I'd like to start sharing some of my favorite things from time to time. I have plenty of things that I love for many reasons, and it seems fitting to show some of them here.
First off, since I'm in Chicago and the weather is starting to become lovely, I'd like to share one of my favorite Chicago items: Sofie Belgian Style Ale.
Sofie is made by Goose Island Brewery, a local Chicago brewery started in 1988. The distinctive craft beers became very popular, and by 1995 they had to expand production to a much larger facility.
Goose Island is now a staple in Chicago -- many of its beers can be found in just about every bar that has beer on tap. Some of the more popular beers include 312 Urban Wheat and Honker's Ale.
In addition to the usual beers, Goose Island produces 4 "fancier" Belgian style ales, one of which is Sofie. Sofie is not offered on tap at the Goose Island Brewpub or at any bars. It is only sold in single 22oz bottles. Now, I'm sure you're asking why I'm going on and on about a beer? I mean, I'm not really a beer connoisseur. But any beer that has directions like this is worth a try:
Preferred Glass: Wide Mouth Glass
Preferred Serving Temperature: 40º
Food Pairings: Sofie pairs with a wide variety of foods, its light and refreshing qualities complement lighter flavors like fresh oysters and contrast rich shellfish like lobster.
Yes, I think any beer that suggests I have some lobster is a good beer for me! Not that I've ever tried it with lobster, but just to know that it's recommended is a good feeling.
This truly is one of my favorite drinks, beyond just beers. It even ranks up there with some very good wines. This is why I decided to add it to my wine label wall art I made last year. The piece is supposed to be all wine labels, but I couldn't help but add my beloved Sofie among the other labels, because that is where it belongs.
If you ever get the chance, try it!
Ok, now on to favorite thing #2...
Brach's circus peanuts!
Let me emphasize that...
Brach's circus peanuts.
You heard me.
None of this knockoff brand stuff. You want the real, good, delicious experience that is fresh Brach's circus peanuts.
My mom sent these to me for my birthday because she knows I love them. She loves them too. So did my grandma. My grandma's love of good, fresh circus peanuts was passed down to my mom, and to me. And I will pass it down to my children someday.
The key is to get the really fresh ones. Unlike most candies, circus peanuts do have a shelf life of sorts. Since they're a type of marshmallow (sort of), they will get hard after a while. And since they're a fairly under-appreciated candy, they've often been sitting on shelves for a while. Fresh circus peanuts are so soft, and melt in your mouth as the fluffy sugar dissolves quickly. It's kind of like the best parts of marshmallows and cotton candy, combined. But old circus peanuts are chewy and not as pleasant. Oddly enough, the best, freshest circus peanuts can be found at the JC Penney outlet. Don't ask me why, but we seem to consistently be able to find them there! So next time you're there, if you see them at the checkout, give them a little squeeze to see if they're soft. And if they are, buy some and enjoy!