Archive for January, 2012

January 30, 2012

Pasand has a Depth of Flavor

Pasand Indian Cuisine in Peoria is an inexpensive gourmet Indian restaurant who’s dishes have a depth of flavors that up ’til now, I have not found in most Central Illinois Asian or Indian restaurants. The food reflects all regions of India and as the menu says, they “also reflect the flavors and styles of India’s neighbors in Asia.” There are both vegetarian and meat dishes consisting of chicken, lamb, and seafood.
  For an appetizer, we had the samosas. These are fried potato stuffed pastries that are common street food in India. Very flavorful and good with the spicy green cilantro sauce that came with it. There was another sweet red sauce but it did not do much for this dish. For the main course we did not go into any vegetarian dishes but stuck to he chicken. The chicken ahmand had a world of flavors going on. It is a very hot dish but the spiciness does not overwhelm it’s other flavors. The chicken hyderabadi was described in the menu as having a peanut and sesame seed flavor. It was a bit less on the spicy side than the ahmand but the peanut and sesame flavors were very subtle. The thali that comes with the main course dishes (if it is ordered this way) has small plates of various vegetable and fried dishes, as well as naan,  that come in small bowls and could remind one of being almost “Indian tapas.”
  The decor in this restaurant leaves something to be desired but the quality of the food more than makes up for it. Overall the service was good but not outstanding and the price was relatively modest. Most appetizers run between $5 to $10 and the main courses between $15 to $20. The meal is complete with an Indian beer of which there were several on the menu.
                         Pasand Indian Cuisine
                         1209 West Main Street
                         Peoria, IL 61606
                         (309) 671-9315
January 30, 2012

The French Chef’s First Broadcast


   Julia Child

 I watched the first ever broadcast of the French Chef the other day on You Tube. It was 1963 and Julia Child was cooking her boeuf bourguignon, made famous by the movie Julia and Julia. I have an observation that I would like to make. That is that I learned more about cooking from this one episode of The French Chef, than I have in a year’s worth of the Food Channel!

Julia Child explained, in a way any novice could understand, the proper knife to use to cut meat, how to sharpen and maintain those knives, why beef should be dry before you brown it, why chuck is a good cut to use for stew, where on the animal the different parts of a chuck roast are located, and many other basic things that are important to anybody who wants to learn to cook.

It seems to me that today’s cooking shows, in general, have forgotten that the show is supposed to be about teaching the viewer about food and cooking. The how and why something happens when you cook, the history of the food, and general kitchen advice all seem to get muddled in most current cooking shows. Many of them, to me, seem to be more about the cook than the food. I’m just saying…

Photo: WGBH

January 30, 2012

Gene’s and Jude’s still great!

Every neighborhood and suburban enclave of the Chicago area has it’s own hot dog stand, sub place, Italian beef shack, or pizza joint that is a local institution. Growing up in the Franklin Park – River Grove – Leyden Township area northwest of Chicago we had Jake’s (not affiliated with the chain) or Grand Stand, both in Franklin Park, for pizza, Al & Joe’s in FP or Ozzie’s, in Leyden Township, for sub sandwiches, The Beef Joint in River Grove or Scooby’s in Bensenville for Italian Beef sandwiches. There were a bunch of hot dog stands in the area but Gene’s and Jude’s, on River Road just north of Grand in River Grove was, by far, the place to go for hot dogs. 

Gene’s and Jude’s started in 1947 at Polk Street and Western Avenue by two guys who worked for the City of Chicago, Gene Mormino and Jude DeSantis. Gene soon lost the stand in a card game. By 1950 they had saved enough money to build a new stand in River Grove. The stand is still going strong today and often time there are lines around the inside of the building and out the door, even at 2 in the morning!
Gene’s and Jude’s menu is limited to Vienna Brand Hot Dogs, Fries (fresh cut from russet potatoes in front of the customers and cooked in old fashioned lard), and the paper wrapped tamales found in many Chicago area hot dog stands. Even though they will give you an argument about it, Gene’s and Jude’s  hot dogs are not in the strictest sense, “Chicago Style” hot dogs since the condiments only include mustard, relish, onions, and sport peppers. Fries are served wrapped up with the dog and there is no ketchup for the hot dogs or the fries. The normal pickle, tomato, celery salt and other condiments usually found on a Chicago Style hot dog are for whatever reason absent as well.
The absence of some of the normal condiments does not take away from the fact they serve up a great hot dog at Gene’s and Jude’s! At this point I must add the disclaimer that I have been eating these all my life and make it a point to stop and get a couple every time I am back in town. If you grew up on Super Dawgs or some of the more places that serve up a more traditional Chicago Style hot dog you may be loyal to what you grew up with. I can see where loyalty to a neighborhood joint that has a sentimental place in your psyche might cause you to wince when you hear that both Rachel Ray and the Serious Eats blog named it the best dog in America. It is always in the top 10 of Chicago’s best quick eats. Also It may be that Gene’s and Jude’s are an acquired taste especially to somebody who is not familiar with them. 
Notwithstanding, a week ago I got the chance to get back to Chicago. I visited some of the old haunts and made the trip to Gene’s and Jude’s. The place and hot dogs were just like I remember them! My wife grew up in Edison Park on the Northwest Side of Chicago and Superdawg was the place to go up there. She makes no secret of the fact that she does not like Gene’s and Jude’s hot dogs and tamales. I do agree with her assessment of the fries being too limp. They taste great, fried in that lard, like fries should be! The problem I think, is that they never have the deep fryer hot enough and the fries cook but do not get to the desired crispness. Other than that I have no complaints. This is a comfort food from my youth and, even though I now live 200 miles away,  I am still a loyal Gene’s and Jude’s customer!

                                        Gene’s and Jude’s  

                                         2720 River Road
                                         River Grove, IL 60171
January 30, 2012

Come do wine tasting in Galesburg, Illinois!

What was one a Kinney Shoe store is now a retail wine shop. Gone is any trace of shoe sales as the shelves, built for stacking shoe boxes, now hold wines from around the world. Illinois wineries are well represented here as are wines not found in other area stores. You can sample wines as you can in a winery and you can buy a glass or bottle to enjoy right there. Cheese plates offered pair well with the wines.
Vintages has special events such as “Sips and Nibbles,.” usually on the 3rd or 4th Saturday of each month. “Sips and Nibbles” is an event planned around a theme, it could be a region known for wines such as Italy or Germany, a holiday, or any other theme where wine could be involved. Food plates are sampled and paired with wines appropriate for the food. One example is “”Sips and Nibbles Italy.” Italian food selections are paired with Italian wines in the same order one would dine  aintipasto, main courses, and dessert. The wines are selected to go well with each course. Other special events have included Girlfirends Night, local band performances, and the Rootabaga Poetry Slam.
Vintages Tasting Room in Galesburg has been around for almost 5 years and it is worth a special visit to Galesburg. A good time would be to take in the historic sites Galesburg has to offer and then before dinner, make a trip to Vintages Tasting Room.

Vintages Tasting Room is at 215 E. Main St. Galesburg, IL 61401.

Phone: (309) 335-2744.

Photo courtesy of Vintages.

January 30, 2012


This blog will replace Illinois Foodie.