Fritz Pastry: Sweets on Diversey

It was only a matter of time before I stopped reading the mouth-watering tweets from @fritzpastry and actually went to the bakery to try some of the sweets.

I was not disappointed.

One sunny Sunday afternoon, I decided to hop on the El and check out Fritz's offerings.  A ten minute walk from the Diversey Brown Line, the bakery looks like a former residence at the corner of Southport.  Warmly greeted, Istudied the chalkboard menu and peered into the case of cakes, pies, and tarts.  Macaron flavors rotate on a regular basis, and for those customers that have more of a savory appetite, lunch options include soups and sandwiches.

Wanting to try one of each item, the baskets of freshly baked donuts, croissants, and brioche were calling my name, so I decided to try a cinnamon & sugar donut (donut hole included!) along with a latte.  I also purchased a cinnamon brioche and two macarons (raspberry & chocolate) to take home and enjoy later.

The donut was yeasty and dusted with just enough cinnamon and sugar and paired nicely with the creamy latte.

The macarons lived up to the phrase "you can't just eat one" with their natural flavors and slightly chewy consistency.  The brown paper box with the blue Fritz was also a nice touch.  I would be very happy giving this treat as a gift.

My only complaint is that I wish lived closer to this gem of a bakery to try more of Fritz's daily pasteries and breads!

1408 West Diversey Parkway
Chicago, IL 60614-1112
(773) 857-2989

http://fritzpastry.com/

An Afternoon at the Publican

The Publican, part of the family of restaurants that includes Avec, Big Star, Violet Hour, and Blackbird, doesn't disappoint.  Going in the late afternoon before the dinner rush is the prime time to go: no wait, an attentive staff, and a fast arrival of dishes.  Sitting at the shiny golden bar provided an excellent point of view to the kitchen, beer taps, and stand-up tables.  Staffers folded napkins and sliced bread; servers met to discuss the menu and taste beers; the kitchen had a similar pre-service huddle.  A funny yet resourceful feature to each chair is a small "cubby" underneath the seat to hold menus or perhaps purses and small bags; it is reminiscent of grammar school.  

The pre-dinner menu is limited but offers a taste of the best that the Publican offers:

To eat:

Spicy pork rinds (with a dusting of spicy cheese): snap. crackle. pop; there is a reason why customers return for this fried treat

Frites with Louis's organic egg: what's more comforting that fresh fries with a fried egg on top?

Rillette sandwich with apples, apple-pepper jelly, arugula & onion: rillette on toasted bread -- the apple & arugula cut some of the richness for satisfying sandwich

Little Gem salad: basil, fennel, pig's ear & buttermilk-Muscatel vinaigrette: provided a foil to the pork & fried elements from the other dishes; salad included beauty-heart radishes

To drink:

Hennepin (farmhouse saison) Brussels, Belgium

Details:

837 W. Fulton Market 
Chicago, IL 60607 
312-733-9555

M-Th: 3:30-10:30pm 
F-Sat: 3:30-11:30pm 
Sun: 10am-2pm (brunch) & 5-10pm

Dill Pickle Food Co-Op

 

I was in the Logan Square neighborhood last week headed to an ice cream tasting at Provenance.  I knew that the Dill Pickle Food Co-op was nearby and decided to make a quick stop before going home.

The small but deep store had everything from fresh breads to vegetables to loose leaf teas to canned tomatoes.  The narrow aisles take some side-stepping and several "pardon mes" to/from other customers.  There is a good mix of local companies and producers in addition to the usual suspects of grocery brands. I liked the variety of fruits & vegetables as well as the special deal on tortilla chips.  The co-op employees mentioned the bakeries deliver fresh bread very early each morning.  

Customers are a mix of members and non-members; prices are the same for both groups.  Speaking of pricing, the store isn't any more expensive than Whole Foods or other smaller grocery stores.  For shoppers that mainly make purchases from national grocery stores, there might be a bit of a surprise.  

While I would not make the Dill Pickle Co-op a regular store on my list, I would go the next time I am in the area.  It is a wonderful and welcomed addition.

Store details:

Dill Pickle Food Co-op

 

3039 W. Fullerton Ave (near Sacramento)
773-252-2667 

Great press for a Chicago girl & her flavorful doughnuts

Filed at 8:54 p.m. ET

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Pomegranate thyme and bing cherry balsamic may sound like salad dressings, and lemon chamomile creme custard may evoke thoughts of fancy teas, but they actually are cutting edge flavors in the latest fad to hit the U.S. baking scene: doughnuts.

