Thursday, April 29, 2010

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Remember my quest to eat more sweet potatoes. Well, I usually bake them in the oven and eat them plain like every other Korean person, but I thought I'd try a new recipe. This requires slightly more effort than throwing whole sweet potatoes into an oven, but it's a nice variation. I would cut down on the oil for next time though, it was way too oily. It doesn't require all that oil.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ellie Krieger

2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil (I would adjust to make sure the potatoes are well covered, but I don't think you need this much oil)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and put in a 9 by 13 baking dish.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender.

I flipped them around halfway through, but here's what they looked like after an hour.

Roasting carrots the same way would be mighty tasty too. I found myself just nibbling on this for breakfast, as a snack and for dinner, so it's pretty versatile.

I'm trying this recipe next. The best part is that it takes even less prep work, no peeling the skin! Sweet (potato)! I know, so corny I am. Have mercy, it's been a long week ... =)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Chicago, IL

I am so thankful that this place is closed most of the time I'm on my way home, otherwise I'd be "in the neighborhood" all the time. I finally got to stop by this weekend to try their pies. The space is tiny, but has that vintage, nostalgic feel to it. It's adorable!

My roommate told me that the owner moved into this space primarily for the kitchen space in order to bake pies for mail order, but it became so successful and popular that they now have walk in guests. They have only 3 tables inside, and most of the space is devoted to their kitchen, but I hear that they are expanding next door to accommodate all the foot traffic.

Paula Haney was a pasty chef at Trio but decided to go out on her own and started make fresh pies. She started selling them at restaurants and farmers' markets and finally opened Hoosier Mama Pie Company in the Ukrainian Village. They have a wide range of seasonal pies that they rotate on a daily basis. We were there late Saturday afternoon and most of the items on their chalkboard was sold out. Lucky for me, they still had a slice of their signature Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie. According to Wikipedia, the Indiana version of a sugar pie, known as a sugar cream pie, was introduced by Quakers settlers from North Carolina in the early nineteenth century. Sugar cream pie is made from flour, butter, salt, vanilla, and cream, with brown sugar or maple syrup. It sounds so simple, but it is so good.

I am not the biggest pie fan; I am of the rare breed that eats all the filling and bypasses the crust, but I will have you know that I ate pie crust and all of my Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie. The texture of the filling is smooth and creamy like sweet potato or pumpkin pie but it tastes like a maple cream candy. I can see why this is an Indiana farm classic. Sorry guys, I should have been civilized and put this on a plate to eat and taken a nice pictures for you, but I couldn't resist.

On Fridays, they have Friday Night Flights, where they offer a pie flight of three small slices of pie and a cup of coffee for $8. It sounds like the perfect way to sample their collection of pies.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company
1618 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Publican - Chicago, IL

We finally got to try Publican this weekend. The Publican is a new European-style beer hall/restaurant in the Fulton Market District from the creators of Blackbird and avec restaurants. Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston crafted an eclectic menu, which is categorized into three food groups (fish, meats and vegetables). The menu, which is inspired by simple farmhouse fare, is best described by Kahan and Huston as “pristine product, simply prepared.”

They have a communal dining area in the center, shaped like a big U, and more private booths and tables on the side. We came relatively early and so were able to snag a booth. Here's a picture on their wall, very indicative of what was to come.

Here's a picture of their adorable table setting, which was put to quick use when the bread arrived.

There's nothing like a crusty loaf of bread with some butter to wet the appetite.

My favorite dish of the night was the first dish that arrived. The burrata was unbelievably creamy and the beets were so sweet. Is it crazy that I secretly want to have a beet farm like Dwight Schrute? Aleen asked what the beets tasted like and Susan said, "these taste like pomegranate." Pomegranate? Really? The red fruit with the tiny seeds? I was trying to figure out how on earth beets taste like pomegranates and wondered if we indeed were eating the same thing ... until I prodded her more and figured out that she was referring to persimmons. haha. We got a good laugh out of that one. That definitely makes more sense. They had the same golden yellow color and tasted just as sweet.

