Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicago! Part Two

When we last left our vacationing heroes, we'd had a fantastic haute Mexican meal with Anastasia and Liza in Pilsen. My highlights of that meal were a salad of jicama, yellow squash, greens and pumpkin seed vinaigrette as well as chipotle grilled shrimp with cilantro cream, thick bacon fried rice with basil and the best ever vanilla creme brulee with cinnamon ice cream. John and I found the Silver Cloud bar on the way back from the Damen Ave. "L." Still able to leap tall glasses of Templeton Rye in a single bound. But first, a cool Sailor Jerry ad painted on the side of a building there.

And Audrey.

Facade of building. Space below for rent!

Next day was spent brunching, walking and seeing "Detroit" at the Steppenwolf Theater. A thrill to see Laurie Metcalf live in action.  After the play, we all walked back downtown. Here are Liza and Anastasia in the park adjacent to the Newbury Library.

With time before dinner, John and I split to have a quick drink at Mike's Fast Food and Bar, a lovable dive, while the ladies continued to stroll. We met up again at the Publican for an incredible feast. An homage to Chicago's hog industry roots, the menu is heavy on the pork, with fresh seafood and market veggie dishes too. Everything meant to be shared. Standout dishes were Fideus served in an iron pan with pasta, chorizo, braised rabbit, escargot and an amazing rich tomato sauce as well as marinated grilled ribs with a tangy salty/sweet rub. But even the broccoli and brussels sprouts were insanely flavorful.

Next up, the Violet Hour. Gorgeous setting for cocktails both in and out of the glass. Chandeliers, gray velvet curtains, soft white light, it really feels like stepping into homemade twilight. The drinks are pretty awesome too.

Hibiscus Old Fashioned: Old Weller Antique 107, hibiscus syrup, house orange bitters. 

Liza started playing with my camera.

She had been working on this project for school all weekend, furiously folding origami from found flyers, subway maps and posters. Here's a peak into her bag of folded paper.
Liza's beautiful brown eyes.

We did stop at our new local, the Silver Cloud on the walk back (hey, vacation, plus when were we coming back?). I loved the Schlitz sign on this bar further up the street.

We had a few hours the next day before our flight. Sadly, no time for the deep dish pizza I'd been hoping for, but at least a quality visit to the Arts Institute museum. Liza was in class across the street and Anastasia joined John and me for a look in the various galleries. I loved how spacious and well laid out the art was, bringing that into focus instead of busy surrounding architecture and rooms cramped with too much to look at. I get easily fatigued in museums, but this one felt energetic and light.

I especially enjoyed the old Stock Exchange trading room designed by Louis Sullivan, which had been painstakingly salvaged and rebuilt after the rest of the building was demolished in 1972.


It was also thrilling to see some essential iconic paintings such as "American Gothic" and "Nighthawks" up close. John was especially into the "Portrait of Dorian Gray."

Then in a blink, quick goodbye to Anastasia, and John and I were back on the "L" to O'Hare, JFK and life as I know it. I'd been to Chicago before, in another life, but it was great to play there when it's not too cold to explore. You were delicious, Windy City! Hope to see you again soon. And get pizza this time.

Oh wait, Gino's East ships????

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