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Summertime Sales and More by Teri Hiben

Summer slows us down. The days take on a casual and fun-loving flavor. We’re ready to jump in and get outside to go for a bike ride and stroll around the farmer’s market to pick up some of summer’s bounty. We enjoy outdoor concerts, parades, food on the grill, lightening bugs…

In Glen Ellyn, one sure sign of the middle of summer is the annual Sidewalk Sale (this year from July 26-28). And the weather forecast is looking good! Historic Main Street is closed to traffic, there’s music in the air, tents and tables full of bargains line the street. The stage is set for a Glen Ellyn street party! It’s a great time to grab a friend, put the kids in the wagon and head downtown to wander among the tables loaded with discounted merchandise. You’ll run into friends and neighbors and have time to catch up for a bit. Maybe you’ll discover a new store or two in the process.

I know at Marcel’s we’ve been carefully selecting merchandise for the sidewalk sale this year. We’re motivated to generously discount items to make room for fun new merchandise coming this fall, so our tables will be full of bargains. We’ll be offering some summery accents for your home you can use right away for the rest of the summer or you may find seasonal decorations for the holidays ahead. Be sure to stop by our tent to discover some especially tempting surprise discounts awaiting you. You’re sure to find a few treasures for your home.

Don’t miss the fun! We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Dining Al Fresco by Didi Foth

Definition of al fresco: taking place or located in the open air: outdoor, outdoors. An al fresco lunch, an al fresco café, dining al fresco.

One of the things I look forward to most when summer arrives is being able to eat outside. All my friends know that if you make a reservation for lunch or dinner with me, a request for an outdoor table is a must, even on the warmest (or coolest) days. I feel the need to take advantage of every beautiful day since our warm weather is limited here in the Midwest.

My favorite place for al fresco dining, though, is on my own patio. I love sitting in my garden on a beautiful night with a summer menu, a pretty table, candlelight, and a great playlist. Nothing could be better! Over the years I have learned a few things to make the dining experience fun, beautiful and not stressful.

1. Keep the recipes simple: Food always seems easier in the summer. A trip to the farmers market can be the inspiration for the menu. A colorful summer salad and freshly picked local vegetables are perfect to accompany my husband’s pick on the grill. A freshly baked baguette and cheese (from Marché) and fresh fruit for dessert and the menu is set.

2. Bring the inside outside: I love bringing my dishes and glassware outside to set the table. It makes everything feel more special than using paper or plastic. My tablescape is often dictated by what is blooming in my yard. I enjoy cutting flowers and picking the tablecloth or placemats that best match the colors in my garden at the time. (I have Juliska Berry and Thread dishes in Whitewash and these go with any color scheme that I choose to use.)

3. Add some light when it gets dark: Candlelight makes everything prettier! I use candles everywhere while entertaining. Votives, hurricanes and lanterns all create a wonderful summer atmosphere.

4. Make a playlist: Have a playlist set before the evening starts so that it creates the mood or theme you have in mind. Music can get a party started and keep it going.

5. Have a signature cocktail or drink: It’s always fun to have a drink waiting for people when they arrive.

6. Don’t forget the bugs: Make sure to find a way to limit bug bites – citronella, candles, fans, bug spray. Nothing can push people inside faster than pesky mosquitoes.

Enjoy your summer nights entertaining al fresco. It makes summer so much more enjoyable and a welcome memory when the days get colder. Stop by Marcel’s and we can help you set the perfect summer table with beautiful tablecloths, placemats, napkins and candles!

Also, we are having our Juliska Placesetting Completion Event –thru June 30th!
Purchase 7 pieces of dinnerware, glassware or flatware and receive the 8th piece free all month long!

