Category Archives: The Sweet Scoop

Andersonville Dessert Crawl Oct 29th

Join My Private Chef
For a Gourmet Trick or Treat Experience
at the Andersonville Dessert Crawl

On Sunday, October 29, from 2pm-5pm Andersonville will welcome guests to enjoy a sweet stroll through the neighborhood as they participate in the Annual Dessert Crawl.

This neighborhood celebrates the festive spirit of fall. It’s a gourmet Trick or Treat experience with delectable desserts at every turn. Participating restaurants are sure to “wow” visitors with delicious and decadent gourmet desserts.

Chef Christopher Tong, of My Private Chef, the upscale Chicago-based private gourmet dining service, will be serving a mouthwatering Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse with Nutella Ganache.

Look for him on the PEPPERMINT FOREST ROUTE at one of his favorite wine shops, In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark Street.

This year, you can choose between TWO great routes.Tickets for one route are $25.00 prior to the event. (if available)

For more information about the Dessert Crawl and to purchase tickets, visit:

Participants can pick up their Dessert Crawl “passport” at The Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St., starting at 1pm on Sunday, October 29, and and then proceed to the participating restaurants and shops for a tasting-sized portions at each location .

One dollar from each ticket sold goes to benefit Care for Real, Edgewater’s community Food Bank.

My Private Chef is enjoying popularity as one of Chicago’s favorite private gourmet dining services.Trained in European-style fine cuisine, Chef Tong established his reputation at fine restaurants and hotels in Florida, California, and Chicago. Now he has adapted his impressive skills to the world of private entertaining. My Private Chef offers enticing cuisine for a wide range of events, from intimate dinners to weddings to corporate parties.

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services at 773.370.8131 or visit our web site:

We hope to see you there!


Chicago Sugar Factory, SWEET SWEET!

With locations in some of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, including Las Vegas, New York City, Bahrain, Chicago, Miami, Dubai, Orlando and Manila, Sugar Factory is known the world over for its celebrity-endorsed Couture Pops, which have turned sweets into the latest designer accessory. Iconic superstars including Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Britney Spears, Drake, Nicole Scherzinger, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria and Rupert Grint are just a few of the celebrities who have either endorsed or have been spotted with the sparkly lollipops. Sugar Factory’s loyal celebrity following has received widespread media attention from People Magazine, the Daily Mail, US Weekly, Entertainment Tonight, Extra and more.


The food at Sugar Factory American Brasserie is a treat for all, offering guests a one-of-a-kind dining experience, serving decadent and tasty fare to satisfy any craving. Created by a team of world-class chefs, the signature menu offers everything from pancakes and sweet and savory crepes to salads, burgers and pizzas, all available throughout the day. Sugar Factory also offers spiked adult beverages made with premium spirits, including Sugar Factory’s signature 36-ounce alcohol-infused smoking candy goblets, all of which are available without alcohol for the kids.



The menu can be a bit overwhelming with so many pages of fantastic choices! Check it out online before you go. Food ran $15-$30. But a lot of $15 choices. If you don’t drink, the food prices are typical for downtown anywhere.

We started with a deconstructed goat cheese Flat bread for $8. Great item, great price.

Also tried Three grilled mini burgers $18 very filling
and Calamari. $14, very large portion. Loved it!

Dinner we had a great Mediterranean Chicken Pasta dish for about $16.

Also had a Peppercorn Burger, it was 3 little patties cooked to perfection and tasted delicious. $16

I had a great Chicken dish – l think it was called Lemon Pepper Brick Chicken? Very juicy and delicious. $27.

One person splurged and ordered the Rib Eye. The waiter mentioned that it did not come with any sides, and did he want to add something on? So my friend opted for 2 sides, figuring we could all get a taste. Sides were $7. He did the Twice Baked Potato and the Lobster Mac & Cheese. – OMG – they came and they were huge! Plenty to share among 4 people.

For dessert we had an assortment of chocolate martinis! YUM!!

