I Had a “Mara”velous Time!

by Jenn (eating bender) on April 11, 2009

Happy Saturday! I am currently awaiting the arrival of a certain Bobby so that we can watch some Lost :) But I couldn’t wait a moment longer to tell you about the amazing time I had with Mara yesterday! You can check out her recap of events here: 867-5309 (haha, love the post title).

We started our day around noon. Check out the super sweet Easter basket Mara brought me! It was filled with Peeps (!!), Cadbury mini eggs and Reese’s PB eggs. Holy yum!


Mara was nice enough to drive us around. Our first stop: The Fresh Market. This was my first time visiting and I have to say, it really rivals my beloved Whole Foods! We had an awesome time browsing the store and picking out a few goodies along the way to take home! The best part was the freshly ground nut butters – peanut butter was on sale 20% off $2.99/lb. – sweet!

Here’s the damage:


In the back row we have the famous Spring Blend coffee, which is just as amazing as Kath says it is – seriously. I couldn’t stop drinking it today!


Also in the back row, there is coconut oil (for my next nut butter experiment!), unsweetened coconut (which I had yet to find anywhere), a garnet yam (which Mara swears by!), whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi (!!), maple sugar (more on that later), a creamy soda (also recommended by Mara), and freshly ground peanut butter. In the front row, there are freeze-dried fruit packets surrounded by a Japanese rice cake and dried strawberries (more on those later, too!) :) It was quite the trip!

After we left the wonderful market, we headed over to a favorite sushi restaurant of Mara’s called Akai Hana. It was truly fantastic. I started out with some miso soup.


And then had 3 different kinds of California rolls: one normal, one inside out, and one spicy! Yum!


We had some great conversation, and then headed over to the Asian market next door, where I picked up the Japanese rice cake and dried strawberries pictured at the beginning of the post. We also picked up a snack to share called Pocky, which I had never heard of but it’s wonderful! It’s basically a stick cookie dipped in chocolate – what could be wrong about that?


Once we were back in the car, Mara turned into the ULTIMATE tour guide and showed me a part of the North Shore of Chicago that I don’t often see – GIGANTIC houses :) They were absolutely beautiful, and we also made a couple of stops at some of the beaches Mara frequented when she was growing up. We took some scenic pictures, as well as some goofy ones – it was SO windy!


The wind whipped our hair everywhere, hence the closed eyes. Should have worn the shades 😎

Once the tour was over, Mara drove us back to an awesome street closer to campus that I had never truly explored. We visited another small unique grocery store, a bakery, and Great Harvest (I didn’t even realize this was near my campus – I am totally going back). I sampled some delicious cheesy bread (for the “cheesiest” of pictures, however, you’ll have to look at Mara’s post).


We also wandered into an awesome coffee shop called Linz and Vail. It was there that we saw this:


Helloooo, gelato! We ended up getting some samples – I tried the strawberry and the cupcake. Both were outstanding, as is to be expected! But instead of going the cool route, we both got ourselves a steaming hot mocha. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it is in the top three best mochas I’ve ever had. Superb.


Our final leg of the foodie journey was a small flower shop and, most “scent”sational of all, a spice store called The Spice House. Upon walking into this store, my nose was on sensory overload. I could not get over how many spices there were!


Um, yeah, that’s probably 1/2 of one wall of the four wall store! After spending quite some time wandering and testing out a few spices (I now know the differences among cinnamon!), I decided to take home a jar of Maple Sugar.


You know that I included it in my morning bowl of whipped banana oatmeal!


I sprinkled the sugar over the top of the oats, and also added a spoonful of fresh peanut butter.


As hokey as my humor is, I truly did have a MARVELOUS time with you, Mara! I feel lucky to live near such a big city because it’s given me the chance to connect with such awesome bloggers! I can’t wait to see what the next foodie adventure brings πŸ˜‰ Now we just need a foodie conference, right??

Whew! This post was jam-packed…just like our day! I hope you all are enjoying your weekends! And for those celebrating Easter or Passover or the fact that it’s Saturday…have fun!



{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chocolate-Covered Katie April 11, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Aww, two sweet bloggers together :)


2 VeggieGirl April 11, 2009 at 8:09 pm



3 Erica April 11, 2009 at 8:20 pm

WOW! What an incredible day filled with so much good food! Let us know how all the dried (or freeze dried??) fruit is! Glad PB was on sale- that always gets me excited too :) Have a great easter girl!


4 marafaye April 11, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I had such an amazing time too!!!! Its so rare that I find someone who enjoys the food-geek stuff that I do, and I can’t wait to hang out again! So the maple sugar was good??? My cake spice? AMAZING!


5 Sharon April 11, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Oh wow, what a blast you two had! And delicious time too!!!!


6 Marisa (trim the fat) April 11, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Looks like a GREAT time!!!


7 *Andrea* April 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm

i love seeing all these blogger dates πŸ˜‰ i get super jealous though hehe. Mochas are my favorite drinks.. i bet i have one a week lol. what a great easter basket surprise!


8 lilveggiepatch April 11, 2009 at 8:52 pm

What a delicious day! That spice shop looks AMAZING.


9 Melissa S. April 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm

what a great blogger date! and so many new places that you visited!!!

can’t wait till WE meet up again too!! πŸ˜€


10 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) April 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm

What a great day! Glad you had fun!


11 Danielle April 11, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Looks like a really fun day!


12 Alison April 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Pocky sticks are great! They also have a similar version with plain sticks that you can dip in chocolate frosting.


