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La Casa de Samuel: Exotica Guerrerensia et Ordinaria Mundana

La Casa de Samuel: Exotica Guerrerensia et Ordinaria Mundana
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  • Post #31 - February 20th, 2005, 3:50 pm
    Post #31 - February 20th, 2005, 3:50 pm Post #31 - February 20th, 2005, 3:50 pm
    Antonius,

    I guess I have to shoot my friends for suggesting they would like to have oysters. Why does the consumer have to be blamed for their choices, which is how I interpret your statements. This is not a Greek family-style restaurant with a vast menu ready to please just about every whim under the sun. This is a menu focussed in a specific direction, it is assumed the owners will include what they feel is their best offering. If oysters are not a strong point, or maybe they were in their possession a bit too long, is that my fault?

    Amongst the many Mexican restaurants in Waukegan, there is another which has presented us very good oysters on several occasions. With our experience there, why shouldn't we assume success at Casa de Samuel?

    In the take-out menu, the only artifact of my visit, there is no boasting of homemade tortillas. I knew that exclusively from your post. I asked about it, they claimed to offer it. It wasn't there. I'm not screaming fraud over 75 cents worth of tortillas. Why does this offend you they did not do it? Why does my veracity come into question? Maybe you have more than a passing interest in the success of this restaurant. I doubt it, but you are behaving terribly wounded over something which is not under your control or mine.

    I was not made miserable about the livery flavor of the Venison. Its an observation, one which AnnieB and Al Ehrhardt concur with me from their experieces eating and preparing venison. I've had venison before with no livery undertone; so maybe it was the leg or farm raised. My friend didn't like it at all and maybe someone else might not either; so why should I hide this observation? I finished all the venison.

    Last fall, I attended a wine tasting. I am not into wine, so it was just an educational aspect for me. Some people sitting near me were so much more attuned to the wine and the trace aromas and flavors. I felt like the most suggestible person on this planet. When they declared it smelled like herbs, I smelled herbs. When they pronounced the taste was of grapefruit, I tasted grapefruit. Until they said anything, all I tasted was wine.

    Since this discussion obligated me to pull out the take out menu. I would like to comment on the promised refried beans, which were also not present. Instead they provided us what appeared to be pinto beans in cooking liquid presented in a soup cup. My luck the mistress of refried beans was not present, either.

    I really don't understand why you obligate people to defend their experience. Of course, I do have a clue into your opinion of me, in one of your e-mails you did comment on my "well intentioned" posts ... like I am not supposed to understand what that means?
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #32 - February 20th, 2005, 4:52 pm
    Post #32 - February 20th, 2005, 4:52 pm Post #32 - February 20th, 2005, 4:52 pm
    annieb wrote:My experience of venison, which is not exhaustive, but fairly well-informed due to a family of hunters, leads me to believe that different cuts have more or less of the livery taste ... The leg, for instance, does not, while the loin does.
    That said, I don't really know what the cut is that produces cecina, but it may affect the taste.
    Personally, I love it, but Himself is more ambivalent. So we disagree on the best, remembered, meals of venison.


    Annie,

    Thanks for the information. I'll try and find out what cut it is that they use for the cecina. As I said in my original post, the flavour is very intense and, as I said in response to C2, I can understand the use of the term 'livery' to describe the taste. But what I find interesting is that there is none of the straightforward gaminess that I've experienced with some hunted Wisconsin venison I've had, just this intense dark flavour. I guess the marinating and drying takes away as well as adds (though I do also assume that they use meat from mild, farm raised critters).

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #33 - February 20th, 2005, 5:31 pm
    Post #33 - February 20th, 2005, 5:31 pm Post #33 - February 20th, 2005, 5:31 pm
    Antonius wrote:though I do also assume that they use meat from mild, farm raised critters.


    When I have asked butchers about getting venison, they said is not legal to sell deer that was caught in the wild. The only venison sold legally is farm raised.

