This past weekend was one of spontaneity, nostalgia, relaxation, and over-indulgence during my whirlwind trip to the Windy City to see my best friend of 16 years, Nita. Despite the incessant rain, we made the best of our two days together.
Saturday we took a trip down to Hyde Park, a southern suburb of Chicago, with Nita's friend, Ben, to peruse the stacks at the Seminary Coop Bookstore. Afterward we stopped at Salonica, a Greek diner in the neighborhood, for a late lunch and--of course--dessert. We all shared a piece of baklava, a sweet pastry made of phyllo dough, stuffed with chopped nuts and honey. (As with many of my favorites, I have a sentimental attachment to this treat; an expert baker always brought a tray of it to our house when my mom hosted her bridge club.) Salonica's baklava was rich and flaky, though a bit on the oily side. Still lovely, though.
On Sunday, Nita and I made the obligatory stop at a Fannie May outlet, and I selected about a dozen assorted chocolates for my half-pound box, including: Classic and White Russian truffles, a Peanut Butter Button, Pink Lady, Raspberry and Strawberry Creams (the latter of which was given as a free sample when we walked through the door!), and a Chocolate Covered Raisin Cluster:
Fannie did not disappoint. Thick, velvety, and creamy semi-sweet chocolate contrasted against sweet, smooth fillings. Nita is not as candy-crazed as myself, but she loved her Milk Mint Meltaway and Chocolate Covered Cherry:
Last--but certainly not least--I grabbed a Morning Glory Muffin (glorious indeed--my friend Holly introduced me to this variety a few years ago) from O'Hare airport. I was excited to see it had been "freshly baked" by a local bakery, Sweet Miss Giving's (great name), a lovely store that donates over 50% of its profits to formerly homeless and disabled Chicago residents. This particular muffin included different ingredients than those of a typical MG muffin, yet its combination of cranberries, cherries, dates, figs, raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flaxseed was absolutely incredible. Its consistency and texture was fantastic: the inside was moist and the top, crumbly but soft. Its flavor was more similar to a bran muffin than the traditional MG, but I loved it and appreciated the fact that it was also less greasy than other ones I've eaten. I wonder if Sweet Miss ships their baked goods to NYC...
Sweet treats with a sweet friend in a sweet kind of town.