Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chicago Diner: Vegan Institution

Chicago Diner: (Boystown in Lake View) Chicago
3411 N. Halsted St.

I love the Chicago Diner, so much that I got excited when I had been spending a short stint in their kitchen. Tonight, I was taking down one of The Diner's - as they're affectionately know - super thick and rich cold vegan cookie dough and peanut butter shakes in a comfy booth, sitting across from my pal, Amod, drinking a fresh carrot juice. I thought, it's been all too long since I've had one of these shakes; but now that I am crushing on someone who lives on this side of town, perhaps it won't be so long before the next time.

Chicago Diner's menu reads of almost entirely vegan comfort food, from macaroni and cheese to hearty breakfasts. Amod and I shared spicy jicama "fries" - not fried but thick and long sliced raw jicama generously dusted with cayenne. As the hot pepper burned, I asked Amod, are these spicy for you? You're used to eating spicy Indian food, right? "Not this spicy," he smiled at me with a serious face. After diner, with a water glass quickly emptied by the fries, Amod lobbied for some pie to wash the spice away; but neither of us was anything less than full.

We talked about food: from the deep fry session that was the last Family Style to finding vegetarian versions of andouille sausage in the supermarket. I explained how making fresh donuts starts like making bread. You let the yeast rise your dough, then divide it into donuts, then let it rise again, and then put it in the deep fryer, where the yeast really gets crazy and puffs the donut as it becomes golden and rises. My family's donut sessions began last Thanksgiving, with tradition beginning as my brother and his lady, Kerry, took it home to Durham, North Carolina.

We split the enchilada pie special, a brilliant combination of soy chorizo, soft tortillas, wet with tomato sauce through and topped with soy mozzarella aside a lot of guacamole. I ate most of the food - Amod had just eaten - but we split the bill anyway. "Next time you're not hungry, call me," he joked.

Now, I'm all jazzed up to start snapping photos of inspiring magazine photos of tasty looking food. If you want to feel like this at home, find the same non-dairy frozen dessert used in The Diner's shakes, Temptation brand - made by a few people from the vegan community in the suburbs - in area Whole Foods and Sunflower markets.


Blogger Rosie said...

While you were enjoying a vegan shake, (sounds like it would have been great after indian food the other night to cool the palate...) I was also enjoying a treat to kick off my current "vegan streak." I highly reccommend...

Try: Filling a Dominick's brand waffle cone (yes, all vegan) generously with two scoops of Soy Delicious Cookie Avalanche, top it with Magic Shell "Chocolate" sauce (yes, also vegan) and some rainbow jimmies, and you have a delicious vegan treat! Sorry, Chris, no offense... while you are quite the vegan treat yourself, there's just clearly not enough of you to go around.

10:54 PM  

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