in Korea, I was in the middle of many toasts with co-workers, new friends I made through my orientation program, and old friends who were already living in Korea.  Soju is probably consumed more than water here, and it’s definitely cheaper than water in 7-Elevens.  Plus, in orientation we were informed that it is the number one liquor in the world in terms of consumption even above Smirnoff vodka.  Then again, after watching drunk Korean businessmen stumble down the street on Tuesday nights, I’m not surprised.  As for the actual taste, it kind of is like Korea’s answer to vodka.  It’s clear, nearly scentless, and can be used with many different mixers.  However, there is a somewhat off-putting, slightly sweet aftertaste if you take it in shot form.  A Korean friend told me the taste is due to the distilling process since soju is no longer derived directly from rice but rather through using artificial sugars and potatoes or tapioca roots.

The fancy bottle hides a nasty surprise inside

The fancy bottle hides a nasty surprise inside

I even tried a different soju that was distilled with turmeric,  pears, and ginger to name a few ingredients.  It didn’t go down so well since it tasted like vodka mixed with an herbal tea.  So that’s a little blurb for you liquor-only drinkers.  Next is for wine afficionados:  bokbunja and flower wine.

Bokbunja is a traditional Korean blackberry wine that was exquisite.IMG_0023  It tasted similar to a Western sweet red variety or for those who are not well versed in wine types, it had a very high sugar content.  Ergo, it seemed closer in taste to fruit juice in comparison to a more intense and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.  Another fun fact about this delicious Korean wine is that supposedly it promotes mens’ sexual health and drive.  Personally, I didn’t feel any sort of heightening of my sexual spidey senses or anything like that.  Perhaps it’s just another gimmick to sell more wine.  As for the flower wine, I have sampled two varieties:  Baekhwaju and another variety that I don’t know the name of.  The Baekhwaju is made with over 100 different flowers (Baek in Korean means 100), and it was very smooth.IMG_0025  It was like drinking a chamomile tea with minimal alcohol aftertaste.  The other bottle was a bit more intense in regard to flavor, and I think that it might have been Dugyeonju which is made with azalea petals.IMG_0024  It was slightly more viscous than the 100 flower wine which also added a texture factor that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  Moving on from that slightly negative note, next is a rice wine that I greatly  relish in imbibing.

Makkoli is a rice wine that I actually really enjoy compared to the other Korean beverages I’ve tried so far.IMG_1172  I knew Japan had its signature sake rice wine, but I didn’t know that Korea had their own version of it.  While sake is consumed either cold or warm, Makkoli is typically consumed while cold.  It’s a blend of rice, wheat, and water which ends up as a drink that looks almost like milk.  The first time I had Makkoli was during our orientation trip to Ganghwa island outside of Incheon, and we had lunch at a peasant village with a Korean tour group.  While we were eating our kimchi and chapchae, a bright green bottle caught my eye on the table.  I poured some of the milky liquid into my cup, and I was very satisfied with the taste.  It was almost like drinking a carbonated vanilla milkshake minus the richness of the butterfat and instead had a slight alcohol aftertaste.  Still, not too bad, and I definitely enjoy it more than drinking soju even though both have very low alcohol percentages.  Then there is Korean beer…

Buying mekju in Korea is buying in bulk

Buying mekju in Korea is buying in bulk

Asia really isn’t known for having amazing beer like traditional  brewmasters Germany, England, and the USA due to varying local resources, but Korean breweries have seemingly modeled most of their beers off of many of the large American lagers like Budweiser and Coors.  The three biggest brands are Hite, OB, and Cass.  I’ve tried all three, and they’re nothing to brag about.  They’re pretty run of the mill in terms of taste (minimal hops and quite thin in regard to body), but at least they’re affordable compared to foreign beers.  Sadly they don’t have any dark beer to speak of, but beggars can’t be choosers when in a different place.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this special post celebration 60 wonderful posts of food and drink adventures.  Raise a glass and here’s to 60 more!

Red Bi Bim Bap, I Eat You Up

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Hello or should I say, Annyeong haseyo to everyone out there!  I have officially moved to South Korea, and I have already tried one of their signature dishes:  dol sot bi bim bap.  This blog post is going to be a bit different since you can basically get this dish anywhere in Korea, so instead I’m just going to provide my general impressions of the dish.

