Archive for January, 2017

Finishing up my two part series on a few of the fine food purveyors that I have enjoyed on my most recent trips to Chicago…

FF: The French Market

ff3Not a restaurant per se, but in the vein of a great European food hall is Chicago’s French Market, just across the river in the West Loop. This place is great. You can find all sorts of things to make a meal or just snack – whether you are on the run or in town for an extended stay with a place to cook.

About The French Market: “We are proud to bring together a unique collection of local vendors that were hand selected for their individual passions and high-quality products. Bringing together the best-of-the-best from Chicago neighborhoods and outlying areas, Chicago French Market is largely comprised of entrepreneurs, family-owned businesses and accomplished purveyors. Featuring nearly 30 individual specialty vendors, Chicago French Market offers fresh ingredients for cooking at home, delicious grab-and-go options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, light snacks, picnics, easy party planning for home and office settings, plus meaningful gift ideas, all in one convenient location.”

The French Market is one of those places that is overwhelming with options, but it is also very inspiring for anyone who loves food.

A couple of my favorite vendors for a quick meal at the French Market include Loop Soup and Le Cafe du Marche.

The French Market is located at 131 North Clinton (Between Washington and Randolph) just west of the Loop in Chicago.

FF: Pork & Mindy’s

ff4Meanwhile, travel north to Chicago’s bustling Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods and you will find Pork & Mindy’s – a fast food alternative that brings us creative “sangwiches” featuring really good slow cooked meats.

About Pork & Mindy’s: “Led by our Executive Chef Jeff Mauro, all of our food is meticulously crafted to create complex, one-of-a-kind flavor profiles using natural and simple ingredients. We’re not just your average BBQ joint, all of our meats are slow-smoked to create the perfect texture and layered with sauces and toppings to make sangwiches you simply can’t find anywhere else. Whether it’s our take on classics or inventions all of our own, we believe in creating food that makes your mouth water, without cutting corners. All our meats are free of hormones and antibiotics, and come from animals raised organically on Midwestern family farms with the highest level of animal welfare and humane practices. We believe we’ve crafted some of the finest dishes in all of the land, but don’t take our word for it, come try it yourself!”

You have to try the Pastramindy: “House-cured, smoked & hand-cut pastrami, P&M Mustard sauce, spicy pickles on a marble rye roll.” Seriously yummy!

Pork & Mindy’s is located at 1623 North Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park/Bucktown district.

aa2Wait, have I mentioned the Truffle Salt from the fine folks at Sabatino Tartufi before?

About the Truffle Salt from Sabatino Tartufi:

“This Sicilian sea salt is mixed with dried summer truffles.  You will enjoy discovering the many nuances of crunch and natural flavor that this truffle sea salt brings to your favorite dishes. This product is Kosher.”

I am sure I have, right?

Find the Truffle Salt from Sabatino Tartufi here.

See all that Sabatino Tartufi offers (including actual truffles) here.

aa2So there is a movie coming out called A Dog’s Purpose. I’ve seen the trailer a few times now and can’t wait to see it. While doing some research, I discovered the upcoming film is based on a bestselling novel, A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron, so I decided to check it out in preparation for the film. Well, what I saw in the trailer for the movie – a story told from a dog’s point of view about how one dog has many lives and touches many others – was gloriously fleshed out in the book and makes me want to see the film even more. Seriously, a story about a dog and how they bring joy into people’s lives? How can it go wrong?

About A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron: “Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog’s Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.”

I guess I am certainly not alone when it comes to loving dog and thinking that they are truly a gift from the heavens to help ease man’s burden. I love this book and I love that there are people who want to tell these types of stories and share it will the rest of us.

A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

aa4Everyone needs a good muddler in their collection of kitchen and bar tools, and the Navy Striped Cherry Muddler I found from the fine folks at Owen & Fred is the one to get.