    Best,
    Al
  • Post #34 - February 20th, 2005, 6:53 pm
    Post #34 - February 20th, 2005, 6:53 pm Post #34 - February 20th, 2005, 6:53 pm
    Since this discussion obligated me to pull out the take out menu. I would like to comment on the promised refried beans, which were also not present. Instead they provided us what appeared to be pinto beans in cooking liquid presented in a soup cup. My luck the mistress of refried beans was not present, either.


    Very sloppy on the part of the Casa de Samuel management with regard to the composition and proof-reading of the take-out menu: refried beans are not supposed to appear with Guerrero-style cecina. Luckily, they got the order right in the kitchen and served the very traditional frijoles de olla. They were surely pinto beans.

    Please note, however, that the Cermak take-out menu correctly indicates the style of beans that accompany the cecina.

    *****

    Maybe you have more than a passing interest in the success of this restaurant.


    Not necessarily the Waukegan branch but the Cermak branch definitely; they serve delicious cecina de venado with handmade tortillas! If I buy the restaurant or sleep with the chef, I'll let you know.

    :lol:

    *****

    Cathy2 wrote:
    I really don't understand why you obligate people to defend their experience. Of course, I do have a clue into your opinion of me, in one of your e-mails you did comment on my "well intentioned" posts ... like I am not supposed to understand what that means?


    :?: :?: :?:


    What are you talking about?

    It took a while but I found the old email (April '04) to which you refer. Let me cite the offending phrase together with its broader context, which was a letter of support in your running battle on Planet Leff with STP; the reference to your good intentions was to stand in contrast with those behind some of his posts:

    Antonius wrote:
    Thanks for your input in this thread, as well as for your many other interesting, useful and always well-intended postings.



    If it helps, I withdraw completely this vicious allegation.

    :lol: :lol: :lol:

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #35 - March 6th, 2005, 10:38 am
    Post #35 - March 6th, 2005, 10:38 am Post #35 - March 6th, 2005, 10:38 am
    GAF, pdaane, and I had lunch yesterday at Casa de Samuel on Cermak. GAF and I arrived first and we ordered pretty strictly from the "Antonius selections" outlined in the OP. These included charales, cecina de venado, and one huarache de carne asada.

    The smelts were good, but slightly chewy and a little skinny. I liked them, but I don't think I'd order them again in a small group (I think I'd only enjoy a few in future sittings).

    We were both surprised at the mild flavor of the venison, barely a hint of any gamey flavor. The accompaniments really made this meal: freshly-made guacamole, pico de gallo, refried beans, and fresh hand-made tortillas. At first, we were served tortillas from the back by the waiter. Immediately after he put them down, the woman from the front came over and exchanged them with the freshly-made ones. I was pleased that she did. The other ones were home-made as well, probably just earlier in the day.

    The huarache was excellent. I loved the thicker home-made masa dough. My only complaint was that the layer of refried beans was a little over-powering in flavor. I found myself enjoying the dry edges of the huarache and picking up the little bits of carne with it.

    I'll let pdaane comment on his torta, cecina taco, and horchata. He arrived slightly before GAF had to run.

    I was pleased with my lunch at Casa de Samuel. Everything had a comfortable, home-made taste, and the staff was very friendly. They have an impressive, eclectic menu, as Antonius mentioned, and I'd love to sample a lot of it with a larger group (Next time: bull's testicles). I'll most definitely return.

    Best,
    Michael / EC
  • Post #36 - March 6th, 2005, 12:15 pm
    Post #36 - March 6th, 2005, 12:15 pm Post #36 - March 6th, 2005, 12:15 pm
    They have an impressive, eclectic menu, as Antonius mentioned, and I'd love to sample a lot of it with a larger group (Next time: bull's testicles). I'll most definitely return.


    I look forward to seeing this on the Events board sometime soon.

    Glad your Venison Cecina was better than what I was offered in Waukegan. Sometimes the satellite restaurant is not quite the same.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #37 - March 18th, 2005, 11:38 pm
    Post #37 - March 18th, 2005, 11:38 pm Post #37 - March 18th, 2005, 11:38 pm
    My wife and I went to the Cermak Casa de Samuel.
    Apparently they are closed on Tues, and we arrived just after 6 on Wed.
    No other customers were there, had recently been there, or arrived in the 45 minutes we were there.