My Love of Marcel’s Cooking Classes by Graeme Reinhart

Welcome to our guest blogger Graeme Reinhart who has been taking classes in the Marcel’s kitchen since we opened and is currently enjoying his time in our classes for 12 – 16 year olds.  Read on for more about Graeme and his love of cooking.  Thanks for sharing, Graeme!
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How long have you been taking classes at Marcels? 
I think I’ve been taking these classes for close to 6 years.  I know I was really excited when I got to start going to the Mid-Kid classes. Now I’m in the Big Kid classes. 
 
What do you enjoy most about the cooking classes?
I enjoy learning how to cook and learning new techniques, such as when we learned different knife skills.  The first trick I remember Chef Jamie teaching us was to always crack your eggs into separate bowls in case one egg wasn’t good.  I also remember the tip about washing your hands with a metal spoon to get rid of the garlic smell.  And of course, I like getting the discount to use at the end of class so I can get some new cooking gadgets. 
 
What are some key things you have learned from these classes?
The tips and tricks; why certain things in cooking are the way they are, and what gives certain foods their taste.
 
How would you like to use these skills in the future?
I want to continue to learn more advanced skills because it seems like we are refining our skills in these classes.  I like to know the correct way of doing things because the correct way is usually easier and if it is the correct way, it usually tastes better!  Chef Robin told us to always cut peppers with the skin down, that way it’s easier to cut them. She also taught us the right way to cut an onion, and I’m still trying to remind my mom not to cut the root!
 
Can you tell of a time you made the recipes outside the cooking class?
I’ve made the jalapeño coleslaw chicken sandwiches for out of state friends. I make the egg drop soup every so often as an after school snack.  I also liked recreating the lemon chicken, lasagna and a lot of the desserts too.  I still need to make the clam chowder that was so good. 
 
Do you have a favorite kind of food you like to eat?  
I’m pretty adventurous. I love trying new things so I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. 
 
Any thoughts of becoming a chef?
No, not at all.  I think it’d be difficult job, but I do want to learn how to cook better. 
 
What kind of class would you like to see that you haven’t experienced yet?
I’d like to cook foods from exotic countries and learn more advanced techniques.
 
To register for one of our fabulous kids classes, click on the appropriate age below:

The Bee’s Knees,’ A Real Royal Experience by Jenny Lorish

   Nothing brings me more joy, than when a newly engaged couple comes in to register for their upcoming nuptials. It is such a joyous occasion, everyone is happy and excited. Marcel’s has so many things any royal, or non-royal couple can use to start their new life together! We carry exceptional items for any lifestyle: kitchen gadgets, pots and pans, small appliances, and my favorites, beautiful dinnerware, flatware and glassware. Plus, home decorations and specialty items by many talented artists, are abundant at Marcel’s. We carry many lovely vendors like Juliska, Michael Aram, Le Cruset, Arte Italica, and the list goes on. Unique merchandise, is carefully selected by Jill and Dana, and is sure to make anyone feel like royalty.

Just last week a couple came in with smiles bursting with joy. Their glee was infectious! They sat down with us to go over their lifestyle and interests. Do they entertain? Experienced in the kitchen? Then we showed them what we carry. From start to finish, we helped make the entire experience stress free and fun. They were very interested in the “one of a kind” Terrafirma ceramicware, as well as the personalized engraved Simon Pearce vase and stemware. These pieces always add that ‘special touch’ to any table. The happy couple left the store feeling a sense of peace, knowing one more wedding “to do” is checked of the list!

One of the things I especially like about working at Marcel’s is the special attention we give to each and every customer. Marcel’s is truly a place where you “experience” so many things, especially the bee’s knees’ , if you will, in customer service. Our experienced, seasoned staff truly care, and will go above and beyond for anyone that walks in the door. We have beautiful gift wrap options, and we wrap each gift with care to make everything feel a bit more special. You are sure to feel like royalty when you come to Marcel’s.

Our Gift Registry can accommodate any occasion, Wedding, Anniversary, a special Birthday, you name it. Stop in, or schedule an appointment and we will give you a unique, individualized visit. Our talented retail consultants will walk you through, step by step, to ensure you are registered for gifts that can surely last a lifetime. Having a well thought out registry makes it easy for guests to shop from.

