I forgot to post my favorite stores in Chicago like I promised to do a few days ago. Since I don't have enough time to tell you about them all, I thought I would talk about three stores in particular that I really, really liked. (My credit card is still smoking from two purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue, but that's a dirty little secret I'm sharing with nobody.)
If you like browsing for bakeware, cookware, utensils and miscellaneous stuff for your kitchen like I do (you know, that stuff you really don't need), check out Bloomingdale's Home & Furniture Store at 600 North Wabash Avenue. I didn't make it upstairs to view the home things (sheets and towels are boring, right?) since I spent all my time downstairs looking at the kitchen stuff, but the bottom floor alone is very upscale and has a wonderful collection of things from OXO and Microplane to Emile Henry, WÜSTHOF and Le Creuset. I managed to leave the store without spending too much. I bought an OXO pie server and a Microplane extra coarse grater, both of which I have needed for a while, so I can justify these purchases without buyer's remorse. Even my brother liked this store, and that's saying a lot.
P.O.S.H. is located at 613 North State Street. The store is heavily Parisian-themed and offers a variety of vintage, antique and international dinnerware, silver, glassware and utensils. They also have napkins, coasters, candles, serving trays, stationary and miscellaneous novelties. I managed to walk out without buying a thing yet I wonder if my life would be better now if I would have splurged and bought that cow-shaped creamer or those vintage parfait glasses. I guess I'll never know. (I'm not that stupid to think that things make you happy...because they don't.) When I finally decide to buy a house, I hope to order some things for my kitchen and home from their website or better yet go back to Chicago in person and relive the fun I recently had browsing there.
Oil & Vinegar is a must for anybody who cooks. I liked the store so much I went back twice. The first time I visited, it was about 20 minutes until closing time, so I didn't have too much time to browse. Even though the store is on the small side, there are some really neat foodie things in there that you will need a decent amount of time to browse, read labels and ask any questions about the various products. The store employee (I wish I knew her name because she was awesome) apologized for not having any samples out and chatted with me and Mike as we browsed. I told her what kind of olive oil I was looking for (nothing too grassy, nothing too buttery) and she made a recommendation that was spot-on. She let me sample it, and it was perfect. I bought a bottle of Frantoia Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a bottle of Honey Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar, then Mike and I continued chatting with her for a few minutes before leaving (we could have talked for longer but we didn't want to keep her from going home on time). The next day, we just happened to be passing the store again (after all, it was on the way to and from our hotel), and Mike said, "Go in. I know you want to". He knows me too well. We both got to sample quite a few different kinds of olive oils, balsamic vinegars and miscellaneous goodies this time around. Sadly, the store employee from the day before wasn't working, but this employee was nice, too...she was just more reserved and trying too hard to please a food snob that was browsing (read: rich older lady in a fur coat with a Botoxed face). I bought Mike a bottle of Mama Africa's habanero hot sauce (I figured it was the least I could do for him being so patient as I browsed. The description from the Mama Africa's website says, "This sauce is subtle as a sledgehammer & is only recommended for the brave, the inspired, or the insane." Yup, that's my brother.) This time around, I bought a bottle of Olive Oil with Rosemary, a bottle of Series 7 Balsamic Vinegar and the Sicilian Blend Dipper. There were four varieties of Dipper...Parmesan blend, Tuscany blend, Sicilian blend and Rosa Maria blend. I sampled them all (twice) and decided that the Sicilian blend was my favorite. The ingredients are vegetables (bell pepper, onion), herbs and spices (oregano, thyme, garlic), spice blend, salt, olive oil. You can mix the Dipper with olive oil and serve with bread, mix it with salad dressing, use it as an ingredient in a marinade, combine it with breadcrumbs to bread chicken or fish, sprinkle your pasta with it, scramble it into eggs and omelets or make savory pancakes with it. The possibilities are endless. Go to Oil & Vinegar next time you are in Chicago, and plan to spend at least a half hour time there browsing and sampling. The Honey Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar is going to Vancouver with me since it will be strawberry season when I arrive out there. I can already taste strawberries marinated in honey vanilla balsamic vinegar served over vanilla bean ice cream or gelato. Mmmmmmmm.
I am not a shopper by nature, but the shopping in Chicago was way too good to pass up. Try to check out the above stores if life or vacation ever takes you to the Windy City.
My goodies from Oil & Vinegar: