Tag Archives: Floriole

My ‘Ode to Cold Brewed Iced Coffee…

Warning: This is going to be a loooong post, as I am crazy passionate about cold brewed iced coffee. Plus it was written while jacked up on cold brew, which will explain some but not all of the rambling! But you will be rewarded with a recipe, a source for instant cold brew, and a list of places that serve it in Chicago. As of yesterday, it ‘tis the season for iced coffee here in Chicago.  So, grab a cold brew, settle in and read on…..

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee….is there any other way? That is a rhetorical question. Or if you insist on the answer, it is “no”. Wait, “NO!” There is no other way to make or drink iced coffee, besides cold brew. I was converted a few years ago at the café. One of our cooks, Cara, said that Stubbs Coffee (no longer in business) made cold brewed iced coffee and it was a million times better than coffee that was hot brewed and cooled down. I was like “Ya, right.”  Rachel, our baker, concurred with Cara and vouched for how amazing it was. Well, Rachel has amazing taste in food and drink and drinks a TON of iced coffee, so I figured I better go check out this cold brew. Cara and Rachel were right. It was absolutely amazing. It reminded me of drinking wine.  You could taste the terroir, the “sense of place”, and all the nuances of the bean.  It tasted of chocolate, of blueberries, of caramel. There was no bitterness, only richness and depth of flavor. It was a completely different animal. I think an amazing tasting would be to cold brew two or three coffees from different origins and taste the nuances. I am confident that they would taste completely different.

It turns out that cold brewed iced coffee is less acidic than regular coffee.  It has 60% less acid than hot brewed coffee. Why, I don’t know. That might be a question for Neil or Jake at Crop to Cup. Want to weight in here guys?  Because of this fact, it is the only coffee I can drink. I had to ironically give up coffee when I owned the café, as the acid was killing my stomach and had me doubled over in pain; not conducive to a morning rush at all.

It also happens that “cold brew”, which I am now officially shortening it to, has more caffeine than regular coffee.  Tangent- I guess the grammatically correct way of describing this method of brewing coffee would be cold brewed iced coffee. But since when am I ever grammatically correct? I incorrectly and some would say obnoxiously call it “cold brew ice coffee”, dropping the “ed” on brewed and on iced. I overheard someone say how it was their pet peeve when people said “ice coffee” That is should be “iced coffee”. Whatever. Hope they don’t read this blog! They probably don’t. Ok, back on track. Cold brew has a ton more caffeine in it. Again, why, I don’t know? Jake? Neil? I can attest to this in a few ways. #1- that even Rachel, the caffeinated chef, couldn’t drink it after 3:00. Wow! Potent stuff! #2 – it gets me so jacked up, it is not even funny. I am talking head buzzing, heart pounding, talk a mile a minute, jacked up.  Maybe it is because I don’t drink it that often, I don’t know, (Neil? Jake?)  But watch out when I do. I end up writing super long blog posts that barely stay on subject! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Jeff, if you are reading this, you should not drink three of these either!

Now, the big question is, where do you get this amazing drug?  That’s the hard part, at least in Chicago it is.  Not many places cold brew ice coffee. Why? Because it is time consuming, a batch needs to “steep” for 12-24 hours, it takes up a lot of room, we used to have six eight quart containers steeping at one time at the café, and your yield is half that of hot brewed coffee, which equals double the food cost. So, if you do find it somewhere, be ready for a higher price tag. Believe me, it is worth it. Once you taste it, you will seek it out and never go back to the regular stuff, or iced Americanos for that matter; just not the same.  It’s funny, I love Chicago, but it is so behind in so many ways. We are finally catching onto the coffee culture, but cold brew, not so much yet. Cold brew is a given in places like Austin (that place is sooo cool.) and Seattle and Portland. You can also find it many places in LA and NY. It’s funny, when I ask if places cold brew, they usually look at me funny, which either means “Yes, of course, is there any other way?” Or”What the hell does that mean? “

Ice Coffee at Chava Cafe

Ok, where to get it in Chicago.

Café Asado – This is the best ice coffee I have found in Chicago. They roast their own beans and know what a good cup of coffee should taste like. And they are not in a hurry at all. Good coffee takes time, you know.

Floriole –  Everything they make tastes amazing and they do everything the right way. It doesn’t matter how long something takes to prepare at Floriole, just so it tastes good. Rachel is now baking and consuming cold brew at Floriole  🙂

Chava Café –  It is a super cool, modern café that serves amazing food, one of the partners was formerly from  Nomi. This is not your standard café fare. Whenever I head up north, I stop here for my fix.

Southport Grocery – Not only do they sell lots of great local artisan products and serve a great breakfast and lunch, they also make cold brew. Get one of their amazing chocolate toffee scones to go with it. You won’t be sorry.

