Located in the historic Scoville Square , the Olive & Well offers its customers a tasting experience. The shop specializes in Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars from all over the world. We were introduced to an 18 year old Traditional style Balsamic Vinegars de Modena Italy. The woman who worked with us mixed one of these with a lemon olive oil, and the combination was just fantastic.
These oils come from Northern and Southern hemisphere small-batch groves. The oils are kept in stainless steel tanks that are called Fusti. This is good because light does not reach the oil.
Interestingly, there are small white paper cups stacked beside the Fusti; the oils contained within are labeled so you know what you are tasting. You can combine oils and vinegars together which makes for a really delicious end result.
If you decide to buy a particular oil, you are able to watch it poured from the Fusti into a souvenir bottle.
What to buy: My travel pal, Mickey, purchased a gift box with five different oils [the five top selling oils]. They are packed and a description of each is included. Her purchase was for her sister's birthday. She was quite pleased.
Although these oils and vinegars are expensive [all extra virgin olive oils are expensive], but these are some of the finest and most unique you will ever taste.
Mickey and I purchased our tickets concerning the Frank Lloyd Wright House and Studio Tour at the GINKGO TREE BOOK SHOP. The shop was named after the Ginkgo tree which is the centerpiece of the east courtyard garden [See Photograph #1]. This tree predates Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright says that he remembered this tree as verified in a letter to the Oak Leaves Newspeper in 1940:
"It was planted by an old Scotch gardener, a Mr. Blair, who laid out Humboldt Park. It was growing before we got there. When I built the house, the ginkgo was young and slender, about four inches in diameter."
This is a small and crowded shop, but the merchandise is just outstanding. Even though the prices are a bit "steep", the quality is also outstanding. I saw many objects that would make great gifts such as jewelry such as earrings with the art glass designs that Wright is so famous for. In addition, I saw beautiful night lights with Wright's designs on them. There were so many wonderful books, especially for children, that had to do with architecture and design. I could go on and on about the merchandise and the quality of it.
What to buy: As you can see from the photographs, I purchased a beautiful tote bag for myself with the art glass design used at the famed Robie House 1909. This art glass window is located in the living room of the Robie House on the University of Chicago campus.
I fell in love with the design and knew I would enjoy carrying my belongings in it. Besides, I always purchase some item on each of my trips which reminds me of what I loved about it.
I'm actually not pointing this store out because it's a Borders, a chain of large bookstores but rather because of what this store used to be.
If you look closely at the detail work on the building, the copper window frames now with that blue green patina, the gold framing around the windows and lights, the wood revolving doors with the metal plates saying "push" and the most distinct marker, the copper clock on the corner of the building, also turned blue green with time, you'' know that this was originally a Marshall Field's store which I'm happy to say that Border's has retained mostly with it's original architecture from the outside at least.
I know of at least one other former free standing Marshall Field's that retained a lot of it's original design and that one is in Evanston. Most of the more recent stores are inside malls and have none of the flourishes of the original buildings. And of course, when Macy's swoops in and puts the final dagger through Marshall Field's heart in September 2006, you'll be seeing at least one more elegantly designed Marshall Field's that is no more, the flagship store on State Street in Chicago.