Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter

I love to write Yelp reviews because it's my way of keeping track of all the restaurants, bakeries, and other businesses I've been to in Chicago. That way, I have a nice list of what I like and don't like, and also what I still want to try. I also love using Yelp to find out if these places that I haven't been to are good, bad, legit, and if they're worth visiting at all.

SO recently I started hearing about how Yelp is now doing a bunch of shady stuff like calling businesses and trying to make them pay to hide the negative reviews that they might have, or have people write fake positive reviews for their business if they pay Yelp so much a month, but then if they turn them down, have fake negative reviews written on their page. While some of that may be true, I think you can usually tell the fake reviews from the real ones. That still doesn't help that some reviews may be hidden in order to get a higher star rating for a business. 

Anyway, I think I am going to start reviewing Chicago businesses here in my blog. There are so many that I love, and so if anyone stumbles across this, they will get an honest review! I will still use Yelp to look up new businesses, but just know that some of the reviews may not be for real.

Don't mind the papers and coffee! I was so excited to take a bite, I didn't care what the picture looked like!

So the best croissants in town belong to Hendrickx Belgain Bread Crafter. It's a small little bakery at 100 E. Walton, conveniently right across from my work! The interior is very cute and colorful, with a bright orange door that makes it very easy to spot. The owners are brother and sister I believe, and they are the friendliest people ever. They have brought a REAL taste of Belgium into the city of Chicago for sure. Even though I've never been to Europe, I'm sure this is what it tastes like.

I bought my first almond chocolate croissant when they were first opening and the menu was still small. It was one of the best croissants I'd ever eaten, and still is! It has this dense, chewiness that makes it so much better than a flaky, greasy croissant. The belgian chocolate inside is not overpowering, which can sometimes be the case with chocolate croissants. It takes 18 hours just to make one batch of 'em, and I believe it! You can taste the tender love and care in each bite.

Look at those beautiful layers

The menu has grown a lot since they first opened, and now includes lunch items like chicken and egg salad sandwiches, goat cheese and pistachio sandwiches, tomato and carrot soup, muffins, breads, macaroons, eclairs, and the leige waffle (which is really popular in Belgium I guess). You can tell everything is made with quality ingredients.

Chicken Salad on freshly made Country White Bread (and a badly lit picture)

They also offer cooking classes, and I really want to go to one! The most recent one was a Crepes class, but they don't have a website and only post them on their Facebook page, so it's tricky to find out when they are happening. One of the cool things about Hendrickx is that you can see right inside their kitchen. They aren't afraid of letting you see how they bake the goodies, and what ingredients they use.

If you are ever in the area, please stop in and grab a croissant, even if you just take it home for later. I wish I could ship these to all my friends for Christmas so they can enjoy the greatness of them. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Random good food!

Just sitting here on my couch watching Conan. He's in Chicago this week doing his shows, and they're crackin me up! He's made so many jokes about the city that I actually understand, so it makes it that much funnier.

I also just made some brownies from a box. They are so bad for you, but yet so tasty when they're warm and right out of the oven. Add some ice cream and whipped cream and it's a heavenly dessert.

This Hungry Monkey chocolate chip banana bread and carrot cake bread was so good! Just like homemade bread. I got it at Marinos, which is the new grocery down on Western that is always PACKED with people on the weekends. Probably because they have a variety of brands there, and neat local products like this.

I discovered this brand of Coconut Water in Las Vegas, and went on a hunt to find it here in Chicago when I got back. I cannot STAND the taste of regular coconut water, even with fruity flavors mixed in,  but I'd never seen dark chocolate coconut water! So I tried it, and it tastes just like chocolate milk! So I can get all the great benefits of the coconut water now without the nasty gross taste :)

Another reason I go to Marinos is because it's the only grocery that has Stuffed Crust Digorino pizzas.... don't tell anyone! Sometimes after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is make a big dinner. So Digorino's it is.

My dream would actually be to go out to eat every night, but who has the money for that??

I love most cheeses, but this Goat Milk Cheddar is awwwwsome. With some pretzel crisps.

I took a cooking class at The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square last year, and it was lots of fun! I wish I could take more of them, but one class is $85, so it's not exactly easy on the pocketbook. Anyway, the class was on Beef, so we made a prime rib, flank steak, and pork medallions. With the flank steak, we made a Chimichurri sauce, and I fell in love with it at that moment. It's made of simple, easy ingredients, but has this tang and awesome flavor that I loved! Yum yum. So when I saw TJ's had this Chimichurri Rice, I squealed and threw it in the cart. It's so flavorful!

Brownie time!