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An epicure’s guide to the best stores, the tastiest snacks, the must-have specialty ingredients, and much more
 
How to Shop Like a Chef >

Six Locally Made Staples That Are Tastier Than Big Brands

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A Brunch Meat Upgrade

Enhance your weekend fry-up with thick-cut bacon from Butcher & Larder, the boutique whole-animal merchant. $12 per pound. Local Foods, 1427 W. Willow St., West Town

A Perfect Sandwich Companion

Central Pickling’s pickles are made with local vegetables, like tomatoes and beets. Try the garlic dill version, which is great on its own or in a Bloody Mary. $9.99. Dill Pickle Food Co-op, 2746 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square

Heat That Won’t Torch Your Palate

Since their introduction in 2003, Co-op Sauce hot sauces have achieved local icon status. Try the Barrel, a zippy but not overpowering blend of peppers and Dark Matter coffee, aged in Koval whiskey barrels. $5. Sauce and Bread Kitchen, 6338 N. Clark St., Edgewater

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The Key to a Feel-Good PB&J

If the cinnamon and nutmeg in NutMeg’s nut butters, which include peanut and pistachio, don’t give you the warm fuzzies, the company’s support of Kenyan nonprofits will. From $9.99. Olivia’s Market, 2014 W. Wabansia Ave., Bucktown

Epicurean Toast Toppers

Coconut yuzu curd. Fig and Earl Grey. Inventive flavor profiles are the trademark of Rare Bird Preserves fruit spreads, which make big-brand strawberry jam feel like a bad memory. From $12. Rare Bird Preserves, 211 Harrison St., Oak Park

A Shortcut to Insta-Worthy Pies

The Ready-to-Roll frozen dough from Rustic Tart is made with rich European-style butter and comes in sweet and savory varieties for professional-looking pies, galettes, and quiches, minus the behind-the-scenes panic. $9.99. Whole Foods

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