Good morning, Foodies and fans of the Runner Wife (mine), I am ‘The Huz’ though I usually go by the name Sebastian and I thought it might be worth a read to tell you about the epicurean experiences on my first trip to the city of Chicago. I will spare you too much background detail on me but I think it’s worth mentioning that I HATE how much pineapple gets wasted when you cut the skin off. I just need to get that out there.
Let me first say that visiting Chicago is well worth the trip into the Midwest, speaking from a New Yorker’s perspective, but let me stress that much of the enjoyment came from visiting in the summer. I was able to walk thru the city, visit different neighborhoods during the day and night, and explore the city without the fear of being frozen to death. That being said, I also learned that, while not necessarily a health food beacon, Chicago has plenty to offer in the ways of delicious fair; some more sinful than others.
The deliciousity you see above hails from the breakfast/brunch eatery Yolk in the Near North Side of Chi-town. Yolk may be world famous for all I know but, prior to my trip, I had never heard of it. Fortunately, I have now. That sandwich above is the Monte Cristo “Our Way” – French toasted sour dough bread stuffed with melted Swiss cheese, smoked ham, and turkey breast, served with Dijon-mayonnaise and topped with raspberry preserves. Holy Hell what a sandwich!! Sweet, savory, salty, smooth, and a highly successful substitute for eggs when you’ve had them 5 days in a row. I’m saying this thing bursts with flavor in as much a way that the city bursts with style. You can walk into 3 adjacent parts of Chicago and get 3 distinctly different feels. The first neighborhood might be intensely industrial feeling, the next is down-home and cozy, and before you know it you’re standing in a quiet part of town in front of a hip-looking, brightly colored restaurant with a plain yellow name and there’s a crowd of 30 people waiting to get breakfast.
The next most important thing to do in Chicago, after site seeing, is pizza, obviously! From what I understand, deep-dish can come in as broad a variety as Paris Hilton’s boyfriends, so pick the one that looks the best to you because odds are it’ll be the best. Beauty’s in the eye… right?
Whether you’re doing straight cheese and sauce or loading up 3 veggies and 2 meats, you’ll be thrilled, as I was, to learn that, while the crust is thicker than New York style pizza, it’s not so thick that you’re not getting a delicious ton of cheese and fillings. But be warned, this may occur:
And if you’re a fan of hot dogs, and you’re a fan of pickles, and you’re a fan of pickled tomatoes, and you’re a fan of hot-pickled-peppers, and you’re a fan of emerald pickled relish, and you’re… oh you get the idea!
But it’s not all fried badness in Chicago. I found my way to The Silver Palm restaurant and was blow away by the simplicity and grace of a baked goat cheese appetizer, complemented with toasted brioche crostini. It was not dressed up. It was not over sold. The cheese was warm and gooey with that subtle sour bite that only goat cheese has. And all topped in a light but spicy tomato sauce. I was ready after this.
But, I told you those stories to tell you this story. This is the ultimate. This is the crown jewel. If I had eaten nothing else on my 5 day trip to the windy city, it would still have been worth it.
Some of you may have already heard tell of the Three Little Pigs and, if you haven’t, notice has now officially been served. The Silver Palm also features this sandwich that has been acclaimed by Anthony Bourdain as the greatest sandwich in the country. I have no problem agreeing with him.
The sandwich is formidable, not for the faint of heart or belly. But if you have the “guts” to take it on, you will not be disappointed. Start with a toasted brioche. To it, add a thick slice of homemade off-the-bone smoked ham, one breaded pork cutlet, two slices of thick-cut bacon, a fried egg (sunny-side up), two onion rings, melted gruyere cheese over top and the blessings of the good Lord above. This sandwich is simply tremendous.
You would think that all you could taste is fat or salt but this is not the case. The egg bursts, seasoning the meats in yolk. The brioche crumbles in your hands, absorbing the sweet juices of the smoked ham. The bacon crisps, the cutlet is soft, and cheese… Need I say more? There is a hint of sweetness to offset the savory symphony and before you know it, you’re knee-deep in the greatest sandwich experience of your life. Sure, it’ll knock you on your ass but it’s well worth the fight.
And for those of you who adore irony, I leave you with this image. And trust me when I tell you; this was not staged in any way, shape or form. No less than 15 hours after I experienced Three Little Pigs, I came across this piece of artwork in one of Chicago’s street-side art fairs.
The artist’s name is Melvin McGee, an Iraq war vet from Green Bay, WI with a refreshing attitude toward the art experience. And as soon as I saw this piece, he calls it Karma, I asked him if he had ever heard of the Three Little Pigs sandwich. Amazingly enough he had not. He just happened to be there, in Chicago, at the same time as me, on that side street, hitting me in the face with the best sense of indigestion comedy I’ve ever felt.
Thanks for reading!