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Posts Tagged ‘andy’s deli’

A few nights ago Yuki and I went for a walk and realized that we were pretty hungry. The beauty of Chicago in the summer is the numerous al fresco options. We walked by Angels and Mariachis on Division and I remembered something my friend Chef John Caputo said about the place, “it’s tacos for gringos.” I happen to be a gringo, and I happen to love tacos. Mind you, he didn’t say they were good, so I had to find out for myself. Yuki’s quite frequently up for some tacos as well, so we grabbed a table outside and dined.

Pitchers of the House Margarita were on sale, so we got one. Typical bar margarita, not very strong and a little sweet. Oh well, it was hot out, the margarita was cold, I wasn’t gonna bitch too much. It was refreshing, I just prefer a little tequila in my margaritas.

The chips were freshly fried and nicely salted. The salsa, well, it was salsa. A tad sweet, not quite spicy enough, and very mediocre.

We split a tamale as an appetizer, that was a mistake. The texture was alright, but there was absolutely zero flavor! It was stuffed with slow simmer pork, but you wouldn’t know it without looking. The pork lacked seasoning, the masa lacked seasoning, even the sauce lacked seasoning. I told the waitress to let their chef know not to be afraid of serving a tamale with some flavor. She did remove it from our bill, but they should be ashamed to serve a tamale like that…blaspheme!

We also split a rice and beans plate. They were ok, but definitely not Mexican in flavor. The black beans I make at home are far better than these, but they were edible.

On to the tacos. They come 4 to a plate and are small, about 2-3 bites each. We decided to share three different orders. First was the short rib braised in red wine. It was actually pretty good. The beef was soft and tender while it had the right amount of seasoning, surprisingly after that tamale. Then we had the carnitas. Again, it was also pretty good. The pork was properly cooked and they topped it with matchsticks of carrots and pickled daikon, almost Vietnamese in flavor. It was a nice match for the pork. Last was the lobster. It was basically a seafood salad with lobster meat. Not bad, but not anything special that sings lobster. Could have easily have been crab or shrimp and you wouldn’t have noticed the difference.

The service was pretty good overall. I didn’t have to ask for that tamale to be removed from the bill. I just mentioned how bad it was and she did the right thing. Food came out at a nice pace as well.

All in all, I completely agree with Chef Caputo’s assessment that the place serves tacos for gringos. You really don’t need to say whether or not it’s good or bad as that statement pretty much says it all. While the tacos weren’t too bad at all, I don’t think I’ll jump out of my seat and rush back for more.

On a side note, I’m still very dissapointed that Andy’s Deli is no longer there. I still mourn when they sold the building, and having flavorless tamales served from the very space that used to sell the best tubes of smoked pork in town only makes me miss them more.

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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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Yuki and I picked up some pre-flavored aburaage (deep-fried tofu) for inarizushi at the Assi Plaza the other day. So, last night for dinner she made some sushi rice with hijiki to stuff into them and I made a quick stew with a couple of kielbasa that I picked up from Andy’s last week. I mean really, what matches sushi better than Polish sausage?

Inarizushi is really simple to make. Yuki measured out the rice to make 2 cups in our rice cooker. After she poured in the water the put about 2 tablespoons of dried hijiki in and let it sit for about 30 minutes before turning the cooker on. Once the rice was cooked she dumped it into a large glass baking dish. I stirred it around while she fanned it to release the excess moisture. Then, she poured in a mixture containing 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt. I mixed that all in until the rice was cooled to room temperature. Prior to that Yuki took the aburaage and boiled it for a few minutes. Aburaage is covered in oil and by boiling it you can remove most of the oil. Then, it’s simply a matter of stuffing the rice into the packets, a job that fell into my hands. Make sure to keep a bowl of water nearby to keep your fingers wet otherwise the rice will stick and you’ll never get the aburaage filled.

For the kielbasa I sliced up half an onion, 1 yellow bell pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, half a long napa cabbage, and the two kielbasa. In a pot I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil and tossed in the onion, pepper, and garlic. I let those saute down for about 5 minutes and then added the kielbasa, I let that cook for about 4 minutes. Then I tossed in the cabbage and let it wilt down for about 4 minutes. I poured in 1/4 cup dry white wine and let it boil for a few minutes until it evaporated. Finally, I poured in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of mustard. I let that boil down for about 5 minutes and that was it, just a little black pepper to season.

To serve, we put a shiso leaf underneath the inarizushi. We also served the extra rice because we made more than we could stuff into the aburaage.

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I stopped by Andy’s Deli the other day, easily one of my favorite grocers in Chicago. While there, I really had no choice but to pick up some of their smoked kielbasa sausages. So friggin good! They have the best kielbasa in town. To serve with grilled kielbasa I made a carrot soup, some white rice, some chickpeas, and no kielbasa would be complete without a dollop of mustard. I used my favorite Boetjes.

For the carrot soup I chopped up three large carrots, half of an onion, 1 celery rib, and 3 cloves of garlic. I sautéed it all in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Then I poured in about 1.75 cups of chicken stock, half a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of paprika, and salt. I brought that to a boil, lowered the heat to medium, covered, and let simmer until the veggies were soft (about 15 minutes or so).

After letting the veggies cool down a bit I dumped them all into the blender and pureed it. While it was blending I poured about a half cup of olive oil in to make the soup silkier. I put it all back into the pot, tasted for seasoning, and added pepper. When it came time to serve I simply reheated it.

To make the chickpeas I started by sautéing a quarter of an onion small diced in butter and olive oil with 2 minced garlic cloves. I had a couple of purple potatoes left from the other night so I diced them up and added them. I didn’t stir too much because I wanted the potatoes to get a little crisp. Once they were I added about a quarter cup of chicken stock, salt, and pepper.

Once the stock had reduced by about half I added one can of drained chickpeas. I let that cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat. The chickpeas just needed to be heated through.

Once they were I threw a bunch of baby arugula in, turned off the heat, adjusted the seasoning, and let it sit until the kielbasa were cooked.

I threw the kielbasa on the grill. They were smoked so I only needed to char them for texture and to heat them through. Once they were ready dinner was served.

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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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