Spicy pork rinds with the pork from Slagel Family Farm, Fairbury, Illinois were next. These come piping hot in a paper cone. These were so hot from the fryer that you could hear the fat crackling. I leaned in to hear the sound but jumped back a bit fearing the hot pork oil would go into my eye.

I've never had pork rinds before. I wasn't sure I would like them to begin with, but everyone raves about them, so I thought I'd naturally like them as well. It was like biting into a crunchy chip that sent fireworks exploding in your mouth. The downside however is that then you have the embers from the fireworks slowly collect in your mouth. It had the perfect amount of heat and spice, but it left an oily film in my mouth, which I didn't enjoy so much. I think one or two was all that I could really eat.

Jung - I thought of you when I ate this. I wished I could teleport this to you so you could taste it. I think you would have loved this. Here's an up close and personal shot. Can you believe this is from pork skin? How can you fry skin like this, I will never know.

The waiter told us that they were known for their seafood and pork dishes, but to balance it out, we decided on a chicken entree as well. We got the half order of the chicken from the Slagel family farm in Fairbury, Illinois, with summer sausage and frites. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, but I have to admit my favorite part was eating the fries soaked in the juices from the roasted chicken. The fries didn't look all that different from any fast food joint's, but man ... with the juices from the chicken, they were pretty darn amazing. I felt like I was eating food at a country fair, it was so simple, but so good.

Here was the golden trout line caught from Clear Springs, Idaho with trumpet mushrooms & fresh green chickpeas. The golden trout was pan fried golden yellow, but inside had the loveliest pink color. Clearly I need to eat more trout because this was delicious. I've never seen chickpeas this big, have you? I don't know what was in this sauce, but the trumpet mushrooms was the perfect accoutrement to soak up all the yummy juices.

When we asked the waiter which pork dish was the best, between the pork belly, country ribs and ham chop, he said the ham chop "in hay" was really good. We asked what the "in the hay" meant and he said that they put the ham covered in hay in a round bowl in an oven. The hay burns as the ham cooks and locks in the moisture of the ham. I was hoping for the pork to come with the residual hay, but no such luck. The Berkshire ham chop "in hay" from Heritage farm, Iowa, with ramps & grits was enormous. The waiter did mention the largest entrees were listed at the bottom. We somehow ended up ordering the biggest seafood and meat dishes. I was there was more grits in this dish, because what I did taste of it was fantabulous. They were so creamy and buttery. The ramps were pretty fantastic too. I can't wait to see them at the farmer's markets when summer approaches. I felt like I was eating an Easter dinner. To tell you the trust, I could have done with less ham and more ramps and grits. Grits and ramps were pretty outstanding in this dish.

We were so full, but desperately needed to get the pork taste from the pork rinds out of our mouths so we opted for a dessert of Seedling farm blueberry pie with pistachios & honey-black pepper ice cream. I was fully expecting a slice of blueberry pie, but it was two little empanada looking pies cut in half sitting on top of a layer of roasted pistachios. The blueberry pie was alright, but I was hoping for some chunks of blueberries in this. It almost tasted like they just use blueberry jam for the filling, which was kind of disappointing. The combination of the honey-black pepper ice cream with the salty roasted nuts below, however, was perfection.

Overall I wasn't as big of a fan of the pork dishes namely because it left such a porky aftertaste in my mouth, but I loved the beets and burrata dish and the fish and chicken dishes were pretty spot on too. I hear their brunch items are pretty fantastic too. I think it definitely warrants a revisit in the future.

I also saw the Charcuterie Chef Erling Wu-Bower walk in and out of the kitchen a few times. Is it possible to be a chef groupie? If so, sign me up. I think he's a hottie ... speaking of hotties, we need to make a trip here soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Urban Belly - Chicago, IL

A new favorite show of mine on the Food Network is The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I was watching it one night and thought, I should look up all the places that were mentioned in Chicago and try them out while I'm here. So the neurotic person that I am compiled a list and sent it to my friends. Lucky for me, they jumped on the bandwagon and were up for trying out these places.

