Living the Pura Vida in Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio

Hello online blogging world! It’s been quite a while, and a lot of food adventures have breezed by. A week ago I came back from Costa Rica after a week long vacation. As I was talking to my friend at the airport terminal waiting for my flight back to Chicago, she mentioned she read somewhere that Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. After coming back from the lush paradise and back to the chilly realities of Chicago I can believe that. There’s something naturally simple about the Costa Rican life. Of course I was on vacation, but I can see how the day to day Costa Rican life is the pure life.

On my flight from the States to Costa Rica I sat next to a local heading back to Costa Rica. She told me that in Costa Rica people always greet each other with the phrase “pura vida” meaning the pure life. I didn’t fully understand the phrase till I experienced Costa Rica for myself. People greet each other with this phrase, and it essentially means the simple life. Learning to embrace life to the fullest with the genuine appreciation for everything. Though Costa Rica is becoming the mecca of tourism in Central America there are still many parts of Costa Rica that are knee deep in poverty. Huts with roofs made out of sheets of metal perched on the side of the mountain are not an uncommon site. But yet they all go about their day with a smile and the contagious phrase pura vida. Learning to live and to be truly happy with whatever you have is a true skill of the pura vida lifestyle.

Manuel Antonio – Costa Rica 

The first location that my college roommate and I visited was Manuel Antonio, a beach city along the southern coast of Costa Rica. IMG_7082This is the view from our hotel balcony. Just being surrounded by so much green was so soothing. Hidden behind all of the foliage is the open area where we had breakfast every morning.

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This is the traditional Costa Rican breakfast consisting of eggs, gallo pinto (rice and beans), fruit, and some type of sweet bread. I had this breakfast for three days in a row! Plus eating it in the open air dining area made for a perfect start to the day.  

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We spent many days bumming around on the beach. The view was just breath taking. Since we went during low tourism season it felt like we had the beach all to ourselves. We were bombarded by locals trying to sell us all sorts of things including cigars, handmade wooden bird whistles, coconut drinks, and even horseback riding along the beach.

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This is the flower that was in my fruity strawberry mojito drink. Nothing better than drinking a fruity drink on the beach.

IMG_7140We rented these reclining beach chairs for the day. When the tides came in, I dragged my chair into the tides. Let’s get washed away!

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We headed into the downtown area Quepos for dinner. A staff at the hotel told us the beaches were definitely not as great as the one we went to earlier that morning, but the view was spectacular especially during sunset.

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Since Yelp does not work abroad, I used TripAdvisor to find a good place for dinner. I wanted a traditional, non touristy dinner experience and Bohemia Cafe popped up. As we headed into Quepos I forgot to take my phone where I screenshotted the Bohemia Cafe TripAdvisor page which contained the name and the address. Luckily while wandering through Quepos we stumbled across Bohemia Cafe. It was tucked away on the other side of a small stream that ran through the town.

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This place was owned by a young lady and her mother. The restaurant is actually located in the living room of her house! As we approached Bohemia Cafe I saw the owner, her mother, and her baby sitting in the living room. The living room was tastefully decorated with a very carefree, Anthropologie like decor. The windows did not have any glass or screens on it just bars. An open living room felt so pure and wonderful. The owner is also a seamstress. She displayed her clothes and accessories that she made in her living room. I loved everything about this experience. My kind of ambiance! We were literally eating dinner in someone’s house!

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I got the Mahi Mahi with Passionfruit sauce. The Mahi Mahi tasted so fresh. It came with sides of brown rice and plantains. The meal was delicious. I wanted a traditional, authentic dining experience, and this was more than I could have ever imagined.

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The next day we went to the Manuel Antonio National Park to experience more beaches. This time I hid under trees, because of the terrible sun burn I got from the first beach day. Lesson learned!

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We encountered so many friendly raccoons. They darted across the beach to people’s bags and scavenge through for food. Here they are in action! As I commented in glee that they looked so cute, my friend exclaimed that they were rodents. Well I have never seen a raccoon before, so this was quite an exciting experience for me especially being so close to them!

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Baby raccoons! Cute little banditos.

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The other banditos at the beach were these monkeys. While we were in the outdoor showering area one of the monkeys stole a shampoo packet from a lady’s purse. Then a group of three monkeys sitting on a tree branch opened the packet and started rubbing it on themselves. Pretty adorable.

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The sneaky monkeys and I.