My precious

My precious

We just went to a really small place right by the hotel we’re staying in by the Incheon airport, but it was very welcoming.  I decided to get the dol sot bi bim bap because I’ve had it before stateside, so I wanted to see how it would taste in the heart of the motherland (preview:  delicious).  If you’ve never heard of this meal before, it is a hot bowl that is filled with rice, carrots, bean sprouts, assorted greens, zucchini  and cucumber to name a few ingredients.  Plus, it had a raw egg on top that I had to stir along the sides of the pot in order for it to completely cook and mix among the veggies.  I even gave it a healthy dose of gojuchang or red chili pepper sauce which supposedly was supposed to be spicy.  Overall, I greatly enjoyed the bi bim bap since the vegetables like the cucumbers were fresh and flavorful.  The rice was cooked to perfection with a slight crispiness thanks to the sesame oil used in the bottom of the stone dish, and the red chili pepper sauce had a slight kick to it but nothing too crazy for yours truly.  I would liken it to maybe a Tapatio or Yucateco hot sauce level of spiciness.  It was also accompanied with this very thin and flavorless broth that was filled with what seemed like green onions, but it was so bland that it was like drinking water.  Oh well, at least I filled up on delicious rice and vegetables.  I had my first Korean beer, Cass, which was not as terrible as I thought it was going to be after trying other Asian beers.  I would liken it to a more flavorful Coors Light.  So yeah, if you’re afraid of Korean cuisine, bi bim bap is a great starter dish.

One Tasty Mofo

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Hello to everyone out there on the interwebz and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Since I’m finally recovering from the crazy Super Bowl weekend, this will be a relatively short post.  Actually, it revolves around a restaurant/bar that I tried in downtown Chicago that apparently is one, or perhaps the, sports bar to watch Chicago sports or any event for that matter.  I’m talking about Mother Hubbards located at 5 W Hubbard St  Chicago, IL 60654.

I had actually never been to this place until someone suggested that we should check it out for Superbowl Sunday.  Naturally, I am always down for a new adventure, so we made our way over to the establishment.  As soon as we walked in, I could see what all of the hullabaloo was about.  The walls were figuratively made of televisions, but it was definitely a good sign that I was not going to have to jerk my head about like a goon to catch a good view of the epic match-up between the Ravens and 49ers.  Since I didn’t feel too hungry, I decided to go with something on the lighter side of the menu.  I saw that they have the typical bar food like ribs, burgers, and Chicago hotdogs, but the “make your own grilled cheese” option seemed to be more fitting for my appetite at the time.  There were so many options that I felt almost like a manically giggling Xzibit on Pimp My Sandwich, but I repressed my foodie urges to not scare our waitress.

"Yo dawg, I heard you like grilled cheez sandwiches, so we put grilled cheez sandwiches in your grilled cheez!"

“Yo dawg, I heard you like grilled cheez sandwiches, so we put grilled cheez sandwiches in your grilled cheez!”

I ended up choosing Chihuahua and Pepper Jack topped with Guacamole and fresh jalapenos on grilled rye bread.  Plus, it came with a side of fries and a cup of homemade chicken vegetable soup.IMG_1100

When it finally came out, I was a bit underwhelmed by how small it seemed to be.  It didn’t really seem to have the bombastic presentation of a previous grilled cheese restaurant we visited (See The Big Cheese).  However, I was not planning on judging a sandwich by its crust.  In reality, I found the sandwich to be a great fusion of Latino flavors with an American comfort food staple.  Starting with the bread, it was pan-grilled to golden perfection, and the fleeting caresses of the caraway seeds provided an extra je ne sais quoi.  The cheeses were plentiful but didn’t have very strong flavors.  I know that the two aforementioned types of cheese aren’t blues by any means, but I would have appreciated a little more pop from the Pepper Jack.  As for the guacamole, I’m not sure what separated it from the avocado option on the option, but it just seemed like they mashed up an avocado for my sandwich.  There weren’t any discernible onions, tomatoes, and/or lime flavors that I am accustomed to tasting in any standard guacamole.  It wasn’t a terrible spread but merely average.  The jalapenos, on the other hand, were very fresh rings of seed packed flavor discs.  They were crunchy and  nipping my taste buds like a herd of feral Chihuahuas.  Plus, I found that even though there was a generous helping of the guacamole on top of the jalapenos, not once did I fear for the safety of my sandwich.  Normally these types of sandwiches with slippery spreads fall apart very quickly when you’re on a feeding frenzy, but Mother Hubbards makes a tasty and well-constructed bite to eat.  As for the fries and soup, the fries were pretty tasty since they were golden and crispy and barely greasy.  The soup was naturally the perfect side for the sandwich, and the hearty chunks of chicken and fresh carrots and onions fortified me against the bone-chilling Chicago winter gusts I encountered after the game.  The entire dining experience was enjoyable, and the wait staff was very attentive throughout the game.  Even though my team didn’t win, I felt I scored a mini-victory in choosing a tasty menu option.

