Labor Day has come and gone and Le Coin de Mathieu is moving to the top of the newsletter.
After 10 years of working two jobs, I’m finally down to one: I work for my wife.
I won’t say whether I had better boss or not, that might get me in trouble.
What I can share is that losing one job has lifted a heavy weight from my mind.
Of course, there is always something to do at the bakery: to fix, to improve, to create, but being able to focus on this is a blessing a long time coming.
I’ve written previously about the importance of gratitude and the awareness of what has been received. It was not my decision to go down to one job, but I already know I will look back happily on it.
September Pastry Collaboration with Leigh Omilinsky of Nico Osteria!
Leigh and I put our heads together to dream up a pastry that combines two of our favorite things: kouign amann and 20 hour apples. If you aren’t familiar with kouign amann, it is a flakey layered pastry somewhat similar to a croissant with the addition of salted butter and a hefty amount of caramelized sugar. 20 hour apples are an amazing way to take the humble apple and concentrate all its apply flavor. We added the apples to the center of the kouign amann and the result is great! Just try it, we think you will agree.
20 hour apple KA will be around at Nico and Floriole all month $4 each. Come and get it!
July was a hot and busy month but we made it through our first time at the Green City Market BBQ and the annual Sheffield Garden Walk. On top of that, we added a beehive to our rooftop garden. We feel like new parents and hope our babies make some tasty honey.
August has arrived along with corn, peaches, plums and tomatoes. The abundance of local produce is reflected in the pastry case and on the menu, from BLTs and blackberry tarts, to corn salad and peach galettes. It’s a great time to come in and try something new.
BLT with Green Acres heirloom tomatoes – upgraded to a club with the addition of sliced turkey and avocado. 100% yum!
Sunday Supper at Floriole – August 28th 6:30pm
Join us for a dinner that celebrates corn! Three courses for $30 and there is a special $15 menu for kids 12 and under.
cucumber ribbons, cherry tomatoes, corn and poblano pepper vinaigrette
corn risotto, goat cheese and squash blossoms
buttermilk corn custard tart with rosemary caramel corn
For the month of August we are collaborating with Meg Galus, executive pastry chef at Boka, Swift & Sons and Momotaro. She is a French Pastry School graduate and was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
The collaboration bar is chocolate marshmallow topped with black raspberry pate de fruit on a buckwheat crunch base and the bar is enrobed in Illanka chocolate.
Readers, if you follow this newsletter, you know that we tried to setup a hive on our roof top. Well, it did not go as planned… a month later, there was not a single bee alive. Where is the luck of the beginner ??
We were seriously disappointed and thought we were done for the year (and honestly not sure we would have tried again).
Well, well, well! Our new general manager Jonie, introduced us to her friends Dave and Jenie. They are also first year bee-keepers but they know their stuff. They came to the bakery and offered to give us a few frames from their hive!
They were able to split their hive, get worker bees to raise a new queen, get the queen mated and start laying.
So here we are, with a hive in much better shape than the first time around with frames getting full of honey and brood back on the roof.
Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet. Winter is coming (where did I hear that ??) and a lot of hives do not make it through. We will start feeding our bees a mix of water and sugar so they can build their reserves and hope for the best.
Dave and Jenie will stop by from time to time to help us keep things going. We already plan on exchanging city honey for their suburb honey and taste how they differ.
In late June or early July we progress from strawberries and rhubarb to ALL the fruit. It’s an exciting frenetic time of year to go into our walk-in cooler and see tray after tray of fruit. Blueberries are back in the scones and topping the lemon posset, raspberries sit piled on top of bavarian cream in fresh fruit tarts, red tart cherries are in clafoutis, and galettes are mixed berry. Soon enough we will begin seeing more stone fruits and we will find happy homes for them too. Eat up and enjoy the local produce of Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Sunday Supper at Floriole
Sunday, July 17th at 6:30pm. Three courses for $30, tax, tip and beverages not included. Floriole loves kids so we have a special children’s menu so the whole family can enjoy our suppers. Tickets are available here or in the cafe.