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They called these the traditional Costa Rican platters. I personally love side dishes, so these platters were perfect for me. The plantain at this place was so great! Since Mahi Mahi was the fish of Manuel Antonio, I couldn’t help but have Mahi Mahi again.

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Wouldn’t be a meal without ceviche! I got the fish ceviche, and both my friend and I agreed that this was one of the best ceviches we both had. The fish was so fresh combined with the perfect tanginess of the juice was perfect! My mouth is salivating just thinking and writing about it.

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We had dinner at a really fancy hotel’s restaurant. The restaurant was situated on a very high cliff so it overlooked the tops of the rainforest. A golf cart took us all the way up there. I tried the Mahi Mahi, and this was the best Mahi Mahi I have tried in Manuel Antonio. There was some type of batter on the Mahi Mahi giving it a crunchy exterior and a juicy soft interior. Priciest meal in Costa Rica, but for this Mahi Mahi it was definitely worth it.

Next stop Arenal Costa Rica! Look out for another blog post soon!

Tagged

Nursing Adventures #1

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For those who don’t already know, I work as a Registered Nurse at a large urban teaching hospital in Chicago. These last couple of days I have been talking with one of my friends about how I wish I had an office job. A nurse wishing to work in an office with the opportunity to wear more than just scrubs… what a dream! Though I’m sure lots of you out there are jealous that I get to wear comfortable scrubs to work everyday.

A quick comment about scrubs. I never wear the same color top and bottom scrubs. I told someone that, and he was so baffled. Would you ever wear a red shirt and red pants in real life as you’re going about your daily business or to your office job? NO, so why should I wear a monochrome outfit to work. I mean if I did I would probably look like these guys. Pretty hot hmmm?

I dream of having an office job, but I am sure I would feel so restless being confined in a cubicle staring at a computer screen all day. As a nurse I get to meet a lot of interesting and sometimes eccentric people. Here are some stories that I would love to share with you.

The Untalkative One

I walked into his room to give him his medications. If I were receiving medications from someone, I would want to know what I am taking for my own health’s sake. I pop the pills into the medicine cup and educate the elderly man about what each medication was and essentially what kind of medication it is. He then sits up and asks me “Do you have a boyfriend?”. At this point I was so baffled at his question, and why he would ask me that. I then ask him “What makes you ask that?”. He then goes on and says “Damn, you talk too much”. I was slightly insulted, especially I am definitely not a blabber or someone who will talk aimlessly. From then on I didn’t say much to this patient. I recently had this same patient again. He came into the hospital for very similar reasons. He told me he remembered me. I hope he didn’t remember that he thought I talked too much.

The Bed Tucker

I had this one patient who was a younger man. Towards the end of the night he asked me for a night time snack. Very reasonable especially since he ate dinner hours ago. I am a snacker, so I understand the idea of eating constantly. I gave some crackers to him, and he was quite a happy man. A little later he calls me again. This time for something that was a little odd. He told me he wanted me to tuck in the sheets into the bed, so that he could be tucked into bed. Keep in mind this guy is an adult. I was way too busy to tuck a guy into bed, so I had the nurse technician help me out. Special request from a patient!

The Sweet Patient

A patient that I had for a long period of time was finally discharged from the hospital. I was there for his discharge, meaning I was the last nurse that he had before he went home. He  was readmitted a couple weeks later. I could tell he was very overwhelmed with everything. Lots of unfortunate events had happened to him leading up to his hospitalization, and I could tell he was quite frustrated. I sat with him listening to his life story. He was finally discharged. I came to work one day, and a co-worker told me the patient left a card for me. It was so sweet! He thanked me for my care. There was even a chocolate bar inside the card. Something sweet for a sweet nurse huh?

The Fecal Transplantee

This story is not for the faint of heart. I had a patient come up to our unit after having a feces transplant. We get all of kinds of transplant patients on our unit – kidney, liver, bowel. But feces transplant I have never heard of. I asked the nurse I was getting report from what a feces transplant is and she tells me over the phone in a very hushed voice what it is. Essentially a feces transplant is exactly what the name says it is. It is transplantation of feces from one person to another. Usually the feces comes from the spouse or a close family member with a normal flora in their guts. The feces is transplanted into the patient via a scope like the kind they use for a colonoscopy. The reason for the feces transplant is that sometimes patients have chronic C. diff infections, an bacteria in the guts that overpopulate when the normal flora is killed off. The feces is transplanted in hopes of restoring normal flora in the guts. Sure sounds like something out of the twilight zone. Imagine receiving feces from someone close to you. Wouldn’t that be a good conversation starter?

