Pretty Cool is super awesome

Hi hi hi!!!!! Just so you know, once the zoning permit goes through I’ll be moving into an apartment upstairs from Pretty Cool Ice Cream so that I won’t have to cry myself to sleep each time I miss a new collab or, you know, just miss eating an ice cream bar in general.

Love the ice cream truck? Who doesn’t?! But not totally nostalgic for the fakeyfake flavors? Who is?! Pretty Cool has you covered with truck pops like Concord grape, sour cherry or fire cracker.

Wish you were on a beach? P.C. got you again with their passion fruit or mango lassi buttermilk bars.

Want ice cream but also pie?? Yeah, duh. Get one of their Bang Bang piecicle bars like strawberry rhubarb or key lime or banana cream.

Are you 5 years old and want your own pop but will get bored in 3 min and/or plan to drop it on the floor? The pony pop is the pop for you, and you can pick pink lemonade, chocolate custard, cider, strawberry buttermilk, vanilla or grape. SO MANT CHOICES.

Not feeling fruity but feeling fancy? How about s’mores or rainbow chip or horchata crunch or coffee pretzel toffee or peanut butter potato chip or caramel cake or orange confetti or or or or………

EVERYTHING IS GOOD. The wrapper art is good. The wall art is good. The magnet letter wall and wooden bleachers are good insure that everyone is occupado and able to eat their treat in relative peace.

Like I said, I’m moving in ASAP and my doors will be open until 10pm each night.

National Donut Day AKA the official start to summer

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Today’s holiday is brought to you by the chocolate ganache, maple cinnamon, s’mores, blue kool-aid, lemon iced, triple strawberry, Boston cream, Dude Goo brigade courtesy of DB3 Donuts.

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DB3 is small batch, only open Fri-Sun and closes at 2pm. Basically, blink and you’ll miss them. AND WON’T YOU BE SORRY. These donuts are delicious. Like I’m even eating blue because they’re so good. Though their flavors change monthly, they almost always have “standards” like maple cinnamon (as close as you’ll get to cinnamon toast crunch in donut form) and some kind of homemade jam-filled delight on the menu. MMMMMYES.

And while some holidays are spent with family honoring age-old traditions, others, like National Donut Day, might best be spent opening a big box alone in your car….. #stickysteeringwheel4life

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land of milk and honey

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Unless you live in Vernon Hills, Vernon Hills is not close. Nor does it have hills (quick Chi suburb tricky name lesson here). But some days the stars and sun rays align and *someone* can finally have honey and that same someone needs a nap but doesn’t know it, so a DRIVE is in order with destination: Milkcow.

Soft serve milk ice cream drizzled with honey and topped with chunks of honeycomb. Smooth and refreshing with hits of honey. They also have a cookies and cream version (for a next level milk and cookies fix), and can do a towering affogato. Delicious for an adult and probably mind-blowing for a 1 year old…. I’m guessing like a bottle on steroids??

*Extra points for having a sink in the dining area – to rinse/recycle your cup and/or to wash any sticky fingers.

Neighborhood Joe

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This place has been on my radar for awhile. Well, not too long of awhile since they only opened in 2017, but you know, I’ve been watching.

Always seemed juuuuust slightly far – but guess who lives 11 minutes away from Joe Donut now? Lucky ME. And guess who just announced a second location opening up 6 minutes away from lucky me? JOE DONUT. #luckierme

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All the donuts/fillings are handmade in small batches and when they sell out each day, they close shop. Like if you get there at 10:15am AM! on a Friday, the doors could very well be locked. The Glenview Metra early morning commuters have got it made….their old fashioneds are some of the best I’ve ever had (crunchy crusted salted caramel with almond toffee mmmmmm), their maple bacon is nice and smoky sweet, their strawberry glaze tastes like strawberries not like pink, and the Nutella filled cinnsugar is like a dream pillow. Also, S’MORES.

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The new location will have actual seating and donuts until later hours – all the better for settling in and stuffing your face with a pizza box full of doughnies. WELCOME and you’re welcome.

 

 

 

Rounding up for Pi(e) Day

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Because on Pi(e) Day, 3.14 = 4, and I’ll go any distance to get my slices.

Today, I had to drive a whole 5 minutes away.

Sweety Pies (aka my new fave neighbor) was bursting at the seams with fresh homemade pies: cherry, raspberry, apple, apple crumble, chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, crocodile pie, sunshine citrus, raspberry supreme, blueberry supreme, chocolate cashmere. Big ones, mini ones, slices. Hard not to take one of each, but of course I need an excuse to visit again asap, so for this holiday lunch, only:

crocodile pie – pecan with chocolate and rum, snap snap!
raspberry supreme – raspberry pie with a cheesecakey top
chocolate cashmere – rich, thick, mmmmmousse
sunshine citrus – orange cream in a crisp buttery graham crust with a dollop of meringue on top

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Yes yes yes yes all delicious. And I’ll be returning to try each of the rest.

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(Above: protecting the goods bc these pies were procured in the middle of a mad dash downpour – which made the cafe even cozier….. as if that was possible….. The shop is family run FOR REAL. The “grandma” described all the pies to me and gave her recs, the “grandpa” helped box and rang me up, the daughter baked the pies and answered the phone, and the grandson ate pie scraps.       !!!!!!!!)