In Marcel’s kitchen we host many cooking classes, and private events. A perfect afternoon tea perhaps and wedding showers are always a big hit. Marcel’s has such a great atmosphere, lots of energy and happy people, great smells and wonderful merchandise, all the aspects of glamorous royal living. Stop into Marcel’s for all your special occasions and we will make everything extra special.

*Bee’s knees’ is a term the English use to describe excellence – the highest quality.

Celebrate Mom With Marcel’s This Mother’s Day!

As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, we once again have the opportunity to celebrate and honor our mothers and all of the women that have helped raise us and our children.  Moms, grandmothers, aunts,  sisters, friends, can all play an important role in our children’s lives.  Finding gifts that matter and are meaningful, can be a bit of a challenge.  What better way to show your love and appreciation than with a hand-made gift and some simple pampering?

Marcel’s is here for you.  Join us on Saturday, May 5th for a special Mother’s Day event where your child will create their very own masterpiece to honor that special woman.  Local artist, Kristin Fischer owner of Muirwood Reclamations, will be at Marcel’s from 11 am – 3 pm to work with your little artist (or artists of any age) to create personalized concrete coasters. These coasters are perfect for a bedside table, coffee cup, or wine glass.  After your artist has created their own coasters, Kristin will take them to be glazed and will return them by Wednesday, May 9th to be picked up from Marcel’s in plenty of time for Mother’s Day.

To start Mother’s Day off on the right note, you and your kids can present her with a darling breakfast-in-bed basket.  This basket will include our housemade individual-size quiche, Hudson Henry granola, a Strawberry and Champagne chocolate bar, spring luncheon napkins and a bit of light culinary reading.  We are also proud to include a bottle of fresh pressed juice from Glen Ellyn’s newest shop, JOY Bar.  Call, stop in the store or order your breakfast basket online.  Baskets are $35.00 and can be picked up on Saturday, May 12th. 

Finally, we will have a Mom’s Day Wish List that mothers, grandmothers, etc. can complete. Have mom or grandma stop into the store to complete her Mom’s Day Wish List or download a copy of the wish list. Is she a connoisseur of kitchen tools? Loves to set a beautiful table?  Now is the time to find the perfect way to honor her!

Happy Mothers Day to all of the women who mother in so many ways!

Brightening Winter Days by Julie Busteed

After the hoopla of Christmas and the excitement of snow days has worn off, winter can tend to drag on. The grey days seem unending, and I look forward to the beginning of spring – the first peek at daffodils and the robin’s song.

But I’ve found that we also need to enjoy the moment – live in the moment.  Even during the grey days.  It’s a good opportunity to get together with friends and cheer each other on to spring. 

I had the opportunity to do this recently – enjoy some good company and food.  It was a simple meal, but made special by sharing it with friends.  It even inspired one of my guests to try her hand at a new recipe. 

So take some time to connect with friends over a meal or coffee.  It will brighten up your winter day as we anticipate the coming colors

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Serves 6
Print
For the pastry
  1. 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  3. 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  4. 1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
  1. 1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
  4. 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. Pinch of sugar
  7. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  8. 3/4 cup fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves.
Instructions
  1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.
  4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
  5. Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.
  6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Dinner Table Design Dilemmas…. Done! by Deb Forkins

Recently, while preparing for holiday dinner parties, Deb Giampoli took stock of her 35 plus year old formal china. Feeling her dishes were a bit tired and out of date, Deb looked at selling them online, but was discouraged by the lack of resale value. Instead, she called Marcel’s and spoke to Jill. “I always love the tablescapes when I come into Marcel’s and I vaguely recalled hearing about the Table Design service. Jill encouraged me to come into the store and bring in my china, which I did.” Deb brought in her Christmas dishes and worked with Dana for a little over an hour. Dana pulled out runners, table cloths, napkins, centerpieces and candles as Deb gave the YAY or NAY. “ We had so much fun!” Deb left completely overjoyed and went home to prepare her holiday table (photo right).

