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Archive for the ‘Grocery’ Category

As a big fan of the Polish Deli I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to finally get out and sample the goods at Kasia’s Deli on Hoyne and Chicago. I was actually first told about it by a tow truck driver last winter. I drive a big old green hoopty, better known as a Buick, and it’s electronics don’t do so well in Chicago’s cold winter. Last winter the beast died on me in front of my apartment and I had to get it towed to my mechanic. I hopped in the two truck and started talking food with the driver. He mentioned that he stops in at Kasia’s quite often and I ought to check it out. I held on to that advice for a year before acting on it. This past Sunday Yuki and I took a nice walk over there to grab some grub only to find out they were still closed for the holidays until yesterday. So, I went back yesterday and was rewarded with some extremely tasty viddles.

It’s not a large place by any means, but good things come in small packages. They make a nice variety of prepared food from different kinds of goulash to kielbasa with krout to pierogis to salads to all sorts of wholesome goodness. They also have some deli meats and cheeses that you can either take home sliced or have them make you a sandwich. At the far end is their homemade soups, pierogis, and blintzes. They also have a few refrigerated grocery items like milk and whatnot as well as a few dried groceries like breads and polish chocolates. The prepared food is all made in the back and is extremely cheap while using quality ingredients, just like a good Polish Deli should. So, I picked up a few things and brought them home.

Last night for dinner we had some of their mushroom and barley soup, rice with vegetables (carrots, peas, and corn), stuffed cabbage rolls (pork, mushrooms, and rice) with tomato sauce, mushroom and kraut pierogis also with tomato sauce, and some grated beets.  Everything was fantastic. Each of our plates cost about $6, that’s all. It’s damn hard to beat that for such quality food.

For breakfast this morning we had some of their blueberry blintzes. The cottage cheese and melon on our plates did not come from Kasia’s. I’ve made blintzes in the past, actually many many years ago, and these are every bit as good as anything I’ve ever made. $3 for a package of 6.

I have to say, Andy’s Deli is larger and a little better (especially because they also smoke their own meats), but since they closed their Wicker Park location a few years ago it’s not very convenient for me to get to. I will still make the occasional journey to Andy’s, but I am damn glad that Kasia’s is close by to fill the void in between. I have a feeling I’ll be heading to Kasia’s whenever I wake and know that I won’t feel like cooking dinner that night.

It was obvious that the lady behind the counter had a crush on me too (how can you blame her?). As she was bagging my food she asked me if I wanted a free T-shirt. It’s very hard to say no to a Polish woman who smells like kielbasa. Not to mention how hard it is for a Jew to say no to something free.

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Yesterday Yuki and I made a trip up to the Mitsuwa market, something we do once or twice a month. Neither of us really felt like cooking dinner so we decided to take advantage of the Bento boxes they prepare fresh every day. I got the Bento Du Jour which centered around a minced cutlet.

Going clockwise starting with the cutlet, you see it was served on top of white rice. The cutlet itself was simply a mix of ground beef, ground pork, and some small diced onion. They coated it in panko and deep-fried it. It was absolutely delicious!

In the next section was a piece if fish cake, a piece of tamagoyaki, two pieces of simmered eggplant, a deep-fried shrimp coated in bread crumbs, broccoli, and a piece of white fish wrapped in squid that was deep-fried. This was all on top of some lettuce.

In the upper left section was a small macaroni salad. It had a very typical mayonnaise sauce with small diced carrot and ham.

Next to that was some gobo and some kuromame. These were both a bit sweeter, especially the kuromame. The simmering liquid for each contained sugar and mirin. I treated the kuromame like dessert.

All of this for only $6.75!!! Good luck finding a meal as well-rounded and delicious as this for that price. The only way I can think of pulling that off is to cook for yourself.

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Those of you who haven’t journeyed up to Andy’s Deli on 5442 N. Milwaukee are a bunch of idiots! I say that with a touch of humor, but also a lot of truth as there are very few reasons to grocery shop at Jewel, Dominicks or Whole Foods when there are gems like Andy’s in our beautiful city. A Polish Deli/Grocery store, Andy’s is a one-stop shop for almost all of your digestive needs.

 

 

They have a counter with freshly prepared foods such as goulash, various roasted and braised shanks, cabbage rolls, ground chicken balls (some in dill sauces), pork loins, numerous vegetables and salads. The menu changes daily, but there are always selections of each major food group: cow, pig, chicken, and fish. They also make 2-3 different soups every day with their barley soup ranking as one of the best bowls (of soup) in all of Chicago.

 

 

On the other side of the U-shaped deli counter are their deli meat and cheese selections. Most of the meats they slice are homemade. My two favorites are the ham-off-the-bone and their smoked turkey. I don’t know how, but they manage to keep that turkey as wet as….well, I have a sick mind so I’ll keep that one blank and let you use your imagination. They also have this delicious havarti cheese with dill speckled around inside of it. Not to mention the usual offerings of butchered dead animal carcass found in most grocery stores.

 

 

Behind the deli counter lining a wall that must be at least 15-20 feet hang all sorts of home smoked sausages (I luv me sum kielbasa) and bacons. That right there is enough to get my stomach rumbling (It starts by rumbling in a good way, the next day it’s rumbling for other reasons).

 

 

Andy’s also carries some perishables, some of which are imported from the motherland. Local Polish bakeries bring in breads every morning. There are frozen items like different pierogies and homemade tripe. An aisle of chocolates and candies, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, etc. They also carry liquor and some pharmaceuticals. Sausage, beer, and drugs, what more do you need?

 

 

To top it all off, their prices are much cheaper than the larger chain stores. I can walk out of Andy’s with four or five bags full of fresh and prepared food for well under $40! Where else can you buy food for 2 that lasts at least a week for that price?

 

 

The only two things missing from Andy’s are bagels and Asian ingredients. While they should carry bagels seeing as there used to be a large Jewish population in Poland, I don’t think too many Polish grew up eating Mao Po Tofu.

 

 

Andy’s is definitely one of my two favorite grocery stores in the Greater Chicagoland area, the other being Mitsuwa (my review for them is forthcoming). Next time you need a good piece of meat to take home, whether it be smoked, roasted, braised, cured, or freshly butchered, make the trek out to Andy’s.

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