Category Archives: market

MOVE in Chicago

The best way to spend my days off is exploring new places in Chicago. The excitement about going to someplace new and trying new things is exhilarating. I love the sense of adventure! The idea that you don’t know what to expect till you get there and see for yourself. Perhaps I will make it my New Year’s Resolution to experience new things with the idea that everyday is a chance to understand and learn more about this world we call home.

I stumbled across this video, MOVE,  last summer documenting the adventures of an international traveler. As a starry eyed college student, I remember thinking what a wonderful way to spend your life, and I still think that. Learning about the lives of people all over the world and how they may be different or the same as you and I, is the most appealing thing about adventuring around.

Sadly I do not have any trips planned for the future, but hopefully soon. As for now I’ll be doing lots of adventuring around in Chicago. There are so many places I’ve never been to even though I grew up here. Time to get up and MOVE in Chicago.

Chicago French Market – West Loop

from the Chicago Sun Time

Chicago is lacking in indoor markets that are quite abundant in NYC. I love indoor markets, because it is a centralized area where you can pick up many different one of kind goods. It’s an overstimulation of the senses in the best possible way. When I found out that Chicago had a French Market, I just had to make a trek there. It is not that big, but offers a lot of different types of hot foods, produce, and even fresh meats and seafood. The macaroons at the Chicago French Market is suppose to be the best. I had to try them for myself.

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These macaroons are from Vanille Patisserie. In order from left to right – cranberry orange, red velvet, mango passion, and lemon. We were wondering what happened to the poor red velvet macaroon, because it looks a little deformed. The macaroons were one of the cheapest macaroons I have ever seen coming in at $1.50 a piece. It was also slightly smaller than the macaroons I have eaten in the past. Overall the macaroons are okay. I like my macaroons to be slighly chewy with an airy, light crunch. Some of the macaroons that we tried were a little on the soft side, dissembling when we tried to break it in half. The cranberry orange was a little disappointing, because the flavors were so weak. My friend says these are the best macaroons, so maybe the ones we got were a bad batch.

Christkindlmarket – The Loop

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Christkindlmarket is a German market in downtown Chicago around the big Christmas tree. When I saw the Christmas tree up close and personal, it was a little disappointing. Apparently there was a contest to pick the best tree, and this was chosen. The tree is what we would consider top heavy. There is a lot of empty space, because of the lack of branches on the bottom of the tree. Perhaps with the addition of large ornaments it would have looked less barren. Kind of reminds me of a larger, bigger version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. A Christmas Tree is a Christmas Tree no matter how barren. It was still magnificent to look at.

from ilovepasta.com

The market was super crowded. As much as I dislike crowds, there was a sense of Christmas joy and spirit at the Christkindlmarket. I loved looking at all the stalls and seeing all the German goods they had for sale.

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One of the stalls was selling these star lights. They came in all different colors with unique cut outs. I would have bought one, if they weren’t made out of paper. It just didn’t seem like it would last very long.

Longman & Eagle – Logan Square

from peppermintbliss.com

This gastropub had a great casual, rustic atmosphere which I thoroughly enjoyed. The dining seats at each table did not match. All painted the same color, but slightly different in terms of style.

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This Housemade Ricotta Gnuddi with cider gel, babyfennel, micro celery, toasted hazelnut, braised cippolini vinaigrette, and celery froth was delicious. The ricotta balls were delightfully crunchy on the exterior and soft on the inside. I loved the vinaigrette that it was paired with.

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This pumpkin risotto vegetarian dish was delicious! I loved the infusion of pumpkin into the risotto. It came with a poached egg on top. There is nothing better than a runny egg over a bed of carbs.

20121208_175445 (1)This Slagel Family Farms Burger with aged Widmer’s Cheddar, North Country Bacon, and briochh was okay. I’ve had better burgers. The best part of this dish was the Beef Fat Fries. They tasted so fresh with a slight hint of smokiness. Next time I will try to order just the fries.

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When our waiter came by with the check, he placed these two chocolate chip cookies on our table, complements of the restaurant. My friend and I stared at the cookies, because they are about the size of a quarter. Teeny, tiny chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious, but I never seen such a small cookie before.

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Our check also came with this quirky postcard which I took home. I think I might frame this. Longman & Eagle, you just get me. “It seems just so awkward…” 

I learned that Longman & Eagle has six available hotel rooms above the restaurant owned by the restaurant. That would be kind of like a bed and breakfast inn. Wake up, stroll downstairs for brunch at Longman & Eagle, maybe take advantage of the $3 whiskey shots at the bar, and stumble back into your hotel room upstairs. With the smallest rooms for about $90 a night, no wonder these rooms are booked three months in advance.

How about you? Time to get up and MOVE in your city. Let’s be explorers together.

