Chicago and the Italian Beef Sandwich

mmmmmm.... beef!

Since I’ve lived in the Chicago area 17 out of my 38 years, I’m thinking I can now call myself a Chicagoan as well as a Coloradoan, although as the years go by I seem to forget a little more of the Colorado days. So, I am embarrassed to admit that I had never had a famous Chicago Italian Beef sandwich until last year. Why did I wait 16 years? I guess it’s because I love chicago hot dogs so much that when I go to a typical stand, I always get that and never tried the Beef.

For those of you outside of Chicago, the Italian Beef is a Chicago-only creation. It’s a scrumptious combo of thinly sliced beef simmered in au jus gravy, piled on the perfect Turiano bread, with sweet or hot peppers (and sometimes cheese if you’re being a bit of a non-traditionalist.) There are numerous places that serve the Beef, but only a few are famous for that and that alone.

Anyway, I finally had my first beef sandwich when we had Portillo’s cater our Halloween Party, and I’ll tell you it was sooooo good. I can’t even imagine the calories, so I won’t. I’ve since had Beefs at Scooters, Dog Tracks, Kooker’s and Barrington Gyros (all in the Barrington area) and none of them compare to the Portillo’s version. (My husband swears by Zippy’s – who makes a cheezy beef on garlic bread. That gives me a stomach ache just thinking about it.) I’ve never been to what most Chicagoans consider the King of the Beef, Al’s #1 Beef downtown, but it’s on the list next time I go.

If you’re from Chicago and miss your Beef, or if you want to try one – Portillo’s will ship them to you – for $65.

Long live the Beef!

Life Quiz # 234

I saw these questions on another blog today and thought I’d answer them. Feel free to do the same in the comments, please!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

1997? Hmmm…. I was living in Evanston with my ex-boyfriend. We had gotten back together (for the 260th time) and were moving back in together after living apart in downtown Chicago for a few years. I think we had just bought a house – or were getting ready to. We were supposed to move into this absolutely fabulous apartment on the North side, but the landlords bailed on us at the last minute, so we had to buy a house because we had nowhere else to live. Sounds stupid, I know – it was a big mistake. It was a cool house, though.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
My husband and I had just gotten back from our wedding anniversary trip to Montreal. What a great place! Also, I was getting ready to go to Denver for my 20th high school reunion – which was a lot of fun as well.

Five Snacks You Enjoy
1.) Croutons (I looooooove croutons)
2.) Triscuits and Laughing Cow cheese
3.) Plums
4.) Grapes
5.) Pita chips and hummus

Five Songs That You Know All The Lyrics To

1.) Dancing Queen
2.) Any Beatles song
3.) Any Morrissey/Smiths song
4.) Virtual Insanity (Jamiroquai)
5.) I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Sinatra)

Five Bad Habits

1.) I have a bit of a potty mouth
2.) I drink too much rum
3.) I love to procrastinate
4.) I drive too fast
5.) I hate exercising

Five Things You Like To Do

1.) Cooking
2.) Finding good gifts for people
3.) Drinking rum
4.) Eating!
5.) Reading (non-fiction only, please)

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again

1.) XXXL shirts and sweaters (very big in the 80s)
2.) Skinny jeans
3.) Short shorts
4.) Hairspray
5.) Purple eye shadow

Five Favorite Toys
1.) My new iPhone
2.) My 1969 Karmann Ghia convertible
3.) My french mandoline (though I haven’t used it yet!)
4.) My Mac G5
5.) My KitchenAid industrial mixer

My Favorite Google Ad of All Time

I just had to post this because it actually made me laugh out loud. I was looking for a recipe for a Tomato Tart and this came up on a page on


See the top one there? LOSE 15 LBS. IN 3 MINUTES!

Okay, you gotta appreciate this on a few levels. First, love the arbitrary number of 3 minutes. Not 1, not 10 – 3. And, it must be true since it’s a mysterious “Chinese” diet secret. Ooooooooh. And, of course, it IS shocking, isn’t it? Losing 15 pounds in 3 minutes would be a shock.

God, I would give anything to be able to log in to that Google AdSense account and see how many people actually clicked on that! You know it’s a lot.

Best Grilled Hamburger Recipe Ever

I found this recipe in an Martha Stewart cooking magazine a few years ago and have used it ever since. Everyone raves about these hamburgers and asks for the recipe and are shocked when it is so simple. Here is the recipe with a couple of hints to make the best hamburger ever. I promise you’ll love them.

Ground Chuck
Dijon Mustard
Worcestershire Sauce
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Good Quality Kaiser Rolls

For every pound of ground chuck, mix in 1 TBS Dijon Mustard and 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Form into patties, cook on grill until desired doneness. Use good quality buns – it makes a big difference. Top with your favorite condiments. Works great with ground turkey too.

Et Tu Apple?

I love my Mac. Yes, I am one of those annoying Mac freaks who drank the KoolAid when it comes to Apple products and service. I even dropped my iPod into the toilet once and Apple sent me a brand new one in three days, no questions asked and no charge. Well, things have broken down in La La Land.

My three year old Cinema display broke a few weeks ago and I lugged it along with my G5 down to the Apple store to see what the problem was. All I knew was that I couldn’t see anything and I wasn’t sure if it was the display or the video card. The guy at the Genius Bar was very nice and we figured out in a few minutes that it was the display that went bad. No problem – they’ll send it off to get repaired (for $450) and I’ll have it back within three days. Sure enough – it shows up on my doorstep three days later! What great service, right?

Wrong. It shows up minus half the power cord. They sent back everything except the part I need that is between the power box and the display. I call customer service and I get India. I hate that. Out of all the companies around, I never thought Apple would be the one to outsource customer service to India. I don’t know why I thought that – I guess it’s because when I hear the guy on the other end of the line is from India, there is some sort of subcontext to me that says, “We don’t care about helping the customer – we want to save money.”

So after talking to “Bashwanishan, But You Can Call Me Bill” a couple of times and telling them what the problem is, I then get a new power cord in the mail. The wrong half of the power cord. It’s the half I already have! Aggh! So I call again and explain the problem – and I realize I’m getting nowhere. The Indian CSRs are nice enough, but it’s fairly obvious after you’ve talked to more than one or two that they really have no idea what you are talking about – they are just reading from the big white Mac CSR Script Sheet on their desk. I seriously doubt that any of them have actually seen the physical equipment they claim to be helping you with. This is very annoying – and there is no way around it.

Finally, after a few weeks of this – I call again yesterday and talk to a nice lady and explain my problem yet again. I am getting increasingly frustrated because without my display I cannot work. She admits to me that “she is not very technical” (So why are you working in a computer call center again?) and finally agrees to transfer me to a Tech person at Apple. In the US of A. The tech person solved the problem in about 10 seconds.

Turns out I am the idiot – I had the cord all along – it was part of the cord that hooks to the video card. I had just forgotten about it since there was a hole in the back of the display and a hole in the back of the power box I thought I was missing something that I wasn’t. Stupid me. But, I can’t help but think that if the India CSRs knew what they were talking about, they would have told me this two weeks ago instead of sending me the wrong parts and telling me that they were ordering parts that don’t even exist!

This is not good customer service and I am saddened that Apple chooses to go this route along with everyone else. They went down a few notches in my book.