Sunday, December 12, 2010

Celebrating Time Out Chicago

Anything that you want to know to navigate the ins and outs of Chicago can be found inside any issue of Time Out Chicago. I am a subscriber and love getting the publication every week because they have tremendous coverage of the food scene in Chicago. For instance, this week features the 100 Best Things  We Ate and Drank This Year. Amazing because now my list is almost endless for new places to go. It’s the best source out there on what is happening in Chicago and every year, I buy it as a gift to myself.

They recently compiled a list of shops that crank out great Christmas cookies. This saved me a lot of time because I wanted to put together a variety of cookies for my neighbor, who loves sweets but really hates to bake.

And me, well I just didn’t have the time.

Here is their website:

And here is a copy of their list of bakery’s that make great holiday cookies:

GREECE Melomakarona from Artopolis Bakery, Cafe and Agora (306 S Halsted St, 312-559-9000). $8.45 a pound

“With these cookies, we keep the [holiday] tradition—we might have updated the original Greek recipe over the past ten years, but this cinnamon, honey and ginger cookie is one delectable item, then and now.” —Maria Melidis, store manager

GERMANY Springerle cookies from Fritz Pastry (1408 W Diversey Pkwy, 773-857-2989). 75 cents each

“Our bakery is named for my grandfather on my mother’s side, so there’s lots of German influence in everything we do. My mom made these cookies for our grandfather and the kids every Christmas; they’ve got that unique anise flavor, but people who like anise love them. It’s traditional to use a cutter with etchings for the design; ours have little animals on them to add a bit of charm.” —Nate Meads, owner

EASTERN EUROPE Chocolate and cinnamon rugelach from Tel-Aviv Kosher Bakery (2944 W Devon Ave, 773-764-8877). $5.50 a pound

“We’ve been using the same recipe for this rugelach ever since my father, David Ackerman, was freed from the concentration camps and came to the states after World War II. He opened up this bakery, and although he passed on, my mother, Diana, carries on the business and we still use every one of the recipes that he brought from Europe.” —Esther Sabo, daughter of owner Diane Ackerman

SWEDEN Swedish gingerbread from Floriole Cafe & Bakery (1220 W Webster Ave, 773-883-1313). $2.50 each

“My Swedish grandmother made these every year for the holidays. After she passed away, no one had the recipe. I hadn’t had them since I was 10 or 11 and really missed them, so a few years ago I started tinkering around to try to replicate them. Now we make them in all the traditional shapes at the bakery: snowflakes, Christmas trees, presents. My aunt says they’re pretty close—they just need more allspice. But I don’t like allspice.” —Sandra Holl, owner

USA Retro “snobalz” from Angel Food Bakery (1636 W Montrose Ave, 773-728-1512). 80 cents each

“My mom always made the crescent-shaped cookies dusted with powdered sugar for the holidays, and these are reminiscent of my childhood. They’re such a rich, dense cookie–the kind that’s perfect for holidays and special occasions. —Stephanie Samuels, owner

MEXICO Trenza de fruta fresca from Bombon (1530 W 18th St, 312-733-7788 and other locations). $12 a pound

“In the small town of Hildago where my baker Gonzalo Illas and his family of bread bakers are from, most people are too poor to spend money on fancy ornaments for their Christmas trees. Instead, they bake beautiful cookies, which they decorate and hang on the branches like these wreaths made with candied fruit and cinnamon. When Gonzalo came to Chicago to work with me, he started to bake these and other traditional cookies each Christmas, as he always had in his town. And you know how it goes—half get eaten right away, and then only half make it on the tree.” —Laura Cid-Perea, pastry chef

CZECH REPUBLIC Kolaczki from Delightful Pastries (5927 W Lawrence Ave, 773-545-7215). $15 per pound

“Even though my mother (and bakery co-owner Stasia Hawryszczuk) and I are Polish, we had never heard of these cookies before opening our bakery. We did a little research and found out that they’re actually from the Czech Republic, but you know, people think they’re Polish so we have to make them.” —Dobra Bielinski, co-owner

FRANCE Macaroons from Delightful Pastries. $15 per pound

“I made these for my French exam in pastry school way before they became so popular. When I opened the bakery, I was looking for a cookie that people would travel long distances to buy, and we decided this was the one. Now, they’re one of our biggest hits. We make them with marzipan, hazelnut praline, chocolate, caramel and pistachio fillings.” —Bielinski

ITALY Giant Christmas cannoli from D’Amato’s Wholesale Bakery (1124 W Grand Ave, 312-733-5456). $45, mini cannolis sold separately for $1.25 each

“How do we do it? I guess it’s kind of a family secret. Look closely—there are over 40 mini cannolis inside!” —Roseanna D’Amato, daughter of owner Victor D’Amato