Happy Monday! I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to the summer! I have officially been on semester break for just over a month now and needless to say, I've enjoyed every moment of it. As with last summer, I've said yes to as many opportunities as possible (as I mostly hibernate during the school year) and I've been rewarded with some really fantastic experiences, including visits to just over twenty new-to-me restaurants, last minute tickets to Beyoncé's Formation world tour show, an invite to join a fab cookbook club (more about this later!), a day at the park with my favorite guy and my favorite team, and mini road trips to Pittsburgh, Michigan, and Milwaukee. #lifedoesnotsuck
Amidst all of the eating and traveling, I've obviously not spent much time writing; however, I have been hard at work behind the scenes of the blog. That's right, I finally did it: a total redesign (yes, you should absolutely click on that link and check out the brand spankin' new home page, as well as the lovely new post layout features). It took weeks of blood, sweat, and tears (okay, maybe the process was sans blood and tears, but there was definitely a sheen of frustrated perspiration when it came to getting my beautiful new photo grid to function correctly); however, it is finally done and I am so, so happy with the new look!
Here are a few of my recent foodie finds (follow me on Instagram for even more!)...
Salted Caramel Mocha Frozen Hot Chocolate at Cocoa + Co. I was recently introduced to this adorable chocolate café/shop in Old Town and fell in love with their amazing range of chocolates, delicious café treats, and knowledgeable staff (owner Kim Hack knows more about chocolate than anyone I've ever met!). One of my favorite treats from their current menu is this rich sipping chocolate - it's a smooth, complex chocolate drink just teeming with salty caramel.
After my first visit to Cocoa + Co., I quickly had get myself back in there in order to sample all of their ridiculously awesome gourmet ice cream sandwiches (they should be on everyone's must-try summer foodie list!). From top to bottom: 1) Peppermint: Homer's Ice Cream Peppermint ice cream infused with peppermint candies and sandwiched between two Oreo cookies. 2) Coffee Toffee: Homer’s Coffee Toffee ice cream rolled in pecans sandwiched between two Oreo cookies. 3) Vanilla Oreo: Homer’s Vanilla ice cream rolled in crushed Oreos and sandwiched between two Oreo cookies. 4) Chocolate Chocolate Chip: Homer’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream rolled in chocolate chunks and sandwiched between two Oreo cookies.
Pambozo at El Carrito: torta bread dipped in guajillo sauce stuffed with chorizo, potatoes, lettuce, onion, and avocado. Meaty, juicy, crispy, smokey, and spicy... this monster sandwich has it all! Yes, it's crazy messy and yes, your hands and face will be covered with red sauce by the time you get halfway through, but it's so worth it.
One wing to rule them all! These MSG Chicken Wings with maple, sherry, and gochujang chili from Oak + Char are my current favorites. A little tangy, a little spicy, a little saucy... so much deliciousness!
Do-Rite Donuts: brioche bullseye with dark chocolate, toasted peanuts, and rich espresso cream. As I mentioned on Instagram, this is now officially in my top 10 donuts ever (which obviously means it's super fantastically fabulous!). It is seriously *so freaking good!*
J Parker with my favorite Bowie mega fan to sample a few sips from their signature Bowie-themed cocktail menu. I kicked off our visit with what ended up being my my favorite cocktail, the refreshing and summery Moonage Daydream: Fords Gin, Kalani Coconut, Bjork Birch Liqueur, lemon, lime, orange flower water, and soda.
I also had the chance to meet up with Jessica at the newest seafood boil restaurant meets rum bar, Dive Bar. We started out our evening of fishy fun with these addictive Boom Boom Shrimp: breaded shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce. The shrimp was crispy and the sauce was just the right amount of tangy and spicy... Jessica should consider herself lucky she got any at all! ;-)
Seafood Boil at Dive Bar: lobster + mussels + red Thai curry = one heck of a bowl of spicy, slurpy seafood deliciousness!
Blue Marlin at Dive Bar: Hendrick's Gin, limoncello, pineapple juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. Really, who cares about the drink... how freakin' cute is this cocktail glass?!
Fab Food Chicago partnered with Blue Plate Catering to host a flower-themed spring dinner showcasing some lovely eats from the premiere catering company in Chicago. One of my favorite dishes of the entire evening was the fresh and flavorful Hawaiian Ahi Tuna with ceviche flavors paired with the Shaved Diver Scallops with an Asian pear salsa.
I also loved the Pistachio Sponge Cake with creamy strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt, pink peppercorn streusel, balsamic meringue, and champagne foam. It was such a perfect combination of flavors and textures - plus, the pistachio cake was one of the best I've ever had.
Drunken Noodles at Bang Chop, the fast-casual sister restaurant to Saigon Sisters: smoky rice noodles with an Asian-inspired sauce, fiery Thai chili, chunky chicken, fresh tomato, and sweet basil. This flavorful little dish most definitely packed a punch!
Bang Chop Fried Chicken Wings: Thai spiced marinade, fresh chili sauce, fish sauce, and cucumber salad. I particularly enjoyed the sour/vinegary component of these lightly spiced crunchy wings.