Archive for the tag “bakery”

Chicago French Market

WHAT: Chicago French Market
WHERE: 131 N. Clinton St.

OUR RATING: Do It!

This huge, indoor, year round marketplace beneath the train terminal next to the Ogilvie Transportation Center has just celebrated its third anniversary. Thirty one different vendors offer a variety of delicious fare, from meats, to cheese, to wines, to flowers, the list is endless. With real markets being so few and far between in the city, a visit to the French Market will be an eye-opening day of fun.

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

Alicia: Supporting local farmers and artisans, the Chicago French Market brings the European-inspired marketplace to Chicago, allowing year-round, permanent access to some of the freshest goods in the city. Your obvious first stop should be City Fresh Market, selling anything from fresh produce to meats, to cheese and other grocery items. After you’ve shopped for the necessities, it’s the boutiques you must hit up next, and everything is eye/nose candy. And you’ll get hungry, trust me.

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

If you’re in the mood for food and a little France, take a gander at Le Cafe du Marche, specializing in French-inspired sandwiches. And then there’s Frietkoten Belgian Fries & Beer, with fries, fries, fries galore. Here you can experience Amsterdam’s traditional Frietkoten ‘fry shack’ with a paper cone filled to the brim with hand cut Belgian fries, along with your choice of sauce from a selection of 20 different sauces each day. Finally, you can get in on the latest Lillie’s Q barbeque craze without having to travel to their Bucktown location.

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

But what really gets my mouth watering is not the savory options at CFM, but rather the desserts. Pastries, doughnuts, fresh baked bread…what’s not to love? You can grab authentic European pastries from Delightful Pastries or Vanille Patisserie, with choices including macarons, tarts, fine chocolates, and even fresh pierogies. Or get your American doughnut on at Beavers Coffee + Donuts, whose food truck is often seen exploring the city emitting the most fantastic smells of fried dough. And just wait – in May, famed chef Stephanie Izard will be bringing a satellite location of Little Goat Bread to the market, which will be sure to provide you with your carb fix.

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

Adam: Artisan foods, fine wines and a big open space to enjoy it all in? Well, that’s the Chicago French Market for you! Strangely, multi-vendor markets aren’t really a feature of US life as in many other countries. Obviously, the Middle East is replete with such examples of communal selling, and even the larger town next to my village in England has a monthly farmers’ market, with intermittent French markets from the produces of our sister town in Normandy. Yet, America has only recently been blessed with this phenomenon, allowing you to savour the smells of cooking and preparation, while samples flow freely, assailing the taste-buds with delicious contrasts.

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

Standing out as one of the most interesting venues is Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, along the west wall. With artisan cheese, bread and wine, quality wines are often given freely in tastings, while their available cheeses are diverse and well-rounded. Another highlight is Saigon Sisters, adding a little Asian to the mix, and they are known for their banh mi. Of course, the French connection sings through here also, Saigon being the colonial name for modern Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (then French Indochina).

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

(frenchmarketchicago.com)

And then there are the small vendors, producing lots of unique sweet treats, spices, soups and other goodies that can be enjoyed in the food court or at home. Delicious, simple and good, make sure you at least get a baguette, some wine and a lump of cheese, while filling up on all the samples you can.

Final Thoughts: Chicago French Market is fun, free and full of life. Excitingly, tomorrow (Saturday, April 27th) marks the 3rd Annual Pastoral Artisan Producers Fest from 11am – 3pm. Featuring over 80 vendors and numerous samples, it’s a great way of getting acquainted with the market and trying some really special delights.

Insomnia Cookies

WHAT: Insomnia Cookies
WHERE: 2260 N. Lincoln Ave.

OUR RATING: Chance It!

Just as the name suggests, Insomnia Cookies are for those die-hard students up studying until the small hours who just need a quick sugar fix. Complete with a cute logo and accessible location near DePaul, Insomnia Cookies looks like it’s set to thrive, just so long as students continue to want cookies. And who doesn’t like cookies?

Adam: Insomnia Cookies is one of the most student-centric ideas I’ve seen for a long time. For those of us who attended university in the last five to ten years, the necessity to have a quick on-campus snack while furiously finishing a paper in the dead of night will be a familiar memory. At my college, we only had a few late night venues open, but I can remember frequenting a certain market more often than not, while trying to put off writing those last few paragraphs on Roman military formations for just a little longer. This particular strategy probably didn’t do much for my health, but at least the paper was finished and I now know the difference between a double envelopment and an encirclement.

Insomnia has a good variety of basic cookies, including chocolate, oatmeal raisin and simple sugar. But I’m a chocolate guy, so I immediately picked up one of their regular sized double chocolate mint cookies. With the addition of mint chocolate chunks, unsurprisingly in green, I didn’t regret the fact I had missed the Shamrock Shake this year, as Insomnia’s cookie was more than making up for it. I also tried the M&M variety, which provided a greater amount of sumptuous chocolate with every mouthful than even the previous cookie. Served warm and in an individual wrapping, these are darn good cookies, but I can’t help wondering if at $1.25 some savvy college entrepreneur might outcompete them. We’ll just have to wait and see, but for now if you’re roaming the streets late at night looking for a fix, Insomnia’s the way to go.

Alicia: With more than 30 locations, this Lincoln Park satellite is the first to hit the city, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some others sprout up in the Loop and even in Hyde Park and Evanston. Honestly, it’s not that Insomnia Cookies’ cookies are that special. I’d rather head to a local baked goods shop and pick up my sugar fix there, but with Insomnia Cookies’ convenience (they deliver!) and late hours (delivery goes all the way until 3am), this is a college student’s version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

I’ve tried three flavors at this chain, including Double Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Macademia. All three were incredible. The key is not which cookie to choose, but to eating it as soon as you get it. The chocolate in the double chocolate chunk oozes devilish goodness, the peanut butter chips seep into the peanut butter batter, and the toasty macadamia nuts and melty white chocolate chips contrast in texture and sweet and savory glory. So as long as you don’t wait too long to gnash on these guys, they’re pretty darn yummy.

Other offerings on hand are deluxe cookies, including s’mores, cookie cakes, ice cream, and what will be next on my docket: cookiewich (ie. ice cream sandwich). Oh, and not to worry – they also provide skim, 2% and chocolate milk (but unfortunately no soy).

Final Thoughts: If you’re in the mood for a late night nibble but can’t leave your dorm/apartment/library because you’re knee deep in work, and your favorite local bakery isn’t open to satisfy your needs (and McDonalds just won’t cut it), all you need to do is dial a few numbers and some fresh baked cookies will be delivered straight to your door. This is also, obviously, the perfect solution on Christmas Eve night when you’ve discovered you forgot to leave out cookies for Santa…

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