Adventures in Chi-town

Chicago, the windy city, should actually change it’s name to the rainy city. On Friday morning, my arrival brought a downpour and thunderstorm that turned into a bright, sunny, though humid day. David (my fabulous little brother) and Joy (his wife /my awesome sister-in-law) indulged me all weekend, starting with a trip to see the 26-foot Marilyn Monroe Statue right by the Chicago Tribune building.  Joy and David also found rocks from Ohio and Michigan (where David and Joy are from, respectively).

After that adventure, we headed to AMC to see Harry Potter. It was everything I expected and more. I laughed. I cried. I spilled some popcorn down my dress, which led to some more laughing. I also was talked into purchasing the new Stubs card, which is an “upgrade” from the MovieWatcher card I’ve had for about 15 years. I’m not sure having to pay $12 for the card is an upgrade, but David, Joy and I figured out a way to beat the system. We’ll never tell though!

Even though we shared a large popcorn and some candy, we were still hungry for dinner, so we headed to Goose Island Brewery  in Clybourn for some homemade beer and good eats. Both David and I ordered the beer tastings. Four glasses is always better then one, right? And Joy got a glass of the Barrel Aged Smoked Goose (I think… my memory is a bit shaky!) The first two choices for my tasting were not availabe (as usual with my luck). So, I went with the Summertime, Dublin Stout, A Girl Named Sue, and Summer Camp IPA. They were all delicious, though my favorite was the Summertime. It literally tasted like summer.

For food, David ordered the Prime Cheddar Burger – which looked delicious as it dripped back onto the plate. (Just the week before when I was in Chicago on business, Joy and David took me to Blackies, where Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Frank Sinatra were known to eat when there were in town years ago. David also had a cheeseburger there! I had their meatball sub and Joy had the old fashioned grilled cheese… but I digress… Back to  Goose Island).  Joy ordered the Mussels which were simply beautiful, steamed in a sauce of Green Line pale ale, bacon and creamed leeks with a side of pretzel bread. And I had the fish tacos, comprised of crispy fried tilapia crispy, cabbage, pico de gallo, smokey chipotle aioli. It was full of flavor, though on the dry side. I also ordered a side of Watermelon Salad, which is one of my Summertime favorites. I even recreated it for David and Joy the next day! The version here is a little different from what I’m used to, as it came with watermelon slices, feta cheese (normal) and some sliced Kalamata olives (the twist.) I’m not a huge fan of olives, so I took those off, but didn’t mind the flavor they left behind.

After a few hours of gorging on food and beer, and solving all the worlds problems, we headed out to see Second City, one of the top comedy clubs in the world that is responsible for such talent as John Candy, Martin Short, Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. To my slight horror, we were seated in the second row on the left side of the theater. We were so close you could feel the spit landing on you when the actors enunciated a little too much. The show, South Side of Heaven was two-hours of nearly non-stop laughter that picked on everyone from President Obama to Brett Favre. And our trio got lucky and were not called up onto the stage or made fun of in any way.

Once we were all settled, and our sides had stopped splitting, we made our way out of the theater to catch a cab back home. And what did we find? A monsoon.(Check out the video here: Rain). No joke. The rain was pouring down so hard that the streets were overflowing with standing water. To make a long story short, the taxi ride home was terrifying with waves crashing over the taxi every time the drive put on the breaks. But we made it safe, sound and soaked.

Since we had such a HUGE Friday, the rest of the weekend was much more low key. Joy made a delicious French bread pizza for lunch on Saturday, topped with homemade marinara, some mozzarella and goat cheese. Then she took a power nap while David and I watched the Green Hornet, which I thought was surprising funny (though completely unrealistic.) And then we prepared for David and Joy’s friends, Caroline and Josh to come over for dinner and games.

David marinated and grilled a decadent lamb kabob with fresh peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes (thanks to Joy for skewering everything together). I madethe aforementioned watermelon salad, sans the olives. And Caroline and Josh brought homemade chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies. Needless to say, we feasted.

Then I talked them into playing some Euchre – girls against boys. The girls lost (though barely.) And then they taught me a new card/strategy game called Munchkin.  I was VERY confused at first, but after a while, I got the hang of it, and almost won! Caroline took the top prize though. To end the night, David played bartender and made the three of us a berry martini. We sat on the back porch (to remind us of how much we appreciate AC), solved some more world problems and then stumbled off to bed.

Sunday was an early start with church at Augustana Lutheran Church, where David sang in the Men’s Choir, followed by lunch at The Sitdown Cafe & Sushi Bar. I ordered the soup and sandwich, with the Jambalaya and Caprese Sandwich (a fancy grilled cheese stuffed with fresh mozzarella, feta, basil, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar). David had the Jambalaya as well, along with the South of the Border sandwich (stuffed with hame, pepperjack cheese, onion, avocado, tomato and mayo). And Joy ordered the chicken and rice soup (which looked suspiciously just like the Jambalaya) and the Blue Apple salad, with arugula, chopped green apples, dried cranberries and topped with Gorgonzola (a cheese that David won’t let her cook with… I don’t know what he has against blue cheeses!) 

After lunch, we headed back to the apartment to kill a few hours before having to make the trek to the airport. We played some Wii, and watched the newest Chronicles of Narnia. Then, my short vacation in Chi-town had to come to an end. Joy and David dropped me off at the airport – and after a little delay and few hours in the, I was back in NYC…and back in the rain!

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