    At first, this disturbed us for the quality of food we might receive.
    After eating, it disturbed us because it was so delicious we feared to think their lack of bussiness might make them a fleeting pleasure on our palate.

    We had the Cecina de Venado and the Cabrito al Horno.
    The Venison (Cecina de Vendado) was wonderfully gamey which could easily be experienced as "livery", and that's what we loved about it. Most of the venison (and lamb) in high end restaurants is designed to appeal to those who prefer the domesticated taste of beef. In other words extremely lean, unaged cuts that therefore have little of the flavor that sets game apart. I don't mean that as an insult, its just true that game these days is raised, fed, slaughtered, sold, and prepared with the goal of making it as similar tasting to domestic animals as possible.

    We've spent a weekend each of the last 4 years in Jackson Hole, WY and ate all the game we could get our mouths on. We learned to seek out cuts like venison t-bone, for the same reason we prefer beef t-bone to filet mignon, more fat = more flavor. With game, most the gamey (or "livery" flavor in venison) is in the fat. Also, strong flavors become more pronounced with ageing of meat, which is likely the source of the strong flavors in the Cecina de Venado.

    We think the Cabrito al Horno was probably mutton. We ordered it as goat and our waiter replied "OK, the lamb." It tasted more intense than the known goat we've had and more like the couple times we've had mutton.
    A truley intense flavor.

    Our tortillas were clearly handmade (the texture and uneven thickness give it away) and just warm inside a cloth napkin.
    Our tortillas were obviously left over from the lunch hour (during which the Cermack locale is apparently quite busy), but I'll still take handmade and rewarmed over fresh and hot out of the factory presses.

    We really liked Samuel and will return on a regular basis. Any place that prompts me to pass over the rabbit on their menu b/c it seems too pedestrian is a place worthy of my affections.
  • Post #38 - March 20th, 2005, 3:38 pm
    Post #38 - March 20th, 2005, 3:38 pm Post #38 - March 20th, 2005, 3:38 pm
    Needing something to do with the kids for a few hours during the Outage, and having the hankering to explore parts unknown, I called GWiv and suggested that we meet up at La Casa de Samuel. He thought that was an excellent idea and offered a better one yet: that we call up Antonius and Amata and Lucantonio and invite them, too. So here are pics of the things that have been talked about so much above. To start with, freshly made tortillas (GWiv has pics of the tortilla maker herself in action):

    Image

    A freshly-grilled huarache with beans, and another with steak, in front of a colorfully presented pico de gallo:

    Image

    Image

    I was very happy with both of these.

    Next, the lamb/mutton dish. I found this a little shoe-rubbery tasting until we were given a pasilla sauce to go with it, then the strong meat flavor and a charred, tobacco-y salsa all came together to make an assertive yet well-balanced dish:

    Image

    And the venison. I have to admit that this was more gamy than I quite care for. But if you like that, it's clearly an estimable dish and worth a try.

    Image

    Before heading home, we made a quick stop at International Food, an Asian market on South Pulaski, famous for being where David Hammond found the infamous geoduck. Not the greatest Asian market in town, but it had its moments, like this sign, which is what I plan to call my first album:

    Image
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  • Post #39 - March 21st, 2005, 4:30 am
    Post #39 - March 21st, 2005, 4:30 am Post #39 - March 21st, 2005, 4:30 am
    Mike,

    I very much enjoyed La Casa de Samuel, as much, if not more, for the company as the food, both were excellent. The cecina de venado, which Antonious refers to as the signature dish for La Casa de Samuel, was, as advertised, slightly gamy and very delicious.

    Cabrito al horno, which on our visit was mutton, was strong flavored as well, but when combined with the in-house made tortillas and the dark, slightly oily, incredibly flavorful pasilla sauce, will keep bringing me back to La Casa de Samuel.

