french market.

September 10, 2010

Ryan and I had a lovely time out and about today. I was surprised with the day off and I’d been wanting to return to the French Market since my unsuccessful, less than thrilling visit the week prior. I’m sad to report that this trip proved little more exciting, despite its falling on a Saturday afternoon. Struggling to put words to my disappointment, I was pleased when Ryan said it best: “It lacks character.” Sadly, I agree. Though we enjoyed the food we sampled and walked out with some reasonably priced, locally smoked pork belly (yum), we were left feeling underwhelmed and not at all encouraged to return. I’m not one to complain about 69 cent avocados or international fare, but I could have stood for a little more personality, perhaps a conversation with one of the few vendors involved enough to be handing out samples. Overall, I wish there were more to the market. That being said, it’s a new endeavor and I have hope that it will continue to grow and improve.
We loved the hand-cut french fries and dipping sauces at Frietkoten Belgian Fries & Beer. I particularly enjoyed the Harissa Mayo.
We really liked RAW., which featured 100% organic, raw vegan food. We sampled the “tuna” sandwich and the lasagna, which really, really tasted like it had ricotta cheese in it. Yummy! This is one vendor I would come back for.

Unfortunately, we’d spent the majority of our cash on fries and beer, so we couldn’t partake in any pastries. But they looked pretty, especially those prepared by the award winning Vanille Patisserie. Personally, I think I’ll travel to their home site on Clybourn Ave. Closer, and possibly more inviting. The pastries were fun to shoot, though I wish I’d packed a higher speed film to truly showcase their delicious colors! Don’t they just make you want to bake?

When it comes down to it, we’re really just not that into the Loop. Living in Chicago, it’s accepted that you’ll have to venture there on occasion. But for me, it’s the neighborhood bakeries and restaurants, the local wine shop with dozens of cheeses to sample (and great wines under ten bucks, thank you very much!), the down-to-earth business owner that simply wants to discuss their fare with you - these are the places I want to return to.

But it doesn’t hurt to look (and smell, and sample)...

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