Discovering The Purple Pig

A tapas/small plate styled restaurant called The Purple Pig… what’s not to love? I mean the name is The Purple Pig, you HAVE to try this place out. I wonder if they actually serve purple pig dishes? Sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book hmm…?

The wait for this place wait is usually about an hour, because it is located right on Michigan Avenue. The wait for a table for two was just 30 minutes. I came here on a weekday, so the wait was substantially less than weekends. We were seated right on the patio which was just wonderful, because the night was warm and breezy. Perfect for outdoor eating, lounging, and wining.

The Purple Pig – Near North Side

Don’t worry they don’t actually serve purple pigs, but they do serve scrumptious pork based small dishes. I shared three dishes with my friend and half a bottle of wine. Though the plates may be small they were packed with flavor and perfectly cooked.

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We started off with the Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs. The bone marrow was delicious. Tasted like I was just consuming fats, but hey that’s okay. You have to live a little right? My arteries will survive. You scoop the bone marrow off of the bone and spread it on the perfectly toasted bread. The creaminess of the bone marrow on the crispy bread was delicious!

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Up next the “JLT” Pork Jowl, Tomato, Frisee & Fried Duck Egg or pork cheek! It was fried to perfection and so crispy and smooth. Put an egg on anything, and it becomes 100x better. This was a great dish. I loved the combination of everything together.

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The Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes was so tender. I cut into the pork shoulder, and it beautifully fell apart. The meat was tender and soft. The mashed potatoes were perfectly whipped. I loved the gravy it was served with. It complemented the pork shoulder and the mashed potatoes really well.

The Purple Pig was a great place for dining out on a warm, breezy Chicago weekday. I will have to come back to try the other dishes this place has to offer.

Eve’s Cafe – Old Town

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Usually I am sitting at home typing away on my laptop writing my newest blog post. Today my friend and I met up at Eve’s Cafe in Old Town to plan our upcoming NYC trip. What a cute cafe! I got the tomato basil soup. The bowl and the plate were so adorable. It certainly matched the romanticism decor in the cafe. Now on to continue planning my NYC trip, a city filled with adventures. On our to do list in NYC – roof top bars, ramen restaurants, art museums, Central Park lounging, and lots of big city living.

Can it be Summer forever?

Everyday I have off I try to take advantage of everything that Summer has to offer, before I get holed up inside when winter comes along. You know those bitter cold Chicago Winters? I can honestly say those are the days when you basically do not want to go anywhere, but stay indoors. Here’s what I was up to this weekend. Some intense Summer loving.

Bridgehouse Tavern – Near North Side

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A co-worker recommended this place saying it had a great patio right along the Chicago river. It was the perfect location for brunch on a sunny Summer day. The brunch itself was okay. I wasn’t feeling that great, so opted for something light – fruit and house potatoes. Nothing too spectacular. My friend got the trout hash which turned out to be quite salty.

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The best part about this place was the view. Being right along the Chicago river, my friend and I boat and people watched as the boats made their way along the Chicago river. Big boats, small boats, large yachts. It was the perfect day to be on a boat, and an equally perfect day to watch the boats pass by. I could spend hours doing that. We saw as people docked their yacht and climbed up to the Bridgehouse Tavern patio for brunch. What a life!

The Second City – Old Town

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The Second City is one of the best comedy clubs in Chicago. I went several years ago, and the show was hilarious. I came back  for a Sunday afternoon showing of What the Tour Guide Didn’t Tell You. We got our tickets from Goldstar.com which is a website that sells discounted tickets to shows and events. We ended up with front row seats right in front of the stage. Best seats in the house! The show was definitely geared towards Chicagoans poking fun at Rahm Emanuel, Blagojevich, Daley, The Art Institute, Chicago tourists. It was definitely a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. In comparison to the other show I watched (The South Side of Heaven), the comedy was lighter and fluffier compared to very dark, twisted humor in The South Side of Heaven. Personally I think the other show I watched was better. The improv, the skits were funnier and more memorable. And who doesn’t like dark humor?

