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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, August 15

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Store Tue Sep 18 2007

Divine Balkan Bread on Devon

Tucked in the corner of an unassuming neighborhood grocery store, there is nothing fancy about this bread. They're in plain brown bags, there's no fancy sign, and even the name of the bread is rather generic: "Round Balkan Bread." But once you walk near them, your nose won't let you walk away without picking one up.

Round Balkan BreadThe first time I saw the huge pile of these breads at the Devon Market (link to Yelp) around the Edgewater/Rogers Park border, it was darn difficult not to pick one up. (I had almost a whole loaf of something else in the freezer.) They were huge--about one and a half foot in diameter, seven or eight inches tall--and were emitting a wonderfully nutty and yeasty aroma in that section of the store. So, the next time I went to the Devon Market, I made sure to clear out my bread storage.

I was euphoric to see a middle-aged female employee stacking the oven-hot breads on the shelf as I walked in. The oil in the bread quickly stained their brown bags, and the entire area was permeated with a mouthwatering smell of just-baked bread. I picked one up for $2.49 (I believe) and biked home, feeling the weighty heat of the bread on my back; it felt as if I were carrying a baby. The only difference was the smell that wafted from my backpack to tickle my nostrils when I stopped for the lights. It was a good thing I live close by; otherwise, it might have been too difficult to fend off the urge to just stop and bite into the bread right there in the middle of the street.

As soon as I got home, I cut a small wedge off the still hot bread. It had an interesting crust that resembled a densely layered pie or philo dough, which wrapped the moist and chewy inside. I bit in (after taking the picture--ah, I behaved so well!). It was divine. The crust was--well--crusty, without being slit-your-gum-open hard. The texture was fantastic, the butterly, salty, wheaty flavor satisfying. The Balkan bread was so good it didn't need anything, not even butter, to complete a meal. When I finished the piece, I cut myself another, this time a bit thicker.

The bread stayed good on our kitchen counter for about five days, and the rest was tasty as French toasts. As the cooler season approaches, my heartbeat quickens to imagine a meal of a thick cut of this bread with a bowl of hearty stew. This is one of the best (if not the best) non-sweet bread I've had in Chicago, and for such a good price.

Devon Market is at 1440 W. Devon Ave., between Newgard and Greenview. There's a small parking lot.

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Cinnamon / September 21, 2007 12:35 AM

Devon Market is one of the best indie markets in the city. They've got an amazing selection of Eastern European eats and treats, their butchers aim to please, and their turnover is quick so food is always fresh.

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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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