About the Navy Striped Cherry Muddler from Owen & Fred: “It will perform maximum violence on your mint mojito. Hand turned and hand painted, our muddler feels great in your hands. It’s made in the United States on a lathe with American cherry wood. This means that pieces of cherry are glued together and then placed on a lathe; which spins the wood at a high rate of speed. Turning ordinary wood into the Navy Striped Cherry Muddler requires a craftsman’s touch. It’s his tools that translate a slab of wood into this special wood shape that you’ll use for mojitos. This cherry wood has small pores which makes it ideal for cleaning. This muddler is not painted, waxed or finished, except for the distinctive navy stripe we hand painted for an added touch of style.”

This muddler is perfect for muddling all those mint leaves for my world famous mojitos!

Find the Navy Striped Cherry Muddler from Owen & Fred here.

See what other cool things Owen & Fred offer here.

aa2As much as I would like to protest, I have to give into the fact that it is winter. Heck, we are well into January and this past weekend we here on the prairie (just across the river from the great city of Kansas City, MO) were stricken with a three day ice storm. Well, I found many ways to keep warm, including drinking plenty of tea.

Here is the perfect tea for those cold evenings when you want a little treat, the Chocolate Mint Tea I found from the fine folks at True Fabrications. (BTW – it is naturally calorie free!)

About Chocolate Mint Tea from True Fabrications:

“We get that drinking tea is not the same as eating ice cream, but try and tell that to your nose and taste buds. Pour yourself a mug of this chocolatey, refreshing concoction and you may just leave that ice concoction and you may just leave that ice cream in the freezer where it belongs.”

Find the Chocolate Mint Tea from True Fabrications here.

See all the great product available from True Fabrications here.

aa2The fine folks at Yumbutter make it easy for you to enjoy their Superfood Peanut Butter – and related treats – with their cool “portion packets” which will make you ditch the traditional jar.

About the Superfood Peanut Butter from Yumbutter:

“100% organic USA grown Valencia peanuts, chia, hemp hearts, and goji churned into a power-packed, Go-Anywhere™ organic peanut butter pouch. Vegan, non–GMO, gluten free, dairy free, kosher and twice the healthy omega 3’s as a traditional peanut butter, this potion provides your mind & body with the fuel it needs to live the dream. On top of all that awesomeness, we feed a child in need with every purchase of a Yumbutter Potion through our BUY ONE | FEED ONE holistic business model. We invite you to join us in our quest to improve the lives of others through food.”

Find the Superfood Peanut Butter from Yumbutter here.

See all the goodness of Yumbutter here.

aa4I love corn nuts. Seriously, if you put a bag of them in front of me I will suck them all up and look for more.

But most corn nuts I have seen are the size of an average kernel of corn. Well my friends, I am happy to introduce you the amazing world of the oversized Inka Corn from the fine folks at Inka Crops.

About Inka Corn from Inka Crops:

“Now you can reward yourself with the same imperial snack the Inka rulers used to reward heroes! Only the largest, finest kernels are used in preparing the roasted Inka corn for a delicious light crunch.”

You’re welcome.

Learn more about Inka Corn from Inka Crops here.

Visit Inka Corn’s online store here.

See all the products from Inka Crops here.

I have posted many times about my trips to Chicago and all the great things I have found there. However, I rarely mention the food scene. Today (and next week) for my Friday Finds I thought it would be fun to mention a couple of food purveyors that I have enjoyed on my most recent trips to the Windy City.

FF: The Little Goat

ff1First up is a West Loop gem, the Little Goat – which offers both a diner and a bakery. I can’t vouch for the diner – but it look awesome – but I can say the bakery is absolutely wonderful.

The bakery at the Little Goat has some great things for a quick meal or to grab and take with you. You can get a sandwich, scone, muffin, mini pie or a bagel – but you have to try the Bacon and Gouda bread.

Yes, I said bacon AND Gouda.

The Little Goat Bakery and Diner is located at 820 West Randolph St. just west of the Loop in the great city of Chicago, USA.