The Twisted Baker – Old Town

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We stopped here after The Second City for some late afternoon baked goods. I got the spinach quiche. It was delicious! The crust perfectly buttery and flakey, and the inside with the perfect combination of spinach, eggs, and cheese on top. People had books, laptops with them at this bakery. Reminded me of my college days when I would sit at a bakery for hours studying and people watching.

Carriage House – Wicker Park

We came here for dinner, and decided on outdoor seating. Have to enjoy these warm, sunny days as much as possible! Though I was quite tempted to eat inside since the decor was so cute. Carriage House is a southern  restaurant with small styled plates to be shared. The waitress told us the head chef is from South Carolina, and all of the dishes were inspired by his childhood. We ordered 5 different dishes. Here they are!

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We ordered the Charleston She Crab Soup - buttermilk cracker, crab salad and sherry gastrique. It was definitely on the saltier side, but had a very robust crab flavor.

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Next was the skillet cornbread with rhubarb jam and foie gras cream. I never had corn bread with toppings on it before. The combination of all three was delicious!

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Since it is a southern restaurant we had to try their fried chicken. This was a boneless Fried Chicken thigh - bread and butter pickles, sweet potato hot sauce. The chicken was perfectly fried. Moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I loved the sweet potato hot sauce that they paired with this dish. The orange colored hot sauce was sweet and tangy with a slight heat.

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This Hoppin’ John dish with rice, pork belly, and peas was alright. Nothing to spectacular. I thought it could have been a little bit more flavorful.

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By the time we got to this fifth dish I was already feeling quite stuffed. This dish Mushrooms, Truffle and Egg - grits, oyster mushrooms, soft egg, truffle vinaigrette and shaved thomasville tomme was good, but very heavy. The cheesy grits, cheesy mushrooms, and eggs was a little too much for me. Perhaps if this had come towards the middle I would have enjoyed it more. It was still very tasty. I love mushrooms, and these oyster mushrooms were tasty.

What a wonderful Summer day! By the time I got home after all of this I was thoroughly exhausted, but in a good way. To more Summer days.

Why I Like Sad Movies

My favorite type of movie is a sad movie. I am not normally a sad, Debbie Downer. I am actually quite the opposite. In college my roommates and I would watch sad movies and joke about popping in The Notebook, taking shots and crying. We even added eating fried chicken to the laundry list of things to do on a Saturday night to make it even more epic. Of course we were only joking… unless desperate times call for desperate measures. Then and only then would that be appropriate.

In all seriousness the thing I love most about sad movies is the way they make you feel so much. With action movies and comedies you get good a laugh and experience a grand adventure, but once you finish the movie it’s over. None of those feelings stick with you. It’s like waking up from a dream. You remember that it was exciting and wonderful, but don’t really recount what exactly happened if someone were to ask you about it later. Maybe it’s just me, but sad movies stick with you for hours, maybe even days. The characters are relatable and the situations and feelings the characters go through seem all too familiar.

It’s the sense of vulnerability when watching a sad movie that is so attractive. I was watching a movie with someone once. I wouldn’t say it’s a considerably sad movie, but he thought it was. I remember him jokingly saying that the movie was taking advantage of his emotions. I think that is the best part of a movie. A good movie makes for an easy watch, but a great movie takes you on an emotional roller coaster that drops you off at the end with emotional heaviness that seems to linger for hours.

I suppose I am into lists nowadays. Let me give you a list of my favorite sad movies I have watched thus far.

Schindler’s List
The Joy Luck Club
Atonement 
The Notebook (what girl doesn’t love this movie?) 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Virgin Suicides 

All of these movies are hauntingly beautiful. It makes you realize that life is short. It pushes you to reevaluate and reflect. I experienced something at work that mirrored a tragic Grey’s Anatomy episode. At work there was a patient who suddenly died without warning after what they thought was a successful recovery. A death that was unforeseen, a surprise, is the worst. He wasn’t my patient, but  I saw the tragic story unfold within a couple of minutes. The family members teary eyed, cried out in grief. The wife had to wheeled away in a wheelchair too unstable from distress. That event left me shocked all day just as if I was watching a sad movie. It would be very unfair to compare it to a movie, because this situation it was very much real life.

Sad movies reflect the potential of what real life could be in the most tragic way. And that is exactly what I love about these kinds of movies.

