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Friday, April 01, 2011

The Chicago French Market!

So I was crazy enough yesterday to pack the kids into two separate strollers, transfer all their kid-crap into a backpack that felt like it weighed 40 lbs, (why is their stuff so heavy?!  I swear, the diaper bag weighs more then Charlotte and I don't know why) and jump on the 9:54 am train to Chicago in search of the supposedly fantastic indoor french market.

Thank goodness for Grandma.  My mom had the foresight to pull a brand-spanking-new Superman Comic book out of her purse for Sam to read five times in a row (out loud) on the train in.  He was enthralled.

Charlotte charmed everyone around us with continual "Hi's!" that sounded like a tiny kitten mewing over and over again.  She loved sitting like a big girl in the seat next to me, spilling crumbs from some contraband cheese-it's all over the chair, anything to keep her happy.

We pulled into Ogilvie train station and walked immediately down the steps that are out by the train tracks.  The Chicago French Market entrance is right off that main lobby there, along with the welcome addition of a great Lavazza coffee cafe.
There are about 30 vendors, each and every one legitimate in what they do.  An awesome artisanal cheese maker, several bakeries and patisseries, four large local produce stands with great looking fruits and veggies, a fishmonger with the biggest shrimp I'd ever seen, octopus and smelt, and best of all, the smell of freshly cut Belgian "chips" being fried to order.

They had something like 15 different dipping sauces for the fries.  Awesome.
Highlights included the fantastic sandwich made by Fumare Meats (their hot daily special, something like turkey, pastrami, provolone, dijon mustard and mayo on a challah bun, grilled until oozing and amazing); the eclair from Delightful Pastries; the rainbow of French macarons at Vanille Patisserie; the peanut butter chocolate chip bar, filled with raspberry jam; the croissants, also at Vanille; and the fries.

All in all, it was perfect.  We arrived at about 11am, and had time to wander through the nearly empty market and buy our lunch before the noon crowd rolled in.  Suddenly there were lines everywhere, people waiting for sandwiches and pasta/crepes/japanese noodles/juice made to order, with no tables or places to sit to be found.  I was glad that they were doing well, and SO jealous that this market didn't exist when we lived directly across the street on Canal, years ago.

My advice to you?  Go!  And as soon as possible.  Look for the free 30 minute parking on Canal Street, or take the train into Ogilvie.  Get there well before noon.  Keep your three year olds locked in their strollers, inhibiting the grabbing of pastries and knocking down of flower displays.  Definitely wait the four minutes for a "grande" order of Belgian fries.  Look for Fumare Meats and buy the hot sandwich of the day.  Before you leave, order a caramel latte from Lavazza coffee to enjoy on the train ride home.

And, finally, DON'T, under ANY circumstances, forget to grab your precious bag full of french macarons and a peanut butter raspberry jam chocolate chip bar and chocolate croissants and leftover sandwich, leaving it under your seat on the train.

The engine pulled away and I stared after it dejectedly, as my three year old cried and wanted to know where his "me-coons" were.

I hope somebody at least got to enjoy them.


Team Whitney said...

Ooh! This sounds like a fabulous outing and I am encouraged that you did it with two little ones similar enough in ages to my two that I can't use them as an excuse not to go.

Jen said...

You can do it Jenny!!! Just keep them in the double stroller and go well before the lunch crowd. I think it's open 7 days a week. :)

Anita Johnson said...

I talked with your mom and my sister...we'd like to join you on this adventure sometime!

Megan said...

Try the RAW stall too -- her raviolis are amazing! The market is also pretty empty after the lunch rush, and the selection is still good.