July 17th Menu
burrata with cherry tomatoes, stone fruit and basil mint pesto
mascarpone panna cotta, raspberry sorbet, pistachio crumble
This month we are collaborating with Kelly Helgeson, pastry chef at Lula Cafe. Kelly graduated from the baking and pastry program at Kendall College before honing her skills at restaurants like L2O, Los Angeles’ Bottega Louie and Oxheart. She has been at Lula since late 2013 and was honored with the Jean Banchet award for Rising Pastry Chef.
Kelly and I worked together to develop a cherry brioche. She had the brilliant idea of using marigold sugar with the cherries and setting them on top of a little d’affinois cheese. You can taste the creation at Lula Cafe and at Floriole throughout the month of July.
A little Salty
The savory team has been busy with the recent influx of seasonally available produce. Our daily salads are all new this month to show off what is best at the farmers market.
July’s daily salads:
chickpea, sorrel and sweet cherry salad with sarvecchio cheese
tomato and cucumber panzanella with mozzarella
curried summer squash with roasted peanuts (not pictured)
romesco spread with crudites and house bread
Sometimes menu items need a vacation too . . .
They will be back so don’t get too upset! The grilled cheese and mac and cheese have left the premises for their lake house in Michigan and the BAD will join them once the heirloom tomatoes begin filing in the kitchen door.
Some new lighter sandwich options:
fennel salami, fennel mustard and arugula on baguette
summer squash and zucchini, goat cheese, greens, lemon vin, calabrian aioli on semolina
bacon, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli on sourdough
Know your farmer
In late June we had the chance to visit Breslin Farms in Ottawa, IL. Molly and John Breslin, the father daughter team, aim to grow heirloom varieties of produce using sustainable practices that promote biodiversity.
We took a walking tour of the fields where the Breslins grow rye, Arapahoe wheat, garlic, several varieties of corn, beans and other fruits and vegetables. We proudly use wheat and rye grown by Breslin Farms in our breads.
Molly and John Breslin in a field of Arapahoe wheat.
Strawberries have arrived and we are celebrating the only way we know how – by putting strawberries in as many pastries as possible. Come by the store and you will find: strawberry matcha tarts, strawberry rhubarb danish, fraisier, strawberry shortcake, strawberry cheesecake mousse, strawberry panna cotta . . . . I’ll stop before it sounds like Forrest Gump. You get the idea. If you like strawberries, and who doesn’t, we’ve got you covered.
This month we are collaborating with Chicago’s renowned pastry chef, Mindy Segal. Her restaurant, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, is a Chicago staple for great food and sweets. Cookie Love, Mindy’s first cookbook, is a gem packed with tips and interesting delicious recipes.
For the collaboration, we are making her strawberry rhubarb rugelach with oatmeal streusel. Mindy describes the cookie as “a fruit crisp disguised as rugelach.” Cream cheese dough is slathered with house made strawberry rhubarb preserve, rolled up and then dusted with streusel for a nice crunch.
We will have the rugelach at the bakery all month and hope you will come by to give them a try. If you can’t make it to Floriole, here is a link to the recipe or pick up a copy of Mind’s book.
I recently returned from an unforgettable whirlwind adventure in Peru with eleven other pastry chefs, bakers and chocolatiers. Valrhona invited all of us to go to the source of the cocoa beans growing in northern Peru. We had the opportunity to learn about the life of a cocoa bean from farming through processing before being shipped to the Valrhona factory in France.
Since Floriole began at the farmers’ market, we have always taken pride in the fact that we know our farmers. We see them at the market on a weekly basis, have asked questions about the farming practices they use and feel confident that they are farming in a sustainable way. The fact is, that we never thought we would have the chance to meet the farmers who grow the cacao beans used to make the chocolate we use: we had to trust the company sourcing the beans. I am so thankful for the opportunity Valrhona gave me to meet those farmers. Somehow their chocolate tastes even better after this trip!
I will post more pictures of the trip on our facebook page.