The shakes looked fantastic, as did the 20+ some scoop Massive, Sparkling KING KONG SUNDAE!

We have eaten here twice. It has a loud party festive atmosphere on Saturday night. Great place to celebrate something festive for sure! – If you don’t want the party atmosphere, go on an off night, (or go for lunch) we went back on a Wednesday night and the energy level is more toned down. In summer, they also offer patio seating which is more intimate and great people watching. Open from 11am – 11pm – and they have a great assortment of food to choose from for any time of day.


From the LAS VEGAS, NV location- Recording artist Jay Sean dines at the Sugar Factory American Brasserie at the Paris Las Vegas on March 22, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/WireImage)

55 E Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Follow them on Instagram!

Sugar Factory


First Nutella Cafe – in Chicago

The Nutella Cafe in Chicago, is the first U.S. restaurant from Ferrero, the maker of Nutella. Whether you’re grabbing a quick coffee on the way to work or looking for a new lunch spot, the Nutella Cafe offers an array of all-day dishes designed to take your taste experience to new and delicious heights, all with a side of happy. While there have been many eateries with Nutella-inspired fare around the country, this is the first permanent cafe owned and run by Ferrero U.S.A. 7am – 9pm. 189 N. Michigan Ave.


Rolling Stones Donut @ Stans

The Rolling Stones exhibit opens  at Navy Pier this weekend –  April  15th.

To celebrate,the organizers of Rolling Stones Exhibitionism are collaborating with Stan’s Donuts & Coffee on a lip-smacking limited edition doughnut celebrating the band.

The Rolling Stones doughnut looks like a piece of art, featuring a sugary facsimile of the band’s iconic Hot Lips logo, air-brushed on a Bismark doughnut filled with raspberry jam and finished with a vanilla glaze. Stan’s will limit sales to one doughnut per customer and they’ll be available from Monday through April 30 as daily supplies last at all Stan’s locations (yes, including the Streeterville spot near Navy Pier). They’ll cost $4.39 each.


World of Chocolate Chicago Dec. 1st


The biggest and best way to kick off the holiday season!
On Thursday, December 1, Revel Fulton Market is the place to be. Transcending traditional boundaries, World of Chocolate 2016 commands full sensory attention. This year, prepare to awaken your spirit as you discover the pleasures of FIRE and ICE.

From classic confections to surprising savories, 20 of Chicago’s best chefs are offering their talents at Chicago’s premiere World AIDS Day event. Admission grants you more chocolate than in your wildest dreams; an open bar with cocktails that will warm your spirits; and music to get you in the holiday groove—all the makings of an unforgettable night.

Purchase your general admission ticket for $135 or join us for premium tastings in the VIP Lounge for $235.


Andersonville Dessert Crawl October 30


On Sunday, October 30, from 2-5 p.m., Andersonville will welcome guests to enjoy a sweet stroll through this delightful neighborhood as they participate in the Annual Dessert Crawl.

It’s a gourmet Trick or Treat experience with delectable desserts at every turn. Participating restaurants are sure to “wow” visitors with delicious and decadent gourmet desserts.

Chef Chris Tong of My Private Chef, an upscale private chef and gourmet dining service, will be serving a delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Parfait with Chocolate Ganache, Whipped Cream and roasted Peanuts.

Look for him on the Caramel Apple Route at one of his favorite wine shops,

In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark.

You can choose between TWO great routes. Tickets for one route are $25. in advance or $30.00 purchased after October 27. (if available)

Participants will pick up their Dessert Crawl “passport” at the Great Lakes Clinical Trials – Andersonville, 5149 N. Ashland Ave and then proceed to the participating restaurants and stores for tasting-sized portions at each location.


For more information about the Dessert Crawl and to purchase tickets, visit

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services at 773.370.8131 or visit our web site:


World of Chocolate Chicago Dec. 3rd

world of chocolate chicago


Don’t fight the temptation. We give you permission to indulge to your heart’s content at World of Chocolate 2015 on Thursday, December 3 (Yes, that’s just 2 weeks from today)!