    We had a bit of a discussion as to type of pepper in the sauce, I thought I detected guajullo and possibly a few other peppers. Amata gently suggested the sauce contained pasilla only, I wasn't so sure.

    Amata was 100% correct, and had the kind good manners not to rub it in. :) After this, and Amata picking out False Cardamom at Mandarin Kitchen, I am quickly learning to simply agree and take notes when Amata opines.

    House made tortillas were wonderful, going from hand to press to flat-top to table in short order.
    Image

    Not only were the tortillas delicious, but were multi-purpose. :)
    Image

    A very good time was had by all, as evidenced by the three smiling amigos.
    Image

    Thanks Antonious for introducing us to La Casa de Samuel.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #40 - March 21st, 2005, 8:21 am
    Post #40 - March 21st, 2005, 8:21 am Post #40 - March 21st, 2005, 8:21 am
    Thanks for the kind words, Gary -- I also enjoyed the company and food very much on Saturday. I'm glad you got us to come down for another delicious meal at Casa de Samuel. (I'm also glad that the glass of water which a busboy spilled down your back didn't ruin the meal for you. :roll: )

    Our little guy had a great time with the two young G's, too.

    Your picture of the tortilla maker is really nice -- I love the tortillas puffing up on the griddle in the background.

    I think my next visit to C de S might be for breakfast: on the window outside they advertise a weekday special for $1.99.

    Hope to file a report soon,
    Amata
  • Post #41 - June 12th, 2005, 10:36 am
    Post #41 - June 12th, 2005, 10:36 am Post #41 - June 12th, 2005, 10:36 am
    Casa de Samuel
    Cecina de Venado otra vez


    The cecina de venado, one of the specialities of Casa de Samuel, has been discussed at some length above. The dish as offered at this Little Village restaurant accentuates intense flavours through simple treatment: the rich flavour of the marinated and dried venison, combined with creamy but also chunky guacamole, a little mound of an undressed salad, a bowl of deliciously straightforward frijoles de olla, and -- of course -- the magnificent handmade tortillas de maíz... La verdadera elegancia por la honradez y la senzillez. ¡Qué sabor! ¡Qué bondad!

    ¡Mirad la belleza de este platillo y sus compañeros!


    Image

    ¡Viva Casa de Samuel! ¡Viva Guerrero!

    Antonio
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #42 - June 12th, 2005, 10:38 am
    Post #42 - June 12th, 2005, 10:38 am Post #42 - June 12th, 2005, 10:38 am
    Ah...GNR...choo.

    (excuse me :oops: )
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #43 - October 3rd, 2005, 2:23 pm
    Post #43 - October 3rd, 2005, 2:23 pm Post #43 - October 3rd, 2005, 2:23 pm
    Visited CdS on Cermak. Some notes:

    1). Smelts: a little thin, a little tough, but very much improved by a spray of lime and hot sauce. On their own, a solid accompaniment to cold beer, but I'll probably try something else next time around.

    2). Rabbit: fried, a little scrawny, but tasty, and, perhaps, its thinness spurred us to shove the meat into the wonderful fresh tortillas, both flour and corn-meal. Accompanied by excellent refried beans and rice.

    3). Goat/mutton/cabritos (?) nicely flavored, accompanied by a chunky guacamole and a world-class (actually, I'm really an inexperienced judge of Mexican cuisine, but this was definitely an Oh Wow! sensation) pasilla sauce that alone was worth the trip.

    So, along with a very pleasant ambience, friendly efficient service from Sergio, there's enough to make this a definite return trip for repeat of some of the above (cabritos/Sergio) and further exploration (altho perhaps not the spaghetti marinara).
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #44 - October 3rd, 2005, 3:40 pm
    Post #44 - October 3rd, 2005, 3:40 pm Post #44 - October 3rd, 2005, 3:40 pm
    jbw wrote:Visited CdS on Cermak. Some notes:

    1). Smelts...

    2). Rabbit...

    3). Goat/mutton/cabritos...

