The Run Down
This guide is part of our Good Bites series, and we're venturing out to pick up fresh ingredients to make a classic BLT -- our summer sandwich of choice. While you can head to Mariano's to get ingredients for a decent BLT, we're looking for greatness, and greatness starts with a quality tomato and fresh bread. We're headed to Logan Square on our quest for these items. We begin with a trip to a French cafe to grab bread and to have a morning coffee on the cafe's tree-shaded, side yard patio. Afterwards, we make our way down the block to a Sunday farmers market to get the rest of our BLT provisions. Here are the details.
1. La Boulangerie
It’s Sunday morning and we’re going to ease into this guide with a morning coffee, assorted French pastries, and some bread for our BLT.
We’re at La Boulangerie, a French cafe and bakery with an interesting history in Logan Square. They started with a small shop in 2010, but left in 2014 after a spat with their landlord, who owned a competing coffee shop, about how many croissants they could sell. Fast forward a few years later and La Boulangerie comes back to the neighborhood and sets up across the street from their original location, which is where we are at today.
In terms of summer time patios, La Boulangerie’s side yard is right up there among the most homey and relaxed places to hang out on a breezy summer morning. When you get here, the front door is actually closed, so you’ll have to swing through the garden entrance pictured above. Line up on the side walk and make your way in 3 people at a time.
For your BLT sandwich later today, the bread you’ll want is their sourdough boule. They have a sliced sourdough loaf, but this is the one you want for your sandwich. It’s soft, has the right amount of density, and it’s baked fresh daily.
Our main goal is to pick up some bread for our BLT later. But since we’re here, might as well treat yourself to coffee and a few pastries.
Of the pastries to get, this cream puff is something that you’ll want to eat a half dozen of. Instead of a whip cream filling found in a lot of cream puffs, this variation comes filled with a creamy custard in a crispy, powdered sugar dusted casing. Magnifique.Can’t really get enough of this side yard patio. Need more of this in my life. Best seat in the house is this corner table set near the back.
Here’s another tip if you’re looking to visit this place again. There are a few outlets outside, and plenty of people were taking advantage of their remote working situation to hunker down on the patio as a temporary outdoor office.
Now on to the next stop in our guide.
2. Logan Square Farmers Market
Right across the street from La Boulangerie is the site of the Logan Square Farmers Market. There are nearly 40 different farmers markets that operate in the city, but Logan Square is one of the few that operate year-round.
Like everything else, there are a lot of changes to how the farmers market is operating this year. Here are some notes to bring you up to speed.
– The market is open to everyone from 10am – 3pm on Sunday
– From 9am – 10pm, the market is open to those at high risk of Covid-19 (seniors, pregnant parents, and immunocompromised)
– Only 15o shoppers in at a time and expect to wait in line before entering. The picture above was probably around 11am and one of the busier times of the day. We lined up right along Milwaukee Ave. While the line seem long, we waited for about 15 minutes. You probably won’t wait much longer than that.
This is at the front of the line and right before you enter the market. While there were lots of people waiting to get in, the market itself had plenty of room to space yourself out. There are hand cleaning stations and hand sanitizer as you enter. Overall, it felt well organized, safe, and everyone seemed to take the precautions seriously. Each week you can find about 20 different farmers and a rotating mix of other vendors (bakeries, cheese shops, butchers, etc). We already picked up bread from La Boulangerie, so all that’s left on our list are tomatoes, bacon, and lettuce. Let’s get shopping.
First up are the tomatoes. A great tomato is at the heart of any good BLT sandwich, and the summer season is when heirloom tomatoes finally make their appearance.
For you foodies out there, this isn’t news to you, but for those that have been scarred from eating those mealy, slimy, plastic looking tomatoes you get at chain grocery stores, these heirloom tomatoes will change your perspective on how a tomato should taste. It’s suppose to be hearty, fresh, and have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity.
Here’s a good article if you want to dive into this subject further. A word of caution — this may lead you down a rabbit hole where you feel compelled to research the ins and outs of the Big Tomato industry. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what you need to know — we’re being bamboozled.
Now that my tinfoil hat is back in the drawer, let’s get back to this guide.
Heirloom tomatoes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Unless you know exactly what you want, ask the folks working the stalls what works best with BLT sandwiches. We ended up at the Piedt Farms stand and they picked out a few dark purple heirloom tomatoes and some lettuce that ended up being great for our sandwiches.
On the bread side, La Boulangerie sometimes has a stall at the farmers market. If they’re on location that day, you can get all your sandwich provisions in one single trip.
Keep exploring for any other goodies that catch your eye. There are always a few butchers that have stands there as well. You can pick up bacon from any one of those stands, but I wouldn’t dwell on that decision too heavily. Any thick cut bacon will do for your BLT.
With all of the ingredients assembled, take it all home and feast. For tips on preparing your ultimate BLT, here’s a video with some helpful pointers.