Monday, June 27, 2011

Reminders of Times Past

Sorry for all of the canned food this past week.  I've been out on an illustrious tour from Chicago, to the tip of Southern Illinois, to the banks of Southwest Michigan.  Whenever I go back to my "home" stomping grounds, there are a few culinary treats I can't keep myself away from.

No, these aren't foodie havens, nor are they places that every tourist must stop at.  No, no.  These are reminders of my past, the fun and food that decorated my life in the midwest, and places that make me pine for evenings at home with my family, and take out on the way to see friends.  I didn't get to go every place I've been craving for my past six months out west, but I made a little dent in that list.

 The first stop on the trip wasn't even 10 minutes away from the airport.  Portillo's is one of my favorite places for "beef" between the airport and my parents' house.  That's not to say I don't love Pop's in the suburbs, or others that shall not be named in the city, lest I show a preference in the rivalry.  To be fair, there is a Portillo's here in California as well, but it's quite a hike from my house, and it's something best left for eating back home.  So many restaurants in Chicago have decor that represents our working class heritage. My grandparents grew up near the Back of the Yards, and I like that we're proud of where we've come from.  More importantly, at least for this blog's purpose, I love a good Chicago beef.  I love the cheese, the sweet peppers, the giardiniera, and the seasoned beef.  It's always a great treat, and it's conveniently located on my way from the airport, so I always plan on coming home during business hours, and I always come home hungry!  (and please, don't mind the picture, I started eating mine and had to photograph my dad's when he wasn't looking!)

Another stop that I can't resist is Jimmy John's.  Another Illinois company that doesn't quite make it out to my neck of Southern California. I can drive to Las Vegas and eat to my heart's content, but those trips are few and far between compared to the daily trek of my life.  I love JJ's for the bread - especially the seven grain bread.  The french bread is similar to a sub (hoagie, grinder, etc.), but the seven grain is similar to heaven!  Then, stuff it to the brim with fresh veggies, meat, and anything else your hear may desire.  You'lll definitely want to come back for more!  As if you had a choice in the matter!

Finally, the last "fast" food I'd like to revisit from my past week is Hog Wild BBQ.  This isn't actually in Illinois at all, and I've only known about it since 2007.  However, it's a winner every time, and it bears mentioning since I made my parents take a half hour detour to eat here, while we were staying in Saugatuck, MI, which is "arguably the Midwest's most popular gay resort community."  True story.  Regardless, any time we're remotely in the area, I have to stop here for fabulous BBQ, corn cakes, and my mom always picks up some of their sweet sauce to take home (usually about 8-12 bottles, depending on the year!)
I'd like to say there was a better picture available, as opposed to their pulled pork (half eaten), but we were so excited to chow down, I completely forgot to take a picture sooner.  There is this half eaten, saucy stack of ribs, but it's not a clear picture, and it certainly doesn't explain the love I have for this place, unless you count eaten food as love (and many people do, I'm sure!).

I have lots more food to show you from my trip, but this is the end of the "food so fast, you'll freak."  I hope you've enjoyed re-living my joyful trip home.  It was cloudy and cool, almost reminded me of San Diego, but it was great to be home.

Here's looking forward to my next visit back!

Dad, "litlle sister" Zoe, and Mom

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