Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Big City Bites

Hurricane Ike impacted our Chicago weekend. Most of our time was spent inside a building or car.

Friday afternoon we were able to walk to a nearby boutique liquor store, Lush Wine and Spirits on Halstad St. Their focus is on lesser-known, interesting wines. I loved their chandeliers made out of wine glasses. We tried a Daniel Olivier Sauvignon Blanc- Semillion Blend which was uninspiring and a Lo Brujo Roble Calatayud that was a winner. Wish I would have bought a case!

That evening, we ordered in Chicago's famous stuffed pizza. The sausage and green olive from Giordano oozed with a thick layer of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. One slice was more than enough to satisfy my appetite. The Engelking's upstairs windows offered us a glimpse of the city's shrouded skyline.

Saturday was Dim Sum day in Chinatown. Crowding the streets and sidewalks, old and young residents shopped, smoked or talked on their cell phones, while negotiating traffic. Vendors delivered fresh produce and one open truck had freshly skinned goats hanging inside. Our choice of restaurants was based solely on the number of locals waiting to eat. My favorite was the crispy fried taro. Poi never tasted so good!

Our architectural tour was via Patrick's Honda Fit and my favorite was the Carbide and Carbon building. According to popular legend, the architects chose its dark green and gold colors based on a gold-foiled champagne bottle. The Great Chicago Fire is said to have started around 9 o'clock on Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, somewhere in or very near the O'Leary barn. One of the few buildings to survive was the Chicago Water Tower. Constructed in 1869 using big limestone blocks, its small towers in a 'gothic style', resembles a tiny European 13th century castle.

Rockstar Dog is a one-room, cash only storefront on Ashland, where we ordered the Zeppelin hot dog topped with shocking neon green relish, cheese, onions, hot peppers, tomatoes and celery salt. Every order comes with fries and a soda and if the mood strikes, you can take turns at the stripper pole up front while you wait.

After walking in the rain to the Spice House in Old Town, we needed to warm up both inside and out. The Matchbox was filled with kitschy memorabilia and candlelight that added even more character to this unbelievably tight corner bar. A dozen stools consume all but a few inches along the length of the narrow, window-lined room. The bartender's music choice was classic Johnny Cash, which amplified the melancholy afternoon vibe.

Ike's wet fist still gripped the city on Sunday so we headed home.

Thanks again for your hospitality, Jessica and Patrick!