Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Margie's Candies (Bucktown)

Love that ice cream from Margie's! (sung to Popeye's jingle)
Ice cream choices!!

My friends Erik and Daniel had never been to Margie's Candies, despite Daniel growing up in Chicago. Erik was from California so he received no shit whatsoever from me. I quickly voiced my astonishment to Daniel, "You've never been to Margie's??? AHHHHHH!!!" and my anticipation for them rapidly ballooned as my eyes grew wider the closer we got to the legendary ice cream and candy shop. We all ordered a variation on the basic sundae, which is two heaping scoops of your choice of flavor, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top. When our ice cream arrived, Daniel didn't speak or make eye contact with us for the entire five minutes it took him to inhale his treat; a testament to Margie's wonder.

Erik watches as Daniel beats the Guinness world record for fastest sundae eating
You first walk into the joint and smell chocolate, heavenly, decadent chocolate. Then you start seeing mondo amounts of ice cream sitting in these white shell-shaped dishes, and think, Man, that's a lot of ice cream. That's probably the mega size. NOPE! That's the regular size and you are going to eat all of it because once you start you can't stop. 

Just looka dat. Mm mm me oh my.
Margie's has been an ice cream lover's paradise since 1921. The shop was named Margie's in 1933 after the owner's son, George Peter Poulous, married Margie Michaels. Holy crap, that's adorable. I want an ice cream parlor named after me. Between homemade ice cream, candy, chocolate, pie, and fudge, your persistent sweet tooth is satisfied. The decor looks like your grandma's basement: curtains hanging in the windows, framed pictures everywhere, wood paneling, and your grandma is probably there, too, because your grandma loves ice cream. And on a warm summer night, there is nothing better than grabbing a cone from Margie's and sitting outside on the sidewalk in a plastic lawn chair. Because your grandma has plastic lawn chairs! 

There is something else I need to mention; the hot fudge. I could talk for ten solid minutes about this homemade hot fudge business. Basically, any ice cream dish you order will come with a side of hot fudge to drench/complement your ice cream. It comes to you in a little gravy boat. Does that seem like a lot? NO. Because you will eat ALL of it even if you choose not to put all of it on your ice cream and you will pour it directly into your mouth because that's what America means to you and if anyone else tries to take your fudge from you, there will be hell to pay. But if you run out of fudge, they will bring you more! OMG. MORE HOT FUDGE FOR FREE. 

I've been here numerous times and not once have I ever been disappointed. I've left feeling like I wanted to barf from so much ice cream, but a little walking does wonders to a belly full of happiness.

GO HERE. GO HERE. GO HERE. And if you are lactose intolerant, I do apologize for rubbing this place in your face. Take a pound of Lactaid before?
It's so pleasant here
Margie's lives at 1960 N. Western Ave. in Bucktown, a block north of the Western Blue line
A second location lives at 1813 W. Montrose Ave. right under the Montrose Brown line

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Haymaker (Andersonville)

5507 N. Clark Street, Andersonville
A couple bikes in the back
Few items are truly handmade anymore. All our clothes are made in factories, our food is over processed in factories, and our society runs on instant gratification while in factories. Okay, that last one about the factories isn't true. Enter: Haymaker. A shop filled with wooden, handmade, gorgeous pieces of work by local artists and creators. I've been to those brick-and-mortar Etsy stores but Haymaker felt different to me. For one, there was furniture galore: tables, credenzas, dressers, chairs, mirrors. For two, it has unique items I haven't seen anywhere else. It's really a home decor store with sweet pieces of furniture.

My grandpa was a woodworker and I remember helping him sand a bookshelf or paint a figurine. I still have a bookshelf he made and could not bear to ever get rid of it. The time, effort, and patience it takes to create something by hand is an art I will always respect. It feels like the handmade movement could make a great comeback if everyone participated. Those unique items are ones you will have for years and years and will maybe even pass down to your kids if you feel like having kids. But until then, SHOP HERE. It may be a tad pricey, but it's because everything is made here in 'Merica with high quality materials and with HANDS, REAL HUMAN HANDS, NOT ROBOT HANDS.