This year’s event is truly bigger and better than ever. We’re welcoming 9 new chocolatiers to Union Station who can’t wait to wow your palate with unique flavors. From classic sweets to surprising savories, 27 of Chicago’s best chefs are offering their talents at this commemorative World AIDS Day event.

Try their creations—and so many more—only at World of Chocolate!
Chocolate Ticket Button

P.S. Online ticket sales close at 11:59 PM on Monday, November 30. Don’t delay!


World of Chocolate Chicago

world of chocolate chicago


The air is getting colder and the holidays are near! With great cheer, we invite you to World of Chocolate. This festive tasting event benefitting the AIDS Foundation of Chicago is our annual commemoration of World AIDS Day.

Guests enjoy an open bar and rich chocolate delights from some of Chicago’s most creative and talented culinarians.

We are overjoyed to be hosting World of Chocolate again in the magnificent Great Hall of Union Station on Thursday, December 4.

Purchase your tickets online and savor the sweet satisfaction of making a difference!

Peace, love, sugar & spice,
-The World of Chocolate Architects

P.S. Keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter. Get exclusive insight into the making of World of Chocolate and a sneak peek at what our culinarians have to offer!


DESSERTS! In Andersonville Oct. 26th

andersonville dessert crawl private chef





On October 26, from 2-5 p.m.

Andersonville will welcome guests to enjoy a sweet stroll through this delightful neighborhood as they participate in the Annual Dessert Crawl.

This neighborhood event celebrates the festive spirit of fall. It’s a gourmet Trick or Treat experience with delectable desserts at every turn. Participating restaurants are sure to “wow” visitors with delicious and decadent gourmet desserts.

Chef Chris Tong of My Private Chef, an upscale private chef and gourmet dining service, will be serving a delicious Blood Orange Mousse with Ginger and Pirouette Wafer.

Look for him on the Caramel Apple Route at one of his favorite wine shops, In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark.

This year you can choose between TWO great routes. Tickets for one route are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event.

Participants will pick up their Dessert Crawl “passport” at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark Street, and then proceed to the participating restaurants and stores for tasting-sized portions at each location.

private chef chicago TONG

For more information about the Dessert Crawl and to purchase tickets, visit


Chef Christopher Tong has been creating distinctive cuisine at fine restaurants and hotels in Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida for more than 25 years.

Now, as the owner of My Private Chef, a unique private chef and gourmet dining service, he’s getting rave reviews for offering that same world-class cuisine for special occasions from your own kitchen or chosen location.

My Private Chef continues it’s tradition of supporting Andersonville culture and special events.

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services at 773.370.8131
or visit our web site:


World of Chocolate Holiday Gala

world of chocolate chicago

WORLD OF CHOCOLATE: The Sweetest Event of the Year
Annual Holiday Gala Benefit for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago


Indulge in a night of sweet and savory treats at the 13th annual World of Chocolate winter gala on Thursday, Dec. 4, presented by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) returning again this year at the historic Chicago Union Station. Arouse your senses with tasty morsels from 30 of Chicago’s finest chocolatiers, chefs and caterers.


AFC hosts this one-of-a-kind gala to commemorate World AIDS Day and celebrate the progress the HIV/AIDS community has made in ending the epidemic. This is one of my favorite events of the year and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season!


From traditional truffles and white chocolate ganache to more savory delicacies like chicken in a chocolate mole sauce, guests will delight their taste buds with a wide array of chocolate-infused creations amid stylish decor. Celebrity judges will crown the night’s best creations. Attendees will also be treated to a light buffet, specialty cocktails, a raffle and punchboard with lavish prizes and music.

Funds raised through World of Chocolate support AFC’s policy, public education and community care programs.


World AIDS Day, observed on Dec. 1, is a worldwide effort to increase public awareness about the epidemic. It encourages support and programming to prevent the spread of HIV. The movement originated in 1988, when an international summit of health leaders called for a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS in every country around the globe.


WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 4, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.


WHERE: Chicago Union Station, 500 West Jackson Blvd.


TICKETS: For more information and to reserve tickets, call 312-334-0935 or visit



Chicago’s Sweet Miss Givings to Go National

Dear Friends of Chicago House and Sweet Miss Giving’s,


SMG LogoWe have some exciting news to report from Sweet Miss Giving’s Bakery!


Sweet Miss Giving’s has
attracted the attention of a national wholesale baker who will be
entering a licensing agreement to take part of our product line to a
larger audience. We are very excited to be working with him and for the
potential that this move holds for both our Transitional Jobs/Internship
Program as well as for the potential benefits to Chicago House and its
mission. You will be hearing more about which products he takes on and
where they can be found as the last of the details fall into place.


Unfortunately, in order to
successfully make this transition we will need to consolidate our
current operations. Beginning April 1st we will be closing our retail
location at the French Market as well as ending our wholesale and
catering businesses. We thank our customers and donors so much for the
support and encouragement you have given to the bakery and our employees
since we opened our doors in 2008. That support is what has allowed us
to be given awards and exposure like the 2010 Chicago Tribune Good
Eating Award, which ultimately allowed this next step in our growth.


Know that the many lives
that have been transformed through our jobs program will remain living
testimonies of the support that our friends have given to Sweet Miss
Giving’s over the years. 


Thanks again to all of you
for the role that you have played in the life of Sweet Miss Giving’s! My
gratitude and best wishes to each of you.



 The Reverend Stan J Sloan




Chef Tong does CHOCOLATE! At Whole Foods Feb. 26


Chef Christopher Tong
of the upscale Chicago-based private gourmet dining service, My Private Chef returns to Whole Foods with a trio of delicious chocolate delights to carry us over to Spring.

 Join Chef Tong as he presents sumptuous, decadent, and mouthwatering recipes featuring chocolate. The cooking demonstration will be held on Sunday,   February 26, 2012, 12 noon at Whole Foods on Ashland  in the on-site classroom.

The cost is $20 per person. To register, call Whole Foods Market
on 3300 N. ASHLAND   at 773.244.4200.

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services at
773.981.8131 or visit our web site:

Become a Facebook Fan 

Chicago’s Most Accomplished Luxury Private Chef
Elite Traveler Magazine – Global Black Book


CHERPUMPLE Stacked Pie Cake from Wisconsin

A Cherry Pie, an Apple Pie and a
Pumpkin Pie, Each Cooked Inside a Separate Cake, and Then All Cooked
Together inside Another Cake

Maybe I can whip one up for Thanksgiving?

Neatorama – “It is a called a cherpumple,
and it represents all that remains good and right in this fallen world.
Pastry chef David Lowery made this 21 lb. 10 oz. concoction for guests
at the Grand Geneva Resort in Wisconsin. I feel a rekindling of hope for
the human race because we can still do great things like this.”


World of Chocolate Dec. 1st @ Hilton Chicago

On December 1,
the AIDS Foundation of Chicago
will host its annual holiday fundraising event,
World of Chocolate,
held in commemoration of World AIDS Day. 

Thursday, December 1 – VIP Reception, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.; General Admission, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Hilton Chicago – 720 S. Michigan Avenue
International Ballroom –
Cocktail Attire/Business Casual

Ticket Information

Tickets range from $100 to $1,500. Click here for ticket details and pricing.

Tickets purchased on or before Nov. 11 will be mailed;
all other tickets will be held at will-call at the event.

