Flavors Of Your City

As many of you have figured out, I have a love of languages and travel. Growing up a military brat cultivated these passions….my mom being an amazing cook simply added to my love. Along the way she taught me how to indulge my love of Filipino cuisine by teaching me how to make things like Filipino eggrolls, chicken adobo and pancit. (And no, I don’t consider myself a foodie)

Pancit made by yours truly!

Pancit made by yours truly!

After we returned stateside from our 4 year stint in the Philippines we settled in the Chicagoland area where I finished my education. When you mention food to most people from Chicago, the first thing you hear about is pizza…specifically deep dish pizza. Although I’m a pizza snob, that’s not what I crave when I think Chicago. For me, it’s a specific place…Portillo’s.

Portillo's Drive Thru

Portillo’s Drive Thru

Now most people want Chicago style hotdogs when they stop in…but for me it’s always been one particular thing… A nice, wet Italian Beef with mozzarella.

Italian Beef from my last trip

Italian Beef from my last trip

After living in the Chicagoland area for nearly 20 years (the longest I’d ever lived anywhere…prior to that the record was 4 years), I moved to Florida. Although most of the people living in Florida are transplants, technically it’s a part of the south. As I was once told by a friend, “the only thing further south than Florida is Mexico”.

For a girl who doesn’t like tea except when she’s ill, moving to the land of Grits and Sweet tea was very different. People were drinking the stuff everywhere…and I learned to adapt, though I’ve never loved the stuff. I’d still much rather have coffee. But one day, sitting in Cracker Barrel I found myself sending a text message to a friend of mine (a good ol’ boy from Louisiana who’d moved to Tennessee).

Me: I’ve got a question for you.
Him: What’s that, darlin’?
Me: Does me liking grits mean I’m turning southern?
Him: Absolutely!

In case you’re wondering, I like my grits with butter, salt and pepper….sometimes with a fried egg on top.

Then there was my time in El Paso. Although I like seasoning in my food, I’ve never been a big pepper person. Salsa was something you ate with tortilla chips. As for margaritas? Hate tequila…have never been a fan. So why is it that since I’ve been back I love pretty much anything with jalapenos? Or that when I went to breakfast with a friend at Perkins last week I was completely bummed that although they had salsa, I knew it would not be spicy enough to fit the bill…

As for margaritas…I won’t be having them anywhere but in El Paso, but I actually found one I loved after a little pushing from my friends out there.

Margarita courtesy of Carlos and Mickeys in El Paso

Margarita courtesy of Carlos and Mickeys in El Paso

What I’ve learned is that I love exploring and experimenting with different, awesome foods (and drinks). Every region of the world has their favorites/specialties… So tell me…if I were to visit you, what foods (or drinks) are a must not miss? Is there a favorite restaurant?

In April I’m headed back to the Bahamas… I can’t wait to visit The Poop Deck…Awesome Conch Fritters!


42 thoughts on “Flavors Of Your City

  1. L.J. Kentowski says:

    I love food! I can’t say I’m much of an experimenteur but I do give things a try if subtly forced. My husband is an awesome cook (thankfully, because my specialty dish is Mac n cheese from the box), and he’s made me try so many new things. I found out I do in fact like spicey foods! But if you’re going to come visit Wisconsin, you’ve gotta get a beer brat. It’s mandatory 🙂 Add in anything with cheese and you’ve just pledged your allegiance 🙂

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      As you know, my hubby and yours have that in common. 🙂 I can cook…and enjoy doing it, but not all the time. I’d rather write or read…or sing. Shocker, I know. 🙂
      As for beer brats…guess it’s a good thing my sister loves making them. 🙂 (And cheese is a staple in our house) Is there a particular place you recommend for this beer brat? (And if I ever head to Wisconsin, I’m totally reaching out…)

  2. Cowboys and Crossbones says:

    In Iowa – you MUST have a giant fried tenderloin sandwich with a side of fresh sweet corn (I suggest you go to the Iowa State Fair in August and pig out when everything’s in season). Nashville…hmm…you covered grits (I’m not officially Southern because I don’t like them!). So maybe hot chicken?

