Hi friends, remember me? It’s been an interesting year, and I apologize for being on hiatus for so long. But when I come back, I come back with a bang… recommending something everyone will want to enjoy in their home. What is it, you ask? My friends, it’s just the thing to get your day started or the party started; it’s the Wave~Action blender by Hamilton Beach.

In college, my blender was put to pretty good use (too much mixer, not enough elixir…), but it often would take halfway melted ice to blend the perfect batch of daiquiris. Over the past few years, super deluxe blenders with more horsepower than my grocery getter have become commonplace in many homes, but they’re priced out of my reach. Then, lo and behold, here comes Hamilton Beach with a 700 watt motor to blend the perfect beverage for morning, noon and night, and at the right price.

In the mornings, I use my Wave~Action blender to put together a filling smoothie of light coconut milk, frozen bananas, almond butter and cocoa. The bananas have so much sweetness that there’s no need to add anything else. My breakfast blends quickly and I enjoy it as I walk to the train in the morning.

Grocery Gal Wave action smoothie blender

I recently hosted a barbecue and wanted to create a cocktail in advance so I could be a better hostess. Friends suggested I make something with watermelon, so I found the perfect Boozy Watermelon Mint Lemonade recipe on HostTheToast.com. My Wave~Action blender was up for the test and perfectly blended fresh watermelon, cucumbers, mint and lemon juice into a wonderful concoction, which later had vodka added to it.

Grocery Gal Hamilton Beach Wave Blender ReviewWithout the addition of some type of liquid, this blender, like any, doesn’t blend its contents immediately. However, it comes with a stir spoon which helps you move stuff around fairly easily. I couldn’t imagine my previous blender (which was twice the price 15 years ago) blend anything as well as this Hamilton Beach one does.

Not into beverages? That’s ok! I’ve also filled my Wave~Action blender with roasted eggplant (skin and seeds removed), roasted garlic, tahini and fresh lemon juice to create a killer baba ghanouj. To be honest, I’ve run it a little too long in the blender, so instead of a dip, it had more of a sauce consistency, but it was still delicious. You could drizzle it over grilled meat, or as use a creamy, dairy-free dressing.

I love this blender so much that I’m going to give one to a lucky Grocery Gal reader! To enter the contest, reply to the blog saying what you would make first in your Hamilton Beach Wave~Blender. No purchase necessary, and one entry per email. Contest ends 8/15/15 at 5pm CST.

I can’t wait to hear your recommendations!

Hamilton Beach Wave~Action Blender. Model:53514. MSRP $34.99

Meat, meat, meat. There’s a lot of meat in my diet, so as Grocery Gal, I’m always looking for a bargain on grass fed meats. I did a google search for grass fed meats on my iPhone (is it bad I’m sharing my Grocery Gal secrets?) and Mediterranean Market Market in Lombard appeared. Now Lombard is pretty far away for me, but I had a free Sunday and am a sucker for a new adventure. It was also not too far from Bende, which gave me all the more reason to go.

Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market LombardWhen I pulled my grocery getter into the small strip mall, the parking lot was packed. Everyone was at the Mediterranean Market. Tight aisles are packed full of pickled radishes, large metal containers of olive oil, hookahs, hair oils and spices.
Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market Lombard One Stop Halal Shop hookah
Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market Lombard One Stop Halal Shop hair oilI came for one thing (well, two): their grass fed lamb and goat. I had a great recipe for both meats that I wanted to try, and I didn’t know where else to find them both as grass fed. The small meat counter was packed and I happily wandered through the aisles as I waited for my turn.

Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market Lombard One Stop Halal ShopOnce it was my turn, I asked for 2 pounds of lamb and 3 pounds of goat, which to my surprise, were all wrapped into individual 1 lb bags. That saved me a step for freezing it at home. I also bought some uncooked chicken shawarma, bright yellow from all the turmeric seasoning. They offered to cook it there for me as a sandwich, but I wanted to enjoy it at home. And enjoy it at home I did; before my bags were unpacked the chicken was cooking in the pan and it was deeelish! I wish I would’ve bought more. I also bought some beef kefta which I had a few days later and it was just as good.

Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market Lombard One Stop Halal Shop shawarmaOn their website, the owners explained their store was small, but packed with some of the best items they could find. I agree; I’ve been to many Mediterranean markets over the years and never saw items that they carried. One such item was Sadaf spice blend. It’s a great alternative to use when I’m out of fresh herbs.

Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market Lombard One Stop Halal Shop They sell a good amount of sweets, including beautiful gift boxes of Turkish Delight and smaller noughat sweets made with sesame and pistachios that you can buy by the piece. It’s hard not to buy at least one piece to try!

Grocery Gal Mediterrean Market Lombard One Stop Halal Shop turkish delightThis newest Grocery Gal adventure was a great find for me. If you’re in the Lombard area, this is one place you can’t miss.

Mediterranean Market. 612 E Roosevelt Rd, Lombard, IL 60148. 630-424-1397. Open 7 days.

It’s not very often that I review products on Grocery Gal, but I was recently introduced to a product I fell in love with – organic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and organic Olio Nuovo, or “new” olive oil, by Park Ridge based Villa Gabriella. Many years ago, I was in Italy for the Italian Grand Prix, with grandiose plans to also make it to Modena to visit the Ferrari museum as well as enjoy copious amounts of true Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Unfortunately, time fell short and I never made it to the lovely town. Not until I tried Villa Gabriella’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, did I realize what a mistake I made.

Grocery Gal Villa Gabriella Gift Set Mother's DayWhen the package arrived, the first thing I thought was what a great hostess, housewarming or foodie gift this would make. Oh, yeah, and a gift for myself, too! I was so excited to see everything beautifully packaged, including bonus recipes and story behind Villa Gabriella and their products. I realized I wasn’t alone in thinking what a great gift this was when I saw they has a special sale for Mother’s Day on their website (hint: place your order now and thank me later).

Villa Gabriella Gift Set balsamic vinegar olio nuevoWe’ve all tried balsamic vinegar before, and it’s great. However, have you ever tried true Balsamic Vinegar of Modena? I thought I had when the price of a bottle started going into double digits, but really, I hadn’t. Villa Gabriella’s balsamic is like liquid heaven. Its made with organic Lambrusco and Trebbiano Italian grapes and only natural sulphites; perfect for me and my focus to eat as natural as possible. It’s not as thick nor as sweet as a balsamic glaze, but almost as thick. A little goes a long way, and you definitely want to use right before serving.

I was surprised how their Olio Nuovo, new olive oil, was lighter in both taste and color than other extra virgin olive oils I’ve tried. Upon further reading I found that these olives were from a 2013 harvest, which could explain the extremely fresh flavor and lighter colors. It’s perfect to be dipped in warm, fresh bread with maybe a little fresh pepper added.

I combined their products with a minced shallot and some Austrian Lustenauer Rheintaler Bauernsenf (I’d be a millionaire if I could import this stuff) for a delicious vinaigrette. How good was it? Well, my family ate all the salad before I even had a chance to take a photo!

Villa Gabriella Gift Set balsamic vinegar olio nuevo recipeWhen I have foods as deluxe as Villa Gabriella’s in my kitchen, I sometimes stress out about finding something worthy enough to cook. Villa Gabriella must’ve sensed my fear, because their gift set comes with beautiful recipe cards to inspire cooks at all levels. Spaghetti Alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clam Sauce) is an easy to make meal with their clear, simple instructions. Side dishes such as Cipolle al Aceto Balsamico (Onions in Balsamic Vinegar) and desserts like Mandarini al Aceto Balsamico (Clementines with Balsamic Vinegar and Pepper) are perfect options for my restricted AIP diet.

Villa Gabriella also offers organic red wines that currently aren’t for sale on their website yet. I can’t wait to try those, or even better yet, for them to have a storefront that I could stop by in Park Ridge. For now, you’ll have to enjoy their products through the web, and it’s absolutely worth it. Shipping prices are extremely reasonable, too. So reasonable, that I’m placing an order for my stepmom right now…!

Villa Gabriella. 847-232-2828


Today’s Grocery Gal installment comes as a recommendation from a long standing client of mine. We were chatting about the cost of organic foods and how it’s a challenge to afford it. She told me of a place on Oakton in Skokie whose name escaped her, and I was intrigued because I had never heard of it. Always one for a new adventure, I started searching “skokie grocery store” on my iPhone to find what had to be the place: Marketplace on Oakton.

