Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Most Memorable Dining Experience By: Nicole

Nicole loves food, but hates to cook so enjoys trying different restaurants on a regular basis. She travels to many different cities as an Operations Analyst and enjoys researching restaurants or food trucks to check out while she's there. Nicole enjoys watching Check, Please! to discover new restaurants in other neighborhoods and feels like she's met a new acquaintance whom is telling her about their dining experiences.

My most memorable dining experience took place not at just one establishment, but four over the course of a few hours, thanks to local tour company Fork and the Road. Two summers ago I joined Fork’s intrepid owners, Dimitria and Sharon, for a bicycle tour of some of Chicago’s great Eastern European cuisine. During our 15-mile bike ride through the city’s northwest neighborhoods on a lovely day, we most assuredly took in more calories eating than we burned biking, but it was still a fun and delicious way to explore the city.
After first hearing all the necessary bike safety rules for our group of 10, we pedaled up from Edgewater to Argo Georgian Bakery on Devon. Here we were each treated to our own Hachapuri, a flaky, cheese-filled puff pastry cooked in the depths of a large Georgian oven built right into the bakery’s floor, complete with cooking demonstration by the owner. It made me wish I had a Georgian oven in the middle of my kitchen so I could eat that bread every morning.
After stopping by a nearby Russian delicatessen, Three Sisters, for a quick sausage tasting, we took the scenic route to Elston and Peterson for our biggest meal of the tour at Polish favorite Smak-Tak. Here we were treated to a giant spread of pierogis and Hungarian-style pancakes- potato pancakes covered in goulash, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Would I normally have had such a homey Polish feast on a hot summer day, with a few miles of biking left to complete? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t still clean my plate.
Finally, we rolled down Lincoln (at a far slower pace than when we started) toward Jibek Jolu, Chicago’s only Kyrgyzstani restaurant. This central Asian country’s location on the silk road has produced food with an influence from both its Eastern European, Persian, and Asian neighbors. It made for really interesting flavors, hearty with some surprising spices. The noodles in the signature lagman dish are even hand-pulled in-house. I used to recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for something a little “off the beaten path”, though with its recent appearance on Check Please, that’s probably no longer necessary!Fork and the Road did a great job of introducing us to some great hidden gems in my own backyard, easily accessible by two wheels. Trying such wonderful local and authentic eateries only made me want to continue on to sample all the great ethnic food Chicago has to offer.

Argo Georgian Bakery2812 W Devon AveChicago, IL 60659(773) 764-6322

Three Sisters2854 W Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60659(773) 465-6695

5961 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60646
(773) 763-1123

Jibek Jolu5047 N Lincoln AveChicago, IL 60625(773) 878-8494

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