Friday, November 29, 2013

Tea Time with Brandy: Bolthouse Farms Holiday Drinks

Happy Black Friday friends!  We do hope you are all thoroughly stuffed from your holiday gorging and home safe and warm away from the insanity in the stores.  

Recently, Brandy was asked by our friends at Bolthouse Farms to sample their limited edition holiday beverages, and as Brandy has been a great fan of their juices and protein smoothies for quite some time ("That Vanilla Chai one is like sipping a spicy slice of heaven," she says) so she was more than delighted to try the three seasonal flavors: Pumpkin Spice Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Holiday Nog.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte was definitely Brandy's favorite of the three.  Made with coffee, milk, and real pumpkin puree, Brandy had never tasted any drink quite as authentically pumpkin as this one.  Even though there was coffee in the mix, what Brandy tasted was more like a slice of pumpkin pie with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The concoction was rich and thick as well, making it an ideal mid morning snack or an indulgent accompaniment to some snickerdoodle cookies.
Next was the Peppermint Mocha, another coffee concoction made with premium cocoa powder and real peppermint extract for an authentic minty chill.  This mixture was a little thinner than Brandy had expected, but still incredibly flavorful with the rich chocolate hitting the tongue first and the frosty, candy cane like peppermint coming in soon afterwards.  Brandy loved that the drink wasn't overly sweetened and that it came loaded with calcium and protein, making it a much healthier alternative to some other coffee house offerings.
Lastly was the Holiday Nog, a healthier twist on the traditional Egg Nog.  This version wasn't quite the thick, viscus texture Brandy was accustomed to in an eggnog, but a much smoother, more velvety liquid that was perfect for sipping by the fire.  Because this version was made with low fat milk and carrot juice ("Carrot juice?!?!" Brandy exclaimed in disbelief upon reading the ingredients list, but was careful not to spit out any of the precious liquid) its actually possible to call this a healthy beverage, which is usually unheard of for anything in the "nog" category.  Brandy really loved the warming spices in the Holiday Nog and its creamy, vanilla scented flavor.

We do hope you all have the chance to try one, two, or all three of these lovely little mixtures before they are no longer in stores!  And if you do have the chance to sample them, make sure to let us know which one is your favorite!

The writers of this blog were sent samples by Bolthouse Farms for the purposes of product review.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

World Vision Giveaway

Greetings dear readers and a very happy Thanksgiving to one and all from all of us here at Bunny and Brandy's Brunchtime Blog!  

As Thanksgiving traditionally ushers in the season of giving, we thought we'd take the opportunity to not only give away a brilliant prize to one of our lucky readers, but show everyone a unique way to give gifts yourselves this holiday season!

The World Vision Gift Catalog offers more than 250 items that help fight poverty and save lives here in U.S. and around the world. With a financial contribution, donors can select one of the 30+ handcrafted gifts that can be shared with a loved one and at the same time help a person in need.  Donors can also choose to send contributions in the form of targeted donations of things like livestock (chickens, goats, rabbits, etc.), clothing, medicine, and lots of other useful things that can really make a difference to a needy family.  

Here's how it works: 

And so in the spirit of giving, World Vision has provided Brandy with one of their Fair Trade Coffee Sets, which includes whole bean coffee from Ethiopia, Sumatra, and Costa Rica blended by and is delivered in a bag hand-sewn by local women with a hand-carved olivewood scoop.  As an avid coffee drinker, Brandy simply loved this dark, smooth roast.  "Every sip was like dressing my tounge in a velvet blanket!" she exclaimed.  

World Vision has even been generous enough to give one of our readers a Fair Trade Coffee Set of their very own!  This contest will start on Wednesday November 27th and will run for one week with the winner being decided randomly by our friends at Rafflecopter!  Below you will find all of the instructions for the giveaway, but if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at

Good luck friends and a very happy Thanksgiving to you all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 22, 2013

Glunz Tavern or Old Style, New Attitude

The Slow and Savory Review
There is nothing that amuses Brandy more than when Americans express worship for anything antique, vintage, retro, or old.  "Nothing under 200 years old deserves the sort of reverence Americans place upon it.  I've seen items in antique stores that can't be less that 25 years old!" Brandy has been known to chastise, "Nothing labeled as an antique should be made of plastic.  Period."  When she sees such reverence bestowed on some of the older buildings in the city, her patience is no thinner.  "If it was built by a man who knows what a pair of trousers looks like, then its not ancient enough for me to care about," she says.

