Category Archives: Chicago

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.

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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.

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.

Carmen, the Early Bird

There is nothing like the peaceful stillness of the wee morning hours. The feeling that just for one minute life is going in slow motion, and not sprinting at the speed of light. The idea that just for an hour or so you have time for yourself before embracing the hard realities of the world outside. I always thought of the morning as the best time of the day, when the mind is fresh, the body is rejuvenated, and the day begins anew again.

I try to explain this morning concept to my friends who are all night owls, and they look at me in disbelief that even on my days off I continue to go to sleep before 10PM and wake up before 7AM. Of course if there is a night out on the town, my sleeping schedule gets thrown off. Other than that I am pretty consistent with my early night and early morning sleeping habit. My friends don’t understand how I voluntarily wake up so early everyday, that waking up early is enjoyable. That is just the way I have been for a long time, and I love being that odd morning bird.

One of my favorite parts of being an early morning person is brunch. I love the smell of breakfast foods especially eggs and potatoes. Though the variety of brunch food options are limited, it never gets old for me. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, and I would like to share with you the wonders of waking up early and enjoying a delicious plate of breakfast foods. I hope I can tempt you to come over to the light side of early mornings.

Wildberry  Pancakes and Cafe – The Loop

I’ve been here twice, and both times I left delightfully satisfied. Sometimes brunches leave you feeling stuffed in a bad way. You start the morning off wanting to hit the gym to burn off all of the calories you consumed in an artery clogging brunch. Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe’s brunches are light, but still delicious.

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This is the Wild Berry Belgian Waffles. I have had Belgian Waffles before. Waffallonia in Pittsburgh. The Belgian Waffles were quite disappointing. I was expecting crunchy, sugary Belgian waffles, and instead got regular waffles. They were really great waffles, but since I was expecting Belgian Waffles it did not suffice. I enjoyed the fresh berries that came with these waffles. It would have been better if there was some type of wildberry glaze or syrup with this waffle.

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These seasonal pumpkin pancakes were great! I am a big fan of all foods pumpkin – pumpkin bread, pumpkin scone, pumpkin cupcake, you name it and I would love it. This pumpkin pancake was no exception. I loved the strong pumpkin flavors and aromas with this pancake. The pumpkin gave this pancake a moist, fluffiness that a normal pancake would not have. This is a must try at this restaurant!

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Kind of looks like the spongey human brain or the spreading of a bacteria colony? How appetizing! This is actually potato pancakes. I loved the thinness and crispiness of these potato pancakes which the waitress described as more like latkes than a pancake. Delicious!

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This Garden Sizzling Skillet with two over easy eggs, hot potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli. This dish was a little underwhelming. There was no seasoning on the vegetables leaving it tasting very bland. It would have been great if they added spices or fresh herbs to the vegetables.

The Original Pancake House – Near North Side

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I came here on New Year’s Day after a night out for New Year’s Eve. Nothing like a hearty brunch especially when one suffers from the aftermaths of New Year’s Eve. The sausage patties were flavorful and slightly crispy from being pan fried. I love the combination of potato hash and the runny yolk of an over easy egg. These potatoes were a bit on the softer side. I prefer my potatoes a bit crunchier, but that is just personal preference.

Nana’s Organic – Bridgeport

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This has to be one of my favorite brunch places in Chicago. I ordered the Nanadict, Nana’s Organic’s version of an Egg Benedict. Two poached eggs on top of a bed of chorizo and a pupusa. Most Egg Benedicts come on top of an english muffin. In the Nanadict they came on top of a pupusa which is a thick corn tortilla. It tasted denser than an English muffin which was great in helping to soak up the poblano cream. I loved the home fries that came with this dish. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The dish itself wasn’t extremely heavy or fatty, but having a side of farm greens helped to ease the digestion process. I would like to think that by eating farm greens it cancels out whatever other foods I ate. If only…  The Nanadict was so unique, and definitely tasted quite special. I definitely want to go back to Nana’s Organic to try more brunch dishes.

Nothing beats sharing stories and catching up with good friends over a delicious brunch. I always look forward to weekend brunches. My favorite part of the week and one of the perks of mornings!

