Friday, October 21, 2011

This Little Robyn Flew Her Coop at The Aviary

Very dark. Strong truffle drink & divine bites
 The Aviary
953-955 W Fulton St
(Cocktail lounge from the creative genius of Chef Grant Achatz)

WOW. How can you not be blown away at The Aviary?

I was delighted to get a reservation confirmation just hours after I submitted a table request and upon arriving at The Aviary (note the entrance is on Morgan, not Fulton) was greeted by a genial doorman and welcomed into the folds of the mysterious lounge. I was impressed how well executed everything turned out to be (though I'm not sure I should have been surprised) from arriving at the hostess desk, to the waitress taking orders on her iPhone, to the seamless removal of plates and the calling of a taxi after drinks. Excellent service is thriving!

Though I enjoyed my cocktail from the a la carte menu (a pricey $28 black truffle concoction) I was really impressed by the bites. These one bite treats were decadent and sumptuous. Typing this I'm basically drooling thinking about the exquisite three bites I enjoyed -  foie gras, summer squash and duck. Unbelievable. Forget the drinks - I'd come back for the bites alone! Speaking of drinks...the a la carte options were all inventive and good, but I was having some serious cocktail envy when I saw the elaborate and creative concoctions being served on the 7 course tasting menu. All I could think was "hmm, maybe I too should be spending $125 for cocktails! I need that experience!"

This Food Girl will have to wait for the tasting cocktail menu (I've got to save up some drinking funds), but I will be back!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Colombia Cocoa Helps Warm Things Up

Cups of steaming cocoa wait to be sipped
I LOVE hot cocoa. As the weather is starting to turn a bit cooler it is such a decadent treat. I was delighted to discover a new type of cocoa recently when Sergio, the Colombian friend of my dear friend Lara, came to Chicago. Lara had raved about the cocoa they drink in Colombia for breakfast and had brought back some of the ingredients and tools that are traditionally used to make the drink.

Sergio chops the mild cheese and explains the cocoa making process
Lara gets ready to froth the cocoa
The dense chocolate was chopped and melted with heated milk then frothed and poured into waiting cups. There was a mild cheese chopped for putting inside the cocoa (Sergio explained it usually melts at the bottom) and a think pan de mie/challah bread used for dipping.

The drink was delicious. I wouldn't mind having some more and might want to start planning a trip to South America to have the authentic experience myself!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dessert Deck - Guest Blogger

I have been a busy lady lately with work events and the culmination of my marathon training (yes I'm proud to say I've now run 5 marathons!) I have also been doing some guest blogging for Dessert Deck a very cool compilation of $10 off discounts at 52 area dessert havens. I'm a wee bit behind in some of the writing for them as well, but I thought I'd post my blog that I wrote for Lovely, A Bake Shop.

Lovely a Bake Shop (1130 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago) is tucked away just south of

the bustling Division Street intersection that unites the Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods. It’s storefront is unassuming, but step inside and you will find yourself enveloped in a cozy café. There are large, bright windows with views of Milwaukee Avenue, charming pressed tin ceilings, wooden tables dot the interior of the space with mismatched chairs, and several old-fashioned swivel stools beckon to customers from the end of the counter. On a sunny Sunday I ventured out to the patio and was surprised that the charm of the café extended to a large outdoor space complete with greenery and small tables that revealed a hidden urban oasis. A small general store is tucked away in the back selling homemade granola and keepsake coffee mugs. My immediate reaction, why hadn’t I been to Lovely sooner?

The staff at Lovely were all smiles and truly seemed to enjoy working there (always a good sign that you’re about to take pleasure in something special). Order at the counter for prepared foods and relax while the friendly servers bring your entrée (a scenic postcard acts as your table number). The quiche was delicious (I ordered a cheese and dill special, but there are also vegetarian and a ham and cheese varieties) and served with a mixed greens salad, and piece of crusty bread. Toasty warm croissants filled with ham and cheese is the perfect dish to warm you up on a cold fall day. Sandwiches range from the traditional tuna melt and PB & J to turkey pesto and roasted vegetables. With your choice of side items like veggie chips, a green salad, apple or banana you can’t go wrong. Homemade daily soup rounds out the mouth-watering entrée selections.

Who can forget dessert? Lovely is stocked full of drool-worthy options, many will conjure up fond memories from your childhood. Homemade rice krispie treats, blondie brownie bars, personal pies, sweet cupcakes and cookies galore. The options are seemingly endless and looking at their stocked display cases is almost as fun as the treats themselves. Bring friends and you’ll be able to try several options!
Lovely is the perfect spot for a weekend brunch date, down time with one of their board games, or some time quite time to catch up on work. The space is warm and inviting with a mix of city chic and old-fashioned charm. Lovely is one spot I know I’ll be coming back to again. Soon.