13 whitneyinchicago April 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I live two blocks from the Spice House in Old Town. I am OBSESSED. I can’t even tell you how much I have in my spice rack. It is really great for getting small quantities of things that you need.

Glad you enjoyed. I can recommend many things :)


14 runsarah April 11, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Pocky! I haven’t had that in ages, I used to love it as a kid. Sounds like it was a fun day!


15 broccolihut April 11, 2009 at 10:59 pm

What a fabulous day!

Peeps make me so nostalgic–I posted a fun link about them yesterday actually, if you’re interested.

Have a great weekend!


16 Pearl April 12, 2009 at 2:13 am

awwww you two look beautiful and looks like you guys had a great time! :)


17 wholefoodswholeme April 12, 2009 at 2:44 am

what a fantastic day! i was so excited to see POCKY!!! a classic, timeless japanaese snack that’s been around FOREVER. they have all sorts of different types these days! the maple sugar looks amazing, as does everything really – how much better can a blogger meet up get πŸ˜€


18 coco April 12, 2009 at 4:37 am

you had so much fun girl~~ Horay for foodie blogger meet up!! I can’t wait to meet one!!! πŸ˜€


19 ttfn300 April 12, 2009 at 6:20 am

oh my gosh, what a great time! so many goodies, too, i recently picked up some coconut oil but haven’t had time to experiment yet :)


20 Sarah April 12, 2009 at 6:26 am

wow, what a great day! I’m definitely jealous of your fun adventures. I can’t wait to hear what you do with all of your new ingredients and let us know how the soda and the dried fruit are–they both look so interesting!


21 Nicole April 12, 2009 at 6:30 am

Fun!!! The gelato looks out of control good. YUM.


22 Shelby April 12, 2009 at 6:39 am



23 jenngirl April 12, 2009 at 7:12 am

What a fun day! And cute post title :)

I LOVE that CAlifornia roll platter, so neat!


24 Oh She Glows April 12, 2009 at 7:14 am

Oh wow I love your loot!!

Can you tell me more about the freeze dried druit packets?? It sounds interesting!!! And great for Green Monsters, perhaps?



25 ksgoodeats April 12, 2009 at 7:55 am


What a great Easter basket!! I love the North Shore – that’s my dream place to live (well, in the US). A girl can dream right?! That looks like such a fun girl date!


26 Emily April 12, 2009 at 8:48 am

Sounds like you and Mara had a great time!

The sushi looks so good! And the gelato samples were amazing, I’m sure.

Have a great Sunday!


27 Lauren April 12, 2009 at 9:04 am

Lovely sushi, and great spread of loot from The Fresh Market. The gelato photo has be drooling!


28 Bec April 12, 2009 at 9:16 am

looks like a great day!


29 glidingcalm April 12, 2009 at 9:30 am

yay for time with Mara!!! the cheesey bread looks so good! and I can’t believe you had never had Pocky!! it’s an old fav! Course, I grew up eating Asian food…so it’s “normal” to me! ha



30 Andrea (Off Her Cork) April 12, 2009 at 9:56 am

We have an Aki Hana and it’s one of the best places! Scott loves their sushi and I love the udon noodles. :)

Sounds like you guys had a blast!


31 Mel April 12, 2009 at 10:00 am

Looks like you and Mara had a great time! You got some great stuff too!


32 Heather Eats Almond Butter April 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm

What a fun Saturday…I just love Mara. She seems so fun, just from her blog posts, and so I can only imagine that she is hilarious and super sweet in person. Wow, sounds like she really knows the hidden gems of Chicago. Promise we can all hang out when I come up to Chicago?!?

OK ,your oats…maple sugar and freshly ground peanut butter? Um, gotta get me some of that!

Happy Easter my friend…hope Bobby showed up and that you got to watch Lost. Good to learn Ben might actually have a heart. :)


33 eatingbender April 12, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Heather ~ Of COURSE we can hang out :) I can’t wait to hang out with you again!


34 Emily April 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Your foodie tour of Chicago looked great! Hope you’re having a happy holiday!


35 eatlivelovedream April 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Such a fun post! So much to read and look at. What cute little bloggers! I can’t stand the wind! At least you look like your having a good time:)


36 Jessica (jesslikesithot) April 12, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Aw sounds like you had the greatest time with mara!! that bowl of oatmeal w/ the maple sugar & fresh peanut butter sounds amazing! you had such a great day of good finds and fun foodie adventures!!!! any girl’s dream day who loves food! πŸ˜‰


37 eatingbirdfood April 12, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Happy Easter Jenn!

It looks as though you and Mara had a really fun time.. and how cute is that basket she brought for you. I love the mini eggs!!


38 Betsy April 12, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Beautiful pictures and delicious looking food! Especially all that gelato… mmmm….. Glad you guys had such a great time together.


39 Sweet and Fit April 12, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I spy a sweet potato, gelato, AND sushi all in one blog post! and yay for meeting up with bloggers! =)


40 Rose April 13, 2009 at 7:24 am

This looks like such a fun day! I wish I lived closer to you ladies!


41 Shannon (The Daily Balance) April 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

yay sushi! you guys look like you had a blast!

You will LOVE that whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi — it is my favorite pasta ever! πŸ˜‰


42 Kath April 13, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Spring Blend AND Great Harvest!!! Yahoo!


43 Marianne April 22, 2009 at 3:34 pm

You’d never had Pocky before? I thought every one knew what they were. You can buy them in our regular ol’ grocery stores here.

Sweet potato gnocchi sounds pretty awesome. I wonder if it would be hard to make.


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