Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Deliciously Fun Day in Chicago

It’s always fun when I get to spend a day exploring with a good friend. Angela and I managed to eat our way around Chicago for this trip!

I had no idea what to expect when was invited to check out and sample the foods at the Chicago French Market.

I actually thought it was outside, so I was surprised to find it inside a building.

The market is actually conveniently located to the train station from the suburbs.  (it’s also only a 10-minute walk from Union Station).

They’ve also got something you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the windy city – free parking (you do need to spend $20 at the market).
I had set up a meeting with a rep from the market to take me around and provide us with some samples. 

Before she met us, I walked around and took a quick look at the variety of shops.
It seemed they covered everything among the 30 vendors. In some cases, it was the only location in the city.

I saw all types of fruits at City Fresh Market; meats and fish at Funare Meats & Deli; cooked and raw food at Vegan Now; and deli and soups (which I wish we had in Champaign) at Bebe’s Kosher Deli.
We than began our closer examination to some of the other spots.

I enjoyed watching Frenchman Antoine Elie make his FliP Crepes right before my eyes. He makes both sweet and savory, all of which are gluten-free.

The raspberry one we got to try was delicious!

Next it was Beavers Donuts, which had been featured on the Cooking Channel for its Donut Milkshake.

Before we tried that concoction (and it was as unbelievable as it sounds) we watched them make mini donuts, which customers can top with whatever they want. 
Some stayed with simple accompaniments such as chocolate and cinnamon, while others went for unique blends, like the Fluffernutter with peanut butter and marshmallow.

We continued the sweet snacking at Vanille, a bakery at the French Market that specializes in cakes and tarts. 

By this time, we were on sugar overload, and they kindly packed up some for us to try later.
They were all fantastic, especially the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake.

For the ultimate in chocolate, Lolli and Pops, has the best truffles I’ve had, deep and rich, clearly made from fine chocolate.

Although I never complain about eating too many desserts, it was time to actually taste some food and The French Lunch Box at Chicago French Market is a wonderful place to do it.

I loved their Sweet Potato Gnocchi, which we brought to the back-seating area and relaxed with for a while.

This area is known for its happy hours, which feature live music.

Our final stop before leaving was at Pastoral, a wine and cheese outlet. They try to get most of their cheeses from the Midwest. You can ask for a sample of the latest finds.

After leaving the French Market, Angela and I went to the Chicago History Museum.

I had actually never heard of this one and was glad they approached me about their Race Exhibit.

The exhibit was fascinating, as was the rest of the museum. It explores everything from Chicago Cubs Baseball, to Chicago Jazz and Martin Luther King Jr’s history with the city.

We had walked off the morning’s tastings at the museum and were ready for dinner by the end of the day.

I had picked an unusual place for us to have a little fun with our meal.

Safehouse Chicago is a place to go with friends or family for the experience as much as the food.

The restaurant is hidden beyond a sign that just reads “60 E. Ontario.”

Once inside, you will be giving your reservation information and will be grilled by a member of the government.

If he determines you are not a spy, you can go through the office of International Exports Ltd and into the secretive headquarters – the restaurant.

Once inside, the fun continues with games, magic, and a chance to complete missions for free food and drinks.

Both are worth trying, especially the Friend Cheese Curds and The Provocateur Burger, which Chicago Magazine named best burger in the city. (It’s made with brie and bacon jam.)

I also thought the Raven, a Reuben sandwich, was quite good.

For dessert, we shared the Italian Job, a vanilla cake with mascarpone mousse, and Mr. Big’s Brownie Cheesecake which was sprinkled with walnuts and drizzled with chocolate ganache.

Needless to say, we left Chicago a few pounds heavier than we arrived, but it was a fun day discovering some new places.


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