Chicago Favorites: !Bang! Bang Pie Shop

A beautiful Saturday afternoon, six girlfriends, and the most adorable pie and biscuit shop.

Bang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole ZarateThe shop’s tables are made with salvaged wood from the nearby Rebuilding Exhange. Awesome, right?Bang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole ZarateBang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole Zarate Bang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole ZarateHomemade jam, butter, and coffee roasted in-house? Check, check, and check. (Their iced coffee, lemonade, and iced tea are on tap!)Bang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole ZarateSavory tart with local vegetables and goat cheese. Nom!
Bang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole ZarateFreshly torched s’mores pie, and blueberry cheesecakeBang Bang Pie Shop | Photo by Nicole ZarateOf course, I had to buy an extra slice and bring it home for J. Brownie… er… pie points?

!Bang! Bang Pie Shop (Logan Square)
2051 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Chicago Favorites: Sun Wah BBQ

Middle of winter. 14 degrees outside.

The solution? Dinner out with family– hot tea, steaming bowls of soup, and Peking duck.
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Be sure to have the Beijing Duck Feast, which I believe isn’t even on the menu but everyone orders it. They bring out a plump, juicy roasted duck and carve it tableside, then serve it with steamed bao, pickled daikon, and hoisin sauce. The duck itself is delicious, but once you eat it with all the other ingredients, you’ll be dreaming about it for days. Once carved up, the duck carcass goes back into the kitchen to make broth with wintermelon, as well as fried rice (pictured below), which are soon brought back out to your table.


Other goodies include (from top left) the aforementioned duck fried rice, fish with ginger and green onions, Chinese broccoli, and a combination BBQ plate.


Corn egg drop soup and fried fish balls –tender fish with a perfectly crisp, slightly sweet crust– are also definitely some of my favorites.

Sun Wah BBQ (Uptown/Argyle)
5039 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640

Chicago Favorites: Christkindlmarket

Every year during the holidays, when you’re walking in downtown Chicago and approaching Daley Plaza, the smell of hot pretzels, spices, and cinnamon wafts in the air– it’s Christkindlmarket time!

One of the greatest things about Chicago is its celebration of the many, many cultures that are present here. From Greektown to Chinatown, to Little Italy to the Polish Triangle and everything (and every country) in between, there is a wealth of ethnic neighborhoods to explore. Every holiday season, the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German holiday market, sets up shop right in the heart of the city. Here you’ll find hand-blown ornaments, cuckoo clocks, beer steins, and other gifts galore. And, most importantly of course, you will find food. Check out the vendors selling marzipan, strudel, nuts, and chocolate, sink your teeth into wienerschnitzel piled with onions and tangy mustard, hot potato pancakes topped with sour cream and applesauce, and finish it all off with some hot chocolate or gluehwein (German hot spiced wine) to keep you warm. Frohe Weihnachten!!

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Hello Again

Okay, okay, so I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus… but with good reason! A lot of big changes have been happening, namely… J and I have moved to Chicago!! Yes, after ten years of living in California, I’ve taken a big leap and decided to move back to my hometown to be closer to my nearest and dearest. And with this move comes lots of new and exciting opportunities and projects– personally, professionally, and everything in between.

So I just want to take a moment and say THANK YOU California…. from San Diego and Orange County to San Francisco and Los Angeles, thank you for being my home for the past decade. Thank you for your blue skies and your beautiful ocean, your mountain views and your diverse cities. Thank you for your plethora of farmers’ markets, the way you sparked my love of food, thank you for the wonders of milk tea boba and In-N-Out. But most of all, thank you for the crazy wonderful people I met, thank you for the best experiences a Midwestern girl could ask for.

…..we shall meet again!!

Images taken with my trusty Holga
Clockwise from top left: Hollywood palm trees, Palm Springs, Marina del Rey, El Matador State Beach

Sweet Home Chicago

What better way to start off my blog than by sharing a few of my favorite photos of the city where I grew up– Chicago!  The architecture, the culture, the FOOD!  Hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, deep dish pizza… delicious.  After eight and a half years of living in California, I regretfully have no photos of this local fare right now, but I will one day.  I promise!