There's nothing boring about Ennui's coffee frappe.
The days are getting hotter, the body ain't looking too fine and the never-ending thirstiness can't seem to get quenched! Those are the thoughts roaring through my wee noggin on a daily basis. For real, what's a girl to do but go on a liquids-only diet—well, at least at the top of the morning.
Right now, I've got three kicks: caffeine, health and sugar. They all do a little something different for my system, but any which way you look at it, I'm addicted to all three.
The Caffeine Fix: Cafe Ennui
This is one of my nearby neighborhood coffee houses and I simply adore it. A cutie named Juan is usually whipping up potent goodies behind the counter, the sun shines in brightly, and the wi-fi is fast and free. But, my main reason for coming back is the insanely perfect coffee frappe. This is a smart little drink that puts the Starbucks Frappuccino straight to shame. I was raving to a pal the other day, "It's like they liquefy the ice." They blend it so well that the drink is freezing cold yet remnants of ice are non-existent. It's like air ice. And, you don't even need a hit of mocha to make it tops, because the sugar content is spot on. Plus, the coffee high is sublime—literally, off the charts. The only problem is that with an almost $5 price tag, refills are simply out of the question. Well, sometimes.
It's easy to get juiced at Tiztal.
The Health Kick: Tiztal Cafe
While I was in LA for the winter, I would stop in at my local fresh juice bar every morning. I ordered the same thing each time, a tasty little concoction of blended grapefruit, pineapple and cucumber. It was always cold, though no ice was added, therefore no watery fruit drink; it was just pure chilled fruit through and through. They simply kept the fruit in the fridge and pulled it out when an order was placed. Now that I'm back in Chi, I've had to track down a new fruity fix and this new Uptown breakfast/lunch spot has saved me! Open for just a few weeks, this tiny juice bar (and breakfast house) whips out all sorts of self-created elixirs. I tried my favorite creation and lo and behold, good stuff. They even gave me two free refills on my juice as I went up to pay. I mean, who the heck does that? Soon, they'll be opening for dinner, so I'll be able to get my juice fix at all hours of the day.
The Sugar Blues: Adobo Express
This funky Filipino spot is not only home to a cheap-as-heck lunch special ($3.95, and always homemade), it's also mastered an obscure (but much praised by those in the know) drink called halo-halo. Roughly translated to mean, mix-mix, this dessert drink is like a wilder, more exotic version of a shaved-ice snow cone. In short, here's what your experience in this small storefront will be. You walk in and are greeted by a blaring TV rocking out some popular Filipino dramas. There will most likely will be a short line of loyal customers loading up on fresh grilled whole tilapia and rice. Some might be pointing and choosing from the open-air hotbox full of Filipino specialties. And, those just needing to quiet their sweet tooths, well, they are standing by waiting on their halo-halo to be prepared. A young lad shaves a big mess of ice and tosses it into a plastic cup full of boiled sweet beans and fruit shavings. He then pours on some evaporated milk and throws on a lid. Sounds rustic at best, but once you pour in about nine packs of sugar, you have a high-cal dessert bomb that will leave you bug-eyed and dissing plain old milkshakes forever. Not the best cure for my still-got-the-winter-blues physique, but man, I just love liquid sugar treats!
THE FINAL RAVE: My liquid "diet" seems to last only 'til early afternoon when I happen across a $1 tamale cart at the corner of Clark and Touhy. Whatever.
DO IT: Boycott Starbucks
Just give your local coffee shop a chance. They care more about your taste buds, I promise.
DRINK IT: Pacifico
I love Mexican beers such as this one. Who says a "wets only" diet has to exclude alcohol?
READ IT: Javatrekker—Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee
This awesome book digs deep into the underground world that is black water. You will never look at coffee the same after you read this gem.
GET CRAZY WITH IT: Jack Lalanne Juicer
I got my Dad one for his B-day and while I was home visiting a few weeks ago, I juiced everything I could get my hands on. Ummm, yeah…ever tried juiced nopales (cactus)? Slime aside, I love it!