It was this everyday annoyance that was on the forefront of Brandy's mind when she decided to visit Glunz Tavern in Old Town for a quick brunch one windy weekend morning.  She'd heard the tale of the place, how it had been founded in 1888, closed in the 1920's, and then re-opened in 2012 by the granddaughter of the original owner, and how the neighborhood absolutely revered its newly found 125 year old neighbor.  "A century a a quarter, eh?" Brandy scoffed sceptically, "I've stayed in castles that would laugh in the face of a century!  We'll just see about this so called piece of history."

Inside Glunz Tavern the style was Old World German with a high tin ceiling and fabulous dark woods on the bar, tables, and chairs.  Soft jazz music played lazily in the background, bringing a vision of a prohibition era speakeasy to mind (funnily enough, the original Glunz Tavern had closed down just before the Prohibition Act nearly 90 years prior and had stood empty ever since until it was reopened last year).  Glancing at the menu, brought to her by a well dressed young man, Brandy could see that the warm and comforting options available perfectly matched the cozy atmosphere.  "Makes me almost long for it to be snowing outside," she mused," Just so that I could spend the day watching it flutter past these beautiful windows."

Upon seeing the drink menu, one option in particular practically leapt off the page; Founder's Breakfast Stout.  "I've been drinking stout at breakfast for years and all I've ever heard is grief!" Brandy harrumphed, "At least now I'm justified!"  The beer was a light tasting oatmeal stout which had been infused with coffee.  It had a sweet aroma, a very smooth finish, and a little more carbonation than one usually finds in a stout.  "All those young people today with their smoothies and designer cappuccinos," she moaned, "Well they can have 'em!  This is my new morning pick me up."

To start off her meal (and justify drinking so early in the morning) Brandy chose the Arancini.  They arrived perfectly golden brown and upon biting, the crispy coating gave way to a soft ball of tomato and basil spiced rice and melty cheese at the very center.  The Arancini also came with a zesty aioli for dipping which helped to cut the richness of the little fried delights.  Brandy loved how the snacks kept their density and didn't crumble apart, as after several more breakfast stouts she was beginning to lose her normally graceful mobility.

After that Brandy ordered a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, which came with a side of creamy tomato soup.  The sandwich itself was made on crisp, buttery bread that had been coated in shredded parmesan cheese for an extra hit of salty goodness.  Inside, the sandwich was stuffed with melty, gooey white cheddar and caramelized onions which added just the slightest touch of sweetness.  The soup was incredibly light and airy with an almost cheesey note that carried over from the sandwich.  Quite happily, Brandy dipped and dipped again her sandwich into the soup until there were simply no more reasons to continue taking up the peaceful little table at the window.

Brandy was quit pleased with her brunch at Glunz Tavern, taking away not only a full gut, but a warmth in her heart.  "Chicago may not have the breadth of history we have over in Europe, but that doesn't make little places like this any less authentic, I suppose.  I might as well have been sitting in a tavern in Berlin just now," she said as she clumsily packed away the knitting supplies she'd brought with her, "Except that there were no actual Germans in there.  And no one was speaking German.  I also didn't have any German food.  Or drink.  Come to think of it, that was even better than sitting in a tavern in Berlin!"

The Short and Sweet Review
Glunz Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Best of Bunny and Brandy with Part 4

And now the moment we know you've all been waiting for, the conclusion to Bunny and Brandy's latest collaboration with!  Today, we bring you Brandy's favorite spots for finding unique breakfast cocktails and Bunny's picks for internationally adventurous eaters!  Don't forget to sign up for an account on so that you can make your own collections of your favorite Chicago restaurants as well as create your own virtual cookbook by collecting recipes and competeing for fabulous monthly prizes like gift cards to Whole Foods or brand new Cuisenart appliances!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Best of Bunny and Brandy with Part 3