For tickets and more information, please visit A World of Chocolate online at

You’ll sample unique chocolate savories and sweets created by chefs and chocolatiers from Chicago’s finest, including:

Argo Tea
Blommer Chocolate Store
Canady de Chocolatier
Confection Diva
Das Foods LLC
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
The Hearty Boys
Hilton Chicago
Illinois Nut & Candy
Just Like U Like It Catering
Kay’s Candies
Kendall College School of Culinary Arts
La Parisianne du Chocolat Company
La Taberna Tapas
Macy’s Culinary Council
Palmer House Hilton
The Peninsula Chicago
Renee’s Raw Chocolate
Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
Sterling Tea
Terry’s Toffee
University Club Chicago
Wow Bao–Hot Asian buns

Best Food and Wine Chicago


Forget CupCakes…Have a Yum Cake!

Sure you have had cupcakes –
but have you had a YUM CAKE? 

“I started baking in my bedroom on Saturdays
in my easy bake oven. Even then I loved to
experiment with different textures and flavors.
Sometimes I would add things like crushed
cereal or cookies to the batter to see how it
would turn out.”
  says  Chicago baker and cupcake visionary Erika Durham.  

I remember buying my very first cookbook at
the school book fair when I was in the fourth
grade. I raced home every day from school to
try a new recipe to share with my family.
I learned right then to infuse love in everything  I baked. I still practice that today. I strive to
recreate experiences with my cupcakes by  combining fresh ingredients with that love.

So, whenever you crave your Grandma’s lemon  meringue pie or your Auntie’s banana pudding
and you can’t quite get to them right away… Give yumcakes a try. There are CookieCakes, SweetCakes, ComfortCakes and Chocolate Cakes! There is bound to be a flavor sure to please  everyone.

With a smart mix of nostalgia and sophistication, baker Erika Durham has created something worlds above the rest of town’s mini, paper-wrapped cakes.

 Place and order online and have them delivered right to your door!


Two of the Best Bakeries in Chicago

For New Years Eve, we attended a party at a friends house in Boystown. We were treated to delcious desserts from his Polish friend and pastry chef Anna Majewski, from Sugar Hills Bakery. Cookies that were delicious, European pastries to die for and a cake that was out of this world!

The cake was  NUTCRACKER. It was done in  traditional European old-world-style. A combination of walnut cake filled with mocha kahlua and  chocolate vodka REAL  buttercreams, raisins and nuts! WOW! It was heaven!


From specialty and wedding cakes (yes they do very nice gay wedding cakes!)  to elegant pastries and  delectable cookies, this bakery has it all. Delicious goods made completely from scratch from only the highest quality ingredients with great attention to detail. “Because we are small we have complete quality control,” explained Anna. “I use only the best and finest ingredients. If I wouldn’t put it in my mouth – I won’t make it.”


    Anna is a  self-taught pastry chef  spending most of her life working for various bakers and pastry shops. With her European background and pastry knowledge, she has a very strong decorating and design sense, as well as a real knack for pairings of flavors as well as delicious and unique combinations.

  “Our options of flavors and fillings can be anything you like,” she explains. “From very simple like vanilla or more complex, such as Kahlua or orange flavored with Grand Marnier. You can choose anything, but I will draw the line with weird combinations. We’re not going to put together mismatched flavors, such as lemon and mocha. That’s not a good combination.”

Cake choices range from vanilla and chocolate to red velvet and lemon. Mouth watering  fillings that  like chocolate and vodka, mint white chocolate, mocha and Kahlua. Nearly 2 dozen different flavored  mousses. And specialty cakes ranging from Raspberry Snow, Double Chocolate Passion and Straciatella, just to name a few!


Sugar Hills Bakery offers a daily selection of European style pastries and baked goods at their shop. Fruit tarts, napoleons, éclairs, tiramisu slices, pecan slices, lemon bars, brownies, apple and cherry slices, raspberry tarts, opera cake slices, French macaroons with fresh raspberries, cheesecake slices, chocolate rum slices, Italian butter cookies and cut out sugar cookies. But if you can’t make it to the shop, they will arrange delivery.

Sugar Hills Bakery has been in business since 2006 in Algonquin.  Over 10 years of experience and offer unparalleled expertise. Count on them for upscale cakes and pastries, great catering services, and excellent attentive  customer care. Customized bakery creations  from shaped, iced sugar cookies to formal cakes, most designs can be created for any occasion with at least five days notice. 

