Monday, December 27, 2004

I like food. Food tastes good.

Everyone else will throw top ten movie and music lists on their blogs, so I present my ten favorite meals eaten in 2004.

In no order:

Pasta e fagiloli from Café Baci. Delicious soup that comes as close to what I used to eat at the St. Joseph’s day table as anything I’ve found. And it’s made from vegetable stock. Infinitely better than the minestrone you’ll find in the junk Italian joints around town. Honorable mention: Genovese pizza.

Peapods stir-fried with tofu from Oodles of Noodles. And carrots and water chestnuts and garlic as well. A simple dish anyone could make at home but I always come back to this dirty little noodle shop on Clark. I used to eat there on my lunch break during the Aspidistra years and I guess it just feels good to go back. I ought to buy a damn wok and just stay home, but what the hell? Someone has to keep these people in business. Honorable mention: curry fired rice.

Potato leek soup from the Soup Box. I adore this place. A simple little hole-in-the-wall on Broadway that makes some fantastic soup. A good bowl of soup is my passion, and there is always something there to get passionate about. It is hard to pick one soup among the many, but this one sticks out in my memory for having the perfect cream to potato balance. And it’s as cheap as it is filling. Honorable mention: lentil soup.

Corn chowder and a veggie burger from Fresh Choice. The one-two punch of hot corn chowder and the sub-style veggie patty makes for good sustenance before a long night of whisky at the Bistro Margot (where I can't afford to eat). Honorable mention: tortilla soup.

Ensalada de nopalitos con tortillas from El Milagro. Cactus salad complete with onion, cheese and cilantro marinated endlessly in oil, piled on a fresh, hot tortilla. Sundays are not the same without this delicacy. Honorable mention: Chiles rellenos.

Vegetarian shepherd’s pie from The Chicago Diner. I just ate this for the first time last week but it left a deep impression. The base is lentil and grains topped with a yam crust and covered in gravy. Served with broccoli and a corn muffin, this is a huge meal without a scrap of meat. So filling I had to nap afterward. Honorable mention: French onion soup.

Spinach cannelloni from Rosebud. I lament not trying the pasta with garlic oil and red peppers, but this was something pretty damn spectacular. Simple, which is often the best way to go. The sauce is a tomato base with rosemary, which elevates the dish considerably. Honorable mention: The giant house salad.

Eggplant Parmesan from Rose Angelis. This not-so-secret Italian Eden oddly located on Wrightwood in the middle of residences and neighborhood bars offers absurd portions of old world favorites. My birthday is usually spent working this dish under the belt and man-oh-man this year was no exception. They layer the breaded eggplant and pile it high like an edible tower of Babel. God knows I couldn’t speak after cleaning my plate. Honorable mention: The rest of the menu.

Deep dish spinach pizza from Bacino’s. Pizza, my Achilles’ heel. I could eat pizza daily, and once did. Eschewing the sausage and pepperoni, I found it is not such a bad thing to subsist on pizza. And I love Bacino’s, even though the service often sucks and I have to travel to Lincoln Park to eat there. Oh well, some things are worth suffering for. Honorable mention: Spinach calzone.

Vegetable couscous at Andies. When in Andersonville, my brother and I debate over Rezas vs. Andies (as well a million other pressing issues) and it clear where our respective loyalties lie. I think it comes down to which place offers the better veggie meals, and that is definitely Andies. More a Mediterranean restaurant than Middle Eastern, they offer some pretty damn good eats but nothing beats this dish. Lots of red peppers, eggplant and raisins dancing merrily in a field of couscous. Divine. Honorable mention: Potato chops.