So much for glazed and jelly.

Fresh off the nation's fascination with cupcakes, bakers across the country are experimenting with gourmet flavor combinations and unorthodox ingredients in doughnuts, everything from meats to Cocoa Puffs breakfast cereal.

At Glazed Donuts Chicago, for example, mint leaves spring from the holes of iced mint mojito doughnuts. Baker Kirsten Anderson also adds grape jelly to the dough of her peanut butter and jelly doughnuts.

''You're taking a relatively inexpensive item and you're turning it into a luxury item,'' says Anderson, whose seasonal offerings also have included butternut squash and white chocolate blueberry doughnuts.

''So maybe people can't afford the best house or the best car, but they can go out and buy a piece of indulgence at a price they can afford.''

Paul Mullins, author of ''Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut,'' calls them ''designer doughnuts'' and says the trend defies the stereotype of doughnut shops as smoke-filled havens for laborers lingering over burnt coffee and bad doughnuts...

Additionally, fancy doughnuts are increasingly common. Designer doughnut shops, bakeries and related businesses have proved popular with young urbanites on both U.S. coasts, as well as large inland cities such as Chicago, Mullins says.

''The chefs, they're really skilled, they are really creative,'' he says. ''These designer doughnuts by regular Krispy Kreme-standards are pricey, but by haute cuisine standards, $5 or $6, that's not that much.''

The doughnut-makers are playing with consumers' notions of creativity and curiosity, Mullins says. ''What in the world does a chamomile doughnut taste like? I don't know if I'd want it on an every-week basis, but I'd give it a shot.''

Michelle Vazquez, owner of Mandarin Gourmet Donut Shoppe in Miami, Florida (home to the chamomile creation, as well as a guava and cheese variety), says her doughnuts are attractive to health conscious customers who want something ''a little bit higher-class than a regular doughnut.''

She uses organic ingredients, trans fat-free oil, seasonal fresh fruits, Ghirardelli chocolates and cheeses such as savory French fromage blanc and creamy Italian mascarpone.

Mark Isreal, owner of Doughnut Plant in New York City, sees doughnuts as palettes for creativity and experimentation. He created a square doughnut filled with homemade jelly. Other recent flavors have included peanut butter, roasted chestnuts, cranberries and coconut.

''The bakery is my artist's studio in a way, where I create,'' Isreal says. ''You're going to have a flavor and a texture that is totally new for a doughnut, and that's exciting.''

Designer doughnuts are not as popular as cupcakes, which spawned a craze of cafes and bakeries, but the groundwork is there, says Sarah Levy, a pastry chef who owns two dessert shops in Chicago and is author of ''Sweetness: Delicious Baked Treats for Every Occasion.''

''It's an item where you can put a unique twist to it to kind of freshen it and make it exciting again,'' she says. ''It's kind of a cool blank slate that you can doctor up and make them festive with different ingredients.''

At Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon, owner Kenneth ''Cat Daddy'' Pogson says the bakery puts a signature stamp on doughnuts by using sugar cereals such as Fruit Loops and bacon strips as ingredients. The shop's bacon maple bar doughnut came to be after a discussion about mixing savory and sweet flavors.

''I walked in with some bacon one day and boom, there it was,'' Pogson says. ''Two strips of bacon.''

Back in Chicago, Anderson makes doughnuts for customers like Ellen Pecciotto of Chicago, who bought butternut squash and frosted apple cider doughnuts.

''I love the different flavors,'' Pecciotto said after making her purchase at a recent local farmer's market. ''Nobody does that.''

Anderson says she will continue to experiment with her doughnut flavors.

''There's a lot of room for growth,'' she said. ''I think things are just beginning.''

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On the Net:

Glazed Donuts Chicago: http://www.glazedchicago.com

Doughnut Plant: http://www.doughnutplant.com

Voodoo Doughnut: http://www.voodoodoughnut.com

Mandarin Gourmet Donut Shoppe: http://www.mandaringourmetdonutshoppe.com/

Two Brothers Ebel's Weiss Beer

Ebel's Weiss Beer is a German-style hefe weizen that is sweet with notes of clove, vanilla, and banana. It is one of those easy to drink beers that just hits the spot after a long day.

Two Brothers is a family owned small craft brewery located in the suburbs of Chicago.  I was first introduced to this brewery at the Odd Pairs event in October.  Luckily, the beer is sold at Drinks Over Dearborn along with another Two Brothers favorite, Domaine Dupage French Country Ale. 

Cheers!