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Clip: Counter Offers

Written by Seth on June 22nd, 2009

This feature ran in Time Out: Chicago in June 2005.

Step right up for great food (and no tipping!) at these counters in ethnic grocery stores, bakeries and cafeterias By By Seth Zurer

Cafeteria Marianao (2246 N Milwaukee Ave at Fairfield Ave, 773-278-4533). If you want fast service at this dilapidated sandwich shack, it helps if you are a) female, b) hot and c) scantily clad; the rest of us have to wait in the mob for a counterman to get around to taking an order. But the steak sandwiches are worth it: A “double with cheese” gets you slices of hot steak piled on an eight-inch Turano roll and topped with melted white cheese, pickled onions and tomato. And don’t miss the cafe cubano: Fresh, strong and sweet without a trace of bitterness, it’s one of the great cheap espressos in the city.
Meal for a steal: Double steak sandwich with cheese and a cafe cubano: $4.50

Carniceria Leon (1402 N Ashland Ave at Blackhawk St, 773-772-9804). Thanks to Chicago’s massive Mexican population, carnicerias and supermercados are as common as Jewel and Dominick’s. In the back of these food markets, you’ll almost always find a little counter with minimal seating and a grill or spit set up for cooking popular taco fillings. This tiny storefront is one of the best for tacos barbacoa or al pastor. The smoky, shredded beef that goes into the former is fragrant with garlic and pepper, while the pork for the al pastor (literally “shepherd-style”) has a vinegary, orange-juice tang and is cut directly from the revolving spit onto fresh corn tortillas. Both are a bargain at $1.50 a piece.
Meal for a steal: Two tacos al pastor, two tacos barbacoa and a Jarritos tamarindo drink: $7

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Clip: Why Choose a Destination Wedding?

Written by Seth on June 22nd, 2009

Here’s a piece of marketing content I developed for Italy In Style, a boutique destination wedding planner and travel consultant specializing in Italy.

Why Choose a Destination Wedding?

A destination wedding can be a dream come true.  Imagine: all of your family and friends together in an exotic locale, celebrating your marriage together away from all the cares and worries of your everyday life.   Here are a few of the advantages of choosing a destination wedding – some may surprise you!

You love to travel:  A wedding abroad is the perfect fit for your adventurous self.  Why shouldn’t your wedding fit your personality like a glove?

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Clip: Nooks and Crannies with Jane Nyhan

Written by Seth on June 22nd, 2009

I wrote this feature to appear in the Dream of Italy Florence eGuidebook, available for purchase online.

Nooks & Crannies with Jane Nyhan, a Florence Guide with Offbeat Sensibilities

A good tour-guide is invaluable – both to provide context for a place’s well-know attractions and to expose you to sites you’d never find on your own. One of DOI’s favorites in Florence in Jane Nyhan – an American expat whose been living there for almost 30 years.

Jane became infatuated with Florence during a semester abroad in 1980. She met her future husband in a student bar and after a brief 6-month stint back in the States to finish her painting degree, she returned to Italy, married the man, and has lived there ever since. She’s been a Tuscany guide since 1986 – at first, she led 10-day group hiking tours (her husband lent a hand by whipping up gourmet picnic lunch buffets for her groups) but since 1998 has concentrated on cultural tours in Florence, Siena and the rest of Tuscany.

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Clip: Wedding Cakes by the Dozen

Written by Seth on June 22nd, 2009

This feature appeared in Time Out: Chicago in September 2005.

Hell’s Bells [download complete article]

Wedding planning is a pain. At T minus two months, my fiancée and I had tons left to do. With no end in sight, we were still looking for an officiant, pondering rehearsal-dinner options, weighing invitation designs and negotiating the guest list. It was in this spirit of frantic logistical necessity that I found myself on the phone at work scheduling cake tastings at Chicago’s best bakeries. [...]
Based on the memory of a tart lemon mousse cake I’d eaten five years earlier and still couldn’t forget, we scheduled our first consultation at Sweet Thang in Wicker Park. When we walked in the small, funky bakery, we knew we were in the right place: In the window display was a black-and-red cake decorated with frosting flames and topped with a devil bride and groom. As soon as owner Bernard Runo arrived, he whipped out his iBook, started a cake slide show, and then set down a glass platter with seven different mousse/cake combos. We were smitten with him. He was easy to talk to, laid back and fun. His samples were terrific: high domes of mousse in an amazing array of flavors, from cassis to tiramisu, that topped wedges of delicate sponge cake. We talked, he sketched, and after an hour and a half we had a proposal: three square tiers, each layer rotated slightly, with frosting lotus flowers on the sides and frosting vines feng shui’d into the corners. As we left (with a complimentary bag of croissants), Runo thanked us for eating all of his samples: “Most of the brides that come in are so Atkins-impaired that they barely touch the cake.”

Clip: Edna’s – Fried Chicken Paradise

Written by Seth on June 22nd, 2009

This is a blurb that was published as an Omnivorous feature on the front page of Section 3 of the Chicago Reader in June 2006, and subsequently in the restaurant listings.

It’s Fried Chicken Season

Edna’s 3175 W. Madison

Photo: A. Jackson

Ednas Chicken & Sides

Edna's Chicken & Sides

On a recent visit to Edna’s I watched a middle-aged woman in a smart blue suit walk in carrying a cane. A waitress greeted her by name and asked if she’d have the usual. Apparently, every Saturday afternoon for the last 25 years Miz Bluesuit has eaten a plateful of stewed pork neck bones, a saucerful of dressing, a tall, cold glass of sweet tea, and a stack of corn cakes. It’s easy to see why. Fried chicken at Edna’s is cooked to order, juicy, crunchy, salty, and fresh, the kind of bird I dream about. Side dishes are a greatest hits of southern lovin’: fresh-baked short biscuits, pickled beets, mac ’n’ cheese, collard greens with optional onion and tomato on top. When Edna dropped by my table to say hello, I told her that I’d been here for a 6 AM breakfast with a crowd of white people a few years ago. “I remember you all,” she crowed. “Welcome back!” She vanished into the kitchen, and one by one, unbeckoned, more side dishes came out—we sampled nine out of the ten on the menu that afternoon. The pork-neck lady looked over as I picked at my sweet potatoes: “You stuffed? Edna, she stuffs you, that’s how she gets you,” she said. “Now you’re hooked, just like me.” —Seth Zurer

Header Photos

Written by Seth on June 22nd, 2009

For the completists, after the jump, a gallery of all the header photos.

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Welcome to SethZurer.com

Written by Seth on June 20th, 2009

Glad to have you here.  Real nice to meet you.  Love to meet new people.  Happy to have the contact.

Feel free to show yourself around. We got lots of stuff to do with Mr. Zurer, here.  Lots of stuff.  Check it out.