A sad piece of news for our Midwestern readers: Sunflower Market is closing their doors. Sunflower Market is a natural and organic grocery with locations in the Midwest, including Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Their parent company said that they had not "met the company's goals" but that the stores had "provided a tremendous laboratory” for the company to learn about the natural and whole foods markets.
Colin Gasko of Rogue Chocolatier makes artisan chocolate from beans to bar in a factory the size of your bedroom. We just saw Gasko in a feature on the new Gourmet website, and we couldn't have been more fascinated by this 22-year-old's quixotic chocolate factory.
See, there are plenty of artisan chocolatiers and small-batch confectioners doing their thing on a small scale, but the process of making chocolate, from beans to the finished thing, is a whole other world. It usually requires equipment that costs more than a Manhattan penthouse, and takes up at least equal floorspace. Enter Colin Gasko, son of a theoretical physicist...
How cozy is this? We had to check out Rose & Radish's new spring stuff, and right away spotted these Hetta Felted Pot Warmers that will keep your pot warm on the table. We often make chai in a saucepan and it gets cold too fast, so this might be really great. No word on whether the $50-$62 price includes the pan, though.
Inside and out, Chicago's Bloomingdales Home is a surprise. This isn't an everyday big box department store.
Look for the onion domes and you'll find the store housed in the renovated Medinah Temple, once home to Chicago's Shriners. This store doesn't sink the kitchenware in the cellar. This department store lavishes kitchenware with the treatment department stores usually reserve for perfume and fashions.
Braised stews and pot roasts make us want to break out the sensible stoneware plates and soup bowls, good durable stuff that looks right with a hunk of meat sitting in it. P.O.S.H. Chicago is a perfect place to shop for this kind of dinnerware - restaurant china and place settings built for long, practical use in diners and trattorias. This basic 5-piece place setting is $22. We also like these Bouillon Cups.
P.O.S.H.'s unique approach has them stocking this vintage and contemporary restaurantware at very reasonable prices, but then mixing it up with vintage pieces. It's like an online flea market with only the best hand-picked pieces for sale. See some of our favorite one-of-a-kind items below...
We love eating in grocery store cafes. Eating in-store gives us the opportunity to tuck into a sandwich and chocolate chip cookies while we watch people shop. At Fox & Obel, we joined in a conversation about chicken salad salad recipes and over heard lots of gossip about what was especially good in the shop.
Fox & Obel is a full-service gourmet grocery store in Chicago's Near North Side. There is so much to see here: gourmet groceries, prepared foods, coffee, meat, seafood, wine, cheese, flowers and some table decor items. They have a large candy counter, a bakery, and offer cooking classes.
[Here's Kate again with a review of a store in her neck of the woods: Chicago. Thanks, Kate!]
Shopping at the Chopping Block feels like pillaging the kitchen of a well-stocked friend. It’s not just the large working kitchen that sets us at ease, nor the ample counter space used for the shop’s frequent on-site classes. It’s the relaxed atmosphere and inviting white shelves that line the walls.
Though the shop doesn’t specialize in any one thing, making it difficult to stop in while hunting for a particular item, everything it stocks is of the highest quality, from heavy-duty kitchen pots to delicate baking dishes to gourmet ingredients.