Oh wow, I can hardly believe it. Already one year since I moved from Sweden to the US. Time flies! Chicago has been full of surprises and a fantastic adventure so far. Let me go back on some of my favorite foodie experiences in the Windy City!
1. One year and 92 new recipes on the blog!
Yes, I did the maths. From the day I put my foot in Chicago until today, I published 92 recipes on the blog! All of them available in both English and French. And I don’t count here all my cooking and baking experiments, the behind the scenes of Del’s cooking twist, my episodes of My Life as a Foodie in Chicago, or also my bilingual e-book! This is as many recipes I styled for the blog, shot with my camera, selected and edited. It is indeed A LOT of work, countless hours spent in the kitchen, behind my camera, and behind my computer, but it’s such a pleasure to count more and more of you everyday, visiting the blog and trying my recipes. Thank you so much for being here and making this adventure possible!
2. Doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts!
I’m a sweet tooth, I can’t help it. During these last 12 months, I tried many doughnut shops in Chicago, and even made a complete reviews of the most popular in the city. The new doughnut is hipster and has almost nothing to do with junk food. My favorite doughnut shops are Doughnut Vault and Firecakes. I prefer old-fashioned doughnuts over classic pillowy doughnuts, and I’m crazy about the Orange Poppy Seed Doughnut, for which I crafted my own version. Read my complete review of the best doughnuts in Chicago here.
3. My favorite restaurants in Chicago
Surprisingly, I didn’t try so many restaurants since I moved to Chicago. I know, it’s a shame, because Chicago is home of 26 Michelin stars restaurants, and many other great ones a little bit more affordable. Not exactly what you have in mind when you think about food in the US. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of bad places too, but if you want to try good food, you can find your happy place in Chicago.
According to my own tastes (I love fusion, sweet & savory, lovely dishes and reasonable portions), my favorite restaurants in Chicago are: True Food Kitchen, an eco-chic chain serving health-conscious fare, including vegan options ; The Little Beet Table, pretty much the same concept but in a more restaurant type format ; Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, which has the most amazing hot chocolate you could ever imagine (try their fudge hot chocolate – heaven!) ; Bad Hunter, a great vegetable-focused restaurant (with even an entire vegan menu) ; Ruxbin, a creative upscale restaurant with modern testing menus featuring global influences ; Boka, a one Michelin star restaurant serving creative American cuisine ; Duck Duck Goat, a creative Chinese fare from the celebrity chef Stephanie Izard ; and also of course Eataly, a great place for Italian food but also, great cheese, bread, and charcuterie. What about your favorite restaurants in Chicago? Please share your best tips with me!
4. Mexican food everywhere!
You’d believe you are in the US but somehow you have one foot in Mexico too, especially when you live close to this neighborhood in Chicago. Around my house, there are dozens of Mexican restaurants, and the grocery store is full of Mexican ingredients: tortilla, guacamole, fajitas, tacos, all of them are common food in Chicago! So far, my favorite goes to Xoco, also because they have amazing churros with hot chocolate dipping sauce. I told you I was a sweet tooth!
5. My top 10 food habits at the grocery store
This should be the object of a separate article, there is so much to say about it. When I moved to Chicago from Stockholm, I had to adopt new habits when going to the grocery store, and it took me quite some time. I did pay attention to the labels more than I ever did, trying to purchase non processed organic food as often as possible.
Here are my top 10 food habits in the grocery store:
- Rule #1: Purchase organic, whenever it’s possible ;
- Rule #2: If not, I choose locally produced food (it doesn’t say anything about pesticides though) ;
- Rule #3: Always go for Non GMO’s products (be careful, many brands use this label just as a marketing tool, as an acceptable version of non organic products) ;
- Rule #4: Choose organic fresh milk, butter, and cage free eggs – Grade A ;
- Rule #5: Always purchase “Non antibiotics” labelled meat ;
- Rule #6: Choose non processed ingredients as a rule (ex: natural rolled-oats… please never go for the thousands of other flavored ones!) ;
- Rule #7: Go for “Aluminium-free” baking powder! To me it sounds crazy that you can find aluminium in some of them!!