A Secret Garden

There is something quite special about finding a place that is unknown to most of the world. It’s like a secret that you keep until you choose to whisper it to others. I want to share with all of you the very magical place I wandered into yesterday. I hope that you will take these whispers of a secret and personally visit the garden. No words or pictures can truly capture the beauty of this garden.

Lincoln Park Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool – Lincoln Park 

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The garden is called Lincoln Park Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. It’s extremely close to Lincoln Park Zoo. I was surprised I have never been or heard of this place till today. I came here to meet up with my friend for an afternoon picnic. After being dropped off by the bus about two blocks away, I walked to where Google Maps said the entrance was. The entrance is discretely marked with a small sign on the ground. Two Japanese metal gates mark the entrance. You can easily pass by the entrance without knowing that there was an entire lily pond garden inside.

Inside is a lily pool wonderland, a sanctuary away from the messiness that is urban life. The garden is very well kept and full of life. Plants densely line the outer edges of the pond and the rocky paths. The flowers are just emerging, so I bet in a week or so beautiful yellow flowers will bloom and hover above the lily pads. There are so many great spots to sit especially on the rocks that border the pond. My friend and I sat right under the Japanese pagoda that provided the perfect amount of shade.

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One of the really great parts of the lily pool was the ducks. They were so friendly and definitely not afraid of humans. They waddled probably within less than a feet of us! I think it really helped that I was feeding them pita chips.  As we left the lily pool there was a small sign that said “no feeding the wild life”. Whoops!

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The four ducklings with the mama duck were so adorable. In this picture they were quacking at us. Probably asking us to feed them more pita chips.

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Here is a close up of the ducklings and the mama duck standing guard. What a very cute family of ducks!

Definitely visit this place if you get a chance. For an afternoon, you will forget you are in Chicago. The tall high barriers that surround the garden insulate the garden from everything that is going on on the outside.  This Japanese garden provides the perfect getaway even if it is just for one afternoon. Perhaps this will become my new favorite spot to just sit and day dream the afternoon away.

Chicago, my love

I always dreaded cleaning out my bedroom, but it has slowly transformed into a reminiscing adventure. You never know what old things you will find. I stumbled upon letters, papers, pamphlets from the past. I flipped through the glossy booklets given to me by all the hospitals I interviewed at as a fresh college new graduate.

As I flipped through more papers stuffed in secret places collecting dust, I was reminded of how excited I was at the thought of starting a new job, in a new place, with new people. Out with the old, in with the new they say. There was something novel about a new life in NYC, a new life in Charlottesville that became so addicting. Obsessed over the thought of a new life I forgot about the wonderful city I call home. Thinking about it a year later, I am glad I did not move. I told my good friend if I ever talk about moving again she should tell me I am crazy. I say that with good reason. Some people grow up in a town, and leave as soon as they can. Maybe that is after college they leave for their new job, or even earlier they leave for college never to come back. The longer I reside in Chicago the more I realize that this place is truly for me. Right now I cannot think of any other place I would rather be.

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Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Chicago

  1. Public Transportation – Chicago is easily accessible via public transportation. This cannot be said for a lot of cities out there.
  2. Museums – Chicago has a lot of fabulous museums. My theory is because it gets so cold in the winter time there needs to be indoor activities to attract all the tourists and non-tourists like me.
  3. Neighborhoods – All throughout Chicago are cultural hubs ranging from Chinatown to Greektown with one of a kind cuisines in each neighborhood. Did I also mention each neighborhood throws their own summer festival? Nothing says summer like outdoor street festivals!
  4. Cleanliness – Compared to other urban cities of its size, Chicago is relatively clean. My friends from out of town are usually shocked as to how clean Chicago is. I guess compared to NYC, Chicago seems glistening clean.
  5. Friendliness – I would like to think Midwestern friendliness exists even in Chicago which is not your typical Midwestern town.

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There are so many more things that make Chicago such a great city. Now I realize it is not about novelty, because that fades away with time. The small town charm of Chartolottesville I found to be so cute will get old quite quickly. The energetic hustle and bustle of NYC will get suffocating and chaotic after a while. It is about comfort, about a sense of belonging that a city holds the people, the places, the things that I love and have grown to truly appreciate.

“Are you still blogging?”