My boo thang bought me one of those towels
for my house and I love it forever.
Also received one of these handmade clocks and
it hangs in my kitchen and I love it forever.

Haymaker's site:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

M. Henry (Andersonville)

5707 N. Clark Street

Sometimes you meet a person and you feel an instant connection. Your heart beats quickly, you smile a lot, you try to think of something funny to say and it comes out as a really weird noise through your nose. Oftentimes this is how I feel about food.

For Nick's birthday brunch, we journeyed up to M. Henry in Andersonville. Frankly, this place is adorable. The atmosphere has a cozy, European style, and is simply elegant (is that a Martha Stewart magazine?). There's a farm-y aesthetic about the place with wooden tables and chairs, milk jugs scattered about, and a ceramic rooster here and there. Incredibly welcoming. Also, while waiting for our table, I keenly observed they serve gelato, which I will devour upon my next visit.

Nearly 2 1/2 inches tall, the quiche I ordered was stuffed with asparagus, sautéed leeks, shallots, applewood bacon, gruyere and lorraine swiss. I ate this quiche, you see, and my heart fluttered with every bite. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. The medley of flavors blew me away. Every bite caused me to fall in love further and more deeply. I couldn't bear for the fling to end. And it didn't. Because I took it home for leftovers and finished it the next day. YES.

The quiche in question

Of course, with every love, sometimes there are annoying quirks, or orange juice you get overcharged for. I ordered a fresh-squeezed orange juice and when we received the bill it said $4.50 for the glass. I double checked the menu and there was a small size option for $2.75, which I was not consulted about. I'm never one to nitpick about a dollar here and there, but the fact that our waiter didn't even offer me an option irked me. I was swindled! Swindled, I say!

So I worked in Andersonville for two years and lived in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square area for four of those two years and never went to M. Henry. Now that I live in Logan Square, which is a 45 minute, two-bus ride away from Andersonville, this is the time I chose to visit. Of course. But I would do it again and again. My wait finally paid off. I'm in love!

Add caption

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Carlos and Sarah's Surplus of Options (North Center)

3664 N. Lincoln Avenue in North Center
Hands down my favorite resale shop in the city. Mid-century modern furniture. Photographs. Books. Clocks. Giant posters and signs. Taxidermy. Lamps. Art. And straight up weird-ass shit. Not weird ASS SHIT. Because that would be gross.

Run by two twenty-somethings, Carlos and Sarah, the shop's owners, are debunking the claim that Millennials can't do shit. They started up the shop in an old part of the adjoining mechanic shop by scrounging estate sales, alleys, barns, garage sales, and everywhere else you can find cool junk.

Front room and some oldie specs 

Back room and a sweet oldie typewriter

I almost always walk out of Surplus of Options with something. I have bought vintage ornaments for my mom (she loved them), an old map of France for my friend (she loved it), an old alarm clock for my other friend (she double loved it and it's on her dresser), and random stuff here and there like photos and tiny things. I want ALL the credenzas, coffee tables, and metal filing cabinets they have. I wish I was rich and had five houses I could put all this stuff in!

Also, don't be deceived by thinking the first room you walk into is the only room; there's more in back! The store is different every time I go in because of new additions and rearrangements. My most recent visit proved somewhat sad as there used to be half of an entire car in the back room. It was gone this time for some reason. But other than that, the rest of the visit was not sad. I always walk out of there feeling like Doc Brown just took me back in time in his silver plutonium spaceship.

Oh, and the weird-ass shit I'm talking about is an embalming table.

Here is their Tumblr where they post cool new items! http://surplusofoptions.tumblr.com

Friday, August 10, 2012

Half Italian Grocer (Logan Square)

2643 N. Milwaukee Avenue

I have not stumbled upon many Italian grocery stores in the city. So when my friend Amy told me about Half Italian Grocer, an Italian grocery store very near my new apartment in Logan Square, the Italian in me mentally started eating spaghetti and meatballs with great fervor and firmly telling everybody to eat more food because they clearly had not eaten enough already. Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!

Half Italian Grocer is a mixture of a grocery store that features quality Italian products, a deli, what seems like a hundred kinds of cheeses, fresh produce, some of which they grow in their backyard, and extremely warm, friendly people that work there.

