for new years, wylie and i took a little road trip around my old midwest stomping grounds. one of the luxuries to my parents being within driving distance and having a car. i forgot my camera, and have to surrender to doing this post with iphone pics,which i admit bothers me deeply. i may be more type A then i am willing to admit.
we started off the weekend with a trip to indianapolis to visit some of my childhood best friends. i lived next door to these girls for quite sometime growing up and may have spent more time at their house then my own. it is so much fun to laugh at all the silly things we did growing up and it is more than precious to get to hang out with all their babies. sara, brenna, and lauren are like sisters to me. it fills my heart up to see their families grow and inspires me for my own. when i arrived to the suburbs of indy, the snow was coming down intensely. i have been waiting so long for this! it was so beautiful and also wylie’s first time to frolic in such a thing. he loved it, but also had to be blown dry every time he came back in because the snow would just clump to his hair. poor guy! we spent the weekend eating dim sum, visting, and playing. brenna even made me homemade chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes. it was my favorite meal their mom made growing up and kind of a running joke! it was so nice to be around these guys again!
from indy i drove up to my home town of Crown Point, Indiana. i stopped by to see my friend lisa and her family. lisa currently lives in russia and i love hearing about all her stories from her european adventures. i visited her in london a few years ago on a last minute trip and got to meet her 10 day old son, cayden, at the time. so, fun to see cayden a big boy now! i didn’t get any pictures of lis- sorry lisa- you know i love you and yours! from there i did a quick little tour of Crown Point, briefly driving through the town square to snap a quick photo. i have not lived here since i was 15. sometimes it feels like a dream, maybe a nightmare-just kidding, but so familiar at the same time with so many many childhood memories. i still have many friends from this small town and well, that certainly says something. next, i drove to see my old college roomie, mandy, and her husband and kids. natalie, my dearest that lives in colorado, was there too, they are sisters. i had yet to meet mandy’s kiddos (pictured above), and they are as cute as can be. mandy, natalie, and johnny were a big part of my college years, but they too are from my hometown. they have just redone a beautiful house, filled with john’s crafty workmanship. i hope to one day share it on the blog!
the area i grew up in is only 30-45 minutes from chicago. needless to say, going to the big city was a treat, but also not an uncommon adventure. the drive on the freeways, the crisp cold air or hot humid days, the lovely brick architecture and yet sometimes awful 70’s/80’s buildings,and the people bundle up on the corners take me so far back. this is what i love about chicago- how close i feel to it, yet at the same time i have so much to constantly learn about it. i have spent much time here over the years coming to visit all my friends that have lived in this great city. i admit i have often contemplated moving here, and sometimes regret having not done so. i will say one thing, it is cooold. the cold air pierces your skin and my nose hairs. waiting at the bus stop growing up, my nose hairs would freeze together. most people don’t get this when i try to explain it…..so, i shall say no more and just leave you with that.
i think of one my favorite things about this city, besides my friends, the beauty, and the memories…is the food scene. i think it is one of the best the country has to offer. you get this midwestern approach to good food that is creative and innovative without the intimidation of new york. it is accessible and booming all the time. luckily, i have foodie friends that know how much i love doing this and always take me somewhere i cant stop thinking about!
amanda, one of my dearest friends that i actually met in LA my first year living there, has lived in chitown for a few years now. even though she left LA, i was happy she went to chicago, because it is somewhere i obviously visit often. she took me to cafe selmarie in lincoln square, a suburb north of downtown. i ordered the corn beef hash, which was possibly one of the best things i have ever eaten for breakfast. the corn beef was shredded vs. cubed. yumola! we also picked up a few delicious pasties for new year’s eve. my favorite being the banana eclair. good grief!
a few days later, we did another breakfast, this time at lula cafe in logan square. chicago hipsterville! i loved going into a restaurant in a different city, filled with hipsters so that i can people watch and spy on the fashion trends. between the food scene , craft scene, and the hipster fashion, chicago could be the midwestern portland. bonus points too, when the bus boy commented on one of my sun and glory necklaces i was sporting that day! but back to lula. anther thumbs up and another yumola!! amanda ordered the baked french feta (which i will totally be making at home now) and i ordered the ham and raclette panino. i hate/love when you want to order everything on the menu. i would go back here in a heart beat.
another dear dear friend, larissa, also from my home town, but also a college friend and LA friend, whom has been back in chicago for 4 or 5 years now, always showers me with yummy food. new year’s day i spent an evening with her and her fiance, sean, and a few friends as well. one of whom is a big wine guy in the city. the meal was accompanied by only the finest of wines and what a treat, because it is one thing i enjoy, but know little about. we had a delicious cheese platter (and i brought the stinkiest cheese!), followed by a salad with apple and red onion. next, beef stew followed by pies from hooiser mama pie company, a name after my own heart- go hooisers! we had the orange cream pie and ginger custard. let’s all say it together- yumola!!!
my last night in town larissa took me to au cheval, a chic greasy spoon in chicago’s west loop on restaurant row. we devoured a burger (holy moly!), fries with béchamel and a fried egg, a green salad (not your ordinary as it was fresh and the herbs pungent), and root beer. this place was so damn good. i walked away happy from food and good conversations, with a new album for my playlist per the music playing during dinner, and a sick idea/plan to come back to chicago for a week to hit up as many restaurants as i can and blog about them. oh, my day dreams sure do have a mind of their own.
now, this trip was centered around food and friends. not much different than any other trip, but i didn’t do a whole lot of touristy stuff besides hitting up top shop and a quick stroll down michigan avenue before deciding it was too damn cold and hiding out at my friends office downtown. two things are for certain: 1. i love my friends and am so lucky these people are such an important part of my life and 2. it is time to start weight watchers.
a few of my favorite things to do in chicago besides eating:
rent bikes at millenium park and ride around the city. such a great way to see the neighborhoods. obviously, you want to do this in the summer.
architectural tours on the river. another summer funday.
the art institute, the modern museum is great
a stroll on the water front.
riding the “L” train. you can actually get some really great views of the city this way. i have a thing for trains though.
any of the museums are great in this city
at christmas time- walking around the macy’s chirstmas windows . we did this every year growing up- when it was still marshall fields, when the windows were not so “modernly disney” oriented, eating around the huge christmas tree in the walnut room, and when we could get marzipan from the basement candy store department. it was just better back then, i am biased. still good for the kiddos today though!
millennium park– so much to do here. ice skate in the winter and watch concerts in the summer. this park wasn’t around when i was growing up, but the concerts in the park are my favorite as an adult.
some of my favorite neighborhoods for shopping and charm: wicker park, lincoln square, lincoln park, and logan square.
don’t forget to get a Chicago dog, eat chicago deep dish pizza, and get a cup of coffee from intelligentsia! amongst so much more!