Buzz Killer Espresso –  They feature a rotating roster of bean roasters from all over. Cool looking shop, They also brew Rishi tea also (my fave). But no decaf in sight! I guess hipsters don’t drink decaf anyways!

The Grind – Always packed coffee shop in Lincoln Square that also serves pastries from local businesses.  I have been stopping here on my way to work. My boss can see it is my eyes when I have sucked down one of their potent cold brews. And then I clean the entire shop while chattering away the entire time. (She has learned to block me out!)

Coffee Studio – Andersonville’s modern coffee shop that is serious about their coffee drinks. They were in Bon Appetit touted as one of the best boutique coffee shops. Their cold brew was seriously excellent. Great rich flavor. It is what cold brew is all about.

Miko’s Italian Ice– The little walk up windows in Bucktown and Logan Square cold brew their ice coffee and have been doing it that way for at least a decade. You can get an amazing Italian Ice here or a cold brew ice coffee.

Believe it or not, Caribou also cold brews! I have not had an ice coffee from there, as of yet, but my hubby told me about it. Nice to know if you are in a pinch.

The Knock Box in Humboldt Park used to cold brew. I don’t know why they stopped. It is a cute unpretentious café that makes for a great atmosphere for hanging out.

Places I wish had cold brew, Lovely Bakeshop, Star Coffee Lounge, and Ipsento. We use Ipsento’s beans. They roast them on site and I think they are one of the best roasters in town. They are not fancy or hip, but their coffee is damn good.

Please let me know if I missed anyplace. I would love to add places to my excel list!

Ok, I’m not done blogging yet! Here is where I tell you how to brew this wonder drug yourself!  It’s super easy. It is just messy and there is no instant gratification, as it takes 12-24 hours to steep. Now they sell a cold brew toddy maker for $30, but it is totally unnecessary. You need no special equipment at all to do this at home, except a strainer and some coffee filters. A French press makes it easier, but you don’t need one. I don’t have one.

Yes it is half decaf. Told you this stuff jacks me up!

Ok, here goes, dump 1 cup of coarse ground coffee into a container, pour in 4 cups of water, stir, let sit for 12-18 hours, filter through a coffee filter and strainer, pour over ice, enjoy!

Unstaged photo. I am just very messy.

Really, It is that easy.  I will say, it is very messy. The filtering process is not pretty. You get lots of silt. That is why I use a coffee filter in a strainer. You sort of have to stir it up. It is not a fast process. But you waited 18 hours for this damn coffee, you can wait a little longer! The yield for a 4 quart container is about 2 quarts, after filtering.

Alternate filtering method; double strainer

So how much does this cost to make at home. Ooohhh, I’m not so good at math, I’ll have to run the numbers by Laurent, the math whiz hubby, who counts in Chinese under his breath! It’s funny to listen to.  With Laurent’s fancy math, accounting for ice taking up 30% of your glass, etc., etc., home brewing ends up costing $1.00 per 16 oz glass. This is definitely not as cheap as hot brewed coffee, but cheaper than getting one out.

Oops, I drank half of it before I could take a picture.

Here is another alternative. Cold Brew concentrate from New Orleans.  New Orleans is king of cold brew ice coffee from way back when. Laurent was just there recently on business. I made him bring me some of this stuff home. I had read about it on the internet. It is cold brewed coffee and chicory. It comes in a container that lets you measure an ounce. It is the same type of container that is used to package gasoline additive or sanitizer, so don’t store them close to each other or you could make a fatal mistake one bleary eyed morning! This stuff is pretty good, not as good as freshly steeped cold brew, but not bad at all. And it’s not messy. And it is cheap. A 500 ml container is $5.50, plus shipping. The math whiz computed this to cost about .30 per 16 oz glass, if shipping cost $5.00.  Super cheap and not messy at all. Go for it!

Took it outside to the porch to enjoy.

So, this was my ‘ode to cold brew ice coffee. (It’s my ‘ode, I’ll grammatically slaughter the words however I like, thank you!) Really, give it a try. You won’t believe the difference. And now I’ve given you three ways to get your fix on.  You will become addicted, I promise.

Here is the info in an organized manner for you people who can’t follow my rambling! You’ll get the hang of it, as you read more of my blog. Or you’ll just nod and say “yes dear” like Laurent has learned to do!

Cold Brew Ice Coffee Recipe

(I usually triple the recipe)

1 cup coarsely ground coffee

4 cups water

Put coffee and water in container. Stir.

Let steep 18 hours, more or less.

Filter into clean container through a strainer and coffee filter or a French Press. May need to filter twice.