So if you’re looking for a solid sports bar to watch your favorite team or a place to hold a boisterous get together with equally loud flavors, then come on down to Mother Hubbards!

Mother Hubbard's Sports Pub on Urbanspoon

Mother Hubbard's on Foodio54

79 A.D. (Always.Delicious.)

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Hello to everyone out there and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Throughout the history of mankind, we have been plagued with many different types of natural disasters:  earthquakes, floods, and volcano eruptions.  The first two events are more common than the last one, but volcanoes seem to hold a special place in the place of the human mind in terms of threats from nature.  They are so unpredictable and powerful like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were completely covered in ash, and their inhabitants were flash frozen in lava casts.  What does this have to do with food?  Well, yesternight I tried the best Chicken Vesuvio ever at the oldest  Italian restaurant in Chicago, Italian Village, located at 71 West Monroe Street  Chicago, IL 60603.

italian-village

There are three different sections to the restaurant, and each area has its own theme.  Even though it may sound a bit tacky/kitschy, we ended up dining in the quaint “Village” room upstairs.  It was decorated with white lights strung across the ceiling like a big famiglia party I saw in San Gimignano, Italy, and there were mini village buildings along the walls that I assumed you could eat inside for an extra fee.

Che romantico

Che romantico

Upon looking at the menu, I could see that the establishment definitely was well stocked with plenty of Italian American favorites like different types of Parmesans and stuffed pastas.  We even received the typical basket of pane italiano and crispy breadsticks without butter.  The olive oil and Parmesan cheese they provided at the table were high quality and made a great combo with the fresh, semi-crusty bread.  Between bites of the delicious carbs, I saw they served a classic Chicago Italian-American dish:  Chicken Vesuvio.  If I was going to dine at the oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago, I might as well get a meal invented in the same city. This dish also had to cook for thirty minutes, so I  ordered a glass of the Barbera red wine.  Plus, since I ordered one of the entrees, I had the choice of soup or salad.  I decided to plump for a side salad with ranch dressing.  The salad itself was nothing special.IMG_1082 It had the typical mix of lettuce, mixed greens, a tomato slice, julienned carrots, and just the right amount of semi-watery Ranch.  I was surprised for how fast they delivered the salad to me that the vegetables were so fresh and delicious.  Perhaps they don’t prefabricate their salads and are just speed demons on the cook line.

Cooking as good as nonna's

Cooking as good as nonna’s

After waiting patiently, my Chicken Vesuvio came out. I was face to face with half a chicken and roasted potato wedges.  Both the potatoes and chicken were herb encrusted, deep brown, and cavorting with each other in a delicious pool of herbs and chicken drippings.  Sounds kind of like a season of the Jersey Shore.  I decided to scale this gastronomic volcano of deliciousness, and it erupted with flavor from the first bite of a potato wedge.  The tubers were semi-crispy on the outside with hints of rosemary and oregano, and the insides were pure white like the snow of the Italian alps.  As for the chicken, the chicken broth made the meat extra succulent since it was literally falling off the bone.  The best part of the meal was combining the crispy skin with the juicy white meat and dipping it into the broth. My Barbera wine went well with this savory dish even though it wasn’t really red meat.  This Piedmontese libation was slighty acidic but bold; two attributes that really brought out the herbs of the broth and chicken skin.  A word of caution:  there might be some splatter with the broth while you’re cutting the chicken.  So if you’re wearing anything fancy on that first date, don’t get too excited while tucking into this festa italiana.    Once the smoke settled from this smoking cauldron of deliciousness, I was stuffed and satisfied with my choice.

So if you want to experience a piece of authentic Chicago, Italian American cuisine, and/or believe that abbondanza is a virtue in cooking, remember that all roads lead to Italian Village!

Italian Village on Urbanspoon

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