Le Chocolat du Bouchard is a delightful, little, neighborhood chocolate & coffee shop located in Downtown Naperville (Chicago suburb). They have a variety of chocolate everything! The decor is charming, the entire store is inviting you to come in and enjoy a slice of chocolate cake with your coffee and a lazy afternoon.
I like visiting museums. I am fascinated by engineering and basically how stuff is made. Recently, while in Chicago, we toured the Museum of Science and Industry. Like everything in Chicago, it was not a cheap visit.
With so many things to do and see, here are my favorites; interactive exhibits, like the tornado and hot-air balloons from the Science Storms, an actual 727 airplane suspended from the building, vintage firetrucks, and displays of vintage & modern aircraft and spacecraft!Above the basic admission, they offer extra tours, exhibits, and other “add-ons”.
A captured German U-boat (submarine) basic exhibit is included in the general admission, with option to add-on a guided tour. If you have time, definitely add the tour! Great for children 10+, the tour is informative and just really neat! Two doorways are cut into the side and you walk (almost) the entire length of the boat! It was amazing to see the navigation stations, kitchen, bunk beds, torpedo storage, and so much more!
Our final add-on was the coal mine tour. This is the original and has been a permanent exhibit since 1933. The coal mine is a great family activity, perfect for Children 5 and up. The tour starts in a working coal mine elevator and includes a quick train ride and lots of fun-facts. There is working equipment that spans old and modern mining techniques.
There were many other exhibits and activities that we wanted to see, but our trip was cut short due to lousy transportation. If you are visiting from a Chicago-suburb, it is much easier to drive directly to the museum and pay to park. Otherwise, you may experience a significant delay on the bus or train. There was an event downtown that resulted in many bus routes being detoured, so we ended up in the worst part of South Chicago for a bus transfer. I would not even recommend walking from the train station at 55th/56th. If you really want to take the bus, or have no other options, the X28 is the best option.
I really enjoyed our visit to the museum and will plan to go back on our next visit to the Chicago area.
June 2014 Update – Made it back to the museum and brought my two favorite little girls, ages 4 & 7 years. They loved the coal mine tour, and earned a ton of stickers for participation and correct answers during the tour.
We went on a “free” day and the museum was packed with people, mostly school children. The extra cost add-on tours were a break from the bus loads of kids and other families enjoying the museum at no cost. For a family of 4 or more, the free day is really worth it, if you can handle the crowds and noise.
There is currently an add-on tour of Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives that displays various Disney props and costumes. There is also a hands-on drawing portion of the exhibit. The girls were mildly interested, but spent most of the entire 10 minutes in the exhibit starting at the cartoon clips shown on multiple screens. I adore all things Disney, but this was just a waste of time & money for the girls and adults. Save your money and spend 10 minutes looking over the images from the website, they offer better views than those in person behind the display glass.
The Fairy Castle was a nice break from the crowds, even thought it is part of the free collection the exhibit enclosure automatically limits the number of people at a time. The multi-level castle has an enclosed garden, ballroom, library, and so much more.
There are many interactive activities and games for the kids. Including solar car racing, life-size hamster wheel, hot-air balloon launches, trains big & small, and a miniature rocket launch.This is absolutely one of my favorite museums, and once again, one of the highlights of every visit to Chicago!
I was told that this year was smaller than previous years, for both restaurants and crowds. A lite drizzle of rain really cleared the streets of Grants Park on Friday. I was glad to avoid the crowds, and I am not sure we really missed out on fewer vendors. Many smaller or less well-known restaurants were able to make an appearance in “pop-up restaurants” which allowed many delicious food options. There were MANY pizza places, and a great variety of food from around the world. Our favorite meal of the day was Jerk Chicken Belize-style from Garifuna Flava.
Tickets were 12 for $8. Eli’s cheesecake offered “taste” size original cheesecake for just 3 tickets ($2). While most glasses of wine were between 8 to 10 tickets (average $6 each). 3 Ticket items were rare, and most portions were 8 tickets. Not enough places had true sample or tasting size portions. There were quite a few chain and multiple location restaurants, and only a few unique Mom & Pop places that we could see.
Overall, we left full and happy. We ate some good food and some amazing food. The cool weather and a bit of precipitation was an added bonus!
While in Flagstaff recently, I discovered Vino Loco wine bar. This is a darling little boutique wine bar, located in downtown Flagstaff, walking distance from the Monte V. Vino Loco stocks many varieties of wine, including some great local Arizona wines. Due to the altitude, and my resulting diminished tolerance for wine, I decided to try the wine flights in order to try as many different wines as possible. Prices are reasonable for flights, by the glass, or by the bottle. It is one of the best selections for hard to find Arizona small batch boutique wines. The staff is friendly and they offer a few cheese & fruit platters to accompany the wine. My next trip to Flagstaff will certainly include Vino Loco!
Cork Restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants in the Phoenix area! Every Sunday Cork offers a themed tasting dinner. The theme changes each month, resulting in a fresh, seasonal, delicious special night out. Here is a sampling from the “Taste of Spring” four course (plus an optional starter) dinner that I still dream about. Hmmmm, yum.
We started with the (optional) starter course of Braised Rabbit Risotto with Fava Bean, Taleggio, and Arugula. Bold flavors and great texture started the evening beautifully. The fava beans were a delightful surprise with the cheesy risotto.
The first course of Watercress and Asparagus Soup with Dungeness Crab Fritter and Creme Fraiche was light and refreshing. The crab fritter was slightly crunchy and paired nicely with the subtle sweet of the soup.
The candied nuts offered a sweet side to the creamy brie and tart greens in the Pen Tendril Salad with St. Andre Brie, Raisins, Apricots, Candied Nuts and Roasted Apple Vinaigrette. The salad was a refreshing mid-point after risotto and soup, giving me the opportunity to slow down and savor all of the sweet, tart, creamy, savory flavors and prepare my taste buds for the next level of mouth watering goodness.
It was a tough decision between the Mustard-Crusted Pork Tenderloin, or Char-Grilled Lamb Loin, or Pan-Roasted Halibut. We compromised on both the Lamb and the Halibut. It was a tough choice between the juicy lamb and the perfectly seared halibut, but the lamb & wine pairing exploded with flavor and even though I was getting full, I still wanted more!
The evening ended with a light & fluffy Strawberry Shortcake with Grand-Marnier Marinated Strawberries. Cork’s pastry chef recreates classic desserts and improves upon them, the shortcake was no exception. The strawberry reduction was flavorful without being too sweet. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic meal!
The four courses were only $35 per person, and worth every penny. I am excited to see what’s on next Sunday’s tasting dinner menu!