Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bagels, Stratas and Eyebrow Strategies

A favorite New York memory of mine is walking through the morning steam rising from the pavement and buying coffee and bagels from a street truck. The guy always seems to tuck an extra bagel or two into the bag, always nice and chewy. Great to chomp on sitting in the mist on autumn mornings.
Here in Chicago, it can be a bit more challenging to recreate the bagel portion of this flashback. Unless you go to New York Bagel and Bialy up in Lincolnwood. (Note: I am not one of these people always comparing Chicago and New York, and am well aware of how annoying that is. This place could be called Lincolnwood Bagel and Bialy and still be the best place to get bagels in the city.) They've got the whole operation there in the storefront, boiling bagels and whatnot, and I've heard some delightful rumors that they actually make their cream cheese there. Take some home and toast them bagels good (seems like that never happens when someone else does it for you in a store--nice and crisp and brown), slather on some of that cream cheese, and top it all with thin slices of cucumber and radish, maybe red onion? Tasty...
And now that Green City Farmer's Market is up and running outside (as opposed to its indoor locale over the colder months), be sure to hit it. Lots of good stuff right now; sneak your way back to Green Acres in the rear corner; some really beautiful early vegetables, and lots of variety, too. But be sure to go early. Anytime after 9:00, and you are in the middle of stroller/people watching/"isn't this whole farmer's market thing so quaint and cute and I wonder if I'll see a famous chef here" boutique crowd. On Saturday, I actually heard someone say "I've been thinking about growing out my eyebrows!" I don't even know what this means but I don't like it one bit.
Another reason to arrive by 9:00: you might not be able to get eggs much later than this. Which is what we got this weekend. A huge loaf of yeasted cornmeal bread from Floriole Bakery (which, by the way, just opened a storefront on Webster--check it out--definitely one of the better bakeries in the city if you ask me), black kale and spring onions from Green Acres, oyster mushrooms, cheddar, purple asparagus, this weird cheese dip thing and more, all from several different vendors as I like to spread it around. We sauteed some ham my friend brought back from Tennessee then added the mushrooms and onions, some garlic, then the kale and asparagus. Braised that quickly and folded the mixture into the egg-soaked cornbread with chunks of that cheddar and baked it for awhile. I wrapped the asparagus in foil with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and threw it in the oven for a bit, as well. Tasty, and a nice way to spend a morning.

Now, off to research that whole eyebrow thing...