When I first moved to Roscoe Village, I shopped at the Jewel on Western Ave. because I was used to the layout. I quickly noticed that the store was totally dead, while the Mariano’s parking lot was a madhouse. So the next time I went shopping I went to Mariano’s and discovered how absolutely amazing it was- like a combination of Dominick’s (RIP) and Whole Foods with prices cheaper than Jewel. Mariano’s has a huge selection of alternative diet stuff, like Earth Balance buttery sticks, soy yogurt and pudding, and egg replacer, all things I’d normally have to go to Whole Foods for.
Actually I probably don’t need to say anything about Mariano’s because everyone who’s been there knows it’s the best. Seriously, start taking note in conversations, any time anyone brings up buying food, it’s probably a minute max before someone brings up their love for Mariano’s. Like Godwin’s Law of grocery shopping. The Mariano Rule.
Anyway, from then on I pretty much shopped there exclusively. I went to the Trader Joe’s on Lincoln if I wanted random snacks like Cat Cookies or these addictive lentil potato twist crisps, but the serious shopping was Mariano’s only.
Sadly, I don’t really live within walking distance of Mariano’s anymore. But there’s lots of different places to shop in and around Avondale, so while there is a Jewel close by, I’ve taken this opportunity to expand my horizons and spread my money and whatnot. And since I’ve really started cooking in my new apartment, I wanted to introduce this “Hood Cooking” series to highlight the various markets at which I’ve been shopping.
The Dish: Whole Wheat Gnocchi with Chicken and Mushrooms
This was the first dish I made for work lunches in the new kitchen.
- The whole wheat gnocchi is vegan and it’s from ALDI. And it was $1.50 for the package. A thousand wins.
- I’m cheating with the chicken, it’s from Mariano’s. I never thawed and cooked it before I moved, and right before my parents were about to leave me alone in my new home on move-in day I suddenly remembered I had 5 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts in the freezer at the old apartment and they had to be retrieved immediately.
- Yellow pepper, also from ALDI. At $2.99 for a package of three peppers that was the most expensive thing I bought when I went there the first time (And I know how much it was because I took a picture of the receipt so I could brag about my savings to people).
- Portobello mushrooms, from Joong Boo market! That place, like ALDI, will probably get a post of its own at some point. It’s a fun little Korean mart. Lots of kimchi.
- …so the sauce is a mixture of salsa from Target and Hoisin sauce (chicken marinade) from Joong Boo. That sounds gross, but it really wasn’t that bad for making pasta and suddenly realizing you have no sauce.
The Second Dish: Vegan Hash
I owe my magnanimous friend James a shoutout here because I obviously love using my cast iron, and these dishes would not be possible with him.
- The taters are from Target, which is where my dad took me shopping for sustenance after the movers left. I always like to keep a sack of potatoes around, although these ones were kinda ehh.
- Onions are from Mariano’s, so cheating again. Yes, I packed onions in a moving box. Probably the same box in which I packed the canola oil. Worth it.
- The beans are from ALDI and they were 60 cents a can. That’s the cheapest I’ve ever seen beans anywhere.
- The extra-firm tofu is from Joong Boo market, and it’s the local Phoenix Bean brand, which I love. I discovered them at a farmer’s market where they were doling out samples, and they’ve just got a really good product.
- River Valley Kitchens Cherry Bomb hot sauce, from the Logan Square indoor market. Love this stuff. I don’t want to say it’s better than sriracha, but it’s close. Anyway, River Valley Kitchens are the mushroom people at most farmer’s markets in the city. They also have a storefront in Ravenswood… I kept meaning to go there but it didn’t happen before the move. So I’m glad to see they are Logan Square market participants! I went to the indoor market for the first time today, and while it was pretty small, it’s still a fun thing to do on a nice Sunday. The outdoor market opens on May 18th, so I’m looking forward to taking Tibs for a stroll over there and checking out the expanded offerings.