Middle Eastern Bakery

Forth Chicago Favorites: Bakeries by Clare Johnson

Happy Friday! Today we're bringing you the second installment of our new Forth Approved map series. We introduced this series last week with our Forth Favorites: Coffeehouses & Cafes map. Today, we're talking about coffee's best friend - baked goods! Our intent for this series is to package all the incredible recommendations from our community and deliver them to you in an organized format that, hopefully!, inspires you to try a new place. The bakeries and cafes on today's list are geographically spread and gigantically delicious. Sweet tooth fans, rejoice! 

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4xForth: Julie Morelli of Letterform and Nourishing Notes by Natalie Pavela

Each Friday we’re highlighting one of the lovely women in our community by learning about her favorite Chicago places and restaurants, hearing what websites she’s all jazzed about, and gaining some inspiration from destinations she’s dreaming of traveling to next.It’s 4 x Forth Friday and today we’re talking to Forth alum Julie Morelli who co-owns the graphic design studio Letterform with her husband Andy, and is also the chief creative lady at Nourishing Notes. Read on to learn all about what this lovely lady loves! 

Places I frequent in Chicago:

1. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits : What's not to love?! Everything is delicious, the space is so warm and inviting and their side yard is ADORABLE. As if that weren't enough, they have the friendliest service in town. I love it here.2. Mitsuwa Marketplace : A Japanese wonderland just outside of Chicago in Arlington Heights -you're right by it when you exit for the IKEA in Schaumburg. When you first walk in there's a paper goods section filled with all my favorite pens for my illustrations AND erasers shaped like sushi. In the actual food section you can find almost anything you need for a Japanese meal. BONUS : In the back there's a food court serving up serious bowls of ramen. You'll need an entire afternoon here and it'll be way more rewarding than IKEA.

3. Textile Discount Outlet : To be fair I was trying to find a spot I frequent that has nothing to do with food, this is as close as I got. A gigantic warehouse of a chaotic assortment of fabrics. I go here when I'm working on a new project (like our new aprons) to get an assortment of fabrics so I can go back to the studio and see what works best. It's a spectacle - the range of people shopping and working here are as fascinating as the range of fabrics. You'll probably get lost and lose cell phone reception so bring snacks and leave a crumb trail.

4. My backyard : My husband and I just moved to a new apartment in Logan Square and for the first time in eight years of living in Chicago, we have a backyard. We quickly filled it with all sorts of edible plants and it's my favorite spot to hang out.

Places I'll go someday:

1. Mallorca, Spain : Honestly, I know very little about this island other than I've read about a certain type of bread they make, which I would love to try. I travel for food and I have a feeling I would not be disappointed here. Plus I'd fly into mainland Spain first before island hopping, so I would have to eat my way through the whole country.

2. Acadia National Park, Maine : After watching the Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks, I want to go to all of our national parks but this one is way out there along the Atlantic Ocean and unlike anything I've seen before. I will obviously plan to go around prime lobster season.

3. Brazil : There are many reasons I want to go here, but let's be honest, I just want to try an authentic version of their national dish, feijoada. I have drooled over it on TV and in magazines but it's time I tried the real thing. I guess I would check out the beaches too, if there's time in between meals.

4. The Azores - Just look at where it is on a map! It's way out there in the middle of the ocean! I need to go. They make crazy amounts of cheese AND are surrounded by delicious seafood. A winning combo in my heart. If you can find the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain travels to the Azores, you'll fall in love too.

Best Bites in Chicago:

1. Old Fashioned Donuts : I'm old an old stick in the mud when it comes to my donuts. I want them to be classic, cheap, and not filled or topped with a million different things. This place has been around forever and understands the classics. Get the apple fritter and the buttermilk old fashioned donut. It's worth the drive. Seriously.

2. Middle East Bakery : I head straight to the back counter where it's overflowing with handmade meat and veggie pies. The parsley pie is deceptively delicious. Get a grab bag of everything at that counter, a tub of hummus, find a quiet spot in a park nearby, have a friend stop by with the wine… I can't think of a more perfect evening in Andersonville.

3. Beans & Bagels : ANY of their croissants. If I'm in a savory mood I go for the spinach. If I'm in a sweet mood it's a toss up between the almond and the chocolate, so I usually end up with both.

4. The Winchester : On weekends whatever they have dreamed up to pair with their amazing waffles…you WANT IT! One time my husband and I had a savory waffle (topped with poached eggs, bacon, kale, and apples) and followed it up with a dessert waffle (topped with fruit, lemon curd and happiness). It's unlike any other waffle you've ever had - the dough takes 16 hours to make!

Sites I lurve:

1. LTH Forum : The nerdiest Chicago food forum that ever existed. I don't eat anywhere without checking here first.

2. Chowhound : A more dressed up version of the LTH forum and with a national reach. Anytime I'm traveling I check here to see where / what people are eating.

3. Heritage Radio : Best podcasts! Check out "After the Jump", "Cherry Bomb", and "Sharp & Hot"

4. It's Nice That : So much great design inspiration from across the pond in the UK.

Thanks for sharing Julie! Bang Bang has my heart, Old Fashioned Donuts is 100% worth the drive south of the city, and a backyard full of plants sounds dreamy. Take us with you when you go to Acadia National Park!
You can find Julie on instagram, twitter, and facebook, or learn more about her work at Letterform and Nourishing Notes.