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Photos & Review by David Paul Downs

At the corner of Roscoe and Hoyne, in Chicago’s quaint Roscoe Village neighborhood, sits one of the cities best restaurants for a vegetarian friendly brunch. Victory’s Banner offers a bright and comfortable environment for late morning dining.

Their menu is an array of creative takes on traditional breakfast fare, such as eggs scrambled with spinach, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and feta; apple-pecan pancakes made from oat bran flour; or buckwheat waffles topped with fresh seasonal fruit, homemade whipped cream, and real maple syrup.

I couldn’t resist ordering a plate of almond stuffed French toast, one of the specials for today. My wife, and favorite dining partner, ordered the curry omelet, in an attempt to counter-balance my raging sweet tooth. We almost always split our dishes. I order the sweetest dish I can find, and she orders something savory, giving us an equal balance to satisfy our palettes.

Our order was taken by a petite waitress dressed in a colorful, silken wrap. Her friendly demeanor was genuine and she seemed to project an inner glow, reflective of the restaurants philosophies.

While waiting for our dishes to arrive, we sipped on homemade chai tea. This hand-crafted drinkest was the freshest I’ve experienced, with strong distinctive, spices you could smell and taste. The chai is also offered “bottomless” as you would expect for house coffee. We started with two hot cups, but considering the heat of the summer day, and the servers were kind enough to switch us to iced chai’s. Read the rest of this entry »

My Heart Bleeds for Baked Goods!
Cupcakes make me salivate. My eyes lighten up with even the suggestion of a hand-sized moist cake topped with swirled butter frosting. In recent years, I noticed quite a few cupcake shops, some good and some bad, sprouting up around Chicago. All try hard to create a special flavor of their own, and while some aren’t worth shaking a tongue at, a few have surpassed even my sugary desires. One such bakery, a Chicago staple that has not only mastered the great cupcake, but does it with organic and often local ingredients, is the fabulous Bleeding Heart Bakery.
I first happened upon their cupcakes at a farmer’s market in the south loop. It was the charity cupcake of the month, the Veruca Salt. As I walked away from the stand, I unwrapped the paper cup and bit down on my tasty treat. Sweet. Wait…salty. No, buttery… then, oh yes, caramel! I was not ready for this. Each flavor swam in my mouth separately from the another. Not fighting for attention, but like dancers in a hoe down, circling left, promenading right. Each ingredient in perfect harmony!
When you make the trip out to the actual location off Belmont (no train takes you there, but it’s just a short bus or a bike ride from the Red Line), you’ll be greeted by a beautiful storefront. Their colorfully playful sign behind the old metal bakery sign boldly juts out from the building. The inside is charming. Colorful walls decorated with locally made art, two couches to lounge on, and tables shaped and painted to look like… wait for it… cupcakes! The glass counters were filled with a nice array of pastries; Colorfully iced sugar cookies, brownies of all types, muffins, quiche, cake balls, mini-pies, and an assortment of specialty cupcakes, all tempting me from under the soft glow of florescent lights. I came with Lydia. When you face a gang of desserts such as this, you need backup. You need someone to share the experience and the calories you are about to consume. We came prepared, ready for the glee and the gluttony we were about to partake in together.
We shared four cupcakes. Veruca Salt, their charity cupcake, was once again delicious with it’s salted caramel vanilla icing. Red Velvet, the top cut off and sitting atop a mound of cream cheese icing. It melted in our mouths! A sweet rosewater with champagne ganache on a vanilla bean cupcake, and a dark chocolate, beer cupcake topped with pretzels that was hearty and rich! After catching our breath, we tried their frosted cake balls. The vanilla ball, covered in nuts, tasted as though it was drenched in white chocolate! Finally we experienced their Tres Leche desert and it was glorious!
As we savored our edible sins, we looked about Bleeding Heart, feeling it out and soaking in the atmosphere. We felt comfortable and relaxed without any screaming children to disturb our stay. Even the music… “What was that band again? I really need to get this album.” Real music. These were real people listening to real music, and that makes a real difference to me. You can see it in the staff. They were friendly and genuine.
Overall, a wonderful experience. Bleeding Heart Bakery is a wonderful local business to support with frequent visits.. I look forward to stopping by there again, and who knows, maybe I’ll see you there.
To catch me in a cupcake coma visit Bleeding Heart Bakery at:
1955 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60657
You can also visit their website at: http://www.thebleedingheartbakery.com

My Heart Bleeds for Baked Goods!

By David Paul Downs

SANY3108

Photos by David Paul Downs & Lydia Krupinski

Cupcakes make me salivate. My eyes lighten up with even the suggestion of a hand-sized moist cake topped with swirled butter frosting. In recent years, I noticed quite a few cupcake shops, some good and some bad, sprouting up around Chicago. All try hard to create a special flavor of their own, and while some aren’t worth shaking a tongue at, a few have surpassed even my sugary desires. One such bakery, a Chicago staple that has not only mastered the great cupcake, but does it with organic and often local ingredients, is the fabulous Bleeding Heart Bakery.

