Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

July 31, 2012

Cafeteria Dining: The Endangered Species

Here's a question for you. How many of you can remember cafeteria-style dining? I'm not talking about your days in school. It doesn't seem that long ago that K-Mart had full service dining (and the food was actually very good). Some of you might remember K-Mart's Blue Plate Specials. It was cafeteria in the way that you would  in school. You look at the food, pick the items you wanted, grabbed a piece of pie or cake, pay, and off you went. As I think about this, this experience is a dying breed especially where I live. Don't get me wrong. There are a few in the Chicago area but they're much harder to find than years past. Of those that are still around locally, there's BJ's Market (Chicago South Side) and MacArthur (Chicago's West Side) are just two that come to mind. Many have closed and some have reinvented themselves. I'm of the believe that if it's not broke, don't fix it.

Over the last 5 months or so, I re-acquainted myself with a place I really liked and forgot was still around. In Hillside, Illinois, the cafeteria dining experience is alive and well with soul food excellence found at Priscilla's Ultimate Soul Food Cafeteria. If you're not looking for it and not familiar with the area, you could easily miss it. So you go inside and it's pretty much basic fare. Just like the cafeteria-style dining you'll see in the South, that's what awaits you when you get inside- clean and comfortable. You then will see the menu for the day, since the menu rotates by day. But before you place your order, there may be some instructions given up front, You'll see that as well.

 But before you place your order, there may be some instructions given up front, You'll see that as well. 
Again, just so everyone is clear. If you miss this, don't worry about it. You will be directed to the right place to place your order. 

Now comes the big payoff. You can see all the goodness right in front of you. All the hype you've heard or everything I remembered is right in front of you. Since this is a soul food restaurant, there tends to be a lot of smothered stuff on the menu. Trust me, this place doesn't disappoint. If you think I'm kidding, take a look below. One warning though. If you're hungry or craving soul food, you proceed at your own risk .As I touched on earlier, the entree menu rotates daily (they're closed on Monday and Tuesday). OK. Now you've been warned so let the show begin. Here's what the spread looks like on any given day.

From left to right should be pretty obvious. Fried Chicken (Left), and some serious Mac & Cheese (right).

You want oxtail, you got it- right in front of you. Stewed to perfection. I'll come back to this later.

A familiar friend and a new playing partner. Fried Chicken (left) and smothered pork chops. More later!!

So now is the real payoff. Meal # 1 is Oxtail, cole slaw, and green beans w/ a cornbread muffin to book. As you see on the pictures below the main course, you see my surgical dining skills at work.

So how tender was this oxtail dish. Notice anything?  I took off the bones. Notice how clean they are? I made one mistake here. Next time, I'll order rice instead of cole slaw. Imagine how good that sauce would have tasted with rice.

Now on to meal #2 listed below. Smothered Pork Chop, mac & cheese, and green beans. NOW do you have an idea why I made this post? Tell me this doesn't jump off the page and say dinner is served. Now for the record, I am pretty conscientious about my diet but with that said, I cheat every now and then.  I think this is just another example of how to cheat. OK, so I threw out the food serving chart that day. At least I ate very well. 

Now that you made it this far, let's go to the final meal I'll feature here. Yep. When I want smothered stuff, I don't hold back and below is another example. Smothered chicken (baked) with Mac & Cheese & green beans. You get all the meals I bought for under $10.00. In addition, you can also get a meal made of side dishes. Four choices, $13 at this time and as you can see, this place doesn't skimp on portions. You get what you pay for and I've never had a bad meal.

Let's say I have a knack for finding off the path dining. In this case, I wouldn't call it off the path since it's pretty close to where I live (closer than I realized). SEVERAL local food writers and programs have featured Priscilla's as well. It's always nice to visit a place like this. Why? I brings back a way of life not seen as much as we once did. I just hope places like this will survive and prosper. Every time I eat a a place like this, I REALLY feel a personal touch to it.  I guess if all else fails, maybe I'll move to the South. OK, not so fast.  Knowing what it takes to make a meal like this I appreciate the effort a chef takes in pulling off a meal like this. I really hope more come back and more importantly, do it right. Job well done, Priscilla's. Keep up the good work. I'll be back sooner than you think. You're always worth the trip.