Grocery Gal Marketplace On Oakton SkokieThe day I made it out to Marketplace was the same day I discovered Hungarian Kosher. Both are on Oakton, but Marketplace is close to the Skokie Swift yellow line and the Edens. When I pulled my grocery getter into the large parking spot, I smiled, as it shared a space with my favorite chain grocery store, Aldi.

Grocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton Grocery Store

Grocery Gal Marketplace Foods Coccoa Kumato tomato

Cocoa Tomatoes are just like Kumato Tomatoes!

I wouldn’t call Marketplace a destination store, but a solid International market with fresh produce, a large deli counter and substantial butcher shop, along the lines of Produce World. I was impressed by the variety of organic produce they carried: staples such as apples, potatoes and onions at a fraction of Whole Foods’ prices.

Grocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton Grocery Store OrganicGrocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton Grocery Store OrganicTheir large ethnic produce selection rivals Fresh Farms.  I bought some taro root (I love taro root chips) and fresh turmeric.

Grocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton Grocery Store Indian VegetableI was happy to see some of my favorite Bende meat products – almost all of Marketplace’s smoked meat selections were from Chicagoland companies.

Grocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton Grocery Store Euro meatsMarketplace on Oakton has a fresh seafood counter, but I’m partial to their selection of canned fishes. They carry a wide variety; more than I’m used to seeing at other stores.

Grocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton FishAs most of my grocery shopping runs around running errands, I would definitely make a stop here if I was heading to Old Orchard. And for those European chocolate fans out there, beware – there are many tempting items in the checkout line!

Grocery Gal Marketplace on Oakton ChocolateIf you live in the area, it’s a solid stop for good quality, affordable organic produce, and a solid European style market.

Marketplace on Oakton. 4817 W Oakton Street, Skokie, IL 60077. 847-677-9330

In January, I took a little road trip on a Saturday to check out Beverly Records. It was 45 minutes away with no traffic, all while still being in the confines of Chicago. I knew if I was going to travel so far south, I might as well search for some Grocery Gal adventures. I took my iPhone, located Beverly Records, scrolled outwards and searched “deli,” then “sausage.” I knew something good was waiting for me on the south side. That’s when I found it: Sausage by Rosario. The video below sums it all up.

I’m going to cut to the chase. If you love nostalgic Chicago neon and delis like I do, you MUST go to Rosario’s now. Why? Because who knows how much longer they’ll be there. The building is for sale and the shelves are a little bare when compared to their heyday, but they make some outstanding Italian sausage, beef, and Pizza Setups: a brilliant concept completely new to me.

Grocery Gal Sausage by Rosariogrocerygal-rosarios-pizzasetupI loved how it was as much of a museum as it is a deli. It seems like most folks shop at Rosario’s for fresh sausage and beef to cook at home, or order food for catering and carryout. Sandwiches are made to order, or you could grab a homemade frozen meal to go. They offer a $10 t-shirt featuring the artwork of their amazing sign (where pigs happily jump into a meat grinder), so of course I had to pick up one!

Grocery Gal Rosario's Family Photo Deli

Grocery Gal Sausage by Rosario

grocerygal-rosarios-storeWhile I waited for my turn at the deli counter, a family ordered two Pizza Setups. What was that, I thought? Well, for less than $10, you get 3 thin crusts, pizza sauce and a pound of mozzarella cheese, and for a little more you can add sausage or pepperoni.

I guess pizza setups are something fairly common on the south side, yet unfortunately have been kept secret to all of us northsiders… and frankly, I’m mad. Why? I can’t eat pizza dough (or cheese for that matter) anymore, and this would’ve probably been one of the best thin crust pizzas I’ve ever had. Why couldn’t I have decided to go to Beverly Records before I had all these dietary restrictions?!?!

When cooked, their pizzas look and smell like the thin crust pizza I grew up with as a child. I have spent years (seriously) searching for its modern day equivalent. Marie’s on Lawrence is close, as is John’s on Western and Pete’s Pizza #2 on Montrose… but some secret ingredient in the sauce or crust always missing. Well, Rosario’s sauce and crust combination (I didn’t get to eat it, but I smelled it in my kitchen and heard my family’s reaction as they ate it), must’ve been that thin crust pizza utopia I was hoping to find and enjoy myself.

