Category Archives: thick

Sugar cookies from Sweet Mandy B’s

Oy! WHY do I go in here? Actually, more specifically, why do I drive 3 miles out of my way to go in here? OK, yeah, so it’s the sugar cookies with buttercream frosting I recently discovered at Sweet Mandy B’s. Chewy-soft sugar cookies fresh from the oven, smothered in a thick layer of smooth, sweet, pastel-hued vanilla buttercream frosting I need to figure out how to recreate, and sprinkles. This place is chock-full of cupcakes, cookies, lemon bars, cakes and the long lines to justify their greatness, and..maybe it’s the plate, but these just make me think of spring, and serious sugar high. Sweet Mandy B’s, 1208 W. Webster, 773.244.1174

Sweet Mandy sugar cookies


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Sprinkles love…

Forget the conversation hearts…this is what I’m taking about…Sprinkles’ embraces the high holy day of sweets with flavors like Red Hot Velvet (red velvet cake with spicy cinnamon cream cheese frosting), and Raspberry Chocolate Chip (chocolate chip-studded Belgian dark chocolate cake with raspberry frosting). Valentine or not, it’s not too late to get in line and stock up. Sprinkles, 50 E. Walton, 312.573.1600

Raspberry chocolate chip cupcakes from Sprinkles

Red hot velvet

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Sweet Burger at Burger Bar, Las Vegas

Ah Vegas…I partly blame a recent vacation there for my lack of blogging, but you know I’d come back from Sin City with some serious eats (and $60 from slots! Holla!). That is why, dear readers, I will kick off my next few posts with something I went out of my way to try because I had to see it to f’ing believe it. I had heard about the Sweet Burger at Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay (where we stayed), and remember it being referred to as “a chocolate patty wrapped in a doughnut” or some such nonsense. No, no to the no. Quite the contrary. Think hazelnut-laden Nutella fudge pounded into a patty, then topped with slices of kiwi, strawberry and a slice of mango gelee that oozes over the sides like sweet faux Cheddar. An airy, sugary, glazed doughnut flanks the fake-out burger contents looking almost eerily too similar to a McDonald’s bun (well, a sugar-coated one). You don’t know whether to cut the thing with a knife and fork, grab its sugary, juicy self with two hands, or dip it in the accompanying swirl of raspberry “ketchup” on the plate. How ever you scarf it, it’s a very, very Happy Meal, indeed. Burger Bar, The Shops at Mandalay Bay, Vegas, baby..

The Sweet Burger at Burger Bar

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Peanut brittle at 16

From executive chef Frank Brunacci’s elegant and seasonally focused menu, to the most gorgeous Swarovski crystal chandelier in the city there are many, many reasons to love 16 restaurant in Trump Tower. But another to add to the list is Pastry Chef Sarah Kosikowski perfect peanut brittle. It was a discovery at the end of an amazing Opus One dinner (we swooned over the 2001, 2003 and 2006 vintages!), and so good that we ordered extra for the table after only a few pieces arrived on the tray of mignardise. Brittle often runs the risk of being sickly sweet, tooth-jammingly crunchy or too hard, but Kosikowski’s version is smooth, perfectly sweet and crunchy, packed just the right amount of peanuts and tasted freshly cracked. All that was missing was a bag to take a batch home. 16, 410 N. Wabash, 312.588.8000

Peanut brittle at 16

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Quimet y Quimet

Quimet sign

From the Boqueria there were tapas to be tasted, and tapas bars are plentiful throughout Barcelona. But oy, and I mean OY, did we have a fantastic experience at Quimet y Quimet, a postage stamp-sized tapas and cheese restaurant in the Montjuïc neighborhood. I knew they were famous for their canned seafood (a delicacy in Spain), and for being impossible to get into. I learned quickly that the tapas bars with waits, lines and general shit-showy-ness at the entrance, or spilling out onto the sidewalk meant the place was a winner. We hit the tiny tapas bar at the perfect time because we were able to barely belly up to the packed bar (no seats), and just started pointing at the fresh, dried, canned seafood, salt cod, anchovies, sardines, paté, jamon and endless other delicacies nestled under the glass and between the hungry patrons and two lone servers who were the mad tapas scientists behind the wonderful concoctions of seafood, pickled vegetables, vinegars, honeys and caviar layered atop crisp, toasted bread.