    So, along with a very pleasant ambience, friendly efficient service from Sergio, there's enough to make this a definite return trip for repeat of some of the above (cabritos/Sergio) and further exploration (altho perhaps not the spaghetti marinara).


    jbw:

    I'm really glad to hear you liked CdS... You're right: the smelts can sometimes be a little tough but, as you say, with hot sauce and lime, they're pretty tasty, especially as a thirst-inducer. I haven't tried the rabbit yet but the cabrito or cordero or whatever al horno with the guacamole and fresh tortillas and, indeed, the amazing pasilla sauce, is really something special. So too Sergio...

    I think I need to get back there this week.

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #45 - October 3rd, 2005, 7:06 pm
    Post #45 - October 3rd, 2005, 7:06 pm Post #45 - October 3rd, 2005, 7:06 pm
    If the suggestion is being made that this restaurant is representative of food typically found in the state of Guerrero - I'm questioning if that's a correct assumption. Smelt? Cabrito? Tacos al pastor estilo del D.F.? I probably missed it, but I'm assuming there's pozole on Thursday, Iguana and huauchinango?

    I saw this thread some time back and it went off my "radar" as a place to try - but I've a particular interest in Guerrero and 25+ years of travel time invested there, so I'll make it a point to check it out soon.

    Thanks for the recent comments that caught my attention! ;-)
  • Post #46 - October 3rd, 2005, 10:30 pm
    Post #46 - October 3rd, 2005, 10:30 pm Post #46 - October 3rd, 2005, 10:30 pm
    Bill wrote:If the suggestion is being made that this restaurant is representative of food typically found in the state of Guerrero - I'm questioning if that's a correct assumption. Smelt? Cabrito? Tacos al pastor estilo del D.F.? I probably missed it, but I'm assuming there's pozole on Thursday, Iguana and huauchinango?

    I saw this thread some time back and it went off my "radar" as a place to try - but I've a particular interest in Guerrero and 25+ years of travel time invested there, so I'll make it a point to check it out soon.

    Thanks for the recent comments that caught my attention! ;-)


    Bill:

    Somehow I anticipate that you won't like Casa de Samuel on Cermak, though I can assure readers that my couple of Guerrerense friends, including the José mentioned hereabove in the original post, do very much.* You seem to have certain expectations about what Mexicans from each state ought to offer in their restaurants (cf. your post on Real de Catorce (link), which is owned by natives of the state of San Luis Potosí), but I am willing to accept the notion that a Mexican restaurant in Chicago can at once maintain to a degree a certain connexion with the particular state and regional cuisine of the owners' origins but not have to serve food only from that state and regional cuisine. Do not French restaurants with northern French leanings serve ratatouille, brandade and bouillabaisse? Do not (so-called) Northern Italian restaurants serve up puttanesca and alfredo and matriciana?

    The owner of Casa de Samuel, whose given name is (not surprisingly) Samuel, is a native of Guerrero and his restaurant reflects that in its offerings, though surely not slavishly so. That there are gorditas estilo D.F. (also nice huaraches al pastor but no 'tacos al pastor' have heretofore been discussed) strikes me as anything but odd. And what is wrong with charales (smelts)? Or cabrito? Guerrero has a very long Pacific coast as well as an interior area that exploits the fresh water resources it has -- surely the concept of small, fried fish as botana is in any event familiar to and popular with Mexicans from all parts of the country.

    Casa de Samuel is a Mexican restaurant with a strong Guerrero element in the menu; the appearance of cecina, cabrito, aporreado, soups in the style of Teloloapan and Ixtapa, as well as the various 'exotic' meats popular in the interior of Guerrero, including güilota, godorniz and, yes, iguana too, as I mentioned in the original post hereabove, all bespeak close ties to Guerrero. Pozole too.

    And did I mention that they serve cecina de venado?

