Essential Chef Blogs

Relax, settle in, and eat and drink vicariously with our bloggers.

thumbBlog roadTripJoin us as we search for the most authentic, tastiest, ethnic foods from around the world. Current series: Pork Sandwiches: the cubano, banh mi, croque monsieur

The Ham Sandwich Vietnamese Style - the classic banh mi

Pagoda outside of Hue
Chalkboard at Banh Mi Ba Get
Saigon Classic at Banh Mi Ba Get
Ba Le's sandwich
Our version of the classic banh mi sandwich
Having just returned from a wonderful three week vacation in Vietnam, I wanted to recapture some of the tastes of the country. French bread and pastry skills were introduced by the French during Vietnam's colonial era. The tradition continues in the form of croissants and baguettes which can be found everywhere.If you are ever in Hue, I highly reco...
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Cuban Sandwiches

I’ve loved Cuban sandwiches ever since I had a great one on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John at Rhumb Lines (  The ideal Cuban has juicy pork, flavorful ham, melty swiss cheese, crunchy pickles, just the right amount of yellow mustard, and mayo, all encased in a soft Cuban bread and then grilled in a sandwich press. There’s a debate between Tampa and Miami as to who “invented” the Cuban.  Tampa claims it was the sandwich of choice back in the days of workers hand rolling Cuban cigars.  Miami begs to differ.  But, whatever the source, it has found its way around the U.S. for good reason.  A good one is delicious.

senorpancuban Senor Pan Cuban

Unfortunately I can’t get to Rhumb Lines often.  But Chicago is home to so many great sandwich shops that Sharon and I knew we could find a good substitute here.  We visited four spots and discovered two must haves: 

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Scone Tasting

Cranberry scone from Interurban Cafe
Cinnamon/raisin and cranberry/vanilla bean scones from Interurban
Masala apricot scone from Little Goat Bread
Little Goat Bread counter
La Farine scones
A Taste of Heaven scones
Scone offerings at A Taste of Heaven
Little Goat Bread window
​Linda: It's 15 degrees on a very cold but sunny Chicago morning and we are off to taste scones. Scones are a sweet version of biscuits – made by cutting fat into flour, adding liquid, gently kneading, then baking. (Watch the lesson 1 video of biscuit making for how-to details.) We're looking for a scone with the perfect combination of crunch ...
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East Coast vs. West Coast Oyster Tasting

Blackberry Point oyster at Publican
Shaw's oysters
Oysters at GT Fish & Oyster
Devon oysters
Publican oysters
List of oysters at Publican
"You are what you eat" certainly applies to oysters. Since oysters eat by extracting food from the water that filters through their shells, their taste is greatly affected by their living conditions. And since oysters must be kept alive from harvest to table, it supremely important to trust your oyster retailer. With that in mind,...
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Linda and Sharon's Bread Crawl

Bennison Baguette
LaFarine Macaron
​Bennison's Bakeries. 1000 Davis Street, Evanston, IL Linda: This is our first stop of the day. The bakery is located at a busy intersection in Evanston. It's a small store front, and there was a line waiting to order most of the time that we are there. It does a mostly a take-out business not eat-in business. They have an amazing array of pas...
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