Dried tuna, egg yolk and other ingredients

And the eating parade began, starting with one of the highlights of the week…a insane combination of salmon, whipped cream cheese, honey and balsamic vinegar on bread.

Lox of love

The open-faced deliciousness continued…each more colorful than the next…

Canned anchovies and peppers

Dried tuna, tomatoes, egg yolk

Spanish blue cheese, peppers, balsamic

Salt cod, olive paste

And when we weren’t staring at the creations coming from behind the bar, we were looking at the floor-to-ceiling explosion of bottles, signs, photos and more..

Did I mention the endless selection of cava, vino and local beer?

And when we were done we gave up our coveted elbow space at the bar and already missed Quimet as we shuffled our way through the ornery line and onto our dessert destination (well, sort of…)

Looking back after an awesome dinner, planning a return visit for lunch the next day...


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Sea Salt Caramels

The sea salt caramels are put up at the registers of Whole Foods sometimes for a reason, it’s so one point of purchase impulse buy can lead you to a life of constant craving. It’s like a confectionary pusherman. That’s how I feel about the sea salt caramels at Whole Foods. Salt, chocolate, blah, seen it..but chocolate covered salted caramels topped with a sprinkling of thick, crunchy sea salt granules? Just try not to finish the box even when it’s above your desk and you goal is one a day. Yeah, just try.

Sea salt caramels from Whole Foods


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Oostburg, WI eats

A Labor Day weekend celebration with old friends in Oostburg, WI, offered some good eats, but does it get any more Eastern Wisco than being handed a bag of Gibbsville cheese curds near a blazing beach bonfire? Gibbsville is actually a small, 65-year-old family run company in Sheboygan Falls I kind of want to visit for their string cheese and spreads. They have a relatively “cheesy” recipe for “friendship” on their Web site, but they also have tips for cooking with Wisconsin cheese, and Brett Favre’s Wisconsin Broccoli Cheddar cheese soup, in case you were looking for it.

Gibbsville cheese curds and Wisco bonfires


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5 reasons why I love (Black Dog Gelato)

1. Sesame fig and chocolate chip gelato. Holy yum. How you can resist anything with the word “sesame”? Especially in a sweet and chocolate-chip laden application? Creamy, sweet and luscious, with the perfect fig flavor that lingers at the end of every bite and chocolate chips for crunch.

Sesame fig with chocolate chip at Black Dog Gelato

2. The rest of the flavors. I didn’t try them all (although they are generous with the samples), but the decadent goat cheese caramel cashew was also delicious, as was salted peanut (can you tell I am into the savory gelatos?)..but really you can’t go wrong with any of them.

An array of flavors...

3. Gelato cookie sandwiches. This one is vanilla gelato flanked by two oatmeal raisin cookies chilling in the sun before being devoured. They offer an array of rotating cookie sandwiches, as well as other fun treats like whiskey gelato bars rolled in bacon.

Oatmeal cookies and vanilla ice cream and a reflection

4. The hand-written thank you on the window from owner Jessie Oloroso. There doesn’t appear to be much signage yet, but this still drew me in..a sincere, genuine touch from a highly anticipated (and by the looks of the first weekend’s steady stream of customers), welcome neighborhood gelato spot.

Love the hand-written thank-you from the owner..

5. And other reasons why I love Black Dog? Two new wooden benches outside, hours until 11PM on weekends, hot pink walls, a warmer, cozier and more inviting use of the space than the previous Piccolo. Black Dog Gelato, 859 N. Damen, 773.235.3116

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