100 foods to eat before you die ... and where to find them in Chicago: Black Pudding to Chile Relleno

100 foods to eat before you die ... and where to find them in Chicago: Black Pudding to Chile Relleno
Chile Rellenos. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Once upon a time, somebody created "The Food List Challenge," a selection of 100 foods and drinks that the author believed everyone should try before they die.

I looked through the list recently and discovered there were many I had not tried – and some that I didn't even know where I could try them at. So, I decided to find out:

11. Black Pudding – Also known as blood pudding or blood sausage, I had a chance to try this in London, but am ashamed to admit I chickened out. It's made with congealed blood. I just couldn't get myself to pick it up. For those braver than me, you can buy it at Winson's Sausages, 4701 West 63rd St., or you can get in a dish at Sepia, 123 North Jefferson St., where the chef pairs it with sea scallops.

12. Black Truffle – If you want black truffles, be prepared to pay. And to call around, since they are seasonal and not always readily available. But if you've got the $$$, one of the best reviewed black truffle dishes in the city is the Black Truffle Explosion, Romaine, Parmesan at Alinea, 1723 North Halsted.

13. Borscht – A Ukrainian soup, there are plenty of choices for borscht in Chicago. But one that caught my eye was Podhalanka, 1549 W. Division St., which I read a number of good reviews about.

14. Calamari – This dish kind of grosses me out. I just can't get used to the suckers of the squid. Not a hard dish to find in Chicago, especially the fried variety, but I did find two places that received good reviews for their fried calamari or grilled squid: Phoenix, 2131 S Archer Ave., and Tac Quick, 3930 N. Sheridan.

15. Carp – Despite some positive pub in the past few years, most people don't associate carp with delicious. Chicago chef Phillip Foss received some pub for his use of carp, but it hasn't been on his menu at his new restaurant, EL Ideas, in more than a month, though he has served it there before. In fact, this has been one of the harder dishes for me to locate so far. From everything I've read, it's a beast to cook with and most chefs don't want anything to do with it. At this point, I would suggest either going out and fishing for one or calling EL Ideas and finding out when they plan to serve it again since Phillip Foss seems to be the only Chicago chef willing to take it on.

16. Caviar – I will never understand the big deal about salty fish eggs. But some people love them. To each their own. Not terribly hard to find in Chicago, but if you're looking for it to be special – and to lose a lot of $$$ at the same time – I'd try Tru, 676 North Saint Clair St.

17. Cheese Fondue – Well, you can go one of the many The Melting Pot locations or – if you like to hear the flamenco guitar while you're eating cheese fondue (and, really, who doesn't?) – Geja's Cafe, 340 West Armitage Ave.

18. Chicken and Waffles – I've seen this on the Food Network, but sadly have never had the two paired, yet. It's on my to-do list. Luckily, Chicago is a great city to find this pairing. At the top of any internet search, of course, is Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles, 3947 S King Dr., as well as an Oak Park location.

19. Chicken Tikka Masala – Another dish that's easy to find in Chicago, especially on Devon Avenue. I'm going to go with the one I've seen the best reviews of, though, Hema's Kitchen, 2411 N. Clark St. and 2439 West Devon Ave.

20. Chile Relleno – Another super-easy dish to find in Chicago. Just try about any Mexican restaurant. But if you're looking for something a little different and more interesting, Frontera, 445 N. Clark St., is a safe bet.

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• Joe Grace is a writer and longtime journalist who lives in Chicago. Write to him at joewriter81@gmail.com. He has tried calamari, cheese fondue, chicken tikka masala and chile relleno. If you haven't yet, please like Going for Gusto on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

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