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« Chicago Gourmet, Day 1 Quick Bites Dinner at C-House with Top Chef Masters' Marcus Sammuelson and Tony Mantuano »

Review Sun Sep 26 2010

Have Your Cassava and Eat It Too

cassava.jpgGluten-sensitive Chicagoans have new reason to rejoice. Last week, proprietor Jorge Flores opened Cassava in the heart of Lakeview, a spacious, four-table cafe with a focus on gluten-free baked goods made with flour of the eponymous vegetable.

Cassava, also known as yuca or manioc, is a shrub native to South America, and myriad preparations of its root are especially common in cuisines of South America and Africa. In the U.S., cassava is often consumed in the form of tapioca.

The focus of the new Lakeview cafe is cassava bread, prepared as walnut-sized "rolls." "Snack cakes" would be a more accurate description, for the bread is a far cry from the common dinner carb. Fresh from the oven on my visit, the cassava snacks had a very thin, biscuit-like crust and dense, chewy and sticky inside. Think Japanese mochi made from glutinous rice flour.

The "original" flavor cassava bread tasted like a salted autumn butter. Decadent as is, I couldn't imagine sullying it with the Nutella or fruit preserves offered on the cafe menu. The jalapeƱo and white cheddar bread was equally enjoyable with its tinge of heat, while olive and feta proved a delicate and addictive combination. Deliciously aromatic, the sun-dried tomato and basil was the boldest of the bread flavors. The rolls cost $2.95 to $3.25 for four and can be purchased frozen in bags of 24 to take home and heat up.

The new eatery also shows promise as a sweet stop. Muffins ($2.35 each) made with organic eggs, cassava and coconut flour rival any gluten-laden cake I've ever had. The large-crumb, moist texture of the blackberry muffin made me swoon. Entirely absent was the oily mouthfeel that seems to plague this ubiquitous breakfast pastry. I was grateful for the modest amount of berries in the muffin because the cake was that good.

Additionally, Cassava serves a variety of wholesome smoothies made without syrups, powders or added sugar. Visitors can choose from dark cherry, three-berry, carrot-strawberry, almond-banana and mango-pineapple. Hot and cold drinks, including Metropolis coffee, Stash teas and European-style hot chocolate, round out Cassava's menu. The cafe also offers free wi-fi. It is located at 3338 N. Clark St., 773-857-3039.

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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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