Grocery Gal Rosario's pizza setupNormally, when I visit a location I feature on Grocery Gal, I don’t interact with the owners. I wanted to hear a little more about Rosario’s history and introduced myself to Cathy, the owner. I told her how the sign is what brought me to the deli, and she told me it’s featured in a new book on Chicago neon called Good Old Neon (When I came home I ordered a copy of the book – it’s fantastic!).

When I came to visit, it was the beginning of a very restricted diet I was (and currently still) am on. My mouth was watering, but I couldn’t eat the pizza (per rant above) or the spices within the sausage. I told Cathy, about my dilemma, and like a pro, she said, “why not try the Italian beef?” Brilliant! I grabbed a pizza setup for my husband, some sweet Italian sausage (they offer sweet, mild and spicy, which I could freeze and eat a few weeks later) and some thinly sliced Italian beef with au jus that I was going to heat up as soon as I got home.

grocerygal-rosarios-italiansausageGrocery Gal Rosario's Italian SausageCathy made a very important point during our conversation: small businesses have a hard time in the current world of huge chains. There are customers that come once a year, and while she appreciates that business, for a small business like hers to survive nowadays requires more frequent patronage. That’s why I say stop at Rosario’s now, to support a wonderful family business that’s a part of Chicago’s history. I’m complaining on missing out of their pizza with my restricted diet, but at least I got to try their amazing beef, sausage and got to meet Cathy. I’m planning on heading back soon, too, as my family is still raving about their pizza setup. Make sure you go sooner than later; and grab a pizza setup, too!

grocerygal-rosarios-signRosario’s Italian Sausage. 8611 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60652. 773-585-0660.

I get so excited when I stumble across a store I’ve never seen before. I rarely drive on Oakton, but one day I found myself doing so and passed by Hungarian Kosher Foods. I quickly took a right turn with my grocery getter and parked in the busy parking lot. I didn’t know what I was going to buy, but I knew it was going to be an adventure!

Hungarian Kosher Foods Grocery GalI had previously shopped at the Kosher Jewel on Howard, but this was my first time in a true Kosher market, and it looked as if I had stumbled across the best of them. Hungarian Kosher Foods is the Midwest’s largest all Kosher supermarket, and has been family owned since 1973.

I didn’t have much time, so I scurried over to the deli to see what goods they had to offer. I found a lot of sausage products from Romanian, a Kosher sausage company located on Clark Street in Rogers Park (which reminded me how I’ve been planning to have them as a Grocery Gal feature). I knew they would sell some great smoked fish, but little did I know they’d offer Pastrami Smoked Salmon! Wow – by now you should know how I’m a sucker for smoked meats and fish, and this is by far some of the best smoked fish I’ve ever had. It was so flavorful, and I’d never seen smoked fish in a pastrami style. It’s worth the trip alone to stock up on this!

Grocery Gal Hungarian Kosher Foods Smoked SalmonI also chose one piece of herring that was pickled in wine. Herring is something I like sparingly, and often can only be found in a jar which goes bad before I could finish it. It was great just to get one filet; not too much and not too little. The egg salad looked delicious, but I’m unfortunately unable to eat eggs for the time being. grocerygal-hungariankosher-herringBeing a Kosher supermarket, they had a very nice meat section, featuring a variety cut of beef beyond what you’d see at traditional supermarkets, along with veal and lamb.

For those with busy schedules, Hungarian Kosher Foods offers a lot of ready made Kosher meals and sides, which included roast beef and chicken leg dinners, matzo balls and homemade egg noodles.

Grocery Gal Hungarian Kosher Foods Matzo BallsIt looked as if the store had expanded over the years. Kosher wine, juices, paper goods and canned and jarred olives filled shelves in the expansion area. I grabbed some Israeli black olives in a wine brine and walked back to the checkout counter. My only regret after I left was that I didn’t buy more of the pastrami smoked salmon. Next time, for sure.

Grocery Gal Hungarian Kosher Foods Kosher Wine Skokie

Hungarian Kosher Foods. 4020 Oakton Street, Skokie, IL 60076. 847-674-8008. Sunday 8am-6pm, Mon-Thurs 8am-9pm, Friday 7:30am-3pm, Closed Saturdays.