  3. Jane Sadek says:

    I visited your hallowed feeding ground when I was visiting your fair city a few years ago. My palate is not trained in the finer points of Chicago-style eating, but it was pretty darned good.

      • Jane Sadek says:

        Foodwise? Probably Javier’s. It’s got Mexico City Cuisine and the best atmosphere of any restaurant I’ve ever been to. Brunch at Toulouse is good and mezza at Fadi’s. Tex-Mex? Joe T. Garcia’s in the Stockyards. Gloria’s rocks Salvadorian cuisine. Taco Diner is a Dallas staple. Jasper’s is a great place to get a steak or something else grilled. There’s just not a single food that translates into the Dallas food or restaurant. We love to eat and it shows.

  4. ramblingsfromamum says:

    lol I’m the same heard of them but don’t know what they are ‘grits’ Love Margaritas and Mojitos! Pretty much anything with alcohol really 😉 Favourite Restaurants over here – can’t name 1 as we are sooo diversified and spoilt for choice. Thai,Vietnamese,Chinese,Mongolian,Italian,German,Japanese,Russian, the list goes on and on. However when YOU do come to Aussie Land the seafood by far would have to be my choice. Lobster, Crayfish, Mud Crabs, Oysters, Scallops…. ok mouth is watering now 🙂 xx

  5. viveka says:

    Tried grits for the first time in Chicago last summer – at the Publican – and I liked it together with what was on my plate, but I wouldn’t go for it again. Didn’t have one pizza in Chicago .. there is so much other wonderful food in that city. Looking forward to your Bahamas trip too.

  6. Emma says:

    I’ve never tried Filipino food, not sure you can get it around here, but I’d like to.
    You’d have to get a good old fashioned big Irish breakfast with beans, toast, black pudding, sausage and rasher 🙂

  7. Jeff says:

    I’ve lived in Texas all my life and can’t stand grits. But I don’t think Texas is technically considered “southern.” I prefer hash browns over grits. I’m also not a margarita fan. I prefer rum to tequila. When we were in Cancun between Christmas and New Year’s, we discovered a new favorite drink. It’s called “Miami Vice” and is half Strawberry Daiquiri and half Pina Colada. Yum!!

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I’ve had a mix like that before…when I was in the Bahamas. with fresh fruit. It was fantastic! What region of Texas are you in? (Kinda huge state, you know…) And what is your “go to” place that you think visitors MUST visit?

      • Jeff says:

        Ah, yes….sorry. I live in DFW. One of our favorite places to eat out for a special time is called the “Magic Time Machine.” As far as I know, there are only two, one in Dallas and one in San Antonio. It’s a large restaurant, with many different themed rooms. The waiters and waitresses dress up as popular movie/comic book characters and actually act the parts. We’ve been waited on by Joe Dirt, Jack Sparrow, the Mad Hatter, and seen many others while there. The food is pretty decent, too. I recommend the Roman Orgy. Piles of fresh fruit, bread, meat, and some really unnecessary vegetables (in my opinion). We always bring at least two boxes of leftovers home with us.

        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          Very cool! I like theme restaurants. But then, we have Ed Debevic’s in Chicago where it’s styled like a ’50’s diner & the waiters & waitresses get to be a bit snarky with you on purpose…kinda like the show Alice, if you remember that one. 🙂

  8. CJ says:

    You just let me know where you are going and I’ll tell you what food to try! I’ve been to too many places and tried too many different kids of food. If any of you guys ever make it out to the Austin area…you need to go to The Salt Lick. http://www.saltlickbbq.com/
    It’s still the BEST bbq I’ve ever had and I’ve tried lots. Living in Chicago I can say I’m a little bit of a food snob, but North Port sure does have some fabulous donuts!!!!!

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