Sweet on Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery

Valentine’s Day cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery

Whether you’ve got a honey or not, you gotta love Valentine’s Day for the sheer abundance of sweets that seem to find their way to your desk (OK, maybe it’s just my desk at Plate). If you’re looking for a last-minute gift, or want to show yourself some love. Here are my current favorite Chicago sweets in no particular order.
1) Goddess and Grocer red velvet cupcakes. I have always had a weak spot for red velvet, well anything, but the cupcakes here have some sort of hypnotic hold on me.
2). Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, too, but mostly it’s the banana pudding here that rocks my world, as well as the old-school bakery vibe, flourless chocolate cake and more.
3). Speaking of banana pudding, I’m also currently in love with the banana pudding dessert at Fat Rice. I can’t explain its deliciousness, just get it.
4). Key lime pie at Shaw’s. Their two-bite desserts are the perfect guilt-free indulgence.
5). Chocolate chess pie at Hoosier Mama..holy yum.
6). Crème brûlée doughnut from Glazed and Infused. Imagine the crackly shell of crème brûlée over a vanilla doughnut with creamy vanilla curd on the inside. It’s completely redic.
7). The mocha panna cotta from Balena, a explosion of chocolate, banana, hazelnut crunch and brownie.
8). Asparagus flan at Macku…sounds gross, is truly divine. An oldie but a goodie.
9). Sea salt brownie bites at Trader Joe’s. OK, sea salt/chocolate anything.
10). 75% dark chocolate bars of any brand, kind or shape.

Share in the comments what sweet treat you’ll be sharing with your boo, or indulging in solo…

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Mason jars and more at GT Fish & Oyster

Clam chowder in a jar at GT Fish  & Oyster

Clam chowder in a jar at GT Fish & Oyster

I’m so so glad that Mason jar presentations are still alive and well, from house pickles to chocolate mousse. I recently spotted one at GT Fish & Oyster, used to serve the creamy, soul-warming clam chowder that at lunch comes with a half a lobster roll or tuna blt sandwich and a mound of slaw.
GT Fish & Oyster, 531 N. Wells.

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*Turkey salad at Publican Quality Meats (and an elizabites update…)

Still turkey’d out from the holiday? I personally don’t think it’s possible. It could be the day after Thanksgiving and I still crave the turkey salad at Publican Quality Meats. Yes, I know slabs, links and slices of juicy meat beckon from the cases when you walk in, but this lighter option on the menu blew me away the first time I had it in the spring with fiddlehead ferns, and just a week ago with mustard greens. The vegetables change seasonally, but the base is leafy greens, roasted vegetables, feta, avocado, green harissa, and sliced, smoked turkey. Instead of a just a few strips, it’s a serious mound, more than you would expect on a salad, but perfect for soaking up the tangy green harissa sauce and mixing in with the greens. Plus, the smokey, thick slices complement the bite of the mustard greens and feta and pick up the notes of roast carrots. Can’t avoid the beef, pork belly or lamb sausage at PMQ, at least start with the salad…you won’t be sorry. PMQ, 825 W. Fulton Market
*This asterisk refers to a new post, and a post is something I have been neglecting to lavish you with lately, dear readers. I started this blog in 2008, and posted nearly everyday for years until my actual job, freelance work and life got in the way (naturally). To balance everything out and keep you all salivating, you can expect one post a week, every Wednesday, mostly a mini review about the best thing I ate all week…read, eat, enjoy. Liz

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My current pumpkin obsessions

Including the obvious, I get pretty obsessed with all things pumpkin this time of year, from roasting and salting the seeds scraped from a freshly carved Jack-o-latern, to sinking my teeth into the pumpkin sticky buns at Floriole Bakery (go soon, before they’re gone!). Floriole is also flaunting a pumpkin layer cake with cream cheese, and I noticed these adorable pumpkin hot cakes at Nookies Too. For pumpkin ales, I am still thinking about the Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumpking Ale I had at Tiny Lounge last fall… I am on the hunt for more pumpkin-laden goodies…any suggestions?

Pumpkin layered cake at Floriole


Pumpkin hot cakes at Nookies Too

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Seafood pancake at Belly Q

Before I had the seafood pancake at Belly Q, Bill Kim’s new Korean BBQ spot in the old 160 Blue space, I had this one at Cho Sun OK, a more traditional Korean BBQ spot up in Lincoln Square. The salty, savory, seafood-laden pancake topped with bits of green onion, calamari and juicy seafood was forever ingrained on my tastebuds, and I haven’t been able to not order it if I see one on a menu. So it was to my delight that Belly Q offers their own version right out of the wood-burning oven, topped with calamari and sashimi and served with black vinegar, sesame soy sauce. The oven lends a nice crisp to the edges, while the rest of the pancake remains fluffy, not-too-greasy and just as tasty as the first one I tried. Belly Q, 1400 W. Randolph Street

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Carriage House for Cocktails…and Everything Else

Low Country Gin Gimlet at Carriage House


Much like the words “avocado,” “cilantro” and “truffle oil,” the word “celery” on a menu makes my mouth water. Actually, only when spotted on a cocktail menu. Celery is stalking cocktails all over town, showing up in infusions, bitters and garnishes..and not just serving as spoon for a Bloody Mary. The latest I saw was at Carriage House in Wicker Park, where the Low Country Gin Gimlet has gin, sweet pearl-onion dry vermouth (also, yum) and celery bitters. I love the way the ingredient keeps sweetness at bay, and adds a bit of bite and savory-ness. But don’t stop at the cocktails at Carriage House. The modern low-country Southern restaurant is probably my favorite right now, with crispy, crunchy fried chicken thighs smothered in local and served with house sweet potato hot sauce, the low-country boil bubbling over with shrimp, clams, sausage, red potatoes and grilled lemons and the mushroom, truffle and egg with grits and oyster mushrooms were all serious standouts..and we didn’t even get to dig into shrimp and grits, pork and beans or the buttermilk marinated rib-eye. This is modern southern food, and the type that’s not so smothered with gravy and heavy sauces that they take center stage on the plate…you can taste the juiciness of the chicken, the sour of the house pickles and sweet meat of the Carolina shrimp. Besides the cocktails and the menu, I love the vibe in the room which is packed, not huge, and miraculously not so loud you have to yell over your fried green tomatoes. 1612 W. Division Street

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On the table: Shanghai Terrace


8 plates, 8 glasses, 8 napkins, 8 chopstick holders, 8 sets black chopsticks, flowers, three votives.
And now a “on the table” close-up on the elegant silver chopstick holders (which are way cooler and less obvious then those fumbly rocks)
Shanghai Terrace, The Peninsula Hotel, 108 E. Superior

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