- Rule #8: Choose seasonal, organic and locally-produced fruits and vegetables (it seems natural, but is it?) ;
- Rule #9: Never ever buy a ready to use cake preparation, pie filling, or any fake magic powder to help you make a cake, some cookies, etc. ;
- Rule #10: Don’t fool for “fake cakes”, you know the ones you find with blue, yellow frosting all over. They are full of artificial colorants, sugar, and fat. Bake your own, it takes a little bit more time maybe but it’s so worth it!
6. Getting used to American measurements
We don’t necessarily think about it, but when you move from Europe to the US, there are many small changes that affect your everyday life in the kitchen. Here we count in ounces and cups, while it’s most of the time in grams in France and deciliter in Sweden. Also, the oven temperatures are in Fahrenheit and it might take you some time before you get used to it. I won’t lie here, it was not so difficult for me as I already used these measurements for the English version of my recipes since the beginning of the blog, while I still use the grams and Celsius for the French version of my recipes. In the kitchen, my brain is bilingual too (actually tritilingual with the Swedish measurements).
7. Cupcake ATM: a must try!
Cupcake + ATM = cupcake ATM. And yes, it exists here in Chicago! A pretty awesome experience: you go to the ATM, order your cupcake(s), pay with your credit card, and the ATM is showing you a video of your cupcake(s) on their way. The ATM sliding door opens and your cupcake is here, lovely wrapped in a little box. It’s just adorable and make you feel so special!
8. Eating healthy in the US: mission impossible?
No it’s not! You can totally find healthy habits in the US, but it implies you have some discipline, as it is really easy to fall for a donut to go, a greasy burger or getting used to the regular morning Starbucks drink full of sugar, as American do on their way to work. If this is something of interest for you, I might write a separate article about it in the future but to begin with, I would simply advise you to follow some basic rules, such as my top 10 foodie habits in the grocery store listed above, take the time to enjoy your meal, avoid snacks as much as possible (I’m really bad at it, I confess!), and move (training starts with basic little things, such as take a bike on your way to work for instance. On average, I walk between 3 to 7 miles ( 5 to 12k) daily depending on days, without working out). So don’t worry, if you recently moved to the US or plan to move, you won’t necessarily become a couch potato! 😉
9. Food and travels in the US
I did travel a bit in the US (not enough though) and I’ve got a few great foodie experiences, and truly bad ones on the road. Don’t stop in a gas station or any random restaurant in small towns if you don’t want to end up in crappy places where what you eat is everything but food.
My food travels were also the occasion for new foodie experiences. In New York City, stop by Saxon and Parole for the Impossible Burger, the only veggie burger that looks, handles, smells, cooks and tastes like ground beef (please do not mind my poor photo below, taken with my phone with very low light). A must try in a life time! And for a “wow” food journey, I got completely blown away by the restaurant Twist by Pierre Gagnaire (a Michelin starred chef) in Las Vegas. I could mention other places but I prefer to focus on true food experiences!
10. How many Deep Dish Pizzas did I eat?
Chicago is hometown of the world famous deep dish pizza! Some would argue if it’s a pizza or not, as it looks and tastes quite different, but I would not open the debate here. What matters here is that a deep dish is huge and delicious! Unlike a regular pizza, a deep dish is made of a crispy short dough crust topped with generous layers of cheese and crushed tomatoes, that make the pizza looks like a quiche. Often, you can add some sausage or pepperoni too, but it also works in its simple vegetarian version.
I tried soooooo many deep dish pizzas since I moved to Chicago. I can’t even count them. Yes, I like the Chicago-style deep dish pizza! My favorite goes right to the Lou Malnati’s one for its perfect thin crispy crust. Other great places for a deep dish in Chicago are Gino’s, Giordano’s (definitely not my favorite), and Pequod’s (that I haven’t tried yet). I have never published a deep dish pizza recipe on the blog but I’m finally working on it (I want you to experience the very best one) and it will be online on Wednesday, August 16th, already. Stay tuned!
This is it for today, but I’ll be back next Sunday for My Life as a Foodie in Chicago: 1 year (part 2). We’ll be talking about my favorite coffee places, vegetarian and vegan life in Chicago, and also about the delicious sweet smell of the city…
Best of recipes on the blog – 1 year in Chicago!
Hungry for more? Check my latest episodes of My Life as a Foodie in Chicago and discover Chicago with me!