This is an exaggerated and highly fictional account of how Stephen at Yusho gave me a black lime (also known as loomi). It’s sitting on my desk as I type this and every now and then I take a whiff, that’s how much I love how it smells.
I want to learn how to cook with these! Does anyone have experience cooking with black limes?
Ok, brace yourselves for a little blatant fan worship. Full disclosure, I love Yusho. Also, I do some work for them. So when we heard they were opening a sweet little cocktail bar in our neighborhood, we were really excited.
Niles and I were coincidentally having dinner at Yusho the other night when we heard that Billy Sunday was doing a quiet soft opening, so we decided to head down the street and take a peek. It’s beautiful – the decor is perfect, muted and elegant while still being cozy and warm. We only had room for a cocktail and a shared small plate, since we’d already had dinner. I had the old fashioned, which was potent and delicious; Niles had the “cocktail”, which was beautifully balanced. We split the croquettes, which were a perfect little bite of comfort food, delicately fried, served up in a small iron skillet.
Can I tell you one of my favorite things about the Chicago food scene? It’s something I don’t even realize we have in glorious abundance until we go traveling to other places. We have an incredible amount of places like Billy Sunday, places that are fastidious in their approach to making innovative food and imaginative cocktails, for fairly affordable prices, while maintaining a completely comfortable and sometimes downright casual atmosphere. Interesting, eye-opening cuisine presented in a wholly unpretentious manner, brought within reach of a much wider audience. I love it, I love it, I love it. And I’m so happy to have one more awesome place to add to the list!
So there’s a new Korean restaurant by the Granville stop on the red line, and it’s just amazing. Enormous Korean-style chicken wings, fried perfectly, incredibly tender; plus bulgogi, rice bowls, and lots of other delicious things. The “rice bowl” is bi bim bap, and while I wish every bi bim bap came in a volcano-hot steamy stone dolsot bowl, I love it even when it comes in a normal bowl. The wings are really the standout, though, and both styles are amazing. I preferred the spicy BBQ, but I would put gochujang on everything I eat if I thought it socially acceptable. Anyway, I don’t think they’re officially open yet – they seem to be doing a longish soft-open – but I highly recommend Dak!
So Marina’s comment on the last comic made me think about pancakes, all manner of pancakes, and how (just like with sausages) people all over the world have come up with interesting and delicious ways to make them! Humans are pretty amazing, especially when it comes to combining flour and eggs and milk and frying it up in a pan. And this isn’t even nearly all of the “pancakes” I found, either. I left out things like Korean pajeon and Japanese okonomiyaki (two of my very very favorite things), and focused on the more flour-y and rice-y pancakes instead of the super egg-y ones.
I’ve only tried like four things on this list, too. I’ve got some international pancakes to investigate!
When I was in college, I did a study abroad semester in Rennes, in France, where I developed a taste for crepes, galettes, and dry alcoholic cider. My host mother there taught me how to make crepes, and while I brought home a recipe book I have a tendency to improvise while I’m making them. So when my sister MC asked me to make a comic about how to make crepes, I had to go into the kitchen and make them again to make sure I had the details down. Good news: this recipe is still good! and I got to eat some crepes while I was figuring it out.
So, tricks and tips! Your first one or two will probably break when you flip them; don’t give up! (they are perfect for nibbling on while you’re making the rest of the batch.) You’ll need to experiment a little with your timing, the consistency of the batter and the heat of the pan. You’ll burn your fingertips a little, but the pain is definitely worth it. Be quick, be patient, be vigilant, and you’ll have them down in no time.
And once you get crepes under your belt, may I recommend moving on to galettes? In Brittany, they’re savory crepes made with buckwheat and salt, and usually filled with delicious things like cheese, ham, fried eggs, and chopped vegetables, and they really are amazing, especially paired with some cidre brut or a kir Breton.
Seriously, you guys. I was planning on doing this comic today, to counteract Monday’s comic. It almost didn’t happen, because of a giant horrible battle I had to fight with the gas company, which left me in tears a few times. But I was successful, we have our heat back on (it’s a long story, which might end up becoming a comic), and I’m back to happy again, at least happy enough to talk about the things that make me happy.
Vitamin D is awesome, I take it year round, but I usually double and sometimes triple my dose during the winter. The therapy lamps (I have two!) are hard sometimes to remember to use, but they are SO much more effective than you’d think. I mean, it’s just a lamp. But it works. Yoga, obviously, is awesome for everything, but it’s especially good at keeping me emotionally level, and making it easier to deal with sad or difficult things. Biking is always good, and it’s been a warm and dry winter for it so far, and my new little Snowball II still rides so beautifully. Rescue remedy – part of me thinks it’s a placebo, but it definitely works, so I don’t care if it is. And sleep, sleep is my favorite, especially this time of year, and especially when one of my cats has started slipping under the covers to snuggle with me every night.
But mostly, you guys are seriously the best. In the three years or so that I’ve been doing this comic, every time I’ve dug into the darker stuff, every time I’ve bared something sensitive or scary or sad and made myself vulnerable, you guys have been nothing but supportive and helpful and awesome. Monday’s comic was no exception; your comments here and on FB and on Twitter made me so happy. Giant hugs for everyone!! Everyone take the day off and pat yourselves on the back for being so amazingly cool!
Sorry this one’s a little bit of a downer. Honestly, most of the time when I make comics about being depressed, by the time I’m finished drawing I’m not depressed anymore. I guess it should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this comic on a regular basis that I use comics as therapy.
It’s been hitting me a little hard this year, and this is the form it takes – powerful feelings of insecurity and inadequacy echoing around in my brain until it’s all I can hear. When it gets really bad, it’s so hard to convince myself to do anything, to be productive at all. Even drawing this comic was incredibly hard at times, because it just seemed like a waste of effort for something that wouldn’t even be that good.
But I pushed through it and finished the comic. I can usually push through it. And I have vitamin D, I have yoga, I have a therapy lamp. And as long as I remember to keep using these things I can keep my head above water.
(Also, drawing helps a lot)
Fat Rice is a delicious new restaurant in Logan Square that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s run by the people behind X-Marx, a fantastic sounding underground/pop up dining club that I never got to try. The cuisine at Fat Rice is maybe a little hard to describe, since most of us Middle Westerners aren’t used to it – it’s Asian fusion, but with much more of a focus on southeast Asia, especially places influenced by the Portuguese, like Macau. (The Portuguese really got around in the 16th century, and left their culinary mark all over Asia, India and Africa.)
Anyway, I think of myself as a pretty adventurous eater, and I like to think I’ve tried almost everything available, but Fat Rice offers some really incredible, really surprising, really out-of-this-world flavor combinations. We had spicy roasted peanuts with chopped marinated lotus root, sour chili and pickled cabbage, a plate of perfectly cooked smoked tofu and chives, and then this utterly amazing hot pot of Portuguese chicken. The mussels were so perfectly cooked they nearly melted on my tongue. The chicken was astoundingly tender, and coated in crispy sweet baked coconut and spices. The curry sauce was pure culinary gold, I would have downed shot glasses full of it. The whole dish was packed with so many different things, but they blended together seamlessly. The cocktails are incredible too, tart and bright and sweet and very, very drinkable. It’s been a long while since I ate something that really felt new, but as Fat Rice points out, these flavors are actually 500 years old.