Yesterday I made a wonderful trip to Evanston, where I wish I lived. I will confess to sometimes saying I do live there, not just because I live slightly on the border and it's way cooler than where I live, but also because it has less of the "North Shore" stigma.
Back to why it's cooler, it has my mecca, The Spice House
, home of basically any spice you could ever want. Yesterday I bought some of their za'atar, which is quite good. It's an Israeli blend that is quite bit different from the Lebanese and Assyrian blends I have tasted. I think the difference is that the Israeli blend contains hyssop, which I guess makes it slightly less savory. I was also entranced by an African Spice titled "grains of paradise" with a rather tantalizing description
. The lady working there let me try a few grains and biting into them revealed a peppery spiciness with undertones of ginger- black pepper 2.0. I didn't buy any, but I think next time I will. Supposedly you use it like pepper.
Next I stopped by TAGs bakery, which is right across the street. TAGs has the usual bakery fare, but I especially love their fresh baked golden croissants. Unfortunately it was late and they were sold out, so I bought a delicious mincemeat pie. Like Turkish delight and other maligned British foods, I firmly stand by the goodness of mincemeat pies. Really, if you don't like mincemeat perhaps you haven't tasted good mincemeat that is a nice blend of British fruits imbibed with a touch of alcohol.
Finally I made a stop at Wild Oats grocery store, home of the finest pretentious foods. I picked up a horrifically expensive slice of Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda, knowing only that I like gouda. It was worth it. When I got home, I cut myself a piece and enjoyed its rich, creamy, yet crisp flavor that was robust without being sharp. It's my new favorite.