November turned out to be one of the most eventful months of 2018 for us, which was a nice surprise. Usually November is just Thanksgiving and awaiting the end of the semester, but now that we’ve finished school and have more free time, we got to spend last month watching musicals, movies, and trying new foods.
At the start of November, we watched the national tour production of the Hello, Dolly! revival. We didn’t know much about the show going into it but heard good things, and we ended up really enjoying it―so much that we saw it twice! The revival of this classic musical is really well done and allowed us to see two of our favorite Broadway performers, Julian DeGuzman and Jess LeProtto, whom we met afterward (both times)! The second time we met Julian at the stage door, we got to talk to Julian about being Filipino, Filipino food, and Miss Saigon―a show known to have many Filipinos in its cast. To read more about our experience at Hello, Dolly!, check out our blog post about it.
While we were downtown to watch Broadway shows, we spent some of our free time before the show trying some new desserts, because we love trying fun treats!
Rainbow cake at Goddess and the Baker
Thanks to Broadway dresser LJ Wright, we discovered Goddess and the Baker. It’s a cool little cafe that has lots of pastries, coffee drinks, salad, sandwiches, and breakfast food. We looked up pictures of its pastries before going, and when saw the rainbow cake, we knew we had to get it. It’s the funnest, most colorful cake we’ve ever seen, and it was delicious. The cake itself was nice, light, and fluffy and had just the right amount of icing. It was a pretty big slice, so it was good that we decided to share rather than each get a piece. The rainbow cake gets an A+++ for Instagram worthiness!
Vanilla cake from Magnolia Bakery
We’ve had Magnolia Bakery before, but it had been years since we last had it. We wanted a snack before seeing Hello, Dolly! again, and cake sounded great―not that it doesn’t always sound great. So when we passed Magnolia Bakery and saw a lady sitting at the window eating a piece of cake, we knew we had to go inside for their cake. We didn’t see the colorful, funfetti cake the lady was eating, so we had a bit of a difficult time deciding what we wanted and if we wanted to share. Eventually we decided on the vanilla cake because of its pretty pastel blue frosting and fun sprinkles. The cake was moist and fluffy with a sweet, creamy buttercream frosting. It was an excellent choice to fulfill our cake craving.
Red velvet and Oreo churros from La Bodega
The Oreo churro was the better of the two with the classic churro taste and a nice crunchy touch from the Oreos. The red velvet churro was good, but didn’t taste like anything special. However, the cream cheese and chocolate shavings paired well together and balanced each other out.
Cookies and cream macarons
At the start of the month, we practiced making macarons yet again because they are a hard dessert to perfect. We thought we would be making them for Thanksgiving, so we needed to get as much practice in as possible―we refuse to serve ugly desserts to our family! So we baked some cookies and cream macarons with a cookies and cream filling. They definitely looked better and had better feet than our first few batches, so that was good. Most importantly, they tasted good. We still need to work on our macaron-making skills, but we’re making good progress!
Cookies and cream cake
In the middle of the month, we felt making a cake, so we did. We just got brand new baking supplies, so we were eager to use them. We had leftover Oreos from making macarons and just bought some cookies and cream treat filling, so we decided to make a chocolate and vanilla cookies and cream cake. It wasn’t the best cake we’ve made, taste-wise. The chocolate cake was denser than we would have liked, but it had good flavor. The vanilla cake with Oreos was good, though. It’s probably the best looking cake we’ve made (even though we’ve made only three).
Christmas sugar cookies
We’ve been in the Christmas mood for months, but once Thanksgiving was over, we were in full Christmas mode. As such, we began to crave Christmas cookies, and watching episodes of Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge did not help. We had sugar cookie mix we hadn’t used yet, so we quickly whipped up some dough―thanks, Betty Crocker!―to make Christmas tree cutout sugar cookies.
What we wanted to do was decorate them with royal icing, because we’ve never done that before and always wanted to. But we ended up not having confectioner’s sugar and didn’t want to go out in the snow to buy some. So we just used some green frosting we already had. But we used a fancy piping tip to make the decorating process more fun and make the trees look more realistic. They’re definitely some of the prettiest cookies we’ve ever decorated, so we’ll be using this decorating technique for future Christmas cookies.
Bandstand: The Broadway Musical
As Ashley’s all-time favorite Broadway musical, she wasn’t going to let us miss watching Bandstand at the movies. Fathom Events originally showed the filmed version of the live musical over the summer but had encore showings in honor of Veterans Day. We also weren’t satisfied from the last time we saw it in theaters, because the sound got cut off during the second song of the show. Unfortunately, the start of the movie was delayed and began over 10 minutes after its intended start time. Other than that, though, it was great to watch one of our favorite musicals again. It’s a compelling story with excellent songs, Tony Award-wining choreography, and phenomenal performances. Every time we watch it, we cannot fathom the fact Corey Cott did not at least receive a Tony nomination for his performance as main character, Donny Novitski. Hopefully these showings lead to a DVD/digital release so even more people have the opportunity to watch this musical.
Toward the end of the month came the November movie Amanda was excited for: Robin Hood. As a big fan of Taron Egerton, Amanda couldn’t let us miss his latest movie―even if a lot of people weren’t too excited for yet another Robin Hood adaptation. The only version we’ve seen before was the Disney animated film, which we enjoyed, but we weren’t familiar with any other version. As such, we didn’t have any complaints about the story being told on the big screen once again. Robin Hood wasn’t Egerton’s best film―he was still great in it―but it was better than we expected. The anachronistic and modern wardrobe didn’t really bother us, as we understood the vibe the filmmakers were going for. We liked the different elements of Robin as a character and how he evolved from the beginning of the film to the end. Perhaps what we appreciated most was the realistic inclusion of Robin Hood having post-traumatic stress disorder from his days at war, though more could have been done with that.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we saw the national tour production of the Miss Saigon revival. We had already seen it on Broadway and own the Blu-ray of the West End revival, but we still wanted to see the tour when it came to Chicago. We were looking forward to seeing several of the cast members perform, including a couple of fellow Filipinos, and had heard great things about the national tour production. Having already seen the show and being so familiar with it, we had a lot of expectations going in, and those expectations were thoroughly fulfilled. We were fully invested in the story as if we were unfamiliar with it and found it was well worth it to watch one of our favorite musicals with a different cast. To read more about our time watching Miss Saigon on tour, read our blog post about it!