FF: Au Cheval

ff2Just up the block from the Little Goat is Au Cheval Bar and Diner, a classy yet casual place to dine on creative fare and sip a fancy cocktail.

The food is eclectic, you can dine on things such as crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy, chopped chicken liver, or my favorite, toasted open-faced ham & cheese fondue with fried egg. However, for the less adventurous you can get a traditional cheeseburger – which, by the way, has been heralded as one of the best hamburgers in the world by the likes of Bon Appetit and Zagat.

Au Cheval is definitely worth a special trip.

Au Cheval is located at 800 West Randolph St. in Chicago’s West Loop district.


aa2I am not kidding when I say that I can spend hours lost on the site of Hinge Vintage Hardware – especially spying their collection of Vintage Accents – where they have whole sections with items like scales and weights and collectible tin – and tons more. For someone like me who likes to rummage through yard sales and flea markets looking at old stuff – this is the place for me.

About Hinge Vintage Hardware: “Welcome to Hinge Vintage Hardware. You are here for a reason. You need to find just the piece for that special project you are working on. You have found the right place if you are looking for something vintage and beautiful. New reproduced items are pretty, but they are not old. The HINGE collection is from a time when the USA was producing some of the finest products in the world, and we all know – there is nothing like the real thing. The collection you are about to explore is the life work of one man who started collecting home hardware and vintage accents after he returned home from World War II. 80 – 90% of our vast inventory (some say in the millions) is filled with New Old Stock, which means ‘Old – but Never Used’. You can find items dating back to the 1700’s along with brand new items too.”

As cool as their website it to visit, I am jonesing to visit Hinge Vintage Hardware’s retail outlet in Orlando. Mmmm, another excuse to visit the happiest place on earth.

Hinge Vintage Hardware is located at 1506 N. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida.

Fortunately for us Hinge Vintage Hardware has an awesome online store.

dameOf the top five most enjoyable evenings I have ever spent in a theater (and I have spent many evenings in theaters) four of them were performances by Dame Enda Everage. Seriously, there is no other character that makes me laugh more than Dame Edna, the creation of the Australian comedy genius Barry Humphries.

Dame Edna may be an acquired taste, and certainly a performer that excels in the live stage format, but I have to say she can sure write an entertaining book. Exhibit A, this week’s Read: Ednapedia: A History of Australia in a Hundred Objects – a comic romp through Australia with the musings of Dame Edna, the “world-famous housewife, talk show host, investigative journalist, social anthropologist, chanteuse, satirist, spin doctor—and author.”

As funny as Ednapedia is, it is also a great way to learn more about Australian culture – popular and otherwise, and it is a total delight from cover to cover.

About Ednapedia: A History of Australia in a Hundred Objects by Dame Edna Everage: “It’s very rare that we see the emergence of a completely original idea in the world of books. Dame Edna Everage’s masterly history of Australian civilization is one such idea, and, possums, you will never think of historical writing in the same way again. ‘From our dainty gum nuts and towering Uluru to our world-class sharks and Opera House, marauding possums and poets, taking in game-changing inventions such as the dual-flush toilet and zinc cream, you will be amazed at what our sunburnt country has contributed to modern civilization.’ Barbies. Bex powders. Bogans. Feral Koalas. The immortal pink Lamington, Australia’s contribution to world patisserie. Plastic banknotes. Thongs, Uggs and utes. Not to speak of the Great Barrier Reef, goon and Nellie Melba. One of the world’s most distinguished thinkers and cultural personalities, Dame Edna Everage has inspired generations of Australian artists and icons, from Germaine Greer and Peter Carey to Kylie Minogue and Shane Warne.”

As someone who grew up always wanting to visit Australia (I have not made it yet) I always love learning more about the island continent and now I have a few more nuggets about things I would have never been exposed to were it not for the great Dame.

Ednapedia: A History of Australia in a Hundred Objects by Dame Edna Everage is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.