Issacson & Stein. A Chicago institution that’s been around for over 80 years. Everyone knows the place, but have you ever been in there? When I worked downtown many moons ago, sales people would leave midday to pick up shrimp and oysters for their family dinners, while I was stuck at my desk creating their ads. Once, I got of work early and stopped in, but it was only a few minutes before they were closing. I could never make it in during the week, and by the weekend I had no desire to trek back downtown. Recently, I was in the neighborhood while Issacson & Stein was open (!) and made a point to stop in. Hopefully they had some Branzino fish so that I could try a new recipe from my Nom Nom Paleo cookbook. Issacson & Stein Fish Co Grocery GalThe store was much tinier than I remembered. I also didn’t recall it being self-serve before. When you come in, you can grab a basket, some plastic gloves and as many plastic bags as you need. They really give you the option to choose exactly which fish you want, with your gloved hands, instead of telling someone, “no, not that one, the one next to it.”

Issacson & Stein Fish Co Fish HeadsEverything was so fresh – the place had no fish odor to it. While they didn’t have the Branzino I was looking for, I knew I could substitute rainbow trout in the dish. They had Fresh Farms beaten by 15 cents on their oyster price: they were only 60 cents each, but I wasn’t in the mood for oysters that day.

Issacson & Stein Fish Co Grocery Gal OystersIssacson & Stein Fish Co Sepia Grocery GalOnce you’re done with your selection, you bring it to a counter where it’s weighed. From there, you get an adding machine receipt which you take up to the counter to pay. Fortunately, my rainbow trout was already cleaned, but if it wasn’t, I’d just have to bring it to the cleaning section after I paid. Issacson & Stein is definitely a self-service, no frills fish place with good prices. It’s also a Chicago institution.

Issacson & Stein Fish Co Grocery Gal

Grocery Gal Issacson & Stein Fish Co receiptOh, and if you were wondering, the trout came out delicious! I bought 2 fish for $12, stuffed them with parsley, thyme, oregano and lemon, and broiled in the oven. Yum!

Issacson & Stein Fish Co Grocery Gal

Issacson & Stein Fish Company. 800 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607. 312-421-2444. Monday 9am-4:15pm, Tuesday-Friday 8am-4:15pm, Saturday 8am-1pm, Closed Sunday.

Have you ever gone somewhere, it was a bad experience, and you never went back? That was me and Joong Boo Market circa 1995. I had just moved into my first apartment in Ravenswood (across from the infamous Diner Grill), and went into Joong Boo looking for these crazy Korean plum candies my dad loved. Every time I saw him, he would give me a full bag (and I didn’t like them), and instisted that I eat them. Fortunately, my friends liked them, so I’d pawn them off on them. When I saw this Korean Market, I planned on picking the very same candies to surprise my dad at our next visit. I don’t recall much of my first experience at Joong Boo, but I do remember being told I bought the wrong plum candies (it was the thought that counts, right?), the store was a little too chaotic  and I never wanted to go back.

Joong boo Market Grocery GalThere are so many grocery stores I had been to once, and then it took me a really long time to get back to, like Hagen’s and Supreme Lobster. However, no one can forget Joong Boo Market, aka Chicago Food Corp, because it’s smack dab off the Kennedy at Kimball. When I started Grocery Gal a little over a year ago, a coworker told me, “you have to go to Joong Boo market! I love that place!” Of course, I thought to myself, “yeah, but Super H Mart, Tai Nam and Mitsawa are sooooo much better,” and just smiled and said thanks for the suggestion, but had no intentions of going until I was scrounging for places to go to.

I needed some kimchi and other fermented vegetables, and I thought this would be as good of a time as any to give Joong Boo a second chance (albeit two decades later). The exterior hadn’t changed in as many years, why would the interior? I grabbed a cart and entered with low expectations…

Joong boo Market EntranceI know the store hadn’t changed much in twenty years, but this time was an entirely different experience. There was a nice selection of Asian vegetables, including a huge selection of organic mushrooms. There was seafood in thick, red sauces that looked interesting, but I was too afraid to commit to such a large package.

Joong boo Market Grocery Gal Organic Mushroom ChicagoJoong boo Market Grocery Gal Marinated FishThe have a decent selection of fresh fish, but I’d wouldn’t go to Joong Boo specifically for fish. I have been thinking of making a fish stock soup, where the main ingredient are good quality fish heads. What they had looked good – but I held off on buying any.

