For Mary See’s Bday, I’ll celebrate with a box of Fannie May

IMG_0585

On this day, Mary See (of See’s Candies)’s 161st birthday, I thought it only appropriate to celebrate with a box of chocolate (and my Mary mask – downloadable for yourself here):

IMG_0564

However, I am in Illinois today – east of the Mississippi and therefore far from a See’s outlet, but smack dab in the middle of Fannie May country. (in my chocolately daydreams, Fannie and Mary are cousins….and in real life, a quick Google search says they’re not related, but Fannie May started in 1920 and See’s started in 1921…. interesting….very close and quite cousinly, if you ask me). Both use fresh ingredients and have kept their old-timey recipes intact. Even during WWII, when ingredients were scarce, Fannie May just made what they could and closed shop once they were sold out. They never “sold out” themselves (until maybe 2004, but that’s another story….)

IMG_0579

So I think Mary would be pleased to know I’m supporting her “cousin” during her birthday celebration. Free-standing Fannie May shops maintain a pastel wonderland in their cases, but offer dark chocolate classics to fill my box. Here is what I get:

  • a few Trinidads
  • a couple pastel Meltaways (pro tip: keep these separate from the others – you don’t want a hint of mint to infiltrate everything)
  • some dark lemon creams
  • a dark raspberry cream
  • dark honey almond nougat (not to be confused with the French nougat)
  • a milk chocolate Pixie for good measure
  • maybe a nut cluster of some sort, or a buttercrisp toffee, or the cleverly named carmarsh (made of caramel and fluffy marshmallow)

Today I was also won over by their September special: a dark chocolate toasted coconut Dixie, which tasted just like a Girl Scout Samoa cookie. (Don’t mind if I do!) So I will be keeping my sticky fingers crossed and blowing out Mary bday candles with the wish that it makes the permanent menu….

IMG_0582IMG_0580

Advertisements

Mario’s Italian Lemonade

IMG_0394

September really snuck up on me. Kids are back in school, leaves are starting to fall off the trees…. I’m not fooled into corduroy and pumpkin lattes just yet though – it’s still hot AF outside. It’s still Mario’s weather.

IMG_0392IMG_0391

A tiny little glorified lemonade stand in the heart of Chicago’s Taylor Street Little Italy, it’s only open Memorial Day – Labor Day, and I’ve waited for those Memorial Day – Labor Days for as long as I can remember. No fakey, sugary sweet colors or flavors – just cold, refreshing frozen lemonade complete with chunks of fruit. No plastic, corporate signs – just the same hand-drawn pictures dangling from the ceiling. The sidewalk is littered with watermelon seeds and lemon rinds, and the street is often parked with cars 3 deep (and sometimes those cars include sympathizing cop cars).

IMG_0386

Suggested flavors:
watermelon (chunks of watermelon!)
cantaloupe (chunks of cantaloupe!)
coconut (shreds of coconut!)
lemon (they all have lemon added, but still…)
peach (when it’s in season (look for the sign) and just get it!)

But truth be told, they’re all amazing! I even had a friend once order grape (not my fave of flaves), and even that was good! Plus if you can’t decide, you can get 1/2 and 1/2 (you know, half cantaloupe/half coconut, for instance).

Suggested pairings:
cashews
lupini beans (if you’re really feeling authentico)
a combo from Al’s across the street
a dry sausage with provolone from Al’s (my go-to. it is not photogenic.)

Mario’s is one of the best things the best thing about summers in Chicago. I promise if you go there even once, it will continue to taunt you in your December dreams for a lifetime.

IMG_0393

Mario's Italian Lemonade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday Sundae!

IMG_0279

Good ol’ Jarling’s Custard Cup – cooling off central Illinois since 1949! (and their prices are refreshing too!) Open only in the summers, they have vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or lemon frozen custard every day with a special flavor of the week too.

Today’s arrangement: a waffle basket sundae with a ‘dip’ (scoop) of this week’s featured flavor: coconut, topped with their specialty: cold fudge (because it doesn’t melt the custard – genius!), whipped cream, pecans and a cherry. All this for under $5. Oh Illinois, sometimes I can’t complain.

My sundae tasted like an Almond Joy (sans almonds, avec pecans). The cold, sweet, milk chocolaty fudge creamily swirled into the top of the smooth coconut custard (no pieces of coconut). Eaten at an outdoor bench surrounded by sticky children and college kids packing on their freshman 15.

Pro tip: they have a drive-thru and there are also 3 lines at the indoor counter even though it may look like a chaotic swarm. Try for the middle line – people coming in from the side doors don’t always realize it exists!

IMG_0278IMG_0280

Jarlings Custard Cup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fonuts: I love you fo real

photo 1

So. Many. Questions.

Is this my new fave donut?? Is this a donut-shaped cake? Is this my new fave cake??!!? Does baked = (sorry) moist? Is this a known thing? If so, I did not know this thing. I don’t know what’s going on.

Fonuts are baked (and/or sometimes steamed) donuts. They are never fried. Huh?? They are AMAZING!!!!!!! As I took my first bite of the blueberry earl grey, (as I was sitting in my car in the FREE PARKING in back), I out loud said, “Holy shit.” True story. Even the free parking part.

photo 2

blueberry earl grey – fresh blueberries, better than the best blueberry muffin you’ve ever had, scented with bergamot.

rosemary olive oil – like an Italian olive oil cake with a hint of lemon. I’d bet it pairs nicely with a chunk of parmesan and an espresso. Just a guess….

strawberry buttermilk – the Strawberry Shortcake doll in donut form. I have died and gone to heaven. Bye.

