Brownies and Croissants

Before the rugby game we went to a few weeks ago we once again popped into the french market in downtown Chicago to pick up a second breakfast. As well as finding some really good cheese we also were delighted at the selection of French pastries and amazing brownies. For a start croissants, especially almond stuffed croissants are always amazing. These reminded me of the little farm shop in the Village where we used to live. The ones in the market hit just the spot and are highly recommended!

This time we made it past the macaroon stand and at the same stall were some lovely treats. Brownies are also delicious and there are so many types, I haven’t yet tried a bacon brownie! but I tried a cayan pumpkin one. A distinct flavour and better than I expected – I just don’t get the pumpkin spiced thing. There were peanut brownies, and we tried a caramel pecan one. They were dense and chocolatey and oh so yummy. My next baking afternoon is likely to involve some brownies, possibly just traditional gooey ones but we will see. These were the perfect treat to keep us going for the chilly game.

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Hot chocolate and baked brie at the Emporium

A few weeks ago after a lazy morning we went for a walk along the South Bend river. This river way has a purpose built walkway with a couple of different loops that can take you 30 mins to just over an hour or so. They run along the river and have pretty views, just the ticket for getting some fresh air on a frosty day. This time of year the trees are spectacular. After trudging along and stretching our legs we popped into the Emporium. Set along the river this rather grand building looks pretty impressive and has a nice beer garden that was bathed in sunshine. We intended to stop for a quick drink but having consulted the menu decided we had to order food too, they had too many types of delicious cheese based dishes!

Kiwi tried a couple of local beers and stout, whilst I had a glorious Belgium hot chocolate. There really isn’t anything much better than sitting outside enjoy a little sunshine with a good hot chocolate! Especially as this could be the last of the sunshine for a while! Unless of course you add cheese. We ordered a baked brie with almond, marinated shrimp and a cheesy aubergine dip all three were delicious! Especially the bake brie which we devoured in seconds. the other dishes also looked mouthwatering with lots of fish and fresh yummy choices.

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Cheese cheese glorious cheese

SO yeah I’m a total cheese fanatic!!!!! which brings me to the best cheeses ever.

I recently saw this infographic made by an American on the greatest cheeses ever. Although I loved the sentiment, I mean who doesn’t need a graph reminding them of so many great cheeses! sadly the range of cheese was slightly lacking. Clearly Europeans are just a bit more cheesed obsessed.

cheeseOn a recent trip into Chicago we stumbled on Pastoral, a magnificent cheese shop. It made me consider what my favourite cheeses are, and this is really difficult! my mind changes regularly but right now I’m loving:

1. Triple cheese cream especially Delice de Bourgogne – best cheese ever, melt in your mouth magnificent!

2. Cambozola, a rich creamy blue

3. Goats cheese – all of them

4. Snowdonia black bomber. mmmmm

5. And a Blue Monday

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cakes and tarts

This weekend was an eventful one, Sunday afternoon as spent mostly in the kitchen, Kiwi observed after 3 hrs in the kitchen I had baked a lot today. We made a roast – as we finally found a joint of lamb in the supermarket. And oh my it tasted good! We roasted it and had roast potatoes, parsnips and loads of veggies. We also realised it had been over 2 months since we last had lamb!! and to be fair since we last saw a sheep! We also made some chocolate drop cookies, these didn’t last long enough to take a photo off. Kiwi wanted ‘mallow puffs’ so we tried a new recipe with this and they turned out ok, despite not having any golden syrup. I never realised this is a British product and not that common over here! If you make these its worth investing in a silicone/hard tray as pealing the paper of and painting chocolate on is fiddly and a bit annoying. And the final bake…. a white chocolate and macadamia nut tart. This is amazing! and so so bad for you its good. Its a pastry base the filling is essentially white chocolate, cream, cream cheese and nuts…. with a chocolate ganache topping. its so rich I think this might last us for weeks! This week I’ll need to make a load of soup and we will try to play tennis to counteract the excess cake!

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French Market

On a recent trip to Downtown Chicago I visited the local French market. A lovely walk 5 mins from the main downtown area, led me to a huge train station with a wonderful market hidden inside. Its really quiet outside then suddenly you walk in to a bustling space filled with amazing smells. When you walk in you see these little beauties, so many colours of macaroons and delicious cake! there are plenty of fresh fruit and veg and local produce, as well as a cafe, and crepes and cheese. The cheese counter was magnificent with the best selection I’ve seen yet. Afterwards you can take a stroll along the river walk way enjoying all the tasty treats!

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Farmers markets

On the hunt for some good cheese, milk and meat we had a little visit to some local farmers markets. I’m a big fan of farmers markets and am seriously missing my weekly veg boxes, monthly meat box and daily deliveries of fresh milk! Ok finding all of these may be a little ambitious, but we thought we would start at a local farmers market to at least get some fresh in season local veggies, and hope there would also be some decent dairy.

Our first market was the large weekly south bend market, this is a large square building with plenty of veg, some honey, preserves, meat and cheese. sadly we weren’t blown away by the selection but perhaps we had too high expectations. We did pick up some good mozzarella, some proper eggs that weren’t white! and some local veggies. They tasted pretty good although the fruit was a little disappointing.

We also tried Granger farmers market aswell. Set in an old barn, this one was smaller but a lot quirkier, they had a meat counter, apples, soups, veggies, honey, cakepops and local crafts. decorated in pumpkins – right now there are pumpkins everywhere! We found some amazing bacon, and some chicken sausages. Yes you read that right chicken sausages we thought we would give them ago they were pretty tasty, but I think sausages are better with pork, or maybe beef – still being convinced on that one. We did however learn that ‘English bacon’ is called Canadian bacon here, as standard bacon is more like bacon rashers!

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Bloomington farmers market had much more local veggies, some maple syrup, and some amazing baked goods.

I’m hunting for other local ones and researching into cooperative farming – the closest to veggie boxes I can find. unfortunately its just coming to the end of the season so not great timing but I’m looking forward to spring when they start up again.