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Sunday, March 3

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Restaurant Mon Jul 02 2007

Puffy Georgian Cheese Pastry on Devon

Argo BakeryThough Devon Avenue is known for its Indian and Pakistani restaurants and sari stores, Indian subcontinent isn't the only region represented by this always jam-packed street in West Rogers Park. Further west, you start to see Jewish grocers and Russian bookstores. And among them is the Argo Bakery (2812 W. Devon Ave). With its round, tandoori-like oven proudly squatting in the middle of the totally unassuming bakery, Argo Bakery bakes excellent Georgian-style breads and pastries.

The perennial favorite of my partner and me is, by far, the hachapuri. Hachapuri is a large, square puff pastry filled with farmer-style cheese. Their other pies are flaky, but the hachapuri shell is more tender, moist and buttery. To approximate the traditional Georgian cheese normally used for this puffy goodness, the folks at Argo Bakery devised a mixture of mozzarella, feta and farmer cheese when they opened the business eleven years ago. (The real thing cannot be imported, due to pasteurization requirements, I would guess.) And as far as I'm concerned, the substitute is pretty darn good. It does, though, makes me wonder how out-of-this-world the real thing must be.

Hachapuri and Potato Mushroom PieThere are two small tables and spartan chairs by the wall, so you can sit down with the piping hot hachapuri (or lobiani, flaky pie shell stuffed with cilantro bean filling; or a cherry pie, a walnut honey pastry, a cabbage pie--the list goes on). In a matter of five or so minutes that it takes to finish your pie, you'll see at least three parties come in for Argo's down-home goodies. Most likely, they speak with the seasoned bakers in what appears to be Georgian (or maybe Russian, according to this). And even more likely, they'll buy a load of fresh baked goods, which is why you can often get your hachapuri right out of the oven. (Just be careful not to burn your mouth.)

To bring home, get some lavash--Georgian flat bread--that are stacked in a neat row behind the oven. They're cooked like Indian nan, slapped directly onto the hot wall of the oven. The slight char gives this bread a nice flavor accent. Crusty on the outside and supple inside, lavash is wonderful with a bowl of hearty soup, although I often find myself munching on them just as is, because they're so good.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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