July 30, 2012

BBQ Anyone? A Visit to Naperville Ribfest 2012

Now another adventure to the Naperville Ribfest, 2012. It's actually a pretty nice event. The event is hosted by the Naperville Exchange Club and proceeds go to help child abuse and domestic violence programs. This year was year 25 and I've gone every year except three. Now while it won't be mistaken for Memphis in May or The Nugget Cook off in Reno but for me, still a good time. National acts often come in to play and this year was not exception. ZZ Top, Joe Walsh and Steve Miller were the top bills this year. Last years, America's Chefs came in and (in my opinion) stole the show. Those guys were an absolute blast to watch. Gorilla couldn't have been a nicer guy as were the rest of the crew. For the record, you can follow them on Facebook or twitter (@americaschefs) as well. KansasCity BBQ Society (KCBSBBQTour)
also made their presence known with demonstrations, food and product samples as well.

But enough with the side bar stuff, let's show this adventures in pictures. I took these with my camera phone so at least you can get an idea and a feel for the event. If any of these folks come to your town, pay them a visit. The lines can get to be pretty long but the payoff is worth it. Let's start the show, shall we? Yes we shall. All of those featured have won my approval.

 This is a an old-time staple for me. Pigfoot BBQ is consistently among many crowd favorites. They've been here for years. This is one of the better sauces especially if you like heat. Killer is the name of the sauce. They make a mean rib!!!!

Another long time participant is another Ohio-based company. Desperado BBQ & Rib company is another mainstay here. Their "Hotter that H" sauce is another must for chileheads. The also cook a mean rib. This year, they placed second in "Best Ribs" category. Below is part of the Desperado BBQ Team handling his business. It was a HOT day when I went and I wasn't behind the grill. Imagine how this guy and his fellow competitors felt. I've enjoyed their BBQ for a number of years. They serve a pretty mean pulled pork but I was clearly in the mood for ribs.

Getting the job done!!!! This guys is doin' work, as some might say.  He will serve no rib before it's time!!!!!! As for taste, they tasted just as good ...... no better, that they look.

The last couple of years prior, Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ was not present. After a few things went into motion (OK I wrote the Ribfest & Butch's people and asked why Butch's wasn't there. As time went forward, it seemed as if wiser heads prevailed) and they are back!!! Their response was so great that their signature Super-pyro BBQ sauce bottles sold out!!! I got some ribs, a nice slathering of Super pyro and I was good to go!!! Super Pyro- very good but not for the mortal. SLOW but pleasant burn (if you're like me).

Butch Lupinetti is no longer with us but his children still keep things running. Heck of a guy and a real gentleman. Another must stop. I spoke briefly with one of the crew there and keeping Butch's legacy alive and well. I think it's in very safe hands. I joked with him about running our of sauce and needled him a little bit (not in a mean way though). If this team took down Bobby Flaw, that's saying something. Welcome back, Butch's BBQ!!! We really missed you.

Mojo's is another must stop for me. Another highly decorated team and past Naperville Ribfest winner. Heavily smoked and not heavily sauced. It might be short and sweet but stopping here is a good thing. You can't go wrong but be careful with the sauces because Killer is not for the average mortal.  You have to love the "converting vegetarians one rib at a time".....unless you're a vegan. Then again, not sure why a vegan would read this. If they're here, feel free to hang out. Meat and sauces marry very well.

Above is Mike Peters of the Kansas City BBQ Society. I became aware of KCBS years back and I realize what a big deal it was. This is the gold standard of BBQ. He and his wife, Christine, tour the USA for the KCBS BBQ Tour. He's a pretty fun presenter as well and he really knows what he's talking about. His presentation is very interactive. The sample he's cutting up is some Smithfield Pork. Good stuff!!! Also, they had some meats and cheeses as well as some season packets.The presentations are about 15-20 minutes. Last year, the KCBS gave away a Good Ones BBQ Grill....a VERY nice one (The Marshall)... and I didn't win it. Oh well. Life goes on!!!!!!! If you want to learn about BBQ and have a chance to hear this guy, you'd be better off for it. I'm not talking about BBQ alone either. I became aware of a new fire starter that looked like a candle. I tried them (I actually won them from him) and they worked like a charm.

