Today, for those unfortunate enough to live in a Polish food desert, was Paczki Day. Fortunately in Chicago, access to Polish food is fairly easy! I was first introduced to the treats by my very non Polish mother, who found them in a store, brought them home, and I stared at them. I was determined not to eat them, since I generally prefer whole grains.
They beckoned to me, somehow irresistibly, and despite my making a face when my mom picked one up to take a bite, when I smelled the burst of strawberries from the Paczki, my resolve quickly softened. Actually, my resolve just caved.
Originally I was planning to go to Gene’s for the today’s treats, but I ended up placing an order at Cafe Selmarie. From the looks of the photos at Dinkels on Lincoln Avenue in the Chicago Tribune, I’m glad I showed up for an early pickup. I can’t imagine Selmarie was any less crowded.
Here they are, before I reboxed them for delivery. The ones with confectioner’s sugar are Apple, the ones with yellow icing have lemon custard in them, the two chocolate covered ones are chocolate mouse and fresh banana, and then to the right is blueberry and strawberry.
Food is just one of the wonderful things that Chicago has to offer! If you want to read more about them, check out Wikipedia.
Friday was a busy day, but it was not so much about work as it was just hanging out and socializing. In the early part of the afternoon I stopped by Maya Essence, the Fair Trade store in Lincoln Square, to chat with Becky on her last day there. I’m sure she’ll be missed by many, as her upbeat and friendly personality were definitely a positive attribute for the store, but school and Mr. “A” awaited her return.
Roseann and I planned an early dinner, as I wasn’t seeing “mi novio” Friday night. We like to try different places, and since she has wheels it makes things easier. We went to El Huarachin Huarachon in the Albany Park neighborhood.
The food here was good and authentically Mexican, going a beyond the standard taqueria fare but still definitely diner food. The diner booths have large, wide seats that could conceivably fit 6 people rather than the usual 4. For the size of the restaurant, there was an surprisingly large selection food choices, so much that it wasn’t until I got home that I realized they had Chiles Rellenos. They had soups, gorditas, pambasos, tacos, tortas, burritos, tlacoyos, tampiquena, flautas, huachinango frito, fish (fried), and other items. Their corn tortillas are rich and home made, not store bought, and you the flavor of corn bursts through.
Roseann had the quesidilla:
She also ordered a coke. If you look at the bottle, you’ll see that it’s Mexican Coke, which has real sugar versus the cheaper corn syrup that is used in the US.
Having not eaten for most of the day except for a lemonade, I ordered a carne asada dinner and Jarritos. I’m not a fan of refried beans and they didn’t have boiled ones, so that’s why you don’t see any. And yes, those are two generous pieces of large limes for the carne.
The lighting is fluorescent, which makes taking photos a bit of a challenge and that is evident when I tried to shoot the wall mural. Out of nowhere a pesky cloudiness showed up at the right side. I took several photos with the same result.
We both liked the food, and I would definitely go back to order some of the other dishes which are difficult to find in most restaurants here. The restaurant caters to a Spanish speaking crowd, and on the day we were there, a very charming and sweet waitress who only spoke Spanish came to take our order. Fortunately we both speak enough Spanish. The owner did stop by just to make sure the order was correct but when we went it wasn’t busy with a lot of the dinner crowd.
Our next stop was dessert!! Thank you to whomever it was that told me that they thought there was a chocolate shop on north Damen, north of Lawrence! Armed with Rosanne’s four wheels, she drove up Damen until we found it. It’s called “Let them Eat Chocolate” and it is a lovely chocolate and dessert lounge! The staff there are friendly and a joy to interact with, and when was that last time you could say that when you went into a candy store??? The chocolatiers in Water Tower Place are pleasant, but definitely not a joy to talk with!
I splurged and purchased a box of 16 chocolates to share with “mi novio.” I ended up with cherry cordials, coffee, raspberry and egads, I don’t remember so we’ll both be surprised! I’ve always had a weakness for cherry cordials, so it is amazing that two days later I have not eaten any. I’ve excercised restraint and have not yet opened the box, saving it and it’s nicely ribboned visual for when the boy comes over. Then we’ll see how much restraint we both have!
LTEC also has gelatos!!!
There’s mango and then the one next to it is limonada. I had a sample of the limonada and would have gone with that except that I spotted pistachio!! I’ve had some really bad pistachio gelato in the past so I asked for a sample. The pistachio gelato at LTEC is muy bueno!
I had the flash on for this one, which detracted from the detail of the gelato. You can still see the chunks of pistachio. LTEC doesn’t put all those weird green colorings in so what you are getting is a true gelato minus the chem lab.
The interior is interesting. It’s decor is open, there’s a casual and relaxing energy, and a gorgeous fireplace. These two photos I took with the flash on, which made the colors look washed out but when I took the photo the lights hadn’t been turned up. You can still see the detailed tiled insets and design.
The lights were turned up more when I took this next shot. The blue color you see is more representative of how the fireplace looks in person. These beautiful mosaics were done by artist Chris Zonta
Next to the fireplace is a stage area, and while we were there we were treated to live entertainment by one of the owners, Jay, was sang Irish tunes and ballads. Roseann, a lover of things Irish and Celtic, was in her element.
El Huarachin Huarachon
3320 W. Lawrence Ave.
5306 N. Damen
Albany Park, Andersonville, chocolate, Chocolate Lounge, Damen Ave, desserts, El Huarachin Huarachon, Let them Eat Chocolate, lincoln square, lounge gelato, Mexican Food