Delightful Pastries pairs local and sustainably grown ingredients with tasty imported sweets in its European-style, house-made pastries, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. The mother-daughter dynamic duo behind Delightful Pastries uses a minimal amount of sugar in many of the bakery’s oven-kissed creations, allowing the naturally sweet ingredients in a malted chocolate chunk cookie ($3) or breakfast bar ($3) to fulfill their lifelong dream of hogging the spotlight. Real, all-natural butter seeps into every bite of butter cookies, croissants snuggled under a coat of almonds, and raspberry-stuffed rugelah, inspiring jealousy from back-alley margarine peddlers. Cherries freshly arrived from Michigan make their first pit stop in the Black Forest cake, and specialty diets' complaints are assuaged with a collection of handmade vegan sourdough breads ($5) and gluten-free sweets such as macaroons.
With four locations speckled across Chicagoland, The Goddess and Grocer pairs the menu of a gourmet deli with the packed shelves of a specialty grocery store. Muffins, scones, and croissants are baked in-house, wafting the scents of melting butter and sugar over a sandwich counter reminiscent of a giant artist’s palette. There, custom sandwiches take shape from 11 breads and wraps, 7 deli meats, 9 cheeses, 12 vegetables, and an assortment of condiments that covers everything from cranberry-tinged mayonnaise to horseradish sauce. A few fixed staples are on hand to simplify decisions, however, including an egg-salad sandwich that Chicago magazine placed on its list of the 50 Best Sandwiches in Chicago, praising it as "a testament to the sheer power of simplicity."
The Goddess and Grocer also assembles bag lunches as well as picnic hampers for patrons looking to enjoy a bite by the lake or to bait a Yogi Bear. To round out these meals, the staff can include high-end, specialty items from the grocery section, including handmade chocolates, artisanal cheeses, mustards and dressings, and wine and beer. Alternatively, they can cater gourmet breakfast, lunch, or dinner for large gatherings and celebrations.
With baskets full of hand-plucked wild blueberries, Vincent Colombet and his cousins happily crammed into their Alsatian grandmother's tiny kitchen. In that quaint room, equipped with only a wood-burning cast-iron stove, Vincent learned over the years how to tuck berries into pies, prepare meats sourced from neighboring farms, and eventually produce elaborate meals for his entire family.
Driven by his passion for French family-style cuisine, he traveled to Paris before a longing for experiences abroad tugged him across the pond and into the arms of the Windy City in 2004. The following year he opened Cook Au Vin, where he leads three-hour BYOB cooking classes centered on classic techniques and organic ingredients.
Colombet's second culinary venture, Logan Square bakery La Boulangerie, opened in 2010. Open seven days a week, the bakery rolls and bakes its dough daily, churning out fresh loaves every two hours. While snacking on the shop’s creations, guests can sit at cast-iron bistro tables set beneath a chandelier. In late 2012, a second location opened on Belmont Avenue in Lakeview, which, in addition to baguettes and baked pastries, offers gourmet sandwiches on its menu.
Hailed as America's Company of Firsts, the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet has been blazing an artistic trail through media stereotypes since 1956 to redefine the global view of ballet. Through its maiden voyages as the first dance company to perform at the White House and on television, appear on the cover of Time, and commission a rock 'n' roll ballet, the Joffrey's artistically dynamic works have inspired a broad audience and a major motion picture. Its troupe of classically trained, world-class dancers oozes grace as they execute a diverse repertoire of classical masterpieces and cutting-edge performances. The company's annual Nutcracker performances have garnered global acclaim, and it attracts a wide audience in Chicago and around the world during national and international tours.
The Joffrey Ballet also bolsters the Windy City's arts education and dance training through the Joffrey Academy of Dance and community-engagement programs. The Chicago Philharmonic serves as the Joffrey’s official orchestra, bringing its diverse and innovative musical talent to the company's performances.
Skinnie Piggy’s cupcakes come in three sizes—hog, skinnie, or piglet. The menu juxtaposes classic flavors, including birthday cake and german chocolate, with seasonal selections such as the piña colada, a coconut-infused cake topped with pineapple-and-coconut buttercream.
Since 1993, Casteel Coffee’s baristas have caffeinated locals with steaming cups of artisanal roasted beans. The shop’s staffers follow in the footsteps of roast master Lee Casteel, who set the café’s course by roasting beans in small batches to ensure high quality. A new generation of roasters sources arabica coffees from around the world, procuring fair-trade varieties and naturally processed decaf beans whenever possible. To fulfill their motto, “fresh from our roaster to your cup,” coffeemakers pour drip coffees or press potent espresso shots from freshly ground beans.
Herbal, scented, and green and black teas also flow from the metaphorical tap, and the shop even purveys the occasional piece of high-tech brewing equipment, such as an electric coffee grinder or a mug that has WiFi. The success of the café’s knowledgeable staff and liquid pick-me-ups fueled the company’s expansion from a single café in Evanston to a second location in Chicago’s Loop. Casteel Coffee animates a dedication to its community by not supplanting the water in local fire hydrants with coffee and by supporting nonprofit organizations, such as the Chicago Children’s Museum.