Planet Java’s menu adds a healthy jitter to one's morning step with delicious, fresh-roasted joe juice served from a convenient drive-through brew shack. Feed your need for black liquid speed with a mondo (20-oz.) cup of regular coffee ($2), or try a tall (12-oz.) Aztec mocha ($3.60), which blends espresso with cinnamon-chocolate and steamed milk to fill your demitasse with a healthy dose of post-all-nighter elixir. Otherwise, cool off after a hotcake-eating competition with a 20-oz. iced option; bathe your sweaty mouth with the refreshing nectars of a cold chai charger ($3.95), a concoction of espresso, vanilla chai, and steamed milk or water. For something more hedonistic, let the caramel and milk chocolate contents of a hot or blended caramel decadent ($4.35) effervesce within your stomach while you bathe in a cistern of foie gras and watch masked servants dance for your amusement.
When Simply Frosted Cupcakes opens, scones and cinnamon rolls take the morning shift before an ever-rotating selection of cupcakes clocks in for work. The freshly baked cupcakes, in flavors such as the birthday cake or orange dreamsicle, are made each morning and never refrigerated, much to the relief of discerning taste buds and milk with jealousy issues.
Amid pale pink walls and white cabinets with chrome counters, a large glass case at Maddie Cakes Cupcake Bakery protects jumbo-size cupcakes perched on silver cake stands from the harsh realities of adulthood. At Maddie Cakes Cupcake Bakery, bakers infuse the desserts with flavors such as salted caramel, pumpkin apple, cherry delight, and at least 10 chocolate-infused options, and cap each cake with fluffy frosting. They also bake cinnamon rolls, fruit tarts, and custom cakes with fresh fruit filling and fondant figures.
Wipe the summer dew from your glistening brow at Little Leaf Tea, where over 150 tea varieties await your casual, laid-back selection. Teas are lovingly poured out hot ($4–$5 per cup) or chilled on the rocks ($3–$4) with blends that span the rainbow, globe, and time itself. Wake up to an across-the-pond favorite such as English breakfast or Earl Grey, or unwind your mind and wristwatch with a cup of lavender and chamomile calmly complemented by a pinch of licorice root. Pair any brewed beverage with a Japanese green-tea roll cake ($2.50 for two pieces) or any other sweetened selection from the food menu to turn your tea party into a ragingly calm meal.
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 around classic techniques and organic ingredients. Patrons may also enlist the Cook Au Vin team to cater special events, or swing by Colombet's Logan Square bakery, La Boulangerie, for butter-infused inhalations, freshly made crepes, and crusty baguettes.
Upon first glance, Le Roi French Bakery looks a bit like a castle. Roses and metal curlicues line the space, where bakers flit in and out of a pair of saloon doors. Named for the French word for king, this bakeshop’s confections are enchanting and majestic, like a towering mountain of Magic 8 balls. At the counter, a brightly lit case brims with classic European treats such as éclairs, napoleons, tarts, and parfaits. The scent of espresso wafts by as staffers froth fresh milk for lattes and cappuccinos. Like a fairy tale about princes and princesses, these details inspire daydreams as patrons leaf through albums stuffed with hundreds of custom-cake ideas, including tiered wedding cakes adorned with fondant flowers and round delights flanked with fruits, frostings, or ladyfingers.
Valley Lahvosh Baking Company's artisan bakers, who've been crafting doughy delights since 1922, forge their signature crackerbreads using three generations of Armenian family recipes. Bags of 15" crackerbread rounds––which double as throwing discuses for teddy bears––come in original and cracked-wheat varieties that buyers can slather in condiments or use to make wrapped sandwiches. A great base for hors d'oeuvres served at parties and social gatherings, boxes of Heart and Star Lahvosh crackers cheerily accept dips and spreads on unique cutout shapes. Rather than impersonating a horse to receive sugar cubes, buyers can get their sugary kicks with a bag of heart-shaped Sweetheart Snacks lightly dusted with cinnamon. Each assorted holiday package bears a chip clip that keeps snacks inside their bags and helps preserve freshness.