It seems as though the chilled yogurt and smoothie trend has finally hit Chicago. After years of reading about celebrities visiting California-based Pink Berry in the tabloids, Chicago finally has its share of yogurt shops all boasting products with live active cultures.
I stayed away until today, mainly because most of the stores are located downtown and every time I pass one the line is out the door. This afternoon as I was walking home in the sticky humidity I decided to stop at Berry Chill at State and Ontario, the first of at least three planned stores in the area.
The store itself is very sleek with flat-screen TVs along one wall, and a digital menu board that was constantly scrolling. While a cutting-edge display, I found it frustrating to follow as a first-time visitor because the options were changing so quickly that I couldn’t get a good grasp on how and what to order. Luckily, the employee taking my order was patient and tried to be helpful despite the annoyed sighs of the customer behind me. Also, there seemed to be three times as many employees as necessary and most were just standing behind the counter not actually doing anything.
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Monday was our last day in Paris, the day I had reserved to visit foodie destinations: the cookware store Dehillerin; Place de la Madeleine, a square filled with gourmet food shops; and dinner at Le Souffle. It was so full of food-related activities that I decided this day deserved its own post.
Throughout the day we toured the city on an open-topped, hop-on-hop-off bus. While I wouldn’t recommend the tour due to the traffic in Paris, it did allow us to get off at various areas we hadn’t yet reached by foot. One of the main stops was Place de la Madeleine, a square surrounded by gourmet food and chocolate shops. We bought a few pieces of chocolate at Fauchon that were eaten in a hurry along with a gift set of jams to take home. Then we went to Hediard around the corner where I purchased a set of candied fruits. The store had a tremendous display of perfect-looking fruits and vegetables near the entrance that were so perfect they didn’t look real – on first glance they looked as though they were made from wax. In a small way this store reminded me of Chicago’s Fox & Obel.
The final bus stop for us was within walking distance on Dehillerin, a renowned cookware store. There were so many things I wanted there but had to leave without buying because it would have been too difficult to get purchases home. Read more of this >>
I skipped breakfast Sunday as I had two big eating events that day and I wanted to be sure to leave room. The first, a stop was L’ As Du Falafel in Marais (transaltion: The Ace), and the second La Petit Cour in St. Germain for dinner.
We had planned all along to visit the Marais district Sunday afternoon for a walking tour by Paris Walks. It was an interesting tour, full of history and scandal – everything you’re looking for in Sunday afternoon entertainment. When the tour ended at 4:30, we hauled back to L’As Du Falafel on rue de Rosiers to wait in the still-long line for our falafels. There was no opportunity to make requests or changes, you got it as it was along with a napkin and fork, and we weren’t disappointed. Yes, my mom stopped at the first trashcan to dispose of the eggplant but otherwise there were no alterations.
For those of you not familiar with falafel, they’re made of deep-fried balls of seasoned chickepeas served in a pita with vegetables and tahini sauce. It’s an interesting mix of temperature and texture, with the warm and crisp falafel contrasting with the cold yet crisp vegetables and soft pita bread. The vegetables in this falafel were cabbage, cucumber, tomato and roasted eggplant, all served in many layers with the falafel and tahini drizzled on top. Read more of this >>
I ate the most delicious thing ever and it wasn’t even chocolate: the Ispahan macaron from Pierre Hermé. Not only is the pink-colored macaron gorgeous to look at with its white cream filling surrounded by fresh raspberries and topped with a single rose petal, but the taste is unlike anything I’ve ever tried. It’s creamy and crunchy, subdued subtle flavors of rose with bursts of raspberry sweetness. The macaron itself is rose and the cream filling is flavored with rose petals and small pieces of lychee. It is fancy and fussy and uniquely French, but is also one of the most amazing desserts I’ve ever eaten. It’s the best thing in Paris, along with those croissants…
The croissants truly are spectacular. It’s easy to get used to stale croissants at the neighborhood coffee shops at home, and although I made them many times in culinary school I think that due to the labor involved, along with copious amounts of butter, I’d convinced myself I didn’t like them. Oh, how wrong I was. The croissants found in nearly every café and bakery in Paris have all been delicious with light and flaky layers and delicious buttery flavor. My mom loves the ones with the chocolate centers but I prefer the delicious simplicity of the plain. Read more of this >>
This may sound strange, but I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy Paris. I was expecting to enjoy my time here and definitely the food, but not the city itself. I originally decided to visit Paris to learn (meaning eat) about the food and do some soul-searching, to find myself. My plans changed somewhat when my mom decided to join me on my journey. While I welcomed her company along with the nicer hotel that came with it, I knew the trip had become more of a tourist vacation than I’d previously planned. There went my daydream of sitting alone at a sidewalk café, drinking an espresso or glass of wine with my journal or a good book.
Please don’t misread this, I’m not complaining about the change in plans, just explaining why in my mind I had prepared myself not to enjoy Paris, because I hadn’t truly planned on seeing it. Now, more than halfway through our trip I feel as though I’ve gotten to see and experience the beauty that is Paris. We’ve visited most of the tourist destinations – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum with the Mona Lisa, Versailles, Notré Dame and the list goes on. We’ve also enjoyed many meals and snacks, possibly too many… Read more of this >>