The First Time

It’s always better the first time around – more exciting, more memorable, more fun. That first time you try out that new restaurant, and it then becomes your favorite. That first time you take a mouthful of the ramen, and the springiness of the noodles and the richness of the broth is forever ingrained in your food memories. That first time you meet someone new over a meal, and time just flies like the conversation is endless. When the second time comes around, it is less exciting. You know what to expect, you discovered most of what is new about the person, the place, the thing. It is that uncertainty, whether it will truly be as good as everyone says it is or be a complete disappointment, that makes the first time so great. Treasure the first time, savor the moment, because it will only happen once.

These are my first moments at the following restaurants in Chicago. Even though the food may be the same the second time around, it will never exactly feel or taste the same as the very first time.

Vinci – Lincoln Park

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I came here with my sister to use a Groupon deal that I bought a while ago. $20 for $40 to spend at an Italian restaurant, count me in! I got the Spinach pappardelle – hand-made spinach pappardelle with roast duck, mushrooms, ovendried tomatoes, truffle oil, parmigiano. I loved the noodles. It definitely tasted very fresh. The slight chewiness and springiness of the noodles were perfect. The meal was great, and we even got a table right next to the window. A lot of the guests at Vinci that night were there for a pre-show dinner. I wish I knew about this show that was going on, because I would have liked to go.

Wasabi – Logan Square

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My friend invited me here, because her friend from NYC was visiting Chicago for the week. I am a huge fan of ramen restaurants if you haven’t noticed already, and I was excited about trying another ramen place in Chicago. I’ve had some pretty excellent ramen in NYC, but none that have really stood out to me in Chicago. This place was excellent. As good as or even better than the places in NYC. I loved it! I got the Tonkotsu Ramen – egg noodle, rich pork broth, berkshire pork cheek, soft boiled egg, marinated bamboo shoot, scallion, sesame, kikurage mushroom. The thing that makes or breaks a bowl of ramen is the broth, and this broth was spectacular. I was tempted to drink all of the broth after I finished my noodles! I loved the richness of the broth. The ingredients in the ramen were also quite tasty. The soft boiled egg, which isn’t quite as runny as a poached egg, but not quite as solid as a hard boiled egg, was the perfect texture for the ramen. 

The Girl and the Goat – West Loop

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My friends have been raving about this place for a while, and I finally got to try it. This restaurant owned by a Top Chef contestant is known for having one of the best foods in Chicago. I had high expectations for this place, and I was not disappointed. The small plates are meant to be shared, but my friends and I weren’t too hungry. We each ordered one dish. I ordered the scallops served with squash, onions, and other ingredients. The scallops were so soft. I took the first bite, and I couldn’t believe what I was eating. These are the best scallop I ever had! I hope the next time I go, the scallops will be as good as I remembered it being.

Cafe Iberico – River North

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I came here to meet up with a Georgetown friend who just recently moved to Chicago for his job. I am so excited more fellow Georgetown Hoyas are here in the city! Cafe Iberico is a Spanish tapas restaurant. The highlight of the meal in my opinion was the Iberico Styled Paella – chicken, pork, and rice baked in a pan with saffron sauce. All of the flavors from the meat and seafood infused into the rice making a fragrant and delicious dish. I could eat this for lunch any day!

My firsts with all four of these restaurants were spectacular. I don’t know what the second time will be like, but I hope if I return again it will be good as the first time.

 

 

MOVE in Chicago

The best way to spend my days off is exploring new places in Chicago. The excitement about going to someplace new and trying new things is exhilarating. I love the sense of adventure! The idea that you don’t know what to expect till you get there and see for yourself. Perhaps I will make it my New Year’s Resolution to experience new things with the idea that everyday is a chance to understand and learn more about this world we call home.

I stumbled across this video, MOVE,  last summer documenting the adventures of an international traveler. As a starry eyed college student, I remember thinking what a wonderful way to spend your life, and I still think that. Learning about the lives of people all over the world and how they may be different or the same as you and I, is the most appealing thing about adventuring around.

Sadly I do not have any trips planned for the future, but hopefully soon. As for now I’ll be doing lots of adventuring around in Chicago. There are so many places I’ve never been to even though I grew up here. Time to get up and MOVE in Chicago.

Chicago French Market – West Loop

from the Chicago Sun Time

Chicago is lacking in indoor markets that are quite abundant in NYC. I love indoor markets, because it is a centralized area where you can pick up many different one of kind goods. It’s an overstimulation of the senses in the best possible way. When I found out that Chicago had a French Market, I just had to make a trek there. It is not that big, but offers a lot of different types of hot foods, produce, and even fresh meats and seafood. The macaroons at the Chicago French Market is suppose to be the best. I had to try them for myself.

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These macaroons are from Vanille Patisserie. In order from left to right – cranberry orange, red velvet, mango passion, and lemon. We were wondering what happened to the poor red velvet macaroon, because it looks a little deformed. The macaroons were one of the cheapest macaroons I have ever seen coming in at $1.50 a piece. It was also slightly smaller than the macaroons I have eaten in the past. Overall the macaroons are okay. I like my macaroons to be slighly chewy with an airy, light crunch. Some of the macaroons that we tried were a little on the soft side, dissembling when we tried to break it in half. The cranberry orange was a little disappointing, because the flavors were so weak. My friend says these are the best macaroons, so maybe the ones we got were a bad batch.

Christkindlmarket – The Loop

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Christkindlmarket is a German market in downtown Chicago around the big Christmas tree. When I saw the Christmas tree up close and personal, it was a little disappointing. Apparently there was a contest to pick the best tree, and this was chosen. The tree is what we would consider top heavy. There is a lot of empty space, because of the lack of branches on the bottom of the tree. Perhaps with the addition of large ornaments it would have looked less barren. Kind of reminds me of a larger, bigger version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. A Christmas Tree is a Christmas Tree no matter how barren. It was still magnificent to look at.

from ilovepasta.com

The market was super crowded. As much as I dislike crowds, there was a sense of Christmas joy and spirit at the Christkindlmarket. I loved looking at all the stalls and seeing all the German goods they had for sale.

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One of the stalls was selling these star lights. They came in all different colors with unique cut outs. I would have bought one, if they weren’t made out of paper. It just didn’t seem like it would last very long.

Longman & Eagle – Logan Square

from peppermintbliss.com

This gastropub had a great casual, rustic atmosphere which I thoroughly enjoyed. The dining seats at each table did not match. All painted the same color, but slightly different in terms of style.

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This Housemade Ricotta Gnuddi with cider gel, babyfennel, micro celery, toasted hazelnut, braised cippolini vinaigrette, and celery froth was delicious. The ricotta balls were delightfully crunchy on the exterior and soft on the inside. I loved the vinaigrette that it was paired with.

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This pumpkin risotto vegetarian dish was delicious! I loved the infusion of pumpkin into the risotto. It came with a poached egg on top. There is nothing better than a runny egg over a bed of carbs.

20121208_175445 (1)This Slagel Family Farms Burger with aged Widmer’s Cheddar, North Country Bacon, and briochh was okay. I’ve had better burgers. The best part of this dish was the Beef Fat Fries. They tasted so fresh with a slight hint of smokiness. Next time I will try to order just the fries.

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When our waiter came by with the check, he placed these two chocolate chip cookies on our table, complements of the restaurant. My friend and I stared at the cookies, because they are about the size of a quarter. Teeny, tiny chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious, but I never seen such a small cookie before.

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Our check also came with this quirky postcard which I took home. I think I might frame this. Longman & Eagle, you just get me. “It seems just so awkward…” 

I learned that Longman & Eagle has six available hotel rooms above the restaurant owned by the restaurant. That would be kind of like a bed and breakfast inn. Wake up, stroll downstairs for brunch at Longman & Eagle, maybe take advantage of the $3 whiskey shots at the bar, and stumble back into your hotel room upstairs. With the smallest rooms for about $90 a night, no wonder these rooms are booked three months in advance.

How about you? Time to get up and MOVE in your city. Let’s be explorers together.