These last couple of days I’ve been asked by a several friends whether I was still blogging. Guess I have faithful readers out there! I sat there trying to figure out a reason to give them why this blog has been abandoned for a couple of months. I thought well… maybe I have become too busy with work, but that is not a good excuse. Busy yes, but you can always make time for something you feel passionate about. Maybe I just haven’t been eating out enough? That is completely absurd, because I’ve had some pretty tasty dishes these past couple of months. I guess the only reason left is I just became lazy. Lazy with old age I suppose.  So here I am blogging, hoping that this will continue into the summer.

Summer has finally arrived in Chicago. It felt like winter lingered on forever. I am glad the Winter season has passed, because there is nothing better than summertime in Chicago. It’s finally beach time, patio time, outdoor chilling time. Which in my opinion are all the best types of time.

Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar – Bridgeport, Chicago

My friends and I finally wandered over to the Bridgeport neighborhood bar called Maria’s Packaged Good and Community Bar. This bar has become my new favorite bar with delicious one of a kind cocktails, large selection of beers, a patio, friendly patrons, a speak easy dark vibe. What is not to love? Totally my kind of bar.

The inside is dark and moody with ventriloquist dolls sitting on the top shelves. Old fashioned beer cans align the wall as decor. A  little creepy once you notice them, but I think it fits in appropriately with the general vibe of this place.

I ordered the Hornswagglers High Tea which was made with Earl Grey infused Van Gogh Vodka, Filbert’s Cream Soda, and a lemon wedge. I was quite surprised after the first sip, because this cocktail tasted amazingly very much like Earl Grey Tea. I’ve tried Early Grey infused cocktails and foods before, and I have always been a little disappointed in the lack of flavors. This cocktails was the exception. Maybe I’ll just have to replace my regular morning cup of Earl Grey with this cocktail. Kidding.

I noticed on the beer menu there was a craft beer that I have tried when I was at the Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids, MI just a couple weeks ago. I had to try it again. The Founders Old Curmudgeon, an aged ale, was as smooth and dreamy as I remembered it to be.  I am a fan of bitter tasting foods, and this beer had a bitter, almost dark chocolate taste to it with a sweet bite at the end.

Overall my friends and I had a great time at Maria’s. The crowd was super friendly and easy going. I was up at the bar counter trying to order my Founders Old Curmudgeon when the guy next to me asked what I was drinking. I told him the #10, and he ended up putting it on his tab since the bar was quite crowded. I told him he didn’t have to do that, and he responded with a very nonchalant “Well I don’t have to do a lot of things”. This place is definitely filled with hipsters, but not your pretentious Northside hipsters. Easy going, friendly Southside hipsters.   I will definitely be back here!

Food Memories in the Making

Lately I’ve been coming to terms with my twenties, realizing I only get to be in my twenties once. Once you turn thirty it is all over. I’m joking of course, but it is in your twenties when you participate in self-discoveries, make mistakes, get into ridiculous situations, and laugh about it all in a couple of years with your friends. The conversations will start off with “Remember the time when…”, and the memories will flutter back just as vivid as day they were made. What is life without memories, without stories and shared experiences that bring people closer.

I believe that it is truly those memories, both the good and the bad, that really make people who they are today. I told my friend that I love listening to people’s problems, and she told me if a stranger heard that he would probably think I am a little nuts. The truth is I like to listen to people’s problems, because I am interested in knowing what events and life stories make people who they are. Though I would think that someone in their twenties have had less to experience than someone much older, I still enjoy listening to my fellow twenty-somethings. Perhaps they should call the twenties the age of listening, reminiscing, and making memories.

Now what has this twenty-something year old been up to? Let’s take a look!

Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club - Boystown, Chicago

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My friend invited me here for her sister’s birthday. My friend who took me here is always raving about this place, and I just had to check it out for myself. It is quite a fun lounge in Boystown, LGBT central in Chicago. This lounge is known for their hourly Diva shows when their Diva of the night comes out to impersonates female artists like Madonna, Cher, Pink. They lip sync while dancing ferociously to the songs. The night I went Sunny Dee-Light was performing. Pictured is her impersonating Pink.

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The drinks here are so fun. This one is called I Kissed a Girl.  It even came with a glow stick and rock candy. For a girly drink, it doesn’t get better than that.

This place is super fun for a group of girl friends. Singing the night away with the Divas while sipping the tasty, girly drinks makes for a fun girls’ night out.