    Antonius

    Peor será esto que los molinos de viento...
    Cervantes, Don Quixote, I.viii

    *Cf. The recommendation of a fellow juror from Guerrero mentioned by VI:
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=19717#19717
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #47 - October 4th, 2005, 10:12 am
    Post #47 - October 4th, 2005, 10:12 am Post #47 - October 4th, 2005, 10:12 am
    6 of us ate at the Casa in Waukegan a couple of weeks ago before the George Carlin concert at the Genesee. Carlin, who I loved when I was younger, has been on the wagon for about a year now, and he clearly needs to go back on the sauce. He is a bitter old man, with only an occasional spark of humor. As for Casa, I had the cecina de Venado, and I thought it was excellent. While it was definitely gamey, I didnt find it overly harsh or livery. I assume that it is some of the thinner skirt steak, but I am not positive. The cecina of Beef at Tacos el Norte is very similar in texture and appearance, though a bit milder. The other item of note was the sauteed baby Spanish eel. I haven't reread all the posts here so I cant remember if it was mentioned before. It was a very small portion, deliciously prepared with sliced garlic and sauteed in butter. It looks almost like shredded cabbage, each peice maybe 1 1/2 inches long asd 1/8 inch wide. Not certain if the pure white things were individual tiny baby eel, or whether they were cut from a bigger piece. they seemed like the former, but I didnt see anything that looked like a head, or other body parts.
    I have no idea if the tortillas were fresh, but they were quite good.
    -Will
  • Post #48 - October 4th, 2005, 11:16 am
    Post #48 - October 4th, 2005, 11:16 am Post #48 - October 4th, 2005, 11:16 am
    WillG wrote:... As for Casa, I had the cecina de Venado, and I thought it was excellent. While it was definitely gamey, I didnt find it overly harsh or livery. I assume that it is some of the thinner skirt steak, but I am not positive. The cecina of Beef at Tacos el Norte is very similar in texture and appearance, though a bit milder.


    As with the cabrito al horno, the intense flavour of the meat is matched really well with the guacamole and lime and (in the case of the cabrito) the pasilla sauce, though I like those gamey flavours on their own too.

    The other item of note was the sauteed baby Spanish eel. I haven't reread all the posts here so I cant remember if it was mentioned before. It was a very small portion, deliciously prepared with sliced garlic and sauteed in butter. It looks almost like shredded cabbage, each peice maybe 1 1/2 inches long asd 1/8 inch wide. Not certain if the pure white things were individual tiny baby eel, or whether they were cut from a bigger piece. they seemed like the former, but I didnt see anything that looked like a head, or other body parts.


    If you go back to my original post, there's a link to a post by RST on CH in which he discusses the baby eels.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #49 - November 13th, 2005, 11:44 am
    Post #49 - November 13th, 2005, 11:44 am Post #49 - November 13th, 2005, 11:44 am
    Went to La Casa de Samuel with my oldest daughter last night, and encountered the remarkably genial, effervescent and poly-lingual Sergio. Our dinner focused on things that slither (eels and rattlesnake) with a random amphibian (frog) thrown in, explained in French, Spanish and Italian, with some Portuguese and Russian.

    The venison cecina was indeed excellent – though what would not be when eaten on homemade tortillas?

    I usually take a pass on dessert, but we mentioned bananas flambé and immediately Sergio went to the back and started getting his stuff ready. For over half an hour, as we finished our snake, I watched him cleaning and polishing his pans and flaming tower, and when it was time for dessert, he grandly brought his cart to the table, along with about eight bottles of various liquors, and proceeded, with great theatrical flair and flourishes, to prepare our bananas, which were very good. You could tell, as my daughter noted, that this was clearly his thing; he probably doesn’t make it often, and he dearly loved performing and presenting this grand finale. We applauded – and ate – enthusiastically.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #50 - November 13th, 2005, 2:39 pm
    Post #50 - November 13th, 2005, 2:39 pm Post #50 - November 13th, 2005, 2:39 pm
    Regarding the eels, RST, I and some others had a couple of nice exchanges on the Other Board about holiday dishes using these slithery critters.

    Angulas are eel larvae and represent one of the heights of Basque and Gallego cuisine. As this is the region whence came many of the Spaniards in Tampa, you will see a cazuela de angulas there now and then.

    I had not seen them here previously. I do not believe that these eels from the mouths of Iberian rivers are particularly Mexican, but the fact that C. de Samuel has them is impressive.

