cupcake love, birthday wishes, and morning mimosas

The best way to see Chicago skyscrapers might just be from a gondola on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier.

ferris wheel at navy pier, chicago

John and I ascended to see the late Friday afternoon skyline, which John perhaps would have preferred to see from the ground,

(Read the rest after the jump)

but his love of all things American overcame his doubt about the wheel’s stability, and we safely rotated down in time for tapas and merriment in Boystown with Jenne, Jessica, Lee, and Ben that night…

view from the ferris wheel

The next morning, I was overwhelmed with flowers at the Green City Market in Lincoln Park—tangled up in blue,

blue flowers at the market

noting blossoms that were all yellow,

yellow flowers (i like how it reflects off the clear wrapper)

and purple asterisks that punctuated neighboring tables of fruit

purple firework flower

waiting to be transformed,

from the side

caramelized and surrounded by soaked brioche,

blueberry bread pudding

baked into cobbler.

cherry cobbler

The sweetest part of the market was meeting Alice Waters, a woman I admire deeply;

alice waters was at the market

her commitment to local and slow foods has made the whole world into an edible schoolyard where we all continue to educate each other.

alice waters signing books at the market

On the long stretch of grass and trees to the side of the market, families shared food on blankets while listening to local musicians,

music at the market

and I stretched out to watch the clouds…

That afternoon, Jessica led Jenne and me on a birthday tour of her adopted city;

jess

we watched people take pictures of themselves reflected in the Bean,

children playing in the fountains (the essence of summer in the city),

and donning pickle headpieces,

we sped to the Newberry Library book sale where I spotted this wonderful cover (for more typographic finds from the sale, try the very talented pk‘s Flickr stream starting here)

newberry book fair book

before we walked around the Gold Coast neighborhood and into a shop with bakeware covering the walls,

wall of random dessert shop in gold coast we entered

and then to Hopleaf gastropub and local mead to sip with mussels, frites, aioli, and bubbling macaroni and cheese with Jake and Mark.

Leaving Hopleaf, we stopped to look at a streetlight and the old sign of the city on it (my friend Brian moderates a Flickr pool with more pictures of these river symbols to look for as you walk Chicago).

Deciding we had to experience the sprinkle station, we walked into the magical world of Molly’s Cupcakes in Wrigleyville.

We ordered key lime, chocolate decadence, oreo, red velvet (with brown butter frosting), tiramisu, Intelligentsia coffee, and milk while perched on swings at the counter.

And we were impressed with the Chief Egg Cracker, Johnny Nicolaides, who told us about giving the profits back to local schools and organizations. Molly’s is his side project, and the place crackles with good energy.

All this and cupcakes with a tender crumb + buttercream icing that tastes as it should = a line of cupcakes that are wrapped little parcels of goodness instead of sugar bombs. How could you live in Chicago and not frequent this wonderful place?

This cupcake shop of love was the perfect spot for Jessica (also quite the baker and cupcake queen) to deliver a message to herself for this time next year:

A few hours later, I rested my suitcases by the door and joined Jenne and Jessica to pour birthday Veuve (Jenne’s birthday was yesterday) into orange juice,

streets below and veuve above in the early morning mimosa zone

and I joined these two fabulous friends of mine in toasting to safe travels to and from Miami in the year ahead…

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