May has arrived and it feels like spring has finally sprung. Outdoor farmers’ markets are getting started and we have local rhubarb and asparagus. Our rooftop garden is sprouting and our new bee hive is installed.
We picked up our bees from Westside Bee Boyz when it was 80 F and got them into their hive before the temperature plummeted to the 40s F. Thankfully it is warming back up and we have finally been able to check on them. Everything looks good, they have accepted their queen and have already begun building. As the temperature warms, they will begin exploring the neighborhood to search for flowers. It’s exciting to think we will have honey soon! Feel free to look out the back window of the second floor to catch a glimpse of the bee hive on the west side of the roof.
May 2nd – James Beard Awards – Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!
May 8th – Mother’s Day (be sure to order something special for mom!)
What better way to celebrate the opening of the summer Green City Market than joining us at Floriole Cafe and Bakery for the summer’s first Meet the Market! Meet the Market is a chance for everyone to learn more about the market, support its mission, find out how you can get involved and last but not least, enjoy some delicious eats and cocktails. We will be making sweet and savory small bitesaccompanied by Band of Bohemia Beer and a specialty cocktail from our friends at New Holland.
May 15th – Sunday Supper at Floriole (tickets here)
May 19th – Our House Pizza Dinner
Rachel Post will be back in the Floriole kitchen with her amazing pizza. The dinner will be a $30 three course prix-fixe with salad, choice of pizza and a Floriole dessert. Get tickets here.
May 30th – Memorial Day (open regular hours)
Call them flødeboller or mallomars.
Last month we collaborated with Cellar Door Provisions on langue de chat cookies. The process proved to be fun and educational. We loved working with the CDP team and hope you will visit their shop and enjoy the beautiful food they are creating.
This month we are working with Anna Posey, the former pastry chef at The Publican and Publican Quality Meats. She and her husband, David Posey, will open Elske in late summer/fall. Anna chose to make a flødeboller with an almond shortbread base, honey fluff and dark chocolate coating. Wow! This is more than a cookie – it is a full dessert dressed up like a bonbon.
Pastry chef Emily Spurlin is leaving Floriole to head up the pastry department at soon to open Bad Hunter. She has been an important force at Floriole that will be greatly missed.We hate to see her go but can’t wait to see the great things she does and how she will contribute to making Chicago an even better pastry town. Be sure to keep an eye on her because she is incredibly talented and creative. Best of luck Emily and thanks for sharing your talent with Floriole!
In the neighborhood
This June 2-6, White Oak is hosting their next Chef in Residence Series dinner events featuring Chef Lucian Prellwitz and Chef Morgan Deeks. Hosting a collaborative cooking experience with Chef Tom Van Lente of White Oak, Prellwitz and Deeks will offer a special menu featuring French technique and Italian sensibilities while keeping in mind the American palate for guests to experience.
The days have been long but the years have flown by and we are celebrating our 6th year at 1220 W Webster Avenue. We owe a big thank you to our loyal customers who have supported us throughout the years, starting at the farmers’ market 10 years ago through today at the cafe. Another huge thank you goes out to all the amazing team members who are, or have been part of the Floriole family. It takes a big team of driven, creative and quirky people to keep this place running. We couldn’t do it without you!
Let the collaborations begin.
We have big plans this year to call more attention to the rich Chicago pastry and baking scene through celebration and collaboration. Every month we will work with a different Chicago baker or pastry chef that we admire to create one of their signature pastries or collaborate to make something new. Whatever we make will be available for the month. It will be a fun and inspiring year filled with new connections and shared learning. Please feel free to send us suggestions for collaborations!
Hashing out the details at for our upcoming collaboration at Cellar Door Provisions.
The year of collaborations is kicking off with my favorite place for pastry, Cellar Door Provisions. I have long admired their commitment to small batch perfectionist baking and cooking. They have a tiny case with an ever rotating array of interesting and lovingly made pastries. This is a place where my hyper charged mind actually decelerates allowing me to appreciate the intricacies of the beautiful food they craft. The staff is ever hospitable and warm making the experience all the better.