Greetings dear readers!  About a month ago, we gave you four collections of Bunny and Brandy's favorite brunch spots via our friends at, and after such an overwhelmingly positive response, Our Ladies have taken the liberty of curating four more collections for your education and enjoyment!  Today we present Part 3 in which Brandy names her favorite Chicago Bakeries and Gastro-Pubs.  Keep an eye out for an extra special post this coming Wednesday for the next two collections!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Jellyfish or Tuna on Trend for Fall

The Slow and Savory Review

As all of you might have seen, last week our dear Bunny returned to Chicago, if only briefly, to take a trip through the Field Museum's new exhibit on the World's Fair of 1893.  Her vivid descriptions of the exhibit and its treasures showcasing exotic cultures from around the world got Brandy thinking.  "Perhaps I should change up my brunch routine," she pondered, "As many creative Benedicts, French toasts, and bacon cocktails as there are out there, I wonder if there isn't something I'm missing.  Something more exotic.  And fashionable.  Something that has its own national holiday."

Luckily for Brandy, last weekend just happened to have been the start of National Sushi Day, and having remembered liking a delicious sample of sushi at the Chicago Gourmet Festival, Brandy settled on Jellyfish, an ultra hip, trendy, and still fairly new spot at the head of the Gold Coast.  Arriving at an inconspicuous door at street level, Brandy was greeted by a friendly host who escorted her to an elevator inside.  "Do you work in the neighborhood?" he asked her, smiling.  Brandy studied the young man, who looked to be covered in designer labels, then looked at her own homemade shawl, street worn shoes, and threadbare carpet bag clutch and realized how out of place she must have looked.  "No, deary," she said, "Just celebrating the holiday."

Once upstairs, Brandy found a truly beautiful space with clean white booths, swirling blue lights, a majestic bar, and beautiful views of the street below.  She was taken to a table straight away and handed a few menus, one of which boasted some of the "special" rolls on offer for only $5 each in honor of National Sushi Day (though she was a little disappointed to see that only one roll per person was available at the special price).  It wasn't long before Brandy realized how in over her head she was (though Brandy is a great lover of sushi, she doesn't usually brunch on it) with the myriad of choices available.  "Well, there's only one thing for it," she proclaimed, "I'm going to treat this brunch like any other brunch and combine my sweet and savory."

To start off, she ordered a Mandarin Mule, which added a little orange, fresh ginger, and cinnamon to the traditional mix of vodka, ginger beer, and lime.  Brandy found it delightfully bright, sweet, and zingy with both the orange and lime coming through.  The cocktail was also garnished beautifully with slices of citrus and ginger, though Brandy wished, for old time's sake, that it had been served in a copper cup.

Next, Brandy ordered some of the Honey Walnut Popcorn Shrimp.  The shrimps had a lovely light crispness to them from the tempura batter and weren't overly sweet at all, despite the honey glaze.  In fact, the real sweetness came from the tiny pieces of candied walnuts scattered throughout the dish, which were well balanced by the sliced scallions that garnished the top.

Brandy then picked the Lobster and Mango roll from the specials list.  The dish was presented beautifully with the succulent lobster peeking out from the center of the roll along with some avocado,  then topped by slices of bright mango and a little sprinkle of flying fish roe on top.  Though the flavors went very well together with the sweetness of the mango being the most predominant note, Brandy longed for an element of texture to this roll, as the lobster, avocado, and mango melted similarly on the tongue.  "But I do appreciate the little salty hit from the fish eggs," she mused, "If it wasn't for that, I think I'd be quite bored by this."

To finish, Brandy chose the Sweet P roll from the regular menu, which boasted a filling of sweet potato, cream cheese, and avocado topped off with spinach tempura and a sweet soy sauce.  This roll really delivered the texture Brandy was craving in the first one with just a little elegant crunch from the tempura flakes and a smooth, uniform interior.  "I would think vegetarians would be excited for this roll, as its a sort of unusual combination," Brandy pondered.