Soon thereafter, Deb returned to Marcel’s with her formal china in tow. After a second session of frenzied designing, Deb went home with a few new items that completely changed the way she felt about her china. “Now I have a beautiful table with so many options. My old pieces were contemporized with the addition of just a few new items. I am feeling so very hip and happening!” Deb’s new table designs have also sparked her interest in the art of napkin folding. Check out this gorgeous table design featuring Deb’s china on a Marcel’s inspired table and Deb’s rosette folded napkins!

Anyone who has ever set foot into Marcel’s knows the gorgeous table settings surrounding the store. Of course, there is a lot of LOVELY in the store to work with, but our talented staff know how to pull it all together. We know about the power of layering linens, mixing metals, adding just the right amount of playfulness to a formal setting. A well designed table is really about the ability to pair the items you have and to work with, not against them. If you are struggling with this, take advantage of Marcel’s complimentary Table Styling Service. Bring in your dishes, your colors, whatever you have that you want to work with and we will you help create a beautiful table design.

You do not have to wait for a dinner party to use this service. Give the store a call and set up an appointment for the Table Styling Service. As Deb Giampoli notes, “A table is reflective of YOU. A pretty table that has been well designed invites your guests to sit there longer…” and isn’t that the whole point of getting together?

Come To My Farm by Elliott Papineau

  It started as a tweet to the masses from Chef John Shields about sourcing black walnuts and Elliott Papineau answered.  His parents owned a 20 acre property in Bourbonnias and had an abundance of the trees on what is known as “The Farm”. 

Alan and Rebecca Papineau, both retired, bought The Farm in 2012 as a hobby to grow produce for themselves.  Each year, the plots would become larger due to Alan’s relentless desire for more tillable land and Rebecca’s intellectual curiosity driven by her lifelong dedication to botany.  Elliott saw this passion and coupled it with his love for cooking to form the idea of a chef and farm partnership. 

Chefs John and Karen came to The Farm on a whim, not knowing what to expect from these strangers. What followed was a true collaboration with the Papineau’s, keepers of The Farm’s natural pantry. 

The collaboration has blossomed into a full-on partnership.  John and Karen inform the operations at The Farm, and The Farm shapes the menus at Smyth + The Loyalist.  With over 200 different herbs, vegetables, fruits, and native plants, The Farm is as much a source of inspiration as it is a supplier to the restaurants. 

Back at Smyth + The Loyalist, the Shields take the product, along with their inspiration, weaving both into the menus to create two unique experiences in two distinct spaces.  

Smyth, with its two stars in the 2018 Michelin guide and winner of Best New Restaurant at the 2018 Jean Banchet awards, is a showcase of technique and ingredients balanced with straight forward presentation and zero pretense.  Walking in to the restaurant, the Shields welcome you to their home and the space evokes a comforting feeling. On any given night you may start with an oyster presented on apple and radish ice, followed by squab liver mouse tart with dried corn.  Aged beef rib-eye with accentuating components such as a brioche doughnut highlight the multi-course affair. Moving into the sweeter section of the menu, a chocolate bar with raspberry preserves and shiitake mushroom powder remind you that this is comfort with a conscious.  

Downstairs at The Loyalist, the comfort level extends as you tuck into a booth or step up to the bar.  A cocktail or beer followed by a few bites, and maybe a “Dirty Burg” (The Loyalist’s take on a classic cheeseburger), are what the regulars of this subterranean hideaway have recently had to share with restaurant adventurers after multiple national accolades. The creativity on the menu is not lost here, but is hidden in each dish’s depth. Beets and endive with smoked trout followed by leek mimosa or a variety of oysters could easily get you started.  Other dishes will move through the seasons such as a bone-in shortrib and house-made cavatelli.  A classic sundae would be a fitting end to a meal at The Loyalist, but the flavors here always let you know this is not a standard inn.  

