mario’s italian lemonade on w. taylor

Need to beat the heat and to kick it Little Italy style? Mario’s Italian Lemonade on W. Taylor is a sure prescription.

Chicago Illinois Little Italy Mario's Italian Lemonade Taylor Avenue

Founded in 1954 by Mario and Dorothy DiPaolo and still operated by the DiPaolo family today, this lemonade stand is a beloved gathering place. It serves Italian ice in an assortment of flavors. The signature lemon ice includes pieces of lemon rind and zest, which balances this drink’s sweetness. If salty snacks are your thing, Mario’s sells seeds, nuts and my favorite–pickled lupini beans, which you can eat with or without the shells. Nom.

bright colors are my jam

Bright colors are my jam, if I’m being honest. In a world of grey, beige, and greige, why seek any of those when you can surround yourself with vivid hues? I stopped at Cupcakes for Courage on Lake Street yesterday to pick up some baked items for a friend and was taken with the bakery’s bright green walls.

Oak Park Illinois Cupcakes for Courage

Oak Park Illinois Cupcakes for Courage

The baked goods are also decent and worth checking out. Cupcakes for Courage donates a portion of the proceeds to fund medical research for non-Hodgkins T-cell Lymphoma. To learn about this bakery’s mission, visit here.

a chicago hot dog

Saw this print yesterday at All She Wrote in Lincoln Park and had to have it. Since relocating back to #Illinois, I’ve noticed all the hot dog stands. They’re everywhere, it seems.

Chicago Illinois food hot dog

And a Chicago-style hot dog is distinct from other dogs. The ingredients? An all-beef frankfurter tucked into a steamed poppy seed bun. Add yellow mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, and sport peppers–topped with celery salt. Ketchup is a major no-no, as in no ketchup. No ketchup ever. To read up on this distinct dog, head on over to this Chowhound article here.

pączki for the mardi gras win

Mardi Gras is serious fun in the South–especially New Orleans and Mobile–where the Krewe fêtes are plentiful, the parades are noisy and joyful, and King Cake comes in all different flavors and varieties. In the North where you can find Polish bakeries, Mardi Gras means pączki (pronounced ponch-key). And these calorie-busting, jelly-filled doughnuts at local bakeries draw long lines.

Paczki Mardi Gras Chicago Illinois

Source: Melissa Wang via Flickr

Pączki are also enjoyed on Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek), and the reason for making pączki is to use up all of the ingredients (lard, sugar, eggs, fruit) before Lent kicks in. Bridgeport Bakery on S. Archer in the South Side of Chicago has an unassuming storefront, but you’d never guess they sell tens of thousands (yes, tens of thousands) of pączki on Fat Tuesday, also known as Pączki Day. If you didn’t make it to Bridgeport Bakery this week, don’t fret. They sell four different varieties of pączki all year round.

buttermilk popsicles at deep south pops

Ran an errand yesterday in downtown #Jackson, and woo wee, it was a warm and sunny day. Almost 82 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty special for the end of February. When Mother Nature dials up the warm-weather crank, I head to DSP–Deep South Pops on N. State Street.

Heaven on a stick is the Strawberry Buttermilk Popsicle. The crushed strawberries are fresh, and the buttermilk lends the popsicle a slightly tart/sour vibe. Translation: This popsicle isn’t ultra sweet.

The buttermilk popsicle is also available in blueberry, which is almost as good as the strawberry version.

If you need a caffeine pick me up, Deep South Pops offers an assortment of coffee drinks. It’s a cool space to hang out and chill.

that time i ate boiled crawfish at capitol auto body shop

The title here is a bit misleading. I didn’t eat crawfish in an auto body shop, but did I try these shellfish at a client appreciation event in a tent area adjoining Capitol Auto Body Shop in Flowood, #Mississippi? You betcha. And gotta say, eating boiled crawfish is a messy business.

Crawfish boil Deep South

Source: Louisiana Sea Grant College Program via Flickr

Crawfish happen to be the state crustacean of Louisiana, and crawfish boils really get fired up in late February but also March and April. A proper crawfish boil involves a lot of crawfish, seasoning, onions, garlic, red potatoes, and ears of corn. To eat a crawfish, hold the head in one hand and the tail in the other hand. Twist and pull, peel off the shell layers, and you have the meat from the tail. You can also suck the juice from the head, but I skipped this part. Mike the Crawfish Peeling Machine offers an illustrated, step-by-step guide here. Bon temps!

give me tacos

I was hungry. Not exactly hangry, but could use a bite to eat. Tacos, I was thinking. I knew where to head after a day of exploring Saint Petersburg. Over the bridge and back to Empamamas in the Tampa Heights neighborhood. This sign had me at Roses Are Red.

Empamamas Armature Works Tampa Heights Florida

What makes a great taco? In my opinion, it needs a proper foundation (foundation as in tortilla), and flour just doesn’t cut it. Too soggy, too limp. The tortilla has to be corn, and Empamamas checked that box. Deliciously cooked proteins. Empamamas checked that box as well. Add to the above fresh vegetables, pico, and street corn, and my meal/day was made. Give me tacos. The end.