chicago sunday brunch #2

Yesterdays brunch was at Nookies Too in Lincoln Park. I confess, this was my 3rd visit. Last time I was at Nookies it was my 31st birthday and that’s where I chose to have breakfast complete with a friend and mimosas. All three times I have been I’ve gotten the same thing; Crunchy French Toast:

Nookies Too: Crunchy French Toast

My sister and I have even stolen the concept and made this at home, except I use Frosted Flakes instead of regular corn flakes. You can use Captain Crunch too- just crush it up and roll the egg soaked bread…voila! A sweet treat for a funky brunch.

I feasted yesterday and couldn’t resist taking lots of photos to capture in full the golden brown, crunchy, sweet, perfection:

Nookies Too: Crunchy French Toast

Nookies Too: Crunchy French Toast

What did I do after I finished on this sunny Sunday after my food coma set in? I walked it off course! About 10 miles to be exact; All through Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Roscoe Village and more. Nothing like a feast and earning it.

Stay tuned for next weeks brunch post #3…


you rocked our pancake world bongo room

How was brunch on Sunday? In a word: holyfreakingindulgentanddelicious. (Did you get that?) Ok, so that’s more than one word, but I had to blend them all together in attempt to describe the level of pancake euphoria my friend and I experienced at Bongo Room in Wicker Park the other day. I’m still floating with memories the warm white chocolate sauce on one of our stacks:

Bongo Room White Chocolate & 4 Berry Pancakes

I’d been to Bongo room nearly 10 years ago and fell in love then. I’ve dreamt of the Oreo pancakes with vanilla sauce I scarfed down so long ago since that long ago visit. This time around when I saw some menu changes and no Oreo stack of any kind offered, surprisingly I wasn’t disappointed. How could I be with all offered on this springs menu?

This Sundays visit I was with a new friend, fellow foodie, and Bongo Room first-timer. Even though this was our first meal together, as soon as we looked at the menu, we looked at each other and yes, we would be ordering 2 things and splitting of course. The best friends are made over sharing food after all! We were on this same drooling page for sure. In addition to our choice of the White Chocolate & 4 Berry Flapjacks (graham cracker crusted flapjacks topped with warm white chocolate cream cheese sauce, four berry coulis & fresh berries) we chose the Banana Heath Bar Pancakes (banana pancaked with heath bat chips, topped with warm toffee-butter cream & fresh bananas.) Here’s what our stacks looked like before we started our feast:

Bongo Room Heath Bar & Banana Pancakes

Bongo Room White Chocolate & 4 Berry Pancakes

Did I mentioned I had saved my appetite for 14 hours at this point? Yep, I was starving and ready to do some damage. If you know me, you know I don’t leave a bite on a plate of goodness. Well kids, you heard if here first; I just couldn’t finish. Neither of us could. Even starting with the most empty stomachs possible, the famous Bongo Room breakfast plates got the best of us. I still think we did some good damage though:

"After" Bongo Room Banana Heath Bar Pancakes

"After" Bongo Room White Chocolate Berry Pancakes

What a perfect mess we made. I’m proud of our accomplishment. This meal was like running a marathon; you work really hard, give it everything you have, it all seems a bit painful halfway through, near the finish line you think you could die, but after you’re done you’re so satisfied with good pain, feel pride like you have never felt before, and think: “I did it! I did it!”

I can’t wait to “run” my next marathon at Bongo Room. Until then, I will actually be running around my neighborhood so I can still fit into my jeans. Good thing the doctor called last week and told me my good cholesterol numbers were higher than she’d ever seen.

Man I could go for some pancakes right now…


scuba steve and intelligentsia coffee

Hello there reader Scuba Steve who wrote me yesterday:

Thank you for the compliment and note. Until we are finishing importing all the previous BLR posts here, you can still view everything Blue Lollipop Road previous to 4/29/11 on the original BLR site at I sent you a return note yesterday helping to explain this. For some reason, the email address you put down on my contact form didn’t work, so the email bounced back to me. Thanks for being patient and clicking around during this transition. Sorry for the confusion!

Onto coffee that I’m in love with:

It’s a sunny Saturday morning in Chicago and I’m sipping delicious Intelligentsia Coffee. If you are a coffee lover, have any access to an Intelligentsia Coffeebar, and haven’t been- you are missing out. Intelligentsia does coffee the only way coffee should ever be done. I’m drinking Organic Bolivia this morning as I type away:

Organic Bolivia Saturday morning Intelligentsia

The other night when it was cold and rainy, I camped out here and had a smack-yo-mamma good hot chocolate complete with pro barista art:

Inteliigentsia hot cocoa

This morning is my 3rd visit in 3 weeks. I have a feeling Intelligentsia and I are going to be very, very good friends during my summer in Chicago. I think I’m going to have to buy myself a Pourover box too. Once you do coffee this way, there’s just no going back.

Now, where in Chicago to have some breakfast. Oh the possibilities…


farm to table

I LOVE this place. I can’t remember if I have written about it before, but here it is again:

Farmstead. Farm to table dining in St. Helena California. YUM. Farmstead is a big part of the reason I was only a vegetarian for like 22 seconds.

If you are visiting the Napa Valley, you must stop here to have a glass of something red with the meatball appetizer and salt rolls while sitting outside by the fire.

Just thinking about it makes me smile, lean back in my chair and sigh…


everybody’s girl friday

I did some office work for a lawyer in Saulsalito last week. It was interesting and different thing to throw in the mix of my recent professions during my stay in California. I’ve been a baby sitter, a house sitter, a dog sitter, a bartender, a lawyers assistant, financial organizer, home organizer and a will be spending the rest of my days until I head east working at a couple different wineries. All very sporadic, but welcomed and help me to scrape by until I land something full time elsewhere.