Brand New To Twitter – Twittering Around

click to follow me on twitter!

I just made my Twitter account, and I am quite excited to begin my tweeting adventure. I will be using my Twitter account to do more daily, quick posts about what I’m up to. Perhaps twittering about my sudden dessert craving or tweeting about the new pasta dish I made, or tweetering about the new Ramen place I tried. More foodifying life for all of you guys! Follow me on Twitter!

Vintage Bazaar – Uptown, Chicago

I recently went to a Vintage Bazaar in Uptown Chicago. Lots of old things to look at. I saw lots of very chic things, but didn’t really have any use for them. I tried really hard to find a way to justify buying something, but couldn’t think of any legitimate reason. I didn’t end up getting anything, but looking around at all the various goodies was extremely fun.

outdoor part of the Vintage Bazaar

There were both an outdoor and indoor parts. I really enjoyed looking at around at the outdoor part. Lots of vendors were selling vintage clothes, beautiful jewelry and one of a kind furniture. Some vendors even had trailer homes with more clothes and unique items inside. One of the trailer homes is pictured above. I thought that was super cool!

BEAVER’S Coffee + Donuts food truck

The best thing about outdoor markets are the food trucks! I love food trucks! I love the idea of people making tasty, on the go foods in trucks. The designs on the trucks are always unique and super cute.  Look at the cute beaver eating a donut and holding a cup of coffee. Irresistible! My friend told me BEAVER’S Coffee + Donuts has some heavenly donuts. We had to give it a try.

BEAVER’S Coffee + Donuts – half a dozen mini donuts

These donuts were extremely tiny like the size of Dunkin’ Donuts’ Munchkins. When I first bit into them, they were a lot softer and moister than the other donut holes I have had. Extremely moist with the slight crunch of the fried exterior. It was really delicious!! Pictured from the left to right is the powdered sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon donut holes. My favorite was the powdered sugar. I felt so lucky that day, because right when we were about to order the person told us that this was the last half dozen donuts left. We got there right in time to snatch up the last of these yummy, bite-sized pieces of heavenly goodness. Lucky us!

Puffs of Doom – Chocolate and bacon cream puff

Seems like I am paying more attention to the foods at the bazaar than the actually goods! I just can’t help it. Puffs of Doom had a booth selling mini cream puffs. Puffs of DOOM, what a great name! I got a small chocolate and bacon cream puff pastry. I was so intrigued when the vendor told me it had bits of bacon in the pastry. The bacon pieces were extremely small, so the bacon flavor was very subtle. I thought it was quite an interesting mix of chocolate cream, puff pastry and bacon bits. Wouldn’t say it was my favorite, but definitely worth a try!

inside Aragon theater

The inside portion of the bazaar took place at the Aragon theater. A beautifully decorated theater that reminded of a medieval castle. After shopping around for a bit, my friend and I did some exploring. I loved the intricate detailing on the poles. Wouldn’t it be so grand to host a party here? President Obama did to kick off his election campaign last summer! Maybe next time I can score an invite to that.

Some Old and Some New Places

When you find something that is good, why not return back. During the past couple of days I’ve been going back to the places I have blogged about in the past. Old doesn’t mean boring. Returning to a place that I’ve been before means a chance to try the other great things that they have that I did not get a chance to before. Check out my returns to some Chi-Town favorites.

Garfield Park Conservatory – East Garfield Park, Chicago

the Labyrinth

I came back here with my family after coming here with my cousins a while ago. This time we brought a picnic lunch to eat outside. Too bad the weather was extremely hot, or else we would have stayed at the park longer. It is a gorgeous park located on the west side of Chicago. A lot closer than the Botanical Gardens, which is all the way in Chicago northern suburbs. Although closer this park, garden is a lot smaller. It is still a great little garden with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants.

The outdoor gardens had a pond filled with beautiful aquatic plants. My mom really liked seeing the flowering lotus plants noting that below the dirt is the lotus root. Lotus root, a vegetable, is used in a lot of Chinese cooking especially in soups and stir fry.

This room was such a beautiful room. Kois filled the indoor pond in various sizes and colors.

New Maxwell Street Market – South Loop, Chicago

Chicken Tamales with Salsa Rojo at Tamales Oaxaqueños made two ways

I came here a couple of months ago, and I had to come back. Check out my previous post here. Being outside in a cultural market with delicious Mexican food is truly a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The first stop for food was at Tamales Oaxaqueños. I read from the food blog seriouseats that this place had the best tamales. The one pictured on the top is a tamale cooked in banana leaf rather than the usual corn husk. The one on the bottom is your usual corn husk tamale. This made for a moister and softer tamale compared to the firmer, harder corn husk tamale. Both were really filled with chicken with salsa rojo on the inside. If I had to pick between the two kinds of tamales, one cooked in banana leaves and the other in a corn husk, I would have to pick the banana leaf one. I’ve never had a tamale made this way before, and it was delicious!

