A recap of what we saw, ate and did on a short trip to Chicago and Highland Park.
A couple weeks ago, my little cousin got married in Chicago, so my mom and I decided to head up a little early and explore the city for a few days. I hadn't been since high school, so it was really fun to see the city with fresh eyes.
After catching an early morning flight, we finally arrived in Chicago mid-afternoon. We drove out to my aunts house in Fort Sheridan, this really neat neighborhood that was converted from an old fort. Wish I had the pups with me so we could walk all over the neighborhood and check out all the houses. With the wedding coming up, we helped out a bit with the little things that had to be done. Really difficult tasks like checking on the order of popsicles from the Mexican ice cream store and tasting every flavor of ice cream while we were there. I know, my aunt is truly a horrible person to ask us to accompany her on tasks like this. For dinner, we went to Lucky Fish Deli, a seafood restaurant with a cajun inspired menu. After a stressful day (this was the start of my 2-week computer drama), I was in desperate need of some mood boosting omega 3s, so I ordered the blackened salmon with house veggies, which rather than a boring mix of steamed broccoli and carrots, was caramelized fennel, onions and red pepper.
The next morning, my mom and I took the train out to the city to take a boat tour of the city, hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The tour takes you along the Chicago river, pointing out architectural highlights and historical events along the way. I've always been fascinated by architecture, but mostly in houses and in much older buildings. Skyscrapers never did much for me until this tour. It was really interesting to learn the inspiration behind the buildings and notice the little details I wouldn't otherwise pay attention to. If you're in Chicago, I'd say this is the first thing you should do! You'll look at the city in a totally different way.
After the tour, we stopped by Frontera, Rick Bayless' restaurant, for lunch. As soon as I heard we were going to Chicago, this was one of my requests. There are few things in life I love more than authentic Mexican food! We started with a tamale filled with plantains (my favorite dish) and mezcal drinks, one with grapefruit, chile and coriander for my mom and one with tamarind and ginger for me. For our main, we split pork mole tacos, which was really good, buy maybe a little too rich. I kind of wish we got the garlicky mushroom tacos, but now I have a reason to go back :) We also split a side order of tatume squash with poblanos and crema. Since the orders were small, we had room for dessert, two mini-flans - one almond and one cinnamon.
After lunch, we took another tour by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Intersections of Old and New. It was really interesting to learn more of the history of Chicago's buildings and explore the city on foot.
For dinner, we wanted to eat at Girl and The Goat, Stephanie Izard of Top Chef fame's restaurant, but it was booked out something like 3 years in advance. Okay it was 2 months, but still. So we ate at The Little Goat, her casual diner. The menu looked great for diner food, but that wasn't exactly what I was in the mood for at the time. My mom got a goat patty melt and I got a big noodle bowl packed with veggies and yummy stuff! It was pretty tempting not to finish the whole thing! I'd love to go back and try their tofu noodles with pattypan squash and nectarines, but it was one of those dishes that was either really good or really disappointing.
The next day we went back to the city to meet up with my mom's second cousin who lives in Chicago. We spent the morning exploring the Art Institute of Chicago, which was absolutely stunning. I'd love to go back and spend a whole day or two in there! The highlight for me was their exhibit on sculptor Charles Ray.
For lunch, we walked across the street to The Gage, kind of a fancy pub. Definitely the kind of place I'd like to go for drinks after work. I had a wild mushroom sandwich with truffles and pecorino. YUM! Their side salad was also really tasty with cherries and gooseberries.
After lunch, we went to the Chicago Cultural Center, which was absolutely incredible! The rooms were covered in Tiffany mosaic and almost glittered in the light. It made me sad to look back at my pictures, which in no way captured how gorgeous it was in real life! While we were there, they had an exhibit on Archibald Motley, a Harlem Renaissance artist in the jazz age, now one of my favorites. There's so much color and life in his paintings. It's hard not to feel happy looking at them!
The rest of the trip was spent in wedding related festivities for Asher and Daniella. It was a really cool blending of cultures at all the events. My cousins family is reformed Jewish and very involved with their synagogue. Her family is Jewish and from Iran, so we were treated to an incredible Persian meal at her house. I really need to figure out how they made such delicious rice! And it was so much fun catching up with family I hadn't seen in awhile, especially my cousin Kinneret whose been my partner in crime basically since birth. Here's a couple peeks at their gorgeous wedding!