    You can find a 4 oz tin of elvers (the English word) in olive oil for $40 on the 'Net. Not cheap.

    PS, the angulas were certainly whole. They are tiny.
  • Post #51 - November 13th, 2005, 2:47 pm
    Post #51 - November 13th, 2005, 2:47 pm Post #51 - November 13th, 2005, 2:47 pm
    JeffB wrote:Regarding the eels, RST, I and some others had a couple of nice exchanges on the Other Board about holiday dishes using these slithery critters.


    At least one such thread is linked in my o.p. in this thread.

    I haven't tried them elvers at CdS yet...

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #52 - November 13th, 2005, 4:54 pm
    Post #52 - November 13th, 2005, 4:54 pm Post #52 - November 13th, 2005, 4:54 pm
    JeffB wrote:I do not believe that these eels from the mouths of Iberian rivers are particularly Mexican, but the fact that C. de Samuel has them is impressive.


    Then again, so much at CdS is not particularly Mexican (:? ).

    I did go back and take a peek at CH post by RST, who certainly deserves credit for bringing this place to the general attention of those of us who read these boards.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #53 - November 13th, 2005, 6:18 pm
    Post #53 - November 13th, 2005, 6:18 pm Post #53 - November 13th, 2005, 6:18 pm
    David Hammond wrote:
    Then again, so much at CdS is not particularly Mexican (:? ).



    This statement and -- at least in connexion with that -- the scrunchy-faced emoticon really puzzle me. Freshly made tortillas and other masa products, regional specialties elsewhere unavailable in this area... Yes, they have a few 'international' items on the menu but frankly, the place strikes me as all the more Mexican for it. It's a kind of a restaurant -- somewhat more upscale -- that caters to a Mexican audience, and sometimes those folks like to eat something other than the Mexican standards, things like spaghetti bollones [sic] and spaghetti carbonara (though, I'll bet anything, done in a more Mexican than Italian way, the latter hopefully sin ajo, n'est-ce pas? d'accordo?).

    What I love about Casa de Samuel, aside from the quality of many of its core offerings, is the fact that it does not limit itself to the same old tired set of dishes served in every Mexican restaurant. Yes, they'll serve up fajitas if you want them or carne asada in the usual preparations or even -- for Pedro's sake -- a burrito, and I'm sure they do a good job on those basics, but this place has interesting dishes, which relatively few of the Mexican restaurants at its level have.

    In my Latin title for the thread -- Exotica Guerrerensia et Ordinaria Mundana -- the phrase is not meant to imply any general negative judgement -- 'exotic things from Guerrero and ordinary things from around the world'. I notice though that they now also offer Avestruz a la Provenzal, 'Ostrich Provençal style' -- an international dish with an exotic element. If the trend continues, I shall emend my title.

    Antonius

    P.S. RST did indeed report on this place, as duly noted in the o.p., but it was my Guerrerense friend, Jose, who sung its praises to me and got me to go.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #54 - November 15th, 2005, 4:56 pm
    Post #54 - November 15th, 2005, 4:56 pm Post #54 - November 15th, 2005, 4:56 pm
    Has anyone tried the 55th/California location yet? Do they even serve the same exotic melange as the Cermak location (which I thoroughly enjoyed, including Sergio, who I conversed with in French through much of the meal)? Indeed, what has always struck me about the 55th Street location is its perpetual emptiness, despite being on a busy corner directly in front of the 55 bus stop (University of Chicago students should be packing this place), and having faded pictures of hamburgers and pancakes in the window. It's usually a place I glance forlornly at on my way to La Quebrada, in fact.
  • Post #55 - December 13th, 2005, 7:35 pm
    Post #55 - December 13th, 2005, 7:35 pm Post #55 - December 13th, 2005, 7:35 pm
    I visited La Casa de Samuel for the first time a couple of months ago with A&A.

    I became an instant fan, and this evening marked my fifth visit.

    Sadly, I was the only patron in the establishment for the duration of my meal.

    My meal was excellent, as usual.