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Rubi’s

This quesadilla is filled with fungus that grows on corn. Being a fungus it tasted like a mushroom quesadilla. With a strong, pungent taste and smell this quesadilla is one of a kind. Quite tasty!

The other thing I love about this market besides the food is the wide variety of random stuff you can find here. There is a lot of junk, but hey one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I bought a $3 used DVD copy of Inception. Can’t wait to rewatch the sci-fi thriller!

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal – Millennium Park, Chicago

Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsing at Millennium Park

I usually go to the outdoor concerts at the park during the afternoons, but I decided to go check out the rehearsal this day. Usually the front seats are all taken and people grab spots on the lawn in the back during the actual outdoor concerts, but during the rehearsals the seats was practically empty. We got seats all the way in the front, and listened to the orchestra practice The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

Daley Plaza Market

My sister and I went to the Daley Plaza Market in the morning to grab some flowers for my backyard. Since it was early in the morning we decided to grab breakfast at the Daley Plaza Market as well. Nothing like fresh baked goods from an outdoor market!

with the baked goods

My sister got the pretzel croissant, and I got the chocolate scone. The pretzel croissant was very interesting. A croissant made with half croissant and half pretzel dough. It was extremely buttery, even more so than your average croissant. Made for an extremely heavy tasting breakfast goodie. My chocolate scone was delicious. Lots of large chocolate chunks to satisfy my chocolate sweet tooth in the morning.

the flowers

One of the many stalls that sold flowers and plants. The variety of plants and flowers available was really great! My favorite flower I got from my trip to the market was a purple carnation plant.

silly pigeons

This was quite a funny sight. Pigeons huddling around a fire on a warm summer day. Why is this fire there in the first place? The City of Chicago what are you guys doing?

my sister at the market

What a great morning at the Daley Plaza Market!

New Maxwell Street Market

Every Sunday the Maxwell Street Market comes to life in Chicago in the South Loop. It is a predominantly Hispanic outdoor street market that fills the streets with authentic, rich Mexican culture.

at the festival

My mom, my sister, and I came here to browse and spend the nice Sunday afternoon outdoors. The Maxwell Street Market sells just about everything from packages of socks to cases of fresh fruit. I even saw vendors selling drug store brand cosmetics and medication. Things like that I would not get at the market especially since you don’t know if they are truly authentic or not. Tons of vendors were selling knock-off purses. My mom’s favorite vendor is the one who sells nuts. My mom claims that they are fresher and cheaper than elsewhere. My sister scouted out the market for vendors selling video games. She was on the look out for the Pokemon Snap N64 game, and we finally found it as we were leaving the market. We even bargained down the $5 game down to $4. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you got a good deal!

My favorite thing about the market is the Mexican street food. Tons of stands selling tacos, quesadilas, talames, churros and so much more. We decided to stop by one of the stands and give the food a try. I got a pork tamale. Unfortunately the tamale was not fresh. It was tough and slightly hard. Not like the soft tamales I was use to. Fortunately the steak taco that my mom ordered was delicious. The steak was well seasoned. The soft taco shell was warm and so soft. Must go back to try all of the other foods!

All in all this street market is definitely someplace you should check out if you are in Chicago. So many sights, sounds, and smells. The authentic mariachi music blasting from the boom boxes of vendors selling CDs. The tasty smells of authentic Mexican street food. The amusing sights of tiny chihuahuas running to keep up with their owners with their teeny tiny legs. Tiny dogs like chihuahuas should not be brought to busy markets. I was so afraid I would accidentally step on them if I wasn’t careful about where I was walking. Overall a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Take Me Down to Chinatown

You can find practically anything you want in NYC’s Chinatown. A neighborhood of rich culture, exotic foods, and an array of meals for under $6. What is there not to like about Chinatown?

Xi’an Famous Foods 

Spicy and Tingly Beef Hand-Ripped Noodles and Concubine's Chicken Hand-Ripped Noodles

Oh the food! The food in Chinatown is just so delicious, made fresh, and the number one thing cheap. Joyce and I decided to stop in Xi’an Famous Foods for some noodles. I got the Spicy & Tingly Beef Hand-Ripped Noodles, and Joyce got the Concubine’s Chicken Hand-Ripped Noodles. The noodles were made fresh at the restaurant.through a vigorous beating process that makes the noodles chewy and soft. Not like your average noodles at all. The slight elasticity of the noodles was an excellent surprise. The Spicy and Tingly sauce was definitely spiced and tingled my senses maybe even a little too much. A slow build-up of heat until my taste buds were on fire.

