Baking Chicago Style

We just returned from 3 days in the wonderful city of Chicago.  Fortunately, Sandy didn’t “dampen” our trip too much.  As always when we’re in Chicago, we had great meals.  My favourite was definitely the lunch in the Signature Lounge at the top of the Hancock Centre.  We had  a corner seat by the window so the view of both the city and the lake was spectacular.  The indoor setting was very chic.  Our meal was a feast for the eyes and the palate.  A crispy potato pancake was topped with a light mushroom sherry sauce and the Amish style chicken breast was cooked to moist perfection. Best of all, this outstanding meal was to be had at chain-restaurant prices!

We stopped into the Magnolia Bakery on State Street.  We’ve been to the flagship store in NYC, but the Chicago version was a disappointment  to say the least.  Our cupcakes were dry, the icing gritty and overly sweet and the prices too much!  Save yourself a trip as you can make better at home…out of a box!

Magnolia Bakery, Chicago

Magnolia Bakery, Chicago

 

While in Old Town on our way to a comedy show, we visited two unique shops.  The first was called the Spice House and the fragrances alone were worth the trip….heavenly.  This store stocks hundreds of spices and grinds them freshly every week so the quality is unsurpassed.  There are spices and extracts from around the world, many items that I had never seen before.  The staff is knowledgeable and helpful as to how their products can best be used to enhance your baking.  What a great find!  Just a couple of doors down was another great find: the Fudge Pot.  This tiny basement level store showcases their candy makers by the front window.  Passersby can watch the chocolate and fudge-making process.  Once inside, the sweet aroma smells of calories!  There are many different sweets to choose from and custom work is available.  We highly recommend our choice: chocolate peanut clusters.  Delicious!

The Spice House

The Spice House

From outside The Fudge Pot

From outside The Fudge Pot

Some of the custom order items available at The Fudge Pot

Some of the custom order items available at The Fudge Pot

Finally, no visit to the U.S.  would be complete without a trip to a grocery store.  I just love to hunt down new items not available to us in Canada.  Surprisingly, we located a Trader Joe’s just off Michigan Ave.  One item that I wanted to try was their Pumpkin Loaf mix…and I did just that as soon as I got home and loaded up the washing machine.  I added a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips to the mix and baked them in muffin form.  The treats were moist and spicy…not as good as my homemade pumpkin bread (she says modestly) but so quick and easy!  Our mini-vacay was terrific and thanks to my soooo tolerant husband for always putting up with my forays into all baking and discount establishments.  He’s the best!

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Mix

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Mix

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