Custom Search

Friday, April 25, 2014

Second Best Deal in Chicago: Parmesan Rinds at Eataly

First best is, you may recall, our membership at the Art Institute. The second best--no suspense since I gave it away in the title line--was discovered when we were scoping out the food choices near our hotel. In pervious trips, we zipped all over Chicago, going to various well-reviewed ethnic restaurants. Back then, though, we had a friend with a car or the leisure of a longer stay. Also, we now live in one of the greatest restaurant cities in the USA, so we don't need to spend a lot of time hunting places down elsewhere.

Within a few blocks we found Trader Joes (yay! though this turned to disappointment. TJ has gone sadly downhill in quality). Then we found Whole Foods (yay! but the takeout options, as expected weren't great). Then we found: EATALY.

I had read about this Italian food emporium, run by various luminaries in the food biz. Oh, the cheese! Oh, the gelato! Oh, the pizza! But, oh the noise! Oh, the crowds! I had to get out of there. We checked out the offerings and decided to come back the next day after reading some reviews. As we perused the  goods, I spied the SECOND BEST DEAL of the TRIP: rinds of parmesan (reggiano, the real thing) for $2/lb. Mr FS and I wondered if this was a one-day special or an error. So we bought 2 pounds to take home. Even the rinds sell for about $10/lb at our local Whole Foods.

Well, we read some reviews of Eataly and EVERY ONE of them said the place was over-priced and disappointing in quality. And--basically--a tourist mecca. The pizza was singled out as particularly bleh.  Needless to say, this was a total turn-off. But we did brave the crowds to buy two more pounds of parmesan rinds. The price was not a mistake.

Why am I so ecstatic about parmesan rinds? Because if you add them to soups, the broth is infused with richness and a delectable flavor. Most recipes say to remove the rinds when the soup is done and discard them. NEVER! I eat them. If the soup cooks for a long time, the rinds turn into a gooey treat.


Gam Kau said...

Learn something new everyday, had no idea about using parmesan rinds. :)

Duchesse said...

Oh yes, we use them all the time, for soups, and pasta sauce. But ours are from the hunks we buy, we don't see them offered as rins only.

It's a lovely house gift to bring someone a wedge of real parmesan (unless vegan of course.)

I've been in the EatIly in NYC, overpriced. But we live in Little Italy in Montréal so are spoiled.

Frugal Scholar said...

@GK--Italian cooking is inherently frugal!
@Duchesse--We did buy some for gifts. We haven't been in Montreal for a while, but when we last were there, we spent a lot of time in the various ethnic markets.

tess said...

We were neighbors for a little bit.

Thanks for the tip! I like to pick up groceries in my work neighborhood on my way home. Maybe we passed by each other at Trader Joe's? My daughter loves the seaweed snacks.

Shelley said...

Well, live and learn. Shall look around for Parmesan rinds. Bill will probably have me committed, mind. He mostly likes the taste of P. cheese, but always complains that it smells of sweaty socks. Perhaps I'm buying the wrong kind...must admit I don't cook with it much. I follow what you say about Italian cooking being frugal. My impression is that almost any food is frugal if cooked from scratch (unless it's the latest craze or a 'newly discovered super-food').