For this first collaboration, we decided to make a typical French cookie called langue de chat. The literal translation is “cat’s tongue cookie”, a simple oblong butter cookie. Our version will be a sandwich cookie filled with raspberry jam and topped with sesame seeds and grey salt. You will be able to find these cookies at both Floriole and Cellar Door Provisions starting the week of April 4th.
Birthday Celebration Dinner
Last month, after a long hiatus, we revived our monthly suppers and it was a huge success. While the planning for that dinner was happening, it occurred to me that it would be fun to turn the April supper into a birthday celebration. The menu itself is a celebration of dinners past and the individuals that put those menus together. Buy tickets to the dinner here.
Spring Menu Updates
We are sadly saying au revoir to the winter salad. It was a favorite but blood oranges are waning and spring ingredients are ready to shine. The spring update is pretty fantastic with beet cured salmon, pickled ramps and bagel crisps – sort of like a lox platter that has been transformed into a salad.
April’s composed salads:
deviled eggs (we know this isn’t really a salad)
white bean hummus topped with roasted tomatoes, served with veggie sticks and bread
On the pastry side, look out for a some new croissants. We have a chocolate rye croissant that will become part of the rotation and we are really excited offer a vegan croissant made with our house made vegan butter. Check the website for more information about when to find these special croissants.
it sure looks like a regular buttery croissant BUT it’s vegan
Our neighbors at White Oak have started a chef in residence series and the first dinner is April 3rd with Josephine chef Andrew Little. More information here.
Happy birthday Floriole dinner is April 10th. Tickets here.
Stop in on April 16th for birthday cake to celebrate our 6th year at 1220 W Webster.
Passover April 22nd – 30th. Please be sure to give 48 hours notice for special orders. We will have chocolate ganache cake and coconut macaroons throughout the holiday.
8th Annual Baconfest Chicago to be held on April 30 – May 1 at the UIC Forum (725 West Roosevelt)
Some call it nirvana. Some call it bacon heaven. BaconFest Chicago is a bacon lover’s wonderland. We will be there with our best bacony dish. Along with luxury brands, artisan bacon-makers, and “Bacontrepreneurs” who will all display, sample, and sell a multitude of bacon products. The best mixologists and brewers hand out bacon-inspired cocktails, beer and wine. This event sells out every year, so be sure to get your tickets here.
Le Coin de Mathieu
Pastry chef, Emily and Head baker, Alex are ready for the bees.
Holy mackerel! Later this month, a “package of bees and a queen” will arrive at the bakery! Emily, our Pastry Chef and myself have been putting together the hive. I was thinking of putting it on the patio in the front but apparently that’s not a good idea so we’ll keep them on the roof in the back. Stella chose the hive’s peach color. We still need to finish putting together the honey comb foundation frames together and we’ll be “ready”.
My late grandfather used to keep bees in his garden in Alsace and the smell of beeswax brought back those childhood memories. As most kids, I think, I was scared of being stung by the bees and I regret not spending more time to learn how to take care of them.
Anyway, I will let you know how things progress in the coming months…
Sandra demonstrated how to make savory bread pudding at the Good Food Festival this past weekend. It’s a simple and easy recipe, perfect for brunch or a light dinner. Use any leftover bread you have on hand, but we think our sourdough or semolina make the bread pudding extra special.
Sandra and a little helper demonstrating how to make savory bread pudding.
Savory Bread Pudding (makes 12 servings)
1 small loaf bread (trimmed of all crust and cut into ½ inch cubes) about 6-8 cups bread cube
1 cups cream
1 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup spinach or arugula (packed)
1 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cups roasted tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350 F
Heavily butter a 11″x7″ rectangular baking pan
In a bowl whisk together eggs, cream, milk, flour, salt, mustard, cayenne and pepper.
Add the cubed bread and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
Spread 1/3 of soaked bread cubes over the bottom of the buttered pan.
Top with 1/2 of the greens, roasted tomatoes and cheese.
