Friday, July 29, 2011

So Very Vosges

My close friends and family know that I have an obsession. I thought for sure I'd already blogged about it, but somehow it managed to escape me (as things so close to us often do.) I'm talking about Vosges Chocolate.

Exotic truffles
The divinely decadent chocolate line that is enveloped in purple. The color of royalty...when you eat the heavenly chocolates you certainly feel like a King or Queen! There is nothing so wonderful as seeing that purple box tied with a purple silk ribbon, or walking into one of their boutiques and catching that first whiff of chocolate and exotic spices. Vosges is no ordinary chocolate company, oh no. Vosges founder Katrina Markoff (a graduate of the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris) prides herself on making haut-chocolat. She infuses rare spices and flowers into her chocolates. Eating these little treasures is an experience in and of itself, with full instructions on how to eat the chocolates (or drink the viscous hot cocoas) for optimal enjoyment.

Bacon chocolate chip pancake mix
The product line has grown dramatically over the years, there retail outlets have grown beyond the web and Chicago to include Vegas and New York, and the Vosges experience now includes lifestyle events as well (yoga and chocolate vacations!) Vosges is my favorite gift to give (the holiday mini candy bar sets are adorable and win rave reviews from recipients) and receive (my recent birthday saw more than a few delicious treats).

There are so many options to choose from, but I thought I'd give some of my wholehearted endorsements:
  • Truffles - you can go wrong with the original exotic truffles! Love the Black Pearl (ginger, wasabi & sesame seeds) and the Naga (with sweet curry)
  • Mini candy bars (especially during the holiday season)
  • Anything with chocolate and bacon! This includes the chocolate chip and bacon pancake mix
  • Drinking chocolates - the Aztec Elixir has some spice to it and the Bianca Couture is phenomenal (I rarely say that about white chocolate anything)
Adorable & tasty mini candy bars
Looking for a treat for that special someone or just for a special you? Go to your nearest Vosges or check them out'll be in for an exotic voyage!

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Scream for Ice Cream

Rainbow Cones with my friend Lara
Ice Cream is of course THE favorite treat of summer. If you don't live in Chicago, you might not be aware of the ultimate in ice cream treats. The Rainbow Cone.

This delicious treat has been a Chicago favorite for nearly 85 years. This south side institution credits its growth to its location - near many old cemetaries. Families visiting the cemetaries on Sundays would stop by Rainbow Cone for a sweet treat. I have yet to visit the actual Rainbow Cone operation, but have been a fan purchasing it for the last several years when I've visited Taste of Chicago.

What makes the Rainbow Cone so special? It's layers! There are 5 flavors of ice cream nestled atop the cone:
  1. Chocolate
  2. Strawberry
  3. Vanilla (but not just any vanilla - this is Palmer House vanilla complete with cherries and walnuts)
  4. Pistachio
  5. Orange Sherbert
 For those of you that missed this treat at the Taste and don't want to head to the South Side, stop by their new retail location at southeast corner of State and Lake.

If you have yet to enjoy a Rainbow Cone, what's stopping you?!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Soothing the Heat with a Smoothie

It's hot in Chicago this week. REALLY hot and humid to boot. It's tough going and I've found myself being a little bit more cautious with what I'm eating, opting for lighter fare that won't hold me down.

I do love to make smoothies and came across a clipping from Real Simple (one of my fave magazines) a few months ago with some fabulous smoothie recipes. This Spiced Pumpkin Smoothie recipe is definitely worth sharing:


  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of ground nutmeg


  1. Place the ice, milk, pumpkin puree, honey, and nutmeg in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Diners, Harleys & Burgers

A juicy burger with swiss & mushrooms!
Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Authentic diners. You might not think the two go hand in hand, but in Bedford, Ohio they most certainly do.

I remember visiting the Harley Diner, a historic 1946 dining car located inside (yes, you read that correctly) a Harley dealer when I was a young lass. My Dad is a diner aficionado and as a family we sought out diners near and far. This little gem was practically in our backyard so we visited it with some frequency. The dining car resembles an original train car, an earlier structure than its more "modern" stainless steel offspring. There are 4 booths and a handful of seats at the counter. The interior has beautifully restored wood. There is something special about sitting in a booth, and watching the guys grill up your burger and it doesn't hurt that the food is pretty tasty.
#1 Diner fan - my Dad

Even stranger than having a diner in a Harley dealership, was the addition of a boutique that sold (almost exclusively) Betsey Johnson clothes in the 90s. I loved this place and maybe that's why I always wanted to visit the diner, because I knew I'd probably be coming home with a funky new item for my wardrobe. Sadly the boutique has since closed to be replaced by Harley gear galore, but I'm happy to report the food was much as I remembered it and sharing the lunch with my Dad was all part of the experience.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Celebrations and Sweet Treats

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? I'm a sweet kind of gal but I have to say I may be doing a detox after a weeklong celebration with Jonno.

There were sweet breakfasts at The American Club in beautiful Kohler, Wisconsin (creme brulee french toast and white chocolate raspberry waffles were both decadent delights).


Cupcakes galore. I used a recipe from my Martha Stewart Cupcakes cookbook and made 36 rich (and beautifully decorated) yellow buttermilk cupcakes with buttercream frosting.


And celebratory cakes at Carnivale (3 tiered ice cream cake!) and The Southern (deep fried twinkie and peanut butter bread pudding).

Good food and great celebrations all around! Now I just need to get back to my farmer's market visits and start a little bit of the dessert detox.