    Sergio said that Friday night's DJ is a big draw, but business is otherwise very slow.

    I cannot fathom how they have survived on such thin traffic for sixteen years.


    E.M.
  • Post #56 - January 11th, 2006, 5:55 am
    Post #56 - January 11th, 2006, 5:55 am Post #56 - January 11th, 2006, 5:55 am
    I would love to try CdS. The 2047 N. Milwaukee location sounds like it is by far the most conveniently located for me, but unfortunately, it appears not to exist (there is some other restaurant, recently shutdown where I would expect 2047 to be and CdS is nowhere to be found on that block of Milwaukee).

    Anybody know the story?
  • Post #57 - January 12th, 2006, 7:40 pm
    Post #57 - January 12th, 2006, 7:40 pm Post #57 - January 12th, 2006, 7:40 pm
    Undaunted by that setback, I went to the Cermak location with a buddy of mine last night.

    Our experience was consistent with much of what has been posted here ... it was almost deserted and the meal was outstanding.

    The fried smelts were very tasty, though without the limes and hot sauce, they would have pretty uninteresting. Even though I'd never really cared for venison before, I ordered that dish on the recommendations in this thread .. it lived up to the hype and then some. My friend had the "goat that might actually be lamb" special. Both dishes were accompanied by bean soup, guacamole and probably the best tortillas I have ever had.

    Despite a location that's not near me, I plan to return. I want to explore the menu a little more next time, but as I remarked last night it's going to be very tough to pass up the venison. Add me to the list of people that highly recommends this place.
  • Post #58 - January 16th, 2006, 4:25 pm
    Post #58 - January 16th, 2006, 4:25 pm Post #58 - January 16th, 2006, 4:25 pm
    Beth and I made it to CdS for dinner last night, and it was, as others have said, quite nice. The standout was definitely the sopa de ajo, but I did enjoy the cecina de venado I had. While it was gamy, it wasn't overly so, and it had great flavor.

    The place was empty for about 90% of our meal. The tortillas were homemade and nice, but a touch bland and had been held for a bit too long after being made. Which is not to say I wouldn't prefer them to pretty much any el milagro tortilla. Just an observation.

    We were excited to see peaches flambe on the dessert menu, and were really, really torn about whether or not to get some. But we were so absurdly full from our meal that we couldn't. Which is rare for us.

    Service (Sergio, really) was wonderful. We can't wait to go back.

    ps: CdS reminded us a lot of Sabatino's, with two differences: Sabatino's is always packed, CdS seems to be always empty, and, of course, the food served. But in terms of vibe, service, quality and quantity of food, and even Sergio's outfit, they seemed to have more in common than I would have expected.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #59 - January 17th, 2006, 5:36 am
    Post #59 - January 17th, 2006, 5:36 am Post #59 - January 17th, 2006, 5:36 am
    gleam wrote:We were excited to see peaches flambe on the dessert menu, and were really, really torn about whether or not to get some. But we were so absurdly full from our meal that we couldn't. Which is rare for us.

    Service (Sergio, really) was wonderful. We can't wait to go back.

    But in terms of vibe, service, quality and quantity of food, and even Sergio's outfit, they seemed to have more in common than I would have expected.


    Ed,

    If you found yourselves intrigued by the Sergio Show, you would have loved the flambe. When my daughter asked about bananas flambe, Sergio lit up like the dish itself. For the next 20-30 minutes (not an exaggeration) we saw him getting ready in back -- polishing dishes, arranging ingredients -- then he came out and grandly prepared it for us. It was truly a wonderful dining moment: a restaurant pro clearly doing something he enjoyed a lot and communicating that enjoyment to customers. And the bananas were pretty good too.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #60 - January 17th, 2006, 9:22 am
    Post #60 - January 17th, 2006, 9:22 am Post #60 - January 17th, 2006, 9:22 am
    David Hammond wrote:If you found yourselves intrigued by the Sergio Show, you would have loved the flambe.


    Man, I have no doubt. We're already planning on ordering less on our next visit so we still have room. Mmm, fire.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.

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