Hawaiian – enrobed in shredded coconut, and filled with coconut cream! Take a minute and look again at that first pic – there is a hole in the center of the donut. How then, did they fill it with coconut cream?!? Donut magic. Further, this cream isn’t sweet – it tastes like you scraped butter out of a fresh-off-the-palm coconut. More magic.

photo 4photo 3

Also, they have a zillion gluten-free and/or vegan options, if that’s your thing. Also, they tie a pretty bow around your box as if you were going to gift these donuts instead of wolfing them down on your own (ie: gifting them to yourself). Also, I’m sad I haven’t been coming here every day since 2011 when they opened. Also, free parking.

(Fōnuts) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gracias Madre dessert hack

photo 3

Listen, I don’t seek out vegan desserts, and I’d rather something be called “flourless” vs “gluten-free,” but if something is delicious and served in a gorgeous setting, then who am I to complain about semantics?

Gracias Madre is all vegan and doesn’t do substitutions or additions. I get it, I get it, LA dietary requests are prob the most ridiculous in the world. But some things are just better with a sliiiight tweak. Case in point: put some coconut bacon on that flan.

photo 2photo 1

Order your chilaquiles with cashew cream, order your margarita with toasted sesame infused agave, and then order the flan con cafe along with a side of coconut bacon. The flan is made with Stumptown coffee and burnt sugar caramel. The coconut bacon (while it’s not fooling anybody that it started as a pig) is crispy and salty and smoky. Dump it on top of the flan! Enjoy! You might suggest to your waiter that this be added to the permanent menu and named after me. I mean, “Dessert Oasis Smoky Coconut Flan” has an enticing ring to it, amiright?

Thai Town Treats

photo 4photo 5

Thai Town in Hollywood is full of tempting smells – all coming from strip malls. How can anything delicious come from somewhere that, at times, seems possibly poisonous? You just need to know where to go: Jitlada for dinner and Bhan Kanom Thai for dessert (ps: bhan kanom means ‘house sweets’).

You can get dried fruit or red bean ice cream, but my literal ‘hot’ tip is to get the fresh desserts: pang chi (coconut taro corn cakes) and kanom krok (coconut pudding cakes) hot off the griddle (after you watch them being made!)

photophoto 2

Both are slightly crispy on the outside, and sweet with a little hint of savory (but not so savory that they are cast out of the dessert realm). Also, if in season, of course get the sticky rice with mango:

photo 1

Also, if you’re feeling floral and adventurous, get the pui fai, a kind of colorful spongy cupcake, but be warned: though the ingredients simply list flour, sugar and eggs, there is definitely some kind of orange blossom flavor thrown in, which at times can be lovely, but if you’re not in the mood, can taste like a grandma bathroom:

photo 3

Bhan Kanom Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

time to eat the donuts!

“Hi, I’d like some donuts.”
“One donut?”
“Um, no, more.”
(starts putting donuts in a bag)
“In a box please.”
“A box for four?”
“No, a box of six.”
“In a bag to go?”
“No, for here. With a fork.”

Donut judge my decisions thankyouverymuch.

photo 2-1photo 1

Do-Rite Donuts: no judging here! Just simple twists on old-school classics. Please note the heavenly, eggy candied maple bacon crullers above. Were they so good I needed two? Well, yes, but I actually only ordered 5 donuts here and the guy added an extra for photogenic purposes. Now there is someone who gets me.

candied maple bacon cruller (so good – like a bite of the perfect breakfast), vanilla bean glazed (with juuust the right amount of glaze soaking through), pistachio meyer lemon (tastes Italian!), double chocolate old fashioned (duh), bourbon butterscotch (weekly special).

Returning for the carrot cake donut and some fried chicken!

photo 3-2

photo 3-1photo 2

Glazed & Infused: after a discussion on box size, we were gifted with free coffees to wash down our well-rounded selection. Hooray! Glazed & Infused has the classics as well as the trends: donuts customized with whichever Chicago sports team has a game that day, a special hops donuts to celebrate Craft Beer week….

maple bacon long john (perfect bacon and just right maple), red velvet (dare I say it? moist), blackberry cheesecake bismark (hello marriage of cheesecake and donut and seasonal fruit, I’m delighted to make your acquaintance), vanilla bean glazed, india pale doughnut (a slightly salty version of the vanilla bean glazed with hops powder on top – would be even better with a pint instead of my coffee!)

New tattoo inspiration?

photo 2-2

photo 4photo 3

Firecakes Donutsthis place has been judged – by Steve Harvey – who deemed it the best doughnut in Chicago. Ha ha, yessss. The award is display proudly on the wall behind the table of donuts, which is behind the case of donuts. It can be slightly difficult to still get excited when you’re on donut number 15, but the flavors here really stood out. So many fresh and interesting choices, it was hard to choose just one, so we didn’t.

coconut cream (toasted fresh coconut on top of a creamy crown – I’ll call this the queen of donuts), meyer lemon (bright and fresh), honey glaze, valrhona chocolate with espresso cream (who needs coffee when it’s inserted INTO the donut?!), apple fritter, PB&J (oh man! with whipped peanut butter and raspberry/blood orange jam that are magically not mixed together), malted milk ball (small and cute like a little malted milk ball with extra chocolate ganache added to attach a fresh malted meringue upon order)

Below – up close and personal with the fantastic PB&J donut:

photo 1-2