Custom orders are welcomed and on request,  they will  make special items that are a little  gay & risque’ !

You will not find better baked goods in the entire Chicago area!


 Visit their European-style bakery in Algonquin, near Barrington Hills,
644 S. Main Street (Rt. 31)  PH 847-658-8765  

 The  new  location will be  open in a  couple  weeks –  
532 W. Dundee Rd.   Wheeling, IL. 60090  PH  847-541-4800

 Watch for a Chicago location in the city coming soon!

Michael  Snell
Derrick Sorles
Best of the Best Dining Chicago


Fudge Brownies with Expresso Frosting


1 box fudge brownie mix
1/2-cup vegetable oil
1/4-cup water
2 large eggs
1 Tbs. instant coffee powder
1/2-cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 can cream cheese frosting
1 shot strongly brewed espresso coffee, cooled or coffee-flavored liqueur accompaniments, coffee ice cream or chocolate covered espresso beans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In large bowl, combine the brownie mix with the oil, water, eggs, and espresso. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Fold in the chips into the batter.

Spread the brownie batter in the greased pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
To make the frosting: Combine the cream cheese frosting and espresso in a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies, chill until set, and cut into squares. Serve with coffee ice cream and/or chocolate covered espresso beans.

SO EASY! From the Food network.


I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream

sola’s ice cream offerings

It is finally that time of year where the teaming millions leave their dwellings and get out and about in the city. When it’s anywhere above 75 out, these same people flock to that cool, sweet, creamy ice cream place.  This ice cream cool comfort becomes even more enticing when tempted with flavors like Buttered Popcorn, and Sesame Brittle.  Here’s a few “must try” places for avante garde ice cream Chicago style! LH

Tizi Melloul, located at 531 N. Wells, who is celebrating their 10th anniversary, also has delicious flavors of ice cream. Made in house by Chef Jeff Brantley, they include Buttered Popcorn, Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Bean. Savor these flavors on Tizi’s outdoor patio, which rests right on Wells street. Tizi Melloul.comChef Carol Wallack of sola restaurant, located at 3868 N. Lincoln, makes all of sola’s unique flavors from scratch at the restaurant. You won’t get bored with out of the box flavors such as Sweet soy, Black vinegar, Sesame brittle, Buttermilk, Lemon basil, Bacon brittle and Green Tea, just to name a few! Solo Restaurant

For a dessert you can drink, Executive Pastry Chef Toni Roberts introduces her brand new C-House Shakes. Sweet, creamy and made to order, shake flavors Super Dark Chocolate Malt and Strawberry Lemon ($6 each) include your choice of two toppings – whipped cream, brownie crumble, butter pecan, malt powder and shaved milk chocolate. To add even more decadence, guests can top on more ($2 additional) “Crushed Candy Bar Toppings” from the C-House dessert menu, or spike the shake with a liqueur of choice ($5 additional).C House Restaurant

Best of the Best Dining in Chicago


aigredoux and Sticky Toffee Pudding


By: Laura Hansen

“Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what’s for lunch.”
Orson Welles, actor, director (1915-1985)

My friend Allan had been bragging to me about Aigre Doux  for a few months and I was ready to give it a try. Nestled corner of Kinzie and Franklin – a bakery (that was empty of pastry) greets you upon entering. At Aigre (sour) Doux (sweet), the ambience is minimalist, open and injects hints of simple elegance. Lined with Brazilian cherry wood and soft lighting, viewing the dining area – I rarely notice the wait staff buzzing about.

The husband and wife duo of Executive Chef Mohammad Islam and Pastry Chef Malika Ameen created their culinary magic at places like the Ritz Carleton/Chicago and Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles before launching Aigre Doux in early 2007.

The offerings kick up the culinary adventure, but also have classical roots. The French influence certainly is present (Steak Frites, Haricot Vert Soup), but infused with some contemporary American flair (Buffalo Ricotta & Corn Ravioli).