With two busy restaurants and two young children, John and Karen are delighted to share an afternoon at Marcel’s. Join us on March 4th for a special event presented by Le Creuset & Marcel’s Culinary Experience, as John and Karen showcase their refined yet approachable way with food and hospitality in a way that makes you feel at home. Register online or call (630) 790-8500 to reserve your seat for this one of a kind cooking demonstration!

‘Twas The Season by Kelly Montgomery

It ‘s been said that there are 3 seasons in the retail year:  Before Christmas. Christmas. And after Christmas. Yes. Absolutely. 

Here’s how it goes at Marcels:

It begins in the spring, giving new meaning to ‘keep Christmas in your heart all year.” Dana and Jill will scour catalogs, scout a few shows and start ordering holiday merchandise. Snow men in June? It’s hard to put yourself in the mindset, but there they are.

Fast forward a few months. It’s late summer and the orders start trickling in through the back door.  And then it snowballs. It’s a fun little perk of our job. We get a chance to preview the merchandise customers won’t see for months. Ha! 

Next thing you know, someone is saying, me included,  “Hey Rita, did you see those mice ornaments? They have new outfits this year!” or “Guys! Come check out the Juliska stuff that just came in!” 

Before you know it, it’s mid-November. You’ll find our retail staff (and a few random awesome people who show up year after year) bringing up boxes and boxes of holiday merchandise and decorating the store. The whole thing.  In approximately 5 hours. It must get done, (since the very next night is Ladies Night Out!) 

And so the season begins—for you, our customer, bringing familiar faces and new ones as well, in varying degrees excited, stressed, dazed, hangry, focused, exhausted, over caffeinated, under caffeinated (or even a little tipsy!) Yes, we know. And it’s OK!

Shockingly early in December customers will begin to triumphantly shout, “I’m done! I had this one gift to get and now I’m finally done!” This, of course, sets off a growing panic here, and across the retail industry, that we haven’t even started!! Nor had we noticed since we all genuinely like working together. It’s fun to see the whole team in action at the same time. Organized chaos!

Somehow or other it all gets done so we can focus on getting ready for our own Christmas now. And soon enough, next Christmas for you all.

This might sound like the Nightmare Before Christmas more than anything else, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Something I didn’t really grasp until this year, when I couldn’t participate much due to a thumb injury and rehab. 

But more than the preparation and start to the holiday bustle, it’s the mulled cider. The private office parties and events. The samples. The smells from the kitchen. Everything. Like one constant Christmas Eve for however many days that I realize I miss. And, I’m missing out on. Cook. Create. Celebrate never meant more than during the holidays.

It has been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Yes. Absolutely.

Happy Holidays everybody.

My Favorite Things by Jennifer Dorn

Remember the song “ My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music or Oprah’s Favorite Things List? This song and theme have been going through my mind since joining Marcel’s team in May. I had shopped at Marcel’s for over 5 years and I did have a “MY favorite things list” – that go to hostess gift and favorite pantry items. My recipes were never without a little help from the  S.A.L.T. Sisters (Mojo Seasoning Blend) or a Garnier-Thiebaut French dish towel ready for a house warming gift. Since I joined the team here, I have been asking the staff about their favorite products and have added many more to my list!

 

I must admit it has been a bit overwhelming learning about all of the 100’s of products here at Marcel’s. So I started by asking each staff member to tell me about their favorite things. I could not wait to try Teri’s Hot Pepper Bacon Jam, Kathy’s Filotea linguine pasta or Dana’s Beef Goulash soup mix… so many favorites you get the idea – and so much fun for me to learn about these new things!

 

I recently added the linguine pasta to our family’s favorite Shrimp Scampi – ahh YES, a success! Come taste this in my demo on November 28th.  

 

So stop by the store and I may sing you a song and show you a few of my favorite things – and I hope to learn about some of yours. I still have my list and it’s growing!