Calder "Flamingo" in Chicago

In search of a cookie and finding outdoor Art in Chicago

Posted on Posted in Art, Chicago, Travel

IMG_5704It’s no secret that I’m a cookie addict.  While I have tempered the craving a bit by only eating highly worthy cookies such as Metropolitan Bakery‘s Sour Cherry Sea Salted Chocolate Chip or my local Hope’s Cookies, I was on a cookie quest in Chicago.  I was in search of Seattle’s Specialty’s Cafe which has an outpost in Chicago (and now San Francisco too) as this was as close to Seattle as I was going to get.  Last year, my friend introduced me to Speciality’s and I was hooked.  They quickly joined the “highly worthy” category and thankfully, they don’t ship so they are a West Coast treat…..until I learned that they opened in Chicago.

The Speciality’s cookie is baked on site (they also sell the cookie box mix which if you are traveling carry on only is a non-starter) and the entire cookie sheet is placed in the glass case (in Seattle they sell so quickly they rarely make it in the case, the racks are lined up).  The cookie is a thickly dense heavy yet soft in the middle large cookie. In Seattle, I tried two flavors – chocolate chip and white macadamia, both of which were winners.  I bought more cookies for the flight home – not all would make it to Philadelphia as they paired quite well with the wine on the plane (I upgraded to first class and wine is free!).

With these sugar memories fresh in my head from last July, I had the two cafe locations to scope out in Chicago.  On Sunday, i made a wrong turn in my quest and would end up finding the outdoor art in the city.  With over 700 pieces of art in Chicago – sculptures, mosaics, adornments on buildings, art in the office lobbies – a walk through the city is one that is bound to make you smile. And if you aren’t smiling outdoors, then visit the Art Institue of Chicago for an indoor art experience like no other.  Walking in the wrong direction I first found Millennium Park and Cloud Gate aka “The Bean”.  It is such a fun sculpture to photograph as it is never the same – the sky, clouds, angles, light and people are constantly changing.

The Bean Chicago, Cloud Gate Chicago
Known as “The Bean”, “Cloud Gate” is a popular attraction in Millennium Park Chicago

Walking along Dearborn, I would come across the Alexander Calder sculpture “Flamingo” outside the Federal Building.  The bright orange/red sculpture reminds me of playing Twister and the pose you would make when having to cover four spots on the board.  I’ve always liked Calders – they are fun, colorful, using various materials with a bit of whimsy (especially the mobiles).  

Calder "Flamingo" in Chicago
Have never seen a red/orange flamingo but do love the whimsy of Alexander Calder

Walking further along Dearborn to Washington (Daley Plaza), I would find Picasso’s “Untitled” in the square.  My first viewing a few years ago, I thought “dog” and then when researching found that it was a mix of “dog and woman”.  Of special note was the quote by Mayor Daley when the art was unveiled in 1967 – “We dedicate this celebrated work this morning with the belief that what is strange to us today will be familiar tomorrow”  More than 40 years later, I’m not sure many would say “familiar”, I think most would say “strange” What do you think?

Picasso "Untitled" in Chicago
Dog and Woman melded into “Untitled” by Picasso

Across the street from the Picasso, is this sculpture by Joan Miro –

Joan Miro, "Chicago"
Joan Miro, “Chicago”

As it was a cold and windy winter day in Chicago, I was struck by how smart the pigeons in the square were – they found the fire and were all milling around it to keep warm.  Their little campfire gave me a sudden yen for marshmallows, smore’s and hot chocolate.

Pigeons around fire
and you thought pigeons were dumb?

Walking a bit further down the street, I could see the Speciality’s Cafe sign and was hopeful except that it was Sunday in the business district and the chance of the cafe being open was nil, zilch, zero.  As I passed the darkened cafe, my cookie hopes were dashed this day.  But I vowed to return before my flight on Monday.

Specialty's Cafe Chicago
Where the cookies are… 77 Dearborn

As I turned to go back to the hotel, I realized that the cafe was two blocks from my hotel all weekend.  I had taken a circuitous routing in my quest but by doing so had happened upon the outdoor Art in Chicago – what a lovely surprise. I missed the Chagall and many other highlights that an art walking tour would showcase (for a fee), but my walk was free and can be done any day of the week (although the cookies aren’t available on Sunday).

Not to worry, my quest ended on Monday on a chocolately note, actually two notes – Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate. Art and cookies in Chicago, a perfect combination.

Yummy cookies at Speciality's
Yummy cookies at Speciality’s

10 thoughts on “In search of a cookie and finding outdoor Art in Chicago

  1. Wow, I completely forgot about Specialty’s until just now but those flavors are coming back to me! I don’t buy a lot of bakery cookies because I tend to bake at home — but on a long trip, those homemade flavors are both delicious and relaxing. Yum!

  2. So glad you got to experience some of the great art in our wonderful city! Enjoying a tasty cookie along the way certainly makes the journey all the more special. Safe travels!

  3. A happy mistake that you discovered all that art in your search for those cookies! I could barely remember anything of Chicago because we were freezing in the middle of winter. Your pictures are a good reminder of my trip there!

    1. Ming – the cold really causes havoc with any sightseeing as I was on a mission it seemed wrong not to stop and visit the art – it is a lovely city and I think we both need to visit in the spring/summer next time! cheers, sue

    1. I’ve tried to find good biscuits in the UK -any suggestions? I wasn’t sure how many times they polish the Cloud Gate “Bean” but found that it is cleaned 2-3xs a day and then washed down twice a year. So many people touch, kiss, etc it, happy to see that they do clean it many times a day.

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