This years had some newcomers and this was one of them. BBQ Masters is out of Atlanta, GA. You want to see some SERIOUS BBQ meat? Scroll down and see for yourself. Ribs and sausage galore!!!! While I didn't get to try them, I REALLY hope they come back next year. By this time, I was just about BROKE!!!! One of the sausages below had my name written all over it!!!!!

Who said BBQ Teams don't have a sense of humor and aren't good natured people? If you think that, just look at the 3 pictures that follow. All three are from another new Naperville Ribfest team, Willingham's Wold Championship BBQ. Now if you're really nice, a nice guy like you see below might hook you up with a little sample (a small end piece of BBQ). Another solid choice. Nice crust and very well seasoned. They placed Third in the "Best Sauce" category. Not overly spicy but still a very good rib. 

Another picture of the Willingham's BBQ team. 

I was really low on battery so I wished I could have taken more pictures (much lower than I expected). My zoom on my phone isn't great either. Now that my camera situation is solved, I'll take more pictures next time around. As usual, I had a good time. I know all the odds and ends on getting around. it's nice to see some familiar faces when they come here. I hope this at least painted a small picture about this event. I always look forward to going because I always have a great time. If I go alone or meet with others, it doesn't matter. My goal was to share about some good BBQ people and suggest you try them if they come to your town. This reminds me of what I have to look forward to each July 4th holiday (another thing to enjoy; don't forget the real reason why we celebrate the 4th). I do wish I took more food pictures (specifically, what I ate) and team pictures as well. By the time I thought about taking a rib picture, my ribs were gone!!! Oh well. I can look forward to next year!!!

 So I guess I'll end on a humorous note.  So you need some Cowbell????????????? OK......... problem solved................. (courtesy of Willingham's).

July 29, 2012

Fan-sandwich: The Fantastic Sandwich!!!

OK. This post is two fold. First, it to let those who may have seen this blog that I am, in fact, back live again. I plan on being more active in the days ahead. You will see some recent adventures in the days ahead as well. I did use a camera phone so the pictures may not be as nice. Second, it gives me a chance to test my new digital camera that I got last week. The sandwich is not that difficult friends. We all know that!!! But it can take so many different levels from the simple (as you see below) to the more ambitious. So this is what I'll do here. I'll have some fun. I'll build an "ambitious sandwich" based on my simple sandwich you see above (the very one I ate about 3 hours ago).
The sandwich seen above, I would call a bit past simple: roast beef, corned beef, baby Swiss cheese, salad dressing (I prefer Miracle Whip but mayo would work as well), a little garlic and cayenne pepper. I also added some fresh ground pepper for a little extra bite. Normally, I'd add onions and or pickles. Every now and then, I'll add tomato. Now, I'll be a bit more ambitious, which I have done before. First, no change in the meat at first glance. If I want to change, I'd replace corned beef with turkey or REALLY go over the top with duck. Next, I'd consider keeping the baby Swiss cheese but I'd probably consider adding aged cheddar (at least 2 years) or provolone. I could go over the top and add two or all three of them. I'd layer each slice between each piece of meat (similarly to what I did in my featured sandwich) Then I'd create a special dressing (I've done this before and it worked like a charm). I would start with Miracle Whip (you can also use mayo.... I know....duh), mix in garlic, ground habanero, cayenne pepper and if possible, some rendered duck fat. I've added oregano to this as well as ground pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt. Find the measurements to your liking and chill it in the fridge. Then I would add some sliced onion and a good heirloom tomato (I'm most familiar with the Brandywine). I would salt and pepper the tomato as well. Finally, the bread would be a toss-up. I wouldn't use an onion roll since I already have sliced onion. You could do something simple like who grain or rye. I could consider some herb kaiser roll as well. Hey, it's your sandwich. Do what you want with it. So what is your sandwich of choice? So as a legendary musician would say, enjoy every sandwich!!!!