Add the second third of the soaked bread cubes and top with the remaining vegetables and cheese.
Spread the remaining bread cubes on top of the vegetables and cheese. If there is any remaining egg and milk custard in the bowl, pour it over the bread.
At this point the dish can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Bake at 350 F for 40-60 minutes or until the top is crispy and the custard is set.
After umpteen requests to reinstate Dinner at Floriole, we are finally back! Dinners are a wonderful way for staff to flex their creative muscles, show off some of the great produce we get from farmers and collaborate with other like-minded businesses. Although the cafe transforms into a smart restaurant for these dinners, you can still expect to find friendly casual service and the simple uncomplicated food that Floriole is known for. Many of our dinners sell out quickly so be sure to reserve your seat! The best way to stay in the loop about our dinners is by subscribing to our newsletter.
The next dinner is in just a few days and features beautiful dishes from Alexander Roman, our bread baker.
Monday, March 14th
Tickets are $45/person and include a cocktail pairing. Gratuity is not included. Tickets can be purchased in the cafe and online.
Join us for a fun dinner that will celebrate some of our favorite dishes from dinners past. We are still working out the menu but have a great line up of collaborators to put it together. Among them will be Abra Berens Chef at Stock Cafe, Tim Mazurek creator of Lottie & Doof, Rachel Post owner of Our House Pizza and Jesse Williams Chef at Appelation.
We will be open Easter with a case full of hot cross buns, cookies and pastries. Stop in for a bite or pick up a quiche and a lemon tart to share at your holiday gathering. Orders for pick-up on Easter Sunday must be placed no later than March 23rd.
As the saying goes, “In like a lion, out like a lamb”. We got the lion part with late season snow storms and gusting winds, and warmer more spring like weather is on its way. Before we know it the front window of the cafe will be open, our outdoor seating will be set up, flowers and herbs will be growing in the garden and we will have a rooftop bee hive.
There is a lot happening this month with special dinners, food festivals, St. Patrick’s day and Easter. Be sure to check March Happenings for more information about dinners, events and special orders for the holidays.
We are really excited to be nominated for the Tribune Dining Award for best bakery. Please vote for us (daily until March 15th) and help us win!
March 6th WTTW Downton Abbey Finale at Chicago History Museum – enjoy Floriole shortbread cookies before a screening of the show.
March 13th Don’t forget to Spring Forward and change your clocks
March 14th Monday Supper at Floriole with Floriole bread baker Alexander Roman
Boston brown bread is back for March and April. Check out this article for the Chicago Tribune from last year to learn a little more about this product. We will offer it as an option for toast in the morning, as part of our bread basket or you can take a whole loaf home.
Hot cross buns – two ways
Traditional hot cross buns will be available from March 15th through the end of the month. Order by the half dozen for Easter by March 23rd.
The pastry team has brought back the hot cross macaron for the Easter season. It has a cinnamon and cardamom perfumed shell, earl grey prune compote and cream cheese butter cream.
March savory salads:
sprouted lentil, kale and slow roasted root vegetable with bacon mustard vinaigrette
cranberry beans with winter citrus
deviled eggs with chives and smoked paprika
white bean hummus with roasted cherry tomatoes
Le Coin de Mathieu
We are transforming our house into a petting zoo (sort of). In addition to our dog, two fish and thousands of worms, we now have two chicks.
As I write this, the chicks are sleeping in their box bathed in the warmth of a heating lamp. They’ve been eating, drinking, pooping and chirping. I’m not a bird expert but that sounds like they’re doing well. Stella has named them Poulette and Twitter (renamed Chickpeas for an hour). She has the bad habit of renaming her pets on an ongoing basis (her fish have been named a dozen times). I am worried about their mental health, not knowing who they are, so Stella has to choose their final name today.
Our dog, Lucky, is intrigued, maybe too much (he also likes to look at the fish). In 4 weeks, weather permitting, they will move outside. That’s how long I have to build their chicken coop. In 6 months, we hope to have the first eggs.
In 5-6 years, coq au vin!