Nana’s Organic –  Bridgeport, Chicago

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I am a huge fan of brunch. Unfortunately with my evening nursing work schedule, I don’t get to enjoy brunch that often. When I do, I love to visit this local place in Bridgeport. This is my second time here at this local eatery known for their fresh, organic foods. I got the breakfast sandwich with chicken sausage, potatoes and greens. Again it was simply delicious! The best part of the sandwich was definitely the English muffin. I have never tasted an English muffin as fresh as this one before. It was soft, but still appropriately crunchy from being toasted to perfection. What a great way to start the day!

Ahjoomah’s Apron - Chinatown, Chicago

This place just recently opened up in Chinatown. It is the first Korean restaurant to open up in Chinatown, and being a fan of Korean food I needed to try it. We walked in, and the decor looked really modern. Large pictures of Korean dishes on the wall with descriptions of the history and making of the dish. I think the feel they were going for is healthy, authentic Korean food, and with the decor they really nailed it.

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We tried the seafood pancake. This was my favorite dish of the night. I loved the slight spiciness of the pancake. Kind of like a more doughy version of an American omelette.

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We tried the Pan Broiled Salted Mackerel. I’m not a really big fan of mackerel, but this was quite flavorful. It was pan fried so the exterior was crunchy, capturing the flavors of the fish on the soft inside.

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Of course we needed to try one of the Korean beefs, and we settled on Bulgolgi. I thought the beef was tender and flavorful with the bulgolgi sauces. Nothing spectacular, but still good.

Overall this place was okay. I’ve had better Korean foods, but I did really enjoy the very modern yet still authentic atmosphere of Ahjoomah’s Apron.

Now off to make more twenty-something year old memories! If only my work schedule didn’t get in the way… Oh the life of a twenty-something year old.

David Burke’s Primehouse for Chicago Restaurant Week

For those that have not heard about restaurant week, participating restaurants offer three course lunch or dinner at a discounted price that makes expensive restaurants affordable to the normal person. You can get pretty good deals on meals especially at the top restaurants, where an equivalent meal would cost double or triple the Restaurant Week amount. I am not such a big fan of Restaurant Week as my friends are. I just don’t think Restaurant Week meals are worth it especially since they limit your choices for appetizers, entrees, and desserts to a couple. Sometimes picking from the menu, at some restaurants, would just be a little bit more expensive, but you would get exactly what you want. Plus a lot of restaurants have lunch specials that seem like a better deal than the restaurant week deals. Nevertheless I went and tried out David Burke’s Primehouse for Restaurant Week.

David Burke’s Primehouse

After reading Yelp reviews raving about this place, I had high hopes for the steaks here. Since it’s a primehouse, I had to try out their steaks. Here is my Restaurant Week lunch adventure at David Burke’s Primehouse.

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For the appetizer I got the Surf and Turf Dumplings - lobster with black olive, caper hollandaise & lamb with harissa aioli. I thought the presentation of the dumplings was really beautiful. The lobster dumplings are pictured on the left, and the lamb dumplings are pictured on the right. The lobster dumplings look like the Chinese soup dumplings! The lamb dumplings look like cake pops, but only dumplings pops! How creative! Now for the taste the lamb dumplings tasted too gamey for me. The lobster dumplings were okay, but the cream cheese overpowered the lobster taste. Overall the appetizer plate was just mediocre. It looked a lot better than it tasted.

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For the entree I got the Classic Filet Mignon. It was perfectly medium. I loved the steak! It was slightly crispy on the outside and so tender on the inside. I was in steak heaven. My friend noted that my filet mignon looked a lot like a pan seared scallop. A scallop filet mignon?

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The entree came with sides of basil whipped potatoes and herb roasted mushrooms. I loved both of the sides. The potatoes were so light and fluffy. I am a huge fans of mushrooms, and these caramelized mushrooms were so great! These sides went really well with the steak.

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This was a set dessert plate for Restaurant Week – mini prime cake, cheesecake lollipop, and Jove’s homemade ice cream. The cake was really great – marshmallow cream, chocolate mousse, and chocolate cake on the bottom.  I didn’t realize that the cake pop was cheesecake. I am use to eating the cake batter cake pops, and this cheesecake cake pop just wasn’t as good. I loved the ice cream though. It tasted so fresh!

Overall this Restaurant Week lunch was okay. I loved the steak, but I could have done without the Surf and Turf dumplings and the Cheesecake Lollipop. This is my issue with Restaurant Week. Sometimes some of the dishes are a hit and the others are a miss. Until the next Restaurant Week meal.

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