I like to write about places and food that I am crazy passionate about. I usually don’t write about the latest hottest newest foodie place to go to. That is what The Hungry Hound and Time Out does; and they do it well. I can’t compete with them with my rambling not always grammatically correct tangent filled blog posts. But I am so crazy passionate about this latest hottest foodie temple of fabulousness, that I have to gush about it. Floriole. You know the whole background already, Sandra had/has a stand at the Green City Market and now she has a much anticipated beautiful two story café. That’s the short version. Here comes my long version.
My last stop before being tested for Celiac Disease recently was Floriole. If I could never again have wheat/gluten, Floriole was going to be my “Last Supper” and “Last Dessert”! The good news is that I do not have Celiac and I can continue to gorge myself on Sandra’s pastries. I will try to control myself next time, as on my last trip I had a sandwich, an almond crème croissant, a sticky bun, and a chocolate croissant, plus an iced coffee. No joke! I thought I was going to be handed down a death sentence, so I was going to live it up while I could.
Floriole recently started offering sandwiches, a few choices a day. Perfect. Why do you need ten million sandwich choices, where the only difference between one sandwich and the next is the condiment? You don’t. Why do you need tasteless bread piled a mile high with gloppy sauces and tasteless tomatoes? You don’t. What you do need is one of Floriole’s perfect sandwiches. They are very “French”, with a shmear of condiment, a few slices of meat and a slice of cheese.Simple, yet with such fresh complex flavors. These ingredients were meant to show off the baguette, that lovely baguette, which was the star of the show. You know how sometimes you will take half the bread off to get to the good stuff inside a sandwich? You wouldn’t even dream of doing that at Floriole. In fact, you will probably buy whole loaf on your way out the door, for later. It probably won’t even make it to the car without you stealing a bite.
The other ingredients such as the Otter Creek spring raw milk cheddar, the ramp pesto made from Bare Knuckle Creek Farms ramps, the Black earth Meats ham were top notch, but the bread…..ohhhh the bread. You have not tasted a baguette until you have had Floriole’s. I never knew this is what a baguette should taste like. I didn’t know baguettes had flavor and texture. I thought they were tasteless neutral vehicles for stinky cheeses. This baguette had chew, it had crust, and it tasted clean and yeasty. It was nothing at all like its cardboard cousin, “that baguette imposter”. Hence, this ham and cheese sandwich was what sandwich dreams are made of. And bonus, it was only about $7.00, maybe less, I don’t remember. All I know is I would pay double for it and still be happy! It didn’t come with greasy chips, or tasteless slaw or anything else. It didn’t need to. It was all about the sandwich.
Onto the pastries….yum. Just like the baguette was the perfect example of what a baguette should be, a picture, or better yet, a taste of Floriole’s croissants should be in the dictionary next to the definition of croissant. I have never been a croissant freak, again, probably because I have never had a good one in Chicago. I have had an amazing croissant at a tiny little bakery with one table in Toronto, and in Paris, but never in Chicago. I have only had “fake” croissants in Chicago. You can tell by looking at them, these crescent shaped pastries masquerading as croissants, that they were not real. That they were made by some other method other than laboriously layering paton dough with butter over and over again and letting them rest and rise and do their thing. Floriole does it the right, time consuming way, as they do everything. Thank goodness. I have had three of the croissants at Floriole. Not all on one trip! Come on, that would just be gluttonous. Oh, wait….I did have two of them on one trip! Let me defend myself here by saying that the almond crème croissant made for a better picture, but I really wanted a chocolate one, because chocolate IS my middle name (after caramel). I did take the chocolate one to go and I did share it. So there. I also had a ham and cheese croissant on a separate trip. Lesson: Good ham plus good sharp cheese plus great technique and attention to detail equals a perfect croissant. No matter which croissant, or two, that you get, you will be very happy. Number one, you can taste the butter. Number two, you can taste the butter! And this makes for a super flaky, do not eat in your car, crispy, yet tender, perfect example of that classic French pastry.
Onto that sticky bun… I will confess that this was my second sticky bun. No not on this trip! I do have some self control. Not much, but some. I had no self control on my last trip, when I got that amazing croissant. I also got a sticky bun to share with my husband, as he loves them. Well…needless to say, he still has not had even a bite of Floriole’s sticky bun. Oops. I meant to only eat half, because, do you really need a whole sticky bun, after eating a ham and cheese croissant? Don’t answer that. Well, I ate a bite, then another, then my half was gone, just another little bite, well, by that time, I told myself it wasn’t worth saving him the one little bite that was left, so I destroyed the evidence. Now he is going to read this and I am totally busted! Those sticky buns are addictive. They are gooey and chewy on the outside, but the inside stays tender somehow. You know how with most sticky buns you can’t wait to get to that one center bite, as it is the most tender and perfect? Well, Floriole’s entire sticky bun is tender and perfect. No need to wait to get to the middle, you can enjoy every single bite. (even your husband’s half) It is not too sweet, but still covered in lovely caramelized sugar. How she does it I don’t know, but I’m glad she does.
One last bonus, they cold brew iced coffee at Floriole. It makes sense. They do everything else the right way there, of course they would make iced coffee so it is rich and complex and full of flavor.
I just want to leave you with this (mental) picture, as I didn’t capture it on film. As I sat at Floriole, eating, enjoying, observing, musing…I saw person after person literally picking the crumbs off their plates, wanting to savor that very last morsel of their Floriole pastry.. I won’t lie, I found myself doing the same thing. It was that good.