When I was working in the gorgeous little city of Saulsalito, I had lunch one day at a joint of a spot with yummy Asian food. I had to take a photo of my plate because this was the most odd looking friend egg that topped my meal I had ever seen:

Asian lunch and odd fried egg in Saulsalito

I also went to a place for coffee called Taste of Rome. Oh my fantastic. Tried and true cappuccinos here. I didn’t nosh on anything, but this little sidewalk, open air cafe’ would be the first place I’d hit up if I was in the mood for Italian eats and treats. One of the most fabulous things about California is the fresh food that you can get, around every corner. Restaurants, grocery stores, roadside farm stands, ahhh….you know I love that. Even with the odd looking eggs!


c casa su casa?

I’m coming up on 4 weeks in Napa and things are ROLLING. By that I mean I have met a ton of incredible people, had some of the best food and wine I have ever in my life and now have had an absolute awesome furry of work stuff rushing in too. Obviously all that takes me away from here but fear not- that is part of the plan.

BLR is getting a facelift (in more ways than one), I now have a few clients for my financial and life organization project, and I’ve got other work in addition to that too. I like paying my bills and I totally suck at sitting around doing nothing so this delicious bit of total productive and learning chaos is just what I’ve been looking for.

I might just take over the world. If only more hours were in a day.

Here’s a photo of my REEEEEdiculously delicious taco from lunch today in between running around like a madwoman at C Casa in the Oxbow Market in Downtown Napa:

Taco lunch at C Casa, Oxbow Market, Napa

Finger potatoes, fresh tomatoes, queso fresca, cilantro and ahh….

Can I tell you how amazing it is to have so many noshing spots that use compostable products and serve grass fed meats, and locally grown stuff? Can I tell you how much I need to sign up to start racing again and up my miles? There’s no getting away from feasting around these parts- ack! (Not that I am trying that hard to get away…) My dreams of being a size zero are so not happening in this lifetime. (Insert fake sigh here. I’m actually not that disappointed about that.)

Back to work I go. I had to quick post this deliciousness…


dinner at a castle

I try to be a vegetarian, but it just doesn’t work to well when someone offers you a filet like this:

Castle filet

(Grass-fed local beef tastes too good to pass up, what can I say?)…and with fabulous red wine and hilarious company like this? I’m all about it:

Our castle dinner table

I know, the waiter in the corner looks red-eyed and creepy like he’s going to kill us. (Darn red-eye photos!) He was actually funny and nice and brought me 3 chocolate desserts. Girls like boys that bring them multiple chocolate desserts.

Oh chocolate dessert

We had so much fun at the 50 year reunion of Phi Sigma Kappa last night, we are still laughing this morning. These are just a few photos. I have a video to come too. Also an after dessert port wine group photo with my friend/partner in Napa crime Erin and our new boyfriends who are all in their 70’s. All we had to do for this fun? Hand out a few name tags. What a great score.

It feels like I’m living in a carpe diem party everyday. I like this party a lot. I think I’ll stay.


wine country sunday #2

Once again an unexpected but welcomed invite to a strangers house for a Sunday meal and some fun yesterday. This time it was a birthday. I was happy to see a homemade (or should I say Mom-made) desert roll out. It was made up of a brownie bottom with chocolate and toffee chips inside, middle layer of dulce de leche ice cream and topped with a layer of pure chocolate. There was tiramisu too. Oh delightful.


Of course there was good vino. In fact, the gent that was having the birthday is a Winemaker and popped open some of his craft deliciousness.

Blake b-day party in Napa

I’m loving these constant, effortless looking but perfectly executed get togethers. It feels like I’m living a daily Thanksgiving feast, meets European lifestyle, meets “Howdy neighbor! Come on over!” with sunshine mixed in. A little slice of heaven.


to napa to napa to buy a fat pig

…home again, home again jiggety jig.

I’m not actually planning on buying any pigs, but to wine country I go for sure. Maybe some work and a home for a spell, maybe just a visit with a friend for the weekend. Resume’s, have been flying out, networking has been happening for weeks, connections, research, hand shakes and high-fives all around. Blogging and traveling is oh so lovely, but I never get a paycheck on a Friday so we have to work on that.

Regardless of what the next step/place/thing is for me, I’ll never have a lack of things to talk about here. I have too many photos of yummy food, cool people, neat places, funny road signs, and other ridiculousness to not share them here. For instance the peach galette that Jess, friend of my friend Emma in Seattle who housed me made:

Jess' peach galette in Seattle


Or this funny sign at a grocery store in Sitka Alaska:

Sitka AK grocery store sign

I put it out here and in the universe that I was going to Alaska so I’d kick my own ass to do it. I’m not a big believer in sitting on some kind of “bucket list” for years. I think if you want to do something, you should just do it. However, i do think it’s healthy to write down what you want in black and white to help force yourself to own it. Even if it’s as simple as I want to eat a popsicle today. ( I had a DE-LISH fresh, organic, blackberry, roadside farm one the other day in the California Redwoods.):

Organic blackberry popsicle in the Redwoods

So off to Napa to Napa to buy a fat- or er, well, maybe pick, sort and crush some grapes, hose out some barrels, work in a tasting room, become a monk-whatever. Maybe I’ll somehow find a way to get back east to a couple weddings I’m supposed to be at in the next couple weeks and then to the Big Apple to make a home. (Or at least sleep in a garbage can.) All I know is a couple biggies next on my active bucket list are to learn fluent Spanish and become a killer Salsa dancer. (Ok, so another marathon is on the list too, but I’m not sure about my half-broken knees…) Learning languages, booty shakin’ and running so I can eat more chocolate? I’m on it. I trust the rest will work itself out just as it’s supposed to. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m down to my last $50 and I’m going to wine country? I guess we will see…