Joong boo Market Grocery Gal Fish HeadsJoong boo Market Grocery Gal Salted FishThey had oysters and clams for sale, but what was even more interesting was live conch. I had conch for the first time in Turks & Caicos last year and it’s just delicious. However, I know I would probably screw up making it myself. Oh yeah, and it’s breaded and I’m gluten free.

Joong boo Market Live Conch ChicagoThey had a butcher as well as prepackage meat. The pork belly and bulgogi looked great.

Joong boo Market Grocery Gal Pork Belly ChicagoJoong boo Market BulgokiTo my delight, they had something similar to a salad buffet of different Korean dishes. I am supposed to be eating more fermented foods, but one jar of kimchi lasts me a long time. Here was a variety of options. I picked up a container and started filling it up with pickled cucumber, radish and green onions, only to find out halfway through that each item was a separate price! When i went to pay, I sheepishly said just to charge whatever the maximum price per pound was, which in the end still wasn’t very much.

Joong Boo Market Grocery Gal KimchiI had limited time, so I didn’t peruse the housewares section of the building, or the dried goods in the aisles. One thing that did catch my eye as I was checking out was what I thought was packing peanuts, but I guess they’re more for snacking than packing. If you’ve tried their Macaroni, please let me know what they taste like!

Joong boo Market Grocery Gal MacaroniJoong boo Market Grocery Gal Korean SweetsThe prejudice I had against Joong Boo Market is now gone. Now, when I need some quick Asian fixings, I won’t have to drive as far north or east as I normally would have to. It is so conveniently located off the expressway, I could stop in here and be home in less than 10 minutes. The store was clean and had great prices. Just remember when you try the salad bar, don’t make it a mixed salad.

Joong Boo Market. 3333 North Kimball Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618. 773-478-5566. Open 7 days, 365 days a year. 9am-9pm.

Not sure where I saw the Supreme Lobster logo first – either on a spec request during my old Yellow Pages days, or on one of their many trucks that drive through the city. However, it was one of those logos that stuck in my head for many years. Fast forward to my current job in the western sububrbs, and one day during a hankering for some Jimmy John’s, I saw the original Supreme Lobster on North Avenue. I didn’t have much time, but I pulled my grocery getter into a parking lot and ran into a small store filled with lots of people and fish. There wasn’t enough time to even buy anything, and I knew I’d have to come back and take a closer look.

Supreme Lobster Grocery GalI didn’t intend it to take two years to return to Supreme Lobster, but it did. Before I drove out during my lunch break, I confirmed their address on their website. Good thing I did so, because I found out they had a new location and a 10% off coupon!

It was a few days before New Years, and I wanted to see what kind of specials they had for the holiday. When I found the new store, I was impressed by its large size, in addition to the fresh and modern interior.  It was bustling at noon with holiday shoppers stocking up for an eventful New Year’s Eve.

Supreme Lobster Grocery Gal StoreSupreme Lobster Grocery Gal Lobster TailThey had cute, tiny lobster tails for only $5.99 and larger ones from Maine, the Gulf Coast and South Africa. If you’re serious about your lobster, Supreme Lobster will have what you need. I’m no lobster connoisseur, but for $5.99 a tail, who wouldn’t leave without grabbing some of these appetizer sized beauties?

Supreme Lobster Grocery Gal Imported Lobster TailI’m personally more of a fan of crab legs than lobster, and Supreme Lobster helped me in that department, too. I could pick whichever King Crab legs I wanted for $19.99 a pound, but an even better deal was found in the tiny bags next to them.  They were 2 pound bags of bits and pieces of King Crab legs (but still as delicious) for around $25.

Supreme Lobster King Crab Grocery GalNot into shellfish? That’s ok. Supreme Lobster caters to restaurants, supermarkets, and food service operators beyond this retail store. What that mean to you is besides offering an incredible selection of lobster, Supreme Lobster’s has a fresh fish selection that is out of this world. If you can’t make it to places like Issacson & Stein, Hagen’s or Fresh Farms to buy fish, no sweat. Supreme Lobster will probably have what you’re looking for, and then some, all in a very inviting space. They also offer one stop shopping, as they sell craft beers and wines to pair with their products. Prosecco with oysters, anyone?

