Archive for March, 2010

Vosges Chocolates

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Vosges Chocolates
Chicago, IL (headquarters) and multiple locations within the U.S. and internationally

Good Food : 4.5/5 Good Service : 4.5/5

In the search for good chocolate, the hubbie and I highly recommend Vosges Chocolates, based out of Chicago, Illinois. We first discovered Vosges during a weekend Chicago trip back in the late 90′s at a local Vosges storefront on Michigan Avenue. We rediscovered them in the past few years from a friend who brought back a box from a recent Chicago trip, and I’ve been getting regular infusions as I whisk through the Chicago O’Hare Airport Concourse B corridor when catching my connecting flights.

Vosges Chocolates Aztec Collection - 16 pieces

Vosges Chocolates Aztec Collection - 16 pieces

The attention to detail extends not only to the chocolates, but to the packaging.Their purple color theme is weaved throughout their packaging – from the boxes that hold the chocolates to the tissue paper and gift tote bags that can carry these yummy nibbles.

Vosges Chocolates’ distinction is their combination of unusual ingredients to to chocolate. Some of their unique examples include : absinthe truffles, applewood bacon chocolate bars, dark chocolate truffles with taleggio cheese ganache and various savory spice dustings like red pepper or curry powder. Sounds wacky, but somehow the combinations work.

And customer service is top-notch – whether you’re at one of the main storefronts or at one of the newer kiosk locations.

Alpha Omega Cafe

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Alpha Omega Cafe
6151 26th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34207

Good Food : 4.5/5 | Good Service : 4.5/5

Located in Bradenton, Florida on the corner of Bayshore Gardens Parkway and 26th St west (across the street from Bayshore Elementary School and south of State College of Florida), Alpha Omega Cafe is a cafe/deli which is trying to bring high-quality, healthy food to its customers in an inspirational setting.

The location makes it a little hard to find the cafe if you’re not actively looking for it. The sign in the business plaza where the cafe is located doesn’t stand out that much, and you can’t really see the storefront from the road when you drive by.

I stopped by during lunch to sample one of their deli-style sandwiches. You can choose from 4 different kinds – the Adam (1/2 lb), the Abraham (3/4 lb), the Moses (1 lb) or the 5 foot Twelve Tribes which is supposed to serve 12 people. All of their sandwiches are made with Boar’s Head lunchmeats cut about 1/8″. You can choose your bread, cheese and choice of condiments when building your sandwich, and you also get your choice of a side (Cranslaw, Potato Salad, 5 Bean Salad, Corn and Black Bean Salad, or chips).

The Adam sandwich that I ordered was piled high with generous slices of pastrami and Asiago cheese, and I ended up only being able to eat half of it, saving the other half for the next day. What a deal for $7.99 + tax!

Michael (one of the business partners) has worked in the restaurant industry and brings an approach of delivering a high level of quality in the cafe’s menu items. Several ways that this reveals itself :

  • Your choice of sandwich condiments includes not only the standard mayonnaise and mustard but also includes horseradish
  • You must order the side of chips at least once; these are freshly fried kettle chips done when you order your sandwich or an order of kettle chips, and are lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and finely minced fried diced onions. They are wonderfully crunchy and crisp when they are eaten right after they come out of the fryer!
  • If you order a cup of regular coffee, you’ll get a WARM coffee mug, helping to keep the coffee warmer longer

I hope that others will discover this hidden gem – it’s nice to see a food business that is willing to spend a little more time on the little details that help create a great dining experience, even in an informal deli/cafe setting. I know that I’ll definitely be going back when I’m in the Bradenton/Saratoga area again.