Go to www.coolbrew.com and order your cold brew with chicory for easy breezy beautiful  instant iced coffee.


Stop by one of these fine establishments in Chicago.

Café Asado  – 1432 W. Irving Park – 773-661-6530

Floriole  –1220 W. Webster – 773-883-1313

Chava Café- 4656 N. Clark – 773-942-6763

Southport Grocery – 3552 N. Southport – 773-665-0100

Buzz Killer Espresso –1644 N. Damen – 773-366-8377

The Grind – 4613 N. Lincoln – 773-271-4482

Coffee Studio – 5628 N. Clark – 773-271-7881

Miko’s Italian Ice – 1846 N. Damen and 2234 N. Sacramento – 773-645-9664

Caribou Coffee – www.cariboucoffee.com for locations

Have a great ice coffee season.


Filed under Cafes, Recipes

Fabulous Floriole

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.


Filed under Cafes

Yogurtland…you rule….

It’s so true. I didn’t make that up either, it is actually their tagline.

Oh boy, did I have a great four days of eating in LA, thanks to our friend Keiko knowing all the good places to go.  I’m actually going to break this up into two posts; everyday LA and fancy shmancy LA. Yogurtland was defiantly everyday LA, as in I would be there everyday if I lived there! We were happy to get a Red Mango and Pinkberry in Chicago, but they pale in comparison to Yogurtland. Yogurtland is self serve, so you are totally in control of your own dessert creation. I love abundance and having tons of choices even though I hate making decisions. Ironic, huh? Yogurtland had about twenty flavors of yogurt: two types of chocolate, kiwi, pomegranate/acaii/blueberry, raspberry, taro, coconut, pineapple, etc and quadruple that of toppings: blueberries, peaches, mango, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, all the nuts, cereal, candy, mochi…the combinations were endless. I was in heaven and excited to create my masterpiece. I ended up with raspberry, coconut and pineapple yogurt, topped with mochi, strawberries and blackberries, plus one or two gummi works for good measure.  There was also a copycat place called Nubi that we checked out. I got more adventuresome there with lychee, mango and blueberry yogurt topped with toasted coconut, pecans, pineapple and mochi, of course. (I love mochi, so chewy.) At .30 an ounce, our three yogurt creations only cost $9.00. Talk about “everyday”…We so need one of these here. Yogurtland…you rule!

I was so excited for the food trucks in LA. They have over fifty. I found that out thanks to Terry’s, over at www.Blue-Kitchen.com, tweet. So, I upped my text package on my cell phone and signed up to follow twenty food trucks. Boy, are they tweeters, especially the Grilled Cheese Truck. I did not make it to one truck, though.  It was a combination of things. #1: It rained for two days, ugh! #2: LA is very big and the traffic is terrible. #3: I’m getting old and wasn’t willing to chase my food down!  #4: the Dosa Truck was not at Cole & Sunset like they said they were going to be. I was there, they were not!  Oh, I lied. I did eat at one of the old school taco trucks in Echo Park. It wasn’t fancy, they weren’t twittering, but it was good! That’s all that really counts, isn’t it?

Speaking of Echo Park, great neighborhood, sort of the Bucktown to Silverlake’s Wicker Park. I hung out there one night with my friend Victoria. We found a great little wine bar called City Sip that was comfy, cozy and had a good wines and a great menu. We split a  panini of Serrano ham, manchego, roasted piqullo peppers and arugula.

We then hopped to Masa, a Chicago style deep dish pizza restaurant that a mutual friend opened with her husband. It was packed. Masa was a great, homey place with friendly service and tasty thin crust pizza, too. We ordered the farmers market special with broccoli, spiced goat cheese, arugula and ginger. I did not hear the waitress say ginger, so while we were eating the pizza, I said “I swear I taste ginger.” But on a pizza? Yes, on a pizza.  It totally worked. I usually hate broccoli on a pizza, too, but this was not overcooked or soggy or burnt. Loved it! Good job Rhonda and congratulations on surviving the restaurant biz.

I am always happy to visit LA so I can eat lots of Chinese food. The Midwest is just so stagnant and filled with heavy, old school Cantonese food. We’ve given up eating Chinese food out and just make it at home now. We adjust the dishes to our taste  making most of the dishes lighter and more modern.  I don’t think I could eat Ma Po Tofu out, if I tried. JTYH is one of those great LA Szechwan restaurants. It is in a lonely mini mall on a somewhat deserted strip of Valley Blvd. in Rosemead. Our friend Keiko found it. Her friend goes there three times a week! So would I if I lived anywhere near it. First of all, it’s cheap. We ordered enough food for six people (there were only three of us) and the bill came to $40! The portions huge. I had two of the best Chinese dishes I have ever had that night. One was sent out as a freebie, probably because we ordered so much food. I didn’t even see it on the menu. It was blanched celery which was then flash sautéed with sesame oil, dried chilies and ginger. That’s it. Ohhhh, was it subtle but flavorful. These flavors were all just hinted at, but with every crunch they teased your taste buds. I don’t know if I even really like celery. I never thought about it before. It was just there. Now I can’t stop thinking about it. There will be some experimenting going on in our kitchen soon.

