Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

Why I Love Chicago

August 24, 2010

Reason No. 728

Last night Clare & The Reasons played a FREE concert in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. Clare, her French hubby Olivier, and the rest of the band were completely precious. The music was dreamy, the weather was perfect, AND I was with two of my besties… truly a gorgeous Chicago evening.

Plus, we picnicked! Lizzie brought us food from Ba Le. If you have never been, you must must go to their location in Uptown (5014 N Broadway) immediately. Ba Le is a French-inspired Vietnamese bakery and cafe with super fresh sandwiches (Banh mi), yummy bubble tea, and ridiculously cheap prices. They offer quite a bit of variety with their Banh mi, from tofu to pork to pâté. A sandwich loaded with meat, pickled veggies like cabbage & carrots, cilantro, and jalapenos will cost you $4 or less! My personal fave is the BBQ Pork.

Oh! And also for Banh mi, Roomie L recommends Nhu Lan (2612 W Lawrence). Give ’em a whirl.

For a list of events at Millenium Park, you can visit their site here.

I hope to get a cookie recipe up here in the next couple days.  Ta til then!


In Celebration!

August 20, 2010

In celebration of Meagan’s birthday…

Vanilla Caramel Fudge Cupcakes from Sugar Bliss. Yum. It’s their flavor of the week, get there before this Sunday to enjoy! Next week’s flavor? Mint Chocolate Chip. Now you know!

Happy Birthday Meagan! All the best this year. You’re the most wunderest True Blood/sometimes-gym buddy a girl can ask for.


Who Wants Candy?

August 14, 2009

I have a great friend from college, her name is Jennie.  Jennie loves candy.  Not just “chocolate-candy,” but “candy-candy.” Skittles, SweeTarts, Hot Tamales… our shared apartment was pretty well stocked back in the day.  Since college she’s moved around a bit, but for the past year she’s lived in Chicago with her boyfriend Perry–also pretty great.  And now they’re leaving me moving to Kansas City.

Sighs.  I’m going to miss them, but there’s already talk of visits and a KC BBQ tour, so it’s going to be okay.  Right?  Right.  Sighs.

Before the big move they wanted to visit some of their favorite places (Hot Dougs!), which gave me the idea of doing a mini Chicago candy tour.  For Jennie, of course.  We could visit a few candy stores and gorge ourselves on sweets.  How fun would that be?  So we did.  We visited and gorged, and now I’m blogging about it.  Here’s where we went…

3256 N Damen, Roscoe Village

This place is adorable with a vintage feel and the candy to boot!  Loads of gummies and licorice by the pound, Charleston Chews, Mary Janes, Necco wafers, candy buttons… if you remember eating it as a kid, Suckers probably sells it.  They also carry ‘newer’  confections like the Nerd Rope, chocolate goodies from a local supplier, and ice cream.  Having a kids party?  They’ll even make goodie bags for you.  What we loved: Necco banana split taffy, cherry cola bottle gummies, licorice scottie dogs, Hot Dog! bubble gum, grape wax mustaches, and the super nice staff!

3425 N Southport, Lakeview

The variety here will blow your mind–M&Ms sorted by color, anyone?  In addition to candy by the pound, Candyality carries candy-themed gifts (tshirts, coin purses, stuffed animals), chocolatey things, and ‘fun’ novelty items like the Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Jelly Beans.  ‘Fun’ for Jennie because she doesn’t know if that orange jelly belly with red spots she’s about to eat is Vomit or Peach-flavored.  Fun for me because I get to laugh and watch her spit the Vomit Bean in the trash.  What we loved: chocolate-covered gummy bears, marshmallow wafer ice cream cones, chocolate licorice ropes, a marshmallow-flavored sucker that looks like a mallow roasting on a stick(!), and the orange creme soda.

3411 W Irving Park Rd, Irving Park

Upon walking through the doors we were greeted with a tray of candy samples, earning this place instant bonus points!  Dulcelandia is a fun, colorful store loaded with Mexican candy, pinatas, and party supplies.  The candy signs have descriptions in English which, with my very limited Spanish skills, I found very useful.  The staff was also really great, answering all my silly questions and feeding me samples.  It was still an adventure, with some real misses (tequila-flavored jelly candy nightmares), but that’s all part of the fun.  And the prices are more than reasonable.  Go and try something new!  What we loved: the candied sweet potato,  fruit-flavored taffy, spicy mango everything, marzipan, and Cowbotas cappuccino lollipops.

First Post!

July 25, 2009

The problem with wanting to start this little food blog is having to write a first entry. I couldn’t decide what deliciousness it would be about. And I worried what people reading it would think. Then I realized that “people” = my mom, roomie & boyfriend…

Hi Guys! Kisses!

So with first time blogging anxiety cured I started dreaming about Salted Caramels. Which has been happening a LOT lately. Especially since I found out about these…

Salted Caramel Cupcake

… the Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Phoebe’s in Lakeview. Seriously yum. The caramel cake was super moist with the perfect amount of sweetness and the buttercream frosting, also caramel, was delicious. Balanced with an occasional crunch of sea salt and I was in bakery heaven. So go to Phoebe’s Cupcakes. And if you don’t live in Chicago, don’t worry! City Tart‘s Quest for the Perfect Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe is definitely on. Sounds epic, doesn’t it? I’ll keep you posted on all my adventures and ultimate triumph(?) with cake and caramel and fleur de sel, but until then, let’s try candy making…

Fleur de Sel Caramels

adapted from Gourmet

A few things about this recipe. The actual making of the caramels is quite simple, but the cutting and wrapping can be a bit time consuming. If you’re making them in warm or humid weather, you may need to refrigerate them as cooling to firm them up a bit. But it’s all worth it! These caramels are buttery and very rich in taste.

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Line an 8” x 8” pan with wax paper and lightly grease or oil.

In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, and fleur de sel. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.

In a 3-4 quart saucepan (no smaller!) bring the sugar, corn syrup, and water to boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. At this point, stop stirring, but swirl the pan every once in awhile to decrease crystallization on the sides of the pan.

When the sugar becomes a light caramel color, CAREFULLY pour in the cream mixture. Do it slowly, as the the mixture will bubble up. Stir frequently as the mixture simmers. Monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer, and when the mixture reaches 248° F remove from heat. This took close to 15 minutes for me.

Pour caramel into prepared pan. Cool for two hours or overnight. Sprinkle with a bit more fleur de sel. Remove from pan, and cut into desired sized pieces. Wrap individually in wax paper.


Now I have to go de-caramelize my dining room table…