So we drove out to Avondale, which is northwest of downtown Chicago, to try Urban Belly. The restaurant is literally in a strip mall next to a dry cleaners and a laundromat. So random, maybe it should be called Suburban Belly. hehe.

Urban Belly and it's sister restaurant, Belly Shack, have gotten much press and love lately and I was eager to find out why. It's owned by Chef Bill Kim and at Urban Belly, he combines Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese flavors to come up with interesting dishes.

I'll cut to the chase. I just didn't get it. I thought it was just a mish mash of different ethnic elements that quite frankly, didn't taste all that great. If you're going to add some unique elements to classic staples like Japanese ramen or Vietnamese pho, shouldn't it taste better than its predecessors? Although I appreciate the novelty and I credit Bill Kim for making pan-Asian food hip in Chicago and for making all these people drive up to eat at his restaurant, I wished that he would just strip away all these extraneous toppings and flavors and just make and serve a good bowl of Japanese ramen or Vietnamese pho. Just a simple, bare bones bowl of ramen or pho or a plate of kalbi, for that matter, would have satisfied me more.

Here's what we ordered. First, we got a bunch of side dishes to share. This was the duck and pho spices dumplings. I don't know if it's because I've been spoiled with such good Asian food in LA, but at $8 for 4 dumplings, these better be freaking amazing ... and they were just OK. I love duck but maybe dumplings aren't the best way to showcase them. Lesson learned.

The girl at the counter also recommended the Lamb and Brandy dumplings, which we tried. This was also $8 and at least they gave you some edamame with it. Maybe I'm a purist but I like being able to taste the flavors of the meat in the dumplings like xiao long baos, but while I enjoyed the brandy sauce with the edamame, I felt like it masked the flavor of the lamb in the dumplings entirely. I'm sure it would have been tasty, minus the sauce. What a bummer.

This is the short rib and scallion rice with some fried shallots on top. Again, didn't taste anything different from Korean kalbi with some long grain fried rice on the bottom. This also costs $8.

Here are their wrinkle beans with fried shallots. These were OK, but I've had better fried green beans at chinese or thai restaurants. Nothing all that different or special here, but a bargain at $4.

Now for our noodles ($11 to 13):

Jake got the Urbanbelly Ramen, which had ramen with pork belly and shitake in pho broth. Sorry for the glare, but this the best picture I had. We sampled all of the broths and they all tasted pretty similar but for a few different additions. I guess in my mind I was thinking it would have a deep pork flavored broth, but then realized that it comes with pho broth instead, so it was probably beef based and thus, much lighter. I was hoping for a deeper, more complex broth.

Sorry Jake, I misinformed you. It turns out that Susan's pick was what Art Smith recommended. Art Smith recommended the Rice Noodles with Hominy, Kimchi and Spicy Pork Broth as one of the best things he's ever ate. I adored Art Smith on Top Chef Masters last season, but I don't know if I trust his food recommendations anymore. My friends also tried his other recommendation, Boka, a few weeks ago and weren't too fond of that place either. What's going on Art?? Btw, doesn't this totally look like ramen that your grandmother used to make you growing up? At least mine would, minus the hominy, of course. =)

This had Korean rice cakes in it, hominy, which looks like bigger kernels of corn, but tastes more starchy and is used in Mexican cooking, and Kimchi. So it's definitely an interesting mix of flavors, but Susan left most of her noodles untouched. Not a good sign.

Aleen got the special of the day, which was pork belly and kimchi ramen. The broth tasted just like Susan's but slightly more sour from the kimchi. Aleen didn't finish her bowl either. Also a common theme was that they put cilantro in everything. So beware if you are not a cilantro fan.

