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Garrett’s Caramel Corn

Garrett's caramel corn

I don’t recall the first time I had Garrett’s caramel corn, but a few years ago I was in Chicago just before Christmas and walked over to the Michigan Avenue store. There was quite a line, and I was told the wait was two hours. “That’s just not possible!” I thought to myself. The line just didn’t seem all that long. But after twenty minutes of standing out in the frosty cold Chicago air, as the wind whipped off the lake and my face felt like it was being pelted with ice water, I’d moved forward perhaps nine inches, so I left, thinking, “No caramel corn is worth this.”

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Floriole

breads at Floriole

Lest anyone think I spent the entire week in Chicago wolfing down nothing but Mexican food, gobbling up hamburgers, and chugging hot chocolate, one day I actually took a breather and headed up to Lincoln Park to Floriole.

passion fruit tart & banana caramel pie swirl cookies

The minute I walked in, I knew I’d found somewhere special.

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Edzo’s Burger Shop

edzo's burger shop chocolate malt

What’s not to like about Edzo’s Burger Shop? Imagine a hamburger joint that offers not one, but two different options for sustainable and humanely raised beef. Or “Old Fries” for those that like our frites extra-crispy. Or Angry Fries, dusted with “four kinds of spicy.”

Although next time, I’m getting the Garlic Fries because when the pile landed on the table next to us, drizzled with garlic-parsley butter, me and my dining pal Louisa both turned and began engaging our neighbors in a conversation, perhaps with the hidden agenda that they’d be so kind as to offer us a bite. She and I never said anything, but the looks passing between us made me pretty certain she was thinking exactly the same thing that I was thinking.

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Xoco Hot Chocolate

Homemade Mexican Vanilla Soft Serve Xoco hot chocolate

At my get-together and book event the other evening here in Chicago, the biggest question I was asked by all who came by was – “Where are you eating while you’re in Chicago?” Thanks to a vast network of friends, bloggers, and assorted other folks (who I’ll get to in a minute), I’ve been eating incredibly well. People here are brimming with suggestions of places to go, near and far. And interesting, everyone wanted to know how long I was staying in town. Next time I come, I think I’ll create an online calendar and let folks fill in my dining itinerary because not once was I steered wrong. The only thing I lack is time, and tummy space.

When I travel, aside from eating, my most important order of business is lying in bed in my hotel-issued zebra-striped bathrobe (a photo of me in it will not be forthcoming) watching American television, and it’s hard to roust me from my horizontal position.

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Kuma’s

bathroom

Kuma’s isn’t the easiest place to get to. It’s in Chicago but not anywhere near the city center. And once you get out there, you’ll have to wait for your table. And waiting at (or near) the bar is exquisite torture because there’s a line up of folks at the bar chowing down on the best hamburgers and macaroni and cheese you’ll ever come across.

kuma's

While in Chicago, my daily dining options have come down to this: Mexican, or burgers.

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Smitty’s Market Barbecue

smitty's bbq

Someone had asked me how to get a lot of comments on a blog last week. So I answered that it was pretty simple: “Put up a recipe with corn syrup in it.” Since I’m in Texas, however, there’s another way to rile up the masses and that is to write up a barbecue joint. Honestly, there is nothing that divides Texans or Kansas City-folk more than the proper way to prepare and eat this most divisive of all foods. (Chili notwithstanding.)

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Bubba’s Fried Chicken

fried chicken

The hardest part about traveling and teaching classes, which I’m doing this week in Texas, is that I’m not on vacation and hence there’s almost no time to do all the things in the various cities where I am that people tell me I should do. Or I should rephrase that and say that I don’t have the time to eat all the things that people tell me I should eat.

corn and corn bread

It’s exquisite torture to be in a town famous for, say, barbecued ribs or fried oysters po’ boys and not be able to get me some.

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New York City Dining and Travel Notes

pretzels empire state building

I had a wonderful trip to New York City recently and shared some of the places that I visited (see links at end of post), but there were plenty more places that I ate at, which didn’t get mentioned in previous posts. So here’s a round-up of them…

katz's corned beef sandwich

Katz’s

Most of the good delis are gone in New York City, but Katz’s is an institution and I like to believe it’s never going to let me down. I’ve had great meals there, but on this visit, my corned beef was tough and almost all of the meat inside my sandwich was inedible. A sandwich that costs $14.50, plus tax, should be museum-quality.

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