Oo La La: Fresh French Fare in Humboldt Park

You relax with an espresso in one hand and a flaky croissant at finger tips reach.  Sun beams on you as you slowly sip and watch the world go by.  If you got no money for Europe but want to take a lunch mini vacay, Cafe Marie Jeanne is a tiny escape for your hour.

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Only 6 months out of opening, Cafe Marie Jeanne is situated in a prime corner of Humboldt Park.  This Parisian inspired cafe is nestled in a quiet yet booming restaurant area so you still feel serene when visiting.

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Executive Chef Mike Simmons, part owner, is an import from nearby Rootstock wine bar and yummy Lula Cafe in nearby Logan Square.  The menu focuses on a la carte grab and go items mixed with more hearty lunch and dinner fare.  Vegan and veggie options are available and there is a smattering of seafood for pescatarian as well.  A small wine and cocktail menu make this an unharried bunch destination as well.  Don’t trust the menu online, however, as Cafe Marie Jeanne picks up local produce, thus switching up some of the offerings based on what is most fresh and seasonally tasty.

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We noshed on 3 different dishes to get a feel for their lunch service.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

April, with snow and rain, and even the first day of May have not been too kind to us Chicagoan.  This steamy and creamy bowl of soup warms the soul with fragrant curry that tampers down the sometimes saccharine sweet potato.

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Raclette with Seasonal Roasted Vegetables

Our culinary pièce de résistance — Think of this as a fancy grilled cheese piled high with heart healthy veggies.  Roasted root vegetables give the sandwich a savory and filling profile.  The raclette, a semi-hard  cow’s milk cheese, is a magic melter, giving the crusty homemade bread a smattering of delicious fondue like goodness.

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White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Funny story about white asparagus – many people don’t know it exists.  It’s like a ghost veggie.  Dig this weird veggie fact: white Asparagus lacks pigment because it is kept buried and deprived of sun, almost like it’s in a veg bomb shelter.  The lack of chlorophyll gives it a pale complexion in addition to it being more tender and mild than it’s hulk counterpart.  We liked the easy crunch of the asparagus but couldn’t taste anything outstanding in the hollandaise sauce.  Side note: it’ll still make your pee smell funny.

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Quick tip: Looking to explore more than one spot in the neighborhood?  Restaurant hop and grab a homemade piece of hibiscus key lime pie across the street at Spinning J, break out your cash and do a night cap at California Clipper or sip on more wine at Rootstock — all within walking distance!

 

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Ride into the Sunset with Divvy Bike Week!

Celebrate Earth Day, C’mon (sing with us)! Keep your Earth Day vibes going on all week with Divvy Bike Week!

April 22-29, 2016 is officially “Divvy Week!” and you can all reap the green benefits.

 

New Membership Perks:

  • Become a member during Divvy Bike Week and, BAM, you’ll get a Chipotle gift card with your new membership to refuel with a burrito, bowl, or tacos after a long bike ride.

Current Divvy Peeps:

Take a bike break and stretch your legs with two free walking tour passes from the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF).

Flash your Divvy key at the CAF Shop & Tour Center (224 South Michigan Avenue 9am – 9pm daily) to snatch those passes. Check the CAF schedule for available tours and don’t get too fancy-some tours may require an additional charge.

Insta-kings and queens:

Choose Chicago and Divvy join forces to display the best of the best Divvy pics from talented photogs.

How to win!!

  • Tag your duck faced Divvy usies and post your photos on Twitter or Insta using the hashtags #MyChicagoPix & #DivvyBikes
  • Faves will be shared throughout the week on Divvy’s social media
  • 6 talented gurus will win a free Divvy Membership, and Divvy stations will be decorated with the pics.

Follow the trails of all these goodies all week with the hashtag #DIVVYWEEK or snoop at Divvy’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

-Picture courtesy of Divvy/Naked Juice-

 

Divvy Week

Nutrition Gets Fancy With Curate Snacks

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Us gals are always on the look out for new healthy and interesting grab n’ go snacks.  Call it the too busy syndrome or too curious syndrome.  Balancing full time jobs with our passion for blogging sometimes leaves us with … Continue reading

Chicago Bucklist: 360 Chicago!

As a local Chicagoan, sometimes the best of our city is hiding right beneath our noses (or way way way above our heads)!  Our normal views of the city include looking at monstrous traffic on the Dan Ryan expressway off our back porch or driving up Lake Shore drive to catch the waves out our window.  We are on Cloud 9 now that we visited 360 Chicago.  Formerly known as the John Hancock, 360 Chicago lives up to its name with spectacular 360 views of our pretty city and a newly renovated space.

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Now, us 606-zip code Chicago residents can score a sweet discount of half off admission.  360 Chicago features the ONLY tilting attraction in the world, aptly named…Tilt!  Giggle and gasp as you extend out and over the city in double pane glass at 1,000 feet above.  8 people at a time can Tilt!, so grab your best buds for moral support.

Local tip: There’s a bar and snack area, the Architect’s Bar, where you can gain some liquid courage if you need it!

