The one, the only, Carolyn Tang

Today, Wade and I had the pleasure of talking with the extraordinary Carolyn Tang from UrbanVivant.com. (If you are in the affiliate marketing industry, you will also recognize her as the ShareASale goddess she is.) We didn’t really have a set topic this time, so we covered a myriad of subjects in our 35 minutes or so, ranging from Carolyn’s own love of food, why she started her website and her favorite recipes to a fast paced discussion of our favorite Food Network hosts and shows. (I still miss the original Iron Chef! Come back Hiroyuki Sakai!)

Carolyn has always been one of our favorite folks because of her work in the industry, but now that we know she’s a foodie too, we love her even more!

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Carolyn Recommends:
Foodie Mag: Saveur – gourmet food magazine full of recipes, techniques & culinary travel
Great Chicago Eats: Gioco – hip, Italian eatery located in a Prohibition-era speakeasy
Facebook Application: Food Porn – user submitted pictures of incredible food

Her own recipes:
Steamed Pork with Ground Rice
Orzo with Asparagus and Cheddar
Quiche

Chicago Hot Dogs – I think I’ll stick to their pizza

Wrigley FieldOn June 11th, I met up with my little brother in Chicago and we went out for Chicago style pizza, as I mentioned in my previous post. What I neglected to tell you was why he was there in the first place. He and one of his good friends decided to make a series of baseball stadium pilgrimages this summer and part of their journey happened to bring them to Chicago at the same time I was attending a conference. They kindly let me tag along to the Cubs game that evening and we watched a riveting game where Kosuke Fukudome hit a three run homer in the first inning, Alfonso Soriano was hit with a pitch by Jeff Bennett of the Braves in the second inning, and the Cubs went on to win it 7 runs to 2. (Check out their travels at FoulBlog.com.)

Chicago DogAnd what’s a trip to the ball park without a hot dog? I figured if there was anyplace to try a Chicago Hot Dog, it was definitely at Wrigley Field. I mean, it’s the great American pastime, so they surely would be featuring real Chicago food, right? During the top of the sixth, I hopped up and went down to the concession stand to pick up a couple of Chicago Dogs. I asked the guy at the counter what goes on an authentic Chicago hot dog and gesturing to the condiment stand, he said “everything EXCEPT the ketchup.” So I loaded up my all beef hot dog with everything they had out, except the ketchup, which really wasn’t much…just mustard, pickle relish, and sauteed onions, all on a poppy seed bun. Honestly, it looked pretty pitiful for the grandiose song and story I’d been told about these.

All in all it tasted fine, but really…it was just a boring hot dog, just like I’ve had a thousand times. Verdict? If this was a “real” Chicago Hot Dog, they were uber lame. If it’s not a real Chicago Hot Dog, someone please get me one to review, because as good as the Cubbies were, their stadium food left a lot to be desired.

I’m in love with Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

This past week I went to Chicago to attend a conference and while I was there, I had the fantastic opportunity to sample a Chicago classic, the deep dish pizza.

A bit of Chicago pizza history…according to Wikipedia, the “deep dish” pizza was invented in 1943 by Ike Sewell, owner of Pizzerria Uno. I walked past Pizzeria Uno as well as their sister restaurant, Pizza Due, several times during my stay and I can honestly say, they were packed each time.

Gino\'s Pizza - Bob signs the boothOn Sunday afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with two of my friends who had agreed to assist in my Chicago food scene deflowering. We met at Gino’s East and I was immediately struck by the crazy decor. Everything, and I do mean everything, is covered in graffiti, some of which dates back decades. Luckily, one of my friends is a Chicago native and he explained some of the restaurant’s unique history.

Apparently, the restaurant moved locations to its current locale after they lost their lease at the original spot. When they moved, they brought the wood paneling and booths along, so customers could continue to scribble their names. While I didn’t have the opportunity to add my own signature the first night I went there, I certainly did four days later when I returned with my little brother!

Chicago style deep dish pizza from Gino\'s EastOk…on to the pizza! I’ve had tons of pizza (who hasn’t) and I’ve even had what some places claim to be deep dish pizza, but they totally lied. The pizza I had last week was absolutely heavenly. The crust is nearly indescribable. It has this crunchy, almost fried quality, but still retains that nice chewy factor. It didn’t taste like a yeast based bread, so I’m guessing it was probably cornmeal based. The pizza is built backwards from what I was used to as well. Sure, the crust was on the bottom, but the sauce was on the top! In layers from the bottom up, we had crust, cheese, sausage patty, pepperoni, chunky tomato sauce. The sausage patty was the most intriguing part of the pizza…it literally was a patty that covered the whole pizza. None of the small, overcooked little crumbles. This was a sausage pizza! The sauce was very rich and I really liked that it was thick and chunky. There was no picking this pizza slice up, it was strictly a knife and fork affair.

Gino\'s Chicago style deep dish pizzaI was only able to eat about a slice and a quarter before I started picking at it. It was incredibly filling and fabulous. Now I just need to find somewhere out here that can make pizza like that, or I’m going to have to start finding reasons to go back to Chicago regularly!

P.S. My two amazing Chicago friends took me to the Chicago Blues Festival after dinner and we saw B.B. King perform and it was absolutely divine. The concert rocked, dinner was wonderful, but by far, the highlight of my trip was spending time with you two. Many, many thanks guys!!