Well I already failed the New Years resolution that was updating this beast twice a month. My excuses this month include: February is short, February sucks, I went on vacation, I was busy as fudge, and February sucks. Meh, I deem those ‘explanations’ all valid and forgivable.
When I moved to Chicago a year ago, the first food genre (word choice?) I fell madly in love with was mediterranean. I had tried the cuisine before, but never experienced most of it with an open mind. Let me tell you, I still falafel about not giving it all a fair chance sooner in life.
The beautiful thing about living in this city is there’s a restaurant for every culture of food you could ever want. It’s so great.
If you’re familiar with Chicago, or even if you’re not, I highly recommend you get your butt to Bridgeport ASAP. It’s like the South of the Loop version of Logan Square or maybe Wicker Park. I’m surprised there aren’t indie flicks being filmed there all the time. I would most definitely move there if there were more public transit in the area, so pull your shit together, Chicago!
Here are my top 3 reasons why Bridgeport rocks in a list of locations you must go:
- Zaytune. This restaurant takes sole responsibility for my love affair with falafel and tahini, and my motivation for this post. When I worked in Pilsen, it was my favorite place to go to for lunch, and sometimes even follow up with dinner (I’m extreme, okay?). The prices are reasonable, and the falafel is SO GOOD. This sounds like a strange thing for a mediterranean food place to do right, but they do french fries so right, and they have a bossome sauce to go with them. My only complaint is that sometimes the service is a little slow, but it is made up for with good food. Other perks include parking in the area is FREE and it’s located a strones throw away from Maria’s bar.
- Maria’s. From my experience, if you mention Maria’s to anyone who has been there, they will immediately bombard you with how much they love it. The front of the building is a little liquor store, then you walk through an entryway and WABAM, you’re in a bar. The beer selection is extensive, they have a variety of craft brews on tap. Also, if you’re a fan of cool bathrooms, Maria’s does not disappoint. But to my favorite part (other than the beer), you can bring your Zaytune there and eat it and wash it down with beer you ordered and be happy. So Happy.
- Bridgeport Coffee Company. I’ve actually only been here once, but it’s located between Maria’s and Zaytune. This is the original location and it’s expanding, which is a sign of its successes, delicious coffee, and treats. It’s on the corner of an intersection that allows you to people watch through the window from the comforts of your own cup of coffee. A great local spot for lunch, an espresso, or to drink copious amounts of coffee while attempting to complete work AKA Facebook/Twitter/Buzzfeed/Tumblr/Wordpress/AnythingButWork.
So there’s my top 3. I can’t wait until I work in Pilsen again so I can vicariously live in the area through my lunch breaks. Okay, my Bridgeport boner has now subsided and I will move on to talk about WHAT THE EFF I COOKED.
Since Zaytune and I are taking a short break due to winter, money and location, I decided why not try and make my own falafel and tahini? So I went online and found this recipe on Pinterest and miraculously lucked out first try.
For those of you as lazy as I am (it’s taken me 3 weeks to complete this blog post, that lazy), here are the ingredients and directions:
For the falafel:
2 cups roughly chopped white onion
6 garlic cloves
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for sauteing
Pita bread, for serving
For the tahini sauce:
1¼ cups plain yogurt (full fat or non-fat)
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Add the onion and garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are finely minced. Remove the mixture and set it aside.
Add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until they are roughly blended but not pureed.
Return the onion mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you pulse the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. (Note: Start by adding ¼ cup of flour, and then the remaining ¼ cup. You can add more if the mixture is still too wet.)
Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
While the falafel mixture is chilling, prepare the tahini sauce by whisking together the yogurt, tahini and lemon juice. Season it with salt and pepper, cover it and place it in the fridge.
Once the falafel mixture has chilled, use a small ice cream scoop or spoons to form the mixture into balls (roughly 3 Tablespoons per ball). (Note: You can also add additional flour at this point, if the mixture is too wet to scoop.)
Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add a liberal amount of canola oil so that the pan is well-coated. Let the pan pre-heat for 3 minutes then add the falafel one by one, browning them on the first side for 3 minutes, then flipping them once and browning the second side until the mixture is cooked throughout.
Transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined cooling wrack and immediately season them with salt. Repeat this process until you have cooked all of the falafel.
Place three or four falafel inside a halved, warmed pita and drizzle with the prepared tahini sauce.
THINGS I DID DIFFERENT BECAUSE I SUCK AT BEING AWESOME (or maybe I’m just too awesome):
- I highly recommend you use/purchase/invest in a food processor. My parents gave me a Magic Bullet for Christmas and I was convinced that it would work okay considering the hours of informercials about them that I’ve napped through. The contraption working “okay” for this project may be a bit of an overstatement. It caused more stress, effort and frustration than necessary, which they surely don’t advertise on those informercials. Instead of being the happy, full-color scene using the Magic Bullet successfully, I was the frustrated, black and white scene, struggling to process food with any sort of success.
- I used Honey Vanilla Greek Gods Yogurt for the tahini and I regret it 0%. I could eat that sauce by the spoonful. It’s a lot different than the tahini I’ve had at restaurants, but different in a better kind of way. Also, it’s so easy to make, it may even be easier than farting.
- If you make this recipe, be prepared to eat more falafel dough than you’re willing to admit. The site says the recipe yields 6-8 servings, but we both know that this will not be the case.
I suppose that’s really all I did differently. The directions in the recipe I found are thorough and basically hold your hand through the process, praise Yeezus.
PS: Oven baking is an option and a healthier one at that. But uh….. nah.
Just so you know and can sleep comfortably tonight, there is a website called smellypoop.com that has a thorough fact page about poops and farts, including submitted questions like “Why is my poop yellow sometimes?” You’re welcome. You’re so, so welcome.
My last Google search is now “poop facts”. KEWL.