Hi everybody! I got back this morning from a long weekend in Chicago, my first real trip to the city after a couple of quick past visits. The general theme was baseball, bars, and music, so clearly I was in the right town. All of that, plus around 24 hours on Amtrak, makes me more than a little tired right now, but here's some pics from the weekend. That's the skyline as seen from out on Navy Pier.
We're starting with food, of course. On Saturday we had lunch at Frontera Grill, the Rick Bayless restaurant. Since I have done more than a few Bayless recipes here, and love his PBS series, this was sort of a big deal for me :) Given the place's stature, I thought it would be more expensive than our cheap selves were willing to go for, but it's pretty reasonable. The food, to pull out a word I promise you won't see often here, was exquisite. Plus, they were really cool about making vegans happy. First course was this salad of jicama, cucumber, and pineapple, powdered with guajillo chili powder and drizzled with lime juice. Served in a banana leaf, it's a lovely presentation of a street stall standard from much of Latin America.
Here's my meal - enchiladas stuffed with fresh mixed greens, topped with awesome crispy onions and a tomato-guajillo sauce. I've made recipes like this from Bayless cookbooks, but this was perfect. Plus, it was outside on Clark Street on a perfect July day, with a bottle of beer, and all of those things never fail to make food even better. If it's not clear yet, I was crazy about the place :)
Food was great and veg-friendly all weekend, and yesterday lunch was at the Chicago Diner, on the north side just down the street from where I stayed. As spelled out in a big sign on the side of the building, "Meat-free since '83!"
I tried the seitan wings and this California Reuben. It's thinly sliced "turkey-style" seitan, with a crunchy coleslaw topping and vegan cheese on a nice marble rye bread. The sides alone at the Diner are worth a trip...it was hard to decide, but I opted for these sweet potato fries.
I didn't take any pictures there, but the Pick Me Up Cafe, also up in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, was lots of fun too. Very hip, which only matters if the quality of the food matches the ambience, which it did. Here's a couple of non-food pictures too - this is the Jazz Record Mart, one of those music stores where you could spend a whole day looking around. Owner Bob Koester was there dealing directions and commentary...a big figure in the Chicago music scene of the last half century, he had a recent profile in the New York Times. He once called Iggy Pop and his friends "stooges," after thowing them out of his apartment.
Sunday was a day game at Wrigley. Cubs win! Here's the view from section 239. My first Cubs game too!
I heard a ton of good music over the weekend too, at clubs and the Chicago Folk and Roots Festival on Sunday at Welles Park after the game. I didn't bring the camera there, but did get a shot of these towers downtown, familiar to any Chicago folks or Wilco fans...thanks for indulging my little slide show! Back to a food focus soon :)