For her lunch of a cocktail, appetizer and two rolls (one of which was on special, mind you), Brandy's total came out to nearly $60 after tip, which she thought was pretty darn pricey ("My goodness, its lucky I don't have room for dessert!" she exclaimed when she saw the bill).  Luckily, the presentation and attention to detail had been spot on, and the wait staff extremely friendly and helpful (Brandy had marveled at the fashionableness of her server's choice of dress until she noticed several other young ladies wearing the same cobalt blue, pencil skirted garment.  "Oh, its their uniform!" she exclaimed, "For a moment I thought I was in one of those Robert Palmer videos.").  So although Brandy doesn't often brunch on sushi, she was glad to have gone outside of her box a little.  She was also glad to see that the laws of sweet and savory, by which she governs her life, can be applied to all types of cuisine.

The Short and Sweet Review
Jellyfish on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 1, 2013

Postcards from Bunny: De Cecco Pasta Lunch at the Field Museum

As we all know by now, our dear Bunny is constantly on the move these days, helping her husband Benedict to excavate the tombs of ancient kings, the bones of ancient creatures, and the pottery of ancient barns all over the world.  Naturally, work like this has given Bunny a real appetite for history, and as she has been missing Chicago while she's off traveling the globe, her down time reading material as of late has all been about the infamous 1893 World's Fair.  Held in honor of
the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage to the New World, the Chicago World's Fair, as it was known colloquially, was the event of the century, giving Mid-westerners a glimpse of international cultures,  advancements in the worlds of science and technology, and bringing music and art from all realms and ages to the mainstream public.  Typified by the infamous White City facade designed by Daniel Burnham, The 1893 World's Fair marked the beginnings of the modern age by introducing such novel ideas as a fully electrified kitchen (including an automatic dishwasher), not to mention the debut of brands still famous, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Hershey's Chocolate, and Juicy Fruit Gum.

And so when Bunny learned that The Field Museum in Chicago, which itself had it's origins at The World's Fair, would be opening its vaults and bringing out some of the wonders that were first displayed in 1893, she couldn't resist a return trip to Chicago, and the fact that De Cecco Pasta, in honor of their Gold Medal win in 1893, was hosting a lunch to open the exhibit was just the icing on the proverbial cake.

The then little known Italian company known as De Cecco Pasta won their gold medal at the Chicago World's Fair for superior manufacturing, color, and firmness after cooking for their dried pastas.  As the company was a little under 10 years old at the time, the gold medal really brought them to the forefront of the culinary world for the first time, and they've yet to climb down from those heights.

Upon arriving at the Field Museum, Bunny was first ushered into the Founders Room at the back of the complex; a quaint but lovely space that was dotted with various artifacts and crowned by an impressive chandelier.  Drinks were passed around as well as a few hors d'oeuvres before the beautifully dressed tables were presented with some velvety soft bread, fruity olive oil, and a wonderful quinoa salad.

The main course was a trio of De Cecco Pasta delights: Fusilli with Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower, Bucatini with an Herbed Meat Sauce, and Penne Rigate with a Shellfish Cream Sauce.  Its hard to believe, but Bunny absolutely loved all three.  The pasta had been cooked to al dente perfection (which is helped by De Cecco's choosiness when it comes to the wheat they use as well as the low drying temperature, which enables the pasta to cook evenly), and because De Cecco uses old fashioned bronze dies so that the pasta has more texture, the sauces were able to cling on and coat the pieces.

After a dessert of vanilla panna cotta, Bunny was finally able to tour the exhibit itself.  She marveled at the wildlife displays of stuffed lions and seals which represented some of the first examples of modern day taxidermy, ogled the various preserved flora and fauna in their original apothecary jars, delighted in the sparkling and majestic crystals on display, and frolicked in the artifacts from different cultures who had been present at the World's Fair.

Bunny cannot recommend a visitation to the World's Fair exhibit at The Field Museum enough, especially to history buffs like herself.  "It's overwhelming sometimes to think of all the feet that have trodden the ground before us," she says, "And that it is those footsteps that should never be forgotten, for they are what created the roads we walk on."  Then she promptly tripped over a pot hole while crossing Michigan Avenue and cursed every Mayor Chicago has had for the last 150 years.

Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair is open at The Field Museum now until September 2014.  To see more pictures from the event and the exhibit, make sure to visit Bunny and Brandy's Facebook Page.