A Squared: The Tastemaker Top 10 with Emily of West of the Loop

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Tastemaker Top 10 with Emily of West of the Loop

The Tastemaker Top 10 is a collection of 10 questions asked by me and answered by some of my favorite bloggers. Here they will tell you a little bit about themselves, their blogs, and of course, their favorite foods and restaurants. Today I am happy to feature Emily, the voice behind West of the Loop. Emily is a fellow Chicago-area food blogger whose blog covers a variety of recipes and fun projects straight from her growing family's kitchen. Get to know Emily today!

Name: Emily Paster

Blog: West of the Loop

Location: River Forest, IL

In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about your blog. West of the Loop is about fitting ambitious food into family life. My passion is cooking from scratch and DIY kitchen projects. My goal is to help more people feel confident in the kitchen by sharing my recipes and techniques. Whether you want to bake a special dessert, find a quick weeknight dinner recipe or tackle a new DIY kitchen project, you will find some ideas on my site.

Now, tell us about your...

1. Favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
 My favorite things to eat are the Jewish holiday foods that I grew up eating with my father’s family. Things like matzo ball soup, onion bialys, smoked fish and kreplach, which are meat-filled dumplings. My favorite food in the world is my grandmother’s potato salad, which I never get to eat any more because my husband does not like mayo. I also love sushi but my desert island food is probably pasta.

2. Least favorite meal, food, or cuisine: I don’t like a lot of fruits, especially raw. I pride myself on being an adventurous eater but many common fruits, like melon, disgust me. I would rather eat kidneys and gizzards than cantaloupe.

3. Favorite restaurant in your city: Well, for my fortieth birthday, my husband organized a dinner at Girl and the Goat, so that’s probably my favorite restaurant. But the truth is, there are so many amazing restaurants in Chicago and I get to eat out at them so rarely that I am always anxious to try new places and do not return to old favorites as much as I would like.

4. Favorite restaurant outside of your city:
I love to eat Ethiopian food when I return to my hometown, Washington DC, because I think it is the best Ethiopian food in America. My favorite food city is Paris but there I mostly want to eat crepes and pastries.

5. Favorite food memory: Picnicking on the Nantucket beaches with my family as a small child. Sandwiches on Portuguese sweet bread and giant chocolate chip cookies from Something Natural, which is still there. I have recreated those picnics with my own children in recent years. 

6. Favorite guilty pleasure food: Potato chips and onion sour cream dip.  

7. Favorite ingredient (something you love to cook with, or something you see on a menu and know you have to order): When I see sturgeon, skate or sweetbreads on a menu, I will order them. The trifecta of S foods! I love to cook with obscure ingredients that I find at farmers’ markets like Damson plums and quince. I am always looking for a challenge and novelty.  

8. Favorite recipe (if you would, share it! Send the recipe along-- photos too-- or a link to it on your blog, another website, etc.): I am justifiably famous for my Halfway Cookies! This is a recipe from my maternal grandmother and it is a doozy: http://www.westoftheloop.com/2014/05/15/halfway-cookies-national-chocolate-chip-day/

9. Favorite thing about blogging: I am always amazed and touched when someone cooks one of my recipes. I also love how blogging has democratized cooking and shined a spotlight on home cooks who had been practicing their craft mostly in obscurity. That is also what I love about the Chicago Food Swap, which I founded. It gives home cooks a place to shine and gain the recognition of a food community.

10. Five favorite blogs/blogs that A Squared readers should know about: My Homespun Home (http://myhomespunhome.wordpress.com). Christina is a regular at my food swap and her blog is lovely. My friend and neighbor Vanessa Druckman’s blog, ChefDruck Musings. My friend and mentor Marisa McClellan’s blog, Food in Jars. What About the Food is a beautiful blog and the writer Robin is the nicest person ever (http://whataboutthefood.com). My roommate at a recent food bloggers conference is an amazing chef and she has a great blog out of British Columbia: http://www.chefheidifink.com/blog/.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Emily!

Do you have a blogger that you'd recommend to be featured on the Tastemaker Top 10? Or are you a blogger that would like to participate? Email me at aasquaredblog@gmail.com and let me know!

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