Though the phrase Tranyslvanian bakery might conjure up images of a pale, fanged man leaning over a bowl of blood pudding, the baked goods at Ovy Bakery aren't sinister, just sinful. As a child, head baker Ovidiu "Ovy" Pop learned the sweeter side of his homeland's history by learning how to bake the region's iconic sweets under the tutelage of his mother. She taught him how to create the fluffy layers of creme, the moist layers of sponge cake, and the light pastry puffs that serve as the building blocks for most of his desserts. After honing his skills at Kendall College culinary school and at Michelin-rated bakeries in Chicago, he decided to bring the desserts from his homeland to Skokie. He now spends all of his time making his favorite Romanian sweets, such as the spumoasa, which alternates layers of puff pastry with strawberry-foam cream, and an orange diplomat creme rolled in yellow sponge cake and topped with orange whipped cream. Like a brewery's repairman, many of Ovy's desserts come soaked in liquor––such as the amandina's rum-infused chocolate sponge cake––adding a hint of indulgence to the decadent treats.
Baking is a family affair at Sweety Pies Bakery, which is run by Arden and Bruce Kruger and their daughter and son, Dana and Chad. They told the Skokie Review that their passion started as a hobby; before opening the bakery, the family constantly made pies from recipes passed down from Dana and Chad's grandmother. In 2007, they opened Sweety Pies, and their housemade cupcakes, scones, and cookies have been gobbled up by visitors to downtown Skokie ever since. Everything's made from scratch in small batches using ingredients such as real sweet-cream butter and freshly cracked eggs. Their dedication has earned them such accolades as a first-place finish in the Skokie Patch's readers’ choice awards for their cakes—but it's their pies that truly set the bakery apart.
"Everything here is really good, especially the pies," Ted Brunson raved on an episode of Chicago's Best after sampling Sweety Pies’ rum-laced Crocodile pecan pie, dense chocolate cashmere pie, and raspberry supreme pie, which has a sour-cream topping that lends a cheesecake-like flavor to each bite. The Krugers never add preservatives to anything, so visitors should immediately teleport home with their turtle brownies or handmade scones, or consume the treats onsite in the cozy dining room along with cups of Intelligentsia coffee. The menu also includes quiches, soups, and granola by the pound.
The art of pastry baking is a careful ordeal. Each morning, long before the sun starts to shine on Lake Michigan, the team at Libanais Sweets is up making sure their specialties are crisp and flaky on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. They specialize in baked goods from around the world, including Eastern pastries such as baklava and European pastries ranging from éclairs to mille-feuille and tiramisu. In addition, the Libanais staff crafts specialties like chocolate lollipops, which are ideal for special events but can’t be used to bribe the rare bird that would prefer a broccoli pop.
Since its inception in 1999, Adagio Teas has filled the cups of its ever-growing customer base with farm-fresh gourmet teas harvested from across the globe. Seasoned sippers and new tea drinkers alike gather around the fragrant vapors of Adagio's expansive selection, which includes thousands of unique green, chai, and herbal teas. In addition to its stockpile of potables, Adagio Teas puts an innovative spin on tea ware with a varied collection of ceramic sets, Asian-inspired pots, and electric kettles that purr when plugged in or tickled gently with unused leaves. Adagio Teas' products fill the virtual shelves of its online store, and can also be found in many gourmet and health-food shops.
Knives flick quickly through pieces of carefully selected fruit, dicing sweet produce into bite-sized pieces at Chill Bubble Tea. Organic frozen yogurt cradles just-sliced toppings such as mango, berries, and bananas, flaunting fat-free and kosher status and the ability to inspire brain-freeze research. Springy pearls cruise through cool, customizable cups of bubble tea in flavors including watermelon, coconut, and cotton candy. Timi loose-leaf tea leaves, picked by hand as carefully as a king's birthday crown, steep in steaming cups beneath modish crimson lights and release delicate dispatches to nostrils.