I got the Udon with Shrimp, Coriander and Sweet Chili Lime Broth. I felt like I was eating udon with a Thai soup. I like udon and I like Thai soup, so I guess there wasn't much to dislike about this, but again, didn't leave a lasting impression.

I just felt like I could have gone to an Asian restaurant and gotten tastier dishes for a lot less. Clearly I am in the minority though, because whatever Chef Kim is doing, it seems to be working for the Chicagoans. I felt like we were rushed to eat and get out as quickly as possible to accommodate the groups of people waiting to be seated in this relatively small restaurant. I personally did not love this place and am on the search for better Asian noodles in Chicago. I have my fingers crossed for Takashi for ramen on Sundays. I hope I have better luck there.

I am totally craving Ippudo in NY right now, you have no idea.

Urban Belly
3053 N California Ave
(between Barry Ave & Nelson St)
Chicago, IL 60618

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BLD's Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

You may remember awhile back that I raved about BLD's Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes and since then, I have been craving them, especially since I can't have them all the time. I did a search online for the recipe and found them here. OK, clearly I am late on the discovery since they published this article back in 2008, but I have the recipe now and that's what matters, right? =)

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
Adapted from BLD

The restaurant recommends using a dryer ricotta with large curds such as Gioia (a wet ricotta will make the batter grainy).

3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I got mine from TJ's of course!)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups milk
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 pints blueberries

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and ricotta cheese so that there are no large lumps of cheese, but make sure the mixture does not become too smooth (this will make the pancakes wet and grainy). Here's the egg yolks and ricotta together.

Here's what mine looked like after some mixing.

Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla, then the milk.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Fold this into the egg batter just until no lumps remain. Don't fret, it looks really watery, but try to take out the huge lumps and it will thicken a lot more once you add in the egg whites too. Once I looked at my runny batter, I told my roommate, we might have to go out for brunch after all, but it turned out really well ... so hang in there.

3. Separately, whip the egg whites to medium-stiff, shiny peaks, about 4 minutes. Gently fold these into the batter just until uniformly combined.

4. Ladle a generous one-fourth cup of batter onto a medium-hot, lightly greased griddle for each pancake. Place 10 to 12 blueberries on each pancake and cook, about 2 minutes per side, until the cakes are golden-brown and cooked through.

Here was my first pancake, which is usually a throw away, but it looked pretty good. Success!

Here's a large stack of them. Serve with some maple syrup and enjoy! I think this recipe can easily serve 6. They were so fluffy and just like I remembered them at BLD. Thank you LA Times for the recipe.

I'd like to try swapping out the blueberries for just lemon zest or just chocolate chips next time. This might turn into a weekly brunch ritual for us. =)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Christina Tosi's Compost Cookies

Chef David Chang of Momofuku is opening a restaurant/pig farm in Chicago this fall and I can hardly wait. I have to warn you though, the concept is a bit weird. The new restaurant, called Momofuku Pig Pen, is going to be in a 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Pilsen where the pigs will be raised and slaughtered on-site. It will also have little Mangalitsa pigs in the middle of the dinning room so you can feed and pet them. Don't worry, hand sanitizer and buckets of raw corn will be on every table.

I'd love to be able to eat his bao buns in Chicago, but I'm not sure I want to play with the piggies first. Let's hope the Pig Pen offers some vegetarian options and some of Momofuku's signature desserts as well.

I've never been to his Milk Bar in NY, but I've heard of some unique creations by their pastry chef Christina Tosi and have been dying to get my hands on some of her recipes. I think a cookbook is slated to come out next year, but some recipes have cropped up here and there online. Some of her famous desserts are crack pie, blueberry cream cookie, cereal milk soft serve and the compost cookie. I found the recipes online for the crack pie and blueberry cream cookie, but I'm waiting to make a crack pie for a special occasion and the blueberry cream cookie is a bit too much effort. I've been looking for the compost cookie recipe for awhile and although there have been pretty good guesses, there hasn't been an official recipe available until now. Thanks to the Amateur Gourmet for the find.