 

 

 

Cookie Masterpiece

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Chicago PSA: the MCA has a permanent interactive “exhibit,” Marisol, and you don’t even need tickets.

Pictured above (and below) is the pièce de résistance simply titled, “Chocolate Cookies,” and copies of the work are for sale at the exhibit counter for a mere $3.

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The visionary crispy chewy base provides an impeccable canvas for the boundless melted chocolate and complementary smattering of flaked sea salt.

Displayed originally on paper with ink, I’ve found the cookie “looks” best when reframed in mouth.

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Never too cold for pie

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Hi Chicago. In case you’re thinking it’s too cold for ice cream (it isn’t – IT NEVER IS), let me tell you about Spumoni PIE. Yes. Spumoni in pie form. From Bang Bang.

Graham crust topped with pistachio pastry cream, then dark chocolate ganache, then cherry whipped cream, then candied pistachios, then into my mouth. SO GOOD. All the layers in one bite instead of hunting around to get a bit of each à la reg spumoni.

Get it now!!

And overheard while pieing:

7 year old to her parents: “What do you love more, comics or pie?”
Parents in unison: “PIE.”

7 year old: “The whole point of this place is pie. You want to get pie, get pie. Pie gets you feeling relaxed.”

They’re raising her right.

Honorable mention: Coco-nana pie – coconut pastry cream with roasted banana caramel and whipped cream. Instant transport away from icy sidewalks.

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balmy January, Southern France

It’s 56 degrees in January. Am I in Savannah? Am I in Nice?? Nope. I’m at Southern France in good ol’ globally warmed Chicago!

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I’d say Southern France is known just as well for their warmness and hospitality as they are for their flaky croissants and bonbon boxes. Case in point: when I ordered two croissants, a Paris-Brest and a cannelé “for here,” they did not blink twice as they pulled out their pretty china (#manners). Instead, they simply asked if I would like a coffee or tea to go along with my treats. Tea, please.

Before settling in with my full plate, I’d assumed that Southern France was going to be some kind of Provençal cafe. Non, non, non. It’s Southern as in “y’all” and French as in gateaux tous les jours. Possibly the best croissants in all of Chicago: plain, chocolate, pecan, pecan chocolate (pain au chocolat sliced in half and slathered with a pecan spread and then topped with roasted pecans “because we’re cruel like that”).

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Paris-Brest every day. Macarons. Religieuese. Mille Feuille. Madeleines. Monkey bread. Pound cake. Almond brittle. Basically anything involving butter is welcome here – just as it is in the South or in France. And I’d say I’m about 70% butter at this point, so I felt very welcome indeed.

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Chocolates were sold out at my visit, so I’ll have to return. If the owner made the rounds at the French Pastry School in Chicago, the Chocolate Academy at Barry Callebaut and did research and development at Vosges, well, I’m sold out too.

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National Dessert Day 2017 recap: don’t worry, I celebrated

I awoke this past Saturday (better known as National Dessert Day), to the sound of thunder shaking the walls. Stormy days do not always motivate desserty travel adventures, but the bakery magnetism forcefield is strong in my family, and so along with torrential rain, I also awoke to a platter full of kolacky from the Oak Park Bakery. Perfect start to this all-important national holiday. #thanksdad

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Luckily, the destination planned for the day’s celebration is as well-known for their hot drinking chocolate as they are for their expansive collection of artisinal chocolate bars from around the world: Cocoa + Co, located in Chicago’s Old Town.

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Cocoa + Co has six different versions of drinking chocolate, and on this day I chose Abuela’s Elixir – a rich chocolate spiked with citrus, spices and molasses and then topped with homemade whipped cream and cocoa powder. But, alas, I don’t really believe that a beverage counts as a dessert. I mean, it’s a drink and frankly you need fluids to stay alive, so therefore it’s more of a necessity than a sweet luxury. Plus, during a rainstorm, it is a requirement for hygge maintenance.

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And so, for dessert(s), I ordered: a dark chocolate s’mores bite (fluffy marshmallow, crisp graham, chocolate ganache center),

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a milk chocolate peanut butter bomb (thick gourmet peanut butter cup with the perf amount of crunch and salt),

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and a slice of their signature inside-out German chocolate cake (BEST GERMAN CHOCOLATE EVER – bittersweet buttercream frosting – like a truffle was hugging this cake, non-cloying filling packed with fresh coconut and pecans, layers of moist dark chocolate cake).

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Because that’s what you do on National Dessert Day ( / any other day of the year).

Cocoa + Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pie Cone: the future of à la mode

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For when you can’t quite decide between ice cream or pie (and for whatever excuse aren’t just solving this common dilemma by getting both): PIE CONE.

Spinning J‘s flaky, buttery, sugared pie dough rolled and baked into a cone shape, topped with your choice of Black Dog Gelato flavors including blackberry passion fruit and strawberry rhubarb sorbet (pictured above), vanilla bean, Mexican chocolate, Oreo mint, cherry chocolate chip, or chocolate sorbet.

Ingenious.

Super Spinning J, once again helping to avert dessert crises for the sweet-toothed citizens of Chicago.

(although you are still free/encouraged to order a slice or three of pie too)

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(pictured: cherry apricot, hibiscus key lime with blueberry compote, chocolate hazelnut cream. not pictured: excavator required to remove me from the booth.)