Chewing the Fat
1 week ago
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Yes, there’s destination dining, but destination markets? Chewing the Fat co-hosts Louisa Chu and Monica Eng shop the aisles in this week’s Super Markets episode. Monica goes behind the scenes at ALDI US HQ. And they visit Louisa’s own local small but super market, The Dill Pickle, surprisingly Chicago’s only food co-op to date. Plus they talk favorite markets worldwide with expert Robyn Eckhardt, the blogger behind Eating Asia, on location in Turkey researching her upcoming book. Plus the tables turn this week when Monica challenges Louisa with bird’s nest white fungus drink, but Will She Eat It? — or drink it?! (Photo by Louisa Chu / Super market bags and basket at The Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Chicago)

1 week ago
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Happy tomato season!

Happy tomato season!

2 weeks ago
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Chefs are the new rock stars, and rock stars are certified chefs. But what about diners? Does head banging metal make a better burger? How do experts pair a perfect summer tomato? Chewing the Fat co-hosts Louisa Chu and Monica Eng share their all-access pass to the recent Sound Opinions BBQ, and what they heard about food and music.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/ MasterMaq

4 weeks ago
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Why should you spend double digits on a pint of ice cream? Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams tells us why, in loving detail. We also take a tour of Chicago’s coolest delicacies, including Mario’s Italian Lemonade. Finally, we bite into the cold, spicy, mango treats served at Mexican neverias. These places inspire Louisa to make a Honey Bun sundae for Monica, but Will She Eat It? Find out on the Icy episode of Chewing the Fat!

1 month ago
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Where and what to eat in Chicago’s Chinatown? Plug in your earbuds and pull on your eating pants and join Chewing the Fat’s Louisa Chu and Monica Eng along with their author pal Wen Huang for a guided eating tour of Chinatown Square, from the east to west end. On this first Chewing the Fat “Raw”.

2 months ago
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Louisa and I braved the Taste of Chicago and massive turkey legs fir WBEZ listeners.

Louisa and I braved the Taste of Chicago and massive turkey legs fir WBEZ listeners.

2 months ago
4 months ago
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Just some more pics of our Top 5 Chicago croissants from Beurrage (Louisa’s No. 1), Eclair, Fritz (Monica’s No. 1) and Cellar Door.

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If you can’t make it to Paris but still long for a rich buttery croissant, you don’t have to look far in Chicago.

That wasn’t always the case. For decades, we suffered a terrible deficit of decent French bakeries. But in recent years and months, Chicago has seen the opening of Eclair Patisserie in Andersonville, La Boulangerie in Lakeview, Cellar Door Provisions in Avondale, Vanille Patisserie in Lincoln Park and most recently, Beurrage in Pilsen. A Chicago location of Le Pain Quotidien is also set to open any day now in the Gold Coast.

Even Starbucks got in on French bakery act when it launched it not-so-shabby line of croissants here last fall.

So what does this mean for Chicago croissant lovers? That depends on whom you talk to.

My Chewing the Fat co-host Louisa Chu is not impressed by the Chicago offerings, which she deems just “OK.”As Louisa OFTEN reminds me, she lived and cooked in Paris for years, and is consequently, “spoiled.”

When I suggested that she lighten up and join me on a quest to find five really delicious croissants in the city, she scoffed and said something like “c’est impossible!.”

So, after we finished interviewing Beurrage baker Jeffrey Hallenback (whose croissants Louisa likes) on a recent Saturday, I set off with my 10 year old daughter to find buttery bliss.

I started with a list of recommendations from foodies, colleagues and Facebook friends and quickly nibbled it down to 10 that I could get to in the next four days. Facebook commenters suggested some that I didn’t get to including those from Ely’s Pancake House, Bon Jour Bakery in Hyde Park and in St Roger Abbey in Vernon Hills.

When all was said and done, we had a tie for No. 1 because Louisa only voted for one and the other four were also heavenly in my book. Here they are

1. Beurrage: 1248 W 18th St.; 773-998-2371: Supremely flakey with dough full of character building housemade cultured butter.


and

Fritz Pastry: 1408 W Diversey Pkwy.; 773-857-2989: Well-browned, complexly flavored croissants that are so criminally rich and buttery that you’ll look around for the cops as you eat them. We think the ham and cheese version are THE best hand held breakfast in Chicago.

2. Cellar Door Provisions: 3025 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-697-8337: Aggressively browned with a nutty exterior and light eggy center.

3. Vanille Patisserie: 2108 N. Clark St.773.868.4574: Restrained browning, but a buttery and pleasantly sweet center.

4.La Boulangerie: 915 W Belmont Ave.; 312-480-8337: Not gorgeous but full of a flakey but dense and flavorful dough.

5. Éclair Patisserie: 5212 N. Clark St.; 773-987-9881: Delicate and buttery and we love the striping on the pain au chocolat and the little bag of 5 to go.

5 months ago
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What’s the best croissant in Chicago? I gathered a few below but am open to other suggestions for our Paris episode coming up.

What’s the best croissant in Chicago? I gathered a few below but am open to other suggestions for our Paris episode coming up.

5 months ago
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Even if you’re tired of gefilte fish this time of year, you’ll love this 1930s tale of a kid helping his mom make the Passover patties from local Chicago fish.

5 months ago
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Live from Chicago, it’s Chewing the Fat! Co-hosts Louisa Chu and Monica Eng hold their first live event, a podcast recording and WBEZ Chicago Member Meet-Up at City Winery complete with wine, cheese, and charcuterie. Listen as audience contestants play Know Your Sausage with Hot Doug’s Doug Sohn; Will You Eat It? with three stinky cheeses and Pastoral’s Greg Miller and Ken O’Neill; plus Ask the Somms with Tenzing Master Sommelier Fernando Betata, and City Winery’s very own Rachel Driver Speckan.

5 months ago
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I’ve been researching the Eng family restaurants in Chicago and I came across a new one this weekend. It operated in Chicago’s Garfield Park during the 1920s, 30s or 40s. Anyone remember it? At least now I know why I (Monica Eng) like take out fried chicken so much.

I’ve been researching the Eng family restaurants in Chicago and I came across a new one this weekend. It operated in Chicago’s Garfield Park during the 1920s, 30s or 40s. Anyone remember it? At least now I know why I (Monica Eng) like take out fried chicken so much.

5 months ago
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Live Tweets: Chewing the Fat live show at City Winery

8 months ago
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On this week’s diet edition of Chewing the Fat (TB released Jan 3) we talk to Luke Saunders, who is planting Farmer’s Fridge vending machines with healthy foods around Chicago.  

On this week’s diet edition of Chewing the Fat (TB released Jan 3) we talk to Luke Saunders, who is planting Farmer’s Fridge vending machines with healthy foods around Chicago.  

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