The first time I visited I quickly became friends with Jeremy, the guy who made the sandwiches. He has since moved onto Revolution Brewing, but in his place is Jordan, an equally nice and awesome dude. I ordered the prosciutto sandwich, which is creminelli prosciutto, fresh mozarella, house italian dressing, and baby arugula, all for $8. After taking my first bite I thought of my mom's homemade Italian cooking. My mom is the best cook I know and my brothers and I were spoiled with her culinary effectiveness growing up. Even though the sandwich had simple ingredients, the combination provided my taste buds with quality satisfaction.

I also want to point out that before I got home and ate my sandwich I ordered a cannoli. The cannoli did not make it to the house. I was worried about getting hit by a car while eating it because all I thought about was how amazing this dessert was; I'm a focused eater. My absolute, most favorite dessert of all time is a cannoli. I have had plenty. But the ones from HIG are in my Top 5.

I could easily eat this whole tray of cannoli.

Just go to this store and explore. It's a cozy place, which is Craigslist apartment lingo for small, but it's mighty.

Quality ingredients. Quality pizza. Papa John's.
(replace pizza with 'awesome everything' and replace Papa John's with 'I want to eat all the canoli')

Note: CASH ONLY. There is an ATM in the joint and a Chase bank two doors down.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Green City Market (Lincoln Park)

Green City Market and a dude caught mid-laugh

If you want to feel good about giving back to the environment, local businesses, and farmers, then get your life conscious butt to Green City Market. Yes, farmers still exist! They are real! And they're not all old guys with cowboy hats and a piece of straw sticking out of their mouths shouting for you to get off their land. Except there is the elk farmer who wears a cowboy hat and all camouflage. Besides that, a lot of the farmers at the market are young and trying to make a difference in our mass-produced food world.

One of the biggest farmer's markets in the city, the market features vendors with sustainable agricultural practices and locally produced/grown products. Green City runs year round; outdoor in the summer months and indoor at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum during winter months. There's all kinds of seasonal fruits and vegetables, cheese, meat, pasta, eggs, flowers, sandwiches, donuts (from Zullo's, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), smoothies, herbs, spices, jams, and the list goes on. 

Those darn butter lovers!
You can go to the market for breakfast, too! Or lunch! Eating. All of the time. When we went we got a grilled cheese sandwich made with homemade butter, cheese, and bread. The ooey gooey goodness of the cheese ran like lava from a volcano out the sides of the toasted buttery bread. The line was long so we knew it was going to be tops.

Grilled gooey good from Prairie Pure Cheese farms in Wisconsin

The produce I get from the Market is always amazing. It lasts longer, is good for you, and good for the environment. Captain Planet would be proud.


I bought those golden delicious and did a happy dance.

Hours: Wednesdays and Saturdays 7AM-1PM located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bang Bang Pie Shop (Logan Square)

Chocolate chess with whiskey rye caramel
Damn. Good. Pie. Bang Bang Pie Shop has barely been open a few months and I have been aggressively spreading the word about its glorious, mind-numbingly delicious pie. Kristen and I both got the chocolate chess pie with whiskey rye caramel. It tasted like undercooked brownies: gooey, rich chocolate, with a thin hard layer on top, and that outstanding caramel drizzled ever so delicately across whole piece.

You know when you're in the Loop and you walk out of the subway and you get a whiff of the chocolate from Blommer Chocolate Factory? This pie tasted like that smells. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh pie-gasm.

Banana cream pie (photo by Nick Emrich)

We also got their homemade biscuits with homemade jam and their coffee, which I thought was great considering I'm not an avid coffee drinker.. It was the cutest thing watching two girls with aprons on make pies in the kitchen. You could tell they were taking their time in preparing these pies that everyone visiting seemed to loved. 

The people working there were super nice and the guy who rang up our order even checked up on us after we finished our pie to make sure everything was okay. Another guy who worked there said they are going to make the backyard of the building into an outdoor eatery and patio and even throw a wedding back there. There's a good chunk of land back there! Go. GO. GO GET THIS PIE!!!!

2051 N. California Avenue

Note: Closed Mondays! Open Tuesday-Friday: 7-7 Saturday: 9-5