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Sunset Series

How do you decide when to go?  360 Chicago has themed events, called the Sunset Series, to elevate your interests.  All events are from 6-9 p.m. unless otherwise noted.


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Mondays (Encourage your Inner Artist): Photography Night

On Mondays ONLY, photographers can bring in tripods to heighten their insta-fame and catch gorgeous skyline scenery.  Professional photographer, Nick Ulivieri, will be on hand with contests and learning segments throughout the year.

Tuesdays (Friends and Family Friendly): Chicago Architecture Foundation Night

Chicago Architecture Foundation volunteers are available to give you the deep dish on Chicago’s rich architecture scene and the buildings that star in our skyline.

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Thursdays (Perfect for You and Your Boo): DJ and Dancin’

Mode Events makes sure your night is “on fleek” with live DJs and a sunset toast.

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Get ready for summer too because 360 Chicago has the scenes to fit your light show dreams.  During Wednesdays and Saturdays, beat the heat and rest your feet on 360 Chicago’s cozy furnishings, as you gaze at the Navy Pier seasonal fireworks.

Other Upcoming Events

For Football Fanatics:
During the madness of the NFL Draft in Chicago (weekend of April 28-30), rep an official team jersey and buy a 360 Chicago admissions ticket to Tilt! for free!
Honoring our Veterans:
In May, sample the special cocktail, The Yellow Ribbon, and a portion of proceeds will help ChicagoVets.org.
Military veterans and active duty members to visit 360 Chicago FREE throughout Memorial Day weekend (May 27-30).

What are you waiting for?  Get your superman on and impress visiting friends, fam and your Air B and B guests (ha) with 360 Chicago.

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Where: 360 Chicago 875 N. Michigan Avenue, 94th Floor in Chicago, IL.

For more info, weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., call 312-751-3681.  All other times, please call 312-654-2892 or visit www.360chicago.com.

 

Brunch Bunch: Prairie Grass Cafe

You know when you ask people where they live, and they say some far off burb’ and you cancel the possibility of visiting?  Well, change your mind if they live in Northbrook and grab some brunch!

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Prairie Grass Cafe, conveniently located right off the expressway, will make you wanna visit your neighbor to the north.  Chef-Owner Sarah Stegner and Chef-Owner George Bumbaris, both formerly of the fancy pants Ritz Carleton, partnered to created a casual environment with local fresh food.  Stegner is also a 2 time winner of the ultra prestigious James Beard award so just think of the awesomeness of experiencing her cuisine without the abominable months’ wait of similar city joints.  Prairie Grass Cafe hosted us one lazy Sunday afternoon to see what all the fuss was about.

Family Friendly

Prairie Grass Cafe was popping with kiddos during Sunday brunch, illustrating its’ kid friendly appeal.  Stegner is a founding member of the Healthy Fare for Kids initiative which encourages restaurants to ditch the junk for children and provide them with nutritional sound menu items.  The brunch menu for kids was comprehensive and our lil’ guest of honor, Monica’s nephew, scarfed down a cheese, fruit and veggie plate.  Prairie Grass was able to work around his allergies with this dish.

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One small thing for improvement: as there were so many kids, there was no high chair available.  We made due with a booster seat instead thanks to the help of our friendly wait staff but this might not have worked for a littler dude or dudette.

Looking for more than just a meal? Check out “Make Your Own Pizza” Fridays where the toppings come to the table for a more active event for your tots.

Meatless Fare

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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Pancakes can be a ho-hum or over the top in sugar at brunch.  We flipped, however, over Prairie Grass’ fluffy light Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.  The citrus flavor measured up to our preferences and added a delicate sparkle to the cakes.  Go for the gusto and add the berry flavorful rasberry sauce and creme anglaise for that WOW effect.  We also sampled the french toast and although it was decent, the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes take the taste award.

Chilaquiles

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The Chilaquiles will make any tummy happy with runny soft fried eggs melting over the top of a hearty pile of cheese, crispy beany tortilla chips, guacamole and pico de gallo.

Egg White Omelette

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The Egg White Omelette is chock b’gawk full of farm fresh eggs, seasonal produce and topped with avocado and pico de gallo.  We added a side of perfectly seasoned crispy potatoes to round out the meal.  This omelette is big enough for 2 people so feel free to split.

Dessert-a-thon

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Prairie Grass Cafe is a dessert lovers’ dream with their bountiful selection of fresh homemade treats.  Chef Sarah spoiled us sweetness with the Coconut Cream Pie (seasonal), Double Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with local berries, and Strawberry crepe with grand mariner sauce.

The standouts were the Coconut Cream Pie and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee.  Luckily, we had a group of 6 to avoid sugar shock.:)

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Chicagoans, if there was ever a reason to meet your suburban friends half-way, this is a reason to venture beyond the borders of our city.  Not feelin’ the brunch buzz?  Get up later for lunch or dinner at your wake up whims.

Best of the Good Food Festival 2016

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This past weekend we went to the Good Food Festival for the third year in a row.  Click here to read one of our first blog posts about our first Good Food Festival three years ago.  Yesss, we are celebrating the three year … Continue reading