The appetizer choices are robust – ranging from traditional faire like Caesar salad, to ahi tuna or a roasted beet salad with fresh mozzarella and candied lemon. There are some pizza choices as well – ranging from a simple Greek offering with lamb, olives and feta to a tuna with wasabi cream and shisho.. We settled on the poached shrimp salad, with herbed butter lettuce, avocado and a tart champagne vinaigrette. The shrimp was luscious (although the serving was only two for each of us – I could have easily feasted on more) – the magic was certainly in the mysterious shrimp poaching liquid.

Although our waiter highly recommended the Grilled Chicken sandwich with avocado and herbed goat cheese – the chicken was dry, and I could find greens, but no goat cheese. The clear winner was Allan’s pan seared halibut – a beautiful piece of fish rolled in a heat infused rub with a splash of tomato vinaigrette. The fingerling potato accompaniment was a nice addition – sautéed baby moist delights.

Kudos to pastry chef Malika Ameen for her sticky toffee pudding offering. I’ve been pining for a sampling of sticky toffee pudding ever since it was under consideration as a new potential flavor for Hagen Dazs. It was served warm, with a dollop of Devonshire cream sorbet and citrus segments. I’m certain the clean plate club wins every time with whimsical dessert offerings such as Crème Fraiche Cheesecake and a malt infused custard with a hazelnut Kit Kat.

Sticky toffee pudding


8 ounces dates, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups packed)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon baking soda
Powdered sugar
whipped cream
Caramel Sauce


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter spring form pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter parchment. Place chopped dates in small bowl. Pour 1 cup boiling water over dates and let cool, about 1 hour.
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half of flour and beat to blend. Add remaining 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Add remaining flour and beat until blended. Combine instant coffee and baking soda in small bowl. Pour into date mixture, stirring to dissolve coffee granules. Add date mixture to batter and beat to blend. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place on rimmed baking sheet and bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Cool pudding until just warm. Unmold; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream and Caramel Sauce.

Makes 12 servings

Courtesy: Epicurious


Vosges Chocolates And Swedish Bakery Breads


When it comes to chocolate, Chicago based Vosges Haut-Chocolat is on a mission is to create a luxury chocolate experience rooted in a sensory journey, bringing about awareness to indigenous cultures through the exploration of spices, herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, nuts, chocolate and the obscure. Vosges explores the many cultures, artists and theories of the world’s people through the medium of chocolate. Owner/Chocolatier Katrina Markoff personally chooses every spice, flower and chocolate brought into the Vosges Chicago kitchen.

DID YOU KNOW? Most truffles average $2.50-$3.00 each. But if you’re lucky, you can snag a box of 16 truffles for $16, every once in a while! Vosges has strict quality control but accidents happen! And a truffle may get bruised a little here or dented a little there, a nut may fall off the top…when they get 16 of those that don’t make the best of the best, they are boxed up and sold at a reduced rate. So of course, available quanities vary. Vosges has two locations here in town –

Chicago – Downtown 520 N. Michigan Avenue 312.644.9450
Chicago – Lincoln Park 951 W. Armitage 773.296.9866
(Also available in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, in SOHO in New York City, and select Neiman Marcus stores).

Located in Andersonville, Swedish Bakery began in the late 1920’s. That’s some history! Traditional Swedish products continue to be made, as well as an infusion of other European and old fashioned American items are produced at this neighborhood institution. Pies, cakes, cookies, breads! It’s all here. Fresh baked warm bread melts in my mouth! But you can also catch some great deals here on day-old and two day-old breads, coffee cakes, and sweet rolls. Bread gets reduced to just $1 and sweet rolls and coffee cakes can be reduced from 25% – 50% off!

Swedish Bakery 5348 N. Clark, Andersonville, 773-561-8919

Michael Snell
Derrick Sorles
Best of the Best Dining Chicago