Now for the cookies ... before you start, I have a few suggestions: (1) Use a silpat or get some parchment paper if you can. I didn't have any, so I used aluminum foil and especially if you add chocolate candies with caramel in them, the cookies will run and will stick. I made a lot of cookie donuts this way. (2) An ice cream scooper with a lever, if you have it, will come in very handy because the dough is very soft and sticky.

Compost Cookies
adapted from Christina Tosi

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of your favorite baking ingredients (I used chocolate chips, milk duds, rice crispies and some steel cut oats)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite snack foods (I used chips and pretzels)

Note: Christina Tosi uses chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, graham crumbs and oats in her cookies.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.

When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

My baking ingredients were milk duds, white and milk chocolate swirled chips, rice crispies. I cut the milk duds in half. I felt a it was a bit of a sugar overload, so I also added some instant steel cut oatmeal from my cupboard for added texture.

Here's my hodgepodge of baking ingredients. On same low speed, add in your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough.

For my favorite snack foods, I added pretzels and potato chips. I just crushed these with my hand.

Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.

Using a 6oz ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan. I later realized that these cookies expand and become quite large, so I switched to a smaller ice cream scoop to make smaller cookies, so the choice is up to you (although see my comments below).

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week. The dough is quite soft so it needs to firm up before baking.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the conventional oven to 400F. (350F in a convection oven)

When the oven reads 400F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan a minimum of 4" apart in any direction. I have a confession to make. I got lazy and instead of chilling the dough in the ball form, I just chilled the dough in a bowl and scooped it out right before baking. As annoying as this process is, because you have to put several cookies sheets into your fridge, it's worth the extra effort because it makes for a puffier and prettier cookie.

Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don't match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Here are the cookies, but like I said, the milk duds melted and spread and made for not very pretty cookies.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

Here's a picture of the cookie up close. Do you see pieces of pretzel in there?

Here's a picture of the original cookie using the large ice cream scoop vs. the smaller one. The texture is more apparent in the larger one and looks yummier. Do you also see how the smaller cookie is flatter, it's because I didn't chill it in its ball shape. I just chilled the dough in a bowl when I made the smaller cookies. Maybe all these little details are why this cookie is so famous, because it takes a lot of care and effort ... and refrigerator space.

So what's the verdict you ask? This cookie reminds me a lot of the NY Times cookie in how you have to beat the sugar and butter for a long time, refrigerate the dough and also the added saltiness. I think if you love the whole salty vs. sweet combo, you will love it. I feel like it's a mix of a chocolate chip cookie with chocolate covered pretzels rolled into one. I could barely taste the potato chips, but the crunch and saltiness of the pretzels in this was great. Next time I'd just stick with the pretzels only since you don't even get to taste the chips. Why consume extra calories if you can't even taste it. haha.

These cookies are highly addictive. I had one for breakfast today, along with leftover pancakes, and I wasn't hungry at all till way past lunch. Glorious pancake recipe coming up next!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not My Mom’s Avocado and Orange Salad

This is a recipe from Andrew Carmellini, the chef and owner of Locanda Verde in Manhattan, called Mom's Florida Avocado and Orange Salad recipe. Clearly my Korean mother would never have come up with this concoction. I wonder if she's ever even tried an avocado. I'll have to ask her next time I talk to her. =)

One of the things I really miss about living in LA is the plethora of grocery stores, farmers markets and ethnic markets. Even though I love my neighborhood Dominick's and relish my weekly trips to Trader Joe's, grocery shopping here is just not the same. I miss the fresh fruits and veggies that are available in LA all year round. I think I used to have at least 5 different types of fruit in my fridge at all times when I lived in LA. The only things that are not over the top expensive, still tasty and thus, in heavy rotation at our place these days are oranges, bananas and avocados (yes, an avocado is a fruit). I've been making tons of guacamole lately and was tempted to make yet another batch, but I happened to stumble upon this recipe for an avocado and orange salad and leaped for joy because I happened to have all the ingredients at home. Isn't it the best when that happens?

