Chicago Day 3 – Hot Diggity Dawgs & Dacquoise

Vanille Patisserie

After some of the best Smoked Fish of my life, J & A drove us back into town to hit Vanille Patisserie. E’s been having his usual withdrawal from good French pastries, so we needed to squeeze a stop in at one of the reputedly best spots in town for a fix.

Vanille Patisserie

2229 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60614

(773) 868-4574

J & A promised that this one was going to be much better than our first experience with Vanille’s satellite location ( @ The French Market), and they were right. When we got in, we immediately saw the selection was larger, and the presentation more vibrant.  The kitchen was hard at work, churning out the day’s treats.  The girl at the counter was exceptionally helpful and patient with us, describing each and every fanciful creation on display.  Everything just looked so good: from the uber-cherry red Cheesecake, to the sinfully rich-looking Tiramisu. It was so hard to choose. I let A take the reigns this time, and she chose the Tiramisu (which I was totally eying), the Hazelnut (we highly recommended this one from our first brush with Vanille) and a M0usse Cake (because J & A wanted us to experience what they thought was a forte of Vanille: Mousses).

We took a seat by the window and quickly dug into the treats.  After quickly devouring a 3 cakes (right after a full meal at Calumet Fisheries, I might add), we proclaimed the Tiramisu my favourite.  E disagreed and said he liked the Mousse. I think J & A once again loved everything that Vanille had to offer! I’d have to agree though – even though I could only taste a fraction of what I ate (because of my inconveniently timed cold), I was impressed with the silky textures and full flavours of the cakes.  E, being as picky as he is, said it definitely helped satiate his craving.  The trip was officially a success! J & A then approached the counter to get a few more items to go and to try their macarons.  I had warned them previously that their macarons were stale, dry and a bit overly sweet. But J & A wanted to see if that was just due to the satellite location because sub-par. I agreed to partake in a taste-challenge. We queried the staffer as to the freshness of the product. She of course immediately proclaimed all the products exceptionally fresh, but then followed that up by saying the macarons were no more than “a week old”.  Hmm.. Interesting.  From what I understand, macarons are best eaten the day they are assembled. Even when I made them myself, the cookie’s texture suffers when in prolonged contact with the cream filling. A week later – I can only imagine the integrity of the cookie degrading to a level…. well, to the level of the cookie I tasted at The French Market, I guess.  A got a rose-scented macaron to try and I hinted (hopefully strong enough) that the macaron wasn’t really up to snuff (it was well-priced though at $1.50 per cookie). I didn’t have the heart to tell the girl at the counter though my exact thoughts, and could only muster a “wow, it’s really sweet” (It was. I prefer my cookie to be more perfumed than sweet. The sugar was overbearing in this case).  I think I’m going to give up my quest for a good macaron this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I fell in love in Paris, only to fall out of love in North America.

J then managed to secure us a peak behind the scenes and into the kitchen.  The owners of Vanille are ridiculously young and accomplished. Husband-owner, Dimitri Fayard, was training for this year’s World Pastry Championship; however, wife-owner Keli Fayard was on hand and talked to us about the rigorous training her husband was partaking in to prepare for the Championships.  She spoke of the long hours and the real tears that grown men cried during the competition. She also mentioned that the shop would close early that week so that they could see Kings of Pastry, which was screening at the nearby Gene Siskel Film Center.  We wished them the best of luck at the end of our chat and made our way back onto the bustling streets of Chicago.  This was our last stop on the J & A food tour, and we were sad to see them go. But the eating was to continue in Chicago for at least 3 more days, so not all was lost.  After J & A dropped us off at The Second City, we took a Chicago Greeter tour of Old Town & The Gold Coast. Once the tour was done, we were dropped off near the entrance of Lincoln Park Zoo (FREE!). They had a great collection of animals, especially considering it was made mostly of donations and is free to the public.

Franks ‘n’ Dawgs

Before Chicago, E thought he didn’t like Hot Dogs. E even tried to dissuade me from going to Franks ‘n’ Dawgs even though it was on my well planned out itinerary. E thought a hot dog was just a hot dog. E realized how wrong he really was after he bit into his first Franks ‘n’ Dawgs creation.

Franks ‘n’ Dawgs

1863 North Clybourn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614-4901

(312) 281-5187

The philosophy of Franks ‘n’ Dawgs is to create a 5-star experience for their customers: from the gourmet hot dogs, to the full table service.  Our experience at FnD was nothing short of 5-stars. The menu included hot dogs such as the Frank ‘n’ Stein (a short rib & foie gras stuffed sausage, with caramelized onions, crispy shallots and a beer-mustard aioli), and the Pig Latin (Catalan smoked pork sausage, sherry glazed pork belly, apple truffle slaw & mustard creme fraiche).  These were no ordinary dogs. We got one of each of the aforementioned creations (they were part of the Iron Dawg Competition: two celebrity chef-created dawgs compete head to head to see whose dawg reigns supreme… basically whoever has their dawg ordered most – wins) and a side of fries. We sat down in our booth (with Johnny Depp’s likeness Velcro-d to the side of our table) and waited for our food. During this time, I spoke with the gentleman taking the orders and he told us a bit about the business.  They sourced their truffles from Europe when they were in season, and from Australia when the climate there produced a better product. Yes, a hot dog place sources their truffles Internationally & seasonally.

Signature Dawgs are created on premise by the lead Hot Dog Chef, Mr. Joe Doren (who, like everyone else, looks ridiculously young and accomplished).  They take pride in their product and thus hire only Culinary students & grads to handle the grill.  Just the day before, their little store was featured on the food network (which took a full day and unfortunately resulted in the untimely closing of their store during filming). Everyone that worked there was proud of what they were creating.

E couldn’t get enough of his dawg and was incredibly upset when he finished his order in less than 8 minutes. In retrospect, he wishes that he had used a fork & knife. Very haute eating – these hot dogs.  I ordered triple truffle fries to try and prolong our F’n’D experience. It was explained that they were ‘triple truffle’ because they were topped with truffle salt, a pat of truffle butter and a dash of truffle oil. Hello – I’m in truffle heaven! Unfortunately, my cold ruined another one of E’s Great Chicago Experiences (TM), and I could barely smell truffle (unless I basically brought it directly under my nose). I can only comment that the texture of the fries were amazingly light, crisp and dry – with no hint of oiliness.

Upon completion of our meal, E & I both agreed that Franks ‘n’ Dawgs could do no wrong and that their dawgs were the best we’ve ever tasted (light-years ahead of the competition).  It almost diminishes the product by calling it simply a hot dog, because it’s so much more than that: it’s a gourmet creation featuring grade A ingredients and haute-cuisine calibre topping combinations.  Once again thwarted from having a life-changing experience, I immediately went to a drugstore and loaded myself up with decongestants because there was no way this cold was going to ruin the rest of my vacation. Besides, I had the Chicago Gourmet Food Festival to look forward to the next day!

4 Responses to “Chicago Day 3 – Hot Diggity Dawgs & Dacquoise”
  1. Bill says:

    I like the brilliant colour of the photos and the food certainly looks appetizing…….

  2. When I fly back to Chicago, I need to desperately go to Franks & Dawg’s! These pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for the vote! Your blog is amazing!

  3. Thanks so much!! I will continue to vote for you, because your food looks amazing! I’m just learning to blog now, but I’m glad you enjoyed stopping by :).

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