SANY3107I first happened upon their cupcakes at a farmer’s market in the south loop. It was the charity cupcake of the month, the Veruca Salt. As I walked away from the stand, I unwrapped the paper cup and bit down on my tasty treat. Sweet. Wait…salty. No, buttery… then, oh yes, caramel! I was not ready for this. Each flavor swam in my mouth separately from the another. Not fighting for attention, but like dancers in a hoe down, circling left, promenading right. Each ingredient in perfect harmony!

When you make the trip out to the actual location off Belmont (no train takes you there, but it’s just a short bus or a bike ride from the Red Line), you’ll be greeted by a beautiful storefront. Their colorfully playful sign behind the old metal bakery sign boldly juts out from the building.

SANY3101The inside is charming. Colorful walls decorated with locally made art, two couches to lounge on, and tables shaped and painted to look like… wait for it… cupcakes! The glass counters were filled with a nice array of pastries; Colorfully iced sugar cookies, brownies of all types, muffins, quiche, cake balls, mini-pies, and an assortment of specialty cupcakes, all tempting me from under the soft glow of florescent lights. I came with Lydia. When you face a gang of desserts such as this, you need backup. You need someone to share the experience and the calories you are about to consume. We came prepared, ready for the glee and the gluttony we were about to partake in together.

SANY3096We shared four cupcakes. Veruca Salt, their charity cupcake, was once again delicious with it’s salted caramel vanilla icing. Red Velvet, the top cut off and sitting atop a mound of cream cheese icing. It melted in our mouths! A sweet rosewater with champagne ganache on a vanilla bean cupcake, and a dark chocolate, beer cupcake topped with pretzels that was hearty and rich! After catching our breath, we tried their frosted cake balls. The vanilla ball, covered in nuts, tasted as though it was drenched in white chocolate! Finally we experienced their Tres Leche desert and it was glorious!

As we savored our edible sins, we looked about Bleeding Heart, feeling it out and soaking in the atmosphere. We felt comfortable and relaxed without any screaming children to disturb our stay. Even the music… “What was that band again? I really need to get this album.” Real music. These were real people listening to real music, and that makes a real difference to me. You can see it in the staff. They were friendly and genuine.

Overall, a wonderful experience. Bleeding Heart Bakery is a wonderful local business to support with frequent visits.. I look forward to stopping by there again, and who knows, maybe I’ll see you there.

To catch me in a cupcake coma visit Bleeding Heart Bakery at:

1955 W. Belmont Ave.

Chicago, Illinois 60657

You can also visit their website at: http://www.thebleedingheartbakery.com

SANY3102

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By Lydia Krupinski

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I have a confession: I’m not as diligent with my hygiene routine as I should be. I’m not talking no-poo, hippy, funk gunk level neglect…at least, not yet.

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In contrast, my hubby David is the ultimate neat freak. He has taught me the art of the nail brush,  restrained nose blowing,  polite mouth wiping, and yes…the dreaded daily ritual of tooth brushing.

My common excuse for the liberal treatment of this habit has always been: “But honey, I don’t want to waste the water, or the toothpaste, and wear down the brush’s bristles! I’ll have to throw this one away, buy a new one, and contribute to the cradle to grave cycle.” As eloquently as I put it however, he never buys one second of my nonsense.

preserve_toothbrushLucky for David (and my dentist), companies like Preserve have taken action to reduce, reuse, and recycle personal hygiene products like toothbrushes. Preserve’s are made out of recycled yogurt cups, ergonomically designed, stylish, and inexpensive.

And if that’s not enough, when you purchase your Preserve Toothbrush from stores like Green Sky in Andersonville, they’ll provide you with a postage paid envelope to send back your old tooth scrubbers! You can also download the pre-paid mailer straight off Preserve’s website.

So if that’s not enough to get you brushing…I don’t know what is.

So no more excuses! Get out there and scrub, rinse, recycle and repeat!

Review and Photos by Lydia Krupinski

mana-32When dining in Wicker Park there’s an endless array of restaurants to choose from. This hustling bustling hipster mecca is filled with diners, bakeries, bars and cafes. But when I had to choose where to take a foodie friend visiting from the West Coast, the choice was easy. Mana. mana-23

Mana Food Bar is a modest and modern escape from the over-styled boutiques and bars of Division street. The minimalist decor, complete with salvaged wood tables, gray walls, and subtle lighting, makes this the perfect place to enjoy a casual lunch or dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

Review and Photos by Lydia Krupinski

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I love Chicago, but after the first snow falls and the twinkling holiday lights grow dim, it’s difficult not to drown in the slush of the city’s everlasting winters. Thankfully, Algerian creperie Icosium Kafe offers an escape from these gloomy Chicago days. This cozy spot boasts a large vegetarian selection, organic coffee, moderate pricing, and an inviting atmosphere that’s sure to melt away the worst winter blues.

Cucumber Water

On a frigid Wednesday afternoon, with our bellies grumbling and our extremities frozen, some friends and I entered this tiny storefront café in Andersonville. Greeted by a bustling lunch crowd, savory smells, and bright colors, our senses were awakened. Read the rest of this entry »