The other stand out dish from JTYH was simply called “lamb steak” on the menu. Keiko said her friend said we HAD to get it. Ok, whatever. The plate held not a steak, but ribs, lamb ribs. Don’t think I’ve ever had them before. This dish was the opposite of subtle. The flavors exploded off of the plate and sent your taste buds for a spin, but never burned you, even with the thirty or so dried chilies on the plate taunting you. There was ginger, garlic, Szechwan peppercorns, scallions, dried chilies. The ribs were somewhat dry, in a good beef jerky kind of way. This dish was actually very sophisticated. I could see it at a modern Asian restaurant such as Sunda. We got the inside scoop on the preparation as Chinese is Laurent’s first language. This is definitely showing up at New Years Eve this year, with a shrimp version for the fish-a-tarians.

A lot of the good stuff in LA is not actually in LA proper. Take Huckleberry Café, it’s in Santa Monica, but well worth the drive. It’s only sixteen miles outside of LA, but traffic gets brutal here. I was ecstatic to get this recommendation from Sandra Holl of Floriole. I’ve said it before, I love abundance, and nothing gets me as excited as overflowing pastry cases, stacks and stacks of cookies, baskets of baguettes. Huckleberry Café is Abundance Central! Cases and cases of tarts, tea breads, croissants, cookies, English muffins, ciabattas, baguettes, kale, Israeli couscous, turkey meatballs, orzo salad. I wish someone would have come with me so I could have eaten more. As it is I took four pastries home and still wanted more. One of the pastries, a salted caramel square, had my name all over it. This little piece of heaven was a shortbread crust with about an inch of solid caramel plopped on top, that’s it. Unadulterated caramel, just much more civilized than a spoon in a jar, my usual way of imbibing! Onto the perfect breakfast dish: Quinoa, roasted garlic, sprouted broccoli and sunny side up eggs. Take note, someone in Chicago needs to run this as a special. Are you listening Birchwood Café or maybe Floriole? Your friend wouldn’t mind if you stole this dish. You’re all the way in Chicago. The quinoa was not so heavy like potatoes and the roasted garlic was creamy like cheese. It felt healthy, (I think it actually was) and tasted great. Plus, you still have room for a 4x4x1 inch square of straight caramel bliss!

Back to LA and the perfect burger. Just to let you know, I am over In n’ Out, believe it or not. P.Terry’s in Austin is much better and then there is Umami Burger. What a name, huh? Umami is a Japanese word and refers to the fifth taste, after sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Can I just say “ Best. Burger. Ever.” And we only had to wait fifteen minutes. Take that Kuma’s Corner! There are three locations in LA, very modern, simple burger place. (I love simple single concept places. They are genius.) There are eight burger choices, including a triple pork burger and a turkey burger. The menu states that all beef burgers come out medium rare…yes! (Ours actually did not. We sent them back and then ten minutes later two beautiful, juicy, medium rare burgers arrived at our table. Yum!) The burgers are not Midwest ginormous. They are the perfect, do not gorge yourself until you are stuffed, size. Laurent had the Manly Burger with beer cheddar, smoked salt onion strings and bacon lardoons on top. Ohhh, how I love it when he’s so manly! Plus I got to steal half of it. I had the Port and Stilton Burger with blue cheese and port caramelized onions, or at least half of it. I had to share too.

They were both amazing, right down to the bun, which was soft and fresh and tasty. The beef was juicy and flavorful, or should I say umami-ful? The grind was different than I was used to, but that was part of what I loved about it. The beef was not mushy and ground to death. The grind was courser and looser and make the burger have more of a crumbly texture, all a good thing, trust me. We ordered fries and onion rings on the side and they came with house made ketchup. Fries were ok, onion rings were great. Laurent had a root beer float and I had a Mexican Coke. (It IS better!) Dessert was provided by a local baker, Cake Monkey, a “ding dong” with peanut butter and marshmallow filling. This was just the perfect burger fix, the perfect lunch.

Thanks, Keiko,  for being as obsessed with food as we are and hunting down the best places in LA and outside of LA to eat at. You did well and therefore we ate well!

Next week…..more LA eating, the fancy shmancy kind, though.


Filed under Travel