Sweet Home Chicago

March 13, 2008

The Sting

The Sting is a fun fun fun movie. Very light, kind of sweet: It’s the Oscars equivalent of a bon-bon. Robert Redford is at the pinnacle of his dreamboat stage (he was also in The Way We Were in 1973. Hiya, Hubble.) and a pre-salad dressing Paul Newman’s not too shabby either. And everyone is dressed up in their pinstripiest finest courtesy of the great Edith Head. Man those were some big lapels, though.

I remember this movie from my youth and how BIG it was. That rearranged Scott Joplin music was everywhere. My husband can still play The Entertainer on the piano (Jim, you need to learn some new songs) Norman Rockwell was popular, again. In retrospect its somewhat alarming that in both The Sting and Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid Redford and Newman play criminal types (con artists, bank robbers) and yet they’re so charming you don’t think of them as the bad guys at all? In fact, you kinda root for them to succeed. I wonder what No Country For Old Men would have been like if Javier Bardem’s character hadn’t been so psychopathic and had a likeable personality? We’d probably be watching There Will Be Blood when it came to 2007.

This is the first movie we’ve had that is set in our home town, Chicago. Which is kinda, I don’t know, fun and easy. Just like The Sting! I decided to go all touristy and make real Chicago Hot Dogs. No, not pizza, I’m not a big deep dish pizza fan. (I actually groaned at last night’s Top Chef Chicago debut which started off @ Pizzeria Uno. Blech. Trust me if you’re coming to Chicago that’s the last place you should get Chicago pizza. Father & Sons, that’s good pizza. Used to have them on speed dial when I lived in the city. But I digress).

A real Chicago Hot Dog is a thing of joy. And as the picture above indicates there will be no ketchup served on these dogs. This is pretty much what we ate:


We didn’t go for the neon green relish, because that’s gross. And I didn’t have any celery salt. But other than that, that’s a chicago hot dog. Now if you want a good Chicago hot dog there are tons of places to find a great dog. The following are some of our favorites:

Jimmy’s Red Hots–4000 W. Grand Ave. Great place. Super scaaaaaary neighborhood. Jim’s favorite.

Superdawg–6363 N. Milwaukee. My favorite. It’s a drive-in. Great burgers, too.

Byron’s Hotdogs-1017 W. Irving Park–I used to live behind this hotdog stand. When money was tight I would order one of their dogs because it came with so much stuff on the side it was like getting a free salad to go along with the dog.

Another great place in Chicago is Hot Doug’s 3324 N. California in Chicago. They bill them self as the sausage superstore and encased-meat emporium. And they’re really quite fun.  On weekends there you can order french fries that have been cooked in duck fat.  An interesting article about Doug (owner of Hot Doug’s) can be found here.

For dessert we had homemade cheesecake made the Eli’s way– Eli’s is another Chicago institution. They make great cheesecakes, but since we were having hotdogs for dinner I stepped up to the plate and baked one using the following recipe:


2 8 oz boxes of cream cheese at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1/1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 additional egg yolk 2 Tbls whipping cream
small springform pan lined generously with butter and patted
with graham cracker crumbs


Heat oven to 500 degrees. Prepare springform pan. With and electric beater,
mix the cheese, sugar, flour, orange and lemon zests and vanilla until
smooth. Add the eggs and yolk, beating in one at a time, and finally the

Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and bake for 10 minutes or
until the top of the cake turns golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to
200-225 and bake for one hour longer.

Remove cake from oven and cool on a rack until it reaches room temperature.
Then release the sides of the pan. Do not remove the bottom of the pan.
Place cake on a platter. Top with fruit or glaze, if desired, and serve.



  1. Jimmys Hot Dogs are the best. THe fries are so greasy that it soaks right through the bag. No ketchup, never.
    Got the oldest off Ketchup some time ago, and Natalie is
    getting there (my proudest culinary acheivement)

    Mary, you forgot about the other song I know Nadias theme.

    Byrons, SuperDawg all awesome places.

    Oh the movie was pretty good. I saw it at The Tiffin theater on North Ave when it first came out.

  2. […] dog and a pickle (amongst other things). A full breakdown of all of the ingredients can be found here.  Before I share my thoughts on their tastiness, please know that while I will eat […]

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