When faced with lemons—or many other fruits—the proprietors of Oh, Olive! don't contemplate lemonade. Instead, they envision freshly pressed batches of extra-virgin olive oil, such as their tangy Eureka-lemon variant. The family-run shops specialize in this flexible condiment and stock their shelves with estate-produced Delizia oils. Their catalog covers both plain and fused types with flavors that range from the spicy notes of chipotle peppers to the sweetness of blood oranges, a fitting complement to cuts of chicken and fish. They also vend balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy. Fruits feature heavily in the imported collection, which includes pomegranate, blackberry-ginger, and cinnamon-pear vinegars in addition to a dark-chocolate infusion and the 18-year balsamic—a traditional vinegar aged in oak barrels and given a high-school diploma.
Often, the staff members don't separate the acts of purchasing and cooking with their wares. They prefer to interact with customers and host tastings, classes, and contests to encourage innovative recipes. Amid more than 60 kinds of oil and vinegar, Oh, Olive! sells meal add-ons as well. Tiesta Tea produces soothing, toasty brews, and stuffed olives contain hidden servings of jalapeños, sharp cheddar, and asparagus.
WineStyles’ inspiration for its wine-tasting parties began, of all places, at a backyard barbecue. Some friends at the barbecue found themselves with too many bottles of wine. As an experiment, they decided to taste the wines blindly, so as not to be influenced by price or packaging. This impromptu tasting became the template for WineStyles, a boutique designed to help you choose a wine simply by taste. That is, wines here aren’t categorized by varietal or region, but instead by one of eight taste profiles: crisp, silky, rich, and bubbly for whites; fruity, mellow, bold, and nectar for reds. However, patrons interested in knowing more about their selected bottle can still do so—each bottle comes with a description of its characteristics and suggested food pairings.
Those looking to learn even more about wines can attend one of WineStyles’ weekly tastings or discovery classes. During these events, certified specialists explore everything from the history of different varietals to current trends in wine drinking, such as which wine goes best with texting. Different levels of wine-club membership give participants two to three bottles a month (each selected by a Masters Wine Panel), invitations to private tastings, and discounts toward additional purchases.
Since 1964, Scandinavian Ski and Snowboard Shop has been outfitting its Chicagoland clientele for wintertime adventures. In 2011, readers of the Daily Herald singled out the shop as being among the best in the area. Inside its warm, wood- and brick-walled space, customers can peruse boots, bindings, snowboards, and skis, as well as cold-weather attire from brands including Burton, Patagonia, Spyder, Arc’teryx, and more. Additional accessories such as goggles, gloves, stocking caps, and helmets keep outdoor explorers bundled up more securely than King Tut before lying down for a fateful afternoon nap.
Artistic inspiration can strike at any moment, but the formally trained painters at Tipsy Paint believe that inspiration can be encouraged. They host social painting classes for students of all skill levels, helping them re-create an original piece of artwork one stroke at a time.
With assistance from a BYOB beverage, attendees can unleash their inner artist or simply enjoy the low-key atmosphere while picking up a few useful painting tips. The instructors also offer opportunities for visitors seeking more direct feedback, including supervised open-studio times and formal, technique-focused classes that hone painting fundamentals and give insight into topics such as color theory.
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex–style wraps and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.