Friday, September 9, 2011

Chi Town

Wow! We've been a lot of places this summer! First, New York followed by North Carolina, Arkansas and New Orleans. Then this past weekend, we spent Labor Day in Chicago with our good buddy, Adam. And what a great time we had!

Luke and I flew into Chicago Friday afternoon. After several wrong turns and taking a round-a-bout route, we finally navigated our way around the city to our hotel. We dropped off our bags and then set out for some fun. Just down the street from our hotel, we spotted a rooftop bar, so we stopped there first for a little hummus and a brewski. After enjoying the rooftop view and nice cool breeze, we walked around a little more before finding another little patio to chill on and wait for Adam. Once Adam met up with us, we started back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. When we're on vacation or celebrating something, I kind of love eating out, and if we're going out of town, I usually do a little Internet research before hand to find us a cool spot for dinner. This time my research paid off! We dined at Home Bistro Friday night and loved everything about it! It was a cool, little neighborhood BYOB place that we never would have just happened upon (and even if we had, it was tiny and full so we couldn't have gotten in without a reservation). The lights were low and the place was buzzing with conversation but not too loud. Before heading out for dinner, we stopped and picked up a bottle of wine to pair with each course. (I use the term "pair" loosely because we had no idea what we would order and let's be honest, I'm no wine connoisseur...yet). But having a different bottle to go with each course was really fun, and we would have never done that if it weren't "BYOB". Along with the wine, everything we ordered was awesome. We started with Fried Oysters and Housemade Pierogi, which is a Polish dish somewhat similar to a pot sticker or dumpling. I preferred the pierogi while the guys favored the oysters, but both were very good and different. For our main course, Luke had the Brazed Pork Shank, Adam the Handmade Mint Fettuccine with Pork Sausage and me the Sturgeon, which is an ugly white fish that Luke says looks like a shark. Again, everyone was pleased with their choices, but after passing a few fork fulls around the table, I think my ugly fish took first place with all three of us. Dessert was a little bit of a disappointment. We brought a bottle of port to go with dessert and were hoping for something rich and chocolatey. Unfortunately, though, there was nothing like that offered, so we went with housemade Belgian White Chocolate Bars. Though they were okay, it's just not what we were hoping for. All in all, it was fabulous meal, and the "BYOB" allowed us to enjoy a really nice meal with a couple of bottles of wine for quite a bit less than we would have spent anywhere else. I also really liked that it wasn't a touristy spot. When Luke and I vacate, we love to find little, off the beaten path places, so this was right up our alley. If you're ever in Chicago and want to venture away from the Magnificent Mile, I highly recommend HB.

Rooftop Happy Hour.

Dinner with my two guys.

Saturday morning, we hopped in our rented Toyota Corolla (which just happened to have Texas plates...random) and drove east to South Bend, Indiana, home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. We tailgated with Luke's Uncle Greg and cousin Geoff, who were in town for the game from Cincinnati, Ohio before heading into the stadium to watch the Irish take on the South Florida Bulls. We had great seats on the 4th row that Adam scored from his "buddy" Kristen, who is a trainer for the South Florida team. Though the game was fun, the Irish were losing and there were a couple of rain/lightning delays, so we only stayed until half-time. After a little jaunt around campus to see the Grotto (where we got engaged more than 3 years ago) and a couple of other cool spots, we started back to Chicago. Back in Chicago, we checked into a new hotel, and I persuaded the boys to give me time to shower before dinner. (It didn't take much persuading because Adam wanted a shower too, but I did promise to put my hair up and be as quick as possible). Luke picked The Purple Pig as our dinner spot that evening. It was a good, cool place with a lively environment and group style seating. (Basically, just long tables of probably 10-12 with multiple different parties on each table.) The menu was centered around (you guessed it...the pig) and was served tapas (not topless) style where everything is small plates meant to be shared. The food was okay but nothing to write about. By far, the best part about this meal was the company. After Luke offended our waiter by referring to the bartender as "thinning hair, beard, really excited about the menu," and Adam brought back the gag symbol to show that he didn't like something, we laughed until our stomachs hurt. Oh yes. One thing about the food worth mentioning. There were not one but two hairs in our dessert that we're convinced were put there purposefully due to Luke's tiny bit offensive joke. Gross. and Rude.

Go Irish! Outside Lou Holtz gate.

The Golden Dome.

Dinner at the Purple Pig. Before the hair.

Sunday morning, we brunched on Rush at a place called Feast. Again, everything was fantastic. Luke had challah french toast, Adam the breakfast burrito and me the Lox and Bagel. It was so nice to enjoy breakfast out on the patio in the cool, breezy weather. After brunch, we headed over to Wrigleyville for the afternoon Cubs game. After the game, we went back to the city for Chicago style pizza at Pizzano's, which is my favorite. I definitely prefer it over Giordano's because it's not quite as heavy and filling even though it is still true Chicago style. (And they serve Oprah's favorite thin crust pizza, but I couldn't talk the boys into going thin.) We made a couple of more pit stops before calling it a night and getting ready to head home the next morning. We had so much fun, and it was good to end the summer on such a high note!

Brunch at Feast.

Trying to recreate my model pose from Fenway circa 2009.


Cubs game. Not even sure who they played, but it was fun!

P90X Style.

Pizza at Pizzano's.

Zoolander look.

Other than the Notre Dame and Cubs games, we mostly just walked and talked; wined and dined. But we had a ton of fun doing it and really enjoyed spending some quality time with Adam since he's become a New Mexican, and we don't get the opportunity to see each other as frequently. And we love Chicago. It's a really pretty, clean city for being so big and urban, and the fact that it is right on the huge Lake Michigan is really cool. If it weren't for the harsh winters, it might be at the top of my list for cities I would live in (if I ever had to choose). Cheers to Summer 2011!

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