Not My Mom's Avocado and Orange Salad
adapted from Andrew Carmellini

3 Valencia or navel oranges
1 Haas avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 scant tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce
Handful of cilantro leaves

1. Segment the oranges by slicing off the ends with a sharp knife. Put the orange on one end and, with a small, sharp knife, cut around the fruit, slicing off the peel and white pith.

2. Segment the orange by slicing between the membranes. Remove the segments and drop into a bowl. Squeeze the juice out of the remaining membranes into the bowl with the segments. Reserve the juice.

3. Slice the avocado in half and twist off the halves. With a knife, cut each halved avocado half lengthwise into segments, cutting through the meat. The original recipe said to cut around the avocado meat and push the pieces out of the skin with the knife. I tried that and it was more trouble than it's worth.

Personally I think it's easier to either peel the avocado skin off entirely and then cut into slices or cut into slices and scoop out the whole thing with a spoon. Whichever method you decide to employ, place the sliced avocado into the bowl with the oranges.

4. Add the lemon juice, red onion, oregano, olive oil, salt, hot sauce and the reserved orange juice. Using a large spoon, mix all the ingredients together so that everything is coated and well combined.

5. Remove to a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves and drizzle with more olive oil. Serve as an appetizer or antipasto.

Who knew oranges and avocados complimented each other so well? The sweetness of the oranges highlights the creamy, richness of the avocado and olive oil and the red onions provide the perfect crunch and spice to the whole salad. This would be such a great side dish with grilled fish. Wouldn't that be so good on a warm summer night?

Just remember folks, when your supermarket gives you only avocados and oranges, make this salad!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

La Fama Bakery - Chicago, IL

I happened to run into this bakery while I was waiting for the bus one day. I was on the way to meet up with some friends so I just snuck my head in really quickly, made a visual footprint and vowed to come back at another time to try their treats. I finally remembered this weekend to go back and now I know I am in serious trouble. This place is way too close to me, how will I be able to resist?

It has a very nondescript storefront, but this is what this bakery is about, a solid bakery serving up probably 100 different types of pastries without all the pomp and circumstance. The pastries are 50 to 70 cents a piece, can you believe it? I'm used to paying $5 for the same thing at a fancy bakery and this place tastes pretty darn good.

The store is lined with these plastic display cases filled with different types of croissants, rolls, pound cakes, Mexican pastries and cookies as well as your standard bakery fare. They also sell individual servings of cake, flan and jello.

I couldn't resist so I bought a couple different pastries to share with my roommate. I saw some signs for guava pastries so I knew I had to try some. I asked the guy at the counter what he recommended. He told me that this pastry came out of the oven a few hours ago and was fresh. It didn't take much convincing for me to get this one. It also doesn't hurt that it's 70 cents. I highly suggest asking which ones are fresh, because they make a big difference. The pastry was sooo flaky and with the sprinkle of sugar on top and guava filling in the center, I gobbled this up in seconds. Guava, you are now my new favorite fruit.

Here's a guava empanada. He likened this to a fruit pie.

Here's what it looked like cut in half. I'm not the biggest fan of pie crust, but this was delicious. It wasn't too thick, but provided the perfect amount of crust for the fruit filling inside. I didn't know guava had such a deep pink color, but who am I to question La Fama Bakery.

This custard horn was calling out to me as well, so I got one of these as well. My roommate liked this one the best.

Now for the piece de resistance, they sell individual servings of flan for $1.50. I kept this in the fridge and finally got to try it today. This thing was so good and so much better than flan I've eaten at restaurants and it was only $1.50. Hello! Get on it people, you need to go there and get some for yourself.

If I have a dinner party, don't tell anyone, but this is what I'm serving for dessert.

La Fama Bakery
1751 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622