Sun Ming Jan – Chinese Sausage Store

Chinese sausage

A Chinese sausage store where they hand make their own Chinese sausages. The entire place oozed with the color red, and smelled like the aromatic smell of sweet and heavenly seasonings of meats. It can be compared to the Italian pancetta. Chinese sausage galore.

Grocery Markets and Stores

street fruit vendors - dragon fruit and guava

Street vendors selling an array of fruit is not an uncommon site in Chinatown. Exotic fruits like dragon fruit, rambutan, guava, durian, mango, and so much more. Oh the colors, the shapes, and the textures of all these fruits were fun to look at especially if you’ve never seen these fruits before.

fish market

So much cheap seafood. The variety and freshness of the fish cannot be beat. There was even a fish who was still breathing and another flopping around on the tray being displayed for customers to buy. I don’t think PETA would be too happy about this…

Street View

taken in my 2011 trip to NYC -smaller streets in Chinatown

The streets of Chinatown are small and narrow. Both cars and pedestrians wander the streets. The sidewalks lined with tables of goodies to see and buy make it so only a single person can pass on the sidewalk at a time pushing people to walk on the streets out of convenience. The buildings with fire escapes, all the Chinese characters, different dialects of Chinese being shouted across the street really give NYC Chinatown a genuine, authentic atmosphere.

Terrible Traffic

note the motorcyclist in the middle

Doesn’t this look like a traffic accident is about to happen? That somebody somewhere will push the accelerator and ram into another car? Well thankfully a traffic accident did not happen just a bunch of congestion. Poor motorcyclist…

Dragons in the Park

The colorful dragons flying around in the park are made out of recycled materials like water bottles and plastic bags. An environmentally friendly way to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Dragon Beard Candy

the fuzzy quality reminds me of cotton candy

Dragon Beard Candy is an ancient Chinese candy described as being rich and sweet in flavor in the shape of a white cocoon. In the center is a chewy peanut butter, coconut filling. It is extremely hard to eat this without eating it in one bite, because the powdered sugar goes everywhere. This was an interesting texture like cotton candy. The overload of sugar was a little too much for my taste, but I’m sure this will satisfy anybody’s sweet tooth.

Rating – I LOVE CHINATOWN.


Strip District

Greetings from Pittsburgh. I made it on the next bus to Pittsburgh without missing it. This morning we went to explore the Strip District. The Strip District is this big outdoor hustle and bustle of ethnic grocers, street grills and food vendors, sidewalk merchants, and rows of small shops. The authenticity of this place is like no other. Pittsburgh Steelers gear all over, wafts of all different types of smells, bright colors of goods, fruits, foods, sounds of laughter of families, shouts of the vendors, and the sound of spontaneous fun.

 Peace, Love and Little Donuts

Raspberry Lemonade Donut at Peace, Love and Little Donuts

donut maker

This place has the most wonderful donuts. Tinier than your usual Krispy Kreme donuts or Dunkin’ Donuts, but just the perfect size. They come in so many different, unusual flavors like Rasberry Lemonade Donut and Maple Donut with Bacon Toppings. You can smell the aroma of these wondrous donuts a block away. The donuts are freshly made and dropped into the fryer before being frosted and sprinkled with toppings.

Reyna’s Taco Truck 

Barbacoa Taco

Taco Truck

This stand supposedly had the best tacos in Pittsburgh. Reminds of the taco trucks I’ve seen in NYC. I got a Barbacoa Taco and a Horchata drink. The taco was delicious. The meats were very well grilled. It was topped with cilantro, onion, and cheese. My favorite part of it was the actual corn tortilla. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The horchata was excellent. Horchata is a Mexican milky sweet rice drink. Delicious drink to pair with the taco.

Fortunes Coffee 

I love coffee stores, and this store had so many sights and smells selling coffee by the pound.  This place had so many different types of coffee.

Penzeys Spices

Rekha checking out the baking spices

what an adorable kitchen!

This place has whatever spice that sparks your fancy. The best part about this place was that with every spice they had there was an accompanying jar of the spice to smell it. So many smells to smell.

Robert Wholey and Co Fish Market 

I love going to markets, because there are so many sounds, smells, and sights. Overstimulation of the senses in the best possible way. I wish I actually lived in Pittsburgh, because I would have gone crazy shopping at this place. Buying seafood, meats, produce, and all kinds of foods.

Stamoolis Bros 

Grape Leaves

An ending to a wonderful day at The Strip. I got a box of 5 grape leaves at the Greek Market Stomolis Bros to go.They were delicious! Spiced rice wrapped in grape leaves.

The Strip was an excellent place to wander around. Every store we went into there were so many new things to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. In my visit to The Strip I walked into Greek, Korean, Polish, Italian, and Mexican markets. A wonderland of ethnic foods!