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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Today is the greatest...

This morning when I dragged myself out of bed after only four hours of sleep, I thought to myself "this day is not off to a good start!" Luckily, music has the power to change moods. When I turned on the radio later in the morning, I heard a song I had not heard for awhile - The Smashing Pumpkins' "Today is the Greatest Day I Have Ever Known."

This song made me think of two things. One - I realized that maybe this day wasn't as bad as I wanted myself to think it was. And two - I thought back to the time when I had listened to that song alot, back in college. Which was fitting, because a good friend from college was in town for the weekend and a group of us would be getting together in the afternoon to do what girls do best together - eat and talk!

So this afternoon, we set off on a circuit of some of Chicago's best coffeehouses and bakeries. We started at La Patisserie P on Argyle, where pastry chef Peter Yuen has just returned from a successful performance at the US Pastry Competition. This bakery has a great selection of beautifully crafted French cakes, as well as sweet and savory Chinese pastries. The red bean bun I tried was probably the best I have ever tasted in Chicago.

We moved on to one of Chicago's German neighborhoods, Lincoln Square, to pay a visit to Cafe Selmarie. Customers crowded into this shop to purchase big boxes of homemade cookies, bags of fresh bread, and other assorted goodies. Here, I sampled a Florentine, which is a sweeter, heartier version of a granola bar - a nice change of pace!

We considered going next to Devon to try some Indian desserts, but we decided to save ourselves for the evening's main event: Chocolate at the Pen at the Peninsula Hotel. Chocolate at the Pen is one of those things that must be saved for a special occasion - it is the ultimate indulgent experience.

Every Friday and Saturday night, Peninsula's lobby hosts Chocolate at the Pen, a buffet featuring chocolate in practically every form imaginable: dainty chocolate cookies and brownies, bite-sized chocolate cheesecakes, enormous chocolate-covered strawberries, luscious chocolate raspberry mousse, miniature mocha parfaits, hand-crafted truffles of all varieties, and even creamy drinking chocalate. The selection was overwhelming... and of course we had to sample a little of everything!

We paced ourselves, partaking of chocolate for close to three hours while enjoying relaxed conversation and a live jazz performance. What could be better than an evening with good friends and great chocolate!

Although I am feeling a bit lightheaded from all that sugar... Whew, what a rush! What a day!

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La Patisserie P
1050 W. Argyle, Chicago

Cafe Selmarie
4729 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Peninsula Hotel
108 E. Superior, Chicago


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