Supreme Lobster Grocery Gal WineSupreme Lobster Grocery Gal Fresh ShellfishSupreme Lobster Grocery Gal Fresh Seafood SaladThere was so much Supreme Lobster offered – I was like a kid in a candy store. The new location was so vibrant and exciting compared to the original storefront that I popped my head into a few years back. There’s a large frozen selection of Oriental Style breaded shrimp, along with other options like octopus, sepia and red snapper.

grocerygal-supreme-lobster-shrimpSupreme Lobster Frozen Fish Grocery GalReady for a crawfish boil? Maybe looking to add some Cajun spices to some fish? Or maybe you’re more into horseradish on some delicious smoked salmon? Whatever your taste buds prefer, Supreme Lobster has you covered. Supreme Lobster Cans Grocery GalSupreme Lobster Grocery Gal Smoked SalmonWant some Mahi Mahi? Chilean sea bass? Ahi tuna? No need to settle for whatever size filet is offered at other fish markets, they cut to order here.The prices are higher than what I’m used to spending (Mahi Mahi was $19.49/lb and the Sea Bass $39.99), but the quality is obviously second to none.

Supreme Lobster Fresh Fish Grocery GalThe store was very impressive. They are only open until 6 during the week, so plan accordingly. I’m sure they’re swamped on Saturdays, but it’s well worth it.

Supreme Lobster. 220 North Avenue, Villa Park, IL 60181. 630-834-3474. Monday 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Friday 9am-6pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Closed Sunday.

Back in my Uptown days when I struggled to find good quality, affordable foods, I would spend Sundays in Rogers Park, shopping at places like Fresh Farms and Kamdar Plaza. However, I still had to buy mineral water, meat and, if I was lucky, some Bende smoked tenderloins. Fortunately, I just had to drive a few blocks west on Devon to Kedzie to get that and more at City Fresh Market.

Grocery Gal City Fresh Market DevonCity Fresh Market is small, but it is a powerhouse for Central and Eastern European and Mediterranean foods. It’s a family owned market that’s been around since 2004. I love whenever I find a place that carries Croatian wine and a variety of products I grew up with as a kid.

Grocery Gal City Fresh Market European Wine Grocery Gal City Fresh Market CheeseIt was at City Fresh where I first noticed products from Green Ridge Farms. They’re a local supplier of European style smoked meats and sausages. Since this visit, I’ve seen them at a few other local grocery stores. I grabbed a package of the thin, smoked sausages during this visit. Although they were good, they still couldn’t compare to the fresh, dried sausage from Montrose Deli City Fresh Market Devon Green Ridge FarmsCity Fresh Market Devon Smoked MeatsIn addition to prepackaged meats and cheeses, they offer a full deli counter, meat counter and a very, very busy bakery counter. In fact, the bakery counter was so packed when I was there that I wasn’t able to take any photos! They offer traditional European multilayered cakes (and by multi, I mean more than 6!), like Dobos Torte, many cream filled cakes like I had seen in trips to Croatia, and staples like baklava. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I think I’ll stop by before visiting my dad next time with a few options for him!

As any good European deli should, City Fresh Market has a wide variety of feta cheese to choose from. I didn’t realize this the last time that I was there, but they also offer slow-roasted pig, goat and lamb. Finding that out while writing this post makes me want to hop in my grocery getter and head on over now. Slow roasted lamb on a spit was the norm at summer barbecues as a child; there’s nothing else really like it. They also make their own meat specialties in house: Cevapi, Pljeskavica and Sudjuk.

City Fresh Market Devon FetaAnd for those not into all the Eastern and Central European specialty meats, City Fresh Market is a solid market in its own right. Decent produce and a well-stocked meat section. The cuts of meat were all fresh and and well priced.

City Fresh Market Devon ButcherFinally, for those fans of Central and Eastern European mineral waters and beer, City Fresh Market has you covered, too. They have a good variety, including my favorite Croatian beer: Karlovacko.

City Fresh Market Devon BeerIf you haven’t had a chance to try Eastern specialties like roasted lamb, cevapi, or a Dobos torte, you should make it a point to stop in a City Fresh Market soon.

City Fresh Market3201 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, IL 60659. 773-681-8600. Open 7 days.